Monthly Archives: August 2017

Getting the party started..


Simple yet stunning..

Some readers requested some dinner party dishes, so this week I am presenting my 3 top tips for taking the pressure off but delivering something with the ‘wow’ factor for your dinner party guests.

Firstly, our featured picture displays how a nice presentation set can lift some really simple canapes to the next level. A nice piece of slate with some chef’s spoons, mini glass plates and mini tumblers with matching spoons. A worthwhile investment and can be picked up from amazon for far less than a fortune.

So, my top tips to make a success of your evening:-

Be smart with your ingredients

You might spot some cucumber ketchup on two of the canapes above, featured in a previous recipe with smoked mackerel tartare. Flexible and adaptable ingredients can make your life so much easier. Similarly, the cranberry gel featured on the moreish parcels below was a key component of the main course later that evening.  Smoked mackerel pate made to put on toast the following morning…but why not spoon into a glass with a snazzy cracker and some cucumber ketchup and you have 1/4 of this presentation set covered. Think about your entire evening of food, where can you double up and save time?

Early prepping for the win!

The more complex efforts of mini fishcakes and thai prawn cakes can all be prepped, put in the fridge ready to bake off and bring back to life ready for serving. I cannot stress enough the benefit of doing everything early so it is ready to finish off with 10 minutes in the oven, meaning you can actually enjoy the company of your guests and not be running around like a headless chicken.


Cranberry gel on the main course, doubled up to finish a canape in style..

Don’t be afraid to raid your store cupboard

Hidden within the featured dishes are 4 finishing touches you may not expect from a dinner party, but you would be a snob to turn your nose up at! :-

  • Tartare sauce – a teaspoon underneath each mini fishcake is a simple but superb finishing touch.
  • Mayonnaise – mixed up with fresh lemon juice to create a dressing, drizzled over thai prawn cakes.
  • Sweet chilli sauce – a great dipper, no need to make your own if you have 101 other things to worry about!
  • Panko breadcrumbs – a box of these and you can prepare to crisp up anything for frying!

Crispy panko crab balls, sweet chilli sauce..



Best Beef Rendang

Who doesn’t love a good curry?  But rather than the classic kormas and tame tikkas, have a bash at a simple but rewarding rendang, slow cooked to perfection.

A little bit of love is needed with this one but I promise it is absolutely worth the effort.

Beef Rendang

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

  • 10 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 cardamon pods
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 red chillis, seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • Thumb size piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 200g roughly chopped red onion
  • 1 tsp tumeric powder
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, bashed and roughly chopped
  • 1 kg beef chuck, cut into big chunks
  • Ground nut oil for frying
  • 2 tins coconut milk
  • Soy sauce
  • Palm sugar
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Chopped coriander leaves to serve
  • Good quality salt flakes


  1. Heat a wok over a medium heat and toast the desiccated coconut until golden and fragrant before setting aside for serving.
  2. Toast the cloves, cardamon pods, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and star anise until popping, before grinding down with a generous pinch of sea salt to a powder in a pestle and mortar.
  3. Blitz up the garlic, chilli, ginger, red onion, tumeric and lemongrass with a splash of water to create your rendang paste.
  4. Season up the beef chuck generously with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat up your wok nice and high with some ground nut oil and fry off the beef (in batches if necessary) until there is nice caramelised colour on all the pieces.
  6. Pour in your paste and stir really well for a minute to coat everything.
  7. Sprinkle over the ground spices and stir again really well for a minute or two.
  8. Add both cans of coconut milk and de-glaze the pan before lowering the heat.
  9. Add a splash of soy sauce and a sprinkle of palm sugar.
  10. Let the curry gently bubble away for over an hour, stirring every so often. Consistency is to everyone’s taste, some like this curry dry and concentrated, some prefer a good thick sauce. It is up to you! I would recommend taking this to the brink of being dry over about 90 minutes, so it becomes rich and concentrated.
  11. Squeeze in the lime juice (you can use tamarind but limes are a bit more flexible and won’t go to waste). Combine and cook out until the consistency is as desired.
  12. You can mix in your desiccated coconut now or leave to garnish alongside the coriander. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  13. Serve with steamed rice and some Indian spiced stir fried vegetables.

Fit for a King…


Stunning smoked trout..

A new entry into the best kept secrets archive this week from Evershot, half way between Dorchester, Dorset and Yeovil, Somerset, conveniently located just off the A37.

The George Albert Hotel offers in their words ‘definitely more than just a great night’s sleep’ and I would have to wholeheartedly agree given the gem that is the Kings Restaurant hidden within.

Presenting the pictured fillet of smoked trout, smoked salmon mousse, potato salad, horseradish cream, finished with all the panache you would come to expect from the standard of the AA rosette holding Kings Restaurant.

Definitely worth a pit stop if you are travelling via the A37.

George Albert Hotel (Kings Restaurant)

Wardon Hill


Nr Dorchester

Dorset DT2 9PW

Kitchen Heroes: Fresh Mussels


Ready to steam..

An absolute shoe-in to the kitchen heroes archive this week – fresh mussels.  Cooking them is simple and look after them with a damp cloth in the fridge to keep them alive as long as you possibly can.

These sustainable creatures are one of the most environmentally sound types of seafood, super cheap and healthy yet with the slightest amount of care and attention can taste like an absolute delicacy.  Ready in minutes, here are my top 3 ways to serve fresh mussels:-

3. Pan fried with garlic butter

Create some steam in a pan with a touch of water on a high heat before adding your fresh mussels and closing the lid.  Shake the pan after 90 seconds, steaming for a further 90 seconds before draining the pan.  Pick the mussels and let them steam dry ready for frying.  Pan fry shallots and garlic in a pan with a knob of butter until soft, before throwing in your mussel meat and seasoning lightly with sea salt but plenty of black pepper.  Finish with chopped parsley and spoon over your favourite toasted ciabatta or roll.

2. Paella

Add your fresh mussels to the paella pan for the final few minutes of cooking until they are all open.

1. Steamed with smoky bacon, cider and chilli

Fry smoked bacon lardons, celery, garlic, spring onions, fresh thyme and chilli in a heavy based pan until glossy, seasoning well.  Stir in your mussels before covering and steam for a few minutes.  As the mussels open, pour in 200ml cider. Reduce down before finishing with creme fraiche and fresh tarragon.  Great with straw fries or crusty bread.


%d bloggers like this: