Canapes, asparagus wrapped in parma ham, beef en croute and meringues - 40th birthday catering near Stratford on Avon

Monday, July 23, 2012
Duck satay - the fastest (to be eaten) canapé in the west
Vegetarian alternative version - halloumi satay - so good!
Chorizo and butternut squash filo tart (above before cooking, below finished article)

Home cured trout for another canape - spoon of trout gravadlax and cauliflower carpaccio - another winner!
The starter they had requested - asparagus wrapped in parma ham with hollandaise. We half roasted the asparagus, wrapped it in parma ham and flashed it back in the oven for 5 (well more like 8 by the time everyone had got settled) minutes to finish cooking & crisp the ham. Not shy with the hollandaise - I hate it when you don't get enough.
Fillet of beef en croute - seen here before the pastry lids went on.  Chicken liver pate, leeks and creamed wild mushrooms on top. There was also a vegetarian version, a vegetarian version made at the last minute with no mushrooms (allergy... luckily I took spare pastry to the venue), a gluten free version made with gluten free pastry and 2 no sauce. Phew - plating up was fun. Make sure you have different pastry shapes on top of each so you know what's what.
They had requested this classic dessert - strawberries, meringues and cream all served separately. 
Meringues earlier in the day. "But how is it your's aren't brown?" asked one of the guests as we were plating up.  The secret - turn the oven down as low as it can go and leave the doors open tied with string so they dry out rather than cook. You can also put in the oven, switch off and leave overnight, but there's only so many hours in the day.......

Tomato and pesto tart and lemon squares

Tomato and pesto tart - years since I'd made this, suddenly reminded by this blog post.
Baguette croute with caramelised red onion hoummous, egg and  cauliflower carpaccio
Lemon squares - just found this host of recipes last night..... endless baking fun to come!


Country feast barbecue wedding catering with yurts near Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire

Marquee weddings - all very nice, but if you're after a wow factor is has to be a yurt. This was a wedding we catered for back at the beginning of June - a whole lifetime ago, but only if you measure in terms of food.
Yurts came from Yurts for Life - the one above was a separate children's tent - with a couple of entertainers keeping the children happy while the adults grazed on canapés by the lake. They had their own much larger yurt (in the background below).
To help keep the budget down we brought along our own gazebo to turn into a field kitchen.
Scallops wrapped in pancetta the night before

Thai style fish and fishless cakes (cheese, onion and sage)

Barbecue with a view. Sausages from Home Farm about 2 miles away as the crow flies made from their Gloucester Old Spot/ Berkshire breed pigs. Trying to get everything cooked before the rain set in....... 
Herby Madgetts Farm chicken wrapped asparagus  - see recipe link here
Harissa marinaded Home Farm lamb steaks and burgers too - keeping it local with real food!
Salad of grilled butternut squash, rocket, pommegranate, orange and  toasted almonds
Nicoise salad
There was also cous cous. We served all this on platters/ bowls which the waitresses tiook to the tables for guests to serve themselves family style - a great way to get everyone talking & make a more informal atmosphere.
Tomatoes - local are best - grown about 6 miles away from the wedding
Eton mess served in learge bowls one per table. Strawberries grown in the next door county (Herefordshire)
We made the eton mess a larger version of the shotglass eton mess below served at a dinner party a few months ago - i.e. separate. Halved/ quartered strawberries with strawberry coulis at the bottom, whipped cream with vanilla piped on top and crushed meringue on top. Looks much better I think when you mix it yourself at the table as you eat.
We also made large lemon tarts - again for guests to share at the table. What a feast! 

And after all this? It was time for a late night hog roast with guests - which became quite welcome as guests sheltered from the rain which fell later on in the evening (lovely British summer......)


Scotch quail eggs

Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Funny how you put off making some things for years thinking they're going to be really difficult, but actually you realise they're really easy and you've just been missing out all these years.
Shop brought scotch eggs? Rubbery and old tasting. Make your own - fresh, flavourful and vibrant. We'll be making 150 of these next week.......

Tarragon poached chicken, butterflied leg of lamb and prawn, monkfish and squid kebabs - catering for a barbecue wedding near Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire

At last - a wedding where it didn't rain while we were loading & unloading - wahoo! 
The lake at Upper Court - makes a great backdrop to your wedding breakfast!
The previous week on Stow on the Wold cricket field we had been caked in mud, wet through and that was just in the first five minutes of arriving - pushing 2 vans (arriving and departing) through the mud was most.... er.... memorable. The next wedding the day after at Chavenage House we had fared slightly better because they had moved the siting of the marquee right next to the house. That was until it came to packing up in the evening and once again we were deluged. Always helps to have a good set of waterproofs and waterproof kitchen shoes. Good job we love it!
Tarragon poached chicken on the barbecue 
 This weekend just gone - perfect. The sun even came out as the guests arrived back from the church next door. Note the straw in the background though - soaking up the mud around the entrance - all the ground so waterlogged now - that'll be the great English summer.
Here is how the chicken started off the night before (below). We batted it out, filled it with chicken and tarragon mousse (chicken, egg white, cream, salt, pepper, tarragon), sprinkled on a bit more chopped tarragon for good luck and rolled it up,
Then skewered it to hold it in place and poached it in court bouillon with the tarragon stalks.
Once poached it was left to cool down, then one the day itself I just cut it into 3 and gave them a grilling on the barbecue.
The bride had said she wanted chicken, but it had to be moist - chicken can dry out easily on BBQ if you cook it too much. Poached like this you not only get a lot more flavour in there, but it also stays nice and moist.
Tiger prawn, monkfish and squid skewers marinaded in chilli, ginger, garlic, coriander, lemon, mint, turmeric and yogurt
What a revelation these were - maybe you can't see in pic above, but the turmeric gives them an amazing yellowy colour. A couple of minutes on each side with a dusting of flour to stop them sticking and they're cooked perfectly. And the monkfish is one of the best fish to barbecue because it is so meaty and doesn't fall apart like cod, and tiger prawns - well everyone loves those!

Butterflied leg of lamb marinaded in lemon, garlic and cumin yogurt (with a lone kebab tester)  
"Is there anything else we can do than lamb steaks?" asked the bride. We eventually rested on the idea of butterflied leg of lamb - which I then carved on the buffet as guests came along - the inside of the lamb perfectly pink (although there were a few well done bits for the guests who preferred it that way). Lamb as usual came from Home Farm - around 2 miles as the crow flies from the where we were serving it. 5 legs and every last bit went - very popular!


Summer wedding buffet at Upper Court, near Tewkesbury Gloucestershire

Thursday, July 05, 2012
When you run out of blue tack to put the menu up in the kitchen........
A buffet menu with a thousand things - we started putting the final touches on this after the wedding breakfast was out. 

Whole poached salmon with Pesto Mayonnaise
Assiette of cold meats
Mini quiches (vegetarian option included)
Homemade Sausage Rolls (approx 60)
Homemade Pork Pies (approx 60)
Mini pizzas (vegetarian option to be included)
Vegetable sushi rolls with wasabi and soy
Small selection of cheese
Potato salad
Spinach, cherry tomato, red onion, feta, olive
Assiette of open sandwiches inc no pork & vegetarian
2 x Gluten free sandwiches
Barbecue chicken legs
Bread & Butter


Strawberry tartlets
Eton mess

The great thing about Upper Court is we can use the herb garden too when we do weddings there - fennel was rampant, so that went by the sides, and sage flowers on top.

Pork pie
Pork pie sliced. This photo is an old one,  but now I add some pink salt to the mix which helps it stay pink. 
Barbecued chicken legs from this recipe - with added soy sauce
Cutting strawberries for eton mess - we do separate layers of berries & coulis, whipped cream with vanilla and sugar and crushed meringue on top so guests can mix it themselves. 


Open sandwich with roasted tandoori salmon and courgette carpaccio

A gazillion events, loads of photos, no time. 
Keeping it simple - this was from a lunch buffet we served a couple of weeks ago. Marinade the courgette in salt, lemon juice, thyme & olive oil