Tag Archives: Supper Club

A face for radio…

I seem to have been frequenting the Cambridge airwaves a lot of late ūüėČ But hey, I love chatting all about the plans for my cafe to anyone who will listen…

I chatted to Alan Alder from Cambridge 105’s food and drink show; Flavour. You can listen to the podcast here¬†(it’s all worth a listen to hear of new and exciting things that are happening on the food scene in Cambridge but my dulcet tones get an airing at 31mins).

I also talked about my cafe plans with Maria Brannigan, who also write s a food flog ‘Gluten Free & Gorgeous‘ and is roving reporter for Star Radio’s food and drink show. You can listen again here.

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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 ūüôā

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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Plate Lickers is 1…our birthday party!

Last Saturday saw us celebrate the first birthday of Plate Lickers Supper Club!

It’s really hard to believe that it’s been a whole year since Ivana and I joined forces, came up with a name, found a venue, concocted a menu, filled a room with 30 hungry people and….fed them! From that day forward Plate Lickers has been going strong and with the amazing support of our guests has sold out everytime (sometimes in as little as an hour). We still love every minute of preparing for and hosting our supper clubs (ok maybe we don’t like the sleepless nights beforehand) and have met so many lovely people in our 12 month existence. We wanted to mark our anniversary event with a special Birthday party, the menu for which remained secret until the plates were put in front of our guests!

We had decided to return to one of our favourite venues, St Pauls on Hills Road where we had also held our Middle Eastern and the 2nd of our Childhood Memories events…

St Pauls

We welcomed our guests with a retro classic, a snowball, made with Advocaat, lime juice & lemonade…

Snowballs

Everyone helped themselves to a paper bag of olive oil roasted chickpeas and were given a choice of 4 flavoured salts to salt ‘n’ shake into their bags…

Salt 'n' shake chickpeas

Some mingling happened…

Mingling

Mingling

And then we took to the floor to say hello and introduce the first course…

Welcoming our guests

British asparagus, from Peter Elliott, who sells it from the roadside on the A10 near Hauxton, served with purple sprouting broccoli (or ‘psb’ as I like to call it ;)) and a drizzle of homemade hollandaise sauce…

Plating up the starter

Ivana

We called on Delia’s expertise for the hollandaise and it worked a treat, although we both agreed that we could have gone a tad easier on the lemon.

British asparagus & psb w/ homemade hollandaise

British asparagus & psb with homemade hollandaise

We decided to pop out and chat a bit about the main course before we served it up as it’s always quite a rush to get the hot food in front of our guests at this point in a supper club and we don’t feel we get to give it the full attention and¬†description¬†is deserves…

Welcoming our guests

We were really proud of this dish, our take on ham, egg and chips…

Ham, egg & chips

We used¬†Dingley Dell¬†gammon, smoked in-house by our favourite local butchers¬†Northrops, who¬†also¬†deserve a special mention (especially Martin) for giving us consistently good advice. On this occassion we wanted to boil the gammon instead of baking it, on seeing just how big a 7kg joint of gammon was, I realised there was no way I was going to fit it in my fridge to soak overnight, so I lugged a huuuge saucepan along to Martin and he very kindly soaked it for me. The next day, we popped back in with a bag of chopped up carrots, celery, onions, a few peppercorns and bay leaves, which Martin placed around the joint of meat before vac packing it for us! We were essentially going to boil our gammon in a bag (or cook it ‘sous vide’ if you want to be posh about it :)) for 5 hours…there’s no way we could end up with anything but the moistest of meat!

We’d decided that we wanted to really push the boat out and challenge ourselves for this event, how better to do that than to poach 36 eggs! Until about a year ago, I had never poached an egg, but a sure fire way to get good at something is to do it en masse! My technique was to get a pan of water to a very light simmer (very small bubbles just breaking the surface), crack an egg into a small bowl or teacup, then using a balloon whisk, spin the water, creating a vortex. Gently pour the egg into the centre and DO NOT TOUCH! just let the vortex work it’s magic for 3 whole minutes. The success of your poached egg has a lot to do with it’s freshness but sometimes, I reckon you just get a¬†stubborn¬†one! All I can say is….persevere ūüôā

The ‘chips’ part of our main course was based on the American dish ‘home fries‘, which we made by parboiling, then crushing new potatoes and roasting them in the oven with butter and onions.

We served it all up with our homemade ketchup and not so homemade mustard…

Homemade ketchup

I love the moment when we place the last main course in front of a guest and Ivana & I can take a deep breath and watch everyone tuck in!

Busy eating

The next course was the one that got people chatting the most…peanut butter and jelly popsicles…

Popsicles

Handing out popsicles

Unwrapping the popsicles

A layer of chocolate ganache mixed with salted peanuts and a sandwich of peanut butter swirled vanilla ice cream and blitzed raspberries…

The finished article - pb&j popsicle

Tucking in

After a quick party game of musical chairs to mix things up a bit and to get everyone chatting to people they may not have met yet, we rolled out the piece de resistance!…our giant 12 inch, fade, orange drizzle Birthday cake, which we sandwiched with homemade orange curd and iced with dark chocolate ganache and literally hundreds and thousands of hundreds and thousands…

The cake

This is what it looked like naked…

Decorating

Fade cake

Hundreds and thousands

and here’s the finished article before it was wolfed down…

IMG_5809

Slicing the cake

A slice of the action

Going going...

We offered our guests the choice to eat it now or to have a slice packed away in their party bags :)…

Party bags

and those who ate all of their dinner were awarded a special badge…

He licked his plate!

I think I say it every single time but THIS Plate Lickers was my favourite yet…so much fun! We couldn’t do it without guests who ‘get’ what we’re trying to do and come with an open mind, a sense of fun and are ready to be fed…for that I thank you all!

There’s no stopping us now, we’ll be announcing a June supper club in the next couple of weeks so if you would like to hear about it first, and you haven’t done so already, click here and join our mailing list and follow our #platelickers chatter on Twitter.

Branded

Thanks to Ozzy for the lovely photo’s. The full set can be seen here.

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Plate Lickers Eastern European Christmas…

For our 5th Plate Lickers Supper Club we decided to start Christmas a bit early and bring an Eastern European Christmas inspired menu to the good people of Cambridge. The menu was a lot of fun for Ivana and I to compile and prepare and as you may expect, contained a fair few z’s and (compulsory) cabbage…

We both called on our parents for some help and advice. Me & my Dad spent a Sunday afternoon in a beetroot splattered kitchen as he showed me how to make¬†barszcz (beetroot soup) and Ivana’s Mum treated us to some of her divine homemade baklava. There are quite a few similarities between the Christmas dishes and traditions in many Eastern European countries and we tried to cover as many as possible in our 5 courses.¬†

We began the evening at Balzano’s Delicatessen by toasting ‘na zdrowie’ with some homemade Wisniowka (cherry vodka), accompanied by these Bosnian cheese and potato filled pita…

Our guests settled down for the first course, my Dad’s jewel coloured barszcz (beetroot soup) and mushroom filled ‘little ears’ (uszka), so called because of their shape and not because they contain any pork, much to our vegetarian guests relief! :)…

The main course was an exciting one for me & Ivana, we’d been dying to try our hand at cooking pigs cheeks and finally got our chance! We allowed for 1 large pigs cheek per guest, which we got from our lovely local butchers Northrops. They were a true labour of love, taking 7 and a half hours to cook! However they were most definitely worth it! The meat was unbelievably tender and the rich sauce, a great accompaniment to the kasza (buckwheat groats) and sauerkraut…

Our usual sorbet course was replaced by an equally refreshing traditional dried fruit salad called Kompot…

The sweet course was the most amazing baklava I’ve ever tasted, made by Ivana’s Mum!..

Thanks to our fabulous guests we had another lovely evening. It was great to be back in the place where Plate Lickers had first begun in May. We’ve come a long way since then and it really felt like we ended the Plate Lickers year in style, with big smiles on our faces!

Thank you to all of our 2012 guests, local suppliers and venue owners who have helped us make Plate Lickers special.

We’ll be back in 2013 with plenty more exciting events, new themes and secret locations!¬†Sign up¬†here¬†to be kept in the loop!

We hope to see you in 2013!

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Plate Lickers #4

We held our 4th Plate Lickers Supper Club on Friday night. Due to the popularity of the last event and the fact that we had so much fun with the menu we decided to go with the ‚ÄėChildhood Memories‚Äô theme again.

Thanks to all of our lovely guests who really got into the spirit of the supper club, made new friends and even humoured us enough to queue for their dinner, school dinner style :). Thanks also got to John Quysner (Centre at St Paul’s) and Jack (Jack’s Gelato) for his wonderful elderflower sorbet!

You can read Miss Igs write up here and if you’d like to hear about our next events, just sign up here and we’ll keep you posted!

Me and Miss Igs are joining forces at this year’s Mill Road Winter Fair with an Afternoon Tease, Miss Igs and Plate Lickers triple whammy, come and say hi on Saturday 1st December.

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12/11/2012 · 11:11 am

Plate Lickers Supper Club #3…childhood memories

Last night saw the third installment of our Plate Lickers Supper Club, this time with the theme ‘childhood memories’. Ivana (Miss Igs) and I had a lot of fun in the run up to this one…finding the perfect venue,¬†trialing¬†dishes for the menu and of course copious amounts of taste testing!

On one of our recent venue trawls around town we paid a visit to Salisbury Conservative Club and decided it was perfect!…

The old skool hall was reminiscent of the disco’s of our youth and much to our delight was equipped with a fully functioning mirror ball, which we (obviously) put to good use! :)…

Here’s our menu for the evening…

We greeted our guests with White Russians served in mini milk bottles, which raised some questions as to the nature of our ‘childhood memories! :)…

along with platters of canapes…

spinach and tomato pinwheel lollipops…

Grown up cheese and pineapple (I’ll be blogging my pineapple chutney recipe very soon)…

and our piece de resistance, homemade pork pies…

Once everyone was seated we set to work on assembling our fishfinger sandwiches…

We coated the fish in a mixture of panko breadcrumbs and grated Grana Padano cheese before oven baking them. We used sourdough from the Earth’s Crust bread stall on Cambridge Market as well as lashings and lashings of homemade tartare sauce…

The main course took us a long time to prepare but was gone in the blink of an eye so I’m afraid my photos are somewhat lacking. We slow roasted a couple of lamb shoulders from our lovely local butcher Andrew Northrop’s, for 6 hours before stripping the meat from the bone and making it ¬†into a rich stew, which we served with gratin dauphinoise potatoes and winter slaw.

We decided to really pay homage to the theme and to serve the main course school dinner style, asking our guests to form an orderly queue to collect their food. I think Ivana and I did a great job of summoning our inner dinner lady :)…

Our ‘secret special surprise’ came in the form of Jack aka @Jackmade_gelato¬†Cambridge’s very own gelato wizard! Anyone who follows me on Twitter will know that I’ve developed a slight addiction for Jack’s wares and so was really excited when he agreed to be part of Plate Lickers for the night. We’d told him the theme but until he served his secret course even Ivana and I had no idea what it would be!

We looked on eagerly as assembling began…

and it wasn’t long before I twigged that our guests were going to be treated to mini cornetto’s complete with the all important chocolate at the bottom of the cone…

and topped with quince sorbet, which held memories from Jack’s own childhood…

I’d like to say a huge thankyou to Jack, who pulled out all the stops for us and our guests…I believe the regular gelato peddling is on hold for the cold winter months but you should keep your eyes peeled for him at Mill Road Winter Fair!

The wine was flowing and waistbands were being loosened as we served up the dessert course…jaffa lamington cakes, our twist on the jaffa cake made by sandwiching my homemade Seville orange marmalade (blogged here) between 2 layers of sponge, dipping it in chocolate sauce and finally coating it in coconut…

and last but not least came our fluffy pink homemade marshmallows, recipe courtesy of Eat Like a Girl

The buzz of chat was a joy to hear and our evening ended drinking red wine from tea cups (as you do) and chatting to our lovely guests with huge smiles on our faces!

We’ve got another couple of dates in the pipeline so sign up here if you’d like to be amongst the first to here all about them!

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Our 2nd Plate Lickers Supper Club…

Three weeks ago we announced the 2nd¬†Plate Lickers Supper Club, this time with a Middle Eastern theme. Places filled fast¬†and before we knew it, our chosen day, Friday 13th July had rolled around and myself and Ivana (Miss Igs) were embarking upon a very busy day of last minute preparation and cooking ready for our full house of 30 hungry Cambridge foodies! We were still buzzing from our first event¬†back in May and although the feedback we’d received from our guests was wonderfully positive we were determined to up our game and push the boat out even more this time!¬†

We concentrated on using as many local suppliers as possible, one of whom was fruit & veg afficionado, Twitter veteran,¬†Managing¬†Director of¬†Cambridge Fruit Company¬†and serial Foodcycle donator¬†Mr Neil B. Neil was great…he gave us advice on seasonality, price and quantity and then sourced and delivered delicious veggies straight to our door with a huge smile…

We were particularly excited about our secret venue…which we revealed the day before the supper club to be St Paul’s¬†on Hills Road. I’d like to give a big thank you to John, the Centre Manager for all of his help and for allowing us to borrow the church, which we set about dressing in true Plate Lickers style…

and unveiled our Middle Eastern inspired menu…

At 7.30pm our guests arrived…

and were greeted with a pomegranate & vodka cocktail…

and homemade hummus and aubergine dips…

When everyone had settled down at their tables we handed around teacups of our green gazpacho, a refreshing mix of spinach, cucumber, green pepper, chilli, garlic, parsley, yoghurt and ice…

and then it was time for the main event…pork belly, a whopping 8.5kg of¬†Dingley Dell¬†pork belly¬†to be precise…¬†

I’d like to give a very special shout out to the lovely butchers at¬†Andrew Northrop Butchers¬†on Mill Road.¬†When I popped in to have a chat and order our meat they were so helpful, advising me on quantities, whether to cook it on or off the bone (we opted for on) and more importantly, imparting their wisdom on exactly how to make sure our crackling was awesome! They scored the skin for me and then told me that their top crackling tip was to dampen your hand and lightly wipe the surface of the skin wetting it just enough to give the salt something to stick to without soaking it as this would be detrimental to your crackling! As you can see their advice worked wonders!…

You’ll need to keep your eyes peeled on Miss Igs blog to find out¬†exactly¬†how we cooked this beaut, but I can tell you that we ended up with the most tender, fall off the bone, melt in the mouth pork belly, which we served with a couscous salad and a green bean, sugar snap,¬†orange¬†and hazelnut salad and my homemade gooseberry, ginger and elderflower relish (recipe to follow)…

After a refreshing little course of mint tea and orange blossom sorbet we served up the dessert…nut stuffed baked peaches in cinnamon & rosewater syrup with polenta & almond cake…

By this time the light was fading, the atmospheric church setting was coming into its own…

and the wine and conversations was flowing…

We’ve well and truly caught the supper club bug…watch this space for our next date or if you’d like us to keep you informed sign up to our all new mailing list here.

A final thanks to all of our lovely guests, of whom a nerve wracking majority seemed to be food bloggers and writers! We’ve been bowled over by the lovely write ups, mentions and tweets we’ve been receiving since Friday. Here are the ones we know about so far…

Aoife wrote a lovely post about us on her Gastronomic Girls blog here.

Nora has posted about us on her Nora the kitchen ‘Splorer here.

Ireena wrote this on her blog ‘Oh! Not another food blog’

Heidi wrote this fab review, which is also on Local Secrets here.

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