Amaretti and (Dairy)milk chocolate cheesecake

Monday, June 27, 2011
If it was a dessert popularity contest cheesecake would have to be right up there on the podium.This one was requested by the bride for last Saturday's wedding - what a great choice. We made it with an amaretti biscuit base and a variation on our normal cheesecake recipe - no cornflour (the chocolate thickens it), half and half ricotta and marscapone (instead of cream cheese - keeps it light) and dairy milk - 3 of the large bars did about 13 cheesecakes.
There's more pics from the wedding over here.

Barbecued herby chicken wrapped asparagus & barbecued pears with yogurt, honey and fresh coconut

Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Browsing a few new ideas a few months ago I came accross this one and loved it straight away. Think the hen party we served this for did too.

The barbecued poached pears were something I tried out last year for another hen party - that time making a large bowl they could serve at the table. This one was plated individually. As we had some fresh coconut from around I grated that over, and picked some sage flowers from the herb garden.


Cooking a whole highland cow for a wedding near Ross on Wye

Friday, June 17, 2011
Well - not a whole cow obviously, just part of it - it was only 85 people after all.
"Do you know anything about cows?... We've just brought some".

The bridegroom has his own farm near Ross-on-Wye which he fits in in between being a solicitor. He and his farming business partner (also doubling as best man) keep a few highland cattle and had saved one for his wedding. The best man brought it up to us in their refrigerated trailer straight from the abbatoir where it had been hanging for a month and butchered. Wow - even I was amazed how much meat you get from one cow. It's amazing to see so much beef in one go. We sorted through it - a lot he took back to sell - they have a group of regulars who wait for each cow to come back to the farm and then normally by it by the eighth - have a look over here. It was easy to see why - absolutely some of the best beef you will ever see. Apparently they had been farming sheep together for years, but then one day business took the bridegroom past a sale of highland cattle - and the rest is history.

Cuts of beef

Left to right - Top rump, fillet, mince

Left to right - whole sirloin, shin, tongue


Herb pancakes filled with wild mushroom and asparagus, fennel and radish salad

3 hours making pancakes on the day of the wedding - far longer than expected, but fresh is best!

White wine sauce on top.

Normally we do this as a vegetarian main course, but they chose this as a starter for everyone instead so we made a small starter size version.

Main course

Highland beef cooked 5 ways

  • Roast filet, rib and sirloin

  • Meatballs ragout

  • 10 hour slow cooked brisket

  • Shin and chuck tagine

  • Braised tongue
It's roast beef - but not as you know it.....


Trio of raspberry desserts

  • Raspberry tirimisu in shotglass

  • Chocolate and raspberry tart

  • Raspberry sorbet
Photographed as Joe was half way through finishing plating up. There's a complete pic here

Catering for a birthday party in a bedouin marquee

Thursday, June 16, 2011
"So what have we got?....." asked one of the guests
"I chose all my favourite things" said the host, whose birthday it was, just behind her. That's what birthdays are for isn't it!?When your parents live in such an amazing house which lends itself to entertaining, it seems crazy not to use it. We were cooking in their garden - felt uncannily like camping, but that might be more because we were based in our own tent which has seen some times - the night of the heaviest ever thunder storm going overhead ('that lightning is getting rather close') is rather memorable - it's a hardy tent.

  • Thai chicken curry

  • Lamb tagine - see more here

  • Lamb cutlets with hoummous

  • Patatas bravas

  • Basmati rice

  • Asparagus wrapped in smoked salmon

  • Tex-mex salad in crisp taco bowls (see more here)

The whole night was about a relaxed atmosphere - the inside of the marquee was decked out as a bedouin tent with comfy floor-level chairs around the side where guests could sit and eat - or stand outside as the weather went in our favour. No waiting staff - we just served from a buffet.

I also found out in real terms the benefits of the hard flooring we get in normal kitchen marqee tents. As the evening ran on the oven was sinking deeper and deeper at the front into the grass till it was on a serious lean. So finishing the chicken and lamb dishes on the top, they started edging forward and forward as I was doing something else on the adjacent table. And then.... phew - good job I have lightning reactions.....


Dessert was a relaxed affair too - Japanese spoons of creme catalan and rosewater scented fruit salad in watermelons (less fruit is more - pineapple, mango, strawberries, blueberries and some of the watermelon middle)
Then, as the daylight faded down, the music faded up and so the real night began - what a perfect summer's night event.

Grilled leeks wrapped in pancetta

Sunday, June 05, 2011
Makes a nice vegetable accompaniment - doesn't everything taste better wrapped in bacon?

I did these at the end of March - time on the photo is 6:13am - it was a rather long day.....

So on the grill pan to get the bar mark flavour then add white wine & season, cover with foil and finish cooking in the oven till soft. Then when cool wrap in pancetta and roast in the oven. You get the pancetta flavours seeping into the leeks - what could be better?