Archive for the ‘Supper Club’ Category

A Christmas Carol Feast

Roscommon’s best book club ate at my supper club last night for a festive feast.   Earlier this year I cooked the feast from Marlena di Blasi’s The Lady in the Palazzo for the same group.   For their final meeting of 2011 they read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  I was given free reign to choose a menu from foods mentioned in the book.

Negus & Roast Chestnuts

Turkey liver pate, figs & oranges


Bob Cratchit‘s Prize Turkey

Sage & onion stuffing

Roast & mashed potato

Cranberry & apple sauce

Fresh apples & oranges, plum sorbet

Mince pies

Christmas pudding lit with brandy

‘Negus’ is hot port or wine, sweetened and spiced.  I served hot port with sugar, cloves, mace and orange slices as the book worms arrived.  Hot roast chestnuts were served at the table along with tiny turkey liver and fig canapes.

For “gruel”, I ladled a smooth, creamy mushroom soup over cooked and toasted barley and topped all with toasted golden oats and a swirl of cream.  It had the effect of looking like porridge but tasting like a comforting mushroom soup.

Main course was the turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  Scrooge buys the prize turkey on Christmas morning for his employee Bob Cratchit as a gift.  In the famous Christmas feast there’s goose.  We opted for the bigger bird to feed all 12 of the diners.  I bought the turkey from Castlemine Farm, who source it from the Friendly Farmer.  It was free-range and dry plucked.  Tasted amazing and well worth it!

Fresh and exotic fruit features a good bit in A Christmas Carol – piles of them in the green grocers and at the feasts.  Fruit was a treat – try convincing people this now!  T’would be a dietitian’s dream.  I featured slivers of apples and orange segments with a spicy fruit coulis and damson sorbet.

The fruit preceded the traditional mince pies, Christmas pudding and brandy cream. Coffee, tea and chocolates were distributed.  The book club ladies (all ladies) continued to digest and talk books for another while.

It’s said that with A Christmas Carol, Dickens put the Merry into Christmas.  What a feat.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Turkey Liver Pate

My turkey came with the liver, heart and neck.  I made enough pate for about 24 canapes with 1 liver.

1 small shallot, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 turkey liver

150ml red wine

salt & pepper

1 tbsp fresh herbs -e .g. parsley, thyme, sage

85g butter


  1. Melt 25g of butter in a frying pan over a low heat.
  2. Add the shallots and sweat gently until soft – 5 minutes or so.
  3. Add the turkey liver, garlic, pinch salt and pepper.  Increase the heat slightly and cook for 5-10 minutes until the liver is cooked through.
  4. Add the red wine and herbs and simmer until it reduces by three quarters.  Place the whole lot in a jug and blend with a hand blitzer.  Add the butter in small knobs, blitzing between each bit.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Allow to cool fully before serving on bits of toast.
I served the pate with pieces of dried figs that I rehydrated in a simmering, spicy liquor of fresh orange juice (2 oranges), fresh lemon juice (1 lemon), sugar (to taste), mace and cloves.  It took about 10-15 minutes over a low, simmering heat to plump the figs up sufficiently.





‘The Hidden Leek’: Game Supper Club Special

This is how our menu is shaping up for the game supper club this Sunday 27th November.  11 guests will be eating wild for 7 courses!

Rabbit & squash canapes with aperetif

Seasonal vegetable broth, pheasant dumplings

Pigeon: confit leg & seared breast, winter greens

Leek study – griddled, crumbled, velouted

Homemade pappardelle with roast wild duck ragu

Damson sorbet

Venison wellington & hotpot, crisp potato, braised cabbage

Apple tart tatin, homemade vanilla ice-cream

Chocolate petit fours & tea/coffee

If you missed this time, we will also be including some game on our next supperclub – 10th & 11th December.

Supper Club: Vegetarian Special

Odhran (supper club chef friend and co-cook & -founder) and I have had a few requests to run a vegetarian supper club evening.  So the date has been set for Sunday 4th September and we’re setting out the rough menu here.  A 7-course vegetarian menu for all you veggie lovers. Rather than feeling restricted, we’ve really had to struggle over what makes it to the menu. See, we’ve chosen early September for a reason – the selection of produce is pretty amazing and everything is going to taste just as it should.

We’ve also christened our dining experience here – now called ‘The Hidden Leek Supper Club’.  In the next couple of weeks The Hidden Leek will be out on it’s own blog/site….

If you’d like to experience careful, imaginative cooking of purely local and seasonal ingredients, in an intimate dining room with fellow happy eaters then get in touch!  

The Hidden Leek Supper Club

 Menu 4th September 2011 @ 5.30pm


Complimentary Aperetif



Tomato bisque, stuffed cherry tomatoes, basil 

Dillisk crepes, sea vegetable mousse, puy lentil dressing 

Beetroot tasting plate

Damson sorbet, pink pepper sherbert 

Seasonal ‘stew’ stuffed cabbage, polenta chips 

Goats milk yoghurt pannacotta, toffee apple, balsamic & apple syrup 

Chocolate torte & sorbet, honeycomb, coffee sauce, elderberry fritters

Vegetarian cheese plate 


To Book Call: 0879439446 or 0857747319

or email

Roast Beetroot

And a recipe for you…….recently I was cooking dinner for a family gathering.  I wanted to cook everything together in the oven to keep it simple.  This beetroot turned out just lovely – a low temperature oven about 16oC.

Take a good, large piece of tin foil and spread it out flat.  Pile some fresh marjoram in the middle and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.  Leave 1 inch of stalk at the top of the beetroot (medium size – 1 per person).  Scrub the beets carefully without removing the root or stalk.  Place the beets on top of the herb.  Wrap the tin foil up well, trying your best to seal the package fully.  Place the package on a tray and pop into the oven for 2 hours.  20-30 minutes before serving open up the package and allow to cook open in the oven.  I serve these whole, without even peeling the beets – the eaters can work it out for themselves.  The earthy flavour and taste is just so……beetroot!


Pesto Peas, Supper Club & Garden News

We would grow a lot of peas when I was young.  I’m thinking now that large families provide a lot of podders……there isn’t so many peas or young podders around these days.  In later years the ‘posher’ variety of pea ‘mange-tout’ was grown.  The taste of freshly pod peas or mangetout holds a lot of memories.  When first faced with a huge bucket of peas to pod, one would eat plenty – munching on the small sweet peas, making the odd mistake and getting a hard, dry one.  By the end one was truly sick of peas……until the next day.  The podded peas went into bags for the freezer.

I made these ‘pesto peas’ with frozen peas as we don’t have any in the garden as yet. Anyway, it’s probably best not to alter freshly podded peas too much.  They impress us just the way they are.

As a quick, last minute, “what will my 2nd vegetable be?” moment while you’re waiting for whatever it is to finish cooking these are brilliant.  Take your frozen peas and cook in just enough water for 5-10 minutes.  Drain the water and add a couple of tablespoons of basil pesto.  Bash them around with a masher or fork, adding some seasoning – salt, pepper (and a little cream cheese if you have it).  This could also be blended for a lovely pea puree.

pesto peas

On supper club news I’ve just made the ‘pernod’ ice-cream for one of the desserts… to keep it safe until Sunday!  The menu is still pretty much as previous post.  A couple of spots opened up today because of cancellation – we’d be happy to have a few more eaters. Get in touch to find out more (Sarah: 0879439446). Very excited!

Cockails will be served in the Gazebo

Eric Humburg, landscaper, has cleaned up around the gazebo with some nice beds and laid a deck floor within.  There is loads of work going on around the garden – check out this ranch-style fence love it!!

And here’s a 2011 view of the front:

One vegetable I’m looking forward to this year is the aubergine in the tunnel.  I’ve a good few plants in and they’re doing pretty well.  I spotted it’s flower today.

Picking about 2kg strawberries every day so best go and deal with them before they soften.  I’m not complaining – I will love these frozen strawberries in the depths of winter – but I will have enough of them when it’s done.  By the way – I’m washing them, laying them on a tea towel to dry, hulling them and freezing the perfect ones whole on a tray in the freezer.  Once frozen I bag them and return to the freezer immediately.

Beetroot: Putting colour into pasta

There’s nothing quite like the beautiful fuchsia colour beetroot gives a dish.  Grating freshly cooked beetroot into creme fraiche with a little lemon juice, herbs and garlic chives makes a fabulous condiment that elevates your dinner plate to a masterpiece. Last week my lunchtime cheered up no end by the addition of a little chopped beetroot into a warm quinoa salad.

Today I experimented with beetroot pasta for an upcoming supper club (more details and draft menu at end of this post).  Recently I came across a gem of a cookbook for anyone interested in Italian cooking:  ‘The Italian Cookery Course’ by Katie Caldesi.  I took the recipe from here.  It is so simple yet very elegant.  To serve 4 people a light meal I made half the recipe:

150g pasta flour (I used strong flour and it turned out fine….couldn’t get my hands on pasta flour today)

1 egg

1/2 egg yolk

40g cooked beetroot

Put the flour into a stainless steel or glass bowl (beetroot will stain plastic) and make a hole in the centre of the flour.  Blend the egg, egg yolk and cooked beetroot with a food processor or hand blender until smooth.  Pour this paste into the flour.  Begin mixing from the inside out with a butter knife until most of the flour is combined with the liquids.  Now you can get your hand in and bring the dough together.  Knead for 5-10 minutes on a clean work surface (if your pasta is sticky add small amounts of flour until it’s workable without being too dry).  You should have a nice smooth ball that springs back when you press the surface with your finger.  Cover the dough with a clean, inverted bowl and let it rest for 20 minutes.

At this point of pause I put together a filling.  I love the combination of beetroot with goats cheese, and goats cheese with fennel so I made a filling with goats cheese, cooked chard and finely diced fennel (cooked in a little olive oil).  Mix when cool.

I took these photos on the laptop as I didn’t have my camera at home.  You will get the idea I’m sure.

After the resting period, I rolled the pasta with a machine (see previous pasta making post – ‘Pasta from Scratch’) until it was very thin and transparent.  Laying a long sheet of this thin pasta on a floured surface, I placed a teaspoon of the filling 5cm from the edge about 5cm apart from each other.  I then folded the edge over the filling.  The idea then, was to take a wine glass and use it to push air out, whilst using it as a cutter for the ravioli so the shape was a half moon.  A photo will do better justice to this step.

Where you see the wine glass to the left of this picture, I’ve just cut out 1 piece – the wine glass seals the pasta at the cutting point and so long as you’ve tried to push out the air just before cutting you should have a nice piece of beetroot ravioli.  The piece of pasta to the right has little mounds of filling and I proceeded by folding the upper edge over the filling and then cutting out with the wine glass.

This pasta can be cooked straight away in a big pot of salty boiling water for 5-6 minutes.  If you’re making it for later Katie Caldesi suggests par cooking it – for 2-3 minutes before draining and tossing in oil, then covering once cool with cling-film (in single layers so they don’t stick) and storing in the fridge for up to 5 hours.  Finish the cooking when ready to serve.  A nice little sauce with this would be sage butter and pine nuts (suggested in the book – different filling used though).

This has made it to the menu for next weeks supper club – a yummy pasta.  There are 2 spots still free on the 3rd of July’s supper club.  A sumptuous 7-course menu with a pre-dinner cocktail and canapes under our new gazebo in the centre of the organic garden.

Here’s a little idea of what’s on the menu:

Aperetif & Canapes

Wild Venison Plate: Cured & Seared Carpaccio, rye croutons, baby salad

Beetroot ravioli

Squid: chilli, garlic, lime

Gooseberry & Elderflower Sorbet

Pan-fried Hake

Braised shin grass-fed beef, Sicilian style sauce, marrow doughnut

Pernod Ice-cream with Summer Berries

Chocolate Plate

Eat Only Irish Supper Club Special

Great fun today doing some preparation and experimentation for a Special Supper Club evening next Sunday 15th May @ 5.30pm.  It will be the end of ‘Eat Only Irish for a Week’ and hopefully just the beginning of fully appreciating all the wonderful food we have here in Ireland.  Brendan Allen at Castlemine Farm has been championing this week since it took off on twitter and tomorrow starts his and our adventure.  The flavours I had today, however, leave me in no doubt that this week will be very satisfying indeed!

Odhran Crowe and myself got chatting when this all kicked off and decided to run a special Supper Club evening.  Chef Odhran works at Castlemine Farm making delicious meat products.  I run my nutrition consulting & cookery classes.  We both have gardens on the side.  Combined we are very excited and enthusiastic about our 6-course (edging towards 7) menu.  The dining room awaits you – early booking advised!  Email me:


Beef carpaccio, beetroot, Desmond cheese, watercress

Making Ice-cream with Honey - no Sugar!


Aperetif & Canapes

Nettle Soup

Roscommon Freshwater Fish Tasting Plate

Wild Greens

Carpaccio Roscommon beef, Beetroot, Desmond, Watercress

Spring Vegetable Celebration Plate

Lamb rump, Red wine gravy, Lamb kidney pie

Sheep milk carageen pot, Rhubarb & oatbread Icecream, Strawberries