Monday, 10 March 2014

A return of sorts

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I appreciate this post will come as a surprise to many, not because of what it says but just I have actually written something on my blog for the first time in bloody ages. To be honest with you, I haven't been inspired enough to write on here lately. This is mainly down to 2 factors. Firstly, documenting meals out. I recently realised that stopping and taking photos of my food when having meals out with friends can be pretty damn annoying for your dining partner who is waiting for you to get the right shot, in bad light before the food goes cold. Plus I came to realise that being in the moment was much more important. Obviously I do still take photos when I eat out, you can see that from my instagram feed, just the thought of pulling out my SLR in a restaurant fills me with dread these days. Secondly, although I do still cook dinner most nights my meals have become less and less about using recipes and more just chuck it all in, give it a taste, add salt, cook a bit longer..add even more salt, add some chilli sauce and then get it straight onto the plate. Recently I have had some great successes but because I hurry to get the food on the table most nights I don't end up taking any notes of what I did and how much of each ingredient I added. I have also come to realise that I just don't feel very comfortable just reposting other's recipes any more, this came to light quite a while back when Dan Lepard's publisher started asking fellow bloggers to remove recipes taken from his Short & Sweet book. It made me realise that someone else had done all the hard work & sharing it without their permission was not on. So, excuses aside, where does this actually leave me? I definitely don't want to stop writing and sharing on this space but I think its time to pull my finger out and start sharing more of my own ideas. I need to go back to why I initially started writing this blog. To document recipes that did and didn't work for me and as a sort of index I could refer back to when I was stumped for what to cook that week. A first step for me will be to revisit old recipes, make and improve them with the hope that it restores some pride in this space. That will hopefully be going on in the background whilst I gradually begin to work on new posts. Bare with me, it will no doubt be slow and a bit painful (for me). I'm not going to set myself any major challenges but overall I'm aiming to post on here a lot more regularly than I have been. As always, watch this space for new Plate Lickers supper clubs as well as possibly some future solo projects too.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Plate Lickers Alternative Christmas

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We're back!
 December saw the return of Plate Lickers. We never intended to take such a long break but life got incredibly busy for us both with the opening of Afternoon Tease cafe and before we knew it almost 4 months had passed. As always, planning the menu was a lot of fun & we were a little flabbergasted with the response. All the spaces were snatched up in a matter of hours and we were a little relieved that you hadn't forgotten about us! It was great seeing lots of familiar faces, and some new ones too as we welcomed them into our not so secret venue for the evening.

So Without further a do, our menu...

Guests were welcomed in from the cold with a teacup of mulled gin made with Martin Millers Gin (which was very kindly sent to us by them). Check out the recipe at the end of this post.
 Guests were treated to some sweet and spicy nuts to go with their gin as we got busy in the kitchen.

The first course a joint obsession of ours. Baked River farm smokery smoked camembert served with homemade hazelnut biscotti for dipping and a cranberry relish.
The pork belly & mushroom & pistachio roast was up next. The pork slow roasted for around 6 hours in a glaze made up of a whole bottle of bourbon, golden syrup, spices & garlic. We also bubbled up some extra glaze on the hob so guests could use it as an alternative to gravy. The vegetarian option was made with a delicious risotto base and cooked on top of lots of cranberries in a loaf tin so that when turned out the cranberries sat on top.

Both mains were served with a sprout slaw and a 'bread sauce' bread pudding. Made by infusing the milk with the same sort of spices as you would for bread sauce and then making a savoury custard to soak the bread in.

 Next up, dessert! Feeling inspired by the US and Thanksgiving we decided on sweet potato pie. I had trialled this a couple of times already with friends and it was very well received. As its a fairly heavy dessert I always thought it could do we something a little fresh so I whipped up a creme fraiche ice-cream. My first foray into ice-cream making. The ice-cream was made by first making a custard base and once cooked folding in the creme fraiche. Without a churner to hand I had to take it out of the freezer every 30 minute and mix it by hand and I was so happy that the hard work was worth it, it did exactly what I wanted it to.

Now, theres always one course I/we forget to photograph. This time around it was the stout Christmas cake paired with Wensleydale cheese. I'll be honest, I thought Jo had slightly lost it when she suggested this little number but I was very pleasantly surprised with the combo. So much so, it became my snack of choice in the days leading up to Christmas. Most guests seemed to be a little apprehensive to begin with but very little was left so I think I can safely say it was well received.

We will be back very soon, we're currently trying to work out a date for January and will be sending out the email shortly. If you're not yet signed up to our mailing list you can do so here

As promised, heres the mulled gin recipe. Perfect for the winter months!

For 2 people
You will need-
  • 100ml gin
  • 200ml apple juice
  • 4tbsp honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 slices of fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves
  • Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
Place all ingredients in a pan and warm slowly over a low heat. Using a peeler, peel some orange skin and add to your glass. If you have the skills, hold the orange skin over a flame to release its oils before dropping into the glass.
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