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Monday, 3 October 2011

Trying to share the knowledge

In a couple of weeks my niece is celebrating her first birthday, And my sister wants to make it special by making a cake from scratch for her. Me being a great brother offered to make her one for nothing, But no, my stubborn sibling is determined to to do it herself. Now i ask what is the point in me having the knowledge if i can not share it with my nearest and dearest. 

Same as my girlfriend who i am in the process of moving in with. I have designed her a recipe book of all my favourite recipes i have cooked throughtout my years as a chef. I wrote the recipes as simply as possible and last week she produced the soup that i blogged about a few weeks ago, the roasted butternut, coconut and chilli soup. With great success i must say too. So it will be nice when we move that i can put my feet up after a hot day in the kitchen and be catered for ;) 

But back to the cake debacle. So i walk into the kitchen yesterday to offer my assistance to my sister as she is there getting in a right battle against the icing sugar. Icing sugar everywhere. Trying to give tips, every time i open my mouth i am told to be quiet. But do manage to get a few hints on the sly. 

I leave her to it and half hour later a cake is brought upto me and i must admit for her first ever cake, not a bad effort and i am sure Roxi will love it :) 

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Time for a freshen up

Been very busy the last couple of weeks, Work is going well and its all non stop along with moving house my life seems to be one big rush at the moment and i cannot wait till November when i get to get away for a bit.
This week i have found a little time though. And in that time i have spent it creating a new website. But boy is it fun when trying to transfer it.
I currently run my website through one particular web provider but am looking at changing it over as the web designer offers a lot more of a professional look to their finished product. However it seems that the original web provider who i am currently with do not want to let me go easily. Constantly ignoring my emails. Transferring me on a wild goose chase when i try ring their customer services on the phone. What  to do???

Well like i say the website is all created and waiting to go live however if you want you can view it here 

Have a look at be honest with me and tell me what you think of it? Do you prefer the new modern look or do you believe i should have stuck with the original style?

Out with the old
In with the new

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Warming healthy salad

Well i was roped into cooking once more last after i finished work. Was given strict orders.

"Please can you pick up my dry cleaning whilst in town"

"I really fancy something healthy how about a salad."

So there was my mission. a healthy salad. But knowin me i couldnt just do a plain salad so decided to come up with somethin that would be just right for the time of year.

In the end i decided to go for a lemon, thyme and garlic chicken salad. And i must say its a definate one for the masses. So easy. Yet so tasty.

Ingredients (for four people):

4 chicken breasts
1 lemon
Few sprigs of thyme
1 clove of garlic
Black olives
1 red onion
Cracked black pepper
3 baby gem lettuce

1. Get your chicken and slice into 2cm chunks
2. Zest and juice the lemon
3. Add few sprigs of thyme to a bowl along with the lemon zest. Add the chicken and pepper and coat the chicken in the thyme and lemon
4. Fry the chicken in a little oil for about 8 minutes
5. Whilst the chicken is frying chop your garlic and cut your olives in half
6. Slice your onion and seperate the washed leaves of the baby gem.
7. In a nice salad bowl lay out the leaves and sprinkle the onion over the top
8. After 8 minutes of the chicken cooking add the onion and garlic and cook for a further minute.
9. Remove pan from heat and the ingredients from the pan and then add oil and lemon to make a warm dressing
10. Evenly spread the chicken mix over the salad
11. Pour the dressing over the salad and serve with fresh bread

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Nice relaxing night off ??!!!?

So last night i had a well earned night off work. Yes, no cooking I thought, Maybe go out for a meal or get a takeaway with a nice glass of wine and enjoy the Indian summer evening we were having.

But no. The girlfriend had other ideas and really wanted me to cook us a nice dinner. So eventually I was persuaded and made the trip to town to get the ingredients. I had decided to go fish as it was such a nice evening.

Unfortunately I had arrived a little to late and the Fish monger in the market had just cleared up. So had to make the walk to the supermarket. I was undecided at this point what I was going to cook. But when I got to the fish counter there was all your normal supermarket mass produced fish. You know the type. The unsustainable types. Your Cods, Seabass and Salmon. But i noticed out of the corner of my eye some reduced fish, now being a chef im always on the lookout for a bargain.

They were selling Red Tilapia for just £2 a fillet, Bargain!! This fish is quite often on offer as a lot of people do not know what to do with it when it comes to cooking however it is a very simple fish to cook as ill explain later. I honestly feel more people should use these uncommon types of fish a lot more rather than always plumping for the Seabass and Cod type of fish

I rang the girlfriend and asked her if that was ok, Unfortunately she had never heard of Red Tilapia. So i ran the risk and got them anyway, Now for anyone that doesn't know Tilapia is a white meaty fish somewhere between the taste of Cod and Seabass and goes well with a variety of flavours. So I went down to the salad section i had Decided to serve it with Wilted spinach and a fresh, vibrant, rustic tomato and white wine sauce and a lemon and paprika dressing.

I got all the ingredients home along with a lovely bottle of Sauvignon and put everything in the fridge until she returned home from work

Below is the recipe i used and it is guaranteed to be a success, I give you my word.

Ingredients (serves 2)

1 Fillet of Tilapia per portion
200g tin chopped tomatoes
12 Cherry tomatoes
1 Clove of Garlic
1/2 red onion
glass white wine
500g  spinach
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of Paprika
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  1. Make sure your fish is at room temperature
  2. To make the dressing. Get your juice of one lemon and put into a bowl add the paprika and oil and oil and mix to form the dressing
  3. To make the Sauce Thinly dice your red onion and garlic and add to a hot pan with a little oil. Slice your tomatoes in half and add to the mix. 
  4. After a 5 minutes add your Tin of Chopped tomatoes and bring to a boil stirring every so often
  5. Now add the glass of white wine and reduce down for ten minutes.
  6. Get a roasting tray and add your spinach (It will look like a lot but will wilt down) Add a little butter and Salt and Pepper and Roast on a low heat of about 180 for upto ten minutes or until the spinach has wilted.
  7. Get a frying pan on the stove and add another butter to coat the base of the pan add a little oil to stop the butter burning Season the fish and prepare to add to the pan
  8. Once the pan is upto temperature add the fillets press gently down to stop curling at the edges and cook for 5 minutes  until the fish is 3/4 cooked. 
  9. Now turn the fish and do the same on the other side for a couple of minutes after it has been turned over drizzle a little of the dressing over the fish so it can soak through whilst cooking
  10. Once the fish is cooked Get your Spinach and tomato sauce and put on a plate and place the fish on top with a drizzle of the lemon and paprika dressing over the top.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

The perfect profiterole

Below is my recipe for the perfect Chocolate profiterole, The orange in the cream really helps finish it off. I have tried to write it out as simple as i can any comments positive or negative then please let me know

Chocolate and Orange Profiteroles

·         85g unsalted butter
·         200ml cold water
·         4 teaspoons caster sugar
·         115g plain flour
·         pinch of salt
·         3 medium eggs beaten
For the Cream Filling
·         600ml double Cream
·         zest of 3 oranges
For the Sauce
·         50g caster sugar
·         175g plain chocolate

1.     Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
2.     Lightly oil a baking tray
3.     To make the pastry, place the butter and sugar into a large pan with 200ml cold water
4.     Place over a low heat to melt the butter. Now increase the heat
5.     Add the flour and the salt
6.     Remove from the heat
7.     Quickly beat the mixture vigorously till a smooth paste is formed
8.     Once smooth add back to the heat
9.     Stir for one minute then once again remove it
10.  Add the eggs bit by bit mixing well
11.  Continue beating the mix until the paste is smooth and glossy
12.  It should have a dropping consistency
13.  Dip a teaspoon into some warm water and lift out a spoonful of the mixture and place on baking trap rubbing the end to make a smooth round ball
14.  Place in the oven
15.  Bake for 10 – 20 mins until golden brown
16.  Remove from the oven and prick the base of each profiterole
17.  Place back on the baking tray with the hole facing up and cook for a further 5 minutes to dry the inside of the profiterole so they aren’t soggy
18.  Take out and put on a cooling rack and leave to cool
19.  To make the cream. Lightly whip the cream with the orange zest until soft peaks are formed
20.  Don’t overwhip
21.  Once the profiteroles are cold. Fill with the cream
22.  To make the sauce. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Put the sugar into a small pan with 100ml of water and bring to the boil.
23.  Stir the Melted chocolate and add the water and sugar mix into the chocolate and stir until smooth and shiny
24.  Dip the profiteroles top end first into the chocolate sauce then put in fridge to set

Thursday, 18 August 2011

A great thai inspired soup

Sorry people i know i havent blogged a lot recently i have had a lot of personal things to sort out.

On twitter I was talking to a fellow tweeter and telling them about an amazing soup i have made on many occasions. Below is the recipe for;

Roasted Butternut, Coconut and Chilli Soup
A great thai inspired warming soup lovely for hot summer days or cold wintry days

Ingredients (serves 6)       
750 ml Veg stock              
2 Butternut Squash              
15g Coriander                      
1 Knob of Ginger Grated       
2 Red Chillis                         
2 Cloves Garlic                      
250 ml Coconut milk         
4 Shallots                             
2 Lemon Grass                    

  1. Top and tail the Butternut Squash, cut down the middle, scoop out the seeds and dice the butternut
  2. Roast the Butternut with a 1/4 of the Chilli, half the coriander and salt and pepper with olive oil for about 20-30 minutes until the butternut becomes soft
  3. Fry the thinly diced shallots in a sauce pan, add the garlic and the rest of the chilli and ginger
  4. Add the stock and lemon grass and then cook for about ten minutes 
  5. Add the roasted buttenut and coconut milk and simmer for 10 minutes 
  6. Season, Puree and serve

Thursday, 21 July 2011

#12 Hitting our pockets

So for the last five years this recession has been hitting us hard. Ever since the ball started rolling with Northern Rock we have been constantly told our lives are going to get harder and our finances tighter. Well it seems as that may possibly be now happening with the the survey released today taken out by Which the consumer watchdog that 84% of people are worried about the cost of food in line with their income and that third of people asked had said they had reduced their spend on food. One thing that worries me a little though is that apparently 1 in 3 families are giving up there fruit and vegetables off their shopping lists to save money.
All this and on top we have the news that food is expected to rise above 5% inflation this year it doesnt seem to look like its going to improve anytime soon. An example of an average price hike is Sainsburys cornflakes rising 37% in one year and TESCO own vegetable oil rising by a huge 43%
Obviously every part of life has taken a battering in this recession the public and business. However surely prices going up are not going to help anyone are they?
For example the supermarkets put their prices up, what will the customer do to counteract that? They will reduce their shopping as i mentioned earlier or the other thing they will look at doing is to look to save money in other ways. Cheaper and own brand items. One thing this recession has taught us is to become cleverer shoppers. We no longer let the big shops bully us into buying what they want us to buy. We have all become a lot more savvy and just buy what we need to buy.

We now go where the best value is it seems after it was announced that budget supermarkets such as ALDI have increased their sales by 20.2% and LIDLs are up by 15.6% Which between them is a 6.1% share of the market. Compare that to the big ones and they only increase by small numbers such as 0.1%
However its not just those discount supermarkets which appear to be increasing sales. Waitrose also increased its share of the market from 4.1% to 4.3%

They say we are £9 a week less better off than we were a year ago. With increase in bills. So how can we save that money?????

Well it looks like we should try these low budget supermarkets either that or the own brand labels that the supermarkets offer. However as I mentioned earlier even going down that route may not save money

Aldi gets a bad name as a cheap supermarket however i have heard some reviews saying some of their products are actually as good, if not better, than the better known supermarkets

With the economic future unknown. Take your future in your own hands. That extra money you save from your food shopping by being savvy. Save it and treat yourself. We all deserve a treat.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

#11 Fast Food Britain

So for the past few years there seems to be of been a large attempted crack down on fast food. By fast food i mean the type thats not good for you. Ever since the film Super size me was released there has really been an effort to get people eating healthier. Yet you look at the high street fast food outlets. And what are there best sellers, the same as what they were before the crackdown, your big macs, your whoppers, your buckets of greasy chicken.

All of these fast food outlets have tried cracking down on healthy eating yet they still promote there unhealthy food primarily as at the end of the day they know thats what sells. These established brands though really should start coming under increasing pressure. From places such as your high street sandwich shop, you know the ones, the ones where you have a large salad counter and a wide varied choice of sandwich fillings. Yet even these places which pride themselves on healthier eating always try to push you for those extra pennies by always offering you the foot long. Now is it me or is a foot long surely going to be the equivalent to a burger and chips in these other outlets? I am not a nutritionist but surely doubling the size of a sandwich makes it doubly unhealthy? 

So this brings me on to what i saw this week on the apprentice. They had to make a fast food outlet in two days and one decided to do fresh pies. 
This is a brilliant piece of thinking for fast food, pies are so easy to make and can be kept on a heat thus giving you that fast service. So why are all food out lets offering the same type of foods why do we not have more individual food outlets offering a wide varied choice of foods. We all have moments where our lifes are running crazily fast and all need to eat, so not for one second am i slating fast food, what i am doing is asking why there are not individual fast food outlets offering food we would normally make at home.  Like MyPy on the apprentice. Its a good filling dinner which is not going to break the bank on calories or on the finances, and in these hectic lifes we live if we had the choice of a greasy burger or a fresh home made meal i know what i would choose, how about you?

Thursday, 7 July 2011

#10 Britain Vs the world

So i see once again a Brit had the talk but did not have the walk at the weekend. I'm talking of course about Mr David Haye losing his heavyweight fight to Wladimir Klitschko. It was such a non contest from the first bell. And once again we see a Brit crumbling on the big stage due to the fact they just turn up and expect everything to fall for them just like the England football team, especially last summer in South Africa. What gives our small country this feeling of invincibility and right to success. No one has the right to expect success. It takes work.

As a contrast to this the night of the fight we were at the cinema watching a fantastic documentary, Senna. A guy that came into the sport and gave his everything and was always prepared to push himself to the limit, unfortunately for him he did just that that fateful day back in 1994. One thing that came across in the film though and could never be argued was what a nice man he was with it. Senna is proof that to succeed you need to give your all and be a nice guy at the same time. Haye, take note!!!

Anyway i know what your thinking. Why blog about this on a food blog. Well it does link in trust me.

After seeing the Senna movie we needed to get something to eat. Only ten minutes past ten and what a nightmare we had trying to find somewhere to eat as most places stop at 10. Eventually we did find a large chain italian restaurant that served us, but still, what gives the Brits the right to stop serving food so early on a Saturday night?
Seriously, Think about it. When your abroad, be it on the Costas in Spain or on some derelict Greek island. What time do they stop serving food? how many times do you get turned away from these little restaurants if you arrive after ten pm?
The answer is simple. none. Thats what makes it such an experience as you know you can sit in the sun till late evening, get ready, get a drink and then find a restaurant and order your food eventually after a couple of carafes of wine. A couple of years ago we visited Greece. 

We arrived at Lefkas town late one night walked through the town and stopped for a drink in the market square, By time we remembered we needed to eat the time had passed a normal British eating time. After 11pm we walked down a little back street and found a family run restaurant which was packed. But still they didn't turn us away, No, What they did was find us a table from out the back and put it down the narrow pedestrian lane along with the other tables, that were already sitting, Not once were we rushed that night, Just felt so nice.And the food was the best Greek meal i have ever had. To prove they really didn't mind us there at about midnight some of the neighbours came down and start playing some local music. It was such an experience.

So why oh why cant we have those experiences when in England? Why does everything have to be so formal and rigid on rules. With all these chain restaurants basing themselves on foreign countries meals, Such as Italian,French and Mexican ect. Why don't they give the full experience you would get if there in the country. Relaxed atmosphere and great food. I would say the weather but that's pushing it a little.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

#9 Good Old Steak and Chips

Firstly, I would just like to say thank you for the fantastic response and feedback i got on last weeks blog.

Since I wrote last weeks I have had a quiet week. But last night had the amazing opportunity to visit London for my partners little sisters 18th birthday, So this weeks entry will be more of a review of the meal i had at Gauchos Argentinian Steak House in Swallow Street, Picadilly. 

Walking down from the hustle and bustle of Regents Street down towards Picadilly Circus you stumble across this hidden gem tucked away in a little side street. A unassuming street with a few outdoors seating areas, its not until you walk through the front door you realise what a little gem you have stumbled across. From the main entrance with cowhide all along the walls you could be one for questioning whether you just walked in the right entrance for a steak house. But once you get inside you are greeted with a smile which is always a great thing in my opinion. We had our coats taken to the coat room and then were escorted into the bar area. This bar is your normal trendy, sexy London evening bar type destination with comfy seats and nuts to nibble on whilst awaiting your drink. The drinks menu is nicely varied with something for everyone.
My girlfriend ordered her usual, a mojito,or as they call it, a San Lucas, whilst I tried something new, a Salta Sling, This to be honest tasted of an adult version of a slush puppy. However there is certainly not anything wrong with that at all, very refreshing,

When the rest of our party arrived we were escorted to our table on the first floor. Again with smiles and greetings from the extremely friend staff. To be honest we had a little wait on our drinks as the bar was so busy and had not received them before we went upstairs, Because of this inconvenience the staff were extremely apologetic and put the drinks on the house.

The next tricky job was to choose the wine, certainly not an easy choice especially when I don't, to be honest, really drink much Argentinian wine. The father in law chose the wine and chose a fantastic Bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon called Finca Sophenia. This wine was incredible, a very soft mellow red but have just enough sharpness to just give the steak an extra dimension. 

A member of the waiting staff came up and really turned the night into performance. As with her she had a board of meats. All the cuts we could choose between. A phenomenal selection that left everyone on our table salivating at the prospect of what was to come.
Due to it being my girlfriends sisters 18th we all decided to have starters to whet our appetite for those delicious steaks. I searched the menu for something a bit different and to be honest i could have chosen a selection of things but went for the Octopus with olives, This dish was incredible. The subtle flavours and spices worked a treat and were perfect for a light starter. For my main I went for a 300g Rib Eye, Medium Rare of Course. I was undecided whether to go Rib eye of Fillet but decided on the Rib eye as for me the Rib eye is more flavoursome and nicely marbled, 

When the meals came out. There was a silence around the table as we all delved in. Then one by one you could just hear us all trying to put into words how amazing the steak was, even now I am struggling for words to describe it with the justice it deserves. My steak was like a extremely slow cooked joint of meat with a grilled crispiness on the outside.Incredible Flavour.  I must confess I did try a bit of fillet too, And that just melted in my mouth like an ice lolly on a hot summers day. 

To really do this place justice all i can say is everything about is just first class, formal yet relaxed. A restaurant that hasn't sold out to the bigger picture, has its beliefs in its own countries produce and sells these beliefs to you at an incredibly high level. I for one will definitely go back and recommend it to you all through this blog entry.

Friday, 24 June 2011

#8 Leaving on a Jet plane

So with this shocking weather this week it has made me and the girlfriend start thinking about booking a holiday away. She really wants to go visit Mexico. But there is one place I would love to take her. Somewhere I visited when I was young, free and single. But gave me the most rewarding month of my life. The place the locals call Ceylon or how we know it better, Sri Lanka. 

Back in 2006 i had the Opportunity to visit perhaps the most beautiful country in the world for a friends wedding, They had come over to the UK to save money so they could afford an amazing wedding, and my oh my was it amazing. Me and my friend at the time were the guests of honour at this wedding. 2 of only 4 Westerners at the wedding it was quite daunting an experience. But ill tell you something. A Buddhist Wedding, there really is nothing like it. From the extravagant frocks we all wore. To the amazing feast we all devoured. My personal memory of the night is bringing the capital city, Colombo to a standstill whilst we dispatched the newly weds onto their honeymoon, in a home made cart.

After the wedding we visited many a place around the island off the beaten track. Staying at basic hostels and local peoples spare rooms and floors. The people were so welcoming and friendly. And its so horrid to think all they have gone through in the civil war since. The War between the Tamils and the government is a horrific story and really tarnishes a beautiful beautiful country. Along our travels we visited many towns and villages. And the one thing we picked up on was the incredible foods you get in Sri Lankan cooking. There curries are sort of a fusion of Thai and Indian, and out favourite thing was the fact that its seen as rude to use cutlery with a curry as we learned ourselves within a couple of days. Its not all Curries and Dahl in Sri Lanka though, Maybe my favourite dish i learnt about whilst there was a Sambal. Which is a mix of chilli, garlic onion and coconut, a must try for any spice lover. 

Whilst there i consumed a lot of Arrack, The Sri Lankan Spirit which is made from coconut flower sap and is similar to rum in taste. A lovely summer drink if mixed with Lemonade. However it certainly knows how to destroy your head and you pay for that the next morning, But within a week we had discovered the perfect hangover cure, The king coconut. The juice from the king coconut in my opinion is the perfect start to a day after a heavy night before. Within an hour the said hangover would vanish then you would be ready for lunch. Mango with Salt and pepper is not to everyone's taste but there was something strangely interesting about the taste.

Half way through the month we treated ourselves to some 5 Star living. At only £50ph per night we stayed at the beautiful Kandalama Hotel. A Honeymoon hot spot as we discovered, this hotel is set into the Hills and is one of the most eco-friendly hotels in the world, with views to die for. 

The food was incredible here. Fine Dining at its best at an all inclusive all you can eat style of dining. Certainly not like London restaurants ideas of fine dining when you get minimal amounts of food.

But to be honest over the whole month the greatest meal we consumed was the cheapest. We
had booked into a elephant sanctuary for two nights. Having outside bedrooms this was always going to be an experience.

I remember waking up one night to find a wild monkey sitting on the end of my bed. Not a calm situation as you can imagine.

At the bottom of our accommodation there was a river. Which we spent many an hour at. This is where we found our best meal of the journey, walking up the river we found a couple of local fisherman who had caught some fish for a small fee we got them to catch a couple of fish. I cant say the type because to be honest i cant remember but all i can remember is that when we barbecued them they were by far the best fish i have to this day ever eaten.

To finish this all I have to say is after writing this is,  I WANT TO GO BACK!!!!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

#7 Hello Mr Blue Sky???????? Oh maybe not, Here comes Wimbledon!!!

So summer is well and truly here then I see. We had our preview of what possibilities we could have from a glorious summer back in April. But once again it appears that we were led along a path of complete deception by the weather gods. And to be honest it doesn't look like its going to improve any time soon With Glastonbury this weekend and Wimbledon the following fortnight it seems we are well truly in for another British summer.

But I must admit I love this time of year even though the weather is usually awful, Its the perfect time of year for the countries greatest fresh produce. I am talking about the sweet juicy and red fruit that we all know as the strawberry. Around our way there are many strawberry picking farms. And it is such a good morning out. Watching generations of families all together picking their fresh fruit, taking a sneaky strawberry for testing purposes. I love it. Its so much more enjoyable than just going to your local supermarket and gettin some punnet off of their shelves, certainly not as fresh as picking them straight of the plants is it. And I for one can taste the difference. It is a great way to introduce yourself to shopping locally. These days it has become a buzz topic hasn't it. And this is the perfect excuse to try local farmers products. Because when it comes to taking punnets of Strawberries home along with some cold pimms, does it get any better? 

Even if the sun never appears. Summer is well and truly here. My tip for the perfect strawberries and cream though is a sneaky shot of white rum in there. Or add a crunch and add a little broken meringue to make it an Eton mess style strawberries and cream. 

Hopefully With a bit of warm weather to go with it, would be nice though.

But as I mentioned earlier, what with Wimbledon on the horizon I think I can just dream about that sun for the foreseeable future. 

Oh well whilst we wait for that sun, lets all go and support our local farmers. Because they for one are certainly loving the wet weather aren't they ;) So lets get out there and pick their strawberries and see if you can taste the difference, I'm sure you can!!!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

#6 Let me Just Google that

When was the last time you got something for nothing? That happened to me last Friday as when i got home from work there was a letter from google sitting on the door mat. With a voucher for a free £50 advertising program. 
Brilliant. So off I went to start my advertising campaign. I logged onto googleads. And a world of Jargon hit me, what are keywords, how do I work out how much i need to spend on CPC? whatever CPC is. Then you get impressions and CTRs too. Its safe to say my head was working overtime just to make sense of all these words. But eventually I worked my way through it and had to come up with some keywords that would attract people to the website. 
So there I was with the obvious ones; Catering, Buffet, Food, Parties, Herts, Beds, Cambs. Ect,Ect
However looking back now as where the majority of the traffic is coming from it appears that  Dresses and Cake Decorations are the main keywords being used. I am still not quite sure how dresses has been my top recommendatory but oh well. 

So I have got a month of this advertising then I need other ideas. So have been trying extra hard this week to hand out business cards to the local community. And the local bus have said they would be happy for me to put a poster on there bus which would be great advertising. With a few enquiries coming in it seems business is looking up. So much so that I have decided to finally give up my full time job and claim for self employment and have set up the business account too, So from before when it was a sort of helping out friends and family it has all of a sudden became an actually business. Scary times ahead but such a nice feeling knowing your your own boss :)

Without football on this summer, Playing or supporting. And with my partner just opening her own shop, Marmalade Boutique in Hertford, then I have had extra time on my hands and have come up with a whole new set of menus on the website including a brand new children's menu. So go and take a look at my new seasonal menus and if interested feel free to send me an email and I will see what I can do for you. No party to big or small and we can work at any budget you require.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

#5 Cream tea for two?

I must admit I was expecting a quiet entry into the blog this week; however that never materialised as last Thursday I got a phone call from a local childcare centre asking if I could help them out as their usual caterer had let them down due to the bank holiday. They were requiring a buffet for Tuesday lunchtime for their staff to which I happily obliged.

They didn’t have a massive budget so asked me to come up with a menu to fit the price they quoted with a mix of flavours and textures. I decided on a couple of trays of sandwiches, sausage rolls and fresh homemade scones amongst other 

So my bank holiday plans were to change as had a lot of food to produce. After the early start to get to the local supermarket for the ingredients, which I must say seemed rather too busy for a bank holiday, seriously I thought bank holidays were 
about relaxing at home or down the local. Apparently this is not the case.

Upon getting back from the supermarket I got on with making the scone mix. It had been a long time since I last had to make them so it was enjoyable going back to my early catering days and making them again.

The first batch was a bit of a failure as they came out a little flat. But upon correction my second batch came out perfect. You always know when a scone in my opinion is perfect as they don’t need slicing open as they split along the line for you in cooking. 

To go with these scones I decided to make some nice sausage rolls stuffed with my own mix or red onion and parsley in the sausage meat. But rather than doing the normal type of sausage rolls decided to do sausage roll disks to make it a little different than the norm

The other thing that seemed to go down well was the strawberries and raspberries dipped in chocolate. Who knows why, in a room full of women.

Overall the big success were the scones, There is just something really British about strawberries ans a nice fresh homemade scone with fresh clotted cream and jam that really just works for us, isn't there!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

#4 Lazy Days away!

So after the busy week i had last week getting everything ready for the function, I decided to have a well earned weekend away. So my partner and I vanished off to the romantic hotspot of the world, Birmingham :) Mainly to let her shop and me to go to the football, as due to catering it is very hard to get to as many games as id like to.

I always like to do these little weekend trips just to see other parts of the country really. Last year we visited Bath and Dartmouth for the weekend. Call me sad but i normally remember most about these trips. Two things.
The architecture and the food.

Whilst in Dartmouth and Bath there is such a choice of eateries and restaurants. If your ever in Dartmouth i would definitely recommend Kendricks.
 A really nice restaurant at affordable prices there are other places around the town but in my opinion this place was second to none. Follow dinner at Kendricks with a lovely relaxed drink at Browns and your guaranteed to have a lovely evening.

Whilst in Bath there is a great little cream tea shop in the town called Sally Lunns a couples of streets from the historic baths.
Set up like something from the 1930s this tea room had cakes to die for. I would Definitely recommend the cinnamon one. Makes me hungry just thinking about it. One night we visited the Modern Day Thermae Bath Spa in a package which included dinner. In stark contrast to the cake at lunch, this salmon we had was the healthiest meal I think I had ever eaten out, And there is something about eating it in a health spa robe which makes it feel all that much healthier too. ;)

Anyway, Where was I, Oh yes, Birmingham. We went on a sunday night so finding food after the football on a Sunday night was a nightmare, call me a snob, but when i am away somewhere there is something to be said about refusing to eat at chain restaurants a la famous Italian style ones and spicy poultry ones.  So the only other choice was to eat at the Hotel, Now this hotel seemed a little run down so we were very wary of eating here. But needs must and we were famished. I had a burger, which they claimed to be home made, (Looking at the hotel I was bit sceptical of that TBH) but was happy when they asked how i wanted it cooked, and my partner, she had fish and chips with home made tartare sauce. Both dishes were served in ten minutes which was good as we were the only two in there and as the burger was claimed to be made in house then I would of been wary if it came out any quicker. When the meals came out they were both delightful and obviously were made fresh which is always nice to see.

This brings me finally to my point. These days it seems restaurants are more worried about getting customers in and to reach there GP by doing everything to the specification, However it so much nicer when you go somewhere, Be it a posh Spa or a back street hotel and you can see that the chef who cooked put so much time and effort into the meal. It makes it a lot more memorable for the guest rather than just, dinner! Yes i know its all about making money at the end of the day, But there is surely more chance of repeat business if the experience of the customer is a memorable one?

Thursday, 19 May 2011

#3 Getting ready for some vintage hors d'oeuvre in a vintage location

Wow. What a week, its been a crazy week with the relaunch of marmalade boutique in hertford. Upon being asked to do a few canapes i decided i needed to try and come up with something inventive and classy at the same time to offer to the special guests who were invited to the launch night. But also at the same time i knew work space would be at a minimum. So decided on some samples and designed some lovely hors d'oeuvres.

So the day before i made the crostini, bruschetta and red onion marmalade.
Wednesday 18th May was the opening night. And what an opening it was. Champagne was flowing and nibbles were being nibbled. Having to top the platters up every 3 minutes was not relaxing, but having an area at the back of the shop next to the alcohol made the night pass a lot quicker ;)
After 3 hours of handing out canapes and many positive compliments on the quality of the food, which to be honest is always nice to hear, the night rolled to a stop and the clean down began before heading over to the hotel opposite for a post party celebratory drink. Tell you something that bed this morning was a lovely soft thing to have my head hit down on after such a long but rewarding day.
Hopefully not to long before the next one.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Back Again for Seconds

So Since the last blog what has happened?

Well....... I have been given an official launch date for a shop launch next week and after coming up with a menu for their canapes have been practising them all day in the kitchen today. 

Went to a wedding at South Farm in Wendy at the weekend. wow what  a venue. The food was really good and a great menu to aspire to compete with

With my driving theory booked on Friday I hope to have the driving test passed within 6 weeks as soon as this achieved Stratfords Catering can really take off and hit the dizzy heights hopefully. Had a couple of enquiries at the wedding about Christmas parties hopefully these will transpire and business will start coming in.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Here we go!!!

So the first blog for me here so please go easy on me.

So a bit about me,
I have had 8 years in the catering industry. working at various restaurants in the Hertfordshire area. Last year I moved to London and worked at the prestigious Dorchester Hotel

6 months ago I decided to set up a catering company for the local area. 
Helping out a local charity event was an ideal opportunity to get it started. Making a nice Beef Chilli and Vegetarian Curry.

The night was a great success however i really did cook a little too much rice. We had rice everything after, Rice Pudding, Rice with every meal available for the next few days

After the enjoyment of that night i decided to launch the website and a twitter page @stratfordcaters and a facebook page. 

Since then i have had various enquiries and last week had a large end of season football party to cater for. Once again only a basic function doing a beef chilli and chicken tikka. But learning from the previous event had the perfect amount of rice. ;)

So whats coming up?

I had contact yesterday from a shop in hertford about to relaunch and want me to supply the canapes. This is fantastic. So now banging my head lto come up with a scrumptious menu for them.
And with my part time job about to become even more part time i have the time to make some perfect culinary delights

This entry has been a bit boring i know but like i said at the beginning this is the back history of me and my little life. Hopefully that little life will become a lot bigger in the years to come, ambition is something we should all have and if anyone knocks you down find it in yourself to find that self belief to make something out of yourself and not prove them wrong but prove your capable. do it for yourselves.