Meze starter for a hen party near Stratford-on-Avon and trout and asparagus en papilotte

Monday, April 11, 2011
You've got to love hen parties! They had a special guest at this one - didn't say much though, some people are just 2 dimensional I guess.
The other one serving them cocktails in the lounge however, was much more.... er 3D and talkative. It must have been warm in the house though - he wasn't wearing much.

They had asked for a meze style starter served in the lounge while they had drinks.

Baba ganoush

Aubergines are cooked on the gas top. First saw them being cooked like this by Madonna's personal cook. Totally transforms them & gives it the smoky flavour. Used this great recipe again.

Stuffed vine leaves
Grilled halloumi
Spicy meatballs
Homemade taramasalata

As the main course was trout I had a few trout roes on hand. Taramaslata is just one of those things I'd never tried making till about 4:15pm on Saturday. But wow - it's so amazing. So different to those lurid supermarket versions you can buy. I mixed the fried trout roe with smoked salmon and made a smoked salmon taramaslata - adapting this recipe (I used cream rather than cream cheese).

Watermelon, feta, red onion and olive salad

Homemade flat bread and grissini

First time I had made the breadsticks - how did it take so long? I often see shop brought ones in the holiday house kitchens that we work in - people must have brought them for the night before. Making your own is so much better.
These ones were sesame, onion seed and some dusted with ras-el-hanout. I also did the same varieties of crisp flat breads (below) rolled out thin so you can snap & share. There was also a sun dried tomato, olive and herbes de provence foccacia.
As we had 3 other events going on, this was one of the last jobs to do and time was running by then, so I forgot to dock the first flat bread - bottom right. It bubbles if you don't.
Trout and asparagus en pappilote
Trout with asparagus, fennel, red onion, dill, cherry tomatoes, ginger, garlic and a generous splash of vermouth.
With grilled vegetables - aubergine, courgette, field mushrooms, peppers and globe artichoke slice.
Ever since the underground food bloggers conference where Ms Marmitelover served up spaghetti con vognole en papillote I've been hooked. I've also just noticed I had the greaseproof/ foil combo the wrong way round. Oops. You live and learn......

Grilled butternut squash, pommegranate, rocket and coconut salad
This also went with the trout. Normally it's with feta, but as they had feta with the meze I shaved some fresh coconut over this instead. They seemed to love it - another winning dish.


Asparagus wrapped in pancetta with gremolata

Friday, April 08, 2011
Another starter we served over Cheltenham race week. And another one that's been popular since the moment we first served it.
You wrap the asparagus in pancetta raw and then bake it, so as the asparagus cooks it takes on the flavour from the cooking pancetta - totally delicious. After wrapping the french beans in pancetta, this seemed the next thing.
Fennel and radish is the salad garnish de jour.

Some other asparagus dishes we've done:

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Honey roast Gloucester Old Spot/ Berkshire cross gammon cooked in Piddle in the Hole ale

Wednesday, April 06, 2011
Cooking gammon in cider was a revelation from Carol Webb about 5 years ago. Looking for new bistro menu ideas in January this year, Ethan suggested gammon and it morphed into this & has been very popular from the moment we first served it.
The gammon from Home Farm (they have a new collie puppy btw - so cute) starts off being braised in the wonderfully named ale brewed around 15 miles away for 7 hours - so it is meltingly soft.
Then glazed with honey and spices and roasted.
The juices and some of the reduced cooking liquor is made into a beer, honey & mustard dressing to go with it.

This particular gammon is from Cheltenham race week (18 events in one week - amazing) and the clients wanted it cold with a selection of salads - a nice simple meal after travelling to the Cotswolds from Ireland. It must have been good - they re-booked for next year's Cheltenham week, along with the other week-long party we served.

Traditional waldolf salad which they requested.

Beetroot, lentil, rocket, fennel and radish salad. Healthy living.