you can run but you can’t hide….

You probably think that running a food business is a little bit glam, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. For me the best part is making people happy with the food that I make. The worst part is all the politics. Very topical at the moment I know but not really my thing. Perhaps I am too honest!

The politics of running a small business are huge. Please bear this in mind when setting up, you need to know how to play the game. Not even 25 years in Advertising could have prepared me for what I have faced. There are some very odd people out there and some of them are closer to you than you realise. Thankfully the down trodden have a right to reply and can stand up for themselves. The Freedom of Information Act, means that anyone who makes a complaint about another person cannot hide. So be aware when the lovely people at Rugby Council come back to me next week with names – you will be the first to know.

I never really did understand what motivates people to get into politics –  now I know. So you can use the system for your own benefit. Shame on you. And there was me thinking that it was to help people! I’ve been so naive. Not any more.

The attached clip is hilarious – if it wasn’t true


have a secret squisito supper party in your own home!

I know that you can really cook – but sometimes life takes hold and be put on the back burner. so accepting that most of you Italian food lovers can cook but don’t have time, let me do it for you! All you need to is chat to me and send out your invitations!As Jamie O says ‘the problem with restaurants is that you get kicked out as soon as you have done eating but here you can relax and have a whole night’

the March menu was a hit!

wow - delicious menu - eats as good as it looks!

the last secret squisito dinner was another success. Despite some poorly guests and village politics, we all had a fantastic time and just for a change the food was not the most important item on the menu! It seems to me that I may have stumbled across something quite interesting. Let me know what you think about this. Living in a village has pros and cons but one thing that is really hard is meeting new people – romantically or just for company. You see not everyone goes to the pub (yes really) or church, WI etc etc. So what do you do? The last 2 dinners have been a real eye opener for me. I have guests from different backgrounds, male and female, single, married etc etc but they all share a common interest in meeting new people and are interested in the community that they share. So, where do we go from here? Bearing in mind the feedback that I have received – ie fab food and great company, I feel compelled to do something. I’m far from a match.com but you know what I mean. Plus I am very discreet! What happens at secret squisito stays here!

I’ve added the March menu just to rub (sea) salt into the wounds but thought you would like to see what you missed!

I have a few spaces for April and May so just let me know if you are up for it!

Finally if you have an interesting venue, pub, house, field, orchard etc that you think fits the bill for secret squisito please let me know. All considered

Many thanks to my lovely guests for making Saturday extra special

Saturday was great fun. I spent all day in the kitchen – a real treat for me! Once I had completed the food preparation for Moseley Farmers market – (Tuscan meatballs in tomato and basil sauce, red pepper pesto, and a lovely Saturday lunch dish of roasted onion crespelle with Grana Padano), it was time to complete our Saturday night dinner.

Alex had prepared the Denbigh Estate rabbit so I completed the prep for this with white wine, sage and our Berkshire pancetta and got it into the Rayburn. Next was time to roast beetroot and pears – not together! And complete the beetroot salad antipasti. I decided to combine fresh grated beetroot with the roasted to give a lovely texture contrast.

The chick peas had soaked and been cooked with celery, onion, carrot and tomato in the pressure cooker for 45 minutes. It was time to complete the stew by preparing a tomato and smoked paprika base, to which I added the chick peas. The haddock were cut to portion size, seasoned and returned to the fridge to await a hot buttered frying pan. Meanwhile the roasted beetroot were peeled and finely chopped and the pears were put back into the oven with a vanilla infused caramel sauce for another 30 minutes. Time to prep the veg and easy peasy this month as we are just having a simple salad – on order from today’s farmers market at Moseley and rosemary roasted potatoes – Worcestershire Marfona from ‘market dad’.

The mixed salad leaves, Mizuna, Pak Choy, Rocket and Mustard Greens appeared back home and they were rinsed and dried and left in the fridge for later use. I then made a light dressing with lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, smoked garlic and Tarocco oranges from Sicily – delicious and a wonderful foil for the peppery salad leaves. Final task of the day was to prepare the pasta course – my favourite as it is made with my rare breed chickens eggs and is amazing! I completed the lasagne, layering fresh pasta sheets with venison ragu and then toppped with a Besciamella sauce, Grana Padano and mozzarella. Ready for the oven.  I had decided to prepare large ravioli – 3 per person and used my lovely cutter from Carluccios. Once constructed returned to the fridge on a lightly semolina floured tray.

With 1 hour to go, I lay the table and polished cutlery and glasses – to create the right impression! The Prosecco and Fiano chilling in the fridge it was time to change and get ready for an exciting evening.

Tonight my guests arrived promptly and we started with an award winning Prosecco selection – white and rose. Dinner was served and we started with a selection of Italian olives from Puglia, some handmade grissini and our balsamic glaze and extra virgin olive oil. All proudly displayed on my adorable Jamie at Home anti pasti platter – or plank as I prefer to call it – well, it is a metre long!

The wild boar terrine was served in quenelles with a small spoonful of Monks Kirby chutney and some carta di musica, Sardinian flat bread. Our beetroot salad was combined with a robust, tangy horseradish dressing and topped with slithers of air dried beef, bresaola. More wine – this time a delicious organic Fiano.

Small portions of pasta, Italian style followed accompanied with a fruity Barbera – this time biodynamic from our Italian friends. We were all having an amazing time – all villagers but not all friends, until tonight that is. A strange concept perhaps for ‘Engy’s’ to come to terms with – eating with strangers but my guests were not fazed!

The main course, secondi came next and with more wine we were ready to appreciate the delicious Rabbit braise topped with crispy sage and pancetta – Alex, thank you so much again for providing. I spent a few minutes in the kitchen here completing the haddock dish – the only time throughout the whole event – so not bad really! The haddock and chick pea dish was finished with a drizzle of salsa verde – parsley, basil and mint with white wine vinegar and capers.

A highlight of the evening was the fresh and palette cleansing salad and citrus dressing – a hit and one that will be on the menu again.

The cheese course followed and we had a selection of Italian cheese – Taleggio, Sardinian Pecorino served with pink peppercorns and Warwickshire honey. We had all opted for the pear dish for dessert and it was the perfect end to the meal. Alex then treated us to his special coffee and pear soaked in grappa in little chocolate pots and florentines. Squisito!!

The next Secret Squisito will be on Saturday 27th March – only a few seats left at our table so I am now taking reservations for Satruday 24th April. Reserve your place here or email me secretsquisito@googlemail.com. Many thanks, Sara

Secret Squisito dinner is tomorrow and busy busy busy in the cucina!

I am very excited about tomorrow and really looking forward to hosting what I hope will be the first of many!

Today is final prep day so I am just about to collect final ingredients, venison, herbs, fish etc. Whilst I am out Alex is prepping our rabbits, kindly culled by Alex Denbigh yesterday afternoon – many thanks again, Alex x 2.

Tomorrow I have been let off Farmers Market duty at Moseley and Jenny my intern from last Summer is helping out there for me. Leaving me to focus on our Secret Squisito dinner. I had hoped to get some waitress help from Lily and Ella but they ‘too busy’! to lend a hand. Perhaps next month?

So on the list for cooking today – venison ragu, wild boar terrine, roast beetroot, soak chick peas, make creme anglaise for ice cream and make ricotta/chard filling for ravioli. The rabbit will be cooked overnight in the bottom the Rayburn with white wine and our own pancetta. The pancetta is  10 days cured in our secret recipe using Berkshire Blue pork from Chris at Glebe Farm on the Fosse Way. Thankfully our Italian supplier came up with the goods eventually yesterday and our guests will be able to experience the best olives in the world from bella Puglia and delicious Sardinian percorino – not shown on the menu but a Squisito favourite!

1st Secret Squisito dinner is this Saturday!!

Great excitement for this Satruday’s dinner – all sold out now. The menu is based on family favourites using seasonal and local ingredients! I was lucky enough to trade at 24 Carrots Farmers Market in Birmingham at the weekend so I stocked up on some delicious goodies for our menu.

Bookings for next Secret Squisito on 27.3.10 now being taken. Please contact me on secretsquisito@googlemail.com or post here. As my food is always made to order without additives and preservatives I can cater for all dietary requirements – so please let me know too and we can work it out!

Antipasti and Prosecco
Bresaola Air Dried Beef and Beetroot Salad with Horseradish Dressing
Wild Boar, Pigeon & Pistachio Terrine with Monks Kirby Chutney
Venison Gran Lasagne, Pailton venison ragu layered with fresh handmade pasta, topped with Besciamella sauce, mozzarella and Grana Padano cheeses
Ravioli Pasta made with our rare breed chickens eggs and local flour filled with Monks Kirby chard & ricotta
Denbigh Estate Rabbit, sautéed with butter, rosemary and sage and braised in white wine with home cured pancetta
Pan fried Haddock with chick pea and tomato stew and salsa verde
Rocket Salad with Citrus
Rosemary Roast Potatoes
Rhubarb and Custard Gelato
Caramelised Pears with Marsala and Mascarpone cream
Award winning Italian food
4 course artisan menu for suggested contribution of £25.00

Award winning Italian food            4 course artisan menu for suggested contribution of £25.00

Hello world!

This feels like a Julie Powell moment!  I wish I could say that I have lots of original ideas but I use all my creative energy in the kitchen. So apologies to all you brilliant food bloggers – especially Julie of course.

2 years ago I set up  a food business callled Squisito! I make artisan Italian food from local ingredients and only sell at local farmers markets and food shows, private catering too.

2010 is a landmark year for Squisito as my shop, cafe and new kitchen will hopefully be up and running late 2010.

So now secretsquisito  – my remedy to boring, lazy, unloved food. A dining experience open to everyone. The first dinner will be on Saturday February 27th – email secretsquisito@googlemail.com to book…