Tag Archives: cocktails

Our Italian Feast Supper Club and a recipe for brutti ma buoni biscuits…

We were very excited to hold our July Plate Lickers Supper Club in a brand new and very original venue…Lynne Strover Gallery, an independent gallery run from Lynne’s beautiful home…

Lynne Strover Gallery

Our guests were seated amongst the sculptures and artwork by Belynda Sharples to enjoy their ‘Italian Feast’ inspired by mine and Ivana’s recent trip to Umbria and Tuscany (blogged here)…

Tables set at Lynne Strover Gallery

Tables set at Lynne Strover Gallery

Here’s a sneaky peak of the menu to whet your appetite for the pictures to follow. I’ve also shared a recipe for ‘brutti ma buoni’ …delicious hazelnut biscuits, crunchy on the outside but with a lovely chewy centre.

But without further ado, welcome to Plate Lickers Italian Feast…

Our Italian Feast Menu

Rows upon rows of cocktails awaited our guests arrival…we had made amaretto from scratch and served it with a touch of lemon juice and the mandatory cocktail cherry…

Homemade amaretto sours cocktails

Ameretto sours cocktail

These were accompanied by homemade sourdough crostini topped with wild boar salami, brought back from Italy and our homemade cow and goats milk ricotta with a sprinkling of decadent truffle salt…

crostini

Our guests were a friendly bunch and got chatting right away…

Chatty guests

Once everyone was seated we did a little welcome speech and appear to also be doing our best air hostess impressions :)…

Welcoming the guests.

before squirreling ourselves away in the kitchen to serve up the starter of courgette and rocket salad with aged pecorino and dressed with the peppery olive oil made by our beloved agriturismo hosts and a drizzle of homemade truffle honey…

courgette and rocket salad with aged pecorino and homemade truffle honey

Courgette and rocket salad with aged pecorino and homemade truffle honey

Next up was the main course of traditional ragu, which just got better and better the longer we cooked it, served on a bed of polenta with chargrilled chicory. Not the most photogenic dish but tasty all the same…

Ragu with polenta and chargrilled chicory

The dessert was peach and olive oil cake served with pinenut semi freddo, which seemed to be the favourite dish of the night. Ivana has already blogged the semi freddo recipe for you here.

Peach and oliveoil cake with pine nut semi freddo

and last but not least were the little brutti ma buoni biscuits, which perfectly fit their translation…’ugly but good’.

Brutti ma buoni biscuits

I’m a big biscotti fan and whenever I saw biscotti on the shelves in Italy I would also see packets of these brutti ma buoni. So as soon as I got home I started researching them and found this lovely recipe by Dan Lepard. The method is one I have never seen before but it produced the most amazing texture that even makes the arduous task of peeling hazelnuts worth it :).

To make a batch of about 20 small biscuits you can halve the recipe and will need…

150g toasted, skinned almonds (either buy them skinned and toast them in the oven for a few minutes or follow my instructions below if you buy them skin-on)

150g caster sugar

3 egg whites

75g ground almonds

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp cocoa powder

So first, if you have bought the more commonly available, skin on hazelnuts, you will need to toast and skin them…not my favourite task I have to admit but it enhances their flavour and the skin can be fairly bitter, so it’s definitely advisable.

Preheat you oven to 200 degrees c and lay the hazelnuts out on a baking tray. Pop them in the oven for just 5 minutes, keeping an eye on them in case they start to burn. Then take a few nuts at a time and either loosen the skins by shaking them in a wire sieve or rubbing them in a teatowel. Once they are all skinned you’re ready for the biscuit making…

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees c and line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Divide the hazelnuts approximately in half and put one half in a food processor, save the other half for later.

Add the sugar to the food processor and blitz it until the two are ground together but still coarse. Add the egg whites, almonds, vanilla extract and cocoa powder and blitz again until it forms a sludgy looking puree.

Now, this is the slightly strange bit…pour the puree into a saucepan. Roughly chop the remaining half of the hazelnuts and add them too. Put the pan on a high heat, stirring constantly until the mixture gets darker and thicker. You’ll know when it’s ready because it will hold it’s shape.

Using a couple of teaspoons, take a blob of the biscuit mixture (approx 2cm diameter) and place on the prepared trays. They don’t have to be uniform at all, the more rustic the better in my book. Make sure you leave at least 1 cm between the biscuits so they don’t get stuck together whilst cooking.

Brutti ma buoni biscuits read for the oven.

Brutti ma buoni biscuits read for the oven.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until they are golden brown. If you can bear to, it’s best to wait until they are cool before tucking in. But then there needn’t be any stopping you 🙂

Brutti ma buoni biscuits

Brutti ma buoni biscuits

I would like to say a big thankyou to Lynne Strover for letting Plate Lickers descend on her gallery for the evening, to our guests for being as enthusiastic and wonderful as ever, to Ozzy for the use of his beautiful photographs and to Ivana, the co-hostess with the mostess!

Bring on August’s supperclub!

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The return of Sweeteasy and a boozy rum soaked fruitcake recipe…

Recently, I hosted my third Sweeteasy…I really love plotting and planning my menus and even though actually making the 3 cocktail inspired cakes and the 3 cake inspired cocktails for 30 people is pretty hard work it’s the kind of hard work I love and when the evening finally rolls around, I get my glad rags on and I begin welcoming my guests it is so worth it!

Here’s the menu that awaited my guests…

Sweeteasy #3 menu

To make the gooseberry and elderflower fool martini I used gooseberries from my parents garden and locally foraged elderflower to make a puree, to which I added gin and some sugar syrup to take the edge off.

From this…

Gooseberry and elderflower

To this…

Gooseberry and elderflower fool martini

These were followed closely by my ‘bramble’ friands, a light almond sponge made with egg whites and blackberries topped with a blackberry and gin glaze…

@daisyduked photo - Bramble friands with blackberry and gin glaze

Next up was a honey bourbon milk punch made with, as you may surmise, Jim Beam honey bourbon, milk, cream, vanilla, sugar and a grating of nutmeg…

@daisyduked photo - Honey bourbon milk punch

Served alongside a very special experiment…stout brownies! But these weren’t made using just any old stout, I used Moonshine Brewery‘s ‘Hot Numbers Stout’ the result of a very exciting collaboration made with coffee roasted in the Hot Numbers Roastery

Stout brownie

At this point, I mixed things up a bit and went off piste on the menu order, serving up the limoncello tiramisu. I made a big batch of homemade limoncello and used some to make a zabaglione, which I stirred into thick, creamy mascarpone along with beaten egg whites to make it floaty light! This was accompanied by homemade ladyfinger biscuits…

@lazygiraffe photo - limoncello tiramisu

and a miniature bottle of chilled limoncello…

Limoncello tiramisu with homemade ladyfinger biscuits and limoncello

Last but not least, guests were served my fruitcake infused rum daquiri…

@suziemakes rum daquiri photo

I made it by pouring Havana Club Anejo 3 Anos rum over a mixture of sultanas, raisins, almonds, sliced orange, a vanilla pod and a couple of cinnamon sticks and leaving it to infuse for a few days…simple but oh so effective…

Rum

IMG_6278

Once the rum was strained and ready, I used it to make a traditional daquiri by adding fresh lemon juice and a dash of sugar syrup. I had a good chinwag with my guests as the evening came to a close and the fruitcake rum daquiri came out on top as the favourite cocktail of the night although the gooseberry and elderflower fool martini was a close contender and some people just couldn’t decide, which I saw as a good sign! 🙂

If you’re interested in hearing about Sweeteasy and my other events you can sign up to receive Afternoon Tease news here. I’d like to thank my guests Deepa (@lazygiraffe), Daisy (@daisyduked) and Suzie (@suziemakes) for allowing me to use their lovely photographs of the evening. You can also read Deepa’s take on Sweeteasy here.

But hang on, I’m not finished yet…

after straining the rum for the daquiri I was left with an awful lot of juicy rum laden fruit. I really didn’t want to see it go to waste and for a while had been thinking that I needed a good fruitcake in my repertoire, so I got researching and flicking through my old cookbooks and decided to use Mary Berry’s boiled fruitcake as a base…if I’m honest the fact that it was called a ‘Quick boiled fruitcake’ and only needed to be cooked for under 2 hours as opposed to 4 and also the fact that it contained condensed milk…one of my favourite sweet-toothed ingredients swung it for me!

It was a very moist and light (in colour) cake and with so much of my 3 day rum soaked fruit in, it really packed a punch!

Rum soaked boiled fruitcake

To make it you need…

397 g tin condensed milk

150 g butter

800 g of dried fruit (Mary suggests 225g raisins, 225g sultanas, 175g currants and 175g chopped glace cherries, however feel free to mix it up and be adventurous with your selection of dried fruit. My addition of figs gave a lovely texture to the cake. Soaking the fruit in booze is optional but I highly recommend it!)

225 g self raising flour

2 tsp ground mixed spice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 130 degrees (150 if not a fan oven) and grease and line a deep 8 inch cake tin.

Simply put the fruit, condensed milk and butter in a large saucepan…

Rum soaked fruit ready to boil

and place over a low heat until the butter has melted. Make sure you stir it well and don’t let it stick to the bottom. Simmer it gently for 5 minutes and then take it off the heat to cool for 10 minutes, stirring it every now and again…

Rum soaked fruit boiled and ready for action

Put the flour and spices into a large bowl, make a well in the centre and add the eggs along with the cooled gloopy fruit mixture and stir together until well combined but try not to overmix it. Pour it into the prepared tin and level the top…

Rum soaked fruit cake ready to go in the oven...

Now pop it in the oven for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. It’s ready when it’s light golden brown on top and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. If you’re not quite happy that it’s ready, just put it back in for 5 minutes at a time and repeat the skewer test until you’re satisfied that it’s cooked to perfection :).

Rum soaked fruit cake fresh out of the oven...

Leave it to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out to cool completely on a wire rack.

The chunkiness of my fruit made it a joy to eat but made it a little tricky to slice neatly…

The first slice...

I’ve never been a huge fruit cake fan, but this one has converted me. It also keeps beautifully, so if you haven’t wolfed it down in a couple of days, not to worry…just keep it in a well sealed container and it’ll be fine for a week (or so).

Teatime!

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A round up of Sweeteasy #2…

Last Friday I hosted my 2nd Sweeteasy at Hot Numbers. Once the doors of the cafe closed for the day I got busy transforming it into a prohibition era style drinking den, where I would be serving a set menu of cake inspired cocktails and cocktail inspired cakes and sweets. At dusk my guests started arriving accompanied by the sound of tinkling ivories courtesy of the very talented Adam, co-host of The First Rule Supper Club

Tinkling the ivories

Sweeteasy 4

Some guests had really got into the 1920’s spirit and  were looking gorgeously glam…

Sweeteasy 5

20's glam

glamorous ladies

My glamorous assistant

I’m so bad at keeping exciting things to myself but I had somehow managed to keep the menu totally secret and really enjoyed watching and listening to my guests reactions to its unveiling…

Sweeteasy Menu

First up was Turkish delight martinis in teacups made with gin, a splash of brandy and homemade rose syrup and served with a square of homemade Turkish delight…

Turkish delight martini

Followed closely by eggnog custard tarts…puff pastry with brandy custard and nutmeg…

Eggnog custard tarts

The next drink was definitely my favourite and something I’d been dreaming up for a while…behold my rhubarb crumble martini…

Rhubarb crumble martini

Rhubarb crumble martini

The seed of the idea for the rhubarb crumble martini was planted by Aoife Maxwell who is the font of all knowledge on booze and who along with her friend Rachel writes the Gastronomic Girls blog. I’d seen her blog about making rhubarb vodka and she very kindly presented me with a sample secreted in a brown paper bag at my first Sweeteasy event :). It was absolutely divine so I decided to make my own, which was surprisingly easy and very rewarding. You can find Aoife’s rhubarb vodka recipe here.

I loved the process and was amazed to watch all of the colour gradually drain out of the rhubarb and transfer itself to the vodka…magic!

 

I knew very early on that what I wanted to do with my rhubarb vodka was to create a rhubarb crumble in liquid form and after much taste testing (it’s a hardship I know) decided on the following recipe…

3 parts homemade rhubarb vodka

1 part amaretto (I used Disaronno)

Simply shake with ice before straining into a glass.

However, what is a crumble without the yummy topping? hence the addition of the piece de resistance…the crumble topping rim! I made a basic crumble topping by blitzing 50g butter with 100g flour in the food processor (this can also be done by rubbing the butter into the flour by hand) before stirring in 50g sugar. I baked it on a tray at 180 degrees until golden brown and left it to cool. To make it stick to the rim of the glass I used a simple sugar syrup, which is sooo easy to make. Simply dissolve 1 cup of sugar in 1/2 cup water over a low heat and leave to cool.

Finally to assemble the rhubarb crumble martini, I poured some sugar syrup onto a shallow dish and tipped some of the crumble topping onto a similar receptacle. Then dipped the rim of the glass in the syrup, allowing any excess to drip off before dipping in in the crumble topping…tadaaa…

Crumble topping rim

Then it was time to pour in the rhubarb vodka and amaretto concoction…

Rhubarb crumble martini

I was so chuffed with the creation of my dream drink…rhubarb crumble in a glass!

It was closely followed by my White Russian 3 milk cake, based on a traditional Mexican Tres Leches cake but with added Kahlua…

White Russian 3 milks cake

White Russian 3 milk cake

The 3rd and final cocktail was a chocolate and spiced rum old fashioned made using 70% dark chocolate liqueur, Sailor Jerrys spiced rum, angostura bitters and a dash of sugar syrup, stirred with a couple of cubes of ice, potent but divine…

Old fashioned

When I was taste testing this beauty I felt that it really needed to be paired with something chocolatey, hence the rum and raisin slice made using rum soaked raisins and 70% dark chocolate and I couldn’t resist throwing in a retro classic, my pina colada coconut ice made using homemade pineapple jam…

Coconut ice and rum and raisin slice

And that, ladies and gentlemen is, as they say, a wrap! The evening sadly had to come to an end but it turns out my guests are people of great taste as I ended up bumping into most of them afterwards in 196 on Mill Road, a very fine local cocktail establishment!

Another thoroughly enjoyable evening, thankyou to all who came, to Adam for being an amazing piano man and to Sarah and Val for letting me use  use some of their photos for this blog and to  Tom and Carri for being my glamorous assistants for the night!

Sweeteasy 2

I’m already plotting the next Sweeteasy, the date is in the diary but in true Afternoon Tease fashion, I’m going to keep you waiting a bit longer before I divulge the details! 🙂 But if you’d like to sign up to my new mailing list you’ll be amongst the first to be in the know.

Sweeteasy 17You can read more about Sweeteasy from the guests perspective in these lovely blogs from Miss Sue Flay of The Secluded Tea Party and from Heidi on The Moving Foodie Blog.

Sweeteasy 8

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Sweeteasy is back on Friday 12th April…

Sweeteasy logo

On Friday 12th April February Hot Numbers will once again be transformed into a high class drinking den with a twist, hosted by me, Jo Kruczynska of Afternoon Tease

Sweeteasy at Hot Numbers

I have been busy dreaming up exciting ideas and throughout the night will serve a brand new, carefully concocted menu of 3 Prohibition era and cake inspired cocktails…along with an array of cocktail inspired cakes.

The evening will commence under the cover of (semi) darkness at 7.30pm.

Ticket price £25.

Places for ‘Sweeteasy’ are limited and sold out super quickly last time, so to secure yours, email info@afternoontease.co.uk and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible to confirm.

You can read my blog about the inaugural Sweeteasy here and if you’re on Twitter feel free to follow me @afternoontease and join in the #sweeteasy chatter.

Cheers!

Cheers

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Sweeteasy…my high class drinking den with a twist

On Friday I hosted my first ever Sweeteasy, an idea I’d dreamt up to combine two of my favourite things…booze and cake! What better way to say goodbye to dry January and get February off to a flying start than being plied with a carefully devised set menu of prohibition era and cake inspired cocktails and cocktail inspired cakes, all in the wonderful setting of Hot Numbers on Gwydir Street, which we transformed into a high class drinking den for the evening…

Sweeteasy at Hot Numbers

Sweeteasy - tables all set.

Sweeteasy

Getting readyThe tables were laid, the 1st cocktail was mixed and I’d even managed to get out of my pinny for once, all that was left to do was nervously await the arrival of my guests…

Waiting for the guests to arrive

Now, keeping exciting secrets is not one of my strong points and I found it unbelievably difficult to keep the contents of the menu to myself, but somehow I managed it, my guests had no idea what treats awaited them until they arrived…

Sweeteasy menu

First on the menu was a marmalade martini, made using gin, which I had infused with my homemade 3 fruits marmalade and mixed with cointreau and fresh lemon juice…

Marmalade martini

Marmalade martini

The first sweet treat was my amaretto sour inspired macaron, sandwiched with zingy homemade lemon curd and served with cocktail cherries (one of my guilty pleasures)…

Amaretto sour macaron

I would cite my inspiration for this dessert to be the amaretto sour cocktail made by the guys at 196 on Mill Road…I highly recommend you pay them a visit and try one for yourself!

Amaretto sour macaron

The next cocktail on the menu was a hot gingerbread punch, made by infusing stout with cloves, cardamom, sugar, orange zest and fresh ginger before adding Havana Club 7yo and serving warm…in teapots and teacups natch!…

Teapots

My wonderful helpers...

Hot Gingerbread punch

Pouring the hot gingerbread punch

Followed by my piece de resistance…mojito doughnuts. I used my family’s paczki (polish doughnut) recipe with a few very special twists…rum and lime zest flavoured dough, a lime filling and a rum and mint glaze…

Mojito doughnuts

Mojito doughnut

Watching my guests bite into these little beauties was the highlight of Sweeteasy for me…I looked around the room and saw everyone savouring each and every bite and nodding in approval…it absolutely made my night! They may not be the most perfect looking creations but I can vouch for the fact that they were light as air and melted in the mouth. Ozzy (@karohemd), who I would like to thank for taking such amazing photos, said that they looked and tasted exactly like the ones his Granny used to make…praise indeed!

Whilst preparing the final cocktail we brought out these plates of chocolatey goodness. Chocolate brownies with cream and a kirsch soaked cherry on the top…

Brownies & truffles

and margarita truffles made with 70% dark chocolate, tequila, lime zest and sea salt…

Margarita truffles

Brownies & truffles

which went perfectly with the Hot Numbers espresso martini…

3147_SweeteasyServing espresso martinis

Espresso martini

Cheers

Vocal chords well lubricated, the conversation flowed and we were serenaded by the very talented James Brotherston on piano…

JB

with a guest appearance from my friend Phil…

The talented Mr Phil

I’d just like to say a few special thank you’s to…

My Sweeteasy helpers Adam Shaw of Adam Shaw Couture and Carri of Pavitt’s Pies

My awesome team

Hot Numbers owner Simon Fraser for allowing me to take over his wonderful cafe for the evening, James Brotherston for tinkling those ivories, Ozzy for papping away all evening and taking such fantastic photo’s. You can see more of Ozzy’s pictures on Flickr and on his blog Karohemd’s World. And last but not least, a huge thank you to all of my lovely guests for coming along, eating and drinking with passion, getting into the spirit of Sweeteasy and making it a fantastic evening!

I’m very happy to say that I’m already plotting the next Sweeteasy for a couple of months time, so keep your eyes peeled on my blog and Twitter (#sweeteasy) for future announcements!

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Hawksmoor…we’ll meat again…

I’m currently teaching myself Twitter and realising just how addictive it is. Everyday I’m bombarded with tasty tit bits…@HawksmoorLondon have been tweeting updates and alluring photo’s of their new restaurant in Seven Dials and when they announced that reservations were open for their soft launch week I, along with over 1500 others blitzed them with reservation requests. I heard nothing for a couple of days and thought I’d missed out when all of a sudden an email pinged into the inbox offering me a table for 4. I didn’t know who I was going to take with me at this stage but accepted anyway, knowing that I would have no problem finding 3 steak loving accomplices. In the last few days the amazing reviews have been tweeted thick and fast…my excitement knew no bounds! 

I’ve been to Hawksmoor in Spitalfields a few times but have only ever sampled their cocktails, which I hasten to add are amazing. I was really looking forward to finally getting a chance to taste the highly acclaimed food plus, during soft launch week, the lovely people at Hawksmoor were offering 50% off food…and I love a bargain! 

So last night found me traipsing through the rain, down a dark alley near Seven Dials sure that I’d taken a wrong turning when all of a sudden out of the murkiness shone a beacon…

It was all so new and spangly and smelling slightly of paint and polish (in a nice way)…

Our reservation wasn’t until 8.30pm but we arrived nice and early so that we could sit in the bar and enjoy a cocktail of two. I found the decision making particularly difficult as Pete and his team have concocted a tantalising list of alcoholic beverages. These guys really know their stuff and their bar, lined with jars and flasks full of intruguing concoctions, would make any scientist proud…

In the end we were so overawed we put our trust in the bartender and asked for his recommendation. We ended up with a very yummy selection of drinks, my favourite of which was made with gin and marmalade but wasn’t at all sickly or cloying. I just wish I could remember what they were called…

I think these beauties were called concealed weapons (?)…

After some civilised supping we were lead through to our table and presented with the mouthwatering food menu…

Again we needed help and asked our lovely waitress for advice on cuts and quantities of steak.

*WARNING the following photographs contain a level of food porn that is not for the faint hearted or those of a nervous disposition!*

We sampled a couple of starters…succulent Tamworth belly ribs served with red cabbage…

and melt in the mouth grilled lamb chops with a mint and caper salad…

For the main course both Simon and I opted for a medium, 400g ribeye steak…

Hannah chose the D-Rump, which had been aged for 55 days, eliminating the toughness that is sometimes associated with rump steak and leaving behind an extremely tasty, tender piece of meat…

and Shane went for the humungous 600g bone-in sirloin…

We ordered a selection of sides to share including 2 varieties of chips (triple cooked and beef dripping), grilled field mushrooms and buttered spinach and a veritable feast of sauces and accompaniments for our steaks…peppercorn sauce, anchovy butter, stilton hollandaise and bearnaise sauce…

My fully loaded plate was a sight to behold…

We tucked in with vigour, only stopping occasionally to smile beatifically at one other and make sounds of carniverous appreciation and joy!

I tried a piece of everyone’s steak and although they were all divine, in my opinion the D-rump won out on taste and will be what I order when I return (that’s a given).

We made a valiant effort to finish everything on our plates but were absolutely stuffed and sinking into a meat induced coma. What should you do in this situation?…order pudding of course!

I’m from the school of thought that however full you are, there is always a bit of space left for pudding, a different compartment as it were. We ordered sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream…

chocolate pudding with ivy house cream…

lemon curd served in the most gorgeous mini kilner jar with shortbread…

and we were also brought complimentary ice cream in 2 varieties…salted caramel and cornflake…

I am still reeling from the exquisiteness of the food that we experienced last night. Words (nearly) fail me. I asked my dinner companions to supply me with some quotes to describe their Hawksmoor experience. Here’s what they came back with…read them and weep…

“A culinary experience that that would have made a caveman proud.”

“An orgy of gastronomic decadence.”

“A carnivorous celebration that had us weeping tears of exultation onto empty plates.”

“Got my juices flowing”

“A moo-ving experience”

I received a couple slightly more risqué suggestions, which I have omitted because my Mum reads my blog and they would have made her blush! 😉

Hawksmoor, in my opinion, are the leaders in their field (pun well and truly intended) serving meat porn to the hungry London masses…I hope their success continues and both Spitalfields and Seven Dials go from strength to strength, growing the adoring fan base that they have nurtured. I for one will be going back for more…

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