Plastic for Dinner Anyone? Your Choice!

Plastic waste is killing our oceans and could ultimately kill us too.  A Plastic Planet asked me on Twitter the other day “What do you do to help make the world plastic free?” I answered truthfully “not enough…”, but the tweet made me question myself on whether I should be doing more – both as a caterer and as an individual.

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Guards Pudding

Guard's Pudding

The recipe for Guard's Pudding was traditionally served to the officers and Guards on duty at St James Palace or Whitehall

Method

Serves 6

Prepare a 15cm (2pt)pudding dish. Grease and flour the surfaces.

Blend the margarine and sugar together until creamy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and blend well.

Fold in the bicarb, breadcrumbs, oats, ginger and honey. Do not over mix.

125g Margarine
125g Brown Sugar
0.5 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
60g Wholemeal Breadcrumbs
65g Oats
2 Eggs
1 tbsp Honey
18g Ginger

Additional Honey and Fresh Cream to Serve

Total Cost:  £1.34

Cost per Portion:  22p (Plus Garnish)

Place the mixture into the prepared pudding dish and cover with foil.

Place the pudding into a steamer and cook for 90 minutes.

When cooked, turn out the pudding and serve with a spoonful of honey and a pouring of fresh cream.

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Wedding Savings: Don’t call the Caterer

Wedding catering is expensive.  The catering together with the venue hire are likely to be the most expensive part of your wedding. You will cherish fond memories of your wedding day for the rest of your life, but is there a way to reduce the costs? Do you really need to call the caterer? Continue reading for 10 ways to cut the catering costs for your wedding reception.

According to a survey in 2017 of 4,000 brides, the average UK wedding now costs £27,161 – the highest it’s ever been.  Venue hire is revealed as the most expensive cost at an average of £4,354, followed by the honeymoon, and then the food at an average of £3,353 (www.hitched.co.uk).  The Bride’s Magazine puts the catering costs as high as £3,959.

What is a Wedding Reception?

Wikipedia describes a wedding reception as a party usually held after the completion of a marriage ceremony as hospitality for those who have attended the wedding, hence the name reception: the couple receives society, in the form of family and friends, for the first time as a married couple.

Traditionally it was the bride’s parents who paid for the wedding reception – and that included the venue hire, food and drink. Nowadays it’s more common for the cost to be shared by both sets of parents and the couple getting married. However, in the current economic climate with stagnating wages for many; increasing living costs; lack of accommodation for first time buyers and with student debt, a lot of couples are finding it difficult to finance their dream wedding. Why forfeit a house deposit or risk getting into debt for one day?

10 Ways to Cut Catering Costs for your Wedding Reception

  1. An obvious way to reduce your costs is to limit the number of your guests to the wedding breakfast.  Menus are priced per head, so naturally it would be cheaper to feed 50 people than 100. 
  1. Have a buffet instead of a sit down meal. This reduces the staffing costs and is also easier to cater for vegetarians and vegans. You can always decide to have a waiter/waitress for the top table and let the other guests help themselves. The typical ratio of waiting staff to guests is 1:10 and normally you cannot hire anyone for less than four hours.
  1. Tell your caterer that you have a budget and ask what they could provide for your budget.  Most caterers are happy to work with you to keep your costs down.
  1. Don’t overfeed. Again your caterer can help with this. Also, if you marry later in the day your guests will not want so much to eat in the evening. You could get away with a smaller buffet e.g. a cheeseboard, for your evening guests and your not so hungry earlier guests.
  1. When you choose a venue for your wedding reception it is often more expensive if you have to use their in-house caterer. Competition between caterers can invariably bring the costs down, so try to choose a venue that does not tie you to a particular caterer.
  1.  Why not try street food?  These are estimated to be typically 75% cheaper than the average typical caterer (according to feast-it.com. Prices tend to start at £7 per head and many can cater for weddings indoors as well as outside. The type of food the offer is varied:
  1.  If you have friends and family that are willing to help, it is possible to do it yourself.  You do not have to call the caterer!  This could be in the format of an afternoon tea – where a station is set up spread with homemade cakes and tea. Alternatively, you could set up a number of tables specialising in different foods, e.g. a salads table, a cold meat table, a hog roast, a cheese and biscuits table, a desserts table, etc.  A DIY hog roast from Don’t Tell Porky’s theflyingporky.co.uk costs approximately £280 for 50 guest portions or £340 for 100 guest portions)
  1. A mixture of DIY and street food. Here you could call upon friends and family to prepare some items, such as a cheese and biscuits table or a desserts table, and hire a street van for other items. The variations on this theme are many.
  1. If you have a catering college near you it is possible they may be able to help you reduce your catering costs – it is worth an enquiry.  They may be able to cater for your whole event, or they may be able to assist you with providing the staff for your event.
Wedding Savings: Don't call the caterer
  1. Wedding Cake.  These are traditionally expensive to buy, and in fairness it is labour intensive to make and the ingredients are expensive. It is usually recommended to set your budget at £500 for a three tier wedding cake.  There are however alternatives – from sponge cakes to cupcakes, although these can work out expensive too. The cheapest alternative would be to have a desserts table with cakes and desserts made by friends and family.

You don’t have to call the caterer for your wedding reception. Everyone wants their wedding day to be perfect – it is after all a celebration of two people’s love and commitment to one another. But no one wants to start their married life in debt. If money is no object, then the world is your oyster – but if you are watching the pennies then there may be a need to compromise.  Most people realise that weddings are expensive, and true friends and loving family members just want to make memories of joy and happiness for you both to remember.  If you can afford to, you’ll probably want to be pampered on your special day and you don’t want to be too tired or stressed to enjoy yourself – but there are ways you can cut the costs for your wedding catering. Also, you may want to provide ‘doggie bags’ for any food left over, or alternatively donate the waste food to those who are less fortunate (for more information click here link to previous blog 30/11/17)

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Warm Lemon Meringue Pot

Warm Lemon Meringue Pot

Method

Lemon Meringue Pot

Preheat your oven to Moderately hot.

Combine the cornflour and 110g of sugar in a small pan. Gradually add the lemon juice and water, stir until smooth. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. Reduce heat and simmer for one minute, and continue stirring. Remove from the heat and whisk in the lemon rind, egg yolks, butter and cream.

2 tbsp Cornflour
110g Caster Sugar
60ml Lemon Juice
125ml Water
1 tsp Grated Lemon Rind
2 Eggs (Separated)
30g Butter
2 tbsp Whipping Cream
75g Caster Sugar

Total Cost:  £1.75

Cost per Portion:  44p

Divide the mixture between 4 (125ml) ovenproof cups/dishes. Place on a baking tray.

Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and then gradually add the 75g of sugar to form the meringue.

Finally divide and spoon the meringue into the cups/dishes on top of the filling.

Place the cups into the oven for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.

Serve immediately.

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How to eat Eggs with a Clear Conscience

Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods you can buy and they are cheap.  Eggs are also one of nature’s most versatile ingredients – so many recipes contain them.  If you care about the welfare of hens, it’s okay to eat free range eggs, isn’t it?  The battery cage ban was introduced throughout Europe in January 2012, so why wouldn’t you want to eat eggs?

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Chicken Stir Fry

Stir Fry
This delicious stir-fry dish is not only healthy, it is quick and easy to prepare – and it’s cheap!  
 
 The tender and crisp vegetables retain more nutrients than if they had been boiled, and the fat content is extremely low as the dish only requires a small amount of oil. I used Frylight Olive Oil Spray, 190 ml cooking spray  as it only contains one calorie per spray.
 
Stir-frying is a Chinese cooking technique in which ingredients are fried in a small amount of very hot oil while being stirred in a wok
 
The technique originated in China and in recent centuries has spread into other parts of Asia and the West (www.en.m.wikipedia.org – stir frying).
 
The term “stir-fry” was introduced into the English language in Buwei Yang Cheo’s book’How to Cook and Eat in Chinese’ (1945) to describe the chao technique. Chao being the modern word for stir-fry.
Chicken Stir Fry

Method

Place the Linguini into a saucepan of boiling salted water and cook until tender.

Put the butter and olive oil into a wok over a moderate heat and allow to heat up.

Cut the chicken breast into 2cm dice and add to the wok. Allow the chicken to cook for about 10 minutes until there is no sign of pink flesh. Add the garlic, tomato puree and seasoning and cook for a further 5 minutes.

 

250g Linguini
500g Chicken Breast
25g Butter
4 tbsp Olive Oil
2 Chopped Cloves of Garlic
1 tbsp Tomato Puree
Seasoning
640g Stir Fry Vegetables
180g Plum & Hoisin Sauce

Serves 4

Total cost:  £7.28

Price per Portion:  £1.82

Drain the linguini and then add to the chicken,  stirring in to thoroughly cover the linguini in juices. 

Then add the stir fry vegetables, again thoroughly mixing all the ingredients and allow to cook for 5 minutes.

Finally, add the plum and hoisin sauce and mix well.

Serve immediately.

More recipes can be found by clicking here.

How can I blog about food and diet at the same time

Who wants to diet?  Who else has over indulged at Christmas and now wants to shed those excess pounds?  I know I need to – but I also know that I don’t want to!!!  It’s cold, the wind’s howling outside and I’ve just returned from walking my dogs – and all I really want is comfort food.

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Is Kindness Enough?

Kindness helped a lot of people this Christmas – from food banks; gifts of warm clothing and toiletries; to free meals, shelter and company. But what happens now?  The problem has not gone away.  Kindness will not eradicate poverty. Are we helping by providing temporary relief or are we distracting those responsible from finding a solution?  Would the government be more likely to focus on dealing with poverty if they weren’t being helped by charities?

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Delicious Christmas Cake

Delicious Christmas Cake
Delicious Christmas Cake Slice

Christmas Cake

If you are not keen on rich fruit cake, this recipe is ideal. Whilst filled with delicious ingredients it is not iced, it's lighter, more moist and costs less.

Method

Line a 20cm round false-bottomed cake tin.

Pre-heat your oven to
150 degrees C.

Cream the butter or margarine with the caster sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.

Beat in the golden syrup and gradually add the eggs, one at a time, beating all the time.

Stir in the lemon and orange rinds.

Fold in the flour, salt and milk, then add the sultanas, apricots and cherries.

(For the best dispersement of ingredients it is a good idea to snip the apricots into smaller pieces and cut the cherries in half)

November 1979

Website 

Ingredients

225g Butter or Margarine
125g caster Sugar
2 tbsp Golden Syrup
4 Large Eggs
Finely grated rind of 2 Lemons
Finely grated rind of 2 Oranges
300g Self Raising Flour
Pinch of salt
1-2 tbsp Milk
400g Sultanas
100g Dried Apricots
100g Glace Cherries

Recipe Cost:   £6.08

Regular Christmas Cake retail:  £10

You save approximately £4 

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, raising the mixture around the outside to produce a slight hollow in the middle. This will help to make sure your cake becomes level as it bakes.

Place a double sheet of greaseproof paper to act as a lid, on top of the cake before you put it into the oven.

Cook on the middle shelf of the oven for 1 hour.Click here forThen reduce the temperature of the oven to 130 degrees C and bake for a further 1.5 – 2 hours.

To test if your cake is fully cooked, poke a pointed knife into the centre, if it comes out clean, remove from the oven and place on a wired tray to cool. If not, give the cake extra time (Check every 10 mins) and test again.

(Do not try to remove the paper linings from the cake until it is perfectly cool)

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Christmas – A time for laughing and sharing

Christmas will soon be upon us. Amidst the festive build up and associated stresses and financial concerns, I thought I’d share with you some amusing experiences and things that make me laugh.  I love Christmas. For me, it’s all about being with family and friends; it’s a time to forget (for a short period) the problems our world is facing and to simply enjoy being alive.  I will reflect upon past Christmases: happy times spent with my parents (now deceased), the beaming smiles on my children’s faces following Santa’s visit, and will look forward to the different kind of magic that Christmas brings now.

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