For me, born and raised in China, February is the month to look forward to for Chinese New Year.  It’s a time to prepare for the Spring Festival feast. I remember all the delicious food my grandma used to make for the family gathering, commonly known as ‘Nian ye fan’, literally ‘dinner on New Year’s Eve’.


Having lived in England for twelve years, I often go back to China to celebrate the festival. This year, I’ll be spending the time in Manchester. Whilst making arrangements with friends about how to celebrate, I thought; why not put on a feast for everyone who wants to experience an authentic, traditional dinner for this special occasion. Whether family, friends or customers, you’re all welcome to join us, and I’ll be your chef for the night.

I adore Chinese cuisine, and love to prepare it myself. Living away from China has encouraged me to recreate the home-style food  I remember, that restaurants can’t match . Thanks to my heritage, and my grandma with whom I always prepared dinner as a child, I have developed a confidence and technique in the kitchen.  I hope you will enjoy my food as much as I do and those I have cooked for.

Gong Pao Chicken

Gong Pao Chicken

I’ll be drawing on herbs, spices, styles and flavours from a variety of regions and traditions.  From fiery Szechuan comes the renowned Gong Pao chicken, with it’s tangy peppercorns and piquant chilli.  A traditional flavour combination from the plains of the great southwest;  Mongolian cumin lamb. And, from the subtropical climes of Shanghai, sticky and tender sweet and sour ribs.

Jenny at Supper Club

Jenny at Supper Club 2011

The dinner will be served in the Chinese sharing style, and whether you choose to share a table with new friends or have some romantic time to yourself, you’ll get to sample all the dishes on the menu here.

Hope to see you at the ‘Nian Ye Fan’!

Best regards,


Posted on by admin | Leave a comment

Jivamukti Yoga Workshop and Juice at North Star Piccadilly

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

‘Northern Stars’ team reunite to create a porcine feast

We’re not sure whose idea it was to do a collaborative supper club with a ‘guest chef’, but it turned out to be a good one. As we mentioned in our last blog announcing the menu, we’d managed to cobble together (ie – press gang) a team of knowledgeable food lovers for BBC Food Quiz ‘A Question of Taste’ (as we were, er, ‘too busy’ to do it ourselves.)

Into the breach stepped the ‘Northern Stars’ – North Star Chef Ben, team captain (and food blogger) Joby and lady pig farmer, SJ, who beat the pants off the opposing team by the sheer awesomeness of their food knowledge.

So they proved they can talk the talk, but could they walk the walk and win over the guests at our next supper club with a menu co-designed with Joby, using pork from one of SJ’s lovingly reared Tamworth pigs, and prepared by Ben and supper club chef Deanna?

Well, yes as it happened. We hope the photos convey what a great feast we managed to produce and also the amount of fun we all had doing it.

Joby had a great idea for the menu. As we were dealing directly with SJ, why not include dishes that use parts of the pig that are usually hard to find? This appealed to us immensely as we’re always keen to make things that we haven’t tried before and to offer diners dishes they probably wouldn’t try making themselves at home. Joby said he’d always wanted to make his own black pudding and we suggested that traditional Northern staple, faggots.

Unfortunately we now live in a ‘cling film generation’ where we’ve generally become quite disconnected from our food and we don’t even ask that many questions about where it comes from or what’s gone into it. For thousands of years people have looked after their own domesticated pigs with the understanding that after a life of being fed, nursed and housed, they get eaten. In order to feed your family and get a good return on your investment, it would be pretty stupid to turn your nose up and not eat EVERY LAST BIT OF IT.

Black pudding exists in many cultures in one form or another – boudin noir, morcilla, blutwurst, bloedworst, etc. Essentially, it’s a cooked sausage made using blood, spices, back fat and filler such as oats. Joby wanted to flavour ours with a wonderful rich local stout he’d found and you can find the exact recipe on his blog.

Ben told us he’d made black pudding before but had always used some kind of readymade mix containing dried blood. We suspected it may have something to do with the current food regulations regarding such a ‘high risk product’, so we called our helpful butcher Frosty for some advice. It turns out that most commercial black pudding makers (even the local award winning ones) use this dried mix. Without going into too much detail he told us that the current rules regarding blood coming into direct contact with meat were very strict, meaning the process of collecting blood was very labour intensive and that there wasn’t much call for it. In short, the days of hanging a pig over a bucket were long gone and a lot of the traditional practices (along with the dishes) had gone out of favour too.

Anyway, we’ll spare you some of the gorier photographs and let you see the finished product. Joby decided to serve our homemade black pudding and some of Bury’s finest for comparison with parsnip puree and crisps, poached rhubarb, watercress and some gorgeous Porcus air dried ham. We served the same starter with meat-free black pudding for our vegetarian guests.

For part of the main course, the faggots were a revelation. Very like a cross between a course pate and a meatball, made using minced pork shoulder, pig liver and heart mixed with onion, parsley, mace and allspice, all bound with breadcrumbs. Traditionally they’re wrapped in caul fat and baked before being served in rich onion gravy.

We served it with pork loin and tenderloin on an apple and ginger sauce, pressed crispy pork belly, spiced red cabbage, caramelised apples and a cider fondant potato. Many supper club regulars pronounced it to be their favourite dish yet – well done Northern Stars. SJ was kind enough to say a few words to our guests before the main course, just to give them a glimpse into a day in the life of a local pig farmer and to invite everyone to visit the farm and meet the pigs for themselves.

Joby wanted to use the supper club as an opportunity to promote another local producer from Todmorden – Pextenement cheese. For our vegetarian main course, we served their Pexxomier wrapped in crispy filo pastry with caramelised apples and red cabbage. All guests were given the opportunity to sample some of the delicious camembert-like cheese after dinner.

Joby went to collect the Pexommier from Pextenement dairy in Todmorden

Both pork and cheese make a perfect pairing with acidic fruit so, after consulting what is in season at this time of year, Deanna made pineapple tart tatin with ginger ice cream and a coconut tuille biscuit for dessert.

Our first guest chef collaboration was a real success. Many thanks to Joby for getting fully stuck in and introducing us to two more wonderful, independent, North West food producers. Thanks to him also for taking most of the photographs for this blog and lending Deanna the camera to take some too.

Our next supper club is planned for 22nd March and the theme will be local producers and ingredients found in Cheshire. Keep an eye on our Facebook* and Twitter pages for further details regarding the menu and how to reserve your seat and we hope you can join us soon.

*Visit our Facebook page to see some more of Joby’s photographs.


Posted in Events, Supper Club | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Menu for our next Supper – Feb 23rd ‘Northern Stars’

Northern Stars supper flyer final (3)

A few weeks ago North Star chef Ben appeared on BBC2’s food quiz ‘A Question of Taste’ in a team called ‘Northern Stars’. His fellow team members were supper club regular Joby (aka Mr North from NorthSouthFood) and SJ, a rare breed pig farmer from Porcus in Todmorden.

They did us proud with a sterling performance, beating the opposing team with their collective epicurean knowledge – although Ben insists they’d have utterly thrashed them if team captain Joby would’ve heeded his advice regarding a question on edible fungi…

Northern Stars have decided to get together once again for another food challenge – the next North Star supper club. Ben will be in the kitchen alongside supper club chef Deanna, cooking a menu co-designed by Joby, which features dishes made using one of SJ’s lovingly raised Tamworth pigs. SJ herself will also be there on the night to give a brief talk about raising rare breed pigs and answer any questions.


Home-made stout black pudding, served with Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb, parsnip & watercress

Vegetarian option – R.S.Ireland’s vegetarian black pudding, served with Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb, parsnip & watercress


Porcus Tamworth pig done 3 ways -

Crispy pork belly with spiced apple, tenderloin and braised home-made faggot, cider fondant potato and red cabbage

Vegetarian option – Baked Pexommier cheese & filo parcel, spiced apple, cider fondant potato and red cabbage


Pineapple tart tatin with ginger ice cream

As usual, our event begins at 7.30pm and places cost £25 per person for three delicious courses. Bookings can be made by calling North Star Delicatessen on 0161 862 0133, popping in to see us at 418 Wilbraham Road, Chorlton or booking online here.

North Star Delicatessen also has a facebook page or you can keep up with events and offers on Twitter.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Devil may care – Join us for Diablo & supper

The concept of the supper club has been relatively slow to catch on outside London. Could that partly be due to its fancy-pants name? Northerners are already divided on the issue of whether ‘dinner’ happens in the afternoon or evening. Another burning issue concerns ‘tea’, is it a meal or a drink? So, ‘supper’? When’s that supposed to occur? Unless it’s preceded by the word ‘fish’, we reckon most fellow Northerners think that it’s some kind of meal posh people quaff by candlelight.

Anyway, for want of a better moniker, the supperclub movement has now slowly and successfully worked its way across Manchester with a smattering of excellent regular monthly gastronomic events. In its purest sense, competent cooks or ‘resting’ chefs open up their homes and cook a fixed menu for like-minded paying guests in a less formal environment than a standard restaurant setting.

Our first North Star supper club happened in July and has steadily been gaining in popularity each month. Original deli founder and Chef Deanna Thomas now spends her time being a full time mother and food writer, but our supper club gives her the chance to flex her culinary muscles and try out exciting new recipes she’s written or local produce she’s discovered. We get the chance to show off and offer dishes and a style of cooking beyond our usual daytime menu.

Just before Christmas we got a call from our friends who look after publicity for Chilean winemakers Casillero del Diablo. They were looking for regional supper clubs out of London to host a food and wine matching dinner for local press and food bloggers. We’re happy to rise to a challenge so immediately said yes, but what on earth are you supposed to cook for people who dine out all the time and write about food for a living?

As always, we let the seasons inspire our menu and this time we thought it would be a good idea to use some of the lovely Chilean wines our guests would taste that evening in the actual dishes themselves.  Diablo asked us to provide canapés to match their sparkling Chardonnay Brut so Deanna looked to South America for inspiration and began with rabbit empanadas. Slow cooked rabbit confit shredded with apples, fried onions and walnuts, wrapped in a wonton skin and deep fried until crispy.

Preparing the emapanadas

Deep fried, hot empanadas ready to serve

The other canapé was a savoury twist on the much loved North Star macaron – and a successful experiment. Poppy seed macarons with smoked salmon and lemon cream cheese filling.

Poppy seed macaron cases resting before going into the oven

Unusual sweet and savoury canape. Poppy seed macarons with smoked salmon and lemon cream cheese.

Our first course was fresh king scallops from local Chorlton fishmonger ‘Out of the Blue’ on a bed of Puy lentils with a mildly spiced, creamy Chardonnay sauce. Diablo had sent wine expert Hans Joachim Wadsack (Joe to his friends) along to introduce each of the wines he’d chosen to match the food. To match the scallop dish, our guests got to try both Reserva Privada Sauvignon Blanc and Limari Chardonnay – the same one we’d used in the buttery sauce.

Seared king scallops in a Chardonnay sauce

We decided on venison for the main course and our reliable local butcher Lee Frost brought a haunch of Yorkshire red deer over and showed Deanna how to separate the cuts with surgical precision and a bloody sharp knife.

Each piece was marinated overnight in a mixture of cabernet sauvignon, orange zest, juniper seeds and thyme before being flash seared, roasted and rested. We served it with a red wine sauce, sautéed Savoy cabbage, crispy Paysanne potatoes and a Hunter’s pie (Deanna’s invention using minced venison with a celeriac and potato topping.)  Joe chose to accompany this with a Shiraz and the lesser known Carmenere which thrives in the Chilean climate.

Deanna also came out to speak to guests and introduce each course. Just before dessert, she introduced her co-pilot chef Ben, who, along with Joby and SJ are representing North Star in the new foodie panel show ‘A Question of Taste’ showing on Monday 23rd January.

Again, in keeping with the current time of year, pudding was a blood orange curd tart with orange caramel, blood orange segments, whipped cream and a brandy snap.

A sweet and tart dish to perfectly match Diablo’s new Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc which is so absolutely brand spanking new, we were beside ourselves with excitement having been chosen for its inaugural appearance.

All in all, it was a fun and successful night. Manchester’s finest bloggers, food writers, journalists, mover and shakers all got together for a night of relaxed fine dining and drinking. Click here to hear a short interview featuring Chef Deanna and wine expert Joe discussing the event on BBC Radio Manchester’s Gourmet night with Matt White.

Casillero del Diablo run a regular recipe competition on their blog and the chance to win some excellent prizes.

Our next event is going be a collaboration with the team from ‘A Question of Taste’ and will be on Feb 23rd. Call North Star Delicatessen on 0161 862 0133 to book, follow us on Twitter or ‘like’ our Facebook page for upcoming menu details. We hope to see you at one of our supperclubs soon.

Click here and here to read what some of our guests had to say about the evening.


Posted in Supper Club | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

North Star comes to Piccadilly Basin

North Star comes to Piccadilly Basin

North Star Piccadilly

North Star Delicatessen, Chorlton, will open a branch of its
independent, family run cafe in central Manchester on December 5th 2011.
North Star Piccadilly will be based at Carver’s Warehouse on Dale Street
in Piccadilly Basin.

North Star Piccadilly will be a beautifully designed 20-cover café which
will meet the needs of local workers – a great bacon butty on the way
into work, or a hot special and a hand-made cake for lunch –and provide
an appealing place to work over the best brew in the area and free

Discussions with Carver’s Warehouse office tenants have led to the
creation of a good-quality and affordable sandwich and panini menu.
Freshly made soups, daily hot specials and a variety of cold drinks, as
well as excellent coffee and tea, will also reflect North Star’s passion
for quality.

The shelves will be stocked with a range of carefully chosen biscuits,
crisps, snacks and confectionery to see off the mid-morning and
afternoon lull, and with a full alcohol licence North Star Piccadilly
will stock good wine and beer available for customers to drink in or

We look forward to welcoming you soon.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Supperclub #5 – November 3rd

Apologies for the slight delay in posting our latest menu but we found it quite difficult to agree which dishes to choose for this one. Autumn really is our favourite time of the year for food as it goes hand in hand with comfort and getting cosy. We looked at classic dishes from some of our favourite chefs for inspiration such as Shaun Hill and Raymond Blanc. But as we always say, it’s the seasons that tend to dictate the ingredients we choose to cook with.

Though they feature on many a top restaurant menu as a popular starter, we’ve not served scallops at North Star Deli before. They’re in season between August and December and are delicious, healthy and versatile. We’re sure our local fishmonger Out of the Blue will find us some plump and tasty specimens.

We were wondering whether to serve game again after serving such an intense game soup and roast partridge last month, but the pheasant season only started on October 1st so they’ll be perfect for cooking around now. We’ve decided to do something a little special with it too, as another criteria for designing our menu is that it wouldn’t necessarily be a dish that most people would bother cooking at home.

A pithivier is a dome of flaky pastry traditionally filled with sweet almond paste but we’ll be filling it with a complex multi-layered mixture including confit pheasant legs, dried berries, juniper and chestnuts. Our vegetarian main course gives us the chance to use ripe and juicy figs matched with a delicious locally made blue cheese.

For pudding, what else but the chance to scour our many American cookbooks for exciting pumpkin recipes. It’s practically the emblem that represents this time of year. We’re not exactly sure which recipe we’re going serve yet but we have our aromatic spices and maple syrup on standby.

Here’s is our next supperclub menu. We’d love it if you could join us on November 3rd at 7.30pm for 8pm. 3 delicious courses for £25.

Scallops with lentils

(V) Vegetable bhaji’s with lentils

Pheasant pithivier with root vegetable dauphinoise and cavolo nero

(V) grilled fig and Burt’s blue cheese tart

Pumpkin inspired dessert

Our next event is not far away so please call the deli on 0161 862 0133 or visit us at North Star Delicatessen, 418 Wilbraham Road, Chorlton to reserve your tickets. Keep up with the latest supperclub news on Twitter @Joinus4Supper or on our Facebook page.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Game night at North Star Deli

When we came up with this menu, our minds were full of images involving crisp cold days, and crunchy leaves. So who could predict that our fourth supper club on the 29th September 2011 would fall on such a scorching hot day? I don’t think it made that much difference food-wise, but we definitely had to power up the air conditioner early on.

Vegetarian first course - Roast pumpkin soup with chilli, maple & cinnamon cream

Our first course was game soup. Soup can be seen as an ‘easy option’, but not this one folks, oh no. Its official title is ‘Royal game soup’ and it’s prepared by firstly making a rich game stock using the carcasses of partridge, venison, rabbit, mallard and pigeon.  These are simmered gently in water for three hours before adding vegetables and simmering again for a further two hours. Once the stock has been sieved, it goes through a few more processes involving more browned game carcasses and vegetables before metamorphosizing into something quite magical another two hours later.

The finished soup has a few generous slugs of port and some shredded game meat added to it before serving. It’s like a clear, rich, intense, essence of game – autumn in a bowl.

It’s a popular misconception that the entire game season begins on the ‘glorious 12th’. The 12th August marks the opening of the legal shooting season for only a few game birds such as grouse, ptarmigan and snipe. It’s not until 1st September that the season begins for birds such as partridge and mallard – if you see any pheasants on sale before the first week of October, don’t buy them, they’ve either been shot illegally or are from last year and have been frozen.

After a game-bird related question and answer session with our butcher Lee Frost, we decided to serve whole partridge (with extra napkins and some finger bowls) and encouraged guests to dig in, cutlery optional. We’d marinated it for half a day in olive oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and pomegranate syrup. Wild game birds don’t tend to have much natural fat on them so it’s really important not to overcook them – 25 minutes with 5 minutes rest was about perfect. We presented each partridge on a seasonally inspired nest of roast root vegetables garnished with toasted almonds and a tangy apricot dressing.

Vegetarian main course - Grilled aubergines with spicy chick peas and walnut sauce

Pudding-wise, we kept the menu reasonably ambiguous to see what goodies we could scrump and forage before the date. Keeping in with the theme created by using the Moroccan spices, we cooked some apples (scrumped from mum’s garden) with sultanas, brown sugar and lemon and baked them in a crispy filo pastry case.

We served these warm with some homemade damson and plum ice creams and pears (donated by supper guest Stina Willett) which had been poached in both red wine, white wine and ginger beer. Hot, cold, crunchy, fruity and creamy – a sensational dessert.

Keep an eye on our Twitter feed @Joinus4supper or ‘like’ our Facebook page for details of future supper club events.


Posted in Supper Club | 1 Comment

Thurs 29th Sept – ‘On the Game’ menu

That’s right, the rumours are true. On September 29th, we’re going on the game.

The grouse season began on the ‘Glorious 12th’ of August, but many of the better known and slightly bigger birds like pheasant aren’t in season until the beginning of October. Then of course, they need hanging for a good few days to let the flavour develop and to tenderise the meat.

We decided to choose partridge for this menu, which comes from the pheasant family, and it’s pretty likely that we’ll be serving one per customer whole, on the bone. So wear something you don’t mind getting a little splashed and prepare to get stuck in!

Game Soup with port

Partridge with Moroccan spices and Roast Root Vegetables

Puddings from the orchard

Vegetarian option

Pumpkin and cinnamon soup

Grilled aubergines with spicy chickpeas, walnut sauce and pomegranate molasses

To reserve your place, visit us at North Star, call us on 0161 862 0133, or click here. You can also ‘like’ our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter to keep up to date with offers and news.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thursday 1st September – A perfect autumn day

This is a really exciting time of year food-wise – full of anticipation, waiting for the abundance of autumn to fully reveal itself. Walking around suburbia reveals apple, pear and plum trees in the most unexpected places, but they’re still a couple of weeks away from ripe perfection, despite this year’s warm spring.

Gardens offer a glut of excess goodies, perfect for jam and chutney making. The grouse season kicked off a couple of weeks ago but it’s still a little too early for other game. Hare is in season but we decided against putting it on this menu after making rabbit pie last month.

So, early September; the summer holidays are over, the kids are nearly back at school, the weather can’t make up its mind. Salad or stew? We’re all in a realm straddling two defined seasons, which is why we thought we’d create a little topsy-turvy menu.

What we were trying to do was capture the distinct mood that comes at this time of year. Not necessarily a lament for the dying summer, more an attempt at embracing the imminent shift into cosiness.

What captures the idea of autumnal cosiness, warmth, love and family more than a traditional roast dinner? Only how could we translate that into a starter course? We toyed with the idea of a tiny chicken or poussin with miniature vegetables but it was too filling for a first course and not ‘different’ enough for people to spend their hard earned money on when they can make it themselves at home. The answer lay in a terrine.

We roasted a free range chicken, and then used the delicious roasting juices to make a stock to which we added gelatine to set the terrine. Succulent pieces of shredded chicken were placed between layers of delicious home-made chestnut stuffing and the whole thing was wrapped in Parma ham. Continuing the roast dinner theme, we served our terrine with quenelles of pea puree, a drizzle of carrot oil and tiny cubes of hot roast potatoes.

The main course was again inspired by comfort food and traditional food matches. Free-range ham shank from WH Frosts, slow cooked for 4 hours in cider and aromatic cloves before being shredded, packed into a puff pastry case and baked with a fresh duck egg on top. We served this with fondant potato, black pudding and wild mushrooms.

Dessert was meant to be more of a mystery so we called it ‘autumn leaves* – contains nuts…and treasure.’ It was basically a slice of hazelnut chocolate torte (inspired by Nigella), with the whole hazelnuts on top having been immersed in caramel before being brushed with edible gold powder.

The whole thing was ‘hidden’ under a pile of handmade orange-scented, gold dusted chocolate rose leaves – don’t say we don’t spoil you.

(We’ve been asked for the recipe for the dessert, so we’ll make that the subject of our next blog and will also reveal the secret to making the chocolate leaves.)

Our next event is ‘Game Night’ on Thursday 29th Sept and we’re also planning a spooky Halloween supper at the end of October. Keep an eye on our blog and Twitter accounts for menu and booking details.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment