Clams, mussels, squid and tiger prawns in black bean sauce for a 21st birthday pan asian theme buffet in Minster Lovell near Oxford

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Please pass on our thanks to James and the rest of the team – the food was fantastic (asparagus tempura and crispy shredded beef were highlights!) and Jessie was really pleased with everything.

Thanks again


Of all the things we've cooked this year (that's a lot of things) I think this has been my favourite so far! It's all in the sauce, so don't go thinking you can use a brought ready made one. 
Black bean sauce is actually surprisingly easy to make, so much so you kind of wonder why you've never got round to it before. It helps, of course, now being based round the corner from all sorts of different ethnic food shops. I used this black bean sauce recipe and dropped the seafood into it to cook & take on the flavours - wild! This was served in chafing dishes, buffet style in the barn.
Sushi as a canape, made on site, minutes before it went out - can't beat the freshness! Vegetable maki rolls, cooked prawn uramaki rolled in sesame, tuna rolls in (raw) savoy cabbage leaves, salmon nigiri, gunkan maki with keta caviar, and swordfish nigiri. 

It's amazing how often people think you just turn up on the day and that's it. They don't see the 7 day industry that goes behind all the setting up, and clearing away. This party took 10 days in total from beginning to end. The pan asian menus especially take a lot of food preparation, both before and on the day, but it's all worth it for those fresh flavours - you can't get that with ready made sauces etc. It must have made on an impression on the birthday girl's aunt as well - as she has since booked us to cater for her wedding at the same venue next year!
So after a pan-asian style main, the birthday girl had decided on a more english style dessert with lemon & raspberry meringue roulade, chocolate eclair and shotglass of raspberry sorbet. Mix and match the styles - that's what it's all about!


Sushi Selection;
including vegetable and avocado, cooked prawn, raw salmon and tuna, keta caviar
Served with Wasabi, Soy Sauce and Pickled Ginger

Catered Buffet Menu

Sharing Platters Starter

Crispy Confit Duck Spring Rolls with Hoi Sin Dip
Stir Fried Salt and Pepper Squid
Asparagus Tempura
Beef Tataki
Prawns in Lemongrass and Coconut


Selection of 4 main courses

Chicken Katsu Curry
Pad Thai Noodles with Tofu
Crispy Shredded Beef with Honey Chilli Sauce
Mussels, Clams, Squid, Prawns and Edamame in Black Bean Sauce

served with;
Plain Steamed Rice
Pak Choi with Garlic, Ginger and Oyster Sauce


Trio of desserts;

Mini Chocolate Éclairs
Mini Lemon Meringue Roulade
Shotglass of Homemade Raspberry Mojito Sorbet 


Barbecue falafel kebabs

Wednesday, September 23, 2015
By far the runaway most popular barbecue item of this year! Has falafel been on TV or something?
You have to serve them with hoummous to get the whole experience. We had to make extra for every barbecue we served because those naughty meat eaters wanted to eat them too! 

Used the Ottolenghi recipe from his Jerusalem book. I remember the first time we ever tried making them in 2007, and every attempt kept disintegrating in the deep dryer till we gave up in rage. The trick, as it turns out, is to keep pulverising the raw chickpeas in the food processor till they come together in a ball in your hands. When it's ready, you just know. You just have to keep practicing! It's worth it though - the homemade ones taste about 10 million times better than anything you can buy. 

Also nice with tatziki - who needs meat?!


Dairy free eton mess for a wedding near Tewkesbury

A record number of dietary requirements this year. Unlike a lot of people I do try and go out of my way to make sure they have as near to what everyone else is having as it can be. If you research recipes, and hunt down ingredients, anything is possible really, it just takes time and care! Far too many other chefs don't bother, so the gluten free, dairy free etc guests we cook for are always amazed at what we serve up for them!

Dairy free whipped cream? Easy! With a bit of help from @CocoPazzo .

Chill a tin of coconut milk in the fridge overnight. It has to be good quality coconut milk with high fat content. Refrigerating it makes it split between the coconut fat and thin water at the bottom.

Scoop off the coconut fat into a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric whisk till thick. If you've really thought in advance you could chill the mixing bowl too - to prevent it heating and splitting. You can add sugar and vanilla if you want to make it slightly sweeter, like I did here.

It pipes beautifully. All the chefs and waiting staff liked the coconut whipped 'cream' version better than the normal dairy cream version - the piping bag and mixing bowl were wiped completely clean - you can't get much better recommendation than that!

If you're being hi-tech you can also use an isi gun for this. According to information received the isi gun likes 35% fat content and the average can of coconut milk is 20%, so add 2 tbsp of coconut oil to the coconut cream and mix at room temperature, then chill overnight in the fridge before putting in the isi gun. Using coconut milk with added guar gum is also another tip to help prevent the coconut cream and coconut oil from separating while chilling.

We finished this one off with dried coconut flakes and toasted coconut. Despite the fact that it helps distinguish the dairy free version from the normal one, it also adds a bit more coconut flavour! Should have added malibu!