With autumn in full swing and the festive Christmas season knocking on the door, it was to this seasonal ‘palette’ of flavours and treats I turned to for inspiration when designing this menu. I also had had an extremely busy time with my day job and therefore needed to be canny with what available time I had to prepare. Despite this, I wanted to maintain the same exacting standards expected at Chez Shamwari thus ensuring a gastronomic delight for my guests.
The food associated with this time of year is warming and comforting but there still needs to be a balance across the menu to avoid it all being too heavy. Hopefully this was achieved interspersing freshness and lighter options in each course: from the cucumber & fresh herbs in the sandwiches to the light, filo pastried, spring rolls to the choux buns.
Here’s the complete menu. Enjoy …
- Cucumber & herbed cream cheese – cucumber can be a bit of a ‘plain Jane’ if not given the due care and attention it needs. The fresh herbs in the cream cheese (dill, mint & parsley) provided the perfect complement.
- Pastrami, pickles & Dijon mustard – generous layers of pastrami with cucumber pickles and Dijon mustard to finish it all off.
- Egg & Cress – nothing but the freshest local farm eggs will ever do for these and a secret combination of seasoning to provide the definitive egg & cress sarnie experience.
- Duchess potatoes with parsnip & rosemary – the parsnip and rosemary adding a little twist to these classics.
- Moroccan spring rolls – these proved to be a real hit around the table if the comments were anything to go by. A winning combination indeed of mildly spiced lentils, basmati rice, feta & spinach (and a few other secrets), encased in delicate filo pastry.
Cakes & scones:
- Choux au craquelin – my inspiration from these is yet again my ‘Pâttiserie’ recipe book. The topping is a simple dough of sugar, flour & butter (with the addition of any colouring & flavouring if so required). It is rolled out, like pastry, very thinly, cut into tiny discs and, once the choux dough is piped onto the baking tray, the discs are placed on the top of the bun and then baked. The effect is a delightful crunchy cream puff. There were three flavours: chocolate, vanilla & raspberry.
- Mulled wine macarons – as today’s afternoon tea was actually on Advent Sunday, marking the commencement of the Christmas season, how could I not make reference to the forthcoming festivities?! Festive spice was added to the macaron shells and they were filled with whipped cream flavoured with mulled wine syrup.
- Apple & maple cake – what could represent autumn more than apples? I actually adapted my carrot cake recipe for this by simply replacing the carrot with equal quantities of apples and also not including any walnuts. It was decorated with a maple syrup cream cheese frosting and spun sugar.
- Buttermilk scones – with jam & clotted cream. Always seems to be last but never least!