Sunday, 2 October 2011

The First Cafe 109 Supper Club

The first Cafe 109 supper club had been planned with military precision. Menus organised, extra glassware, plates etc sourced and most importantly food prepared. Staff on the ball and we were ready to rock at opening time.

The cafe took on a whole new look, soft lighting, candles and wild flowers on the tables. I did have a little panic about arranging the layout of the room so we could fit all 20 ladies in, it was a little tight, but close is intimate! 

Upon arrival guests were treated to a late summer fruit cocktail with marinated raspberries, nibbles of toasted flat bread, olives and dips of baba Ganoush and lemon & coriander hummus.

Ladies all became acquainted, and the sound of laughter and chat soon put me at ease. Service commenced.

A starter of warm spinach and feta fattayer served with sweet potato and rocket salad. Clean plates and yum yum sounds confirmed it was a hit. One of the girls said they would never have put that combination together and didn't think it would be to their liking but were happily surprised, even asking for the recipe.

With starters cleared away, onto the main of thyme and lemon spiced chicken with a lemon and sumac reduction. Side of sautéed courgette, onion and green beans, smoked paprika roasted new potatoes. 

Dessert was an adapted parfait recipe, made with almond, sesame and peanut butter. It was decorated with a sesame caramel brittle and rosewater and chocolate sauce. A huge hit!

To celebrate the middle eastern theme, I found a local belly dancer to give a 10 minute demo. She hold classes locally, it finished off the evening a treat! The guests loved the unexpected entertainment, laughing uncontrollably at some stages of the demo due to extreme movements and teetering wine glasses going flying!

So the first supper club at cafe109 came to a close, what a great success. So many positive comments and names on the list for the next one, even a BookaCook dinner party booking, definitely proof of the pudding!!

Theme for the October supper club is Italian.

To book your place for the next event, please go to Cafe109 Facebook page. 

13th October 2011 7.30 arrival for sit down at 8pm.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Afternoon Tea

This weekend I did one of my most favourite events ever - a classic afternoon tea. I panicked at first when requested for a traditional afternoon tea menu for 80 people, picturing images of me cutting uniform sandwiches for hours on end and placing with exact precision on doilied platters. I need not have worried. Rather unusally I shared the catering with the lovely ladies who booked me to help them.

When we met 2 weeks ago to discuss the venue, staffing and details, they were telling me about their recent challenge to rebuild a very old bungalow into a new living space, Sarah said they had a good size kitchen and all the facilities we would need. They were hoping for good weather so people would be able to make use of the outside patio area. One of the best things about my work is I travel all over the country and have catered functions in some truly amazing and not so special homes! Now pulling up into their driveway I could only describe the house as a Grand Designs project. I was blown away by the size of said bungalow and got incredibly excited when shown into the kitchen - well, I thought it was the kitchen as it was a pretty large room that looked like a kitchen - however, it was the utility room...the kitchen was just next door and had the most Amazing pillar box red double Aga as centre stage. I had died and gone to heaven! But the thing that really impressed me about their beautiful house was the fact it looked right out over the whole of Monmouthshire, and when the patio doors were open, the countryside came in. Magnificent!

So to the catering, out into the dining room went mini bruchetta, tiny sandwiches, chocolate brownies, mini frittatas, filled filo parcels, various quiche, savouries and cakes provided by family friends.Fresh scones topped with good old CORNISH clotted cream, couriered all the way from Redruth, and locally made jam adorned beautiful old fashioned cake stands. The table bowed under the weight, it looked fabulous and I think it was one of the most lovely buffet spreads I have seen for ages - even if I do say so myself!

Wine flowed, along with tea and coffee from bone china cups, a champagne toast to the couple who were celebrating their milestone achievement of 50 years marriage was followed by a stunning fruit cake, that must have been maturing for months! A very touching musical interlude by a local cellist played the song the couple danced to the night they met all those years ago.

Its events like this that make me so love my work, working in amazing surroundings, lovely clients, fabulous feedback but above all making people happy.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

O plums

Just thought I would detail a yummy dessert I have made this week with fresh juicy plums from a local orchard. They actually seemed too nice to cook, but I was desperate to try out a new recipe.

First I made a sweet pastry case flavoured with lemon.

I stoned the plums and halved them and placed them in a baking dish then sprinkled with sugar. Into a medium heat oven they go and cook for about 15 mins until just soft and caramelly. They smell absolutely delicious and at this stage if you don't want to make a tart, just eat them as they are with clotted cream!

Once cooled, I placed them into the pastry case and sprinkled with a little more sugar and orange zest.

I made a quick custard mix with 75 ml of double cream, 4 egg yolks, dash of vanilla essence and 100 g sugar, mixed it well and poured it over the top of the plums.
Back into the oven it goes and cooks at about 160 for approx 30 mins or until the custard looks set and no longer wobbles.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool. It is delicious served with more cream!

Lots more plums to use up, so going to be part of my Christmas Chutney, if I can wait that long! The recipe I use for my chutney is amazing with cheese, I am sure it will be featured very soon on the cafe menu.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Supper Club at Cafe 109

I came across the term ‘Supper Club’ one day when researching for a Moroccan themed dinner party and found a website with a review about the ‘underground restaurant’ movement. A lady known as MsMarmite started one of the UK’s very first Supper Clubs and currently is at the forefront of the underground food movement, encouraging others and giving advice to start their own clubs, as well as running her own club called MsMarmite’s Underground Restaurant.  I had no idea that these underground eateries were emerging as a more popular than ever way to dine out in the city, and now across many parts of the UK. Instead of you forking out a fortune to eat out at a well known restaurant, pay through the nose for a good bottle of wine and be none too impressed with the service, a supper club aims to please on all levels. For example, you are asked to bring your own wine or tipple of your choice, you are usually treated to a gastronomic delight made with passion by a non professional chef, served with gusto by an equally enthusiastic host. Nothing is too much bother, the food is unusual and fabulous, the other diners soon become your friends, and it is nearly impossible to get a table for the next weeks sitting. At the end of the evening, you are asked to contribute a minimum fee, and you pay whatever you think it was worth. A Supper Club is a place to socialise and enjoy real food.

Most clubs are hosted in the front room or kitchen of a private residence, there is no formality to the crockery, cutlery and glass wear. It will be decorated with fresh flowers and candle light. Some times live music is played. What is slightly different about my supper club at Café 109, it is not held in my house! (we have just moved to a very small house!) Fortunately I have a great little Café on the high street that lends itself perfectly to host an informal evening of fun and fabulous food. So not entirely in keeping with the traditional supper club, but my Café is small and quaint and I like to make people feel at home!
My first evening will start with a welcome glass of bubbly enjoyed with a selection of Tapas. I will be offering a set 3 course menu, no theme decided as yet, but I love to cook seasonally so will be using whatever is in abundance at the time. I will ask my allotment friends for any glut of produce to make things as fresh & local as possible. I have to like everything I cook, so the menu may very well feature chocolate as some point!
Numbers are limited and with bookings made already, I see this supper club as the first of many more to come. I am so looking forward to it, I can’t wait! For more info, please call me on 01495760222 or look me up on Face book

MsMarmite's Underground Restaurant

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Cafe 109 - 2 weeks in and still breathing!

Ok, 2 weeks in to opening Café 109 and I am half a stone lighter, several bags heavier under the eyes, but happy to realise one of my goals! No one said it was going to be easy, in fact my husband said "are you sure you want to do this" about 100 times and each time I said yes, so I just need to disguise the bags and buy some smaller clothes!

In the short two weeks since getting the keys,  Café 109 has catered a marquee event for 80, has provided a fabulous vegetarian buffet for 70, done a dinner party for 8 and managed to keep hold of old customers and gain new ones! The café has transformed the old tired menu, we have given it a new coat of paint, planted new flower pots, had a deep clean and have managed to eliminate the smell of old fat with beautiful fresh flowers. 

I have a fantastic right hand man/girl who is not only great in the shop but a natural with the 3 year old, so both are taken care of in full confidence. In fact my 2 older boys love the fact they now have a place to come for tea, Saturday breaskfast and earn some pocket money! 

 I am avidly planning the future of Café 109, loads of ideas to encourage family dining and give an overhaul to fresh food delivery in the area. Supper nights planned as well as installing WIFI to encourage business meetings in the clean bright coffee shop.

Mondays are activity days for mums and toddlers, offering cake and cookies and a place to meet and play safely and sociably.

Café 109 is also an excellent venue to host my Forever Business presentations, it is amazing how I have already met 5 people who want to improve their life and boost their income by taking a look at Forever.

So all in all, a fabulous hectic couple of weeks, I have enjoyed every minute and so pleased I took the plunge. Anyone recommend a good concealer!!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

New Business Premises

Well, long time no blog. Been a very busy few months for BookaCook. Moved house, catered numerous events and parties and bought a cafe to house the BookaCook business.
The purchase of a new cafe happened rather unexpectedly, and rather quickly. I had seen a For Sale sign in the window of the local cafe and thought I should take a look. It seemed perfect for what I needed. Plenty of seating space, functional kitchen, up to date equipment and a fabulous coffee machine. The lady who was selling was closing the next day, I said I wanted it and the deal was done! I had the keys 2 days later and opened for business. Some times when you think too long about an opportunity, you can talk yourself into the reasons why you shouldn't be going for it. With only 2 days to exchange the lease agreement, I only had positive thoughts and looked at how much this could change the way I run my business for the better.

So 1 week in, the cafe is busy, new trade and some old regulars too. The place has been blitzed and little by little change is taking place. Cafe 109 is the place to come for fresh home cooked lunches, delicious cakes and lovely coffee. The cafe is a great meeting place in the village and I hope to encourage old and young customers alike, I have a box of toys in the corner to keep the children happy and have a great healthy children's menu. We also serve free smiles!

BookaCook is set up now to take your party bookings, either in the comfort of your own home or make use of the facilities in the cafe. Its bright, clean and welcoming and can be decorated to create a lovely venue. It seats 20 comfortably.

The Supper club is on its way - a monthly evening 3 course dinner to be held at Cafe 109. BYO - What fun!

Please come along and say Hi, have a cupcake, sit back, relax and enjoy!

            CAFE 109....... THE HIGHWAY.......... NEW INN.......... PONTYPOOL........... NP40PJ

Monday, 16 May 2011


My meringues are legendary in our house! I also suggest them to my clients in the summer months for a beautiful and elegant dessert. My love for these little light whipped sugar clouds came from my Dad. He was the master of mini meringues, taking great pride in perfectly icing the soft peaks onto the baking trays and 'cooking' them in the hot cupboard over night. They always came out brilliant white, and his favourite filling would be local cornish clotted cream. If we were really lucky, me may be allowed to have one after the guests had been served, and I would sprinkle in a very 80's way chocolate vermicelli all over mine!

I was asked to make some small ones over the weekend for my friend who was hosting an afternoon tea party for her father's 80th birthday. Here is the method I use for perfect results every time.

4 large egg whites (free range)
8oz caster sugar
1 tsp corn flour

Preheat oven to 110

Whisk the egg whites in a large clean and DRY bowl until stiff peaks form. Don't over whip so it separates.
I use my Kenwood Chef to do the hard work for me. 
I add a table spoon of caster sugar at a time, whisking well in between each spoon. I add the cornflour half way and incorporate.
Continue to whisk until all the sugar is used. You should have a huge bowl of white silky soft peaks. At this stage now you can either make a Pavlova by placing all the mixture onto a large  lined baking tray and spread it into an 10 inch circle, making peaks as you do so.
I like to fill a piping bag with a star shape nozzle and pipe onto a lined baking sheet, making little shapes that resemble white walnut whips. I allow 2 per person.
Place into the oven for about 1 hour, turn off the oven and leave until cold. Remove the meringues and then sandwich together with whipped cream, clotted cream, chocolate ganache or whatever you fancy. I also think lemon curd stirred into whipped cream is delicious. In the summer months, always serve with fresh strawberries!
For a party centre piece I pile them onto a large white round platter, sprinkle with either fresh rose petals or edible sparkle dust and watch them disappear far quicker than the time it took to make them!

The afternoon tea party spread was beautiful, scones with jam and cream,
dainty little triangle sandwiches and a  selection of vintage tea cups, saucers and plates. 

The centre piece was an amazing cake appropriately designed for the garden loving birthday boy & girls (twins). My friend Rachel made the cake, she is mostly self taught and could be up there with Ace of Cakes, it was delicious as well as stunning!