Buffet, afternoon tea cakes and barbecue in Gloucester

Monday, June 29, 2009
Dear James

Thank you once again for a superb job last Friday. We received so many nice comments about the food and the dicreet and professional way in which you worked. We still have a few cakes left and will be enjoying those with our afternoon cup of tea this week! I did not have a chance to see the two ladies who helped out at lunch time so could you please pass on my thanks to them.

Thank you again and I wish you every success for the future -maybe one day it will be you celebrating a Queen's Award.

Best regards


SMI Labhut just outside Gloucester were awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise: International Trade 2009. The Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire was presenting the award to them last Friday on behalf of the queen, and we were there providing the food for 3 different functions that day. Firstly a lunch buffet for 38 following the award presentation, then afternoon cakes for 50 guests from their neighbouring businesses at the Steadings Business Centre, and finally an evening barbecue for the owners and their staff's families and friends - another 50.

12:30 Lunch Buffet Menu

Open sandwich of parma ham, rocket and parmesan - as seen here
Confit of duck wraps with hoi sin sauce - as seen here
Open sandwich of vine tomatoes and mozzarella

The first two plates of these went so fast we had to reload twice.

Homemade mini quiche

I find individual ones work much better - they hold together as you eat them. Cases were made in muffin tins on Tuesday, and the filling (nicoise vegetable and also ham, onion and cheese) added and baked just before we left on Friday so they were fresh.

Homemade pork pie using Home Farm pork

Made Wednesday into Thursday so they had time to set up. I use the good old Gary Rhodes recipe from the New British Classics book, with sage picked fresh from the garden that morning, while I was picking the wild strawberries. I doubled up the amount of sage, mixed spice and mace (an excuse to use mace is always good) - it really gives it a flavour boost.

On the same day I was de-boning 8 Madgetts farm chickens to use for a ballottine for a wedding on Saturday, and the chicken in elderflower Adam cooked for two parties - one on Friday night at Kempley Barns while I was doing the barbecue, and the other on Saturday night at Upper Court while I was back at Rock Bank Cottage. This meant I could use all the chicken bones to make a serious flavoursome jellied stock which I could then use for the pork pie.
The pork pies are cooked with a metal piping nozzle in the middle which lets the steam out as they cook so the pastry doesn't burst, and also becomes the funnel to pour in the warm stock after it has cooked and rested. You keep filling it up slowly and the pork mixture inside absorbs it which gives it moistness, and the extra stock fills the gap between the pork mix and the pastry, and sets overnight in the fridge. So just as you see on shop brought pork pies but with a much better flavour and texture - and a fresh taste.
I was worried I had made a little too much, but once the first one had gone out, they asked for more immediately, and both of them just went - think they must have liked it!

Salmon and king prawn terrine with herb crème fraîche and lemon bread

Wrapped in smoked salmon, with salmon and smoked salmon mousse. Layered with king prawns, asparagus and dill.

Pear and almond tart - as seen here

Chocolate nemesis - as seen here


15:00 Afternoon cakes – 50 people

Lemon drizzle

No picture of this one - it was 2:30am on Friday morning by the time it was finished - but the recipe came from A Pot Of Tea and a Biscuit blog - very apt name. How can something so simple be so tasty?

Chocolate brownie

This photo is actually from a few months ago. As you can see I make industrial amounts of these (each of those trays does 8 - 12 as a dessert or 16 as an afternoon tea cake), as I also sell them to a restaurant in Cheltenham. The restaurant get through that quicker than anything else (one of their regular customers comes in just for the chocolate brownie in fact) and sure enough, it was the chocolate brownie that we couldn't see a trace of when I returned to the venue later in the day.

At room temperature it's chocolate heaven.

Date and walnut slice

All through the autumn and winter months (and occasionally in the summer too), everyone loves the sticky toffee pudding - it's the decadence. Here it's turned into a cake with sticky toffee sauce and walnuts on top. There were very few left overs of this also.

Raspberry shortbread

A variation of the raspberry shortbread I do for the assiette dessert. Only this time with lemon curd rather than crème patisserie as they had to last through the afternoon and the crème pat really wouldn't. Shortbread recipe can be found here (without the hazelnuts). You could make raspberry curd of course, but lemon works just as well - like lemon tart with raspberries.

Blueberry muffins - as seen here


20:30 Barbecue menu – 50 people

The first outing for the budget barbecue menu. With 177 covers in 2 days I had really run out of fridge space, so we picked up the burgers and sausages that Ann Meadows had made the night before (Herefordhire cows for the beef, Gloucester Old Spot and Berkshire cross pigs for the pork) on the way back from the lunch, then it was a quick rush to pack up everything for the 2 evening events, and back to Gloucester with barbecue in the back.

Chicken fillet (marinaded in barbecue sauce)
Home Farm Bredons Norton sausages
Home Farm Bredons Norton beef burgers
Homemade black bean and bulgar wheat burgers

Tomato and basil salad
Potato salad

After that (23:00) it was just a quick trip to the 24 hour supermarket on the way back for last minute provisions (now I'd cleared some fridge space), unpack, clean up, a quick rest and back to work on a wedding buffet for Saturday lunch, and 2 parties on Saturday evening. "Sounds like you're in demand" said the hens at the hen party I cooked for the following evening when I was relaying all this to them. They had a point.

Related posts:

Corporate Lunch buffet
Vegetarian lunch buffet
Easter buffet 2009
Previous barbecues

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