Monday, 3 March 2014

A Wedding

All photos (apart from one) in this post were taken by the fabulous Rory Lindsay. Click here to view his amazing work.

Having become engaged at the beginning of last year I had initially considered that it would be the perfect (and possibly only) opportunity for me to justify being catered for. This plan quickly became a distant memory as I started imagining the perfect meal for our day and decided that it would be best if we did it all ourselves.

Having changed my mind every week for almost the whole year, about two weeks before the big day I devised a recipe for beef cheeks and it blew all the other options out of the water!

Flowers arranged & tables set by a team of wonderful people!

With the help of the amazing Stephanie Boote and a brilliant team of friends consisting of Sarah & Stuart (click here to view their catering website bubble and squeak food) and Ollie (I'm not totally mad... I didn't even consider lifting a finger in the kitchen on the actual day!) this is what we served:


Pork belly bites with pork and apple butter
(Skin off, bone out. Slow cook in the oven with fennel seeds, cider, salt & pepper for 6–8 hours until tender. Chill. Cube. Breadcrumb. Deep fry and serve! Very tasty)

Turkey & sherry broth shots
(My father's amazing recipe that he prepared for us using stock we had made and saved from various Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey meals)

All-day breakfast brioche baskets: quails egg, sausage, panchetta, tommy K

Truffled mushroom pâté en croûte

Crab salad filo cups

Parmesan shortbread with goats cream and pink pepper



A sharing platter:

Home-smoked salmon
(My then husband-to-be made his own smoker in the garden by adapting his mother's plastic greenhouse. Soaked in a sweet and savoury brine for 12 hours then smoked with a mixture of hickory and oak for 8 hours, it really was delicious and well worth his efforts!) 

Potted rabbit with redcurrant jelly
(My father's recipe. Simply delicious. See here for details)

Caramelised fennel salad


Slow roasted & glazed ox cheeks, watercress, mixed roast winter veg, green beans, rich beef gravy, horseradish
(Recipe to follow as this really was very tasty indeed!)

Obviously the only photo not taken by Rory!


Lemon possets


The perfect wine accompaniment supplied by Jack Chaddock of MARC fine wines.

Bortolomiol Prior Prosecco NV 

Chateau Couronneau Bordeaux Superieur 2011

Constantia Glen Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Tastes-as-good-as-it-looks cake made and decorated by the wonderful mothers! 

Amazing sweet trees created by my lovely sister Alice

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Manzo Allo Fabio - Steak with mozzarella in a rich tomato sauce

Recipe for Jim.... who a few weeks back had apparently trawled through my blog in the hope I had already posted the recipe.

I acquired this very simple dish during my time in Italy from my first flatmate Fabio. Fabio, being unusual for young Italian males had taken the decision to move out of his mothers house before the age of 30 and without a wife!?!. This filled my first few months in Italy with big dinners for all his (non English speaking) mates who did still live with their parents and late night visits to Bars, clubs and parties in the suburbs of Florence (not seen by the likes of tourists) as well as a firm grounding in Italian cookery, mostly provided from recipes handed down by Fabio's grandmother.

Fabio was a great cook, if not a little dogmatic in his views on all things edible... When cooking in our flat I was often asked 'che fai?! ('what are you doing') and then told 'non si fa cosi!' ('you don't do it like that')- meaning in fact 'in Italy one doesn't do it like that which is the way it was meant to be and should always be, everywhere, until the end of time'!! One of these rules in the kitchen was never to use onions And garlic in the same tomato sauce... this may vary from household to region but in our little flat it was a mortal sin to do such a thing.... never again will I try to make mum's spaghetti in tomato sauce for a Tuscan again. Humph.

 Fabio also had a penchant for the classic Rum e Pera at the end of the night... A shot of bitter dark rum washed down with a smooth and creamy shot of pear juice... I challenge anyone not to enjoy such a rewarding combo (please drink responsibly!).

So to the recipe.... First I will write it as I was taught, then below I have made a few changes that I think improve the dish.... Sorry Fabio (and Fabio's grandma), it had to be done.

(Apologies for the lack of photo but I am looking through old albums for one and will add it when and I find one.)

Serves 4
4 Slices of good quality steak (Go for the most tender you can get your hands on. It takes very little cooking so you don't want any fatty chunks on the meat that would require rendering. Get the butcher to thinly slice it for you... fillet is obviously the best, sirloin also a fave of mine).
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 Jar of good quality Italian tomato passata
2 balls mozzarella, sliced

Cut the steak into two pieces, If the butcher has sliced it thinly for you you are good to go... if not place each piece of steak between two sheets of cling film and bash with a rolling pin until flat (like an american pancake) Fry the onion in a shallow pan with olive oil. Add the tomato and simmer for 20mins or so. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn up the heat on the sauce and lay the beef on top with a slice of mozzarella on top of each slice of beef. Cover with a lid/ piece of foil and cook for a minute only... just until the beef has lost its pink on the outside and the mozzarella has melted a little. Eat with crusty bread (Never pasta!!), a good Chianti and if you really want to piss off all Italians everywhere a side salad actually served at the same time as the meat??!???? Ha!

Now my changes....
Use 2 cloves of garlic INSTEAD of the onion (Fabio I will obey!)
Add a glass of red wine to the garlic and fiercely boil to burn off the alcohol before adding the tomatoes.
Add a pinch of oregano to the sauce.
Season the beef with a little salt and pepper before putting in the pan.
Sometimes I use the grill to melt the cheese and finish the beef..

Buon appetito.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Elmore Court Weekend Catering

The lovely Elsie and I went to this beautiful country estate in Gloucestershire (check out the beautiful house and venue here)  to provide meals for a family weekend away.

Here is the Sunday lunch we prepared for them:

Roasted tomato & Garlic Soup
Roast Sirloin of beef
served with Yorkshire pudding, autumn greens, roast carrots, parsnips & potatoes & a rich beef and red wine gravy
Mothers vanilla custard, plum & shortbread tart

Auntie Carola's Orange Ice cream

I have been away at a weekend event catering for a lovey family at the beautiful Elmore Court in Gloucestershire and have had a request for this recipe that I served with dessert on Saturday night.

I'm not sure where she acquired this recipe but it is the only ice cream I make regularly as it requires no churning. Brilliant! You simply combine the ingredients and let it set in the freezer. No taking it out every 30 minutes for a stir as some recipes require... Or fancy ice cream machines that need to be frozen themselves 48 hours in advance... agggh

You will need:
 6 Egg yolks
8oz caster sugar
1/2 pint double cream
Grated zest and juice of 2 oranges and one lemon

Whisk the yolks and the sugar until creamy. Add the juice and rind and whisk. Whisk the cream separately and fold into the mixture. Pour into a tub and freeze over night. Simple! If you can get your hands on individual chocolate cups... (amazon do sell them) pour the mixture into the cups, freeze and serve as a delicious frozen canape or after dinner treat....

Friday, 25 January 2013

Marmalade 2013!

Marmalade season is upon us! Yes it is the time of year when all good grocers stock that sour fruit the Spanish Seville orange and us keen cooks and preservers go mad (well I do at any rate) making huge batches of delicious marmalade. The season is short and runs only from December to February. I have just scraped clean the last jar of 2012 marmalade for this morning's buttery toast and tea so it's time to make a fresh batch. I'm a bit of a purist where marmalade is concerned; no ginger (too spicy for breakfast) or whiskey (why you would you water down this lovely jam with some strong malty booze when it is already perfect is beyond me!) and my father has the best recipe passed down through the generations.

It's all very simple really: 
1kg Seville oranges
1 lemon, juice only
2 lt water
2 kg granulated or preserving sugar (not jam sugar; this has added pectin and is not necessary with marmalade as all the pectin (setting agent) comes from the pith and seeds..) 

First, halve the oranges and squeeze out all the juice into a large pan or jam pan, reserving the seeds in a separate container. Add the lemon juice to the pan along with the water. Quarter the orange skins and scrape out the insides leaving a clean peel with a little of the white pith. Add the scrapings to your container with the reserved seeds. Slice each of the quarters into shreds as thick or thin as you like (this will depend on how thick cut the final jam will be; I like a very shredded marm...mmm). Add the shredded peel to the juice pan and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 2 hours. With the reserved pith and seeds you can either tie them up in a muslin bag with a bit of string and hang over the side of the pan into the simmering liquid or alternatively (as I tried this morning) place in a smaller pan, cover with water and simmer for 1 hour before straining through a sieve into the peel and juice, discarding any of the solids. Whatever way you choose to do it this part is important in making sure the marmalade sets to the right jelly consistency.

Time to prepare your jars while the jam bubbles away. Remove any labels if you are recycling old jars; a thoroughly bothersome job and one the producers neglect to consider when selecting their particularly sticky and stubborn glue for their own labels; Helman's I'm looking at you. humpf! Line the jars up on a baking sheet and place in the oven at 100 degrees Celsius. This works to dry, sterilise and hopefully stop the jars from cracking when you pour in the hot jam.

After the jam has simmered for 2 hours remove from the heat and add the sugar. Stir the sugar into the liquid, allowing it to dissolve slowly. Once the sugar has dissolved return the pan to the heat and bring up to a rapid boil. Using a jam thermometer heat the marmalade until it reaches 220 degrees Fahrenheit or 104 degrees Celsius. If you are working without a thermometer you can try the skin test; place a saucer in the freezer, after the jam has boiled for 10 minutes place a spoonful of marmalade onto the saucer, allow to cool for 10 seconds or so before pushing your finger through it; if a skin has formed on the top of the jam and wrinkles up as you push through it the jam is done, if not repeat every 3-5 minutes until it does. Allow the jam to settle for a couple of minutes before transferring to a jug and pouring into your jars. Immediately place the little disk of greaseproof paper you get in the jam lid kit (or make your own) on top of the jam. Allow the marmalade to cool before lidding, labelling and storing.

With 2kg of oranges i managed to make 19 small jars and a litre tub for cooking with; great in a Victoria sponge recipe to make delicious orange cake, or secret ingredient: one spoonful into a lamb tagine.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


For all information, sample menus and contact details regarding catering events please visit my website:

Friday, 31 August 2012

Rude Food

So finally a post of photos of our Rude Food event in Brixton. Thank you to every one who took part in this night to make this such a great event! To Rosie and Helen in the kitchen! Our wonderful serving staff (Alice, Alice,Annie, Elsie, Teresa, Amy!), To beautiful Alice Pennefather for her amazing photographs, To the chaps a Brick Box for a great venue (despite the power cuts!) and of course to all our wonderful guests who splashed out on a ticket and made it a really great evening! (especially the group on the first night who promptly removed all their clothes!)

The Menu

To Tease and Tantalize
A slippery nipple before your own, very personal Canniepé
The Aphrodisiac
Wild Malden rock oysters with a watermelon and cucumber brunoise, or undressed on request
Delectably soft poached quails egg with watercress puree (v)
Succulent & tender beef carpaccio with asparagus, parmesan, creamy horseradish
Spring green salad with parmesan and lemon zest (v)
The Main event
Poached smoked haddock, atop crushed jersey royals, in a creamy white wine  & wholegrain mustard sauce, crowned with samphire.
Chesnut and porcini mushroom parcel, on a wilted spinach bed topped with gruyere (v) 
The Climax
A duo of panna cottas, with lightly poached rhubarb and sugared ginger curls
And, to finish you off….
 Melt in the mouth honeyed chocolate truffles with a cheeky pinch of Malden sea salt

Hoola hoop from the lovely and talented Layla