The Shed

If I can't eat it I don't want to know. Unless it gets me drunk.

Month: February, 2010

Proper mayo part one; girly afternoon tea.

I fear that extolling the virtues of homemade mayonnaise to the food-bloggy world may be preaching to the choir, but here goes anyway.

I now cater for birthdays, or at least I do if you happen to be one of my loveliest friends. The most excellent GK turned 25 last Friday, and as afternoon tea at the Dorchester is a little out of financial reach (for now), I did my best to bring a similar experience to her lovely flat in Barons Court. We (4 squealy girls, 3 bemused boys) had dinky finger little finger sarnies, scones fresh from the oven and ridiculously sinful chocolate brownies all washed down with lashings of Champagne and a spot of Jasmine tea.

For me the star of the show was the homemade mayo. As delicious as only something so fattening can be, proper mayonnaise is the easier and more forgiving cousin of that most wonderful but temperamental of sauces, Hollandaise. If you don’t/rarely make your own mayo, here’s the recipe, have a go! Though not too often, it is just soooo bad for you.

To make about 300ml, which is more than you’ll ever need unless catering for a group, but go on, make the lot and have chips the next day (and the next), you will need;

2 egg yolks
1tbsp Dijon mustard
175ml groundnut oil
75ml light olive oil
A generous squeeze of lemon

Put a big, heavy bowl on a tea towel. In said bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, a big pinch of salt, and the mustard. Combine the two oils in a mixing jug, then slowly incorporate them into the egg-yolk-mustard mixture, whisking furiously as you do. Start with a slow trickle, then increase a little as it all gets a bit thicker, until it’s all combines in a thick, silky, mayo. Add the lemon juice, and if you want a looser texture, a little tepid water.

You may want to muck around with the seasoning/lemon juice/mustard quantities a bit, but this is essentially a good start. Then you can add fresh herbs, or garlic, or infused saffron water or, well, you get the idea. You can make it taste different.

GK’s Special Afternoon Tea
Finger sandwiches (with no crusts!);
Marinated cucumber and cream cheese, eggs mayonnaise, chicken with tarragon and lemon mayonnaise, Forman’s smoked salmon.
Freshly baked scones, warm from the oven, with clotted cream and blackcurrant jam
Triple Chocolate Brownies

I’m hoping to host a proper afternoon tea in The Shed soon, with a few additions to the above made possible by not trekking across town to cook in an unfamilliar kitchen. If you think you’ll be interested, email and I’ll stick you on the mailing list.


An easy, breezy Sunday lunch

Had I not been so massively hungover from Friday night (oh god) then I may have done more shopping, preparation, and cooking before 9am on Sunday. [insert massive fail here]. So up until this exact point all I’d managed to accrue was a giant lamb leg, 7 lemons, and 3 boxes of eggs. Nice work. I did manage to get my act together enough to marinade the lamb at 10pm on Saturday night, but that was the full extent of my Organised Prepping To Make Life Easier.

STILL, to my credit, I didn’t crash and burn, and managed to offer the pre-decided menu in full, and everything was pretty damn acceptable. With TWO puddings. Including homemade sweet pastry, which everyone knows is an attention seeking succubus requiring chilling, resting and a whole load more care and attention than I really wanted to give at ridiculously-behind-schedule-o’clock.

So, Sunday’s set list;

Roasted Pumpkin Soup, Garlic Croutons and Emmett’s Mild Cure Bacon

Spiced Monster Lamb Leg
Mujadara, Pickled Cucumber Salad, Griddled Aubergines
Broccoli with Caper and Parsley Butter, Spicy Tomato Sauce

Lemon Tart
Chocolate Brownie with Toasted Macadamia Nuts and Whipped Cream

(£10 a head including Monmouth coffee, Jasmine tea (eventually), and even a snifter of Calvados. Yes, on a Sunday afternoon.)

All in 7 hours! From scratch! On my own! And it tasted nice!

AND, once the people were arriving, drinks flowing, and – most importantly – stuff was ready, I had a thoroughly excellent afternoon, entirely worthy of a morning of Utter Stress*. Word up to my Sandwiches, Celeriacs, photographers, friends, restaurateurs, and Latitudinal diners; you were most awesome guests and I beseech thee to come again. Especially the delightful Sinead, who endeavoured to do the washing up, THANK YOU!

The lamb was of superb quality, delivered (for free**) by MarkyMarket at my convenience. If you don’t know about MM, he visits Smithfield and Billingsgate at unimaginable hours each Wednesday, to provide a kind of grass-roots home-delivery business for dinner party pros, and also for halfwits like me. I managed to get it pink, and tender, with a load of low-temperature roasting and then a long, loooong resting time, as recommended here.

A word about Friday; we had a wonderful time at another home-restaurant, perhaps too enthusiastic a wonderful time, because I have never, ever experienced a hangover like the one I had on Saturday. If you’re able to behave a little bit better than we did, check out Love a Locavore for a lovely evening in super stylish surroundings.

In short, all’s well that ends well. If you would like to take part in something akin to the above (the meal at our place, not the debauched destruction of another supper club), email and I’ll stick you on the mailing list.

*Don’t feel in any way sorry for me. It was my own fault, I should know better, and will probably end up doing it again because I never, NEVER, learn.

**delivery of lamb was free, lamb was not!