BE-logo

01453 544225

info@bigeventcatering.co.uk

Quince Time!

Question: So, what do you get if you cross a keen chef with a quince tree groaning with fruit?

Answer: About 3 million jars of quince jelly!

Sourcing our food locally is one of our priorities at Big Event Catering – and no-one is more excited about turning homegrown produce in to gourmet treats than us. 

Now is the time to preserve the bounties of the autumn harvest and we are lucky enough to have a wonderful neighbour called Jo with an equally wonderful orchard. This year the quince tree was so laden the branches were bending!  You’ve never seen so many. So we’ve done our bit to get through some of the harvest  – membrillo (quince cheese) and quince jelly galore. What could be better than some homemade jars of deliciously tart and sweet jelly slathered over sheep cheese, or stuffed in to a warm croissant?

For a quirky twist I flavour my quince jelly with lemon scented pelargonium leaves which I whip out before jarring.

Quince jelly flavoured with lemon scented pelargonium leaves

Quince jelly flavoured with lemon scented pelargonium leaves

Here’s our recipe for membrillo – awesome with cheese and cold meats, lasts really well for a year and gets better and better as it ages.

This year's membrillo - turned out nicely

This year’s membrillo – turned out nicely

Wash 2 kgs of quince.  Peel and core – weigh the remaining flesh and put to one side.

Put the peel and core in a pan, with 300 ml of water  – cover and simmer on low for an hour.   Blitz the mush lightly with hand blender and pass through a sieve.

Place the quince flesh, the pulp you’ve just sieved,  juice of 1 lemon and another 300 ml of water into a thicK bottomed pan and simmer for one hour.  Blitz it with a hand whisk.  Now add the sugar – same weight as the quince flesh.  Cook the mix slowly for another 2 hours, stirring regularly so it doesn’t catch.  It’s ready when it’s a deep rose colour and you can drag a spoon through it leaving a definite wake.

Lightly grease a couple of baking trays and line with parchment.  Pour the mix in – about an inch thick.   Leave overnight to set.  Turn the membrillo out onto a large piece of clean muslin,  wrap several times.  Then wrap this in plenty of newspaper.  This all helps to suck out the remaining moisture.  Leave somewhere cool and dry for at least a month before tucking in at will!

Shirin Kiral

Tomatoes galore

Fresh, organic food is at the forefront of what we do here at Big Event Catering so we’re pretty proud of the fact that we are able to grow some of our own fruit and veg. Often the food we serve has been plucked from the ground just a matter of hours before it’s served up on our plates. Fresh, full of flavour, nutritious and smelling delicious! And at this time of year it’s all about tomatoes. Lovely, lovely tomatoes!

The polytunnel is bursting with them at the moment,  so as well as cooking at events we’re also pickling, chopping, roasting and potting our home grown produce. This week alone we’ve made batches of tomato and chilli jam, oven dried tomatoes preserved in olive oil, passata to fill the freezer and tomato ketchup. If you’d like to have a go at growing some interesting varieties of tomatoes and making good stuff with them then read on…

Straight out of the ground on to plates or into jars!

Straight out of the ground on to plates or into jars!

Heritage tomato with bufallo mozarella - taster course

Heritage tomato with buffalo mozzarella and our own raspberry vinaigrette – taster menu course

Growing your own

There’s something deeply satisfying about being able to eat food you’ve grown yourself. Walking smugly through endless vines of tomatoes has become one of my favourite past times. I try not to bang on about it to everyone, but it’s pretty difficult. Oh, did I mention they’re prize winning tomatoes? If not, you’re the last to hear.

Sorry. It’s a habit now.

Now, despite how proud I am of our crop it’s actually very easy to grow tomatoes. We like growing different varieties and shy away from the usual English varieties like Moneymaker or Alicante.  Plus, we have to grow with the end product in mind – so big meaty varieties like Marmande, Coeur de Boeuf and Black Krim for passata, ketchup and salads and cherry varieties for drying and tomato and chilli jam.  The best thing to do when you come across a good fresh tomato, wherever you are in the world, is to save some seed.  Just rinse them and put on a plate – they dry very quickly.

Not all varieties work in the UK.  Some succumb too easily to blight, some just can’t get to grips with our climate but many do very very well.  And it’s fun!  Some of my most successful large salad tomatoes are now in their eighth generation from seed that originally came from a friend’s small farm just outside Ankara in central Turkey. They are now well and truly acclimatised to the very different growing conditions here and give us a spectacular crop of huge hand-sized tomatoes through the growing season. We also plant plenty of varieties of basil and hot chillis alongside the tomatoes to use in all our recipes.

Eighth generation of a tomato that started out at a friend's mum's garden just outside Ankara, Turkey

Eighth generation of a tomato that started out at a friend’s mum’s garden just outside Ankara, Turkey

Tips for growing

  • Sow your seeds end of February – either in trays or individual pots (saves one of the transplant sessions)
  • Use a good quality seed compost
  • Keep seedlings warm and moist and somewhere where there’s plenty of light
  • When transplanting either from seed tray into individual pots for growing on or from pot to earth / grow bag / big pot then remember to plant the seedling deep enough so soil reaches the first set of baby leaves (these fall off anyway).
  • You need to know whether your varieties are cordon or bush – you grow and care for the 2  types very differently.
  • Visit and inspect everyday, water everyday, feed regularly and enjoy the results.  Save seed for the following year.
  • For more detail on how to grow your own visit the Royal Horticultural Society website.  Just go for it, you’ll learn as you go!

And for a really good selection of heritage seeds go to Thomas Etty’s website

Cordon tomatoes - cherry variety

Cordon tomatoes – cherry variety

Good recipes for tomatoes

Passata – nothing better than your own tomato sauce

One of the easiest things to make!  Use ripe tomatoes.  Sweat off some onions in a big pan, add chopped chillies if you fancy.  Roughly chop a load of tomatoes and add to the pan.  Cover the pan, heat until the tomatoes start to lose their form and go squishy.  Remove lid,  simmer till they’ve reduced by a third and use a hand blender to break them down completely .  Pass the lot through a sieve, return to a clean pan and reduce until you’ve got the sauce to the consistency you want.  You can season at this stage or when making something later on.  Lasts for about a week in the fridge and freezes v well in jars or plastic tubs.

Oven dried cherry tomatoes – brilliant in all kinds of salads, in pasta dishes and as a garnish.

Turn the oven on to 70 degrees centigrade.  Line a load of baking trays with parchment paper or foil – both work.  Halve your cherry tomatoes and place in rows on the baking trays, cut side up.  Close the oven door but stick a wooden spoon so it doesn’t shut completely.  They normally take a couple of hours maybe longer  – you want them completely moisture free but not scorched!  Remove from oven and cool completely before stuffing them into jars and completely covering with olive oil.  They last really, really well so long as they’re fully covered in good oil.

Tomato produce edit

Tomato and chilli jam – this goes well with absolutely everything!  I make ours relatively hot and sweet – you can fiddle around with the recipe to increase / decrease heat and flavours:

Ingredients:

1kg ripe tomatoes (preferably cherry)

8 cloves of garlic

8 really hot chillies – decent size

about an inch square of ginger

60 ml fish sauce

600 g sugar – any is fine but caster best

200 ml red wine vinegar.

Method:

Rough chop the garlic and chillies.  Peel and finely chop the ginger.  Add these and half the tomatoes and fish sauce into a blender.  Blend thoroughly.  Transfer to a large pan.  Add vinegar and sugar.  Slowly heat making sure all the sugar dissolves before boiling (hence why caster is best).  Chop the rest of the tomatoes – if using cherries halve them.  Add these to the boiling mixture, bring back up to the boil and simmer until it reaches a good jam consistency.  Stir occasionally to start with, more often as time goes on.  If you leave for too long it catches.   Remove from heat, let the jam stand for about half an hour and then put into sterilised jars.

Get in touch with us by Facebook or email if you have any questions.

Happy growing and happy eating!

 

 

 

 

Shirin Kiral

Our Fancy New Site

It’s a proud, proud day in the Big Event Catering office. A shiny, new website and we can begin shouting about it!

If any of you have ever been in the position of creating your own site you’ll know what we mean when we say a ‘labour of love’. It’s a bit of a slog and means delving in to the very core of your company but when something you’re proud of pops out at the other end then it is well worth the effort.

Big-Event-Catering-Snapshot

We hope you like the all new ‘Big Event Catering’ website as much as we do. We’re entering a new phase of the business, which means as well as continuing with our excellent service and food (which comes as standard, naturally) we have decided to shout about ourselves that little bit more. Our core values are still the same. We’re still offering exceptional catering and will always make sure we exceed our customers expectations. The only difference is that more people will know about it.

The process of building a new site taught us a lot about our business. Sifting through the huge amount of positive feedback from our many happy clients made us so proud of how far the business has come. It was like looking back through old family photos, remembering the happy memories that we’d helped to create. From weddings to corporate gigs, we’ve had a blast so far!

After several days in the kitchen, with our top chefs cooking up a storm, we now have a huge album of quality food photos to choose from. Do you like the beet-cured salmon with edible flowers on our home-page slide show? How about the fresh crab and micro-leaf salad? We certainly did. Surely the best perk of doing food photography is the fact you can eat it all afterwards?

Knocked up by our top chef Charlie Butler

Of course, we couldn’t write a new post without thanking our web designer Ben Tiller. A patient and talented chap who we are thrilled to work with. Having worked for several high profile companies we were grateful for his experience throughout the process. You can check out more of his portfolio right here.

So please take this new website for a spin and let us know your thoughts. You can keep up to date with our latest events and behind the scenes photos on our social media sites as well.

Follow us on facebook, twitter, instagram and flickr.

Jemma Harrison