Monday, 8 February 2016

Mini Lasagne Cups

 I think spaghetti bolognaise was probably one of the first meals I learnt to cook as a child. Basic, economical and yet so tasty it still remains in my top three favourite dishes of all time.

As I grew older I learnt to use the bolognaise in other dishes, lasagne becoming another favourite meal of mine.

Over the years, in my different workplaces, I have seen lasagne to be a good seller on the menu though spaghetti bolognaise not so much so. Probably because for most it is a regular week day meal easily made at home.
So our menu at The Nook has developed a bit of an Italian theme recently and as lasagne is a good menu seller, and I love a good twist on classics, I was rather excited to come across a photo on Pinterest of Mini Lasagne Cups.
Ideal for the cafĂ© menu, (and ideal to use up some filo pastry leftover from Moroccan night ��) I put the cups on the specials board last week and yes, yet another successful meal!
Very easily made with filo pastry, basic white sauce, bolognaise, parmesan and a muffin tin.

  Cook your bolognaise first and create a white sauce. When these are both made cut your filo into 5inch squares. I used 4 squares for each cup. Brush your first pastry square with olive oil or melted butter. Turn your next sheet 90° and lay on top. Brush with oil again and repeat for the next to sheets then lift and push down into your muffin tin. Repeat this until you have as many cups that you want.

Filo Pastry Cups
The next step is to layer the ingredients as you would in a lasagne.
So I put about a dessert spoon full of white sauce in the base of each cup, followed by a spoon of bolognaise topped with some grated parmesan. Bolognaise again with white sauce on top, more parmesan and a little shake of oregano!

Prepared mini lasagne cups

Once prepared put the muffin tray in the oven on about 180° and cook for about 12-15 minutes until the filo is crispy.
Mini lasagne cups just baked from the oven
Served best with a lovely fresh side salad.
What a tasty lunch!

Mini Lasagne Cups served with salad

Mini lasagne cups served on the specials board at The Nook On The Square, Dunchurch
Linking up this week at:
Simple and Sweet Fridays
Foodie Friday and Everything Else

Monday, 1 February 2016

Moroccan Night At The Nook On The Square

When I had the idea of a monthly supper club way back last summer I never envisaged what it would turn into and am so astounded that each evening has been such a success.
Already we are fully booked for French night in February and Mexican in March and I haven't even written a menu yet for either!!
This month our theme was Moroccan and held at the end of the month rather than our usual first Saturday.
Once again we were full and compliments flew at the end of the evening . One diner came to the kitchen to tell me I had surpassed myself this time with the food, best one yet!! Chuffed to say the very least but oh gosh when you peak it puts so much pressure on future events.
Having said that, as much as I put a lot of work into the menus it isn't a one woman show and could never be achieved without all the staff pulling together and working extra hours to cover.

So this time we changed the style of the table settings and bought some  table runners from The Range and blue napkins instead of the usual white ones.

I do love the back room on these events when the tables are all laid and the candles are lit, it has such atmosphere and warmth 
We all brought ornaments from home as well as some bits from The Range, don't you just love that shop! 
These were Christmas tree decorations that a relative bought me years ago and never been out of the box. They worked really well hanging in the corridor.
Here's a sneaky preview of the menu 
And so to the food.
Our starters were:
Spiced Beef Filo Parcels With Harissa Yoghurt.

Carrot & Lentil Soup with Harissa served with Olive Bread.

Lemon Herb Chicken Skewers served with Lemon Coriander Yoghurt

And for the mains:
Pork & Apricot Meatballs and Vegetable Tagine

Honey Braised Lamb Shank Tagine

Spiced Vegetable Pie
(roasted squash , toasted nuts, cranberry and chickpeas in filo pastry) 

Finally desserts:
Le Russe
(meringue & chocolate ganache gateau)

(crispy filo pastry layered with custard, almonds and spiced apple compote)

As always a lot of my ideas were found online so if you fancy making anything you've seen today you can find them all stored together on my pinterest board here
Linking Up This Week at :

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Turning A Kitchen Disaster Into A Specials Board Success

 I have realised that my mind constantly churns for several hours each day about new, and enticing, dishes for The Nook.
As well as scouring the internet for recipes I always try to think outside the box for new ideas.
This week my mind is filled with pate flavours!! 
 The various vegetable pates I often have, on the ever changing menu, are always popular so I thought I'd attempt a tomato based one for our new, Italian themed menu.
I think I knew straight away it wasn't going to work but I persevered to see what happened.
I used the same method as my other recipes and sweated off chopped red onion and garlic in tons of butter! Then I added chopped tomato, basil and tomato puree.

Caprese Style Sauce Ingredients in Pan
At this point I maybe should have reduced the moisture in the mixture more but I rushed the process and added chopped Buffalo Mozzarella to the pan only for the mixture to go stringy and start sticking to the pan. 
Sometimes I kick myself for not having any patience but I still carried on with the mixture and whizzed it in the processor with a little cream cheese, salt and pepper.
It all went into the fridge then, and I prayed for a miracle!!

Unfortunately the miracle of setting into a pate when cold didn't happen and I was left with a semi solid sauce that tasted gorgeous!
My mind went into overdrive thinking in what way I could use the sauce and then I had eureka moment based on a dish I served many months ago.

Into the oven went 2 Portobello mushrooms with Italian Taleggio cheese tucked in the top while I toasted some sourdough, which I then topped with some of the warm sauce. When the Taleggio was melted I put the mushrooms on top of the sourdough.
The waitresses' mouths were watering so I let then taste the trial dish and asked for their verdict.

Bloody amazing apparently!!!!!
Great praise indeed!
Straight away onto the specials board and what a hit today is was!!
Amazing how something can go wrong but turn out soooo right!

Linking up this week at:
Foodie Friday and Everything Else
Simple and Sweet Fridays

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Tapas Theme Night At The Nook

Early December was our monthly supper club at The Nook On The Square. This month was Tapas.


The front room looked lovely with a few Christmas decorations 
We offered a small selection of bread, olives, manchego (Spanish Cheese), olive oil, balsamic and tomatoes as a starter. 

Tapas are a wide variety of appetizers, or snacks, in Spanish cuisine. They may be cold or hot. For our event they were all hot. So many dishes involves a lot of preparation and cooking. 

Preparation of Aubergine Parmigiana. Layers of aubergine, arribiata sauce, breadcrumbs and parmesan. 

Slices of Chorizo.

Manchego croquettes moulded, breaded and ready to bake

Spanish omelettes look really colourful and appetizing 
On the menu was,
Spanish Meatballs
Garlic & Chilli King Prawn and Mushrooms
Chorizo & Butterbean Red Wine Stew
Andalusian Style Chicken
Spanish Omelette
Potatas Bravas
Aubergine Parmigiana
Manchego Croquetas

I was so pleased with how everything looked when it went out in the small dishes.

And for dessert we offered:
Austurian Crepes, a sweet pancake filled with custard and apple.

Pan de Higo, made from figs, cranberries, apricots and almonds rolled in sesame seeds. Served with a spanish Manchego cheese and crackers.
Once again a lot of hard work behind the scenes but a very successful evening. Watch out, we are going Moroccan next!!
Linking up this week with :

Dessert Challenge

Already we are 3/4 way through January, and Christmas and New Year celebrations seem like a distant memory.
All my New Year resolutions have been broken already surprise surprise so my focus at present is solely on my job.
A previous employer once said to me my best work always came from being set a challenge outside of my comfort zone. This month sees the arrival of one such challenge as it has become necessary for me to produce some cakes for display at The Nook.

My boss was keen to stick with an old favourite Millionaire Shortbread. That was fine by me but I have a style of cooking that always wants to take traditional and give it a twist!
I did my usual search on pinterest and suddenly got very excited when I spotted a photo of Raspberry, Caramel Millionaire.
Following the link I found an easy recipe to follow and straight away made it.
Selling well already so 1st challenge completed successfully!
If you fancy a go at this yourself you can find the recipe thru this link .
Try it it's scrumptious!
It's so easy to get carried away making chocolate desserts I think,as everyone loves chocolate, so I searched for something lighter with a lemon flavour and came across this recipe at ScrummyLane blog. What a fantastic name for a blog!!
Lovely, easy recipe with a beautiful pastry base.
Second challenge complete and proud of myself for the achievement!

I had only intended making 2 desserts but the Lemon Bakewell pastry used egg yolks which left me with 3 egg whites!
Think of egg whites and I immediately think Meringue!
So easy to quickly whisk up, slowly add 150g of sugar and bake in a low oven for a couple of hours. Where's the hassle in that??

When cooked I whisked together melted chocolate, cream and icing sugar and topped with some fresh fruit. Absolutely love the cherry on the top!!
Challenge 3 completed and soooo pleased with the results.
That lady was right, my best work comes from a challenge! If only dieting worked the same way!

Linking up this week  at

Friday, 13 November 2015

Thai Theme Night at The Nook On The Square

Following the great success of our Italian Theme Night last month we decided to hold a Thai evening this month as our 2nd supper club.
It takes so much planning and preparation for evenings like this and, if you are ever a diner at this type of event, spare a thought for exactly how much time and effort the staff put in to ensure the best evening possible for you.  
We planned a menu with 3 starters, 3 mains and 2 desserts.
Lovely Buddha's were purchased from The Range and suited our fireplaces brilliantly. 

The back room always looks fantastic but especially tonight with the big table laid,

Back room at The Nook On The Square

I found some brilliant designs for napkin folding on Pinterest, that suited the occasion perfectly.
You can find a tutorial for this particular design through this link
Napkin Folding

They looked great on the table.

Prior to the event I did a lot of YouTube watching to learn how to carve vegetables. On the table we put a kilner jar with some rice in the base, a tealight and a carved radish and carrot leaves. A very effective center piece.  
After the tealights I got carried away with the carving!!                    I made a large center piece for our large table and 1 for the bar.

Vegetable Carving Centrepiece

I'm not sure whether I would call it therapeutic but definitely addictive and I was proud of what I achieved.
Head to YouTube if you fancy trying the art.
Vegetable Carving Centrepiece

Lots of food preparation just before we opened. Beansprouts, snakebeans, pak choi , coriander and limes to name but a few of the items in bowls.

All tables booked we eventually opened the doors at 7pm and the customers arrived table by table.
It was a successful evening, with lots of food and drink consumed, and we all gushed with pride at the compliments we received at the end of the evening.
Below is a selection of food photos that was served throughout the evening.
Chicken Satay Skewers
Chicken Satay Skewers

Tom Yum Soup,
a clear broth made with fish stock, vegetables and King Prawns. 

Thai Fishcakes with Sweet Chilli Dip -
Finely chopped white fish and prawns mixed with lime, coriander and fish paste created a gorgeous flavoured starter. Google Rick Stein's recipe to give these a try.
Thai Red King Prawn Curry was a popular dish in the evening, served with thai jasmine rice. 
Also popular was the Tamarind Duck, a sweet and sour sauce served on perfectly cooked duck. 
And for dessert my best Panna Cotta yet. Normally an Italian dessert I know but I adapted the recipe and swapped the milk for coconut milk.
Cardamom & Coconut Panna Cotta and Mango Coulis. 
The other dessert was also a big success.
Kaffir Lime cheesecake, adapted from Gordon Ramsey recipe I came across a long time ago.

Brilliant night was had by all and I finally climbed into bed shattered after a 15 hour shift!!
Planning now starts for Tapas Night!

Linking up this week with:
Tasty Tuesdays
Simple and Sweet Fridays
Foodie Friday and Everything Else