Monday, January 11, 2016

Think you don't like sprouts? Think again - try these red pesto and parmesan roasted flowering sprouts!

Flowering sprouts were my great find of 2015.
It's a shame a lot of people don't like sprouts. It was probably different for me - when I was young my Grandad grew every possible fruit and veg in the garden, and when you've seen the sprouts go from seedlings, to being planted out, tended for black fly, fed, watered, covered during frost etc through to picking and cooking with Gran in the kitchen, it makes you look forward to them every season. 
These new flowering sprouts are a cross between sprouts and kale, and whereas the traditional brussel sprout has densely packed leaves, these are light and delicious!

Red pesto and parmesan roasted flowering sprouts
  1. Blanch flowering sprouts in boiling salted water for about 1 minute. Drain and dry off excess water. 
  2. Roll in olive oil (you could use butter instead). Season with crushed sea salt, cracked pepper and fresh grated nutmeg. They are really nice to eat just like this!
  3. Roast in the oven @ 200 oC for 10 - 15 minutes till colouring on the outside. Caramelisation = flavour!
  4. Drizzle with red pesto and sprinkle over grated parmesan. 
Simple, but delicious. Who needs meat?



Sunday, January 10, 2016

Special birthday dinner party catering in Blockley, Gloucestershire.

Surprise! You're not going out to the local pub tonight - we're here too cook for you!

Always good when you can surprise the birthday guest!


Homemade Bread Rolls

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Smoked Salmon Scotch Quail Egg Lollipop

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Potted Lobster with Toast, Gem Leaves, Crème Fraiche and Lemon

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Fillet of Beef with Potato Puree, Caramelised Carrots, Marrowbone, Bacon, Cognac, Garlic, Thyme and Greens

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Assiette of Cheeses;
Cotswold Brie
Single Gloucester
Oxford Isis
Shropshire Blue
Celery, Seedless Grapes, Dried Fruit, Chutney and Biscuits
[Kitchen Note; cater for 4 and split between 6 to fit with budget]

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Autumn Russet Tart Tatin with Cream


I was actually using the menu they had created themselves, but it turned out rather well.  To keep the smoked salmon scotch quail eggs runny in the middle I had to take along my deep fryer as well to cook them at the last minute - it was all quite a tight fit in the modest sized holiday house kitchen. Luckily there was no rain, so we were working half in the kitchen, and half outside the kitchen door - when you're catering for events you have to be adaptable to whatever environment you find yourself in!

The secret to the potted lobster is to cook it as close to the time you're going to serve it as possible, so the lobster meat stays soft, rather than going rock hard, which is what you find in supermarket lobsters. These babies were still alive an hour before I left!

This was also the night I discovered flowering sprouts - they're definitely my new favourite thing.  

Cheese before dessert or after? It's always a thing people dither over. The French normally have cheese before dessert. I always suggest having cheese last, otherwise people enjoy it too much, then don't want to have dessert. The other way round however, and if you can't manage cheese after dessert you can always have it for lunch the next day, which is not so easy to do with the dessert. Maybe we should have switched it round for this party too!

Catered birthday dinner party in Cardiff

That (almost) week between Christmas and New Year! Goes so fast doesn't it? Especially when you've got have other parties to cook for whilst preparing for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. This one in Cardiff was on New Year's Eve Eve.

Chilli and garlic prawns
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Slow roast belly pork with fondant potato and pancetta wrapped cabbage
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Tiramisu


Pics from my client's phone, and it was all mood lighting that night. Frying chilli, garlic and ginger while everyone's having pre-dinner drinks seems to be a winner - gets everyone going!

The best thing about cooking these dinner parties in front of the clients is when you get people to try things they wouldn't normally have..... and they love them, like raw marinated courgettes, or the pancetta wrapped cabbage. 

Pancetta wrapped Savoy cabbage
'Cos everything tastes better wrapped in pancetta, right? The flavour of the pancetta goes through the cabbage. I also made them for a friend the other day who really doesn't do vegetables at all - and he ate it all. Result!
  1. Tie the savoy cabbage wedges together to save them falling apart. 
  2. Blanch them for approx 2 minutes in boiling salted water. 
  3. Refresh in cold water. 
  4. Wrap in pancetta
  5. Blast them in the oven 10 - 15 minutes @ 180 oC. 




Christmas sandwich and cake buffet for an office party

Chocolate log
Turkey, red pepper, spinach and cream cheese Christmas tree
Smoked salmon and cucumber Christmas trees
Beef, rocket & horseradish snowmen
Oreo white chocolate baubles


Gravity birthday cake with jelly bean ice cream for children's TV characters theme night

For four years now we've been cooking for this corporate group over 3 days in different venues in the Cotswolds. Based in all parts of the UK they meet up once a year in the Cotswolds. Each year is a different fancy dress theme, and they really go to town on it. And each year they have practiced some new musical offering in pairs which forms the post-meal evening entertainment.

This year their fancy dress night (children's tv character from accross the years) happened to coincide with a fiftieth birthday, so in keeping with the Children's party theme we made a chocolate gravity cake with smarties, chocolate fingers and marshmallows. Then, after the requisite photo op served it as dessert with jelly bean ice cream and prosecco jelly. Good job calories don't count after 9pm......

Jelly was so popular we had to send out the spares too!