We are lucky to have some great friends who looked after River Edge Lodges last month while we were in New Zealand visiting our daughter Shannon. How could we thank them? We decided to treat our Holders of the Fort to a taster menu with matched wines. Thanks to Martine at Provender Brown for great advice with matching the wines to the courses.

vegetarian taster menu

Taster Menu and wines for The Holders of the Fort

I really enjoyed preparing all the courses – in fact it was quite relaxing working with all the different colours, textures and flavours. In Healing Foods by Dr Rosy Daniels (1996),  it mentions that food cooked with love has a greater energy field around it ” … the more focus, attention and love you give to preparing your food, the more wonderful it will taste and the more deeply it will feed and heal you”. And Dr Daniels gives the example of Kirlian photography to illustrate the increased aura in food cooked with this mindfulness.

First up, after a glass of champagne, was the Amuse Bouche. Yes happy mouth indeed. This tiny little dish exploded with flavours: soft goats cheese rolled into balls and dipped in fresh chopped chives, on a bed of chopped cherry tomatoes and red pepper roasted in the oven with lime juice and balsamic vinegar. Then the pre-starter was a potato and blue cheese soup served with home made croutons …oh and a homemade bread roll!

Amuse Bouche of goats cheese rolled in chives

Amuse Bouche

The next course, the starter, was the most amazing combination of flavours: Beetroot and fig salad with honey and mustard dressing. The figs and beetroot were roasted in the oven with the dressing, then assembled on a bed of leaves, red onion and cherry tomatoes and sprinkled with toasted almonds then a drizzle of dressing over the top and we were good to go.

fig and beetroot salad

Quartered figs for beetroot and fig salad

The first main course was the red lentil pancakes – a joy to make. The ‘batter’ was simply red lentils soaked over night and whizzed in the blender, then mixed with beaten egg. The best bit was grinding the spices to throw in the batter. Then it was an easy job to cook the pancakes in a non-stick pan with a bit of coconut oil and Bob’s your uncle. The pancakes were served with sour cream with roasted and ground cumin seeds and black peppercorns.

Red lentil pancakes

Red lentil Pancakes served with cumin cream and zingy grain salad

We were starting to get full by now even though the dishes were small. Luckily the ricotta and spinach cake was light as a feather, but full of flavour. I served this with a roasted red pepper and orange sauce and almond crusted courgette fries. The two desserts came next. The coconut and chia seed dessert had an unexpected texture – think frogspawn crossed with rice pudding and you’re almost there. But very pleasant to taste. Chia seeds are the latest trendy superfood and contain more omega 3 than salmon weight for weight. The pomegranate seeds on top are also superfoods. Luckily we were washing it all down with copious amounts of wine lest we become too goodly.

coconut, chia seed and pomegranate dessert

Coconut, chia seed and pomegranate dessert

rhubarb tarts with plum puree

Rhubarb tarts with plum puree

The last dessert was deserted by the Holders of the Fort as they were just too full (it goes without saying that the Scottish cheeses were given a body swerve too). Doggie bags were given but I can tell you that these little delights were heaven on a spoon. Wee pastry cases filled with mascarpone and vanilla with whipped cream then topped with seasonal rhubarb done in the oven and served with the tangiest plum puree. In fact the plums were destined for the compost  bin, if I’m being honest as they were a bit soft to eat. I saved them in the nick of time and cooked them until the vibrant juices ran freely then pureed the whole lot with the juices from the rhubarb. Some toasted almonds scattered on top completed the dessert.

holding the fort

The truly wonderful Holders of the Fort

I tell you, my trusty Kenwood Chef worked overtime for this dinner. It was in and out of the cupboard for the preparation of almost every course. The Kenwood Chef was an engagment present in 1986!! Still going strong (us and the Kenwood). We had a great evening, talking, laughing, eating … and our awesome Holders of the Fort said they had enjoyed looking after things at River Edge Lodges, and would do it again. As I said … we have great friends.