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.