Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The End Of An Era As The Nook On The Square Closes

I don’t remember the exact date that Kate told me she had decided to close The Nook, though I do remember it was a Wednesday. We sat in the front room at the end of a normal working day and she said ‘there’s no easy way to say this but……..’

I could totally understand her reasons of wanting to spend more time with her small children, I had been in a similar position about 12 years ago.

My first reaction was to rent the café from her until she explained she wanted the building turned back into a family home. Again I understood.

From that day I looked at every possibility for my future. I scoured the job sites, looked at vacant retail properties and even emailed a local, empty B&B with an offer of rent. I was offered a job in a local pub so handed in my notice and, at that point, all the staff were told and then the public.

When the news finally hit Facebook I was surprised to be approached by a local café with an offer of running their newly extended kitchen, which hadn’t, as yet, been installed! It was a good offer, actually a brilliant offer, so I accepted it.

And so begins a new chapter for me.

As of June 1st 2016 I take on my new role as Head Chef at The Evergreen Art Café in Daventry.

More of that to come but for now I say a fond farewell to The Nook, Kate and all the staff I have worked with over the past 20 months. It has been a challenge, a great learning experience and a lovely ‘family’ to belong to.
Staff from The Nook On The Square, Dunchurch, Rugby

Greek Supper Club At The Nook On The Square

Rather Late in posting these photos, don't know exactly what I do with my time at the moment!
April's supper club at The Nook had a Greek theme this time. This was to be my last supper club at The Nook, but I will write more of that in my next post.
Sarah took the decision to decorate in white this time. 

The simplicity of the table worked well with a white napkin and sprig of rosemary teamed with lace and ribbon covered hessian decorated glass jars containing tea lights.

When I first mentioned Greek food straight away someone said 'stuffed vine leaves?'
I can remember my sister and friends sitting at a kitchen table years ago carefully rolling vine leaves, but it wasn't something I had ever tried.
We ordered the leaves from an online company specialising in Greek produce. I googled the process of making the 'Dolmades', as they are called, and set to work making my own.
I had made a tomato rice for the vegetarian main so I decided to use this as the stuffing mix. It would mean I could have a totally vegetarian starter which would make life easier in the kitchen during service.
Depending on the size of the leaf I used 3 or 4 overlapped in a circle and placed some of the rice mix in the center.
I folded the sides in and rolled the rest to form a neat 'cigar' shape.

To cook the Dolmades I lined a baking sheet with greaseproof paper topped with slices of tomato, this prevents the leaves sticking to the bottom and burning. I then packed all my rolled leaves in rows in the top, sprinkling chopped garlic between them.
Sprinkle with lemon juice, add some cold water and cover with oiled foil, so the vine leaves steam cook, and place in the oven for about 45 minutes.

This leads me nicely to our first starter!
As I mentioned earlier it was totally vegetarian and I anticipated it to be ordered by the majority, which it was, leaving the kitchen with a very quick and easy task of serving up.
So our starter was a vegetarian Greek Mezze Plate which showcased a selection of Greek starters.
Dolmades, Grilled Haloumi, Spanakopita (spinach & feta filo parcels), Tzatziki (a garlic & cucumber yoghurt), Roasted Peppers and Olives. What a lovely combination of food!

Our other starter was a Greek salad full of cucumber, tomatoes, onion, olives and feta cheese, all tossed in a dressing made of olive oil, lemon juice and oregano. 

Our mains began with Lamb Shank Kleftico with potatoes and vegetables.
Kleftico refers to lamb being marinated in lemon, garlic and herbs then cooked in a sealed container.

Next came Salmon Fillet and Avocado Tzatziki served with a warm potato salad containing capers, feta, onion and lemon juice. 

Not the best presentation on this one now I look at the photo again but the taste was lovely.
Our vegetarian main was Feta and Mushroom Balls served with rice stuffed tomatoes and Saltsa Domatas, a Greek tomato sauce.
I loved the flavours in this, it was my favourite dish, especially the tomato rice.

And for dessert, again the photos don't do the food justice, Ekmek Kataifi, which was strands of Kataifi pastry topped with syrup, custard cream, pistachios and almonds.
I've written about the dessert in this separate post showing the different stages of making it. Lovely desserts with many different textures. 

And finally Melopita, a honey pie, similar to egg custard.
I loved this too and I didn't think I would.

Again we had some many customers that we spread the event over 2 nights and did 65 covers overall.
Feedback was great and once again 2 very successful evenings.
Ideas and recipes for the above dishes and more can be found on my pinterest board  Greek Night April

Monday, 23 May 2016

Ekmek Kataifi - A Greek Dessert

Leading up to my post for our Greek themed monthly supper club at The Nook I thought I would post a few 'action' shots taken whilst preparing one of the desserts, Ekmek Kataifi.

Kataifi is a traditional sweet Greek pastry often covered with a sweet syrup, or honey, and nuts.
Kataifi pastry is very finely shredded filo, which is made from wheat and water. I didn't attempt to make this myself but ordered it online from a Greek food supplier.  

To make this dessert I gently pulled the strands apart and covered the base of a well buttered baking dish. More melted butter was poured over the top before baking in the oven for about 20/30 minutes until golden.
One of our customers in the evening asked if the base of the dessert was made from shredded wheat as it resembled the taste and texture of the breakfast cereal.

Whilst the pastry was baking I made a syrup by boiling honey, sugar, water, lemon zest, cinnamon and cloves in a pan for about 10 minutes.
When the pastry came out of the oven, and was slightly cooled, I poured the syrup over the top and then covered with chopped almonds and pistachios.  

I whisked up some custard, green food colouring, and whipping cream and spread over the top of the nuts. Then to make this dessert totally calorific I whisked more cream with icing sugar until thick and piped on top of the custard.

A few more chopped pistachios on top and left to chill in the fridge until ready for service. 

I often hear TV chefs go on about dishes having different textures as well as taste and this dessert definitely has that. The crisp pastry, with the smooth cream and hard nuts worked brilliantly.
Definitely a success.
Take a look at my post on The Greek Supper Club for more ideas on hosting a Greek food event.
The full recipe for this dish can be found on my pinterest board
here along with all my other Greek scrapbooking ideas.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Mexican Supper Club at The Nook

Little bit late posting but March's supper club at The Nook held a Mexican theme this time.
So many customers wanted to take part that we decided to host 2 evenings this time!

Sarah, as always, in charge of decorations, went with festival colours for the napkins and table runners. I think it looks really colourful.

I can't decide whether I prefer the back room....... 

Or the front room.
What's your favourite?

Sticking with the same colour Kate produced a vibrantly coloured menu design. 
So for starters we had......
Ceviche With Shrimp.
Crushed avocado base topped with a shrimp, tomato, onion and coriander mix.  
This was definitely a best seller on both nights. 

Beef Empanada filled with a fragrant beef mix and served with soured cream.

Spring Taco With Mushrooms & Tomato Salsa.
This was our vegetarian choice and very tasty indeed.

And for the Mains........
No Mexican evening would be right without a good chilli, and we definitely produced a great chilli!
Chunky beef shin chilli served with avocado, sweet potato, homemade tortilla, sour cream and salsa.
I love the presentation of this dish, definitely one of my favourites.
We also offered a vegetable chilli option.
Our other vegetarian  dish was a roasted butternut squash filled with a Tex Mex rice mix. Lots of herbs and flavours and mixed corn and beans made this a really tasty meal.

For a slightly different fish dish....
Tuna Steak with Red Pepper & Pineapple Salsa served on a bed of Coriander Lime Rice. 

And for Dessert.......
Chocolate and Chilli Cheesecake.
A gorgeous creamy dessert with a warm chilli glow.

Cherry & Almond Chimichangas.
A tortilla filled with cherries and syrup then rolled and panfried in LOTS of butter and topped with more cherries and almonds.

Yet another successful evening or should I say 2 evenings!!!!
I'll be back with April's Greek Night very soon!
Thanks for popping by. 
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