Many thanks to my lovely guests for making Saturday extra special

Saturday was great fun. I spent all day in the kitchen – a real treat for me! Once I had completed the food preparation for Moseley Farmers market – (Tuscan meatballs in tomato and basil sauce, red pepper pesto, and a lovely Saturday lunch dish of roasted onion crespelle with Grana Padano), it was time to complete our Saturday night dinner.

Alex had prepared the Denbigh Estate rabbit so I completed the prep for this with white wine, sage and our Berkshire pancetta and got it into the Rayburn. Next was time to roast beetroot and pears – not together! And complete the beetroot salad antipasti. I decided to combine fresh grated beetroot with the roasted to give a lovely texture contrast.

The chick peas had soaked and been cooked with celery, onion, carrot and tomato in the pressure cooker for 45 minutes. It was time to complete the stew by preparing a tomato and smoked paprika base, to which I added the chick peas. The haddock were cut to portion size, seasoned and returned to the fridge to await a hot buttered frying pan. Meanwhile the roasted beetroot were peeled and finely chopped and the pears were put back into the oven with a vanilla infused caramel sauce for another 30 minutes. Time to prep the veg and easy peasy this month as we are just having a simple salad – on order from today’s farmers market at Moseley and rosemary roasted potatoes – Worcestershire Marfona from ‘market dad’.

The mixed salad leaves, Mizuna, Pak Choy, Rocket and Mustard Greens appeared back home and they were rinsed and dried and left in the fridge for later use. I then made a light dressing with lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, smoked garlic and Tarocco oranges from Sicily – delicious and a wonderful foil for the peppery salad leaves. Final task of the day was to prepare the pasta course – my favourite as it is made with my rare breed chickens eggs and is amazing! I completed the lasagne, layering fresh pasta sheets with venison ragu and then toppped with a Besciamella sauce, Grana Padano and mozzarella. Ready for the oven.  I had decided to prepare large ravioli – 3 per person and used my lovely cutter from Carluccios. Once constructed returned to the fridge on a lightly semolina floured tray.

With 1 hour to go, I lay the table and polished cutlery and glasses – to create the right impression! The Prosecco and Fiano chilling in the fridge it was time to change and get ready for an exciting evening.

Tonight my guests arrived promptly and we started with an award winning Prosecco selection – white and rose. Dinner was served and we started with a selection of Italian olives from Puglia, some handmade grissini and our balsamic glaze and extra virgin olive oil. All proudly displayed on my adorable Jamie at Home anti pasti platter – or plank as I prefer to call it – well, it is a metre long!

The wild boar terrine was served in quenelles with a small spoonful of Monks Kirby chutney and some carta di musica, Sardinian flat bread. Our beetroot salad was combined with a robust, tangy horseradish dressing and topped with slithers of air dried beef, bresaola. More wine – this time a delicious organic Fiano.

Small portions of pasta, Italian style followed accompanied with a fruity Barbera – this time biodynamic from our Italian friends. We were all having an amazing time – all villagers but not all friends, until tonight that is. A strange concept perhaps for ‘Engy’s’ to come to terms with – eating with strangers but my guests were not fazed!

The main course, secondi came next and with more wine we were ready to appreciate the delicious Rabbit braise topped with crispy sage and pancetta – Alex, thank you so much again for providing. I spent a few minutes in the kitchen here completing the haddock dish – the only time throughout the whole event – so not bad really! The haddock and chick pea dish was finished with a drizzle of salsa verde – parsley, basil and mint with white wine vinegar and capers.

A highlight of the evening was the fresh and palette cleansing salad and citrus dressing – a hit and one that will be on the menu again.

The cheese course followed and we had a selection of Italian cheese – Taleggio, Sardinian Pecorino served with pink peppercorns and Warwickshire honey. We had all opted for the pear dish for dessert and it was the perfect end to the meal. Alex then treated us to his special coffee and pear soaked in grappa in little chocolate pots and florentines. Squisito!!

The next Secret Squisito will be on Saturday 27th March – only a few seats left at our table so I am now taking reservations for Satruday 24th April. Reserve your place here or email me secretsquisito@googlemail.com. Many thanks, Sara

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