Eating alfresco in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire - Sunday buffet lunch for 55

Monday, July 05, 2010
Ah - did anyone remember to take any photographs of the canapes and main course? Oops. It was for 55 people at Rectory Park for a 60th birthday Sunday lunch - the most I had cooked for on an aga to date. 55 covers on one aga means a lot of planning and shifting things around, trays of top of each other, and keep those lids down! It was fun.

What an amazing day they had chosen for it - the weather held so everyone could have drinks and eat outside - you have to make the best of the alfresco dining when you can in our country. Due to the number of guests we had hired extra tables and chairs and the hosts had set these up how they wanted them before we arrived - due to the space it worked better with some on the terrace and some on the lawn.Due to some guests intolerances the host had requested spelt bread - which can be suitable for some coeliacs. I added sage and onion - good old english flavours.

After our homemade canapes and main courses of aga hoi sin baked salmon with lentils piperade and Madgetts Farm free range chicken poached in wild elderflower with elderflower and grape sauce were accompanied with grilled vegetables (that was alot of grilling) and new potatoes (just cooked in time on the aga - was worried at one point).

Elderflowers soaking on Thursday into Friday. I picked them on the way back from a business buffet lunch delivery - no time to waste!

We got some dessert pictures though thanks to @Party-Angels who had been doing such a good job front of house looking after the guests. Like everything else the desserts were made from scratch too.

Lemon and raspberry meringue roulade

Freshly made at early o'clock on Sunday morning. Even I had underestimated how popular it would be. Luckily I managed to find a spare piece on the kitchen counter for the hostess.

Tarte tatin

Apple halves cooked in caramel for tart tatin.

Apricot and frangipane tart

Tinned apricots? Don't think so - these were fresh ones - make the most of the season! After cooking the caramelised apples for the tarte tatin we spooned some of the caramel over the apricot halves (stones removed) and roasted them till soft. Tart cases were also home made in muffin tins - they make the ideal size. So much nicer than ready made pastry.

Oh I didn't mention there was some football match on - Germany playing someone. Oh England apparently. You can tell I'm interested......

Along with the 3 cheeses from Gorsehill Abbey farm which I had picked up at 00:30 on the way back from the tapas hen party the night before I added Oxford Isis and Barkham Blue which I had picked up on the way back from picking the elderflowers (great smell in the front on the van).

We left them with the cheese, strawberries and cream and coffee and then I returned later to clear everything up. Job done. Till Tuesday when we were back there doing a smaller party for them . Don't forget the Monday night party in between though - busy busy.

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