Monday, June 23, 2008

Holiday chef

'We take the catering out of self catering, leaving you time to spend on your self'.

A personal chef for your holiday - all or some of your meals taken care of: breakfast, lunch, childrens meals and evening meals are all possible - you decide how much you want us to do. It's like being in a hotel but with the flexibility of your own home. No taxis to restaurants to organise and no baby sitter needed for the children - and it doesn't cost as much as you think!

We have menu ideas using the links below, but are happy to make whatever you would like - after all it's your special holiday! Previous dishes made to request can be seen here: Special request . You can also find dishes we have served in the past by clicking on starters, main course, dessert etc on the right sidebar or by using the search engine on the top left.

For weekends we also have weekend catering packages here: Benson of Broadway weekend catering pacakges and special offers

If you are interested in just one night - ideal for a celebration because you can spend your evening with your guests rather than toiling in the kitchen - we have menus here: Benson of Broadway menus. We can either cook you meal in your home with chef and waiting staff or deliver it chilled with simple instructions for you to heat and serve.

You can see our previous clients' feedback here: Benson of Broadway recommendation letters.
See our most recent holiday chef bistro menu post - click here


Sunday 25th - Friday 31st May 2008, Derry House, Downderry, Cornwall


Dear James,

Thank you so much for a week of fantastic food!

Every meal was fabulous and yet again you have converted the boys to new foods. On the Saturday morning the boys asked what was for breakfast and were most disappointed with the choice of cornflakes or rice krispies!

We all had a great time especiallly Dad who was over the moon with his surprise chef!
Thanks again, you played a huge part in making Dads birthday week the success that it was.
Kind regards,

Annette, Graham, Suzanne, Matt, Dan, Hayden, Lauren and Joshie.

XXX

Everyone deserves a holiday. And everyone deserves a holiday from cooking. Large luxurious holiday houses are the new hotels, ideal for large groups of family or friends, only with the freedom of having your own house. But who out of your family or friends is going to give up their holiday to cook, and are they used to cooking for 10 or more people?

This was where I came in, cooking again for a family of 10 (incorporating 3 generations). They had all enjoyed it so much when I had cooked for them last year while they stayed in Gloucestershire, they wanted me to do the same this year in Cornwall.
XXXXX

Derry House (aka The Beach House), a large Victorian House, recently refitted to the highest standard, is situated, as its name suggests, just up from it's own private beach on the Cornwall coast between Plymouth and Looe. Of its many features, nothing was more pleasing to see on arrival than the herb garden directly outside the kitchen which sits at the back of the house, the reception rooms and dining room all looking out over the sea.


Sunday

08:00. After finishing off the wedding which closed at midnight, unpacking, then re-packing for Cornwall (8 checklists and half a kitchen), and driving through the night, it was time to set up for breakfast.

There was apple and berry compote with greek yogurt, my speciality museli (easier to say what isn't in it), and a large selection of freshly cut fruit as seen here.


A traditional english breakfast followed with bacon (seen back here) and sausages from Home Farm in Bredons Norton, Oakfield organic portobello mushrooms, vine tomatoes and Clarence Court Burford Brown eggs.

Toasted homemade bread followed - I unleashed the chocolate bread (it was Sunday after all), which accompanied the sesame and poppy seed variety, home made pink grapefruit marmalade from Collis, the small market garden in Evesham, and homemade hedgerow jelly from Dove Cottage in Broadway.

Sunday dinner


What better way to start the english holiday than with an english roast. Each of the menus which I am serving over the week is chosen in advance by the organiser from a large repetoire which ensures I can procure the best quality ingredients.
For Sunday dinner there was parsnip soup with parsnip crisps, followed by a main corse of roast sirloin of beef with yorkshire puddings, red wine sauce, rosmary roast potatoes, horseradish, chantenay carrots and french beans with red onions, as seen in a photo at Broad Marston Manor a few weeks later:
Apple pie brought the classic english Sunday roast to a close, again a photo from a few weeks later:
Monday

While breakfast carried on in a similar vein to the day before, the weekday evenings took shape with an early meal for the children, then a later sitting for the 'big children'.

My personal mission was on again - how to get children to eat things they normally wouldn’t go near.

There’s a few rules of childrens cooking I‘ve picked up -

  • If it’s meat it has to be bland, if it’s a vegetable it has to have serious flavour
  • Don’t let different foods touch each other
  • If it looks appealing, there’s a higher chance that it will be tried - think shapes, colours, & glossyness (if that’s a word)
  • If you’re serving something they aren’t used to accompany it with something they are used to - one old, one new
  • Don’t use hot plates
  • Don’t serve the food too hot
  • Don’t put too much on a plate - think small portions: they can always come back
  • Don’t add much salt.
Monday childrens tea
Chicken goujons with chips (both handmade of course), butternut squash and peas (not shown).

Yes you read right - it was butternut squash, not carrots - but you liked it!
Knickerbocker glory - An improvement on my last version - now the original dessert with fruit, coulis, sponge, custard, jelly, ice cream, cream - and a cherry on the top. As well as a few scatterings of marshmallow, chocolate - that’s what holidays are for.


Monday adults dinner menu

To start - Grilled asparagus and parmesan - similar to this but with raspberry vinaigrette.


One of my favourite main courses - Ballottine of free range organically reared duck with rosemary noisette potatoes, kale and a cherry brandy sauce with fresh cherries.



Strawberry meringue roulade with strawberry coulis and prosecco sorbet - all made fresh in the afternoon


Tuesday

The chocolate bread I made and toasted went down well - it was the first request at breakfast on Tuesday morning as soon as everyone had sat down. I still had a couple of bananas I had brought with me and thought these might go down well - chocolate toast with bananas. Bananas on bread and butter had been a favourite for my grandfather, so this was just taking it a little further. They all went pretty fast.
Tuesday childrens tea

This was pronounced the best meal they had ever had. Playing around with old favourites is always fun. Having read about the black farmer brand in The Sunday Times, I was interested to try something out, and those were the sausages I found, pork and bramley apple. Perfect. Outside the kitchen door was a herb garden at arm level - perfect for picking and adding to whatever I was making. Here I used chive flowers, as they were in the peak of their all too short season.
I knew I wanted to use courgettes some time this week but was looking at various ways of doing them. I ended up adapting Tanya Ramsey's parmesan courgettes - in her book she sautés them and sprinkles in the parmesan at the end so it melts. I roasted thinly sliced courgettes (boiling courgettes is a criminal offence), sprinkled some parmesan on top and finished them under the grill. Perfect round shapes look much more edible.

Pork and bramley apple sauasages with cheesy mash, sweet corn and parmesan courgettes. Gravy served on the side.

Dark chocolate nemesis with white chocolate sauce - and pysalis (cape gooseberry) on top - which got eaten as well.
XXXXX
The bread proved while I served the children, and was then baked off in between serving them and adults. As the dark chocolate bread was so popular I tried making a white chocolate loaf. There’s a sunflower seed loaf too and some parmesan bread rolls for Friday. It was the daily change of flavour of the bread rolls that everyone loved.


XXXXX

Tuesday adults dinner menu

Starter of smoked duck and mango salad with coriander dressing - again using some of the chive flowers from the garden.

Main course - Fillet of cod topped with rarebit served with watercress creamed potato, spinach and a tomato and herb dressing
The reception to this dish as I served it was rapturous. I invented it one evening at The Lygon Arms, and still like it. You may say it is a bit like fish pie re-incarnated. The cod is grilled skin side up so the skin goes crispy before being finished with the welsh rarebit.
Served here with roasted courgettes, red peppers and asparagus.
Dessert - Tarte tatin with madagacan vanilla ice cream and toffee sauce

For easy ice cream serving tip see here.

The apples bubbling in caramel earlier in the afternoon.


Wednesday night is buffet night

Wednesday is a nice day for a suprise birthday party. Although, admittedly, the other 6 are good too.

As soon as breakfast was clear, it was time to start preparing for the evening buffet. Good food takes time.
Open sandwiches on French baguette:
1 - Smoked trout with capers
2 - Coronation chicken - tikka sauce, mang chutney, fresh coriander et al.
3 - Prawns with marie rose
4 - Plum tomato, mozzarella, basil and olive oil

Avocado (in sesame) and cucumber sushi with soy, wasabi and pickled ginger. The wasabi is hot so only take a tiny bit. I did say tiny.
Confit of duck, apple and hoi sin spring rolls - the first thing to be made that morning.
Mini Broadway sausages from Collins of Broadway with grain mustard mayonnaise in one corner and tikka marinaded chicken skewers with coriander yogurt in the other.
Tiger prawns in filo with cocktail sauce
Mini tomato, mozzarella and basil pizzas (some with olives - as not everyone is an olive fan)
Barbecue flavour chicken legs - using the organically reared free-range chicken from the Smallholding in Chadbury - this is the most succulent chicken you will ever come across.
Glazed lemon tarts and strawberry and champagne tarts (the champagne is in the crème patisserie and the glaze) - again all made in the afternoon for the best freshest taste.


Thursday childrens tea

Sole goujon with chips, glazed carrot batons and mange tout sautéed with soy (not shown) Fruit trifle - freshly made as soon as the main course has gone out, so it remains light and fresh.


Thursday adults dinner menu

Chicken liver parfait - made fresh that afternoon with elderberry chutney from Dove Cottage in Broadway made from elderberries picked from the fields around the village and my homemade poppy seed bread toasted.
My personal favourite - roast saddle of lamb with sun dried tomato and basil stuffing, nicoise vegetables, grilled new potatoes (luckily it was a fine day, so all the doors could be opened to let out the smoke made by the grill pan) and a light balsamic jus.

After the saddle has rested out of the oven I pour the juice from the roasting tray into the sauce - to give it the extra flavour. Grilled polenta with nicoise vegetables and pesto dressing for one non-lamb eater.


Dessert on this day was glazed cheesecake, similar to that seen last year, but taller and with a new improved recipe. The base was made in the morning after breakfast, left to set in the fridge and the middle cooked first thing that afternoon)


Friday - the last supper


With both menus served together in the rush I missed the photos, apart from this.....


Childrens menu - Chicken in a basket with rosemary roast diced potatoes (more rosemary from the herb garden), creamy peas with bacon and sautéed baby corn with sesame (not shown, but very tasty)


Knickerbocker glory - similar to the one you saw on Monday, but with orange jelly inside this time instead of raspberry. Save the best till last.

Parma ham salad (adults starter) - as seen before


Grilled fillet of beef with sautéed bok choi, rosti potato, beetroot and a red wine sauce - similar to the beef dish seen here.


Blackberry crème brulee - similar to this version photographed at Upper Court in September 2006

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You too can make your holiday special with your own holiday chef - contact me for a quote. Contact details are on the right hand sidebar.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Murder mystery evening at Rectory Park

Someone's dead - must be the food. Although it could have been the poison found in the drawing room.
Mini fish pie canape glazed using kitchen tip #8


Yes we catered for another Saturday evenings entertainment with Murder to Measure, this time at Rectory Park in Slimbridge.

Canapes, some of which you have seen before, were on the menu, eaten outside on the terrace in the last of the evening sun, while guests started their detective work.

Japanese spoons of wild mushroom risotto with

smoked salmon blinis in the middle


Asparagus and parmesan made a nice light summer starter, and grilled fillet of beef with runner beans, roast artichokes, rosti potato and a horseradish jus, the main course.



Then, after some revelations from the detectives, there was a specially requested assiette of desserts:


Dark chocolate tart


White chocolate and blueberry cheesecake


Japanese spoon of creme brulee


Strawberry and champagne tartlet


Shotgass of raspberry sorbet


All we had to do then was clear up the dead body.......

Murder mystery companies we have worked with:

Murder to Measure
Murder Meals

kitchen tips #27 - frozen mash

Don't tell Delia - this was mash that I'd made myself the old fashioned way with a little butter and cream for flavour that afternoon.

But how to pipe it on top of mini fish pies last Saturday while making it look neat? I piped it on to a baking tray, then flashed it in the american style fridge/ freezer. Then when it had hardened up slightly, took a warm palette knife and slipped it on top of my mini fish pies.
There's no problems only solutions.


Kitchen tips # 26 - No more screams for ice cream

Question: How do you get ice cream on top of a hot dessert and get it out to the table before it all melts away?

Tarte tatin with madagascan vanilla ice cream


Answer: Place a plate or baking tray in the freezer for at least 10 minutes so it is ice-cold. Scoop or quenelle ice cream into perfect ice cream scoops and place on the ice cold tray - the ice cream should stick to the tray (if you use a tray at room temperature it slides to the other side and melts fast). Fill the tray and place back into the freezer till you are ready to serve.
This can be done hours in advance, or minutes, like I had on this occasion. All you need to do then is go out to the herb garden, pick a hadful of mint sprigs, stick them in the top of the ice cream, then, using a palette knife dipped in hot water, transfer them to your culinary creation.

Any other questions?


Edit 26/9/11


220 Apples for tarte tatin for a wedding & dinner party on the same weekend begining of September

Kitchen tips # 25 - Filo baskets - a real basket case!

Chicken in a basket, childrens menu classic

How 2.

If you have catering quality cling film (I’ve never tried this with normal shop-brought cling film before but I‘m sure it would be OK) or glad-wrap if you’re from Australia & New Zealand this won’t melt in the oven! Double wrap a ramekin tight with cling film.
Place two squares of filo on top of each other so they look like a star, brush with egg and sprinkle with sesame. You can use poppy seeds too - if you want to keep brushing them off the table and floor for the next week.

WARNING! They don’t take long to cook. Set the oven on 180 oC - any more and you’re more likely to burn them. They take from 5 - 10 minutes depending on your oven. If they’re not quite ready and you put them back in, they don’t take long to finish off - as I can tell you from many trays of black filo baskets when I was a young commis.