Sole roulades with saffron risotto, mussel broth and french beans wrapped in pancetta served near Cirencester

Wednesday, October 22, 2014
From a 50th birthday we served in the middle of June for a family from the States staying near Cirencester on the Cotswolds leg of their UK trip. They were so overjoyed with everything we served (this was preceded by a soufflé starter and followed by a trio of desserts and this was after their delivery meal we made for them the day before).  
 It's always good to be part of that special moment for people's birthdays!
There's a sole mousse which binds these together with the herbs picked from outside my kitchen window.

Gluten free bagels

"Wow for the first time ever I can eat the same as everyone else!"

Whatever you can make, you can nearly always make it gluten free too - like these bagels as part of a 40th birthday buffet delivery. I used the normal Doves Farm gluten free bread recipe, but of course it is very sticky. Let it rest for 90 mins - 2 hours after you have mixed it. As well as letting the yeast rise, the resting time allows the various flours in the flour mix to fully absorb the liquid and the dough is thicker and firmer and much better to work with.
Now re-mix the dough and shape it into bagel shapes. You do need a fair bit of gluten free flour (yes - make sure it's gluten free you use for dusting - easy mistake to use normal flour, then you have to start all over again!) on your hands & and the table top to make sure it doesn't stick.
Let the bagels rise - this may take 1 - 1 ½ hours depending on the heat in your kitchen. They should double in size. The dough will still be very sticky at this point so here's a golden tip - put the tray of proved bagels into the freezer for about an hour so they go slightly hard on the outside. Now you can boil them like normal bagels and they hold together. Then bake as normal. 
Love your gluten free guests! 


American Independence Day 4th July garden party near Tewkesbury

Your golden wedding? Why not make a weekend of it! Especially when guests fly in from around the world. For this event a lot of their friends came over from the states, and as the Friday night also happened to be the 4th of July they all suggested an Independence day American themed party, and the American contingent came up with the menu choices too.....
This was another event with the Tewkesbury town band playing. Of course we had to start with the USA national anthem!
As always it was busy setting in the marquee and we didn't get quite as many pics as we would have liked - there's always next year.....

Barbecue Style Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dip
"I didn't know buffalo had wings - I thought they were like cows...." Yes this did really happen #facepalm.

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps with Guacamole and Salsa - brief glimpse above cut from another pic. Went very fast. Makes a great snack too!

Grilled Shrimp with Cilantro Sauce


All American Classic Cheese Burgers & Vegetarian Mushroom and Boston Bean Burgers
With a kettle barbecue after you have barbecued the burgers you can put the cheese on, put them on a tray and close the lid. That way the cheese melts on top without dripping and you still have your barbecue flavour.  Burgers and sausages below from Martins Meats.

Sticky Ribs with Sour Cream and Chive Dip
Barbecue Sage Hot Dogs & Vegetarian Sausages with Corn Relish
Great plates, no? We also had stars & stripes napkins and tablecloth from the USA food store in London.

Pulled Pork with Jerk Sauce
This got all the guys going! Slow cooked in our special marinade in the oven for 10 hours, then finished on the barbecue. Then you can literally pull it to pieces. What's not to love?

all served with;
Buns, Ketchup, Mustard, Pickles, Relish and Mayonnaise
Sweet Potato Fries
Red, White and Blueberry Coleslaw

Black Bean Salad

Honey Mustard Potato Salad


Traditional Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream (complete with stars & stripes!)
Key Lime Cheesecake
Blackberry Pie and Vanilla Ice Cream
The lavender was in full flower in the Upper Court garden so it seemed wrong not to use it. Also added these USA flag wafers for that 4th July touch!


Tea and Coffee with Red, White and Blue Strawberries
(A work in progress these....)

After this it was on to their Saturday lunch buffet and all the other Saturday events - long live summer!


Dear Anton (and everyone at Benson's!)

Yesterday (Thursday), we eventually said 'goodbye' to the last of our guests - 2 Americans and 3 Barbadians so I can breathe.....which is more than your staff managed to do last week-end!

Everyone was truly wonderful and we want to say a great big 'thank you' to all of you.  Gill, as 'front-of-house' manager on both dates did a wonderful job in organising your staff but also was great with our guests (and the audio-visual equipment!).

Although James obviously does not like the 'limelight' he clearly had everything/everyone under control behind the scenes on 4th and 5th and the events were so enjoyed by everyone.  Universal comments about all the food - how delicious; wonder where that recipe came from?; really wonderful!

A lot of our 'local guests' (about 30% of the total group) asked us for your details so I hope you are not busier than ever.  James and Gill must be totally exhausted if all their summer week-ends are timetabled as this last???!!

Thank you so much again and do hope your move to Gloucester goes well next week.

With all kind regards   Marguerite and Brian Harris


One from the summer - Grilled asparagus with raw vegetable salad & orange gremolata

Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Fresh, light & summery (well it was in July)!

Chocolate and lime tart with mojito sorbet from a wedding tasting

Friday, October 10, 2014


Wedding catering in Bishops Cleeve Tithe Barn, near Cheltenham

Ten months in the making and today was finally the day!
Trio of desserts: dark chocolate torte topped with raspberries, shotglass of eton mess and raspberry mojito sorbet 

Bishops Cleeve tythe barn. It was renovated and refitted a few years back and now makes a great space for a wedding. The hall looks new, fresh and bright - a lot of other venues could do with the same treatment!
Tewkesbury town band played the wedding couple in to the wedding reception. We saw them at a few events this year - great sound! 
Found these cocktail skewers for the canapé mini burgers in homemade carrot and cumin buns - perfect for a wedding
Also found a couple of perspex stands for the canapé beer battered fish and chip cones - looks much better when you hand them round!

Main course was chicken, parma ham, cherry tomato and basil pie - sadly no pics of that. With 2 kitchens (one on bottom floor, other on top floor) there was quite a lot going on as it was going out.....
The brides grandfather had been in the milk trade and had a large collection of vintage milk bottles which they used for flowers on the tables. Always nice to add your own touch!

A classic beauty! VW camper vans are all the rage for weddings - as bridal cars (like they used here), camper vans converted as bars, ice cream vans, a photo booth, a coffee bar
 Oh dear - give a camera to a teen to take some pics for the blog and this is what happens.......


Sunday lunch in Snowshill, nr Broadway

Wednesday, October 08, 2014
I fell in love with the village of Snowshill when I was 6 or 7. There's a great circular walk from Broadway up Broadway hill to the iconic tower and over to Snowshill where you just have to stop at the Snowshill Arms. Along the way you leave the real world behind and it feels like you're walking through countryside which hasn't really changed in centuries. Everyone needs that once in a while..... 
The house where we served this Sunday lunch was just up from the Snowshill Arms. The kitchen overlooks the whole valley towards Broadway and beyond - certainly beats working in underground kitchens!

Each time we do this crab salad, popular for Sunday lunch parties I try out a different way of doing it. This was last Sunday's version.
One of the desserts used melon, so I used the scooped out melon skin as a bowl for the berries on the cheesecake.
... and oranges scooped out as a bowl for the berries to go with treacle tart.

Always try to liven things up - it's the little touches which make the difference!