An update

Getting the party started..

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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.

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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!
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Crispy panko crab balls, sweet chilli sauce..

 

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Al Fresco..

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An outdoor authentic Thali treat..

Something a bit different this week as I reflect on the Spring and start of Summer and look forward to writing more in the coming weeks.  We have had some wonderful weather which has lead to some smashing outdoor dining opportunities.

Leading from the front, I got to trial some authentic Thali dishes alongside some spice kits from the Spice Sultan company.  These kits are not for the casual cook, you go out and source your own ingredients and use the provided spices to add the authentic touches.  I found it quite challenging cooking 6 dishes for a table of 4 but it was massively rewarding.  The result = a stunning Goan pork vindaloo, coconut rice, dhal, sweet potato curry, pickled onion salad and a coconut and ginger chutney.  It looks stunning in the Thali dish and a real treat to enjoy together as a family.

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Another effort at my signature BBQ Paella..

We have managed two paella BBQs this Summer and also a Chicken Fajita effort, a really interesting way to bring everything outside when the weather is so nice, look at those wonderful colours.

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Sizzling chicken fajitas..

A week off prompted a trip to Swanage and the good old classic crab sandwich was lovely touch in the sunshine.  The food and views were so good my parents returned days later for a crack at this stunning seafood selection.

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What a selection!

We made some simple pan fried mackerel, salad and roasted beets, lovely and light.

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Sweet and smoky..

Finally, what better way to finish off the day than getting the fire pit going and toasting marshmallows until they are crispy on the outside and soft and sticky in the middle.

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Big kids..

So a teaser on what is coming up later into the Summer and beyond on the blog.  We will be taking a long awaited look at a cheese and wine belter of a restaurant, a new addition to the Bournemouth dining scene, some dinner party recipes and advice and a handful of new additions to the kitchen heroes hall of fame.

In the meantime, make the best of this Summer weather and get Al Fresco if you can!

Changing of the seasons

Firstly, a big thank you to my first group of blog readers and followers! It’s been an interesting first few weeks exploring what I want to achieve from this adventure, and I am really pleased that plenty of readers are already signed up to hear what I have to say on all things food!

The first BBQ of the Summer called for some tasty venison burgers

The first BBQ of the Summer called for some tasty venison burgers

Easter Monday yielded the very first BBQ of the year! We thoroughly enjoyed tucking into some lovely venison burgers and enjoying the great weather on the South Coast.

So a bit of a teaser on what’s coming up on Wise words on food as we drift through Spring and (hopefully) into Summer…

I’ll shortly be sharing a handful of cracking recipes with everyone, including my highly recommended ‘Thai Fish and Chips’ and ‘Stilton, Mango and Honey Ciabatta’. We’ll be looking at a couple of recent visits to local restaurants, with ‘The Jetty’ in Christchurch firmly on my radar for early May. Not forgetting my popular ‘best kept secrets’ archive, which is almost certain to soon feature where you can find the best cappuccino on the South Coast of England, and a humble high street haven for sourcing oriental ingredients on a budget.

A final encouragement to comment and get involved with everything I post, I’m always interested to hear your views and help shape what you want to hear about.

Speak soon,

Matt

The journey begins…

Over the cliff tops of Branscome towards my Sunday lunch

Over the cliff tops of Branscome towards my Sunday lunch

My fondest childhood memories seem to be consistent with a love of fresh food. Whether it was the anticipation of a hearty beach side Sunday lunch, earned by completing a gruelling but liberating 3 mile cliff top walk, or the fragrant scent of Thai Green Curry emanating from the family kitchen; I always did kick the trend of settling for the usual kids’ fayre of Turkey Dinosaurs, Chips and Peas.

Inspired by my father’s cooking, my experiences of fine to far from fine dining, and my own developing culinary expertise; I hope to take my readers on a journey through the very best restaurants, recipes and best kept secrets across the South of England and beyond. It won’t be all plain sailing…my critique pulls no punches and drives straight to the heart of what we all look for from that first bite…’Wow’.

Simplicity is best. I’ll be looking for the greatest examples of how a simple and fresh set of ingredients can be transformed into a culinary masterpiece.

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