Today’s event was a birthday party for a half centurion. With vegetarians and pescatarians to consider and food intolerances to steer clear of, there was a lot of ‘stewing’ over this menu on my part. It’s funny how some times menu planning just slots into place with no particular effort, whilst others, like this one, disrupt my sleep!
I had the luxury of a bursting herb box (growing with a mind of its own) at my back door so that was a must for somewhere on the menu. The abundance of summer fruits also had to be a feature. So these were the key stones I built the menu from.
To start with, finger sandwich flavours were:
1. Beetroot hummus – a vibrant colour of purple! Anyone after the recipe can get it here.
2. Smoked mackerel paté
3. Cucumber with my garden herbs – I took sorrel, thyme, parsley and oregano from the said herb box (with a mind of its own), finely chopped them and added them to some cream cheese and spread that on instead of butter. It worked a treat.
Next up on the savoury front was small, stuffed baked potatoes – the filling mixed with leeks, garlic and wholegrain mustard and topped with a very punchy cheddar. There weren’t many of these left!
The final savoury was butternut falafel set in a mini pastry case filled with a dollop of my homemade plum and ginger chutney. This was a great combination of flavours and textures. The falafel is quite soft and can be quite dry on its on. The pastry case provided the needed crunch and the chutney some sweet succulence to offset the spices in the falafel.
I was encouraged to provide something chocolate by my guests when they booked this event, so it would have been amiss of me to not pay heed. My choice of chocolate therefore was a New York style baked chocolate cheesecake simply served with a chocolate curl decoration. My ‘tasting panel’ were key in perfecting this recipe and suffice to say, it’s an extremely creamy, chocolatey indulgence. Moreover, my guests seemed quite satisfied with the chocolate choice which was the most important objective.
The apricots on display in the supermarket looked wonderful and so my original plan for the other sweet offering of an apple frangipane turned into an apricot one. I used paté sucrée as the pastry, poaching the apricots in a light syrup before lining the base of the tart with them. The tart was completed by the frangipane filling on top (that did have some rum in it giving a very cheeky kick to the flavour!) and sprinkled with flaked almonds before baking.
The cake of the day was a summer berry cake. I used the génoise method for the sponge. It was worth the extra effort to that of good old Victoria sandwich, as it provided a lovely light texture. The fours layers of sponge were spread with double cream and dotted with a mixture of berries – blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. It was a colourful sight. The challenge came when cutting it!
Buttermilk scones were served with clotted cream and my homemade strawberry jam – another salute to the summer season.
I was very honoured to be applauded with another comment that ‘this tea was far better than anything I’ve had at Betty’s – and I’ve had quite a few there!’
Customer satisfaction is what I’m all about. If people are enjoying my teas that much, there’s only one thing to do … carry on!