Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Supper Club

Every second Thursday we hold an event at Lantana called ‘Supper Club’. A bit of a misnomer perhaps. It’s not held in someone’s living room or a disused warehouse, it’s not secret or exclusive, and the food isn’t prepared by enthusiastic home cooks finding a creative release from their day job.

I don’t really know what ‘supper’ is anyway. It was never a term used in our Australian household. I’ve since learned that, as with most things in England, the terms ‘Supper’ and 'Club' are riddled with class undertones, far too complex for me to ever appreciate.

Name aside, the idea for our Supper Club came after having a chat to one of our chefs about a delicious sounding meal he’d cooked for his friends at home. It got me thinking. What would our chefs cook for our Lantana customers if they could cook whatever they liked? The only constraints being, it has to be a 4 course set menu for £30.

So far we’ve held 4 and each one has been confirmation of the personalities and talents of our chefs.  Head chef George is stoically British in his style, choice of ingredients and presentation. 

Smoked mackerel broth with spring vegetables 
Slow braised pigs cheeks with potato gratin and fennel and watercress salad
George in action

Adam, our Australian chef in Lantana Out, is typically Aussie in his approach using big bold flavours with a multicultural fusion bent and a more laid back style of presentation.  

Prawn and sweet corn fritter wrapped in butter lettuce with nuoc cham dipping sauce
Roasted shoulder of pork with steamed pak choy, crisp fried shallots and fragrant herb noodle salad 

They wear their personalities on the plate. 

So call it what you will, Chef’s Gone Rogue, Chef’s at Play or a City Supper, it’s on every second Thursday night, £30 for four courses including a welcome cocktail on arrival. The next one is August 30th and this time sous chef Janine, raised in Scotland with a French mother, has defied my cultural stereotypes and come up with a Middle Eastern menu.
Beetroot gazpacho
Aubergine, pomegranite and crispy pork belly fattoush
Oxtail tagine w wheatberry and almonds
Orange and almond cake w greek yoghurt

For bookings email manager@lantanacafe.co.uk. Bar open from 7.30, dinner served from 8pm.  

George's recipe for Pig's cheeks braised in red wine with potato gratin and a fennel, watercress apple salad.
Serves 4. 
12 pig’s cheeks
A bottle of good red wine
Mirepoix (1 carrot, 1 stick celery, 1 small onion, 1 leek, 2 cloves garlic roughly chopped)
500ml chicken stock
Olive oil

Marinate the pig’s cheeks in the red wine overnight. Make sure the red wine covers the meat and ideally turn the meat a few times. The following day, remove the pig’s cheeks from the red wine and pat dry. Reserve the red wine.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and sear the pig’s cheeks to colour them. Set aside.

Heat a little extra olive oil and add the vegetables to the pan on full heat. Cook until they are caramelised and completely soft. You want to get good colour on the vegetables as this will form the basis of your sauce. Once they are caramelised, deglaze the pan with a splash of the reserved wine.

Transfer the vegetables to a stockpot, add the pig’s cheeks and the rest of the wine. Leave uncovered on a fairly brisk heat and let it bubble away until the volume of the wine is halved. Make a mark on the side of your saucepan so you know when it has reduced by half.

Add the stock so the meat is just about covered. Braise very slowly and gently for three hours with the lid on until the pig’s cheeks are tender. When cooked, remove the pig’s cheeks and set them aside.

Pass the sauce through a fine sieve to remove all the vegetables (discard) then put the liquid back in the pot. Leave the lid off and reduce the sauce again until it’s thickened to a good consistency. When ready to serve, warm the pig’s cheeks in a little sauce then serve with more of the sauce and the following accompaniments.

Potato Gratin
Knob of butter for greasing
750g waxy potatoes , such as Desirée
150ml full-fat milk
142ml carton double cream
1 garlic clove , peeled and halved
2 sprigs thyme

Heat oven to 160C. Grease gratin dish generously with butter.

Peel and slice the potatoes thinly (on a mandolin if possible) to about 2mm thickness. Put in a pot of cold water so they don’t discolour.

Pour the milk and cream into a pan and add the garlic and thyme. Heat to boiling point then reduce heat and thicken slightly. Cool a little before straining into a jug.

Pat the potatoes dry and layer half in the dish, overlapping the slices, sprinkling each layer with a little salt and pepper. Pour over half the liquid and finish layering, then add the rest of the liquid.

Bake for 1-1¼ hrs until the potatoes are tender and the top is golden.

Shaved fennel, apple and watercress salad
1 bulb fennel
1 lemon juiced
1 apple
Handful of watercress
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

Peel and slice the apple to about 2mm thickness and put into a bowl of water that’s had half a lemon squeezed into it.

Finely shave the fennel on a mandolin and toss in the juice of the other half lemon to prevent discolouration.

Drain the apple, pat dry and cut into match sticks. Mix with fennel, olive oil, watercress, salt and pepper.