Thursday, 1 August 2013

Back in the game!

When we sent out an invitation for bookings to the special people on our secret list, one of our guests (you know who you are :) ) said something along the lines of 'yippie so good to have you back in the game'. Seriously I didn't think people have noticed we have been a bit quiet this year ( I had a baby girl, Kat changed jobs, generally time just slipping away faster than you can say cheese). We have the odd enquiry when the next dinners will be when we bumped into some of our guests on the street but we thought they were just being polite! So when the invitations were sent out, the seats were pretty much snapped up. I am proud to say we are back and still love doing it. Since our start up, there are a lot of 'supper clubs' popping up in trendy Bath but we are still the first and stayed true to the idea of supper clubs. Still in the living room and still serving up really good food along with good company.

So here was the menu we served up to our honoured guests 2 weeks ago!

They started off with atCatharines signature pink boozy lemonade along with walnut and wild rocket crostini, white butterbean crostini and garlic marinated carrots.

Mummy Hulf's chilled cucumber soup
Pan fried trout,  crushed new potatoes, chorizo, peas and broad bean fricassee

Broad bean and peas risotto, shaved asparagus and deep fried duck egg (V)
Vodka watermelon granita
Kat's signature English strawberries pavlova, vanilla cream

Thank you for your continuous support and we hope to continue meeting many many interesting people in not too distant future. If you would like to be included in the secret list, please register your interest  :) xx

Monday, 10 June 2013

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Day in Bath

As I am sitting here fretting about what I have forgotten to pack for our 1 week away in Portugal, I suddenly remembered that I haven't yet posted the blog about the demonstration that I did for the Jamie Oliver's food revolution day in Bath. I watched the programme not long ago and remembered how horrified I was that the children in America did not know what chips are made of. I also remembered that they showed a town in Italy where McDonalds closed down as there weren't enough business as a comparison! Children as well as adults deserve to eat well and sometimes it just takes a little effort and love to produce something simple and nutritious. You are what you eat! My mother always said it doesn't matter if we do not have new clothes, shoes or toys but in our house, the food is of top quality and the best we can afford! I live by that example. So when Zita from Zest Bootcamp contacted me to see if I am interested to do an educational demonstration on food, I jumped at the chance. I decided to do a demonstration on stir fry. One wok wonder I call it as it is easy, delicious and super quick. I figured in this day in age where people lead such busy lives that stir fry are appropriate for simply home cooked meals.

My ever so supportive husband took half a day off to take care of Alexa while I prepared for the demonstration. I was delighted to meet some fantastic talented people there such as Bini from Sweet Cumin, Noya from Noya's Kitchen and Simi from Simi's Kitchen.

I set up stall and had a few people coming round to taste the noodles I made but my favourite part of the day was a little girl who seem to be interested in making the noodles. So we went through some ingredients together where she knew 80% of them, gave her a chef's hat and she helped me cook some noodles. Her mother was dead proud as was I. That's how it should be, children should  get involved in cooking as part of their education. There are many wonderful things in life and food is a big part of it. My motto in life is we live to eat and not the other way round.

Here is a stir fry recipe I was giving out at the demo. So go on, if you are cooking this week make it this one!

Easy Stir Fried Noodles

Stir fries are easy and convenient when you have a busy household; they make a balanced and healthy meal too.
Recipe and amounts can be adapted to individual preference.

Ingredients - Stir Fried Noodles (Enough for 2 greedy adults or 2 sensible adults and 1 child)

2 cloves of garlic chopped finely
½ red pepper sliced
½ yellow pepper sliced
1 small onion sliced
Leftover cooked meat (chicken, pork, beef, lamb)
Bunch of asparagus, sliced diagonally
A bag of beansprouts
1 bag of yellow noodles
2-3 tablespoons of oyster sauce
White or black pepper
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
A dash of water

Heat wok or frying pan and add oil. Wait for the oil to heat up and start smoking before adding garlic, onions and peppers. You want to stir quickly as you want to achieve a charred texture on the peppers & onions but not burnt. Stir fry for a couple of minutes or until they start to soften. Add meat, noodles, oyster sauce and a dash of water. Stir well to incorporate the sauce in the mix. Lastly add asparagus and the whole bag of beansprouts. You can add the beansprouts bit by bit but you have to work quickly as you do not want to overcook them. Cook until the beansprouts just begin to wilt and still maintain a crunch. Stir well to incorporate all ingredients, taste and add more oyster sauce if necessary.

Tips & variations

  • ·       Use different noodles i.e. rice vermicelli, flat rice noodles, udon noodles.
  • ·       For a vegetarian alternative, substitute the meat with tofu and vegetarian oyster sauce.
  • ·       Substitute with rice. Either use jasmine rice or microwave varieties for quick fixes.
  • ·       Add different sauces i.e. satay, sweet chilli, black bean etc.
  • ·       Use the recipe above which is suitable for children then add chilli (or other sauces) for a more adult taste.
  • ·       Spice it up with a dash of chilli sauce after cooking.
  • ·       Use different vegetables as this gives the stir fry different texture and colour. For an even more convenient stir fry you can buy a bag of mixed vegetables.
  • ·       Add eggs to make it a more protein packed meal. Beat eggs, add a dash of sugar, soya sauce and sesame oil. Scramble them and make sure they are cooked well. Set aside and add to the noodles or rice later
  • ·       It’s important to use garlic as it really lifts the dish (don’t be shy). You can also add ginger or chillies.  

Happy Cooking and Happy Eating!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

A Grey and Lime Green Private Tea Party

Another busy week completed and I am so knackered but in a good way. I have been super busy these last two weeks that I have not taken advantage of Alexa's nap time which extended from 20 mins to almost two hours for the past 2 weeks! I know... I know it won't last but I have been so busy that I hardly have any time to be amazed let alone enjoy the possible 'me' time! The previous week to last I was preparing for Bath Food Revolution cooking demo which I thoroughly enjoyed by the way (I will do a blog on it soon) and then last week I was busy baking and cooking in preparation for one of my good friend's hen do. She held it privately atCatharines of course (Bath's best private afternoon tea, ahem ahem ;) ) I was cooking in pjs and at one stage, in 2 hours I managed to make 36 individual brown sugar meringues, 1 kg of poached rhubarb, 24 large and small pistachio and raspberry financiers, made the guest bedroom up, do all the washing up, made Alexa's lunch, got myself ready and put some slap on so that I won't look too much of a tramp!! So on a rainy afternoon like today and also the day that my daughter decided to nap for 3 1/2 hours, I sat on the sofa like a slob staring into space and enjoyed the sound of droplets of rain lashing on the window above and did absolutely sod all! I must say that it is truly blissful.

The pictures of the tea party were absolutely fabulous and since I sat on my arse this morning without posting them, it is only fair to share them now. Our friend Corinne loves the grey and lime green combo so Kat and I incorporated these colours to make the tea party all the more special for her.

Tea Party Menu

Kat's fabulous chocolate fudge cake with grey and lime green icing
Viennese whirls
Pistachio and raspberry financiers
Poached rhubarb and brown sugar mess
Devonshire scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam
Cat's signature king rib and prawns siu mai
Spanish Burford Brown scotch eggs
Mini poached salmon and asparagus tartlets & mushroom tartlets
Smoked mackerel sandwiches with beetroot bread
Cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Creme caramel obsession

I have been very busy. May seemed to fly by with our private hen do and running around town to get to Alexa's classes. We started baby sensory and a week doesn't seem to be enough anymore. I used to dread not knowing what to do with a newborn baby without going to work, now I am busier than ever! We have been eating out of the freezer (all hail the freezer) and getting takeaways as I have also started to wean Alexa. That girl is an eating machine. I am really pleased that she seems to be very interested in food and I enjoy making her different concoctions. At one point she was eating carrots and prunes and I was impressed she finished it. We have moved on from that now. Today she had steamed salmon, peas and congee (rice porridge flavoured with stock and cooked until the rice breaks down). Alexa has a 2 course meal every lunch and dinner so you can imagine that's keeping me busy. Armed with a blender, fresh fruit and vegetables and an ice cube tray I spent the last two weeks creating frozen, balanced meals. I now have 3 separate groups of food which consist of the carbs, the veg and the fruit. Yes I have been busy! So hubby and I decided to go on a date last Friday for sushi and Iron Man 3 and I must say it didn't feel strange at all. In fact it felt really nice to know that our little girl was sleeping soundly and in safe hands of our very kind friend Nicola who offered to babysit.

But the weekend didn't stop there.  We decided to cook a 3 course meal for our friend Corinne's birthday. She has given me some lovely cookbooks which I promised to cook from. I also thought that given my current creme caramel obsession, I could use this opportunity to perfect it. Ever since I tasted the creme caramel in Cote, I am hooked. I am now obsessed in making the perfect one. I have tried making it with just milk and half milk, half cream. They are just not quite perfect yet. I am embarking on making them with condensed milk next and less cream. To be continued...

So on the weekend we went a bit wild on the food side of things after 2 weeks of eating out of the freezer starting with breakfast at Bill's. I had a bubble and squeak with ham and eggs with hollandaise sauce and Andrew had eggs benedict. Thoroughly recommended by the way. Later that afternoon not long after breakfast, we had the following washed down with chilled Prosecco.

Sweet potato gnocchi with homegrown sage and brown butter

Roast local pork, crackling, stir fry pak choi, spinach and spring onions, roasted root vegetable mash with garlic and chillies emulsion

Nearly perfect creme caramel with pouring cream

Alexa trying my creme caramel

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Afternoon Tea fit for a Queen!.....and our Vegan, Vegetarian and Gluten Free guests.....

On Saturday afternoon, the house was primped, primed and ready, tables laid, tea pots and decadent tea cups arranged as atCatharines opened its doors to a lovely, lovely group of ladies for a private Hen Party coupled with a brilliant craft session run by the fantastic Rebecca who runs Annanook.

It wasn’t the first Hen Party to grace our doorstep, and it certainly won’t be the last! It was, however, the first time we had been faced with Vegan and Gluten Free guests (Vegetarians are old news by now!) Cat has said before that there are two musts’ for an Afternoon Tea Party... Scones and Finger Sandwiches, so, after a mild panic involving questions along the lines of ......“Scones and clotted cream...How do we make that Vegan?”, and “If you’re Gluten Free you can’t have ‘normal’ sandwiches can you?”....  The real creativity started putting a menu together that would cater to all; Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free and ‘they’re pretty much fine with everything’  

Anything non-cake-ie we knew we could provide for all tastes and requirements. It was the fail safe sponges, scones and cakes that were out the window, so it was with a little trepidation we delved into the world of Vegan and Gluten Free Baking (We knew Mary Berry wasn’t going to be able to help us out this time!)

It was with much interest that we found some really fantastic websites with great, interesting recipe ideas, and it was with some surprise that with a little tweaking we found that the recipes not only looked great, but tasted delicious! So with our research done we put together what we thought (and still think) is a pretty pukker menu...

Our ‘out of the box’ menu with more than something for everyone
Vietnamese Spring Rolls  - Some Tofu and some Chicken
Cucumber, Smoked Mackerel Pate and Humous and Roasted Pepper Sandwiches 
Red Onion and Goats Cheese Tartlets
Salmon and Leek Tartlets
Vegan Lemon Drizzle Cake 
Flourless Chocolate Cake   
Scones, Clotted Cream and Strawberry Jam
Vegan Chocolate Fountain with Fruit Dipping Skewers  
Sago Pudding  with Palm Sugar and Coconut Milk 
A Selection of Tea and Coffee

In addition to the tea party itself, these lovely ladies wanted to do something a little bit creative, so we had roped in Rebecca to provide a little bit of creative know how, and that she did!
Sitting in the glorious Bath sunshine on Saturday afternoon Rebecca imparted her wisdom, teaching the party how to make amazing fabric flowers..... I think we were pretty grateful that they had been allowed to eat before the flower making began as there wasn't much that could tear them away after they knew what they were doing!

It turns out, (as much to my surprise as anyone’s) catering to a vegan guest, or two in this instance and trying to create Afternoon Tea options without using wheat is not nearly as daunting as one might expect, you have to think outside the box a little bit and you have to do a little research, but other than that it’s an absolute delight when you get an email announcing that the Vegan Lemon Cake you had been so worried about was...and i quote... “The nicest vegan cake I’ve ever had!”  and “I’m planning on attempting the Sago Pudding myself soon, it was great (and delicious!)” You know, really, there was no need to worry!

Ok, so not everything on the menu was suitable for all of the guests to eat, but there was certainly more than enough to go around... If anyone needs to attempt something similar here is what you can serve to each dietary group:

Gluten Free:

·         Vietnamese Spring Rolls  - (Some Tofu and some Chicken), Cucumber, Smoked Mackerel Pate, Humous and Roasted Pepper Sandwiches (All can be made with Gluten Free Bread), Flourless Chocolate Cake, Vegan Chocolate Fountain with Fruit Dipping Skewers, Coconut and Sago Pudding  with Palm Sugar and Coconut Milk  


·         Vietnamese Tofu Spring Rolls, Cucumber sandwiches, Humous & Roasted Pepper Sandwiches (With Vegan butter substitute),  Vegan Lemon Drizzle Cake, Vegan Chocolate Fountain with Fruit Dipping Skewers, Sago Pudding  with Palm Sugar and Coconut Milk  


·         Vietnamese Tofu Spring Rolls, Cucumber sandwiches, Humous and Roasted Pepper Sandwiches , Red Onion and Goats Cheese tartlets, Scones, Clotted Cream and Strawberry Jam, Flourless Chocolate Cake, Vegan Lemon Drizzle Cake, Vegan Chocolate Fountain with Fruit Dipping Skewers, Sago Pudding  with Palm Sugar and Coconut Milk  

Everything would be suitable for non vegetarian, vegan and gluten free guests:

·         Vietnamese Spring Rolls  with Tofu and  Chicken, Cucumber, Smoked Mackerel Pate and Humus and Roasted Pepper Sandwiches, Red Onion and Goats Cheese  and Salmon and Leek Tartlets, Vegan Lemon Drizzle Cake, Flourless Chocolate Cake, Scones, Clotted Cream and Strawberry Jam, Vegan Chocolate Fountain with Fruit Dipping Skewers, Sago Pudding  with Palm Sugar and Coconut Milk
Thank you ladies it was an absolute pleasure!

xx Cat & Kat

Monday, 29 April 2013

Food diary w/c 22nd April

The sun is shining and the pressure of looking good in the summer is mounting. We have just booked our flights to Portugal and I can't wait. The most exciting bit now is buying Alexa's summer wardrobe, oh how my life has changed! Long gone are the times where I thought about my own wardrobe! Still I need to go on a diet so that Alexa doesn't have a hippo for a mum! I didn't think I was doing badly until I saw a mum at the rugby with a newborn on Baby Bjorn with two toddlers in tow, 4 inch heels and skinny jeans! Yes...that's when I thought my nutella and tiramisu diet has to stop!

We are going to be good starting this week so last week's menu was a bit of a send off.

Monday - Chicken Cacciatore
Tuesday - Stir fried beef rice noodles (ho fun)
Wednesday - Homemade gnocchi with watercress and broccoli sauce
Thursday - Fish soup, garlic bread
Friday - Steam silken tofu with braised chicken and mushroom sauce

Chicken Cacciatore

Stir fried beef rice noodles (ho fun)

Homemade gnocchi with watercress and broccoli sauce

Steam silken tofu with braised chicken and mushroom sauce

I didn't include any recipes in this post so that it is not too cumbersome to read. But if you are interested in cooking any of the dishes, please contact me and I'll be more than happy to give it to you. 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Some like it hot...

After a very busy long weekend in Cornwall, the subsequent week wasn't much calmer. I thought I would start the rest of my week by weaning my daughter. I went in without much preparation to be honest. I had a spoon that's about it! It was a freebie from those marketing ploys by Hipp Organic. Sneaky buggers but it came in handy until I got myself some fancy-pants heat sensitive Tommee Tippee spoons. Alexa didn't care what spoons she used as she gobbled up whatever concoction I served her. Thank goodness for those freezer meals (hence no food diary last week!) I so religiously stored over the months as they came in handy. We ate simply last week but that didn't last long. Weekend came and I thought enough is enough with the freezer food. So after a sunny afternoon at the rugby my husband suggested we cook a lamb curry! Most people will go with BBQ or salads given it was quite hot on Saturday but no, we want to spice it up.

We found this recipe online (all hail the internet) and the reason we decided to try it is the amount of spices the recipe used, shit loads! We did cut back on the chillies a bit and I am so glad we did as the finished product was delicious and the heat builds and builds. In short, it is a blow your head off curry but it is well spiced, creamy and you can taste the meat.

Adapted from

For Marinate:
Lamb: 700g
Turmeric Powder : 1/4 tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 2 tsp or to your spice level
Coriander Powder : 2 tsp
Salt to taste

For Gravy :
Shallots /Small Red Onions : 1/4 cup (finely,sliced)
Dried Whole Red Chillies : 2-3 Broken into two pieces
Mustard Seeds : 1 tsp
Curry Leaves : few
Yellow Chillies : 4 - 6 or to your spice level (slit, lengthwise), I used the chillies I got from Wiltshire Chilli Farm. Spicy with fruity note, absolute delicious
Onion : 1 large (finely, sliced)
Tomatoes : 6 (medium, sliced), I used cherry as I had them in the fridge
Ginger : 1 tbsp (chopped)
Garlic : 1 tbsp (chopped)
Thin coconut milk: 1 tin
Thick Coconut milk: 1 tin
Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder : 2 tsp
Red chilli powder : 1 tsp
Garam masala powder : 3 tsp
3 - 4 large new potatoes, cut into cubes

Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and when it starts to splutter, add sliced shallots, curry leaves, dried red chillies, chopped ginger, garlic and saute for couple of minutes. Add chopped onion, chillies, saute till onions turn translucent and light brown. Add the marinated lamb pieces and potatoes, salt to taste and cook over low heat for 20 minutes.
Mix turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder and garam masala into some of the coconut milk and mix well. Pour in spiced coconut milk into lamb and adjust the salt. Lower heat and simmer gently till lamb is cooked and gravy has thickened, about 30 minutes. Pour in the coconut cream and stir gently and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve with plain or turmeric rice.

Colourful ingredients 

Served with cucumber raita made with sour cream and tumeric rice

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Food diary w/c 8th April

Busy busy busy this week. I havent stopped and I am heading towards a busy weekend too. We are off to Cornwall where Kat's mum has a house by the beach and I can't wait. So with a busy week ahead, this week's menu has to be simple, quick and delicious! Somehow I miscounted the week and only bought enough ingredients for the first three days, baby brain still! So I resort to my trustworthy freezer, so Thursday and Friday meals are freezer meals so I won't include them in this week's post. Have you ever been to the supermarket and seen something and thought 'ooh that would be good to have in the freezer' and then never use it. I have just visited the freezer and if I really want to, I can live the whole of next week out of my freezer. It ain't going to happen though :)

Monday - Asian steam salmon with ginger and soy, stir fried baby gem lettuce
Tuesday - Venison stroganoff with wild and chestnut mushrooms, brown rice
Wednesday - Pork udon noodles in XO sauce
Thursday - Fish soup, garlic bread
Friday - Meatballs melt


Asian steam salmon with ginger and soy, stir fried baby gem lettuce

I make this dish a lot. It is easy and quick as it is done in the microwave. Normally you use baby gem in salad but stir frying them is delicious as it is crunchy, juicy and holds the sauce really well. The other lettuce you can use are iceberg or romaine. My mum has always done lettuce this way at home and it is really refreshing. If you have a metal wok, they taste even better as it gives it a smoky taste when you get the wok very hot.

2 salmon fillets
A small knob of ginger, thinly julienned
1 spring onions thinly julienned
a handful of roughly chopped coriander
Sauce - Mix 2 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and a dash of Shaoshing wine
2 tablespoon of vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil

Put the fillets in a microwavable dish, sprinkle with ginger and cover with clingfilm. Put in the microwave for 1 minute, then pour in the sauce and put the spring onions and coriander on top. Don't worry that it covers the fish. Cover and cook for another 2 minutes or until your salmon is just cooked. Don't nuke it! In a pan, heat the oils until it is smoking, pour onto the fish (it will sizzle). Serve hot with rice.

With the vegetables, heat oil and add chopped 2 cloves of garlic, add the lettuce, about a tablespoon of oyster sauce, a dash of water and stir fry till the lettuce just goes limp on the edges. They will still be crunchy. Don't over cook.


Venison stroganoff with wild and chestnut mushrooms, brown rice

Hmmm not the best presentation in the world, rather brown looking I must admit! But I assure you that it is delicious. Perfect for cold rainy evenings.

1 pack of diced venison (I got mine from Morrisons) think its about 250g
1 pack of chestnut mushrooms
A handful of dry wild mushrooms soaked in a cup of hot water
1 onion sliced
1 tablespoon of redcurrant jelly
1 tsp of paprika + some for the flour mixture
flour to coat the meat
salt and pepper
sour cream

First, season some flour with salt, pepper and paprika. Coat the meat in the mixture and dust off excess flour. Heat some oil in the pan and brown the meat. Once browned take the meat out and fry the onions until soft. Some of the flour will stick to the pan, don't worry about this. It will come off and thicken the sauce nicely after. Add mushrooms and fry till slightly soften, tip in the meat, the wild mushrooms and the water it was soaking in. Add more water if it is too dry, just enough to cover the meat, paprika, redcurrant jelly and season well with salt and pepper. Simmer on low heat for 1/2 hour - 40 minutes till meat is tender. Add sour cream right before serving and adjust seasoning if necessary. You can serve it with rice or pasta.


Pork udon noodles in XO sauce

XO sauce is one of the most expensive sauce to make as its main ingredient is scallops. If you go to a Chinese restaurant, they have various dishes made with this particular sauce. Developed in the 1980s in Hong Kong for Cantonese cuisine, it is made of roughly chopped dried seafoods, including scallops, dried fish and shrimp, and subsequently cooked with chili peppers, onions, and garlic. Spring Moon, the Peninsula Hong Kong's Chinese restaurant is often credited with the invention of XO sauce, although others claim the sauce's origin in the urban area of Kowloon.

Thankfully in the world of consumerism, we do not have to make this sauce, it comes in a jar and you can buy it in any good Chinese supermarket. Not sure how much scallop is in it but it tastes good. Same principle of oyster sauce, I suppose!
My favourite dish from the Watersky restaurant in Bristol is its fried seafood udon in XO sauce. The sauce is pungent, slightly sweet and delicately spicy which goes really well with seafood. Unfortunately I didn't have any seafood so I decided to try it with pork instead.

150g pork loin sliced thinly, marinated in a dash of soy & cornflour at room temperature
1 onion sliced
1 pepper sliced
A handful of mangetout and asparagus
2 packs of Udon noodles
Dash of water
2 tablepsoon on XO sauce
1 tablespoon of Gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) - optional. This is to add spiciness and colour.

Heat oil in pan and fry the onions and peppers on a high heat so that it is slightly charred. You can achieve this best in an iron wok to give it a smoky taste. If not a frying pan is fine. Add pork and cook for a further 2 minutes. Tip in the noodles. The noodles will have a stiff texture when they come out of a packet so you need to add a dash of water to soften it. Add the vegetables, XO sauce and gochujang. Fry until well incorporated. Make sure you have your wok on high heat and work fast. The XO sauce is quite salty so I didn't add any other seasoning but you can always add some seasoning if necessary.

Happy Cooking x