Top chef Margot Henderson is happily married to equally revered chef Fergus Henderson, but these days weddings are very much on her mind – in particular what constitutes the perfect celebration supper.
As well as running the busy kitchen of her Shoreditch restaurant Rochelle Canteen, she and her business partner Melanie Arnold have taken over the kitchen at the ICA on the Mall, including catering for small intimate weddings in the building’s beautiful Grade 1 listed Nash & Brandon Rooms overlooking the Mall and St James’s Park.
YOU magazine was recently invited to a delicious wedding supper showcasing Margot’s culinary skills, not to mention her talent for dressing a table. There were a number of ‘brides’ modelling gorgeous vintage wedding dresses (from Menage Modern Vintage) on the guest list. Indeed the bride sitting next to us looked stunning in a retro Chanel white suit (‘the perfect outfit for a second or third marriage’).
And as we passed dishes of fabulous food up and down the long table everyone got talking – and we all agreed that, if we were to get married tomorrow, this venue and this view, not to mention Margot’s fabulous cooking, would all be top of our wedding list.
Here Margot shares her top tips for hosting a wedding supper, plus her recipes for easy canapes…
1. Seasonality is key
This goes for flowers as well as food. Peonies alongside bowls of fresh peas in their pods are the perfect early summer combination, whilst winter berries and foliage sit beautifully alongside braised dishes and rich stews.
2. It’s always good to reflect where you are by using local produce
Britain is rich with small producers making incredible cheeses, breads, meat and fish, so do a little research into the area in which you’re getting married and showcase some more unusual flavours!
3. Always try to buy the best possible produce you can
It will make a big difference to even the simplest of dishes.
4. Canapés should be light and delicious
The introduction to the main meal – something like oysters or asparagus on platters with hollandaise sauce or even fried white bait and gribiche sauce. A little fried and crispy bite is great fun.
5. Long tables are always our favourite
They are more feast-like, more celebratory. A long elegant table piled high with platters of food and wine really sets the scene for a wonderful day
6. Think about the small things like cutlery
I love silver plated knives and forks for an added touch of glamour.
7. For drinks, it has to be champagne
But don’t have hundreds of glasses pre-poured and going flat – no one minds waiting a little for a beautifully poured glass.
8. For the main course, I like to lead with meat
It might sound old-fashioned but I love to serve whole legs of lamb, grilled on the BBQ, or fish, whole sea bass with green sauce and bowls of potatoes.
9. Comfort food is a must later on in the night
It helps satisfy those booze- fuelled cravings. Welsh rarebit or bacon and egg pies are always a winner, or for something more exotic, platters of pakoras of kedgeree are perfect!
10. Remember to have fun!
The more you enjoy yourself the more your guests will too! Make sure you are comfortable enough to move freely, eat, dance and enjoy.
3 quick and simple late night bite ideas
125g unsalted butter, softened
a few drips of Tabasco
1 pinch paprika
2 tbsp crème fraiche
1. Preheat the oven at 180. Place the kippers in a baking tray, bone side up, with half the butter generously dotted over them. Bake for 8 – 10 mins. They should be moist and easy to pull apart.
2. Boning these little blighters is time consuming, but if you carefully pull the frame away from the flesh most of the bones will come away. There are the larger bones and then the fine ones, so it’s necessary to go through the flesh several times. This is a good job to share – that way, you can sip white wine and chat as you all carefully pick the flesh through.
3. Squeeze the lemon over the picked meat, add the Tabasco, paprika and lemon and the rest of the softened butter. With a fork mush the butter and kipper together. Finally stir in the crème fraiche. Season and continue to fork the mixture together, until you have a combined consistency.
4. Refrigerate and serve on toast with a squeeze of lemon.
FOR THE PASTRY
10 oz plain flour
6 oz unsalted butter
1 thumb nail of yeast
a little tepid water
FOR THE ONION MIXTURE
6 brown onions
4 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 tbsp finely chopped thyme
40ml olive oil
2 tbsp crème fraiche
1 small tin of anchovies, roughly chopped
black pepper & salt
1. Rub the flour and butter together between your fingers. Add a pinch of salt, make a well in the centre and add the eggs and yeast (dissolved in a tiny bit of warm water). Mix until the dough comes together.
2. Put in a floured bowl, covered in cling film and leave to rise for 2 hours.
3. While the pastry is doing its thing prepare the filling. Peel and halve the onions and cut into thin slices. Heat the oil in a pan, then gently cook the onions with the garlic and thyme. Cover with grease proof papers or a lid – this stops the liquid from reducing away. Cook over a low heat until the onions are soft and completely cooked (about 20 mins), stirring and checking constantly.
4. Take off the heat, stir in the crème fraiche and anchovies. Season with black pepper and salt.
5. Knead the dough and then press out onto a tray, then leave for 10 mins
6. Cover with the onion mixture, then leave to rest for a further 15mins.
7. Bake at 200 degrees for 10 mins, then a further 20 mins at 180 degrees. Don’t let your onions burn.
8. Once cooled, cut into slices that are easy enough to pick up in your hands with a napkin.
Bacon & egg pie
425g frozen puff pastry
8oz streaky bacon
3 handfuls of wilted greens, like spinach
salt & pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Place the strips of bacon on an oven tray with a few knobs of butter, then place in oven until half cooked (around 8 minutes).
2. Line a rectangular baking tray (about 15 inches long) with grease proof paper. Roll out the puff pastry – it needs to come half way up the sides, so as to contain your filling.
3. Cover the bottom of the pastry with the half cooked bacon. Slice the tomatoes and scatter over the bacon. Spread out the wilted greens
4. Crack the eggs evenly over the bacon. Then with a knife break them and stir the mixture about a bit but not too much.
5. Bake for 40 mins until the pastry is well cooked. Leave to cool slightly, cut into your preferred pieces and serve with a Stein lager.
The catering arm of Arnold & Henderson caters and coordinates weddings and events all over the world. For more information visit http://arnoldandhenderson.com