Monday, October 09, 2017

Monday, May 08, 2017

7 Course Tasting Menu in Chipping Campden

What better thing than to come away to the Cotswolds for your birthday weekend and be cooked a seven course tasting menu in your holiday house?
We have done many of them now - it's great for people who enjoy their food & wine. Some have friends who match wines to the menu, or know a sommelier who comes along for the evening as well with their selection of matching wines - you have to do these things in style.

I introduce each course to the guests at the table as we go along - highlighting where the ingredients come from, or sometimes preparation methods/ techniques. They also get to ask questions as we go along - it's quite fun & interactive!

 Tasting of Evesham Asparagus - Roast spears, asparagus puree and raw asparagus carpaccio (which went on the plate after this photo). With rosemary flowers picked outside another venue I had dropped food off on the way & flowering sprout leaves.  
Bit blurry picture - but the first course is always the most stressy. Once you're a few down you've got more space on the kitchen work surfaces.
 Although the asparagus season is strictly mid April to mid June, and this was March, you can still find asparagus around here grown locally. This was from Evesham - home of asparagus growing in the UK. If you've been in this area long enough, and know where to go, you can get asparagus long before the official season starts and ends - it's limited supply, so it tends to stay local.
 Home Cured Bresaola with Pink Grapefruit and Celeriac Carpaccio
Had this maturing in my friend's Cotswold cellar - keeps it cool. It's approximately 10,000 times better than anything you can buy in a deli or supermarket - but so is anything homemade really. 
Underneath is lemon dressed raw Jerusalem artichoke. So often we spoil vegetables by cooking them, in this dish they're all raw. 
 Roulade of Bibury Trout poached in Elderflower
Raw veg features in this dish too - crudites wrapped in courgette carpaccio with pea shoots grown on my windowsills.
There's grilled leek on the trout, pea puree brushed on with sprouting lentils & herbs dotted on top. Beetroot coulis dots finish the array of flavours. 

This was followed by our Cotswold Gin and Cucumber Sorbet - it's so popular each time we serve it. I give them the gin bottle on the table to pour on a bit so they get the gin hit. Last time I forgot the bottle, had to go back the next day for it, and the hosts found it on their bookshelf hidden behind a book. Lol. The time before that, one guest liked it so much they brought the rest of the bottle from me.

Free-Range Duck with Nettle Gnudi and Rhubarb Compote
served with;
Fondant Potatoes
Roast Carrot Ribbons with Cumin Seeds
French Beans wrapped in Pancetta

But why is it called gnudi? Well that was the story for this dish. Picked the nettles by the river Severn here in Gloucester that morning (further up the river than the duck live) - couldn't be much fresher.
There's also orange powder over the duck - with the rhubarb they both give it a little tartness. 

 Lemon and Blueberry Tart
First time try out with the deco spoons - takes a bit more practice.....

Cerney Ash Goats cheese with honey and walnuts
No pic for this one - rush, rush. You know how this cooking malarkey is......

Plating plan needed for tasting menus so it runs smoothly. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Canapé Party Catering

My favourite plate - picked this up in Murano. Where else?
Black pudding with scallop and creamed leeks
Asparagus and gruyère wrapped in pancetta
Tuna Niçoise (topped with poached quail egg)
Scotch quail eggs

Tuna Niçoise (topped with poached quail egg) - love a runny egg shot, right?

Bloody Mary shots with crudité
Asparagus and gruyère wrapped in pancetta

Black pudding with scallop and creamed leeks

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Barbecue for your open day in the Cotswolds

Bringing a bit of summer to your open day, like this one last Saturday at JCB in Hereford
Unlike other catering companies we use charcoal barbecues so you get that authentic flavour & aroma. 
 You only need a few sales of these beauties on your open day to make the whole thing worthwhile!
This is the most high-tech JCB around right now. What a mean machine - a 4 year old boy's dream!

Afternoon Tea Catering in Hardwicke, Gloucester

Feedback from a recent wedding 😀

Forget the evening meal, the best thing next to a brunch menu has to be afternoon tea, surely?

It's always good to know a chef! These guests that we know were having family over for afternoon tea, so we volunteered out services, if we could photograph the food we were serving.
They say less is more, but on this day it proved that actually, more is more.......
 Afternoon tea is all about the best sandwiches, but simple works best, as you don't want to confuse the taste of the tea too much. 
Here we have ham & watercress, Smoked salmon & chive marscapone, beef & rocket, cucumber & cream cheese and everyone's favourite egg & cress

Savoury style homemade crumpets with parma ham and lemon chutney
We normally serve  a couple of savoury items along with the sandwiches, scones and cakes - it's the way my Grandmother used to do it, so I kind of keep the family tradition going!

Homemade lattice sausage rolls - everyone's favourite when they go out slightly warm from the oven!
Melty chorizo and gruyère cheese danish. 
Last year I went on a croissant & danish pastry making day course. Making your own is time consuming, but infinitely better quality and taste. Plus you get to choose your fillings!
 Fondant fancies. 
Blue food!
 Chocolate eclairs - you can't beat them!
 Double chocolate torte - dark & milk chocolate
Chelsea buns. Tear them apart at the table.  
 Fruit tartlets
 Jammy dodgers
These should actually come with a warning label - HIGHLY ADDICTIVE! I finished off the spares in one go that night......
Recipe comes from Ms Marmitelovers Afternoon Tea book.
 Rose and lemon flavoured macarons
Individual lemon meringue pies
 Pecan pie
 Ubiquitous scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. 
At the end of the day the simple things are often the best, and you can't beat a good scone, right?
Vanilla, blackberry and pistachio danish. 
Also great to eat on the go. Just saying........

Friday, March 10, 2017

Valentine's Dinner in Halesowen, Birmingham

...'cos  ......
Life is busy! It certainly was for the couple in Birmingham that I cooked for on Valentine's Day this year - they had only moved in to their house three weeks before. Both doctors, one of them was on nights, the other on days. 
Then there comes the pressure of what do for Valentine's Day. Go out to a restaurant and you're just one table of 2 out of a whole roomful, whereas, when you're dining in your home it's all about you.... and your other half. Even better when you don't have to spend all of that time in the kitchen though!
Heart shaped bread rolls
Starter - Salad of herb roast salmon, king prawns and mango
Main course - Involtini of chicken, brie and apples, heart shaped fondant potato, french beans and roast asparagus
Dessert - Chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream (it's a romantic dinner winner!)

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Ahoy Me 'Arty! Pirate Themed Children's Party Near Cheltenham

You can have your Michelin starred foods an' all, but you can't beat a good kids party, right?
This one was right at the end of last September, and the good old English weather as it is, plans had to be changed in the few days before this 7th birthday party, going from an outdoor bouncy castle party, to an indoor one in the village hall next door to the birthday girl's house - convenient, That's where we came in, 2 days before the event. Always here to help!
Shiver me timbers! It's a pirate galleon watermelon with fruit skewers for a starter. Those Japanese skewers work great as oars  
Pirate watermelon in panorama shot
Pirate watermelon with fruit skewers
Jolly Roger pirate plates with cucumber pirate faces, carrot swords and cherry tomato boats waiting for the main addition - chicken goujons and chips in newspaper cones.
Was sculpting these cucumber faces with Red Leicester cheese bandanas from 4am.... as you do.
Carrot swords - a bit of early morning work with the craft knife
Pieces of Eight! Pirate party table - minimalism is so over!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Seven Course Tasting Menu near Cirencester

In case you haven't heard La Belle Assiette is at the forefront of changing the English perception of private chefs. As staying in becomes the new going out, more chefs are giving up the restaurant kitchen stove and taking the restaurant out to people's homes instead. Kind of what I've been doing for the last 10 1/2 years, though now, on occasions, I also do them for La Belle Assiette clients, as I was on this evening.
As I always say to the clients at the events I do - it's much more interesting cooking in a different place each time than being stuck in the same underground kitchen of a hotel or restaurant. And there's also a much better client - chef interaction, none more so than when you are doing a tasting menu.

This was for a joint 30th birthday in early November - so both husband and wife had a decision on the menu. I gave them 4 choices per course to choose from - this is what they chose. I talked about each dish with the guests just before plating it up.
Pork Cheek, Celariac and Watercress
Also making an appearance - romanesco which you burn with a blow torch (gives it a nice barbecue style flavour), toasted pine nuts, pickled butternut squash ribbon, beetroot coulis - all the flavours!
We do quite a lot of hog roasts through the year, and there are always some guests who are in the know and ask for the pig's cheeks & ears - they're the tastiest parts! Slow cook the pigs cheeks and they are meltingly soft. 

Roast Guinea Fowl with Samphire, Gremolata and a Honey and Lemon Dressing
I love samphire with chicken & guineau fowl - the saltiness really seems to work, Samphire has life beyond fish dishes! There was also black pudding, orange, pickled cucumber and crackling. The honey & lemon is a nice light touch to the guineau fowl - you don't want too many heavy things I've found at the begining of a tasting menu. 
The honey & lemon dressing with Guineau Fowl was something I put together once on holiday in Venice - I even cook on holiday!

The red plates were a new find earlier that week. It was love at first sight!
Pavé of Halibut with Oxtail
Fish and meat.... together? For some this might seem an odd combination, but it's really an old French classic pairing. Maybe more like a marriage made in heaven - like the couple celebrating their 30th birthdays!

Also possibly my favourite dish I've done this year! The splat is the new swoosh, but, man it's so much more fun to do! 

It was butternut squash puree in case you're wondering. With a few sprouting lentils dotted around the place. 
Hendricks Gin and Tonic Sorbet
So the birthday girl is an absolute fan of Hendrick's gin and had seen the Hendrick's Gin and Tonic sorbet I had made for another party - so this just had to go on their menu somewhere. Sorbets can seem like a cop out on tasting menus I know, but it sure went down well, and at the end of the day, I'm all about giving people what they like!
Whole Fillet of Beef Wrapped in Wild Mushrooms and Rosemary

Rosemary Roast Whole Fillet of Beef, Rainbow Chard, Wild Mushrooms, Roast Garlic and Oxtail Jus
Luckily it was just the end of pumpkin season. Well, the sale season anyway. People are so fickle - they only seem to buy pumpkins around Hallowe'en time. Then all suppliers stop stocking them because noone wants to buy them. Don't they know how good they are?

These baby pumpkins were filled with rainbow chard - also in season at that time. and there are a few shallots and baby turnips there too. Taste city!

Cotswold Organic Brie baked in Brioche
Using Simon Weaver's Cotswold Brie - I've been to the farm where they make it. You have to dress up in a white coat & hat to go in. So I put some inside the brioche buns, but also a slice on the side - can never have enough brie!

To go with it there were some caramelised oranges I made, pickled figs and pickled cherries that I picked up from Upton Smokery a few days before, and just before I left for this party I found some barberries in the local Turkish shop - their acidity works really well with the brie I found.
Hmm, cheese course or dessert course first? The French would have the cheese first, the English would have the dessert first. On the night we actually went for the English way. 
Pressed Apple with Pistachio Crumble and Blackberry Sorbet
 Like apple and blackberry crumble, but lighter. Served with creme anglaise on the side. The apples are cooked in caramel like you do for tarte tatin and the crumble sprinkled on top. Gotta roll with the times!
Rose Flavoured Macarons
After coffee and rose macarons, it was just a matter of clearing up the kitchen. Really need to work on that self-cleaning kitchen invention.........