Sunday, 20 February 2011

I can wear all the hats!

Back in November, a little downbeat and before I had decided to re launch BookaCook, I had an e-mail from a lady requesting catering help for her husband's 40th Birthday party. At the time, I was not so sure I really wanted to get into all the shopping/cooking/pressure of dinner party catering again, but decided to say yes anyway, it may just help me get on my feet again. I planned a great menu with them, including two of her Aussie husband's favourite dishes,Slow Cooked Lamb with a Sticky Red Wine Reduction and Pavlova and filed the booking away.
So last night came the big event, a dinner party for 14, preceded by a cooking class with 3 of the ladies. A busy week for me leading up to it, juggling the children, school runs, after school clubs and selling a house, shopping and preparing plus other meetings - I felt was this really something I could fit into my already hectic life?! Was my catering business a step too far for me right now? Was I mad to think I could wear all the hats?Could I do this again without having a breakdown!

Feeling a little nervous (I always have huge adrenalin before events) I arrived at the party venue. I got organised in their kitchen - which I have to say was the most orderly tidy kitchen I have seen in a long while! I thought I was good, man, this lady could give classes on how to stack a cupboard! I quickly slipped back into my old style, relaxing in the company of 3 fabulous ladies, who had all bought matching pinnies for the cookery class, they looked fab! We got to work on the canapes for the evening, a pure pleasure for them, as they knew they would be eating their works of art later. They loved it, learned new tricks, and so did I.
Cooking lesson over, I got down to the real hot stuff and put out a fantastic 3 course dinner, all on time with no hitches. I have to admit I was helped by my great friend Steph, who was my amazing waitress, dishwasher and fab all rounder.
 In between the main course and dessert, I took a step back from the cooker, I had a quick moment to myself and thought - Yes Emma, you really are doing the right thing here, cooking is my passion, I love it and had forgotten the buzz I get when doing it professionally. Running a home and business is a balancing act, but with excellent support from my husband, I know I am doing the right thing! I consider myself lucky, how many people really love what they do and earn a living from it?
So I am really very pleased that Laura found me last November, otherwise I may never have given this another go. More importantly, Laura is incredibly pleased she found me - along with all her guests, who all gave us a round of applause before we left - a triumph! And the Pavlova - Well, it lived up to the Aussie's expectations, just as well I made an extra large one!

What a Beauty! 
Strawberry, Raspberry & Pomegranite Pavlova
      Gone in 60 seconds!

So today, although tired, I have been planning the business, I am raring to go and loving being back in the driving seat once again. I have bookings coming in and I am not afraid to take them! Pass me the washing up hat please, my day is not over yet!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Food of Love

So the Valentines Banquet in a Box was a success! Some very happy customers, all of whom were surprising their partners with the new Dining in Experience! My favourite dish from the recipe collection has to be the Tarragon Chicken in White Wine and Cream, but the prettiest was the white chocolate truffles with heart shaped butter biscuits                                                        


We don't need Valentines to be romantic though, I have had requests to do more of these boxes, so keep an eye out on the website. Here is my current favourite recipe:
Tarragon Chicken 
2 chicken breast lightly coated in Olive Oil
1-2 shallots
1 clove garlic
glass of white wine
1/2 pt Chicken stock
150ml cream
Fresh Tarragon
75g butter
Heat  griddle pan until very hot, sear two chicken breast on both sides for about 3 mins each side. Flip back over and sear again to make a criss cross design. Take off heat and place chicken on a plate.
In another pan, melt a knob of butter, throw in a finely chopped  shallot and whole clove of garlic (peeled but not chopped). Sweat until soft. Add a glass of dry white wine and reduce until just a drizzle remains. Add half a pint of chicken stock, a few stems of fresh tarragon, season and simmer until reduced by half. 
Add 150ml of cream and heat through, don't boil. Now place the chicken breasts into the sauce and finish cooking with a lid on. This should take another 10 mins, turning often so they remain coated in the sauce. Just before serving, I add a small knob of butter to make it that bit richer and thicker.
To serve
Remove Tarragon and Garlic clove. Place chicken on a board, slice on the diagonal into 3. Place chicken onto the plate, drizzle sauce over and sprinkle with chopped Tarragon. I served this with Roasted New Potatoes and Green Bean bundles, but I love to eat this dish with Asparagus spears, lightly cooked in Salted water. Asparagus is great to use an an implement to scoop up the extra sauce!


This box has Tarragon Chicken, Pink Cava, Caramelized red onion & Feta Tarts (heart shaped of course!), Green Bean bundles, Chocolate Pots & Fresh Strawberries.

www.bookacooknow.com for latest offers


















                                                          
 

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Latest News from BookaCook

                     


                                                        


​Welcome to my first Newsletter, please read on….

What a fantastic start to 2011 for BookaCook, with so much happening to the business. At the end of 2010, having taken things slowly since the birth of no3 baby, who is now a toddler, I felt it was time to step up a notch. So I am underway with the development of a new website, up and running on social networks such as Twitter and have just launched a new arm to the business call Little Chef Cooking Parties. Wow, I am impressed as it is only the beginning of February and things are busy busy! Plus I have 3 boys and husband to look after!

Valentines Banquet in a Box
Staying in is the new going out! Treat your loved one to a fantastic 3 course meal, topped off with chocolate truffles and a bottle of Pink Fizz. I prepare a delicious Valentines treat and deliver it to your door, presented in a gift wrapped box with full heating instructions. What could be easier or better than that! No need for taxi, babysitters or cooking. Simple! Delivery slots to Cardiff area still available, bookings must be received by 6pm on Sat 12th for drop off on Monday 14th. Please see website for menus.

Little Chef Cooking Parties
Do you have children who love to cook? How about throwing a cooking party for their next birthday? We come to the house or venue and help them create some culinary masterpieces for them to eat as their birthday tea or take home. We provide party bags, invites, all equipment and a guaranteed fun time. The best bit is we clear away, allowing a fab party with NO MESS! Prices from £10.00 pp. Please see www.bookacooknow.com for more details.

Cookery Demos at AppleTree Barn, Penperlleni (BookaCook HQ)
I will be holding a Cookery demo night on Thursday 10th March. The theme will be Seasonal Menus – looking at easy, quick and delicious suppers. Guests are welcomed with a tea/coffee/ cold drink and canap├ęs, spend an hour watching a fun and energetic cookery demo, then eat all of the food that has been prepared, accompanied by a glass of wine. A great alternative to sitting in a restaurant – at least you get to see how your dinner is made! Group bookings welcome. £30.00pp Spaces are limited to 10 people.

BookaCook Dinner Parties and Events
All bookings made for the BookaCook service throughout February will receive a discount of 10%. I have catered all types of events from intimate dinner parties to weddings for over 100, as well as Birthday buffets and holiday chef (for HRH Prince Edward). Whatever you have planned this year, please call and I will do my best to help you get the best service around. 
 
Please follow me on Twitter @bookacooknow


Thank you all for reading my news and hope to see you soon. Apparently, William and Kate are honeymooning on the Scillies in May – I am sure they would love my Lobster Bisque!! Come on Edward, have you lost my number? Your nephew is waiting to book me!

Eat Healthy, be Happy!
Emma

Friday, 4 February 2011

Being Social

So when I decided to re boot my BookaCook business just before Christmas, I did not have a great marketing strategy, just knew that the internet needed to play a part in growing the business. I did not have a clue about social media networking, so am very pleased with myself for recently stepping up and actively tweeting. I have increased followers to over 100 in the first week, and am amazed at the power of this tool we all have free use of. I do have to confess though, it is not all my own doing! I was fortunate enough to meet a fabulous mum at my local  Welsh business mums networking group (that I founded in Oct2010) who makes this whole Twitter Facebook thing look as simple as drinking a cup of tea. Iona and I struck a deal and she is currently helping me promote my business to the world, I am helping her in the catering department! And what an amazing week it has been, I may be on holiday, but business hasn't stopped. Party bookings for both BookaCook and Little Chef cooking parties, collaborations with 3 local businesses and a photoshoot to attend when I get back. The power of social media has amazed me, if this is what can be achieved in a week, imagine 6 weeks time! If anyone wants the number of a fab on the ball social media whizz, Tweet Iona @revealmedia.

Just thought I should mention that since I have been home staying with my mum on hols, we have had 3 very nostalgic puddings - all of which remind me of when I was knee high.Sitting at the table this week, we have all laughed so much thinking back to the old days! Funny how food can evoke so many memories. So I urge you to try  one of these - Chocolate Bread and butter pudding, Rice Pudding (with plenty of nutmeg and a thick skin!) and Whoppie (dessert speciality of my late Grandma Beach) and see what happens! I guarantee laughter and a full tummy!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Scilly Times

I am on the Isles of Scilly right now, using a weeks break to write recipes, websites and formulating party ideas. I only have the one child with me, so have a little more time to myself to get this business going! Husband very kindly offered to stay at home and tend on with the other 2, how could I resist a week on the gorgeous Isles of Scilly! Been running, walking, and working, such a great place to get your head together! Staying at my old family home with my mum, bit of a busman's holiday though, last night was asked to cook something simple and quick for 4 with what we had in the fridge, cupboards and veg box, so this is what was created


Roast Chicken with White Wine & Tomato Sauce with winter Roast Veg

Quarter your chicken and place in a roasting dish, season well and roast on high for 30 mins.

Prepare your root veg, I used Parsnips, carrots, onions, new potatoes, squash and garlic (leave garlic in skins). Roughly cut them and place in another roasting dish, splash with olive oil, season, sprinkle with dried basil, place in hot oven for 1 hr, stirring now and again.
After 30 mins, remove chicken from oven, drain excess oil away and add a tsp of garlic paste and tomato puree. Pour a spolsh of white wine, stir and place on the hob for 5 mins to reduce. Add can of chopped tomatoes and any dried of fresh herbs you have , I used  oregano. Put back in the oven for another 30 mins.

Both chicken and veg should be ready at the same time. Bring both dishes to the table, serve with crusty bread. Delicious simple quick supper idea - plates were licked clean!



If you have Chickpeas, olives or butter beans in the cupboard, try experimenting with these instead of using the vegis, becomes more of a one pot meal, but equally delicious.

Scilly is beautiful this time of year, the winter colours of the early daffodils with the dramatic backdrop of the sea and coast line.                                          

                                                        
This is one of my favourite views, looking out over Round Island from Bar.