All posts by Restaurant Passion

How To Pull Off A Professional Dinner Party

Hosting a dinner party and impressing your friends with your culinary skills might not be as difficult as you expect. It really rests a lot less than most people realise on your actual cooking ability, and a lot more on careful planning and common sense.

Here are our top tips for producing restaurant-quality food for your friends and family at home, and most importantly, successfully hosting an event that lives up to the food.

1) Don’t go crazy creatively

It’s easy to be tempted into going all-out on your first attempt and creating something completely original. Even if you follow an exact recipe, never cook anything for the first time for a group of guests. Practice in advance and cook something you know well.

2) Pick a theme

To help you stay on track and pull in all the different elements of hosting your party, a theme is always a great idea. This also adds an element of cohesion with the food, and it’s likely that a range of courses from the same cookbook will actually go well together. Mixing different exotic influences can be confusing and often less enjoyable.

3) Make sure everyone can eat your food

Perhaps this seems obvious, but you might not always realise someone you’re inviting has an allergy or intolerance to a certain kind of food. They might just really hate one of your favourite ingredients. You should make sure there are no unpleasant shocks for your guests on the night by checking beforehand.

4) Carefully plan your time-saving

You will need to spend a reasonable amount of time preparing your food, and then you need to know how long each course needs to be cooked for. Meanwhile, your guests will need entertaining and will expect a sensible amount of time between courses – a chance to relax, but not a long wait. This is too much to leave to chance, so make a logical plan first.

5) Use seasonal ingredients

To save money in the supermarket and help you create the appropriate atmosphere at your dinner party, opt for traditional winter meals during the colder months and save the summer menu for when it’s actually warm.

6) Do as much as possible yourself, but in advanced

Your guests will be able to tell if you’re claiming to have made something from scratch when it’s clearly been bought in a shop. However, you don’t need to slave in the kitchen all day making every single thing you plan to serve. Using a combination of shop-bought essentials and pre-making as many elements as you can, it’s possible to cut the time you spend in the kitchen right down.

7) Presentation is everything

The thing that could really set your food apart and take it from home cooking to a professional dinner party standard is your presentation. Here’s your chance to work on recreating the little flairs you’ve picked up from fancy restaurants and recipe books. Adding a splash of a different colour can make a huge difference, as can any small and attractive garnish as long as it isn’t completely mismatched.

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Cocktails

5 Food & Cocktail Pairings to Try at Home

When you head to your favourite restaurant for your favourite food, often there’s only one thing that can improve the experience – a fantastic drink to go alongside it. Restaurants often create perfect pairings of cocktails and meals that match up deliciously, but if you’re cooking from home there’s no reason you can’t take the same inspiration. If you need to stock up your bar first, the best thing to do is usually to order alcohol online from specialist suppliers before you start cooking. Here are five fabulous combinations to try.

chocolate and cranberry torte1) Chocolate & Berry Dessert + Chambord Sour

A traditional seasonal dessert is the classic combination of chocolate and winter berries. For example, a chocolate and cranberry torte would make a great alternative Christmas treat, or even a classic Black Forest Gateau could do the trick. For the perfect accompanying drink, shake whiskey, egg white, sugar and lime juice with ice before straining and adding a dash of Chambord raspberry liqueur.

Pinapple Mojito
2)
Lemon Chicken + Pineapple Mojito

Lemon is a simple but effective way to enhance the flavour of chicken, and works best when you’re either grilling or roasting your meat. For a sweet summer combination, there’s no better drink than a refreshing Pineapple Mojito to serve alongside it. For best results, use mint flavoured sugar syrup and pineapple rum to maximise your flavours.

 

Beef Burgers3) Beef Burgers + Bacardi Mojito

We know… we really like Mojitos, and they happen to go brilliantly with several meals! This Jamie Oliver recipe is particularly on point, and just as easy to follow as you would expect. Our favourite meal to pair with this drink would be homemade beef burgers, which are a really fun and flexible meal to master if you enjoy having friends over for some simple home cooking and cocktails.

 

Mexican Coffee4) Tiramisu + Mexican Coffee

For coffee lovers, tiramisu is a great choice for a dessert – it’s not exactly traditional, but you can certainly swap some ingredients to make a coffee flavoured version. While you’re enjoying your delicious dessert, try adding tequila, kahlua and vanilla ice cream to a strong coffee for a supremely rich after-dinner cocktail.

 

 

Roast Lamb & Rosemary5) Roast Lamb & Rosemary + Madeira Martinez

Roast lamb can be a succulent treat once you learn how to cook it to a restaurant standard. It all depends on the quality of the meat, too, and of course your fresh seasoning. To really enhance the flavour, pair with a Madeira Martinez – fortified Portuguese wine with gin, honey syrup, Angostura bitters and pomegranate molasses. It might sound like a lavish combination, and that’s true, but it’s a great accompaniment for the meat, especially when garnished with a rosemary sprig.

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salt pepper

Salt & Pepper: The Ultimate Cooking Tools

We passionately believe that good seasoning is truly crucial to taking your cooking to the next level. The world of herbs and spices is complex and exciting, allowing you to infuse inspiration from all over the world into your dishes, whether you’re catering for a restaurant, your family or just yourself. However, there are two essential ingredients you’ll find in almost every recipe: salt and pepper.

The tricky thing is how much to use in your particular recipe. Other than the occasional call for a “pinch” of one or the other, the phrase “season to taste” is the one that comes up most often. With little experience, it can be especially tricky to decipher the meaning of this odd turn of phrase. In reality, it basically indicates you should take a trial and error approach. Adding a little more salt or pepper at a time and sampling your dish again and again will eventually allow you to determine the optimum quantity. Figuring this out can unlock the maximum flavour potential of your creation! (more…)

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Creative Caviar Restaurant Recipe Ideas

If you’re a big fan of caviar, you’ll probably know that its reputation has changed over the years. Although the high end products are still very much an exclusive delicacy, it’s now also possible to get cheaper caviar in more affordable restaurants, and even sometimes in your local supermarket. However, for people who really enjoy this delicious and rare treat, there’s no better way to serve it than as part of a delicious restaurant-standard dish. If you want to try some of these fine dining experiences yourself, look no further than these creative caviar recipe ideas.

Smoked Sturgeon & Caviar Bagels

This one comes directly from Attilus Caviar, whose Royal Siberian Sturgeon or Baerii caviar is perfectly suited for this idea (you could also use Royal Oscietra caviar depending on your taste). This toasted bagel topped with poached eggs, smoked sturgeon and, of course, caviar makes for an amazing high class breakfast. (more…)

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healthy meals

5 Ways To Add Flavour To Healthy Meals

Eating healthily and enjoying a balanced diet is something many people are still working hard to achieve. For food lovers and budding amateur chefs, it can be tricky to manage your diet while being around so many delicious temptations all the time! Once you get used to flavourful cooking, some of the recommended healthy options we encounter can seem less than appealing, especially if they’re a little lacking in flavour. Low-carb diets and an increased emphasis on fruit and vegetables can be especially off-putting for people who expect them to taste boring compared to their usual meals.

However, with a little creative seasoning, you can easily turn the healthiest dishes into some of the tastiest. Here are our top five tips for experimenting with basic seasoning to unlock the hidden potential in your healthy meals.

1) Salt and pepper to taste

Your number one secret weapon for bringing out the best in almost any meal, salt and pepper needs to be handled carefully. If you get it right, you can improve practically any flavour combination, and you don’t have to worry about sodium levels as long as you’re avoiding processed foods. (more…)

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kitchen

Home & Commercial Kitchen Cleaning

No matter what kind of cooking you’re interested in, your experience level, or even whether you’re running a commercial kitchen in a restaurant or cooking for yourself at home, one thing remains the same for everyone. Hygiene should be your number one priority, since without proper care, dangerous situations can arise during food preparation and cooking.

For commercial kitchens like those in restaurants, takeaways, pubs, hotels and so on, standards are set high with good reason: to protect the public. It’s vital to be compliant, which is why it’s important to know when to use a professional deep cleaning service such as KDC (Kitchen Duct Cleaning), a prominent UK kitchen and ductwork cleaning company. A professional service like this is necessary to ensure you meet the required health and safety guidelines for running a clean and safe commercial kitchen. (more…)

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fine dining

The Most Renowned Restaurants in London

There are so many amazing restaurants in London – the heart of the UK and one of our favourite cities in the world – that it’s hard to know where to begin. That’s why we decided to narrow down the list by focusing on those that have built up the finest reputations over the years. Here are some of the best restaurants in London that have stood the test of time and show no signs of slowing down yet.

Dabbous – At one time this restaurant was one of the most difficult ones to secure a table at in the whole of London. Now thanks to the overwhelming number of options it’s a little easier, but its reputation remains outstanding. It boasts an ever-evolving menu that’s always full of new and exciting dishes to try, keeping guests coming back regularly.

Goodman – Some restaurants end up being known as the best in their field, and that’s certainly true of Goodman, widely celebrated as the finest steakhouse in London. It’s also credited with ushering in a new era of premier steakhouses across the city, but remains the best in many critics’ eyes. (more…)

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Basic cooking and seasoning checklist

One common mistake people make with cooking from scratch is thinking that there’s no point having a wide selection of spices if you don’t know much about cooking. We’d actually argue the opposite is true, since there’s no better way to learn than through experimentation! Whatever your skill level, we have a checklist for you to make sure you’ve always got all the essentials in to produce restaurant quality flavours at home.

Bay Leaves

These leaves are best when they’re a rich green in colour, and they’re usually dried. Whole leaves added to your dishes will impart some great savoury flavour, but make sure you take them out before serving.

Black Pepper

Go for whole black peppercorns since the flavour will be much better if you grind them fresh.

Cayenne Pepper

This is particularly useful in many Indian recipes, and pretty much anything Cajun or involving hot pepper sauce. (more…)

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Buying the best quality ingredients

If you really want to build up an excellent seasoning collection that will allow you to add high quality, exciting flavours into your cooking, then you’ll need some advice on where to start with choosing how to buy your ingredients. There are too many options around to know what you’re looking at without some guidance, so here are some key points we have learned from years of experience. (more…)

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How to source the best spices

We have already covered what you should be looking for as a sign of quality spices, and what you might be doing wrong so far when building up your collection of flavouring ingredients. But what is one to do when looking for ways of sourcing excellent quality spices? We have some wisdom to impart about the best ways to find great spices.

Buy spices online

If you’re looking for something very specific it might be difficult to track down in shops, so you might want to research cooking spices online and find somewhere you can purchase what you’re looking for. Quality spice merchants will know what they’re talking about so you can ask questions about the products before placing your order. Many online stores carry a huge collection of the best cooking spices, herbs and blends for Indian, Mediterranean, Chinese dishes.

Visit ethnic markets

To find spices for a specific sort of cooking or something that originates from a particular country, you might be best visiting an authentic market for those goods. These prices are likely to be fair and the products will usually be the best quality around, plus they will be restocked much faster than those in supermarkets and other big retailers.

Find a local expert

If you want a single place you can visit to get advice on cooking as well as a full range of high quality spices, you might be able to find a local spice specialist. A merchant who is an expert in the field will be able to help you find what you’re looking for and assure you that the products you’re buying are of the finest quality. (more…)

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