Salad of grilled butternut squash, rocket, feta, pommegranate and black olive

Sunday, May 22, 2011
Oh is that a feather boa?

It was a 20's theme for one of the hen parties we cooked for on Saturday just outside Chipping Norton . I had cooked for the organiser's friend at another hen party the Saturday after new year - amazing how word of mouth spreads :)

7 hour slow cooked shoulder of lamb (see more here) was on the menu - one of the most popular dishes. This salad goes relly well with it - and it all dissappeared on Saturday - always a good sign. Butternut squash goes on the grill pan (see tip for grilling it by clicking photo below) and is then roasted to finsh cooking & diced into thick chunks.

You don't need a recipe surely - it's not (ahem) rocket science.....


How to start a restaurant or supper club in your own home

Thursday, May 19, 2011
Well these people will know because they've been there, done it and got the apron:It's on this Saturday 21st May - get there (the place where the UK underground restaurant movement all started). I went to a previous event there - the food bloggers conference in February. If I ever find time around my 7 day a week schedule I might even put some of it into practice.
Why would you ever go to a normal conference again? Much more intimate - you feel much more part of it, and you actually get to interact with the speakers, you get to meet up with all those people you've 'met' online but never seen face to face and get to meet some great new people, and of course, with this one you'll get first hand evidence of a home restauarant service - home cooked lunch included. There'll be home restaurants accross the nation in no time.

Click on the picture above for info & ticket info.

Beetroot, nettle and feta filo tart with beetroot pesto

Sunday, May 15, 2011
"Nutter!"That's what the guy walking past me on the old railway called me yesterday. Result! Obviously he's not used to people picking nettles. Probably not tried nettle risotto I guess. Doesn't realise what he's missing out on!

I was picking bare hand though that might have something to do with it - the experienced nettle picker doesn't need gloves - it's all about the minute hairs on the nettles, like cats you can't stroke them the wrong way or they let you know.

The nettles for this tart were picked a couple of weeks before - the day after the royal wedding for a royal wedding themed hen party.
Photo by Party Angels who were running front of house so slickly

Just before serving them I went in to the kitchen garden at Upper Court to find chives to use on the main course and found their chive flowers in full bloom (mine had still been closed when I'd left home), so I picked some of these and sprinkled these over the starter.

Quick recipe -

Cut out filo pastry to fit tart cases - need 4 layers of filo per tart. Brush each of the 4 layers with melted butter and fit to the tart case (using foil tins is nice and easy). Diced cooked (not pickled) beetroot, sauteed nettles (see my nettle tips here) and feta. Liason - egg and cream/ milk combo (3 eggs to a pint (450 mls) and work on about 50 mls per person) + seasoning, ground nutmeg & whatever herbs you can find in the garden. Bake around 15 - 18 mins till set. If the pastry is burning on the edges before the filling in set cover it with foil. They are best cooked and served - re-heating in oven doesn't give best results.

Beetroot pesto - see here. Sounds strange to begin with, but is really good.

Related posts:

1001 kitchen tips #21 - Top nettle picking tips

Pearl barley risotto with wild nettles, roasted purple sprouting broccoli, artichokes and nettle pesto (This was part of a week long event - scroll down to Thursday on this link)
The BNT brioche crown (that's home cured bacon, wild nettles and home grown tomatoes - an epic)
Beans on toast (or if you prefer: Homemade gluten free nettle bread with beer baked cannellini beans and nettle pesto)
Irish style potato (and nettle) pancakes for BBC Radio Gloucestershire St Patricks Day

Catering for the Royal Naval Association 40th Anniversary Dinner 2011 in Tewkesbury

Thursday, May 05, 2011
Photo courtesy of Party Angels who were running front of house operations

".... the only thing is there's no kitchen...." said the organiser of the event (he had been at the hog roast we had served at Basepoint in Tewkesbury last year). After cooking in all manner of locations over the years, this was not a problem, just a challenge.
A bar table becomes a work bench for the night

So the evening before the royal wedding we converted the back room (above) of the Royal British Legion Club (who are also tied in with the Naval Association) from a bar room to a make-shift kitchen. No cooking facilities of course, so it was just a matter of choosing the right menu which could be served up without need of a cooker. Mind your head though - this is a 1500's building so very low oak beams.

Salad of honey and mustard roast salmon, king prawns and jersey royal potatoes with yogurt and dill dressing

This had to be the second closest event we had done (the first being the hog roast a couple of units down from us), which greatly helped the logistics. I cooked the salmon absolutely at the last minute while Hannah and Ethan took the first load of equipment to the venue. Cooking it so close to the time means it stays fresh and moist once cooked. Put it in the fridge and it goes hard and dense - makes such a difference as we found out on the night.
Jersey royals are mixed with mayo and spring onions, hiding under the salad with fennel, radish and orange.

Main course - well, so fast we forgot a photo. But rave reviews were coming back before they had even finished. Brisket of Home Farm (about 5 miles from venue) Hereford beef cooked in Cotswold Way ale with new potatoes, french beans and red onions and chantenay carrots. The beef had been cooking for 10 hours on 160 oC the day before. This meant it could be sliced cold at the venue and re-heated in the chafing dishes as could the veg which had been pre-cooked in the afternoon. The chafing dishes are more powerful than you think - light them early and rather than just keeping things warm they can actually warm them up. I took the temperature probe along as well, and was able to give the dishes a helping hand on the top of the mini baby belling electric oven we took along (handy bit of kit).
Rhubarb and custard crumble tart with Cotswold clotted cream

Searching for a dessert I came accross this amazing recipe which had great reviews. It also gained amazing reviews from the guests that night too. It's like combining 2 all time favourite rhubarb desserts in one. I also added rosewater to the custard and used my trusty pastry recipe (link here) for the pastry cases. One of the comments underneath the recipe had suggested adding almonds to the topping as well which I did - a nice addition, and also bulks up the topping so it is enough.
It makes such a difference when things are homemade it seems - this tart had been a labour of love that afternoon, and came out of the oven just in time for the salmon to go in. But the amount of work paid off when we had so many happy diners. The one pictured above was the last piece, pictured after all the others (better looking versions) had been served. This one went to the couple who run the bar.
As my house is virtually opposite the venue we were able to use the oven there for the pies while the guests were eating the main course. In fact some of the rhubarb used actually came from the garden, so about 200 yards ish - that's locally sourced ingredients.

A few bread rolls the night before