A few weeks ago I went for dinner with my boss and one of our advisors , Dave, after a couple of glasses of wine Dave mentioned a conference his university were running and invited us to the fringe event buffet to be held in his flat in Exeter.
“We are not sure who is doing the catering?”
Quick as a flash my boss said with a slightly evil glint in his eye, “You should get Becky to do the food”, not for the first time I thought it may have been a mistake to tell my boss about my blog.
However we were eating dinner at the Anchor and Hope , I was in foodie paradise and did I mention the wine.
so somehow I found myself saying, “Alright then, no problem”
A few weeks later I was busy wondering how I am going to make a buffet for 40 people, 200 miles from my home. I decided on large trays of salad which could be prepared during the day, that would mean once prepared I could enjoy the party, thankfully Ikea sell large plastic tray for just 99p though I looked a bit strange buying twelve of them.
Dave welcomed me at 7am and showed me the basics , like the crazy Star Trek oven and once the ingredients arrived, only missing a few items , requiring a little innovation on my part. Later after many hours of chopping , roasting and grilling and with a new found respect for Masterchef contestants I loaded the fridge with groaning trays of food. Cooking such large volumes of food requires serious patience and organisation what I wouldn’t give for a prep chef. In fact after 6 straight hours on my feet I managed to forget to photograph all the salad in the excitement of the party starting but they included
- New Potatoes in vinagrette
- Grilled chicken with steams green beans ,grapes and tarragon in a lemon dressing
- Salmon with lentils and wilted spinach.
- Grilled Courgettes with Mint and Feta.
- Roasted Aubergine, Peppers , Artichoke Hearts, Olives and Goats Cheese with basil leaves and balsamic vinegar
- Roasted Butternut Squash with toasted chick peas , chilli , grilled haloumi with fresh coriander and tahnini dressing (recipe below)
- Marinated Beetroot with rocket , thyme, toasted walnuts in a creamy horseradish dressing (recipe below)
For pudding I had a flash of inspiration in the morning and decided that with a some international visitors, I wanted to give them a homage to a Devon cream tea layering up fresh strawberry jam , whipped cream and fresh strawberries
It was really lovely seeing everyone eating my food and I blushed a lot at the compliments and shared many recipes. An American said he had been dreading English food , our reputation proceeds us , but my food had changed his impression completely. I don’t think I will be going professional just yet, or ever, but I am really glad I challenged myself.
Roasted Butternut Squash with toasted chick peas , chilli , grilled haloumi with fresh coriander and tahnini dressing
- Cut the butternut squash into 1cm cubes, place in roasting dish and drizzle with oil, salt and pepper.
- Cut the chillis in half and remove seeds , roast with the butternut squash for 20 minutes at 190degC
- In a seperate tray toss the chick peas in a little oil and paprika & cook in the oven for the same time as the butternut squash
- Slice the haloumi in 1/2cm thick slices , heat a griddle pan and grill the haloumi until brown on both sides and firm
- Mix the tahini with a little fresh lemon juice let it down with a little water to form a dressing
- Lay the squash , chickpeas together on the tray and layer over the haloumi roasted chillis and some fresh coriander .
- Dress with tahini dressing
Marinated Beetroot with rocket , thyme, toasted walnuts in a creamy horseradish dressing
- Boil the beetroot for 20 minutes til soft still warm dress with a little pepper , olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Toast the walnuts in the oven at 190degC or in a hot pan for a few minutes
- Mix together equal parts horseradish and creme fraich add a few springs of thyme
- Layer beetroot and rocket on on a tray with scatter over the walnuts and dress with the horseradish dressing
- Delicious served with cold roast beef.
225g self raising flour
25g caster sugar
150ml/5fl oz milk
1. Heat the oven to 220C
2. Rub the butter into the flour
3. Stir in the sugar and then the milk to get a soft dough.
4. Turn on to a floured work surface and knead very lightly. Pat out to a round 2cm thick. Use a 2cm cutter to stamp out rounds and place on a baking sheet. Lightly knead together the rest of the dough and stamp out more scones to use it all up.
5. Brush the tops of the scones with a little milk. Bake for 12-15 minutes until well risen and golden.
Fresh Strawberry Jam
200g of strawberries sliced
20g of sugar
- Bring the strawberries to a gentle simmer til they have broken down
- Add the sugar
- Leave to cool
Strawberrys, Brownies and Meringues cheating with readymade meringues this was a big hit with a bowl of cream on the side.