There could be no better way to start the year off than with an afternoon tea. A private booking no less where ‘the fat man in a red suit’ had adorned the relevant Christmas trees with gifts of an afternoon tea at Chez Shamwari. It had all been secretly planned with the benefactor and the date set well in advance too.
There was one definite feature for this menu as some of these guests were ‘revisitors’ and therefore I knew they were partial to a macaron or two. It just remained to sort out the rest. I’m often influenced by what ingredients I may already have available that could do with being used up (I hate wasting food!). This included blue cheese, lemons, macadamia nuts and macadamia nut butter, homemade puff pastry in the freezer. And so formed the basis of my menu …
- Circassian chicken – this is a Turkish dish with a walnut based sauce that marries with poached chicken
- Mature red Leicester cheese (actually Belton Farm Red Fox) with carrot salad
- Egg and cress
- Baked blue cheesecake, pickled beetroot, hazelnut & honey – this was inspired by a recipe from Yottam Ottolenghi’s Nopi cookbook. The pickled beetroot and honey cut through the richness of the cheesecake and the toasted hazelnut added a really nice crunchy texture.
- Pork, onion, rosemary & pine nut parcels – herewith my homemade puff pastry filled with a simply meatball of the ingredients listed and some fennel seeds. These turned out to be an absolute favourite around the table. And what’s more they were so simple to make.
- Macarons – apple & cinnamon and lemon. These little delights are tricky to get right but after much practise, these seem to work for me every time thank goodness. The shells did contain a little bit of intense powdered flavouring (lemon and apple) and then each centre was filled with a circle of double cream on the outside and a dollop of either lemon curd or apple purée in the middle.
- Macadamia biscuits – based on my Mum’s peanut butter biscuit recipe, I used a macadamia nut butter instead of peanut butter.
- Black forest gâteau – I had been disappointed with previous versions of this cake that I had made because I had been very conservative with the kirsch. Not this time! In fact I was worried I had gone too much the other way. I can say it was very flavoursome! The finishing touches were piped chocolate trees and fresh red cherries.
- Scones, clotted cream and homemade (plum) jam
And so another enjoyable afternoon drew to a close and it was time to say goodbye all too soon. Goody bags again hand out to let the Chez Shamwari experience linger.