We recently spoke with Gemma Wade, the mastermind behind, ‘You Say Tomato’, who since 2011 has had more than 5000 people attend her cooking classes, on both sides of the Atlantic; now that’s a pretty big deal.
Just in time for the impending nuptials this weekend, Gemma has written a guide on how to throw a party that embraces Meghan’s California side as well as Harry’s Britishness with recipes that you can create with ease at home; the perfect fuel for THE Wedding of the year.
The first time my mother in law witnessed my love of an over ambitiously themed party still makes me shudder. Her first visit to us in California coincided with William and Kate’s wedding. It wasn’t pretty. I’ve learned my lesson and will be throwing a much more relaxed party for Megan and Harry’s upcoming nuptials on 19th May. Pulling together the best bits of California and Britain is something I’m pretty adept at, so to help you celebrate the big day, I’ve created a party menu with recipes that bring together the best of California and Britain – to reflect both their (and my) homelands. Everything is prepared ahead, works for a crowd of all ages and will let you have a fuss-free wedding viewing party.
On William and Kate’s big day I was 7 months pregnant, red faced, rotund and running around after a 14 month old while making tiny scones, cucumber sandwiches and strawberry compote for a group of mums I’d met at the local playgroup. We’d only been living in California for two months so it was my chance to invite people over and show them a proper English afternoon tea. I brought out my great grandma’s china. At least two of my American guests wore hats. Oh and did I mention everyone brought their just starting to walk babies? Super relaxing.
That royal wedding, him being the future king and all, felt confined by rules and expectations, this one feels more modern, inclusive and approachable. Meghan and Harry picked Violet Cakes to make their cake because they ‘share so many of the same values regarding food provenance, sustainability, seasonality and of course, flavour.’ The fact that Violet’s owner, Claire Ptak, is, like Meghan, from California will have played a part too.
You’ll be glad to know I’ve learned to chill out with my party hosting. Thank goodness. So wherever you are, here’s a menu that you can make to celebrate The Royal Wedding and to nibble on while you watch the day unfold on TV.
Here’s the menu:
Just one look at Harry and you know he loves a sausage roll. I’m with him. Let’s hope Meghan has learned to love them too. A giant sausage roll is a brilliant party center piece. Let people cut a sliver or a wedge off with a bread knife. Add jars of mustard, pickle and a bottle of ketchup and you’re in for a treat.
If you’re celebrating the wedding in the US this makes a great breakfast for your early morning viewing party. Make the roll the night before and bake it as soon as you wake up.
What to buy
Buy ready made all-butter puff pastry and either good sausage meat or sausages and that’s it.
Pick a sausage with a punchy flavour you love and you don’t need to add any seasoning. In the UK I buy the Waitrose black pepper and nutmeg sausage meat, in the US I’d buy the British bangers from the Whole Foods meat counter and squeeze the meat from the skins.
I struggle to find ready rolled all butter puff in the US so the next best thing is all butter Dufour puff pastry. You’ll need to roll it out yourself until it is just bigger than A4 size.
Here’s my recipe
Serves 6 people
215g ready rolled all-butter puff pasty – see note above
300g sausage meat – see note above
a teaspoon of fennel seeds or onion seeds
a teaspoon of Maldon sea salt flakes
- Unroll the pastry and lay it on top of the paper it comes wrapped in.
- Cut the sausage meat into quarters. Leave one quarter in the packet and lay the other three quarters end to end along the length of pastry. So that the line of sausage meat lies around 2 inches in from the longest side (see photo)
- Break the egg into a small bowl and whisk with a fork before using a pastry brush or your fingers to paint a line of egg along the pastry.
- Lift the long edge of the pastry over the sausage meat and roll so that the meat is enclosed. You’ll be left with about an inch of pastry on the far side. Cut this off and set aside (you can sprinkle it with grated Parmesan and bake it for a snack later).
- Use a fork to push the seam of the pastry together then brush the whole top of the roll with egg.
- Lift the roll onto a foil lined baking tray, scatter the seeds and sea salt flakes over the top. At this stage the roll can sit in the fridge for a few hours.
- When you’re ready to cook, pre-heat the oven to 200c/180 fan xxxf
- Cook the roll for 55 minutes or until the pastry is dark golden brown. The meat will be cooked by that time so no need to worry. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before lifting onto a platter. Serve with pickles and mustard and a bread knife so that people can carve their own slice.
Coronation chicken tacos
Coronation chicken is a classic English party piece. By serving it in tacos, not only do you bring the Californian side in, you make it easier to eat. Adding avocado, rocket, lime and pink pickled radishes makes this a dream.
The chicken mixture can be made the day before and finished off just before serving. The pickled radish can be made a week before so all you need to do on the day is heat tortillas and either let people assemble their own or make them up just as your guests arrive.
Here’s my coronation chicken recipe.
Ingredients Serves 4 as a main or makes around 16 tacos which will serve 6-8 people
1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
3 green onions, green and white parts sliced thinly
1 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated with a Microplane
1 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
Above spice mix plus:
Around 250g (2 cups) cooked chicken – either freshly cooked small chunks of chicken breast or the shredded meat from a rotisserie chicken
200g (7 oz) plain full fat yoghurt
1-2 teaspoons mango chutney
20g (1 oz) coriander (cilantro), leaves and stems finely chopped
1 lime, juice and zest
a pinch of sea salt and chilli flakes to taste
16 small tortillas (see note above)
Pickled radish or pink onion
1 large red chili
20g (1 oz) coriander (cilantro)
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan on a medium heat and add the sliced onions, garam masala, cumin and fennel seeds and cook for 3 minutes until the onions are soft and the spices smell fragrant.
- Use a coarse Microplane to grate the ginger and garlic into the pan and cook for 2 minutes.
- Put all the remaining coronation chicken ingredients to a bowl and add the cooked spice mix.
- Mix the coronation chicken ingredients together. Taste and add chilli, salt and more chutney as needed. Set aside.
- Heat the tortillas in a dry frying pan, keeping the warm tortillas in a clean tea towel as you heat the rest.
- Assemble the rest of the taco ingredients Thinly slice a red chili, cut the limes into quarters and pick leaves from the coriander. Slice an avocado.
- Assemble each taco by spreading some of the avocado along the middle of the warmed tortilla. Top with a heaped dessert spoon of the coronation chicken, a couple of prices of pickled radish or onion and finish with a scatter of chili, coriander leaves and a squeeze of lime. Eat immediately.
Make a platter of my Palm Springs date and kale salad. It is perfect for any vegan or veggie guests and works really well with the coronation chicken too.
Find my recipe here.
You can make your own version of the wedding cake by delving into the fabulous Violet Cakes cook book. If you fancy something extra, or don’t fancy making a cake, these easy ice cream sandwiches will be perfect. They’re just soft salt-sprinkled chocolate chip cookies with a wedge of ice cream in between them. What’s not to like.
Either make your own cookies (the chocolate chunk, spelt and sea salt ones from my site are amazing – make them as individual cookies, baking them for 15 minutes, rather than one giant one) or buy good soft cookies – the kind they sell in the bakery bit at the supermarket.
You can make your own ice cream too but I won’t – just buy a good organic one. Vanilla works just great for me. Make sure you get the ice cream out of the freezer 10 minutes before assembling the cookies so it is easy to smear. And have plenty of napkins on hand too.
You can make the ice cream sandwiches ahead, filling them with ice cream then wrapping them individually in foil or parchment before freezing them. They can be eaten from frozen, ideally get them out 10 minutes before you want to eat so they are suitably oozy. Or let people make their own – messier but more fun.
Add some bought stuff
If you need to bulk this menu out, buy a few bits and display them on platters alongside the homemade things. This is no time for things being left in their wrappers.
- A cheese board with chunks of figs, dried apricots, honey, duchy original crackers and nuts
- tortilla chips and guacamole
- posh crisps
Don’t lower the tone with single use plastic
Ethics, sustainability and inclusiveness featured high on the wedding brief for these modern royals. They’ve asked for donations to 7 charities, including Surfers Against Sewage in lieu of wedding gifts.
To cut plastic use, we’ll sup our cocktails with these steel straws and wrap the food with these beeswax wraps until we’re ready to unveil it. It may add a bit more washing but please don’t lower the tone by using plastic cups, straws and forks. Ditch the paper plates too. We can pretend this is about saving the oceans but it’s also about doing things properly – food tastes so much better off a real plate.
The ceremony is 12 midday BST but with all the coverage of the run up, I’d plan on being close to the TV most of the day. Football fans should note that the Royal Wedding shares a date with the FA Cup final but the football airs much later in the afternoon, usually 5pm.
1 week (or 1 day) before
- make cookie dough and freeze it in small balls. Or make and freeze the complete ice cream sandwiches
- make pink pickled onions
The day before
- Make the coronation chicken
- Make the cocktail
- Chill all the drinks
On the day
- Make the salad
- Make the sausage roll (it can be made and left, uncooked in the fridge for a few hours) and bake it an hour before people arrive
- Bring the coronation chicken out of the fridge an hour before you eat so that you’ll eat it at room temperature
- Chill the glasses for the cocktail in the freezer
- Bake the cookies
Just before everyone eats
- Heat the tortillas
- Slice the avocados and limes for the tacos
Gemma’s website www.yousaytomatocooking.com hosts a whole range of delicious, speedy recipes, as well as offering online tutorials, tricks and tips into fitting family cooking around a busy lifestyle.