Sweet ravioli with marscapone and honey

Wednesday, June 30, 2010
2 years and 22 days after serving our first ever assiette of dessert which the guests at Rectory Park in Slimbridge had requested we were back there serving another, this one to go with an Italian themed menu.
  • Panettone 'bread' and butter pudding
  • Raspberry ricotta cheesecake - (was so much better than cream cheese think I might switch)
  • Apricot and cherry ravioli with marscapone and honey sauce
  • Creme brulee
  • Shotglass of mango sorbet (maybe not along the Italian theme but it was the hosts' son's favourite, and Italians do like their Gelateria)
I used this recipe for the sweet ravioli. Due to time pressures the pasta dough was the last thing I made in the afternoon before packing up all the ingredients and equipment.
After the starter had gone I set up the pasta machine, then as soon as the main course had gone I rolled it out and formed into ravioli - very similar to the empanadas I had made the previous Saturday.

Then as Gill was bringing in the main course plates I started to cook them. Couldn't be much fresher if you tried.

Aside from the assiette, the sweet ravioli make a great dessert in their own right - I can vouch for it.

Hickory smoked mackeral with gooseberry and wild elderflower compote

Tuesday, June 29, 2010
"Don't mind me" said one of the guests at Yew Tree Farmhouse near Fairford as he grabbed a glass of water while I was busy de-boning ducks. "No probl......" then I saw why he'd drawn attention to himself. Because it was a joint 40th and 60th birthday they had a 70's theme going on - and there standing in the kitchen was an apparition of 70's disco - this costume, complete with wig and mo. Fantastic. Some people do it in style!

I'd been caught smoking at work earlier in the day
You can get fancy indoor home smokers, you can get fancy oudoor home smokers, you can even get smoking sheds. On the other hand you can just do it the old fashioned way as above. Once the hickory chips were smoking I brushed the mackeral with olive oil so they didn't stick to the grill and popped that over the tray of smoking wood. Then brushed some foil with oil too (doesn't stick to the skin) and let it smoke/ cook on a slow heat.

Gooseberries came from the Farm and Garden shop in Tewkesbury high street - like you would expect from their name they stock their shop from either their own garden or others and from local farms.

The tartness of the gooseberry cuts through the oilyness of the fish - hence why the age old combination.

Originally it was going to be gooseberry and ginger, but having picked so many elderflowers the week before ('they're not grey hairs, just elderflower pollen') I couldn't help changing it. I found a great recipe in Sophie Grigsons Country Kitchen book for gooseberry and elderflower compote. That took 2 hours for the sugar to cook down with the elderflowers. I didn't have 2 hours. 2 minutes was more like it, so I used the caramel from making caramelised apples for 55 portions of tarte tatin on Sunday with 2010 vintage elderflower cordial. Heat them up till the gooseberries just burst. Because they are so tart the caramel is just right at the end to go with the smoked mackeral. I was pleasantly suprised - amazing summery taste. If there is any compote left it goes so well with greek yogurt for breakfast. Apparently.


Meat Free Monday #23 - Courgette and wild nettle fritters with balsamic roast cherry tomatoes and nettle pesto

Tuesday, June 22, 2010
So I posted that on Sunday in between loads of washing tea towels and chef jackets - and got the following response - always good to hear from guests after the event.
A little walk from the kitchen down the old railway line is a great long nettle patch. This is just a small part - much more grown up now. From growing in the ground to cooked in c. 20 minutes - can't get fresher.
Grated courgettes, cooked nettles, bit of nigella's pancake mix (no sugar) to bind, ground cumin, coriander and chilli.
On roasted celery and peppers.

Related posts

Cooking with nettles
Other nettle dishes

Cooking lobsters for lobster macaroni cheese (lobster mac n cheese)

Thursday, June 17, 2010
Careful what you post on the blog - someone might just see it.I made the Lobster mac n cheese above back in January as a one off. Well it was a going to be a one off. But when the host of of the murder mystery/ birthday at Littleton Manor near Evesham last Saturday saw it that was what they chose (along with the beef and nettle olive).... how can you resist? As it was to be a main course we served a whole lobster per portion. After the evening delivery and set up of the marquee kitchen tent the other side of Worcetser for the next day it was back to the kitchen for the second round late into Saturday morning. No finished picture from the night as we forgot the camera (so much going on), but this is how it started......

Delivered live. They have to be cooked live - they decay so quickly once they die. If you cook them dead the meat inside becomes an unusable puree.
Taking a 'warm bath' - 10 minutes. Plenty of salt - brings out the sweetness of the lobster meat.
Cooked. Don't run under cold water - it makes the meat stick to the shell so you'll never get it out from the shell without destroying it. Cut in half. Then remove and seperate knuckles and claws. The roe can be kept and added to the sauce (heaps of extra flavour and colour).
Reminds me of the days we would do them by the hundred. The meat from the knuckles and claws should be taken out while the lobster is still warm. If you fridge it first, like dunking them in cold water, the meat sticks to the shell and you will end up with a tragedy - dealing with lobster needs respect.... and time.
Job done c. 23:15. You can clean the meat in warm water to remove solidified fat. The knuckle meat goes in the head part of the shell with the claw on top.

A few hours later at 7am I was smoking chicken, and I couldn't help thinking how good smoked lobster would be. Next time......

Related posts

Lobster mac recipe

Lemon meringue pie recipe

Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Yes - lemon meringue pie. Who can resist it? The bridegroom from the wedding we cooked for at Littleton Manor near Evesham earlier in June sure couldn't - he snuck a spare one in the kitchen. Don't tell anyone.

I have added the recipe over here.

Their assiette of desserts (must like chocolate)

Lemon meringue pie
Chocolate torte
Chocolate eclair
Chocolate dipped strawberry
Shotglass of homemade vanilla ice cream

Related posts

Other assiette of desserts
Assiette of desserts facebook album

Diabetic assiette of dessert

Coeliac, vegetarian, vegan, dairy free, diabetic - we seemed to have it all last weekend. With soya milk & 'cream' there's a lot you can do for vegans and dairy free guests. For the diabetic guest on Sunday night at Summer Lake 4 (part of Watermark in the Cotswold Water Park near Cirencester) there was no way she could have eaten the baileys ice cream, chocolate torte, creme brulee etc that were part of the other hens' assiette of desserts so I made this one up on the spur of the moment as soon as the main course had gone out.Shotglass of natural yogurt with poached berries
Roast apricot with brazil nut
Strawberry and pistachio spoon
Banana, clementine and basil spoon
Physalis and pommegranate

You can always rely on hen parties to have some natural yogurt in the fridge - always the health concious ones.
I had apricots left from making apricot and frangipane tart the day before. Roasting the apricot with a little balsamic drizzled over for this dessert was something I'll have to try again.

Barbecue wedding near Ross on Wye, Herefordshire

Monday, June 07, 2010
"Hereford is the hottest place in the country" said the owner of Kempley Barns near Ross on Wye and Hereford as we wheeled down the barbecues from their barn to the garden.
"....hotter than Greece and the med" said someone else later on. It had been reading 33 oC outside my unit.So no better time to have an outdoor kitchen thenWhat I love about that place is you listen and what do you hear? The stream gushing, pheasants squaking, birds singing, and that's about it. No roads, no people (apart from your guests of course). So peaceful. Just a perfect setting for a wedding. You can just relax and enjoy the company of friends and family.

Barbecue catering for a hen party in Bisley (between Stroud and Cheltenham)

Make the most of the last of your freedom!
Well I've cooked in some amazing houses over the years but this definitely ranks as the most high. Bisley is one of those secret Cotswold villages - off the tourist track (and all the better for it) - maybe that's why Jilly Cooper lives there. I had been in the neighbouring villages but not this one - now I saw it have to go back.

When they said you go up a steep slope they weren't kidding. It's steep, and then goes up a bit more, a bit more and a bit more - like a mountain with a load of false summits. But look what awaits you when you get there - an 18th century wisteria clad beauty. The garden was bursting with life, and being so high you get a great view of the valley. Truly a stunning house.

While you can order the barbecue menu, sadly you can't order the weather - though I am working on it. This was the polar opposite of the week before. That had been the hottest day of the year - at 33 oC + hotter than Greece and the med and the wedding party had soaked it up. This week however, it rained all afternoon and the evening went cold. So it was a bit of indoor barbecuing instead, which is no bad thing. At the end of last year I purchased a large Le Creuset grill pan and fell instantly in love with it. It sure did the job on this occasion too.

Skewers of chorizo, bacon, halloumi & red onions
The hens had left choosing the menu to me so I did a couple of favourites and a couple of new things. A few days before I had been admiring Jan's chicken, bacon and halloumi skewers, and thought (& tweeted) how good halloumi and chorizo would be. @Cotswoldfood tweeted back '@MyCotswoldfood Did halloumi, pancetta and red onion the other night, excellent!' well that settled that then. And oh yes - this was such a meat fest! Sure I could eat chorizo for breakfast, lunch and dinner......

Barbecued beef stroganof
I cut up the finest Home Farm rib eye beef and marinaded it overnight in barbecue sauce. Then skewered with button mushrooms. Meanwhile my white wine and mushroom cream sauce was reducing away.
As the hens were eating inside there was limited serving space so we decided it would be easier to plate up the main items and for them to pass the salads around. So the stroganof sauce went over the skewers once plated. Classics are great aren't they?
I had first done this 4 years previously when I was cooking a series of barbecues for the same hosts and had to come up with varied options. It was about time to do it again. It's like a cross between barbecue and fondue - what could be better? [Those are grilled chilli-tiger prawns in the background by the way.]
Campari poached chicken wrapped in parma ham

This makes a great hen party dish - campari, well they like their cocktails. Because it is poached it is much moister. Wrapped in parma and barbecued (or grilled in this case), it just finishes it off.

Salads at the ready to be passed (spinach, cherry tomatoes, red onion & olive, potato salad and spiced pepper quinoa)

Grilled pears with greek yogurt and honey
One for Ms Marmitelover - a dessert in a large bowl to help yourself. This was almost too good to serve. I had poached the pears with cinnamon, cardamon and cloves first.

Strawberry skewers with white chocolate dip
Well you can't have a barbecue without them can you? Especially a hen party barbecue.

So while we cleared up they got ready for their night out on the town (Cheltenham) - no point in doing things by halves.

Related posts

Other barbecues we have served

Summer dinner party between Fairford and Lechlade

Thursday, June 03, 2010
While you're busy preparing your evening meal in the kitchen take a look left.......
Whatever the Lower Mill Estate has, the Lakes by Yoo just has so much more of it. I remember reading about them when they first came on the market - Jade Jagger and Phillippe Starck were among the designers - and it shows. It's hard to believe these secret lakes are hiding behind the road. You leave security behind at the gate and it feels like you've jumped from the Cotswolds to the beating heart of a Tarkovsky or Bergman film set, slightly surreal - you sure get a sense of arriving somewhere special. Stunning.
While the adults had the ever popular asparagus with tiger prawns and oyster sauce dressing, for the children it was hard to pin down exactly what they both liked. In the end I remembered another event I did a couple of months ago. They had decided as I arrived that maybe their 4 year old would eat with them after all, but obviously I hadn't brought anything with me, and they had garlic doughballs in the fridge which their son really liked. In fact so did his brother and parents, uncle, aunt and grandparents who all 'helped' him along. It turned out the children tonight were fans too and I made and par-baked these just before leaving then put garlic butter on top and baked them just before serving.

Grilled fillet of beef with chilli and garlic baked chickpeas, french be
ans wrapped in pancetta and rosti potato
..... and watercress coulis. The beans in pancetta are lush - you get the flavour of the pancetta permeating the beans as they bake in the oven. Chickpeas start off being boiled in vegetable stock (1 hour) then baked in the oven with tomato etc. (another hour).

Assiette of dessert
I love the black plates they have at Larchwood Lodge. They sure make the food look great.
Each Assiette of desserts we serve is slightly different depending on what the guests choose. This one was:

Mini chocolate and orange bread and butter pudding (melted dark chocolate and orange zest mixed into the liason - first time I had done this, and seemed to be very popular)

Mini blueberry and white chocolate cheesecake

Strawberry meringue roulade

Spoon of creme brûlée

Sticky toffee pudding (now most popular assiette choice)


Dinner party cooked in the Cotswold Water Park near Cirencester

Wednesday, June 02, 2010
As you pass through the gates of the Lower Mill Estate you leave the world behind. Part nature reserve part relaxation zone for families on holiday it's so peaceful and laid back and when you see the houses set against the lakes you wonder whether you really are in the Cotswolds at all or Scandinavia or New England. Water is everywhere - all the houses are set against lakes and some have streams/ rivers running around them too - it all adds to the zen.

This meal was for a 70th birthday at Velvet Lodge.Trio of fish starters - Crab salad with pink grapefruit, salmon ballottine wrapped in smoked trout and grilled tiger prawns with fennel and apple salad

"....this just tastes so fresh - you know how at some restaurants the food can taste....." Well it was fresh - they had watched as I diced, sliced and mix in the few minutes before serving. It makes a difference. I first made this on Christmas eve last year for a group in Kidderminster and liked it so much I thought I would offer to everyone.

Prawns are skewered on lemongrass.

Pork tenderloin wrapped in parma ham with spinach salad, garlic parmentier potatoes and warm orange vinaigrette.

The pork tenderloin wrapped in parma ham is back by popular demand. This is a much lighter summery version. I liked the spinach salad I had served at the barbecue the night before so much I recreated the same for this dish. A little on the plate and a salad bowl as well - you can't get enough of it. Simple things - spinach, the best baby tomatoes you can find, black olives and shallot. As I had some peppers I added those too.

Related posts

Pork tenderloin in parma ham - how it's made
Trio of Donnington trout