Mother day treat: Posh lunch for 4 (well...more like 6!) for less than £20.
With Mothers day on the horizon it's time to start thinking about what to get. In our family we don’t always do physical gifts sometimes we do an experience. That’s not to say that we choose one of those experience days you can buy as a package, they can be quite pricey and generally are just way out of our budget.
Afternoon tea is something my sister and I have done for my Mum a few times on Mothers Day or Birthday. Now as adults the biggest part of the 'present giving' is carving out some time just to sit and relax and talk with each other, its almost better than unwrapping a gift! So this year I am treating my Mum to a ‘Posh lunch.’ Which essentially is a bit like an afternoon tea but I’ve added a few extras!
My Posh lunch is really budget friendly, its costs £20 for 4 people and honestly keeping in the same budget I reckon I could have extended this to 6 people with the things I bought. Looking at the picture above I practically had the same amount of food again left over in the kitchen! A Posh lunch for 6 for less than £20 that’s a winner to me!
The lunch also doesn’t require you to have to have fantastic baking skills to keep within the small budget. I did everything (apart from a bit of chopping and spreading) from pre-packed or part baked goods to keep it even more simple and accessible to those with very limited culinary skills!
So what’s on the shopping list I hear you ask?
All this came to just under £17 and I still had food left over from it too. There are obviously other things you will need such as Butter, Tea, Milk, Salt and Pepper, but most of us will have this in our cupboards anyway so I didn't include those in the budget. I would also add that I would have liked to have bought vol-au-vent cases, Jus-Rol always used to do them frozen, but the supermarket didn’t have any so I used bought ready rolled puff pastry and improvised!
How do you create this amazing budget friendly Posh lunch I hear you asking...well here’s the instructions. I tried to prep most of the things the day before so that on the day I had it mostly done and even then it didn’t take half as long as I thought it would.
JOBS FOR THE DAY BEFORE
1. Peel Carrots and put in a water bath in the fridge. Tomorrow drain the water and pat them dry and then they are ready.
First job done – whoop whoop!!
2. Take 4 tortilla wraps (the rest of the pack can be used another time.) Spread a thin layer of oil on each side and then sprinkle one side of each with salt and pepper. Cut them into triangles like tortilla chips and put them on a baking sheet. Hint: I like to use a pizza cutter to cut them – it's so much easier.
Bake in the oven at 190c for 5-10mins until golden brown. Leave to cool. When cool put in an airtight container, this will keep them fresh ready for tomorrow and will stop you eating them all!
3. Unroll the short crust pastry and cut into squares. These are going to be jam tarts but with a difference. You could make them into normal round looking tarts but I;
a) Couldn’t be bothered to find the cutter
b) Couldn’t be bothered to pull the tart tray out from underneath the pile of all the other baking trays
c) Don’t like the waste from cutting them into circles...so squares work for me!
Put a blob of jam in the middle of each square and then fold the corners into the middle.
Bake in the oven as per instructions on the pastry packet (which is probably 180c for 15-17 mins). When they are cool dust with icing sugar (this is optional but does hide anything that’s slightly ‘overdone’ or messy looking and makes them look much posher!)
When they are cool put them in an air tight tub ready for tomorrow.
4. Grate the cheese on the fine side of a grater. Grating it fine helps it spread more easily and you’ll probably use less too.
5. Put the cheese in a bowl and add some mayonnaise. How much you want is up to you, it really depends how much you like mayo! The mayonnaise is literally there to bind them together. You could use salad cream if you prefer but I find it a bit sharp and vinegary so you may want to be quite sparing if you choose salad cream.
6. Split the mixture in half in 2 separate bowls. Finely chop some spring onions and add them to one bowl. Drain the tin of sweetcorn and add as much as you want to the other bowl (the left over sweetcorn can be used another time).
Stir each of the mixtures and put them into containers in the fridge ready for tomorrow. I like to put mine in sandwich bags in the fridge so that tomorrow I can snip off the end and pipe the mixture out as if it's a piping bag. The one with sweetcorn will be going in vol-au-vents and piping the mix into the cases is so much easier. The one with spring onions will be going in sandwiches.
7. Unpack the ready rolled puff pastry and cut it in half. Lay one piece on top of the other and press it down, use a small amount of melted butter to get the two pieces to stick if needed. You can press them together by using a rolling pin to get them to stick together or you can use my sisters trick of rolling her tube of cling film over the top like a rolling pin and then ripping off the dirty cling film – ta da make shift rolling pin!
Cut the pastry into squares - we are having square vol au vents because, again, I don’t wasted pastry! The squares need to be big enough that you will be able to get filling in but not so big that it’s like eating a Cornish pasty!
In the middle of each square score/cut another square but only go halfway down through the pastry, this will give you the hole to put the filling in once they are baked. Don’t take any pastry out the middle that gets sorted tomorrow.
Bake as per the instructions on the pastry pack, which will probably say 200-220c for about 10 minutes until puffed up and golden brown.
Once they are fully cold put them in an airtight container and leave on the side ready for tomorrow.
YOUR JOBS FOR TODAY ARE DONE!
DAY OF THE SPECIAL LUNCH.
1. Make sandwiches - 3 sorts.
Cream cheese and cucumber: you will need to keep half a tub of cream cheese for vol au vent fillings and only slice a 3rd of the cucumber into disks as the other piece of cucumber will be sliced into sticks to go alongside your carrots.
Roasted pepper and hummus: you will only use some of the hummus, keep the rest for dips. You can add the roasted pepper however you like but I chopped mine into smaller pieces so that it was easy to eat within the sandwich.
Put the rest of the hummus in a bowl to be used as dip with the tortilla crisps, carrots and cucumber sticks or put it in individual ramekins like I did. I found it much easier to do individual plates of 'dipping' things.
Cheese, onion and mayo: get your mix you made yesterday out the fridge and add it into the sandwich…just make sure you get the right one!
Put your sandwich’s on a plate, cover in cling film and pop in the fridge to keep fresh.
2. If you haven’t done it yet put your hummus in a bowl and chop the cucumber into sticks. Drain the carrots and leave out to dry off a little or pat dry. Put the carrots and cucumber on a plate, cover in cling film and put in the fridge to stay fresh. Put the hummus in the fridge too!
3. Whip the double cream and put the amount you want for the scones in a bowl to the side. I found it easiest to think about how much cream I would like per portion and how many portions I needed as I spooned it into the separate bowl.
4. Put the rest of the cream cheese in with the spare whipped double cream and add some spoonfuls of icing sugar. Gently mix them together to make a sort of cheesecake / thick cream. Put it into a sandwich bag and pop it in the fridge ready for piping later.
5. Take out the vol au vents and push the centres down. I’ve read somewhere that they say to cut the centres out but I think pushing the centre down makes a good base for the filling and it doesn’t take so long. You can push the inside down any way to like but I found using a chucky handle of a utensil worked the best. For these I used the end of the handle of the potato peeler, it’s just about the right size and makes the job quick and simple.
6. Take half the vol-au vent cases and fill them with the cheese, mayo and sweetcorn mixture. If you put the mix in a bag just chop the corner off and squeeze it out to fill the cases its so much easier.
7. With the other half of the vol au vent cases put a blob of strawberry jam at the bottom and then pipe the cream cheese, double cream and icing sugar mixture on top. To finish them off decorate them with chocolate. You could grate some chocolate on the top or drizzle over some melted chocolate. I chose to use a potato peeler to 'grate' the chocolate because I was too lazy to find the mini grater!
8. Put the vol au vents on a plate in the fridge to keep chilled.
9. Last prep the scones. You might want to pre cream and jam them or just put the condiments in bowls for people to do themselves. I pre did mine for everyone to make sure I had enough cream to go around! I spread a good layer of cream on each side and then put a blob of jam on one side before putting the tops back on. This way the jam was sandwiched in the middle and when you took it apart to eat in 2 halves (as evidently posh ladies do rather than biting down and squirting cream out the sides) then it guaranteed to have jam and cream on each piece.
10. All that is left after this is to lay the table (if that’s something you’re doing) and serve up when everyone arrives, or if you’re super organised just before!
It was such a rare treat to have some time with my Mum and my sister, without my children being around. It gave us chance to properly catch up and for me to have some of my own time to relax too. A posh lunch is definitely a treat worth doing!