Monday, 22 February 2016

French Night At The Nook On The Square

It's that time of year again when love is in the air!
It did make me smile as I walked into Tesco last Saturday morning and watched several men frantically buying bunches of roses and flowers at the entrance. It's totally commercial and thousands are spent by the public each February 14th.
With this in mind, our supper club this month at The Nook had a French theme and was moved from the beginning of the month to February 13th, Valentine's Eve!
Once again hard work, a sell out AND a great success with several compliments on the food.
So here's a few photos from the evening.

 The back room in The Nook looked very romantic with soft lighting and roses on the tables.
A little look at the front room. 

Here's the menu  
French onion pate served with gruyere pastry biscuits.
I was really impressed with the pate. I caramelised the onions for over an hour to get a beautiful sweet flavour before blending with cream cheese and beef stock. I also made a vegetarian version with vegetable stock
Mixed salad with pancetta, croutons and poached egg.
French Lavender, Red Onion, Goats Cheese Tart.  
Beef Cheek Bourguignon
Beautiful melt in the mouth beef that was marinated and treated for 3 days prior to the event and tasted out of this world.

                   Chicken Supreme served in Wholegrain Mustard and    Tarragon Cream Sauce

Ratatouille Tart Tartin

                                                                  Apple Roses
Great tutorial for this very easy puff pastry and apple dish can be found HERE on Cooking With Manuela.

Mixed Berry Clafoutis
This is a traditional baked French dessert with fruit, usually cherries but I used mixed berries, covered with a thick, flan like batter. I used a Julia Childs recipe and boy what a lovely dessert.

Baked French Chocolate Tart

We're popping to Mexico in March and already fully booked !!
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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 café 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
Cooking and Crafting With J and J

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
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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!!
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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!

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