22 April 2011

PRIVATE DINNER PARTY, Julian and Sue Porter

My wife and I first met Jules and Sue Porter when we chose them to do our wedding photography nearly four years ago. They are such a great friendly couple and it was easy to establish a lasting relationship with them. We have kept in contact and have seen them take on the photography of several mutual friends of ours over the years. My wife and I had a Dinner party with Jules and Sue in March and they got to sample my cooking when I made a few curries for us all. We really enjoyed their company on the night and we spoke about my new business venture as a Dinner Party Chef. Jules and Sue both love their food and had a dinner party planned in April and they asked if I would like to do the catering and of course I was really excited to take on another event. 

We worked on a great menu together that suited the tastes of Jules' guests and we have all been looking forwards to the dinner date since. There were to be six diners in total and we went for a relaxed pre starter of pitta bread and hummus to go in the middle of the table for everyone to share. On our previous dinner we had a sweet chilli dip that Sue was especially fond of so we chose this to go with Thai style salmon fish cakes to start the evening off. Main-course was to be roasted lamb rump, served with Asian spices. We opted for Vanilla brulee to end the evening which has always gone well as a great favourite dessert.

I arrived at Jules' and Sue's early evening with the guests sipping Jules' favourite cocktails outside in the garden. I received a warm welcome from a really friendly bunch as I unloaded my equipment into the kitchen. I set the table and then served the pitta bread and hummus outside. I had positive feedback from the first course which followed all the way through to dessert. I had a great evening as usual when I cater for dinner parties and I am sure we will be dining again soon.

Menu for Julian and Sue Porter

To begin;
Freshly made pitta bread, 
Red pepper and chilli hummus.

Thai salmon fish cakeschilli, ginger and lime,
Sweet chilli sauce, watercress, spring onion and coriander salad.

Rump of lamb, roasted in garam masala;
Spiced puy lentils, carrot and cumin puree, crisp potato rosti, 
Sauté spring greens with garlic, nutmeg and black pepper, red chilli, ginger and tomato gravy.

Vanilla crème brulee, crunchy honeycomb, 
Vanilla shortbread and fresh raspberries.

Fresh pitta bread and hummus.

Thai salmon fish cakes, sweet chilli sauce.

Spiced lamb rump.

Vanilla brulee, honeycomb.

"The six of us had the most amazing time and as the host's Sue and I were chilled all night happy knowing that you were creating a taste sensation (well lots of them) just a few feet away in our kitchen. Every one of the 4 courses brought something new and each and every one was amaxing to look at and to eat, there was not an awful lot of talking going on rather lots of happy munchy sounds :-) 

To top things off we woke the next day to a spotless kitchen and no washing up at all.

This was our greatest desicion with regards to a dinner party for many years, you will be back !!!!!"

Jules and Sue 

Thanks to Julian and Sue for hosting a great evening and making me feel welcome.

20 April 2011


A tasty starter or main course which is easy to make with beef fillet or sirloin strips. I made use of some rare roast topside on this occasion which also worked well. I finely sliced the beef before tossing in cornflour and sesame seeds, then fried in hot oil to crispen up. I tossed some finely sliced spring onion, mixed bell peppers, celery, carrot, garlic and ginger with the beef. I made the sweet chilli sauce with fresh red chilli, ginger, garlic, brown sugar and rice vinegar. 

18 April 2011


Served on sweet potato bubble and squeak, 
Tomato and roasted pepper salsa.

I love to eat fresh salmon and I am always trying out new recipes. I had some sweet potatoes in the cupboard that I wanted to use so I baked them in the oven and scooped out the middle. I then mixed it with a  few vegetables that were left from our Sunday dinner to make a version of bubble and squeak. I cooked it again under the grill to get it nice and crispy. Meanwhile, I pan fried the salmon on the stove and made a quick tomato and chilli salsa. It all went very well together and I will definitely try my version of sweet potato bubble and squeak again. It would go equally well with some cold roast pork or with some good sausages and onion gravy.

Private Dinner Parties

15 April 2011


I regularly have one on one cooking lessons with Owen Heddicker and he has wanted to make a pizza for a while so we decided to do it on our next session.

We made the dough from scratch, using strong plain flour and yeast. We also made the sauce, using fresh tomatoes, garlic, chilli and basil. We topped the pizza with Parma ham and cheese and extra basil leaves.

Owen adding the topping.
Topped with roasted tomato sauce, fresh basil, chilli, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella.

Recipe for the dough.

650 grams strong flour,
1 x 7 gram packet dried yeast,
2 tablespoons olive oil,
1 teaspoon maldon sea salt,
1 teaspoon sugar,
About 400ml warm water,
Salt and pepper.

1) Put all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and form a well.
2) Add the olive oil and pour the water a little at a time whilst stirring the bread mix.
3) Keep adding the water until a soft dough is formed.
4) Knead for about ten minutes and then rest for a further 30 to 40 minutes in a warm environment until the dough has doubled in size. (Keep covered to avoid drying out)
5) Roll out the dough to a few millimetres thick.
6) Add the topping and cook in the oven at 220 Celsius for 10 - 12 minutes.
7) For a thicker base, leave for a further ten minutes to reprove before cooking.

ChefGary's tips
1) To get the right temperature for the water, use 2 parts cold and one part boiling.
2) The quantity of water may vary so add a little at a time.
3) To aid the proving process, place the dough above a pan of hot water, (Not boiling)

12 April 2011


Canapes are served in small portions, offering bursts of flavour to your palette with just one bite. As part of your wedding or private dinner party, they are a great way to whet the appetite for your guests arrival. Extremely versatile little dishes, they can also be served through the course of an evening at a drinks party, ensuring your guests are being spoilt with many little food sensations. They should provide a wow factor in appearance and I love preparing all my canapes from fresh ingredients, providing you with the best quality and flavours.

Some ChefGary sample canape choices:

Carpacio of Beef fillet with blue cheese,
Grilled asparagus spears, wrapped in pancetta,
Goats cheese, wrapped in Parma ham,
Caramelised figs, Parma ham, honey and cinnamon dressing,
Proscuitto ham, pear and rocket leaves,
Crispy duck spring rolls, sweet chili dip,
Honey and mustard glazed pork chipolatas, sesame seeds,
Game pate, red onion and port chutney, Granary toast,
Smoked duck breast, cucumber, cranberry, spring onion,
Fish and shellfish:
Smoked salmon and cream cheese with fresh chives, granary toast,
Smoked salmon, cream cheese and rocket roullade, black pepper, fresh lemon,
Smoked salmon maki, pickled ginger, wasabi and soy,
Crayfish tails, spiced cocktail sauce and crispy crouton,
Crayfish tails, king prawns and spiced guacamole,
Crispy Tempura prawns, lime and mango mayonnaise,
Sticky sweet chilli King prawns, fresh coriander,
Crab meat and celeriac remoulade, wasabi creme fraiche,
Crab and ginger wonton, sweet chilli dip,
Crab and King prawn cocktail, tomato and tarragon mayonnaise,  
Bruschetta, smoked mackerel pate, horseradish, cucumber,
Wholegrain toast with goats cheese, basil pesto, slow roasted tomato,
Avocado. mozzarella and fresh basil on puff pastry,

Vegetable spring rolls, sweet chili dip,
Bruschetta, mozzarella, blush tomato, black olive and fresh basil,
Bruschetta, cranberries, orange, crumbled Stilton,
Spiced vegetable fritters, chilli, ginger, turmeric and fresh coriander.

King prawns, roasted butternut suash, chilli, garlic, fresh coriander
Sushi platter

 Bruschetta, stilton, fresh cranberries, orange zest,
Goats cheese, Parma ham, cracked black pepper, rocket leaves
Caramelised figs, cinnamon, honey, balsamic
Crispy duck spring rolls, sweet chilli sauce
Tuna Maki, pickled ginger, soy and wasabi.
Olive and rosemary bread, Camembert and Parma ham
Blush tomato, avocado, fresh basil, mozzarella
Smoked salmon roullade, lemon, cracked black pepper.
Smoked salmon, lemon, black pepper and fresh dill
Hummus with blush tomato and basil, Crayfish tails, spiced cocoktail sauce,
Duck and orange pate, red onion chutney, Brie and Parma ham with redcurrant jelly.

"Thank you so much, everything produced was delectable, delicious, well presented and very well received by my guests. It was wonderful for me to take the evening off from cooking and I felt competely confident in you, your food and presentation - thank you again "
Drinks Party, Janette and Frank Finn 

Drinks Party, Gail Budd

COOKING LESSON, Green Thai chicken curry

Sesame flat bread
I hosted my first series of cooking schools at Yateley Manor this week and had a great time working alongside Karen and Garry who wanted to try out my recipes for Thai chicken green curry, egg fried rice, sesame flat bread and tempura vegetables with chilli and lime dipping sauce. We spent the morning making up the dishes together and enjoyed tasting them as we went along. We started with the green Thai curry and made everything from fresh ingredients. Below are the recipes that we used.

Karen, making the rice and sesame flat bread.

Green Thai chicken curry, egg fried rice.

Thai green chicken curry,
Green chilli, coriander, lemongrass, ginger and coconut milk.
Curry paste,
4 spring onions, 3 green chillis, 2 garlic cloves, 2 lemongrass stalks,1 inch ginger
1 inch coriander stalks, 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns, dash of fish sauce, zest of 1 lime, 6 curry leaves.
Crush the seeds in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar. Blend with the remaining ingredients, adding a little oil or water if necessary.

2 chicken breasts, diced.
25 grams mange tout, sliced.
2 spring onions, sliced.
1 tin coconut milk,
Juice of 1 lime,
1 small bunch chopped fresh coriander,
1 teaspoon brown sugar,
Soy sauce.

1)   Make the curry paste as above.
2)   Fry the paste in a little oil until the aromas are released before adding the chicken.
3)   Colour the chicken before adding the coconut milk,
4)   Bring to the boil and simmer for about 6 to 8 minutes,
5)   Add the mange tout and spring onion and cook for further 2 minutes
6)  Taste before adding the chopped coriander, a little soy sauce, lime juice and the sugar.
7)   Taste again and adjust the seasoning with more lime, soy, fish sauce, or sugar if necessary. 
8)   Garnish with more chopped coriander, sliced chilli and spring onions.

ChefGary's tips; 
1) Try adding freshly chopped mint and basil at the end of cooking.
2) Try replacing half the ginger with galangal. (Spicy Thai style ginger)
3) Try adding a few kaffir lime leaves into the curry paste.
4) For a vegetarian option, replace the chicken with butternut squash or aubergine.

Tempura vegetables,
Sweet lime and chilli dipping sauce,
Selection of fresh vegetables such as;
Carrot, cauliflower, broccoli, mange tout, babycorn, mushrooms.

For the batter;
75 grams corn flour,
75 grams self raising flour,
50ml fizzy water,
Fish sauce.

For the dipping sauce;
Juice of 1 lime,
1 red chilli, sliced,
½ spring onion, sliced,
1 tablespoon honey,
1 tablespoon rice vinegar,

1)   Heat a pan of oil on a low heat on the stove,
2)   Mix the ingredients for the dipping sauce,
3)   Coat the vegetables in the flour and set aside,
4)   Make the batter by mixing everything in together,
5)   Dip the vegetables into the batter and fry for a few minutes until crispy,
6)   Serve with the dipping sauce.

ChefGray's tips;
1) Try adding chopped fresh basil, mint or coriander into the dipping sauce,
2) For extra texture and flavour, dip the vegetables in sesame seeds or dessicated coconut before frying,
3) Use the same recipe for king prawns or diced chicken breast.

Egg fried rice, ginger and soy sauce,
100 grams basmati rice,
1 cinnamon stick,
4 cardamom pods, crushed,
1 star anise,
Fish sauce,
Enough water to cover.

For frying;
½ inch of fresh ginger, grated,
1 spring oniuon, sliced,
2 mushrooms,
1 egg,
Dash soy sauce.

1)   Place all the ingredients for the rice in a pan and cover.
2)   Bring to the boil and simmer for about ten minutes,
3)   Allow to cool,
4)   Fry the vegetables in a pan with the egg until the egg is almost set,
6)   Break the egg with a spoon and mix with the vegetables.
7) Pour in the cooked rice and stir for a few minutes to heat through,
8)   Serve and season with soy sauce.

ChefGary's tips;
1) Try adding other vegetables such as peas, peppers and chilli,
2) Add a little ketchup at the last minute for a little sweetness,
3) Add a little turmeric or saffron to the rice when boiling for a vibrant yellow colour.

Sesame seed flat breads,
150 grams strong plain flour,
1 tablespoon natural yoghurt,
2 teaspoons sesame seeds,
1 teaspoon coriander seeds,
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds,
Little water to bind,
Little oil to cook.

1)  Mix all the ingredients except the water in a deep bowl,
2)  Push the flour to the sides to make a well,
3)   Add the water a little at a time until a soft dough is formed,
4)   Knead for a few minutes,
5)   Allow to rest for about five minutes, keeping the dough covered,
6)   Divide equally into balls and roll out thinly,
7)   Brush the top side with a little oil and cook in a hot pan, oil side first for about one minute before turning over.
8)   Cook for a further minute,
9)   Serve straight away.

ChefGary's tips;
1) Try adding extra spices to the dough, such as: Garlic, ginger, fresh coriander and chilli.