A taste of Japan in Lewes

We hosted another wonderful Supper Club here at The Buttercup in Lewes last night. We persuaded highly acclaimed chef Sam Mahoney to come and create a Japanese menu, using the recipes he collected whilst working in Japan. For a few hours our supper club diners were transported across the world with delicate plates of intriguing and delicious Japanese food. We loved it and thought you would like a glimpse of our after hours supper club…

We served:
Asari to Naga-Negi : Steamed little neck clams with sake, miso broth and spring onions.
Okonomi Yaki: Pancake of Japanese yams, pork, ginger and cabbage glazed with Okonomi sauce.
Unagi Kabayaki: Soy and Mirin glazed grilled smoked eel with vinegared rice.
Chawan-Mushi: Steamed savoury custard with chicken, prawn and ginkgo nut.
Kara-Age: Fried wild sea bass, pickled cucumber salad, white radish and dipping sauce.

Do visit Field & Fork at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester to try more of Sam’s delicious food. Our next Buttercup Supper Club will be in January 2013. Watch this space!

About last night…

We had a wonderful evening here at The Buttercup last night with delicious food, great company and an inspiring guest speaker. Diana Henry (one of our culinary heroines) came to visit and regaled us with tales of food and cookery writing. She introduced her new book Salt Sugar Smoke (which is all about preserving, conserving and smoking) by giving us a taste of her chutneys, jams and a nip of Damson gin.

Diana told us about her childhood growing up in Northern Ireland when the only olive oil she knew about was made by Crosse & Blackwell and kept in the medicine cupboard for cleaning children’s ears. She told us about how her fascination and obsession with food was brought on by reading books such as One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights).

She described how cooking for her was the ultimate escape; you can stand still in your kitchen and journey to any corner of the globe with the food and tastes your create. She spoke of the excitement and inspiration she found from looking into her larder and seeing a jar of pomegranate molasses or a box of Couscous covered in Arabic script next to a jar of good old HP sauce.

Diana’s enthusiasm is infectious. She encouraged us all to have a go; she is a champion of the home cook. Her cooking style is exactly what we have always wanted The Buttercup Cafe to be about. She mentioned Claudia Roden and Sophie Grigson as cookery writers she greatly admires.

While Diana chatted with guests, swapped fish smoking techniques and signed books, Claire (aka Madam Buttercup) and Connie produced a feast from The Buttercup kitchen using Diana’s recipes. The autumn pudding was a triumph; the Turkish lamb kofta with cherries were delicious and perfect for a cold Autumn night.

Our guests all chatted and discussed their favourite recipe books. It was an inspiring evening for us all. We heard that Diana is already working on another three books. We can’t wait to hear about what she is creating next and hope we can persuade her to come back and visit us again!

The next Buttercup Supper Club is on 17th November. Book your table now. We’ll post more details here soon.

Diana Henry is coming to The Buttercup!

Yes it’s really true. Our favourite food writer is coming to The Buttercup Cafe. We are delighted to announce we’ll be hosting An evening with Diana Henry at The Buttercup in Lewes on Friday 26th October.

Diana’s new book

Diana Henry was named ‘Cookery Writer of the Year’ by The Guild of Food Writers in 2009 and in 2007 for her column in the Sunday Telegraph’s Stella magazine. In addition to writing a weekly column for Stella, Diana is the author of several cookbooks including ‘Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons’, ‘Cook Simple’, ‘Roast Figs, Sugar Snow’ and our absolute favourite – ‘Food From Plenty’.

Diana is loved and respected by many great cooks and food writers. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall described her writing, “Diana Henry’s passion is infectious and her recipes tantalising”. Diana’s book Food from Plenty inspired Claire when she first opened The Buttercup Cafe. It was Billie from Lewes’ Leadbetter & Good who first introduced us to Diana’s work. We’ve been great fans ever since.

A brilliant cookbook: Diana Henry’s Food from Plenty

Diana will be at The Buttercup on Friday 26th October from 7pm to 8pm to introduce her new book, Salt Sugar Smoke, giving guests a few tasters, sharing top tips and taking any questions.

She’ll be signing books too. Following this Claire is cooking a three course meal using Diana’s recipes – including Turkish lamb kofta with cherries and yogurt, Moroccan seven-vegetable couscous, Warm barley roast squash and chilli salad, Blood orange and cardamon jellies, Wine soaked autumn pudding and more!

It promises to be a very special evening. Tickets cost £30 per person. Call us on 01273 477664 or pop into the cafe to book your table.


Octoberfeast: It’s all about the apple!

Lewes Octoberfeast is a wonderful celebration of local seasonal food and Sussex foodies. We’re delighted to be part of this important festival and are hosting two events.

The annual Buttercup Hog Roast is out in the cafe yard on Saturday 29th September. We’ll be serving from noon delicious cuts of Lewes Butcher Peter Richards‘ roast hog with our own apple sauce and ciabatta. It’s always a raucous affair with a party atmosphere out in our yard – first come, first served!

We have a few ticketed places left for our Apple Dinner with Cider on Saturday 6th October. Claire (Madam Buttercup) is cooking an apple feast after hours. The yard and downstairs dining room will be candlelit and a different cider will be served to match each of the three courses. Including tart tatin, apple gorgonzola walnut rustic tart, slow baked apple & toffee pastry, stuffed pork loin with rosemary roasted apple and parsnip and more. Booking is essential, £25 per person. Do call the cafe on 01273 477 664 or pop in to the cafe. As everyone who has been to a Buttercup supper club event will know, these evenings are magical!

We just wanted to put in a quick mention for some of the other lovely foodie (and drink!) events which caught our eye from this year’s Octoberfeast programme. The Secret Camping Feast in Barcombe sounds fantastic – run by some of the team behind Elderflower Fields festival. And we love the sound of Jamaican Guinness Punch at the Lewes Arms. And who can resist a free ice cream tasting session at Limetree Kitchen! Twelve delicious flavours to try.

Apple madness in Lewes

We love vintage cookery books

Delia (1977) on the cover of "Recipes from Look East 3"

Over Christmas while visiting relatives we raided their kitchen shelves for old cookbooks. How can you resist a 1977 Delia cover?

Recipes from Look East cost 45p and was sent out to viewers of the BBC’s Look East programme. Delia appeared each week on their cookery spot; a star of 70s East Anglia TV. The recipes in the book are mostly traditional (Toad in the hole, rabbit pie etc.) but there are a few, like gnocchi, which must have seemed exotic and daring at the time.

Delia writes about exciting new ingredients like anchovy fillets arriving in English food shops; new, strong tastes to use in the kitchen. How bland much of post-war Britain’s food must have been.

We found this great clip on YouTube of Delia talking about vegetarian food, including an interview with the fabulous Kate Bush. Do watch, though be warned the non-meat loaf looks atrocious.

Mmmm. The delights of "Family Circle's Illustrated Library of Cooking" 1972

Looking at old cookery books, you can’t help but notice quite how bad food photography was in the 70s. Claire fished out an old favourite of hers Family Circle Illustrated Library of Cooking which has fantastic headers like, “Go gay with kebabs” and the most unappetizing food photos we’ve ever seen.

But in amongst the 70s finger food buffets and lurid colours are some great recipes. Ingredients and recipes which are back in fashion (with just a bit less gelatine and dayglo food colouring). It is the photos which make vintage cookery books so enjoyable – and there are loads of retro cookery books lurking in Lewes charity shops waiting to be re-discovered.

The wheel of food fashion comes full circle: 1972 hors d'oeuvre featuring "Bitsy Burgers"

Love the backdrop for this plastic looking shot of "Maryland stuffed ham"

Family Circle Illustrated Library of cooking: Terrible coffee. Great cups.

When Edd came to tea

When Edd Kimber came to tea at The Buttercup

Edd Kimber hosted a wonderful winter tea here at The Buttercup yesterday. We closed early (sorry!) for the special event, polished our cake stands and got our best tea cups out. Edd arrived and got to work baking his chocolate and chestnut torte which he served warm with chestnut cream. Delicious and light. He told us he thought the best affordable chocolate to use for cooking was Green and Blacks’ dark chocolate. Never use milk chocolate he said – far too sweet.

While he sliced up the cakes which he’d brought for our guests to taste, he shared brilliant baking tips and chatted about his baking life. Edd had been miserable stuck in a banking job which he hated. He sent off his application for the first series of BBC2’s The Great British Bake-Off and after many rounds of auditions and baking tests he made it through to the TV series.

He told us winning the series had truly changed his life. Now he was baking on Woman’s Hour and appearing at food festivals across the country. He’s hoping to open a bakery in London.

Edd teaching how to pipe fill his famous macarons

The gingerbread was sweet, spicey and smooth. Delicious. It was his Nana’s recipe and the recipe card he uses is 100years old. He had to decifer his Nana’s handwriting on the card and convert the old measurements. Anyone heard of a gill of milk?

We chatted about macaron flavours while he helped everyone learn how to pipe chocolate ganache into festive, bright green shells. Apparently piping to music helps keep your dollops consistent! And his other tip, was to keep the nozzle very close to the macaron shell to have more control with the filling.

Edd told us how he’d met Pierre Herme, Parisian godfather of the macaron, and tasted Pierre’s exotic white truffle macarons. Ugh!

Edd Kimber gets baking in The Buttercup kitchen

He told us about what it was like working in the kitchens of Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir on a shift that started at 5am and ended the next morning at 1am. He baked Almondine for us, inspired by one of Raymond’s recipes. It’s a frangipane baked into a mould and topped with crumble. It’s usually filled with jam but as it’s nearly Christmas he made us some truly delicious mincemeat. It wasn’t thick, dark and sickly like much shop bought mincemeat. Oh no, Edd’s mincemeat was light and fruity.

Our guests experimented with our menu of speciality teas – Lapsang, Brainbrew, Blueberry, Veranda, Jasmine and more. It was a cosy afternoon and it felt like we were hanging out in Edd’s kitchen. He says he’ll back when he’s ready to test out his new cake recipes for his next cookbook. We can’t wait!

If you’d like to cook any of the cakes we were lucky enough to eat, British Bookshops has Edd’s book The Boy Who Bakes in their shop on School Hill in Lewes. Happy baking!

Our lovely guests having winter tea with The Boy Who Bakes

A candlelit winter tea at The Buttercup


pat-a-cake pat-a-cake

It seems like something is in the air at the moment. The smell of home-baked cakes. Following the hysteria surrounding the BBC’s The Great British Bake Off, it’s now National Baking Week. There seem to be more sites and blogs than ever offering baking tips and recipes. So here are just a few of our favourites at the moment:

BBC’s The Great British Bake Off – Now refered to simply as GBBO to those in the know. All the recipes from the series are on their site.

Rufus’ Food & Spirits Guide – An American’s blog with some great recipes (and killer cocktails)

The Boy Who Bakes – Edd Kimber (GBBO winner last year) has made a lovely cook book about baking.

Recipes from a normal mum – Holly Bell’s (from GBBO) blog with a catalogue of great baking recipes.

– Always. And Forever.

Yummy Bambini – A lovely blog about baking with kids, Italian influenced recipes.

Nigel Slater – For producing one of the most beautiful cook books ever (The Kitchen Diaries), a brilliant memoir about baking and food (Toast) and for having lots of his recipes online too.

Jam and Clotted Cream – The Cornish foodie. A down-to-earth blog by a home baker.

National Baking Week – Quite a good collection of recipes. Follow on twitter with #nbw.

Any others you want to tell us about? And did you know there’s even an event just for UK food bloggers called (brilliantly) Bite ‘n Write.

Of course, we’d also like to big up our very own Lewes homebakers extraordinaire. Biddy and Hilda. Cake making legends working in their home kitchens for The Buttercup Cafe – pecan pie, chocolate & aubergine cake, ginger cake, ground almond & clementine cake… shall we go on?

Lucas Hollweg cooks a feast at The Buttercup Cafe

Lucas gets to work in The Buttercup kitchen

Last night we handed over the controls, frying pans and oven gloves to Lucas Hollweg. Lucas is The Sunday Times’ resident food writer whose lovely cookbook Good Things to Eat was published earlier this year. He came to The Buttercup Cafe to cook for twenty lucky eaters; a menu of good food using great local produce.

The cafe was lit up on a cold autumn night and as one guest said, “ooh, it looks like Narnia!”. Lucas (and his ukulele!) cooked away, chatted about his recipes, his ideas about good cooking and the food he loves. It was an amazing chance to see up-close a cook at work and watch his cookbook come alive in our kitchen. A pretty special evening celebrating the end of another inspiring Lewes OctoberFeast.

Lucas' Good Things to Eat

Here is Lucas’ delicious menu for The Buttercup Cafe, using fish from Lewes’ Terry’s Fisheries in The Riverside, Barcombe Nurseries’ organic vegetables and meat from Boathouse Organics:

Squash and five-spice soup
Newhaven Plaice ceviche
Beef carpaccio with dill and mustard
Lamb meatballs with salted yoghurt
Chard and Feta
Quince and almond tart

Fingers crossed Lucas will return next year. We’ll let you know soon as we hear anything.

p.s. You can borrow Lucas’ cookbook from Lewes library.

A cosy night in at The Buttercup Cafe