26 September 2011


Scallops are a great treat and I had some beautiful Scottish ones that I couldn't resist cooking up for my wife and I. I cooked them in two different styles, both tasting amazing! I served some that were simply seared in butter and served with a sweet and spicy mango and chilli salsa and I skewered the rest with Parma ham and brushed with balsamic vinegar as they cooked in the pan.

17 September 2011

PRIVATE DINNER PARTY, Mark and Cindy Billington

I first met Mark and Cindy at one of my previous Dinner Parties with Julian and Sue Porter hosting the event. Mark was really enthusiastic about my cooking and it was great chatting with him. It wasn't long after that Mark contacted me and arranged  for me to cook for him again at his house in Rownhams, Hampshire. This was the first of two Dinner Parties booked in September and we had designed a fantastic first menu together which I really enjoyed preparing and finally getting to cook and present it on the night in their lovely home in Rownhams.

Fajitas are a great dish and I made my own marinade with fresh chilli, ground cumin, coriander, paprika, garlic and lime zest. Served sizzling to the table was a brilliant way to give the wow factor to the meal and accompanied with freshly made guacamole and salsa provided a fantastic touch to the dinner.

Melon swan table decoration (More)

            Dinner Party Menu                       

To Begin

Seared Scottish King scallops and King prawns
       Chilli, lime and mango salsa, Lemon and black pepper basmati rice.


Mexican Fajitas
                               British rump steak, Corn fed Chicken breast and King Prawns,      
                    Marinated with: Olive oil, paprika, garlic, crushed cumin and coriander seed. 
 Pan-fried with onions, peppers and tomatoes, fresh coriander and squeezed lime juice.
Served with:  Warmed flat breads, rocket leaves and lambs lettuce, 
                           Soured cream, tomato, red onion and smoked chipotle salsa,
grated cheese and guacamole.

To Follow

                                            Apple Tartin,Cinnamon custard, caramel and vanilla ice cream. 

Thanks Jules for your amazing photography, bringing out the best in my food. 

"A big Thank You for the fabulous dinner last night and for being so helpful and supportive in the planning. The scallops were awesome, succulent and oh so tasty. The salsa and the lemon and black pepper rice made for a beautiful combination. Every combination tasted fantastic and I am completely spoiled. Tart tartin, ice cream and cinnamon custard was sumptuous, the caramel baskets being the ultimate finishing touch. We all loved it and are looking forward to seeing you at ours for round two! 
Very best regards, Mark & Cindy"

"Top nosh again Matey!"   Julian Porter

12 September 2011

SEARED DUCK BREAST, Soy, honey and chilli.

Crispy duck spring roll, saute broccoli and glazed carrots.

We had the Olds round for dinner tonight and after cooking a duck dish  for a Private Dinner Party on the weekend, I really fancied cooking some duck at home. I like using the breast and the leg, utilising different cooking methods to give varied textures. I used Barbary duck and I rubbed the skin of the breast with sea salt and freshly ground 5 Spice before searing it skin side down until it became really crispy. I turned it over and took it off the gas to let it finish cooking in the residual heat of the pan. I had already confit the leg, shredding the meat and putting it back in the oven to crispen up. I tossed it with chilli, soy and honey and wrapped it up in pastry with some finely cut celery, leek and carrot. We enjoyed the dinner immensely and I will definitely be cooking duck at home more often.

11 September 2011


There is nothing more rewarding for me when one of my functions goes well, my latest Private Dinner Party being no exception. I  become passionate about  a function from the moment I start designing the menu  and I was especially excited when the evening arrived for this weekends Hen Party Dinner. It is always a great buzz for me when I finally get to produce and serve the dishes, seeing all the planning and hard work come together.

This weekend the "Hens" were celebrating by hiring a beautiful house in Sandbanks and having me cook for them on the Saturday night. I put the three course menu together with Elaine Rutherford to make sure that every one's tastes were catered for and that we would provide an innovative menu that would give a wow factor to the guests. I offered a choice of scallop dishes upon request for the starter, some  duck dishes were narrowed down for the main course,  and we decided on offering a trio of desserts to follow. I sourced the scallops from Scotland as their cool waters provide excellent quality fish and seafood, especially at this time of year. I used Barbary duck breasts, being a farmed breed that are   very lean, but still have an amazing flavour, being perfect for the occasion. 

                                 Hen Party Dinner Menu                                                    

To Share
Freshly baked blush tomato and basil pesto bread, 
Marinated olives and hummus.

To Start
Char grilled scallops, wrapped in Parma ham.
                          Shallot, garlic and tarragon butter sauce, char grilled asparagus spears.

5 Spice marinated duck breast, crispy duck shank and duck and vegetable filo parcel..
                                 Honey, sesame and fennel glazed carrots, broccoli florets, honey and rosemary gravy.
Mille fuille of char grilled Mediterranean vegetables and mozzarella.  
Roasted plum tomato sauce, fresh basil pesto, balsamic roasted beetroot.

To follow
Trio of desserts
                                                     Vanilla crème brulee, caramel tuille, 
Lemon and fresh raspberry cheesecake, 
Chocolate chip and honeycomb ice cream.

Water melon carving (View more)

Apple bird (view more fruit carvings)
Table setting

I did most of my preparation in the morning and arrived at the house in Sandbanks just before 6 to serve the starters for 8:00p.m. I was greeted very warmly by Elaine and her sister Annette and unloaded my equipment into the kitchen. Although working with a small oven, the kitchen area was very spacious, giving me plenty of room to work with. It was also open planned next to the dining area so that I had no place to hide from the 12 Hens that were to be dining! However, everyone was really friendly and I was very comfortable getting on with the rest of my preparation. 

The evening went very quickly as I got my head down to serve the starter and I was really pleased from the feed back I received. I was offered a glass of red wine between courses which was very difficult to refuse but it put me in good stead for the main course, which again went well and I was very grateful for all the compliments. I was especially looking forward to serving dessert, but provided a little break as I was sure all the Hens were quite full. When I plated the final course, I was really pleased with my presentation and I was full of self relief and gratification that always comes when I feel that my job has been done well. 

While I was cleaning up after, I enjoyed a beer with the ladies and the atmosphere was very friendly as I even joined in a bit with their after Dinner games. I had a great evening and this was definitely one of my top menus that I have enjoyed preparing. A big, big thank you to all the hens and especially for helping out as waitresses when needed. I hope that I will get to cook again for such a lovely bunch of people. 

Rustic blush tomato and basil pesto bread

Char grilled Scottish scallops, tarragon and garlic beure blanc
5 Spice duck breast, roast shank and crispy duck and vegetable parcel.
Trio of desserts
Trio of desserts

"Lovely, lovely, lovely. What a fantastic evening. Gary is such a nice man and his cooking is amazing - it was one of the nicest meals I have ever had - and so beautifully presented. He even kept the kitchen spotlessly tidy. I definitely recommend him for any private party - I shall be keeping his number for sure. Thank you Gary (and my daughters for arranging him of course!) x" Jan Rutherford

6 September 2011



I made some great tasty little fish cakes to eat for our tea tonight and a quick salad to go with them. I also made up a batch of sweet chilli sauce which is a definite favourite of mine. I always make it fresh as I like to make everything from scratch, controlling what ingredients I use. I can also adjust the heat intensity by making it myself and it keeps well in the fridge for a good while after. Mackerel can take on plenty of other flavours and  I added some fennel, lemon and horseradish in my recipe. The sweet chilli sauce complimented them really well.

Recipe for fish cakes.

200 grams hot smoked mackerel.
200 grams cooked new potatoes.
1/2 diced red onion.
1/4 diced fennel.
Zest of 1 lemon.
1/2 inch grated fresh horseradish.
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard.
Handful chopped parsley.
25 grams sesame seeds.
Little flour and milk.
Salt and pepper.

1) Flake the fish and mix with all the ingredients, reserving the sesame, flour and milk.
2) Flour you hands before rolling the mixture into balls.
3) Roll the fish cake balls in the flour and dip in the milk and then coat in the sesame seeds.
4) Squash the fish cakes into pattie shapes and shallow fry on each side for about 4 to 5 minutes until crisp.
5) Serve with sweet chilli sauce and salad.