The Best Salmon Nicoise Recipe

Perfect Summer Party Food

This is the easiest summer lunch/dinner food for a crowd of people, and a delight to serve as it is all prepared in advance and delivers a wow factor when brought to the table.  This isn’t a recipe as such, more an indication of the quantities needed for 10 people. Serve with a bowl of Jersey Royal potatoes, tossed in unsalted butter with a touch of salt, pepper and fresh, chopped parsely and you have the perfect party food. I make a lemon mayonnaise with three egg yolks, and use the whites to make baby meringues .

For 10 people

2 handfuls of salad leaves

1 packet French beans

2-3 bundles English asparagus

6 x hard boiled eggs

4-6 vine tomaotes, cut into quarters

large handful of black oilves

140g per person of salmon fillets without skin  (either in one piece, or in individual fillets)


1. Cook the salmon. I place the salmon fillets on a large piece of foil, placed in a roasting tin or baking sheet. Add a small glass of white wine, a tablespoon of olive oil, some lemon slices and season with salt and pepper. Wrap the salmon loosely in the foil, and cook in the oven at 180C for about 20 minutes. This is where you need to use your own judgement, and keep checking in the oven to see if it is cooked. Remember it will continue to cook as it cools, so remove from the oven when it is just turning opaque. If your oven is uneven in it’s heat, you may need to remove some cooked pieces of fillet before removing the others. Leave to cool.

2. Blanch the French beans – that is to say, cook the trimmed French beans in boiling water for 5 mintes, remove and plunge immediately into cold water. Drain and leave in fridge until ready to use.

3. Wash the asparagus thoroughly then snap along the stem until it breaks easily. Discard these snapped off pieces. Cook the spears on the hob in gently bubbling water until cooked. This will take 5-10 minutes, depending on how fat your spears of asparagus are. I use a large frying pan for this and hover over the stove, piercing the spears from time to time with my pointed knife. When they are just cooked, remove from the pan (some may be cooked before others) and refresh in cold water. Drain and leave in fridge until ready to use.

4. Hard boil eggs – Place medium size eggs in a pan of cold water. Bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes. Plunge into cold water and leave to cool. Then peel the shells off and leave in the fridge until ready.

5. Wash and quarter the tomatoes.

6. Make a simple dressing of 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard, juice of half lemon, 3 Tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper

7. To assemble, toss the salad leaves in the dressing and place on the bottom of a large serving platter – a long salmon plate is ideal for this. Then scatter the asparagus and French beans on top of the leaves . Add the salmon, breaking into large chunks and arrange on top of the leaves, beans and asparagus. Scatter the tomatoes  and olives over and around the salmon, then place the eggs on top. Drizzle the finished dish with a dash of olive oil and serve.




Fabulous Canapes at Guild of Food Writers Awards Party


Creative canapes
Creative canapes

Guild member Aggie MacKenzie, columnist for delicious. magazine and internationally renowned TV broadcaster, will be the presenter at this year’s Guild of Food Writers’ Awards, the UK’s biggest food book, writing and media awards.

The 2013 Awards party will be on Wednesday 29 May at the RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD.

A memorable canapé menu has been developed with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (, to showcase wonderful sustainable wild seafood from Alaska. The Guild is thrilled that Alaska Seafood is supporting the Awards for the sixth year running.

To accompany the splendid menu equally exciting wines from Virginia will be provided by Virginia Wine.

Drinks and canapés will be served from 6.30pm, and the Awards will be presented at 7pm.

Places are limited, so if you want to come to the party of the year, contact Jonathan Woods as soon as possible by emailing or by telephone on 020 8659 0422. Places cost £25 for members of the Guild and £50 for guests; please send cheques made payable to the Guild of Food Writers to Jonathan Woods, The Guild of Food Writers, 255 Kent House Road, Beckenham, Kent BR3 1JQ.

A Fashionable Dinner


specially designed menu for fashion launch
specially designed menu for fashion launch

I recently came across this old hand written menu, which was created for a fashion launch way back in 1989. The designers of fashion house, Workers for Freedom, launched their new all-white collection and we designed the dinner around this theme. There were around 100 guests, who we seated at one huge, long table in the Mall Galleries on The Mall, London. I organised the menu with tiny little punctuations of colour, such as the glossy green lime leaves for the main course and three tiny raspberries for the pudding. The cheese sables were sprinkled with a shower of white sesame seeds, the cocktail was clear and the chocolate truffles were white.

By all accounts it was a massive success, but having worked hard on all the details of the event,  I was on a plane bound for Australia so wasn’t there on the evening.


Relaxed Weekend Lunch Party

an array of mezze starters
an array of mezze starters

Stretchable Lunch Party Food

This is the ideal family weekend lunch; easy to assemble, tasty and can be stretched if more people turn up. My friend Dawn and her Jack joined us for lunch on Easter Monday and I made a lunch to suit everyone. I’d made some focaccia bread and teamed this with a selection of mostly veggie mezze. My spiced lentils with salmon would be ideal for Dawn as she is mostly veggie, but eats certain fish. Finger food pud and Easter eggs to finish then we sat in front of the wood burner and chatted all afternoon. “Welcome to hanging out, mum”, cheeky Jack told his mum.

tasty weekend lunch
tasty weekend lunch

Vintage Birthday Party

Vintage Inspired 50th Birthday Party

– a very nice menu

Today I am cooking party food for a friend who is having her first party since she was 17 and she wanted to make it very special. She had collected lots of vintage china and wanted to serve tea inspired cocktails in her teacups and serve a selection of canapes with these, before serving bowls of hot food fragrant with spices and herbs. A great option for a large number of people is finger food pudding, which is handed around by our lovely waiters and then left displayed on pretty plates for guests to come and help themselves.

Canapes with tea flavoured cocktails:

  • Tiny cheese scones with red onion relish
  • Miniature sesame savoury cornets filled with oak roast tomatoes and soft cheese
  • Nests of peeled quail eggs with celery salt skewed on to white crystal skewers
  • Lime and coconut marinaded chicken retro black and red bobble skewers
  • Baby Basil and roasted red pepper tartlets
  • Mini silver forks with sweet chilli marinaded prawns
  • Baby smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels presented in silver caskets


  • Lime and coconut chicken with jasmine rice &
  • Butternut and mint veggie tagine with cinnamon couscous


  • Miniature cakes presented on vintage china –
  • Baby meringues with redcurrant ripple cream
  • Sticky orange and pomegranate cake
  • Chocolate cases with mango and mascarpone filling
  • Tea scented baby mini cup cakes


Cut these into little rounds with a small pastry cutter Orange and almond cake recipe & How to make perfect meringues

White Christmas Cocktails

Here are some fabulous white coloured cocktails to make up for the lack of snow. Cocktails always get the party going and the rule of thumb is that one per person is too little, two is divine and three is too much!  See at the end of the post for quantities and tips on how to serve cocktails at parties.

Christmas cocktail with lime leaves and cranberry

WHITE MISCHIEF – Martini Glass

I devised this for an Out of Africa themed party, and it is based on the classic White Lady. This drink combines a hit of vodka with the fragrance of elderflower and sweetness of the pear juice. Apple and ginger add a bit of a kick.

  • 2oz Absolute Vodka
  • 1oz Funkin William Pear
  • 1oz James White Apple and Ginger
  • 1 oz St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • 1/4 oz Lemon juice

This quantity makes one decent size cocktail. Make up the mixture x 100 in clear bucket, then shake with ice in giant cocktail shakers and pour into chilled martini glasses.

madmen0005THE WHITE LADY

This is the first cocktail I tasted and it felt so glamourous.

It’s a clean-tasting drink and needs to be drunk very cold, so make sure you have plenty of ice.

  • 20ml Dry London gin
  • 10ml Cointreau
  • 10ml  lemon juice

Shake the ingredients together well with ice. Strain into a frosted cocktail glass and serve in a martini glass. Glorious.


A light change to the classic Kir Royale, with a dash of lemon juice to cut through the sweetness. I love the gorgeous St Germain version

  • 10ml Elderflower Liqueur
  • 5ml lemon juice
  • Top up with well chilled prosecco

Pour into tall Champagne glasses and serve very cold.


The ultimate festive martini, using edible loose leaf gold to give a gold snow storm effect. You can buy gold flecked vodka, but this represents very bad value, as you can order leaves of edible gold leaf quite cheaply from Amazon, or buy in art shops. You are then free to add it to your favourite vodka. You can also order gold leaf flakes here

The quantities are for 10 as it is not worth making any less.

  • 750ml vodka
  • 250ml dry martini
  • 2 sheets edible gold leaf
  1. Blend the vodka and vermouth
  2. Shake together vodka and vermouth with ice in cocktail shaker
  3. Strain into cocktail glass and garnish with crushed edible gold leaf


To help in calculating how much you get from a bottle of spirits and mixers see the measurements below:

70cl Spirit Bottle = 14 Drinks @ 50ml (double measure)

1 Litre Carton of Mixer = 20 Drinks @ 50ml (double measure)

1 Squeezed Lime = Roughly 35ml of Juice

1 Squeezed Lemon = Roughly 45ml – 50ml of Juice

How to serve cocktails to large numbers:

For a party of 100, I would offer a choice of two to three different cocktails. The idea of shaking up individual cocktails for a crowd of thirsty revellers  just doesn’t work. Our trick is to make up large quantities of the mixture in advance,  then shake with ice in our special giant cocktail shakers. Thus you can serve 10 people at a time very quickly.

If you are offering a choice of cocktails, stick to two-three base spirits, a vodka, a gin and a rum, and offer both long and short drinks. When buying or hiring martini glasses be aware that they vary in size, so check out what size yours are then adjust the quantities for your drinks accordingly. It is important to match your drink to the correct glass, both for practical and aesthetic reasons. Who would want to drink a martini out of an old fashioned glass?


Don’t forget to think about the garnish.  In some cases they add to the taste of the cocktail, though usually add visual appeal Check your cocktail recipe for the type of garnish and calculate how many ingredients you will need for the number of cocktails you are making.

Tasty Mini Gougeres


Gougeres are large cheese puffs made of a ring of choux pastry, which is then cut into wedges to serve and hail from the Burgundy region in France. This version is the ideal little snack to serve with drinks, hot from the oven. I recently did a party for 250 in Little Venice and these proved to be the most popular of all the canapes on offer. No sooner had we sent a batch out, then the plate came back empty and another lot popped in the oven. Perfect with a well chilled dry martini or glass of Champagne, they are light as a feather and packed with flavour. A classy, fuss free classic.

To make about 30 mini puffs

  • 110g plain flour
  • 175ml water
  • pinch salt
  • 75g butter
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 50g grated Gruyere cheese
  • 50g grated Parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling on top


  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4
  2. Sieve the flour and have ready to add to water
  3. Place the water, salt and butter in a pan over a medium heat
  4. Bring to boil, remove from the heat and immediately add the flour, stirring continually with a wooden spoon until combined
  5. Return to the pan and put back on the heat and beat until the mixture is smooth and comes away from the sides of the pan
  6. Remove from the heat and turn the mixture onto a flat plate to allow to cool
  7. Next add the eggs a little at a time. Make sure that each egg is completely mixed in before adding more.
  8. Beat until the mixture is smooth and glossy and slightly sticky.
  9. Add the grated cheeses and transfer to a piping bag and pipe small walnut sized blobs onto a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.
  10. Sprinkle some extra grated Parmesan on top
  11. Bake until golden, about 30-35 minutes

These are tasty as they are, but you can add some chorizo bits to the mix after adding the eggs. Cut up the chorizo sausage into tiny cubes, then cook until crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and allow to cool.