Here at Salad Club we love nothing more than gathering up a handful of good friends to share some food, drink some booze and set the world to rights. A replete kitchen table is one of the best places to be. It is, after all, where this blog was born and where most of our meals are served. A casual toast to nothing in particular, a topped up glass to clink and a big bowl of something tasty in the middle is all you need to set the pace for the conversation ahead. Chewing presents a natural pause in which to listen, topping up glasses encourages those talking to continue with gusto and clearing plates is a sad reminder that all good things must end (that’s where coffee comes in).
A last minute supper for 7 friends on Friday called for a big pan of crowd-pleasing chicken, chorizo and butter bean stew served with warm hunks of sourdough and washed down with the various beers and plonks provided. Pudding was bowls of plums and apricots, caramelised in dark rum, vanilla essence and sugar, melting into generous scoops of vanilla ice cream. All very simple and effective. On Sunday I left Alfred with his dad and wandered down to Ellie’s, red wine in hand, for ladies’ Sunday lunch and a thorough catch up. Delicious roast beef, super crispy roast potatoes, swede and carrot mash and wobbly Yorkshire pudding (just how we like it) were all devoured greedily with lashings of horseradish, gravy and gossip. After the inevitable trip to the shop for more wine and tobacco, Ellie served up gooey slices of homemade pumpkin pie in honour of Halloween and its celebrated root:
Here’s Ellie’s recipe adapted from BBC Food: Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC and line a pie dish with 5-6 powdered ginger nuts and a rolled sheet of shortcrust pastry. Hollow out your Halloween pumpkin, cube the flesh and steam or boil until tender. Drain well and blitz to a pureé. Whisk 2 eggs plus 1 extra yolk in a large bowl and in a pan bring 250ml double cream, 70g muscovado sugar and half a teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and ginger up to a simmer. Pour the spice mixture and the pumpkin over the eggs and whisk everything together. Pour the filling into the pastry case and bake for 40 minutes. Serve warm or chilled with cream or créme fraïche. Finally, take your hollowed out pumpkin, give everyone a sharp knife and carve yourself a new friend: