Category Archives: Supper Club

Almond Milk Jelly

Here’s another recipe from my Supper Club Feast. I’m releasing them slowly, in drips, to keep you on your toes.

This is not necessarily a winter pudding, it will make a lovely light desert for spring (now that it has arrived) and is a perfect way to use the last of the pomegranates that are still just in season.

Jelly had always been on the agenda for the Supper Club and was, I think, the first decision I made. It was decorative, light, wobbly and unusual. The one I made was a lovely delicate creature, flavoured with almond essence and only slightly sweetened. It actually surprised me just how easy it was. Now it seems, the jelly possibilities are endless.

Sadly I have no picture for this. The one I took looked like some massive sea anemone which was so far from the elegant truth.

I served it with pomegranate seeds and pears poached in red wine and mulling spices.

Almond Milk Jelly

500 ml (17 fl oz) organic whole milk

2 tsp powdered gelatine

2 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp pure almond extract

Seeds from 1 pomegranate

First test your jelly receptacle(s). Make sure the amount of milk fits, you don’t want to be caught short with jelly as it does start to set quite quickly especially as it hits the side of the mould.

Now add the gelatine to 150ml of the milk and leave it to soak for 5 minutes.

Warm the remainder of the milk, caster sugar and almond essence in a pan. It needs to be below boiling point, not very hot but not only luke warm either … When it has reached this very approximate temperature slowly mix it into the gelatine infused milk and whisk to make sure there are no lumps. If you get lumps, put it back on a low heat and whisk like mad until they have dissolved.

Now pour it into your prepared mould (or moulds) and refrigerate until it has set (at least a couple of hours)

TIP: To remove your jelly, find a bowl larger than your mould and put a small amount of of boiling water in the bottom. Lower your jelly (open side UP) into the water making sure the water doesn’t rise too high and spill over into your jelly. Leave it for about 5 seconds then remove the mould from the water, put a plate on the open top, flip the plate and the jelly will slide out. It’s pretty robust so don’t worry that it might slide into a disappointing puddle.

Serve it with the pomegranate seeds scattered over or around. The combination of milky, delicate jelly and the sweet pop of the seeds is truly lovely.

Alternatively you could put the seeds into the mould at the start and pour the jelly over so they become suspended in a wobbly jelly force field.

TIP: To remove seeds from a pomegranate cut it in half, take a large bowl and a wooden spoon and smack the un-cut side of the pomegranate hard with the spoon over the bowl and the seeds will fly out at a most satisfying speed!

OK… here’s the sea anemone…


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Filed under Catering, Christmas, Fruit, Kitchen Tips, Pudding, Quick, Recipes, Supper Club


Some special thanks are in order for my local suppliers who brought me the amazing ingredients that made the first Anna’s Cafe Supper Club the delicious event it was!

William Rose Butchers.

Purveyor of excellent meaty goods on Lordship Lane

(“How many pheasants?!”)

SMBS Green Grocers

… also on Lordship Lane

(“You want purple carrots of a PARTICULAR size?!”)


A Special mention also goes out to Khans Bargains on Peckham Rye Lane for the most amazing spice aisle anyone has ever seen and for providing all the miscellaneous items like orange flower water, little thin candles,  an ENORMOUS bag of ground almonds at a ridiculously low price, spices spices spices, and a shiny new slotted spoon!

Image courtesy of the hilarious Khans Bargain tribute post on gorgeous food blog Food Stories

And finally to Nick Cash. For his excellent homegrown jerusalem artichokes. Straight outta the allotment!

T H A N K   Y O U   A L L !

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Filed under Supper Club

Say Happy New Year with a Big Pork Pie!

I’m sorry I didn’t share enough recipes with you BEFORE Christmas day, I was so caught up with the supper club that I didn’t focus on the Christmas meal until the day itself! Luckily my wonderful mother had made a schedule after my own heart (I wonder where I get it from) and had planned every meal leading up to the big one. All were absolutely delicious with recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and of course, our family’s festive favourite, Elizabeth David.

Every Christmas morning when I was small we had Elizabeth David’s Chelsea Buns for breakfast. Such a treat, we re-ignited the tradition a couple of years ago and although I still leave the cooking of these to my mum, I thought this year I would watch and learn, then re-create the fun back home for all to enjoy! I’ll be making these within the next week so you can all enjoy some new year stodge….but for now, I thought I’d share with you the glories of the pork pie.

I made two of these bad boys for the Festive Feast and they were a) a challenge, and b) a lot of fun.

I borrowed from both the wonderful Nigel Slater and genius Rick Stein for this recipe. The main recipe is essentially Nigel’s but I flipped between the two for tips and alterations.

My Top Tips and Porky Pie Tricks:

1.  Make sure you work with your pastry when it is still hot. Once it cools (which happens quickly so don’t dither) it goes solid, unusable and quite disgusting.

2.  Make sure there are no cracks or thinner weak points in the pastry. It behaves really well and is malleable enough to avoid this if you are careful

3.  Jelly: I was very confused about this. Most recipes call for you to make a pork stock (not. much. fun.) using trotters (you see). These apparently guarantee a jelly but I did not have such easy success. In the end I skimmed and sieved my pork stock and added gelatine to guarantee a set. I did not want to end up with the dreaded ‘soggy bottom’ syndrome with an un-set jelly! This said, I did have a few ‘leaks’ in pie 1 (see point 1!) You must also add your jelly while the pies are still warm (not straight out of the oven hot) otherwise during cooling the pastry and the filling separate and the bottom weakens. Do this while the pies are still in the tin and then leave in the fridge to set completely before gently, carefully and respectfully removing them!

4.  Hand cut your meat, don’t buy mince. I know it sounds laborious but it makes for a much more textured bite and satisfying filling.

5.  As soon as the pies come out of the oven run a large pallette knife around the edges (CAREFULLY) as the fat from the meat will have surged out of the hole in the top and created an impossible layer of ‘fat glue’ which will stick to the tin. Lovely.

Festive Pork Pies

Enough for 12 very hungry people

You will need 1 x 20cm cake tin with a removable bottom (this is really important otherwise getting it out is going to be impossible!)


Pork bones (just ask your butcher for about 1kg)
2-4 pig’s trotters
1 onion
1 carrot
1 small bunch of parsley stalks
1 rib of celery
a smattering of black peppercorns

Pie Filling

1kg boned pork shoulder
250g pork belly
250g streaky bacon
2 sprigs of thyme
2 sage leaves
½ tsp ground mace
½ tsp ground white pepper
2 good pinches ground nutmeg


200g lard
220g water
575g flour
1 beaten egg

First make your stock (I suggest doing this the day or at least several hours before to test its jellification level… New word coined here at annascafe, a pretty fine one I think).

Put everything in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and then turn heat down to a simmer. Keep an eye on this, pork stock generates an unsavoury amount of SCUM which you must religiously remove. Keep this simmering for 3 hours. Then strain the stock through a sieve and return to a clean pan. Now boil it vigorously until it has reduced to 1 pint.

Now to test it’s jellification capabilities. Put it in a clean jug and into the fridge. Keep an eye on it. It should set to jelly within about 3-4 hours (but for safety if you have time, leave it overnight). If it does, SUCCESS. You can reheat this to liquid again when you are ready to fill your cooked pie.  If not, never fear. When your pie is ready to fill (and ONLY then) use a leaf or a sachet of gellatine (according to pack instructions for quantity. 1 sachet normally = 1 pint)  Re-heat your reduced stock then follow pack instructions to make a jelly. You have to use this instantly so don’t do it until you are ready to fill the finished pies!

Now prepare your meaty filling.


Roughly chop all your meat into very small dice. It takes time but is worth it for the end result. (If you really can’t be bothered chop half and then roughly chop the rest into large chunks and whizz in a whizzer aka Magimix or similar).

Strip the leaves off the thyme and finely chop your sage.

Now get a really big big bowl and add all the herbs and spices then the meat and mix it all together using your hands until it is well combined. Shape it into a rough ball and set aside and make your pastry.


Pre-heat the oven to gas 3 (160 degrees)

Be prepared to move fast now because as soon as the pastry is ready you have to work with it.

Grease your tin with butter and then dust it all over with flour. To get a good even coverage put a tablespoon of flour into the tin once greased and then rotate the tin while tapping it to move the flour all over the surfaces. Discard any leftover flour.

Get a large board and rolling pin ready and dust both with flour. Keep a little bowl of flour to hand.

If you want to decorate your pie, get your pastry cutters out too.

Now for the main event:

Heat the lard and water in a pan (watch out, this is a bit smelly!)

Sift the flour into a large bowl and add a good pinch of salt.

When the the lard and water have come to the boil remove from the heat and pour into the flour.

Stir with a wooden spoon until combined (it will be a bit gravelly to start).

Once combined, the coolness of the bowl should have made the pastry cool enough to handle so now get your hands in and combine the pastry into a ball.

Pull off 1/4 of the pastry to make your lid. Leave it in the bowl in a ball so it retains its heat.

Put the rest of the pastry straight onto your floured board and roll out to a circle about 4-5cm bigger than your 20cm tin (try to keep this neat so you get an even thickness).

Now lift it very gently and drop into the tin. You can now push the pastry using your fists up the sides of the tin (if it slides down it is still too warm so wait a bit and try again). Don’t make any holes. It is a malleable pastry so it does not easily tear. DON’T PANIC!

Leave about 1-2cm overhanging (if there is more trim it and keep the trimmings) then add your meat and tuck it in (see pic below). It will fit SO neatly you will automatically feel that all is well. It is.

Now roll out your lid to roughly the same size of the top and trim it so it has a neater edge (keep your trimmings!) and cut a hole in the middle for steam to escape (I returned my cutter to the hole while it cooked so it kept its shape (you could use a metal piping nozzle or just make a slit with a knife if you don’t have mini pastry cutters, because let’s be honest, who does except me).

Lightly brush the top edges of the pastry with beaten egg and drape the lid over and crimp. I just went with it so sadly don’t have any useful pics of this stage… I used my left thumb against the edge of the pie and then pushed against it using my right thumb and forefinger to create a seal. (make sense?!) You just want to make sure that the two edges are together and not afar… they will happily meld because of the heat and the structure of this pastry. Just squish until closed, is the essential instruction.

Now you can relax. You’ve done it! Gather up and roll out your trimmings (it doesn’t matter now if it is cooled, it will be stiff but it’s just decor so no need for flexibility here) and cut out anything you fancy and stick on with a bit of egg wash (you’ll need the rest of it later).

Now put it in the oven for 90 minutes. Keep an eye on it and if it is browning too much put a foil hat on it.

When the 90 mins is up take the pie out and lightly and evenly brush it with the remaining egg wash and return to the oven to brown for a further 30 mins. Some of the pork fat (or a lot of it) will have escaped. Don’t worry, it just adds character and colour (cos I said so, and I have no idea how you might stop this happening!)

Run your pallette knife around the edges to make sure it isn’t sticking and leave the pie to cool for at least an hour.

A little truth: I did not follow my own instructions as they read below but am writing them here as I think they will work better, for good reason. I removed my first pie from the tin when it was cool and then left it a while before adding the jelly. This resulted in the pastry at the base losing it’s really crisp outer layer so suffered a soggy corner on this pie (shock, horror). The other pie, however, was perfect as I added the jelly as soon as it was cool and didn’t wait. The method below (adding jelly while the pie is still warm and leaving it in the tin while doing so) should alleviate any soggy problems because of the texture within the pie (imagine a hard outer crust and a softer inner with a natural fat barrier) should hold the jelly in whatever. However I’m afraid that I can attach no guarantee to my theory…

Now re-heat or add gelatine to your jelly, and pour into the hole in the top of the pie. Use a funnel for this or a really good pouring jug (depending on the size of the hole you made in the top)

Leave until completely cool then put in the fridge overnight.

In the morning very gently wiggle the pie out of the tin (it is a robust creature so don’t worry) and serve cold with pickles, (gherkins, chutneys, pickled walnuts) a strong cheddar cheese, a glass of ale and plenty of new year joy!

Post Script: If you DO suffer a soggy bottom, don’t despair it will taste amazing anyway and you will enjoy immensely (as I did) the chorus of ‘ooooooohhhhhhhhs’ and ‘aaaaaaahhhhhhs’ that people will emit when they see the pie. A crowd-pleaser and no mistake.


Filed under Baking, Meat, Recipes, Supper Club

Feasting, Scrooge, and a Christmas Party

It’s all over… I ache, and my hands are a sight to behold with burns, grate marks and beetroot stains…but it was all worth it!

I have been cooking since Friday.

I started with the pork pies as I knew they would give me a huge sense of pride right at the beginning of the marathon but I also knew they would be tricky, nerve wracking and time consuming. They didn’t disappoint on all fronts!

Next I tackled the sweets, late at night with a glass of wine I stuffed orange flower scented almond paste into sticky prunes and dipped them in dark 70% cocoa chocolate… my gosh they are delicious (if I do say so myself!)

I was on a roll that night and because we had decided that of course we could throw our traditional Christmas party for 30 people the next day, I made 2 batches of pastry, 1 for the sausage rolls and 1 for the mince pies.

On Saturday I made the next pork pie, the pork stock for jelly (more on that debacle later), wrapped the sweets in waxed paper squares, 50 wild boar and venison sausage rolls, 50 mince pies and the pickled beetroot slices. We had a party inbetween.
Sunday was the mega marathon. I did the Tudor mince pies, jellied the pork pies, made the pheasant main dish (to marinade overnight) and 2 almond milk  jellies. With a break in the midle to watch the 1951 Alistair Sim Scrooge with that memorable line: “Oh Peter Peter, come and hear the pudding singing in the copper!” (You thought I was going to say “Gawd bless us, everyone” didn’t you!?)

Monday was veg: I peeled and trimmed all the little carrots, scrubbed, chopped and pre-roasted the artichokes, made the pearl barley salad, de-seeded the pomegranates, poached pears in wine and spices and made a syrup, baked the vegggie main and got everything packed into a hundred and one boxes and and traveled on down to another, slightly less well equipped kitchen…to feast.

I want to say thank you to all my wonderful guests and incredible waiters. Your enthusiasm and clean plates were a joy. Thank you for making the first supper club such a magical memorable event. Watch this space for all the recipes so you can recreate the fun at home (!)


Now for the next one….


Filed under Baking, chocolate, Christmas, Crafts, Decorating, Kitchen Tips, Meat, Supper, Supper Club