Home Cooking Tips From Catering Pros Colette

Belgian couple Dimitri and Mira Plaquet opened Fulham deli Colette back in 2020. Now with two additional sites in Wimbledon and Wandsworth – as well as a new dinner party service delivering canapés and three-course meals across London – who better to ask for some home cooking tips? Here, Mira shares her favourite dinner party dishes and go-to weekday meals…
By Sherri Andrew /

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How Would You Describe Your Cooking Style? 

Owning Colette has made us more adventurous. It’s also much more refined and elegant, and I take a lot more care to cook with seasonal produce. Now, I merge British and European influences together to make something special. Our parents and their love of good food really rubbed off on us – meals are a time when we get to relax and talk about the day. We want to pass those values onto our children.

Let’s Get Into The Food. How Do You Make A Great Breakfast At Home?

On weekdays, it’s got to be quick and easy to get the kids off to school. At the weekend, we can take a little more time. Weekend breakfasts are usually a croque monsieur – grilled on both sides of course, for that crispy outside and soft inside. On a weekday, it’s usually homemade granola and fruit. I make mine with almonds, oats, maple syrup and an assortment of mixed dried fruit. I find adding a little dried lemon or orange peel also makes it a little different.

What’s Your Go-To Dish At This Time Of Year?

At the minute, I’m enjoying roasted cauliflower. Even for carnivores, cauliflower has a really meaty texture and lends itself to a number of interesting flavours. We crust ours with pistachio and pomegranate and serve it with spiced tahini. It just feels so light and summery. 

What About An Easy Mid-Week Supper?

Sliced meatloaf with a mustard sauce and some crushed potatoes. Meatloaf is such a retro meal, but it’s so delicious and easy to put together. Plus, the kids love it. 

What's Your Ultimate Comfort Dish?

My husband’s sweetbread with béarnaise sauce. It reminds me so much of our family, of being at home at the weekend with the children. 

Which Store Cupboard Ingredients Do You Always Go Back To?

A really fantastic parmesan. We’ve managed to source and find some spectacular cheese at Colette, and I think a great quality parmesan is the difference between a good pasta dish and an okay one. 

Are There Any Store Cupboard Essentials You Think People Don’t Know About?

It might seem fairly obvious, but it’s so important to know the difference between an olive oil for frying or for marinating, and one for dipping and drizzling. Oils can often be marketed as ‘extra virgin’ which is true, but they can be months from the harvest and of mixed variety. We use an oil supplier called Château d’Estoblon, who separate their olive varieties into single origin oils – my favourite is the Picholine, it’s super peppery and elevates any dish.

Are There Any Tips You Can Share For Vegan Cooking? 

Although we’re a family of meat eaters, we take care to produce vegan dishes to give the kids variety. Being a vegan at a dinner party can be a bit daunting – when everyone else is eating meat, you’re bound to get a stuffed mushroom or pepper. We always try to substitute meat products in our dishes for vegan ingredients, to make them as similar as possible. It has to be special, too. On our Valentine’s catering menu for example, we made a celeriac and truffle wellington with vegan puff pastry. It was a sharing dish, and it went down a treat. 

We’re All Trying To Make Our Food Healthier. Do You Have Any Tips?

Spice things up a bit. There’s such a stigma that healthy food has to be bland. We always find our salads and ‘healthier’ dishes sell so much better when they have an interesting combination of spices or flavours. A great example is one of our bestsellers – beetroot, cardamom and labneh. It’s still extremely good for you, but the sweetness of the beetroot and creamy labneh adds an extra layer.

Can You Share A Great Dinner Party Menu?

I will always start off with a hearty soup, or terrine, and then usually struggle to decide which main course to serve. I love a wellington – they have a reputation for being tricky, but once you’ve made one, you can make a hundred. Cassoulet in winter is unbeatable; and in the summer, we’ll switch it up for a seafood linguine with slow roasted tomatoes. For dessert, gateau St-Honoré (a type of French patisserie) is always popular. If you find you’re overwhelmed with the work, or perhaps if you have a few extra heads at your table, start off with a simple niçoise salad that can be prepped in advance, before moving on to a large rack of roasted pork, a crowd pleaser, that’s easy to portion out. 

What Are The Best Starters To Prepare In Advance?

Soup! Batch cook it in advance and then portion it up after reheating. A traditional pâté goes down well, too, especially when it’s cooked in a traditional terrine mould and served up at the table. My favourite is a duck liver and gammon terrine with vine fruits. It’s rich, but simple to put together.

What’s A Simple, Seasonal Pudding That Still Impresses?

Paris-Brest. It’s spectacular to look at as a centrepiece, and so traditionally French that it’s bound to impress. It’s a layered dessert of choux pastry with praline cream. It’s meant to be a showstopper, and it really is – but what’s even better is how simple it is to make. Once you have the choux nailed, it’s really just a matter of assembly and styling it out. We top ours with caramelised hazelnuts.

What Goes Into A Great Cheese Plate Or Charcuterie Board? 

Not all guests will have a sweet tooth and it’s important to offer up an alternative. For my husband and I, Vacherin Mont d’Or is unbeatable when it’s in season, especially when it’s warmed up. Comté is essential, of course, as is a milder soft cheese like brie. For those who love something stronger, Petit Munster is popular – it’s an unpasteurised cow’s milk cheese that’s brushed with brine for three weeks, leaving it tangy, punchy and sweet. Crackers must be sturdy to harbour both hard and soft cheeses, so we opt for miller’s wheat or buttermilk. And of course, we mustn’t forget the quince paste. 

What About Cocktails – What Would You Recommend For A Party?

A French 75 made with lemon juice, sugar syrup and gin shaken over ice, then topped up with champagne. It’s luxurious and impressive, and certainly whets the appetite before a dinner party. Every at-home bar should always have bitters, large ice cubes, and an emergency bottle of champagne.

Do You Have Any New Food Discoveries To Share?

Quince paste. I know it’s been around for a long time, but it only seems to be getting big in London now. It’s the most incredible accompaniment for cheese and will have any dinner party guest talking. We use a little in our cheese baguette for takeaway in the shops. 

What Three Kitchen Tools And Gadgets Couldn’t You Live Without? 

A piping bag, to help plate up both desserts and mains is essential – everyone will be so impressed with your skills. A traditional terrine mould is handy for large-scale starters that will still look good when portioned out. Finally, a meat thermometer. 

Tell Us About Your Favourite Chefs And Cookbooks…

I love Ella Mill’s cookbooks. I don’t follow a plant-based diet, but I find her recipes very interesting, tasty and easy to execute. I also love anything Ottolenghi does. The associations he makes are simply incredible. Everything is so tasty and original and with every bite we’re transported around the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The flavours are fantastic. Finally, I can’t not mention my Thermomix Cookbook. I am in love with this machine – it does everything. It’s simple to use, quick, and tasty. The original cookbook offers a variety of recipes from a garam masala chicken to a chili con carne or minestrone. The chocolate chip cookie recipe is the best!

You can find Colette in Fulham, Wimbledon and Wandsworth. The new dinner party service delivers canapes and three-course meals to homes across London from £150 – you can find out more here, and buy tickets to regular wine tasting events at its Northcote Road site here

Visit Colette.co.uk & follow @ColetteCuisine

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