Fuss-Free Starters Caterers Swear By

Want to know what caterers whip up in a flash when friends are coming over? Read on for these top tips from some of our favourite cooks which are quick and easy but will definitely impress. For even more inspiration, check out their mouth-watering Instagram feeds…

Milly Wilson, N5 Kitchen

Grilled Tumeric & Ginger Prawns, Lime, Avocado & Gem Lettuce

“This is a super colourful starter that can be prepared ahead of service, helping you save time when your guests arrive. It works well as both a shared dish, served in the middle of the table for guests to dig into, or plated up in individually.” 

Serves 6
50g ginger
3 x garlic cloves
1 x tsp ground cumin
2 x tsp ground turmeric
2 x limes
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
24 x king prawns, peeled and deveined
2 x avocados
1 x tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 x gem lettuces

Blend the ginger, garlic, turmeric, cumin, juice of one lime, coconut milk and a pinch of salt to make the marinade.
Smother the prawns in the marinade.
Put a griddle pan on a high heat and grill the prawns.
Separately, blend the avocados with the juice of one lime, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Check the seasoning and add more salt if it needs.
Break the leaves off the lettuces (you need two leaves per person). Put two of the grilled prawns in each lettuce cup, top with a few dollops of lime avocado and then sprinkle over a few sprigs of coriander and mint.

Sea Bass Crudo, Shaved Fennel & Radish With Lemon & Chilli Oil

“I love how light and fresh this dish is with the fennel and radish adding some crunch. It's perfect as we head into the midst of summer and it looks impressive on the plate from just some thoughtful preparation of your ingredients - very little cooking required!”

Serves 6
3 x seabass fillets
1 x fennel
3 tbsp olive oil
1 x bunch of radishes
Juice of a whole lemon
1 x red chilli, finely diced
Salt and pepper

Keeping them whole, thinly slice the radish and fennel. (Use a mandolin if you have one.)
Take the seabass fillets and slice into 5mm slices.
Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, chilli and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Lay the slices of fish on the plate, top with a small handful of the shaved veg, then drizzle over the dressing.

Visit N5Kitchen.com

Nicky Elliott, The Conscientious Chef

Chargrilled Asparagus With Olive Oil & Sea Salt

“Simple chargrilled asparagus with olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper – it’s at the end of its season now but if you can find some, it’s so tasty!”

Serves 2
1 bunch of fresh asparagus, end trimmed
Olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pan of water to boil and blanch the asparagus for 2 minutes, refresh in cold water.
Place a heavy-based skillet pan on a high flame and heat until it begins to smoke. Place the asparagus onto the pan, taking care not to burn yourself. Cook in batches for approximately 2 minutes, turning when the asparagus is nicely charred. Place on a serving dish and before serving drizzle with extra virgin
olive oil, sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Serve on its own or with warm crusty bread.

Vietnamese Summer Rolls

“A real show stopper and everyone absolutely loves them, they really aren’t as fiddly as they look.”

Makes 8
16 raw prawns (optional)
1 stalk of lemongrass, crushed (optional)
Edible flowers – preferably pansies
Bunch of chives (optional)
1 block of rice vermicelli
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp nam pla (fish sauce or vegan fish sauce)
Small bunch of fresh mint, leaves only
4 sprigs of coriander
Small bunch of Thai basil, leaves only
1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin julienne
¼ cucumber, cut into thin matchsticks
1 bell red pepper, cut into thin matchsticks
1 bunch of spring onions, very thinly sliced
8 rice paper wrappers

For the dipping sauce:
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp fish sauce or vegan fish sauce
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 bird’s eye chilli, finely sliced

Bring a small pan of water, with the lemongrass and 1 tbsp salt added, to the boil. Add the prawns, turn down the heat and poach for two minutes until pink. Drain and cut in half.
Put the noodles in a large bowl and pour over boiling water. Add ½ tsp salt, leave for about four minutes until al dente, then rinse well in cold water and drain thoroughly.
Mix the rice wine vinegar, tamari and nam pla together and stir in the noodles. Roughly chop the mint, coriander and Thai basil. Set out all the ingredients within easy reach of a clean, dry chopping board.
Half fill a bowl big enough to fit the wrappers in with cold water, and then dunk one in and keep patting until it’s pliable, but not completely soft. Lay flat on the chopping board.
Arrange two crossed chives, if using, horizontally towards the bottom edge of the wrapper. If using prawns, top with four prawn halves in a horizontal line, and top these with a line of herb leaves. If using flowers then place the flowers face down on the rice paper wrappers. Add a pinch of carrot, spring onion, pepper and cucumber sticks, a small clump of rice vermicelli and a good handful of chopped herbs.
Bring the bottom edge of the wrapper tightly up over the filling, and then fold the sides in over it. Continue to roll up tightly and place on a plate, join-side down. Cover rolls with lettuce leaves to keep them fresh.
Once all the rolls are made, make the sauce. Whisk the maple syrup into the lime juice, add the fish sauce, garlic and chilli and taste then serve.

Visit theconscientiouscook.co.uk

Zara White, Zara’s Kitchen

Maple Trout With Crème Fraîche Pâté

“This is the perfect dish to do the day before or in the morning before work and looks very appetizing on the plate.”

Serves 4
2 trout fillets 
200g maple 
200g salt
1 lemon, zested 
1 orange, zested 

For crème fraîche pâté:
1 fillet of smoked trout 
100g creme fraiche
100g cream cheese 
1 lemon + zest
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

Get the trout fillets place in a dish with high sides.
Cover in the maple/ salt and add lemon & orange zest - wrap and put into the fridge.

In a bowl add smoked trout, creme fraiche and cream cheese, mix together and add zest of one lemon, tart and add lemon juice to taste, and salt and pepper.

Wash the trout under water for a few minutes to make sure the cure is off.
Put on a chopping board, get a sharp knife, and starting at the top (thick bit) of the fish, thinly slice.
Serve together with a teaspoon of caviar and micro herbs.

Melon Carpaccio

“This is so fresh and pretty – the perfect summer starter.”

Serves 4
1 melon, any type
300g mixed tomatoes
200g broad beans peeled
60g basil 
2 tbsp aged balsamic
4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil 

Peel a melon with a peeler. Once peeled, peel the flesh into strips and put in a bowl.
Cut the tomatoes roughly - add to the bowl. 
In boiling water, add broad beans for 2 minutes, drain and run under cold water until cool. You may need to peel the broad beans if they are not young – add them to bowl. 
Add balsamic, extra virgin olive oil and mix with the basil. 
Arrange on the plate in a pretty design and serve with sourdough.

Visit zaraskitchen.co.uk

Ellie Short, Chilli Bees

Burrata With Heirloom Tomatoes

“I love this simple starter which lets the ingredients speak for themselves, especially when tomatoes come into their own in the summer. Burrata has become more easily accessible nowadays and can be found in both supermarkets and local cheese suppliers – depending on their size you can either have one per person or tear and share between a couple of people.”

Burrata – 100g per person
For the tomato salad:
Selection of mixed tomatoes such as cherry, Kumato and Roma
1/2 x red onion, finely sliced
1 x small ciabatta
1 x small clove garlic
Olive oil

Cut the tomatoes into different sizes and cover with a J Cloth. Slice the red onion very finely.
Let the ciabatta dry out overnight then cut into rough 2cm cubes and coat in finely diced garlic and olive oil. Toast in a 180 degree oven for approx. 8 minutes until crispy.

For the dressing:
Basil, finely chopped
Red wine vinegar x 4 tbsps
Olive oil  x 4 tbsps
Maldon salt
Mix the vinegar, oil and chopped basil and season with a little salt

For the basil oil:
1 bunch of basil
Olive oil
Using a little hand blender blitz the basil with a little olive oil to make a vibrant green basil oil, season with a little salt and pepper

Season the tomatoes, finely sliced onion and ciabatta with the red wine vinegar dressing about 30 minutes before serving. Place the tomato mix in a circle with a hole in the middle and then place the burrata centrally (either torn or as a whole), sprinkle some Maldon salt and ground black pepper on the burrata, sprinkle with some fresh basil and serve.

Visit chillibeescatering.co.uk

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