Express meals: word is out
Ever need some inspiration for fancy dinner party cuisine or table decor? Want a chef to cook it for you? Michelle Funke shares a few decadent recipes, decor tips and an ideal dinner party solution
COOKING and decorating for dinner parties is not always the easiest of tasks, especially if you are not feeling particularly inspired to cook up a storm or just simply don’t have the time. Luckily for those who would rather look to the experts when it comes to the cuisine, By Word of Mouth, one of Johannesburg’s leading catering companies founded by Karen Short more than 20 years ago, now allows its customers to take the best of its catering menu home.
Last year By Word of Mouth opened a state of the art catering facility in Linbro Park north east of Johannesburg and is about to roll out the country’s first online express catering service. By Word of Mouth Express means that instead of calling in a full catering service, anyone can order the takeaway version of their favourite By Word of Mouth dish for a special dinner party, book club, a birthday celebration or even just for family dinner at home. The meals will be packaged in biodegradable boxes that can go from the freezer to the oven and the microwave. All you’ll need to do is to follow the instructions and the handy visual references on the lid and heat up dinner.
But if you’re the DIY type and are in need of some inspiration, Short has also decided to reintroduce the personal cooking courses she used to run from her Westcliff home. The By Word of Mouth Cooking School relaunched last month with a 20-person class in Short’s purpose-built demonstration kitchen.
Aside from a welcome drink and snacks, demonstrations of five classic By Word of Mouth dishes complete with recipes, cooking school attendees will also be inspired by great table décor and entertaining ideas.
The June cooking school included a number of decadent recipes including Cauliflower soup with blue cheese and spiced pear relish; new age green salad which was a surprisingly delicious tart- let; Mignons of beef fillet with a red pepper coulis and a decadent Croissant butter pudding with white chocolate and whisky. One of my favourite recipes from the evening was for the strawberry preserve with balsamic and black pepper. My only advice would be: never leave this mixture on the stove unattended. I am no kitchen goddess, and so was distracted with something else midsimmer. By the time I remembered I had something on the stove, the mixture had boiled over and took me hours to clean up as it’s really sticky! Luckily I could still do a bit of a save, and have to say this is a delicious combination with a selection of strong cheeses and crackers.
The cooking class also served as great inspiration for some table décor ideas. Short had set up three different popular looks for inspiration: Delft, rustic and red-themed tables. Some of the ideas are really simple to do yourself, especially the red look — which you can create with any colour you like although red is a firm favourite at the moment. The red table decor is great just to make a family get-together more festive.
“We really want those attending the courses to feel part of the By Word of Mouth family — we’ll even be using the welcome part of the evening to try out new dishes we’re thinking of putting on the catering menu and asking the guests to give us feedback,” says Short.
Joining Karen in the demonstration kitchen will be Nicky Gibbs, former Westcliff executive chef who has recently joined the By Word of Mouth team.
Karen says fans of dishes like the By Word of Mouth lamb shanks, chicken pie and prego sauce will be delighted to know that they’ll all be available from By Word of Mouth Express.
“Sometimes you don’t need or want to hire a chef to come and cook for you, but you are too busy to do it all yourself. I know the pressures my clients face, because I face them too. By Word of Mouth Express is our solution to a busy lifestyle,” says Short.
Another convenient aspect of By Word of Mouth Express is the weekend catering service. Simply order your full menu of meals and snacks for your weekend in the Midlands or on the trout farm, and By Word of Mouth Express will fill your cool boxes with everything from biltong to bobotie and rice — and away you go.
“We want to offer the ultimate in convenience: a full meal solution, down to the fresh coriander that you need for garnishing the meal. There’s nothing worse than buying a ready-made chicken pie and you still need to drive to two shops to buy the salad and the crusty bread,” says Short.
Express meals will be delivered to your door or collected from two collection spots in Johannesburg; more collection points will be introduced soon.
A Delft table setting, which is really popular at the moment.
A timeless rustic look in neutral shades.