Wednesday, 27 July 2011

How to self cater an afternoon tea wedding (part 2)

When you are planning a wedding and you're reading wedding magazines and blogs, you find yourself saying this phrase a lot 'it won't be like that at my wedding.' For me it was whenever brides said they didn't get to eat much at that their weddings. I've always been a huge fan of wedding canapes and was determined we would be able to enjoy them. It was simple. We would have our photos done in the morning. Then we'd arrive at the reception with everyone else and we'd be able to relax and enjoy the food we had work a hard on. However, it rained. It rained hard. One of my bridesmaids told me 'every raindrop is a drop of good luck.' I must be the luckiest girl in the word because it hadn't rained like that for a long time. So I missed out on the canapes but I'm told they were fantastic.

The canapes were the only thing that we changed pretty much on a monthly basis and in the end it came down to cost. We had to chose canapes that suited all diets, that were delicious, that were easy to make but most of all didn't cost a fortune. Unfortunately the other person that missed the canapes was our lovely photographer David McNeil. There was a window of sunshine and we were having our photos taken outside so he didn't manage to get any shots of the canapes. But he did get some of the production.

Canape number 1: Halzephron herb dip with Bryher crudites

This is a great canape for vegetarians. We hired shot glasses and made up a mayonnaise based herb dip. You can buy halzephron herb dip sachets here. We bought squeezy bottles and squirted the dip inside each one. Then cut a selection of five crudite we bought off the Hillside Farm vegetable stall the day before. We chose mini carrots, french beans, mange tout, pepper and courgette. We then decorated with a nasturtium petal. We would have also decorated with a borage flower but they didn't flower in time. My mum assures me, a month on, she has a very impressive borage bush. I loved these canapes. I thought they looked summery and light and fitted in with our colourful flowers and our love of growing vegetables. I also liked them because they were a combination of Cornwall and Scilly...just like us.

Canape number 2: Tomato, basil and buffalo mozzarella squewers

This was something else that didn't quite go to plan. We had chosen this because of the spectacular tomatoes you can get from the stall on Bryher. Our family eats them like sweets. Unfortunately they weren't quite ready the week of the wedding so Zoe at Bryher Stores ordered us some in and they were delicious. We bought those small buffalo mozzarella balls, sliced them up with halved tomatoes and basil and served on a squewer.

Canape Number 3: Cheese and Pistachio Shortbreads

Both the above canapes had to be done on the day and were probably the most expensive due to the mozzarella and the hiring of the glasses so I needed canapes that had lower cost ingredients. My sister made these for us the Christmas before we got engaged and I loved them. They are insanely cheap and easy to make and can be made the day before. (The dough can be made in advance and chilled.) She was meant to make 140 and ended up making 700. There still didn't seem to be many left!

The recipe is a Delia Smith one.

1oz unsalted shelled pistachios
1 and a half oz strong white flour sifted
1 and a half oz unsalted butter
1 and a half oz grated parmesan
a pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

Chop the pistachios in a mini chopper. Then mix them with all the other ingredients in a medium bowl. Rub until it starts to form a dough and bring it together into a ball. Transfer to a board and knead lightly and then roll into a sausage shape about 7 inches long and wrap in cling film and chill in the freezer for half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 170'c. Slice the log into discs about half an inch wide and spread over a baking sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes until they start to go golden around the edges. When they are cooked, put on a cooling rack and store in an airtight tin.

Canape Number 4: Sausages with honey and mustard

These were chosen simply because I love them and could eat hundreds. I ended up buying the sausages from Marks and Spencers because I decided making them with cooked sausages was easier and quicker. They were just marinated in honey and wholegrain mustard the day and then cooked in the oven until hot and sticky.

Canapes Number 5: Sausage Rolls

Before I realised I needed to pay for things like napkins and glasses and welcome drinks... I wanted to hire china spoons and have a teaspoon of Bryher crab on each spoon with a small squirt of lemon mayonaisse. My mum rarely interfered but she did put her foot down here and said she thought we should have sausage rolls. After a brief moment of bridezilla snobbery I realised 1) I love sausgae rolls 2) My mum makes the best sausage rolls in the world 3) Everyone loves sausage rolls. 4) They are easy 5) They are a cheap canape.

She has not yet shared the recipe so I have no idea how they are made except I know it is flakey pastry and uses meat from sausages and not sausage meat. I know she made them the week before and they were individually frozen. They were then cooked from frozen.

Money saving tips: I bought some plain trays from a Habitat sale and Ikea for the canapes to be served on and some herbs to decorate them. Luckily my sister liked the trays and wanted them for her wedding so I bought half and she bought half and we shared them. We were very lucky to have her wedding so close by because it meant we could share vases, decorations etc. It's another benefit of having no fixed colour scheme...people will happily donate their decorations. A lot of the ingredients I bought in advance (honey, mustard, mayonnaise etc) so I wasn't saddled with a huge bill in June.

What I shouldn't have done:

Looking back I probably should have had four canapes and they should have all been cold. Even though it was raining and a bit chilly it was a summer wedding and cold canapes would have been fine. Even though I didn't get to eat them I did see some and they looked wonderful. They were economical, simple, tasty and easy to eat.

** None of these canapes could have been done without my fabulous sisters and brother in laws, my wonderful cousin and the Team Bramble girls. They did the chopping, slicing, cooking and marinating. And they acted as if they were loving every minute even though they were probably cursing me under their breath. Thank you all! (I will do another blog about having the right helpers.)

Coming soon....The afternoon tea.

Monday, 25 July 2011

How to cater an afternoon tea wedding (part 1)

If you are reading this blog you may well be thinking about the possibility of self catering your own wedding. So get ready. Get ready for the look of horror as you tell people you are cooking
your wedding feast. Your friends, family and even your vicar will probably tell you you are bonkers...and you probably are. But self catering your wedding means you have completely free reign over what you and your guests eat, it means you can invite as many people as you like and you can save a lot of money.

Over the next few posts I will take you through how we planned, budgeted and designed our wedding menu and hopefully give you a few tips on what to do and definitely what not to do.

I might as well start with the engagement. After the proposal, after all the smiling and kissing and texting and celebrating, we went out for a meal. After the standard argument about why I order the hottest pizza and then ask for it with no chillis we made a list of priorities for our wedding. It looked a bit like this...

1. Lots of friends and family

2. Great, no fuss, simple food

3. Lots of amazing drink

4. A very tight budget (£5000- this changed but I will come to that later)

5. A fun and informal day

We talked about food. The other half was keen on pasties. We both wanted easy food that everyone would enjoy and wasn't too formal. We quite quickly agreed on canapes, with an afternoon tea and a hog roast in the evening.

We wrote up our guest list. It started at 220. It was finalised at 155 (now do you understand the self catering?). So the first job was to decide on how much we had to spend. We allocated about £1000 of the budget on food which is about £6.60 each. If you've started getting quotes from caterers you'll realise this is a fantastic price and you are probably thinking 'scrap the caterers I'm doing it myself.'

So stop. Stop and consider whether you want to spend the day of your wedding making canapes with one hand and applying mascara with the other? Do you want to spend 4 days after your wedding washing up? Do you want to be buying mustard six months before your wedding because it is on special offer? Have you got an amazing team of family and friends who will get up at 630am in the morning to help? Caterers are worth every penny. I've helped out a caterer at weddings and she can do what I could never achieve. But we didn't have that choice. If we wanted our friends to be with us, this was our only option.

Part 2 is all about the canapes. Why I chose them and how they were made.

All photos are by the fairly wonderful David McNeil

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Port Eliot Festival In Pictures....

My yummy tomato and mozzarella salad from the Fifteen Cornwall pop up restaurant. This was summer in a box.

A boy showed me how to do a Rubik's Cube in a minute. It involved a lot of equations and fractions. I nodded a lot.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Wedding Day....

It's done. I am a married woman. I'll blog all about how it went, how to (and how not to) self cater a wedding and all the recipes in the next few weeks. But I'm on honeymoon now and I'm enjoying the Scilly sunshine.

Our yummy wedding cake.