2020 and The Rustic Caterer is off………….

2020 has arrived here at The Rustic Caterer and we started it with a 30th Birthday party in Catworth, Cambridgeshire.  Actually, it was a revisit to the Village Hall in Catworth where we did the catering last year for a two-day wedding.  The bride of that wedding is the sister of the lady celebrating her 30th Birthday last week and it was lovely to see lots of the same faces from last year.  Fish Pie was on the menu last week which is just the sort of comforting, warming food for this windy, wet January we’re having.  For dessert we did a trio, which included a White Chocolate Torte which is a new addition to our menu this year – very delicious but not so good for the January diet!  Never mind you only live once!

This is the recipe we used from Good Housekeeping and I would highly recommend it.  Here ‘s the link in you feel inspired https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/food/recipes/a536587/white-chocolate-torte/

We are back in Catworth in July for a wedding, which currently, with the blustery days and dark evenings, feels a world away but its surprising how quickly it all comes around.

This week we are catching up with a few admin bits and bobs and I’m going to start planning this year’s vegetable growing attempts.  Last year there were some definite hits (potatoes, lettuce, beans, squashes, tomatoes) and some failures (carrots, garlic, chilli, leeks) – so its onward and upward this year.

Christmas Lunch and Beyond

So we are nearly at the end of another year – its been busy (which is good) and I’ve not really stuck to my New Year’s Resolution to blog (which is bad) – ah well there is always next year.  There is still more cakes to make before the year is out – actually a really lovely one with the surprise of a holiday to Florida revealed on it which is going to be given on Christmas Day – what a fantastic present.  Then of course, the attention turns to our own Christmas lunch – which needs a list drawing up pretty soon to make sure everyone’s requests are taken into account, including my own which is definitely for bread sauce which I love and no one else seems to like, which I always make too much of and which I end up throwing out on Boxing Day – however, I’m still making it!  Just in case you feel the urge to also indulge in some delicious bread sauce making of your own, Delia’s recipe is my top tip – here’s a link to her recipe https://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/international/european/british/traditional-bread-sauce
Delia's Bread Sauce
The best!
Then is pudding!  Of course Christmas Pudding but what about those who aren’t keen – like my Children.  Will it be Sticky Toffee?  Chocolate Mousse or stay traditional with Trifle (actually they don’t like that either but everyone else does) – I’m thinking Chocolate is a pretty safe bet. After Christmas we are off to Cornwall for a second one and some bracing sea walks (which will be needed to walk off all that food!).  A break from the cooking but not the eating!  And then 2020 and it all begins again.  We have weddings, birthdays and anniversary parties all in the diary (check out our new sample menus on the website Sample Menus) its going to be busy but before that its time to reach for the mulled wine and mince pies!  (Here’s a link to the best mince pie pastry – https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/pate_sucree_39572) Happy Christmas  

Christmas Catering Planning

Where does the time go?  The festive season is nearly here and this week Christmas cakes are being made and recipes reviewed for Christmas festive food!  This year we have lots on to keep us busy right up to the 24th December – a mix of Christmas markets, demonstrations and Christmas catering – its going to be busy – I can’t wait!  Added to that the Mulled Wine, Mince Pies and yet more Mulled Wine – its sounding pretty delicious!  Better get started! This is a rich Chocolate Mousse, with homemade brandy snaps we are serving at one of our buffets in the lead up to Christmas.  

Autumn 2019

I started this year with very good intentions about Blogging however, as life gets busy and the year takes shape I realise I haven’t really done much!  The Spring and Summer were busy with weddings, lovely venues and lovely people, just one more wedding to go for 2019 and then it’ll all start in 2020.  Scarily Christmas appears to be creeping in the shops and the diary is filling up with party bookings – I guess its time to start dusting off the mince pie tins!  However, before Christmas really starts to take hold, I’m going to enjoy this lovely weather and dig over the veggie patch – we’ve had potatoes and carrots from it this year and I did remember to water it – in between cooking and ferrying kids about! There has also been runner beans and squashes – the squashes are so cute!  Not many so far but there are loads of flowers on the plants so hopefully those will all turn into squashes!  It’s all a bit trial and error but its really fun and when it works and you actually get to cook and eat what you have patiently been growing it’s so satisfying.  The kids are less impressed it has to be said and really don’t know what the fuss is about but I’m telling them in years to come they to will find it interesting!  Currently they just scoff at me and turn back to their phones but I’m hopeful!  

Kitchen Garden

So about this time every year I start to think gardening – I tend to have grand plans about what to grow, how I’ll diligently look after my crop from seed to harvesting – I will absolutely water everyday if required and feed regularly!!!  Often my grand plans go a little off track as we start to hit the wedding season and I run out of time – only realising I’ve not watered in days and rather than the promising little seedlings I once had all I’m left with is shrivelled little dried out plants.

Anyway, this year it’s going to be different!  This year I will not forget to water them and I will reap the benefits of my efforts with a bountiful crop which I can use to create wonderful tasty treats!  That’s the plan anyway!  So, yesterday I happened to stumble upon a magazine whilst visiting Magazine Heaven at Rushden Lakes all about creating and looking after your Kitchen Garden AND it contained 10 free packets of seeds!  Bargain.

So, after the dogs lunchtime walk I spend a sneaky hour outside uncovering the veg patch from last year and digging it over.  It was incredibly therapeutic, especially after not being out in the garden for months.  I now have a pretty much weed free patch – which I am now wondering if its be enough, given the amount of seeds I now have – the trick now is going to be keeping it weed free whilst I’m sowing the seeds and getting them all set to go.

Next step is working out when the seeds need sowing and a trip to the garden centre for some seedling compost but that is going to have to wait until the weekend as I have cooking to do………..

January Plans

Happy New Year!  As we are now nearly half way through January I think I can probably stop saying Happy New Year but it doesn’t seem five minutes since we were all planning for Christmas – where does the time go!  Here at The Rustic Caterer we’ve had a rush of Wedding Catering enquiries, I think there must have been a few proposals over Christmas.  Congratulations to anyone planning the big day and we are always happy to be a part of the festivities.  Wedding food can seem a bit daunting to begin with – will Great Aunt Mildred like the same thing as my fiances five year old cousin? – who knows, which is why a rustic style buffet works for everyone, so we’ve been experimenting with a  few recipe ideas for our buffet menus.

Pesto has always been a favourite here but we’ve tried a few different varieties and a stand out winner was the Sun-dried tomato pesto, which we smothered on to Roasted Red Peppers and rolled up and they were totally delicious – also vegan to which fits in nicely with the Veganuary theme currently running through the month.

Not vegan though but delicious and vibrant all the same are these lovely asparagus spears which have been seared in a little olive oil and rock salted and then wrapped in smoked salmon and tied with chives.

I think these might be appearing on our Wedding Buffet menu this year – not this batch though they have all gone in the name of research!

Time for some more research I think……………………..what to try next?

Lunch at Oundle School

Catering at Oundle School today in the very lovey new Cricket Pavilion.  It was a light buffet menu which included Yorkshire Puddings stuffed with Beef and a Horseradish Cream, Smoked Salmon and Asparagus Filo Tarts, Lamb Koftas with a Mint Raita, Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Pesto Skewers, Crostini’s filled Stilton, Walnuts and Pomegranate and Chicken Caesar Salad Bites.
Ultimate Chocolate Mud Cake

The Ultimate Chocolate Cake!

We might be late for Valentine’s Day but this recipe is such a guilty pleasure we just had to share it. We found it in the Delicious Magazine and if chocolate is what you crave, this Chocolate Mud Cake will steal your heart and taste buds.
Ultimate Chocolate Mud Cake
Ultimate Chocolate Mud Cake

Chocolate Mud Cake

Ingredients

250g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing 200g dark chocolate 1 tbsp espresso powder 100ml whole milk 250g self-raising flour 40g cocoa powder 250g caster sugar 4 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten 1 tsp vanilla extract 150ml soured cream Ganache: 150g milk chocolate 150g dark chocolate 100ml double cream 50g unsalted butter

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan140°C/gas 3. Grease and line a deep, 23cm round loose-bottomed cake tin, then set aside. Melt the chocolate, butter, espresso powder and milk in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water until smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a bowl, then add the caster sugar. Fold into the chocolate mixture along with the eggs, vanilla extract and soured cream.
  3. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake in the oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. The cake is ready when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with some moist crumbs sticking to it but not any raw cake batter. Set aside to cool completely in the tin.
  4. To make the ganache, melt the ingredients together, stirring occasionally, in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove the cake from the tin and leave to cool. Spread evenly all over with the ganache, swirling it into attractive patterns.
We’ve decorated the cake with sugar hearts and crystallized rose petals. The ultimate romance:)
Moroccan Chicken with Dried Fruit, Mint and Pomegranate

Moroccan Chicken with Dried Fruit, Mint and Pomegranate

We have recently been asked to prepare a menu for a wedding. The couple are looking for a rustic style buffet with Mediterranean inspirations. Having agreed on a selection of tapas for appetizers we have moved on to trialling various options for main courses. We are planning on serving French and Italian stews with selection of crusty breads, but we wanted to add something slightly more exotic to the mix. I’ve been tempted for a while to try a Moroccan inspired chicken recipe I’ve seen in the BBC Good Food Magazine some time ago and this seemed like the perfect occasion. There was something about the combination of spices, fruit and vegetables in this recipe that instantly made me think that this will be a super yummy dish. And it is! So aromatic and full of flavour. We’ve done a few small amendments to the recipe and replaced the chicken breasts with chicken thighs (on the bone and with skin on) to make it more presentable. Delicious! Moroccan Chicken with Dried Fruit, Mint and Pomegranate
  • 6 chicken thighs or combination of thighs and drumsticks or whole legs
  • olive oil
  • 2 onions or  5 shallots, half roughly chopped, half sliced
  • 100g tomatoes
  • 100g ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cubed
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 100g dried cherries
  • 150g dried apricots
  • Salt and pepper
For the garnish
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • zest 1 lemon
  • handful mint leaves
  • half of a pomegranate
  1.  Rub the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a casserole pan or a roasting pan on a medium to high heat, add the chicken and brown all over. Remove it from the pan and store aside. Add the sliced onions to the pan and fry until they are soft and translucent. Add the spices into the pan for the last minute of frying. In a food processor whizz together the chopped onions, tomatoes, ginger and garlic into a paste (start with the onions, ginger and garlic and add the tomatoes once the rest has been whizzed). Add the paste into the pan with the onions and fry for few more minutes until soft.
  2. Return the chicken to the dish and add butternut squash, stock, sugar and vinegar. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for roughly 40 mins. After that time remove a piece of chicken and check if it is cooked through. If undercooked return to the pan and cook for a bit longer. Repeat this test until chicken in cooked through and butternut squash is soft. Remove the chicken onto a plate and cover with foil. Add the cherries and apricots to the sauce, slightly increase the heat and continue cooking until the sauce thickens ( another 5- 10 minutes).   Season the sauce with salt and pepper and return the chicken back into the pan or, if serving on a platter, poor the sauce into a platter and arrange chicken on top.
  3. Scatter the dish with lemon zest, mint leaves (choose the small leaves or shred the bigger) and pomegranate seeds. The easiest way to add the pomegranate is by cutting the fruit in half, overturning over the dish and bashing the back of the fruit with wooden spoon to release the seeds.
This dish is even better when reheated the next day once the vegetables and the chicken infuse with the flavours. Goes lovely with couscous, but also with some fresh crusty bread or flatbreads.  Delicious! Anna@TheRusticCaterer    
Fotheringhay Christmas Fair

And…we’re off!

The last few weeks have exceeded our expectations on every level. The speed with which things have taken off, the amount of work required to get everything set up, the time it takes to plate up 100 portions of food, and the fact that we can still function after a 24 hour spell in the kitchen. Our catering blog has suffered profoundly from the lack of time but we have come a long way since the last update. We now have a website, business cards, leaflets and company bags 🙂 We’ve found local suppliers for eggs, honey, vegetables and meat. We’ve gathered almost all required equipment and practiced numerous new recipes. We’ve also been busy with new business. We are now the regular supplier of sweet and savory bakes for the Waterloo Farm Shop near Market Harborough where we participate in a monthly Taster event. We have catered a Ploughman’s Supper to a 100 people attending a lecture in Fotheringhay. We provided a buffet for an event of 80 guests couple of weeks ago. We took part in the Fotheringhay Christmas and Crafts Fair (and sold out of all items by lunchtime!). We are in talks about numerous future jobs including a wedding for 100 guests! We’ve had many sleepless nights, drank gallons of coffee, our kitchens often resemble a battle field. Our husbands have been living on cheese on toast and ready meals whilst we prepared yummy dishes for the orders. We’ve probably aged 10 years in those few months, but we’ve never felt better. It’s such a cliché but doing something you love really does awaken a superpower of energy and motivation. And it feels like the journey is only just starting.
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