Tag Archives: presentation

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!

Heatwave BBQ with a twist

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Paella on hot coals..

A bit of a recipe this week – but not as I would normally post with the finest of details and ingredients.  That is because I would love my readers to go and experiment with this one.

It’s beautiful BBQ weather in the UK at the moment with temperatures reaching 31 Celsius here today in Bournemouth.  If you’re aiming to feed 6 or so with your BBQ, it’s all too tempting to play it safe with burgers, sausages and co – but why not create a one-pan masterpiece with your own signature paella.

A meal all in one pan, and if you don’t have a paella pan then any all metal pan (no plastic handles) with a reasonably large flat surface area to work with will do.  There is no harm in doing this on the hob either if you fancy.  I cannot recommend enough getting yourself a paella pan from Amazon though.

Now here is where you’re expecting the recipe to start, but to keep you creative I’ll give you the key ratios for a 6-8 person paella:-

  • 500g paella rice (handy as you can buy a packet this size)
  • 200ml white wine (you may just have to drink the rest)
  • 1 litre chicken/veg/fish stock (infuse with saffron if you’ve got some)
  • 400g fresh or tinned tomatoes, chopped

The rest is as flexible as you like.  Start by frying off any combination of onions (red/white/spring), peppers, celery, garlic, chilli, chorizo, chicken or even the traditional rabbit before stirring in your rice for a few minutes.  Pour in the wine and once evaporated, add the stock and tomatoes and simmer away for ten minutes.  You can then finish with any combination of your favourite seafood.  Chunks of haddock or cod, tiger prawns, squid, mussels, cockles – it’s up to you!  Choose what you like and make it your own.

We always finish with lashings of lemon juice, peas and plenty of black pepper.  If you take off the heat and cover with foil for 10 minutes before serving, you’ll have the perfect paella to impress your guests with.

Happy BBQing!

Casual, confident, convenient…

The Laughing Gravy delivers a trendy, relaxed and impressive dining experience.

The Laughing Gravy delivers a trendy, relaxed and impressive dining experience.

Firstly, a welcome back to all my readers and fellow foodies! It’s been an extremely busy Summer after coming very close to appearing on the BBC’s ‘Masterchef’, to numerous trips packed with some fantastic dining experiences. I’ll certainly be looking to apply for Masterchef again having reached the final stage prior to the televised heats, and there will be lots of exciting news to share on here in the coming weeks.

Straight back into the action, I’ve got a cracking bar and restaurant to add to the ‘best kept secrets’ archive.

Southwark, a stones throw from my regular London destination, Waterloo, is home of ‘The Laughing Gravy’. The name is taken from the 1931 Laurel and Hardy film about a scruffy pooch and Stan and Ollie’s landlord’s ‘no pets’ policy. The chilled atmosphere lends to a few casual drinks at the bar, or a trendy but relaxed dining experience that rivals far more upmarket eateries in the capital.

My highlights from the menu include a delicious Confit belly of pork with apple puree, Hog’s black pudding and pork sausage roll starter, although the Honey-cured smoked Loch Duart salmon fillet, salmon scratchings, broccoli and watercress bavarois is equally as impressive. To follow, I would opt for the cider-marinated lamb rump with parsnip and thyme dumplings, broad bean piccalilli and crushed truffle minted pea and broad beans. Simply stunning in flavour and presentation, the dish comes with all the elegance you would expect with such fine ingredients, but delivers the type of hearty punch you’d expect from a cosy Sunday lunch in the countryside.

Dessert can be the deal breaker for some of my readers, and ‘The Laughing Gravy’ delivers a drum roll worthy Salted caramel fudge and shortbread filled chocolate cylinder with a cashew nut cluster and peanut emulsion. A mouthful in every sense. Rich, indulgent and simply wonderful!

Ideally situated a few minutes walk from Southwark tube station, if it’s a flying visit or a relaxed evening of food, ‘The Laughing Gravy’ delivers with aplomb.

The Laughing Gravy
154 Blackfriars Road
Southwark
London

http://www.thelaughinggravy.co.uk/

An exceptional cup of coffee can cut through the most miserable of weather

A home from home on a wet Saturday afternoon, Cusina serves up Barista perfection, alongside an array of light breakfasts, mouth watering homemade sandwiches, lunches and cakes

A home from home on a wet Saturday afternoon, Cusina serves up Barista perfection, alongside an array of light breakfasts, mouth watering homemade sandwiches, lunches and cakes

When I recall family holidays in Italy, many culinary delights spring to mind. Hand stretched pizzas, beautiful pasta dishes, vibrant and fresh salads and mouth watering desserts. But one lasting memory was the regular visit to the local coffee shop, as my palate developed from craving bittersweet hot chocolate to the famous cappuccino.

A true Italian cappuccino, with perfectly formed frothy milk, the aroma strong and heady, executed to perfection. That is what I have been searching for on the South Coast of England. The smell of fresh coffee in the mornings, it can wipe away the best efforts of British wet weather. There is nothing quite like it.

To date, Cusina, a small café and kitchen in Westbourne, Bournemouth, has delivered the very best cappuccino around. Truly deserving of a spot in my ‘best kept secrets’ archive.

The perfect array of homemade cakes, sandwiches and light lunches accompany a simply stunning level of ability for coffee making. So whether it will be a meaty, tangy salt beef sandwich, or an indulgent slice of caramel cake, you can rest assured that your exceptional hot drink has a perfect partner, morning or afternoon.

This is one I can assure you’ll return to.

Cusina
48 Poole Road
Westbourne
Bournemouth

01202 767513

Stilton, mango and honey ciabatta with a king prawn salad

This perfect, posh cheese on toast goes hand in hand with a fresh prawn salad

This perfect, posh cheese on toast goes hand in hand with a fresh prawn salad

This recipe is inspired by one of my father’s many kitchen creations, adapted into a light, fuss-free Summer supper. A posh cheese on toast!

Cheese and fruit are a well known combination, but there are so many mis-guided concoctions on our supermarket shelves. For me, the sight of overly sweet dried cranberries, hammered into the side of a lovely mature piece of cheese is a crime against good food! Despite that, the sweet but tangy mango and lemon in this recipe works perfectly with the power of any blue cheese, finished beautifully with a drizzle of runny honey.

To make the dish fit for a simple homemade main course, I’ve chosen to add a really quick dressed salad with cooked king prawns.

Stilton and mango, the Wisdom family hereby patents the combination!

Stilton, mango and honey ciabatta with a king prawn salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Ingredients:

  • 2 long white ciabatta rolls
  • 1 lump mature stilton
  • 1 ripe mango
  • 2 handfuls pine nuts
  • 24 cooked king prawns
  • runny honey for drizzling
  • mixed leaf salad of choice
  • 1 lemon
  • balsamic vinegar for drizzling
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • salt and cracked black pepper for seasoning

Method:

  1. Slice the ciabatta rolls in half lengthwise and arrange evenly on tin foil ready for the grill.
  2. Season the ciabatta rolls with coarse rock salt, cracked black pepper, drizzled olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a little grated lemon rind.
  3. Slice the stilton and arrange on top of the ciabatta rolls before placing under a pre-heated grill until the stilton is melted and nicely browned, the ciabatta toasted. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in small dry frying pan over a moderate heat until gently browned.
  4. Peel and slice the mango into chunky strips, laying them over the top of the stilton.
  5. Scatter the toasted pine nuts over the top of the stilton and mango ciabatta.
  6. Drizzle the honey lightly over the dish.
  7. Dress a mixed leaf salad with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and cracked black pepper.
  8. Place a small salad portion each side of the ciabatta and top with three king prawns each side.
  9. Finish the dish with a little drizzle of lemon juice and a good helping of cracked black pepper.

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

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