We're so excited to be taking part in this year's Sheffield Food Festival as part of a fun Ready Steady Cook competition with BBC Radio Sheffield! I'm teaming up with the broadcasting journalist Amy Nagy and will be competing against journalist Toby Foster, who will be joined by our friend and food blogger Sally Morris from Regather. We'll be given a list of local and seasonal ingredients that are chosen by the radio listeners and 30 minutes to cook the winning dish on Sunday 29th May at 12.00pm! Of course, we will add a POPPYSEED twist to the dish, which surely will give us a competitive edge! Find out more about the event by tuning into the breakfast show on Monday, 23rd and Thursday, 26th May or call in and suggest what you would like to see us cooking. Most importantly, come to the festival and support us when we're on stage battling it out!
Has Leeds become the food and drink capital of the North? With a thriving culinary scene and the recent award of a Michelin star, this question may well be justified. And with regards to the underground dining scene, there is certainly a lot to explore.
As such, we recently ventured North to dine at the ever so popular supper club Dinner at the Manor, run by best friends Dan & Susie, who we had met previously at another very popular (and highly recommended!) venue in Leeds, the Swine that Dines. Places at the Manor sell out within minutes upon going online and we missed out multiple times in the past. But we've managed to snatch up 2 spaces for a lunch themed "Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries III". The concept of Dinner at the Manor is different to ours as in that each event is based on one of Dan & Suzie's favourite cook books and diners get to try (and read about!) selected recipes. The long wait was well worth it as our experience totally lived up to the high expectations that had built up, even more so when we saw the menu about a week before the supper club!
On arrival, we were greeted with a refreshing alcoholic / non-alcoholic raspberry cooler and shown the lovely decorated dining room where we met the other 9 guests. Conversations around the table were already in full swing when we arrived and continued vividly throughout the meal. The cocktail was accompanied with two canapés: crisps bruschetta with spicy nduja sausage and melt-in-the mouth dumplings made with ever so flaky puff pastry, filled with apple and Stilton and served with sweet onion pickle; a perfect combination of textures and contrasting flavours!
The canapés were followed by a series of small plates, all of them skilfully prepared, beautifully presented and in my opinion perfectly harmonising with each other, something that I find very important. There was fish and meat, both hot and cold; there was crunch and creaminess; there was sharpness and sweetness... Each plate was a delight and if asked, I'd struggle to pick my favourite one. I also loved being able to read up on the recipes and find small adjustments that the duo had made.
Needless to say that every single plate went back into the kitchen empty leaving only very little room for dessert. However, the dessert of rhubarb and custard was so light, pretty and delicious that it didn't require any effort to be polished off too. With coffee and tea served alongside lovely buttery and nutty biscuits, Dan & Suzie joined the party for a bit of chat. This was a great opportunity for the guests that is unique to supper clubs to ask questions, talk about food and hear what our fellow supper club hosts are planning in the coming months.
Leaving very impressed and completely satisfied, we hope to snatch up a couple of the Manor's desired places again in the future!
Note: Not only were we lucky enough to eat at Dinner at the Manor, but we've also had the pleasure to host Dan and Suzie and their partners at one of our POPPYSEED supper clubs back in autumn. Find out on their blog what they thought of it!
A couple of weeks ago, we welcomed diners at POPPYSEED's table for a very joyful supper club all in the spirit of Carnival. "Carnaval" in France, "Fasching" in Germany or "Fasnacht" in Switzerland is taken very seriously with lots of festivities, original costumes and of course traditional food and drinks. The so-called "5th Season" stretches over a period of several weeks but most celebrations take place in the lead up to Shrove Tuesday and normally end with beginning of Lent. This means: last chance to tuck in until Easter!
With this in mind, our menu featured several party dishes that are very popular on the Continent, but as always, we put a POPPYSEED twist on them and used local and seasonal produce as much as possible.
On arrival, our guests were treated to a glass of "Weisser Bischof", which is a hot punch made out of white wine, apple juice, lemon juice and mulled spices - perfect on a cold winter's day. Alongside, we served vegetable crisps and palmiers - small puff pastry rolls filled with our homemade black pudding, cheddar and poppyseeds. These were very much appreciated and we quickly refilled the little bowl.
Moving on to the main menu, the first course was our nod to Shrove Tuesday. We made savoury pancakes, or "galettes" as they're called in France made out of buckwheat flour and light beer that we served warm. These were filled with duck confit that had been slowly cooked in goose fat, taken off the bone and mixed with our foraged elderberry chutney. The skin was crisped up under the grill and chopped to provide texture alongside roasted walnuts and a slice of creamy goat-cheese.
Next, followed a fresh and light course that we called "Multicoloured Salad-Trifle" and that we served in individual kilner jars. You'll find these kind of in glass bowls layered salads on nearly every party buffet in Germnay and so we've adapted it for our guests. Lettuce, sweetcorn, tomato and cucumber were layered in jars and topped with crayfish marinated in Marie's sauce, a sauce made out of homemade mayonnaise, tomato paste, honey and seasoning (yes, no ketchup nor sugar anywhere!). Alongside the salad we provide a classic vinaigrette for everybody to help themselves and another typical party buffet item: beer-buns! These are essentially like Irish soda bread, but instead of buttermilk and wholemeal flour, beer and rye flour are used for the dough, which is also flavoured with the typical German bread spice, carraway.
The highlight of the meal was the gulasch-soup that made everybody come back for seconds! It contained venison brisket from Round Green Farm and our home-cured Speck that, together with lots of onions and gulasch spices, was slowly braised in dark beer and venison stock. Because we prepared the stew the night before, its flavours had plenty of time to develop and so it did! Just before serving we added dices of cooked turnips that looked like little jewels in the soup and topped each bowl with a crumbly pastry disc. If you are interested in the recipe, we've contributed it to the Guardian's "Hotpot" Recipe Swap a couple of weeks later; and please, feel free to recommend it if you like it!
As always, we gave our very appreciative diners a little break before serving dessert, which provided us with a chance to have a chat and tell them (all supper club first-timers!) a bit about POPPYSEED.
Dessert had to be "Faschingskrapfen", the most traditional and popular sweet dish eaten during Carnival in Germany. They are very similar to doughnuts, but unlike in Anglican countries, only eaten during these Carnival festivities. Traditionally, they are dusted with icing sugar and filled with apricot jam, though nowadays all kinds of creations can be found. We thought of giving our diners a bit of a choice and made tiny Krapfen that were served slightly warmed as a "Krapfen-tower" alongside 3 dips: apricot&lime&ginger jam, spiced chocolate sauce and orange curd for everybody to share. Once again, they went down a treat and only very few Krapfen were left - the best compliment I can imagine!
We swiftly went on to make coffee and tea for everybody and because it was Valentine's Day the following day, as petits fours, we had prepared heart-shaped meringues that were dusted with freeze-dried raspberries and chocolate & amaretto meringues. It was great to see our guests enjoy the food, company and atmosphere so much and we very much hope that it was not their first and last visit of a supper club!
We recently had the great opportunity to cook a truly Anglo-German feast at Whirlow Hall Farm in collaboration with our dear friend, 1st supper club guest and amazing host Helen Davies, also well-known under @Pickled_Pair. A blog post about the feast will hopefully follow soon, but following popular demand we are posting the recipe here for cinnamon stars, which were served as part of the dessert.
In nearly every German home kitchen, there is frantic and almost competitive baking going on during the lead-up to Christmas to produce the prettiest, tastiest and largest selection of Christmas goodies (or "Weihnachts-Plaetzchen"). The cinnamon star is kind of the Rolls Royce of the Christmas goodies platter as it looks very elegant with its shiny white coating and it is utterly delicious, but also a bit tricky and fiddly to make. However, we think it's well worth the effort and are so pleased that our diners liked them so much. Find the recipe and a few tips and tricks below.
For about 25 stars:
Now comes the tricky part as the dough is very sticky and fragile.
Roll out the dough between clingfilm or baking paper to a thickness of about 1 cm. Using a shaped cutter, cut out star shapes and carefully place them on a baking sheet line with baking paper. Carry on until all the dough has been used. Using a palette knife or the back of a teaspoon, spread a good layer of the reserved meringue onto each star, making sure all spikes are covered. Leave to dry in a cool airy place for 12h. Bake the stars in a medium oven (160°C) for 5-8 min but watch them as they darken very easily. Leave to cool completely.
A few tips:
The most talked-about dish of our Autumn Harvest supper club, was the roasted winter squash soup! Diners loved its intense flavour, richness and vibrancy. So much so that we've decided to post the recipe here on our blog. The key for this recipe is to roast the whole squash slowly in a medium oven and to blend it with its beautiful orange skin. And of course the quality of your squash is crucial; we used organic ones from the lovely shop Barra Organics on Sharrow Vale Road in Sheffield.
INGREDIENTS (serves 6 as a starter)
2 winter squash (get small organic ones if you can)
1 small floury potato
1 small carrot
1 clove of garlic
50-100ml full-fat milk
Fresh juice from ½ orange
Seasoning: fresh ginger (1-2 cm of the root), cayenne pepper, sea salt
Half the squash, drizzle with rapeseed oil and season with sea salt. Place on a tray and roast in the oven at 160°C for about an hour. Scoop out the seeds half-way through (this is easier once the squash has softened a bit). If you wish to serve the seeds, rinse them in cold water, dry and roast them with a little salt and golden caster sugar for the remaining 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, roughly chop the potato, carrot, garlic and 1-2 cm of a ginger root, cover with water and cook until soft. Combine the roasted squash, cooked vegetables and cooking water in a blender and blend until smooth. You may have to add some more water. Return the blended soup into the pan, rinse the blender with milk and add to the soup. Next, we added some freshly squeezed orange juice but you can also add a little sour cream if you like. Adjust the seasoning with cayenne pepper and salt.
Serve warm in bowls and drizzle with you choice of oil. We made some black garlic oil, which counterbalanced the richness of the soup really well. We found this recipe on this blog.
On October 24th, POPPYSEED's table celebrated Autumn's Harvest with a fantastic array of seasonal and local produce. Halloween was also coming up, so we went back to its original meanings and did a bit of research about traditional continental dishes that used to and still are served on All Saints and All Souls Day. The result was a fun and spooky menu playing around with black ingredients. For the first time, we opened up the table to 8 diners, which sparked conversations and made for a very entertaining evening. Our diners, some of which had been to POPPYSEED before, some of which experienced underground dining for the first time, gave us a little bit of a challenge by requiring vegetarian and gluten-free alternatives to our menu. However, it was a challenge we rose up to and hope to have met.
As apéritif, we served a bright red drink called Tocco Rosso, which contains campari, elderflower syrup, prosecco and mint. This was accompanied by a selection of home-made black canapés: black olive tapenade, black bean hummus, black tea - marbled quails eggs, and some pork crackling for the carnivores. Alongside, we had baked a French harvest bread stick called epi, which is intended to mimic the appearance of the flower of the wheat stalk, and a 100% rye sourdough bread.
With conversations in full swing, we moved to the dining table and served the first course: a silky soup made of slowly roasted organic squash from Barra Organics, topped with roasted squash seeds and drizzled with black garlic oil, for which we found inspiration a bit further afield than we normally do, but its bitterness worked very well with the richness of the soup. Next, we offered our guests a choice of meat or vegetarian starter that both included trumpet of the dead mushrooms - the most suitable ingredient for an All Saints Eve celebration, we thought. The offerings were a light egg flan, slowly baked in a bain-marie or a wild rabbit terrine with black berries. Both dishes were gluten-free. This was served alongside a raw beetroot and apple salad and pontack sauce, which is a bit of a forgotten sauce but we believe it deserves a revival as it gets you out into the wild to get some free food! Elderberries (foraged in the Peak District) were slowly braised together with shallots in cider vinegar and spices before being jarred. It works perfectly with game and is a great source of vitamins throughout the winter as it keeps for several months.
The main course was a nod to our neighbours back home: Austria as it was their National Day on 26th October and so we chose to serve one of their national dishes roast pork. A rolled shoulder from Moss Valley pigs reared in Sheffield was stuffed with a mixture of dried fruits, chestnuts, bacon and oatmeal before being braised slowly and gently in Yorkshire cider (OK, we diverted here from Austria and used local produce) and pork stock. The braising juices were degreased and reduced to create a lovely silky sauce whilst the crackling was crisped up under a hot grill. Once crisp, don't cover the meat under tin foil as the crackling goes chewy is a lesson that we learnt that evening! Braised red cabbage was served alongside as well as apple sauce for people to help themselves. To carry on with our black theme, we made gluten-free squid ink tagliatelle using spelt flour. This was very exciting and allowed us to use our newest kitchen gadget! For our vegetarian diners, we used the same stuffing but replaced the bacon by Yorkshire Blue to fill ravioli made out of beetroot pasta and served them with a sage and pine nut butter. Having been a bit too generous with our portion sizes, it was time for a break, which allowed us to sit down with our guests and have a well-deserved chat.
Dessert contained again some dark offerings in the form of a chocolate sorbet, which was served in hollowed-out iced oranges as well as a dark caramel sauce made from fresh orange juice. While researching dishes that are traditionally served on All Saints Eve, we came across a pastry from the South of France called niflette, which consists of puff pastry topped with an orange-flavoured crème patissière. Petit Fours also saw a traditional and seasonal treat, this time from Spain: Huesos de Santo, meaning Bones of the Saints. Together with a choice of coffee and tea, these were a perfect way to finish our seasonal and spooky menu!
Once again, we thoroughly enjoyed hosting our guests and were delighted with the feedback. POPPYSEED's table will from now on seat 8 diners and dates for the New Year will be announced soon! In the meantime, we will be popping up at various locations in Sheffield, so stay tuned!
After a summer break, POPPYSEED's table was set up again on Saturday, 26th September to host another lovely group of diners. The menu for the evening was inspired by our wonderful summer holiday in the Gran Paradiso National Park. With its origins from Piedmont and neighbouring France and Switzerland, the local cuisine has created a wealth of delicious and unique dishes. We were lucky to experience both rural, comforting food high up in Alpine huts as well as exquisite fine dining cuisine in the valley. What always stood out, was the simplicity, quality and passion for local ingredients, which the Italians are so well-known for. See below a selection of fantastic dishes and produce we encountered on our hiking trip.
Some foodie pictures from our hiking trip in the Gran Paradiso National Park in Italy
We wanted to showcase some of the local ingredients and traditional dishes from the Aosta Valley and designed the menu based on our experience and some research into the local cuisine. However, the supper wouldn't have been a POPPYSEED event without including some foraged ingredients and making the most of our fantastic Yorkshire produce!
On arrival, our guests were treated to a welcome drink of prosecco mixed with Crème de Mûre - a homemade liqueur using wild blackberries. Accompanying canapés were little puffs: puff pastry topped with either ricotta and spinach or porc rillettes, honey mustard and crackling (everything was homemade including the ricotta and mustard). In addition, we had made grissinis (thin bread sticks that are always served alongside Italian meals) flavoured with oregano, sea salt and poppyseeds and served with a basil joghurt butter. Once our diners got to know each other, we moved on to the dining table and as antipasti, served mixed leaves topped with buttered wild girolle mushrooms, honey-roasted fig, roasted hazelnuts and thin slices of lardo, an ingredient that we brought with us from Italy. This was followed by a traditional dish of the region called Seupa à la Vapelenentse that makes use of the local cheese fontina (Thanks Nick & Nicky from the Porter Brook Deli for sourcing it!) and leftover dark rye bread. A meaty beef stock is poured over layers of stale slices of bread, blanched white cabbage and fontina cheese before the dish is baked in the oven thereby creating a golden cheesy crust. Whilst very simple, this dish was very comforting and generated the highest interest amongst our diners. Moving on, we had to serve the most local dish of Aosta, a Carbonade Valdostana , which consists of cured beef, braised in red wine and flavoured with spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Whirlow Farm provided us with a beautiful silverside that we cured for 6 days before marinating it over night in red wine and braising it slowly for several hours. For an extra treat, we included dried porcini mushrooms in the sauce and served creamy polenta and caramelised onions alongside. We were delighted to provide second helpings of meat and sauce, which were mopped up with our homemade rye bread.
It was time for a break and a chat with our diners, which is always a great opportunity to escape the kitchen for a while and receive some invaluable feedback from our diners. For dessert, we made Cogne Cream (a set chocolate custard originating from the town of Cogne that is often flavoured with rum) accompanied with pear sorbet and tegole biscuits. Whilst the pear sorbet was deliciously smooth and refreshing, we will have to adjust our recipes to make the Cogne cream more boosy and the biscuits sweeter! Nonetheless, a very successful supper was concluded with single origin coffee from the Foundry Roasters, which went down a treat and sweets of elderberry and apples fruit pastilles and honey nougat with candied chestnuts and hazelnuts.
Pictures are courtesy of our lovely guests from Dinner at the Manor
We were delighted to host a couple that had been to POPPYSEED before as well as the talented people from the Dinner at the Manor, a very popular supper club in Leeds. Apart from being lovely guests, they also wrote about their experience at POPPYSEED and you can read all about it on their blog. Thanks Dan and Suzie!
May feasts ("Maifeste") are held all over Germany to celebrate the arrival of spring. An old tradition calls for a decorated May pole to be put up on the eve of 1st May as part of a procession with lots of dancing and music and of course, food & drink. May poles are then closely guarded to avoid another common practice: stealing May poles the following night! If successful, this may become very costly for the village as a ransom in the form of beer & food has to be paid to the thieves!
For our May Feast themed supper club we served a menu celebrating seasonal and foraged ingredients, starting with a traditional May punch, a drink of sweet woodruff-infused white wine mixed with sparkling wine. The non-alcoholic version of woodruff-infused apple juice with sparkling water was just as refreshing and delicious. Seasonal canapes included Yorkshire radishes coated with radish-leave butter, poppyseed & parmesan puffpastry sticks, home-baked bread with wild-garlic flower butter and for the carnivores, crispy pig's ears - courtesy of Moss Valley meats with rhubarb chutney. Drink and canapes played their magic and got our 7 guests chatting and laughing immediately so that we soon moved over to the dining table for the 4-course meal.
A white asparagus soup drizzled with wild garlic oil and served with potted brown shrimps and rye crisps was served as the first course. Though very popular on the continent, sourcing white asparagus in the UK was a challenge, but once again, Beanies wholefoods saved the feast! The soup was followed by a trout terrine with apple-horseradish cream and a rocket and wild pink purslane salad. The trout was home-caught and cured and made into a terrine, which was wrapped in leek leaves. For the main course, we decided to serve poultry as one of our diners doesn't eat red meat, and took on the challenge to serve turkey the German way. The leg was brined, de-boned and stuffed with a chicken liver parfait with prunes and walnuts before being slowly braised in turkey stock. It was served with home-made sauerkraut, bacon, wild-herb bread dumplings and lots of gravy. After the main course, it was time for a rest allowing us to sit down with our guests for a chat before preparing our colourful dessert, which championed this supper's Ark of Taste forgotten food product: Goosnargh Cakes. These forgotten cakes are made after an old recipe from Lancashire and were traditionally served at Pentecost, which fitted nicely with our May theme. The biscuits flavoured with caraway seeds were accompanied with a strawberry jelly, dandelion ice-cream (find the recipe here), strawberry puree, cream, mint and dandelion-honey. We loved seeing the clear plates coming back into the kitchen and were happy to make coffee and tea for our guests. A final treat of poppyseed-meringues and for a bit of fun, iced lollies of rhubarb sorbet dipped in milk chocolate rounded off a fantastic evening. We thoroughly enjoyed our second supper club and are immensely grateful for the amazing and very thoughtful feedback that we received.
As every year, we spent Easter in lovely Upper Bavaria and enjoyed plenty of traditional and delicious foods. We kicked off the Easter weekend with a hearty lunch on Saturday at one of Bavaria’s most famous monasteries and breweries: “Kloster Andechs”. Tasting their range of beers on a sunny summer’s day in the Biergarten whilst overlooking the mountains would be the ultimate experience, but given the wintery temperatures there at Easter, we dismissed this idea and comfortably sat down in the “Stube”. On the menu: Andechs’ signature dish, a knuckle of pork with potato dumplings and a beer sauce accompanied of course by the famous wheat beer brewed at the monastery's premises and for a bit of freshness and colour, a mixed side salad with house dressing (yes, salads can be exciting!). The dumplings were stuffed and topped with buttery breadcrumbs, the meat was succulent and the crackling justified that sharp knife that was tucked into the meat. It was a delight! Given the size of the portion, we opted to share a dessert and chose another Bavarian classic, “Dampfnudel”. This very hearty and comforting dish consists of a lightly caramelised steamed brioche bun served with plenty of vanilla custard. After lunch, we were ready to brave the cold again for a walk along one of Bavaria's beautiful lakes before meeting the big family.
Easter Sunday saw the family gather together for the annual Easter brunch, which is always one of my highlights of the year. It follows tradition but at the same time offers the opportunity to create new dishes and test them on the family. The traditional part contained several ingredients that are commonly presented in a basket to be blessed in church prior to the feast: bread, eggs, salt, ham, horseradish and an Easter-brioche. In addition, this year’s feast also included a selection of cheeses, a tomato and mozzarella salad, quark with fresh herbs, Bircher Müsli and as an extra treat, smoked salmon from @TheFishMannS11 specially exported to Germany!
Thankfully, the weather was better on Sunday and we were able to go for a long walk after brunch, thereby giving the Easter bunny plenty of time to hide our Easter nests (filled with chocolate eggs) in the garden. Each nest has a name tag and the rule is that everybody, young and old, has to find their own nest. We have spent hours for this in the past; however the anticipation of a delicious chocolate Easter egg makes the effort well worth it. Once everybody had found their nest we got together around the table once again for some coffee and Easter cakes, which were all made by my family's artisan bakery, and which made for a sweet end to a lovely day with the family.
I already can’t wait for next year’s Easter celebrations…!
The first course on the menu was a chervil soup topped with sour cream and roasted aniseeds. Chervil is traditionally eaten on Maundy Thursday ("Gruen Donnerstag" in German) and widely available around Easter time in Bavaria, but not in the UK! However, after several weeks of investigation, I found a greengrocer who was happy to give me some of his home-grown chervil. Thanks Beanies! The soup was followed by a starter of smoked char with pickled rhubarb, horseradish cream and a green salad. The char, a Bavarian speciality, was specially imported by my mum who came to visit shortly before the supper club took place. After a change of glasses, the main course was served: slow-cooked venison with spelt spätzle, poached apples topped with wild blackberry jam and a dark red-wine sauce. The non-meat eaters got “Käsespätzle”, again a very traditional Bavarian dish made of small egg pasta layered with cheese. We stopped for a little break before dessert, which allowed us to sit down with our guests for a chat. Dessert featured rhubarb again, both baked and frozen in form of a sorbet, along with a traditional strudel filled with quark and vanilla custard on the side. Plates were polished so quickly that I came too late with my offer of more custard, but I couldn’t have asked for a better endorsement. The meal was rounded off with a choice of tea and coffee and petits fours: lemon & poppy seed macarons as well as rum chocolate truffles.
I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and I believe my diners did too! After this successful start, I was delighted to see a lovely article about POPPYSEED in the Food & Drink section of the Sheffield Telegraph. And I’m very happy to announce dates for future supper clubs, which can be booked through the website.