Home Cooking Tips From The Pros At Doggart & Squash

Home Cooking Tips From The Pros At Doggart & Squash

Clare Doggart and Sarah Haggie – the duo behind renowned caterer Doggart & Squash – are passionate about good food. Whether it’s tailoring a menu to suit a specific event or designing the entire culinary concept for a wedding, party or office delivery, they’re a go-to among the A-list. Here, they tell us more about their style and inspiration, and share some of their best at-home cooking tips.
Photography: DOGGART & SQUASH

We’d love to know when and where you first learned to cook…

Sarah: “As a child, I learnt most of what I know from my mum and used to experiment vicariously during the school holidays – any opportunity at all, I was in the kitchen with her.”

Clare: “I have such fond memories of making mac ‘n’ cheese with one granny and cheese straws with another. I also grew up watching my mum trying out new exciting recipes and hosting lots of great parties. If there’s one thing we both learnt early on, however, it would be to always enjoy cooking and never try to overcomplicate it. It’s a philosophy we follow to this day.”

Sarah: “Definitely – if someone asked us to describe our cooking style at Doggart & Squash in three words it would have seasonal, full of flavour and colourful.  It’s an aesthetic or style we try to replicate at home, too.”

What are your top tips for easy mid-week suppers?

Clare: “Always have a fridge full of lots of fresh sauces – both of us always have at least a salsa verde or chimichurri to hand. A simple dressing or sauce can make anything taste great, especially a crisp summer salad at this time of year. Also, make sure you have lots of spices in easy access when cooking – dukkah, a nutty spice mix, is a staple in my kitchen, so  pomegranate molasses is  a store cupboard essential.”

Sarah: “I have to chip in here – I feel like everything at mine at the moment has Duchess Oil’s Smoked Rapeseed Oil in – and I also use lots of fresh herbs to liven up dishes.”

In your view, what are the most underrated ingredients? 

Clare: “Bavette, lamb’s neck, trout and kohlrabi – without doubt. Bavette is a great easy weekend meal and a crowd pleaser – plus, it’s full of flavour and great on the BBQ. Lamb’s neck works in both summer and winter – slow cook it during the colder months or serve with a fresh salsa in the spring and summer. 

Sarah: “We also love trout with horseradish and Jersey royals. Our head chef Ed has just put it onto the menu cured with Sapling vodka and served with The Pickle House’s bloody Mary, with celery ribbons, cucumber and dill. As for kohlrabi, simply roast it whole, then peel and sear.”

Is there a way to make easy, vegan dishes? 

Clare: “If you want to embrace vegan cooking, it’s time to treat vegetables as if they are meat – think marinade, searing and cooking. Spices and sauces can make vegan food more delicious, so don’t overlook them either Aquafaba is also your best friend when you want to replace eggs in any recipe.”

Sarah: “No matter the style, you can always make a dish taste delicious by using good quality ingredients and delicious dressings – it’s something to bear in mind if you’re concerned that vegan dishes might come out a bit bland. Also, try to make it from scratch – so nothing processed, and always make sure it’s in season. This will instantly make your dishes healthier, and better for the planet, too.”

Do you have a favourite homemade soup?

Clare: “At this time of year, you can’t go wrong with gazpacho – just make sure it has plenty of basil oil to finish it off and a glass of rosé to accompany it.”

Sarah: “Our favourite recipe for gazpacho is from Gordon Ramsey – make sure you are using ripe tomatoes and allow the ingredients to properly marinade. We never use green peppers – it’s a personal thing, but we really don’t like the flavour.”

What do you think people tend to get wrong or use too much of?

Clare: “Be warned – it’s very easy to over salt and over spice any dish. Adding too many different elements can ruin it – so keep it simple and seasonal where possible.”

Can you recommend the cookbooks everyone should have on their shelf?

Clare: “There are so many to choose from, but if we had to narrow it down, I’d say Simon Stallard’s The Hidden Hut. He opened The Hidden Hut back in 2011 – it’s an outdoor restaurant in Cornwall, tucked down on a remote sandy beach with no road access. Can you believe in 2017, over 22,000 people applied for just 600 covers over their summer season? His cooking techniques are a bit iconic in Cornwall – from fire pits in the sand to wind-chime fish smokers and wood-fired rotisseries – his food is influenced by smouldering fires and field-to-fork Cornish produce.”

Sarah: “There’s also Nick Weston’s Hunter Gather Cook and Mark Diacono’s Herb: A Cook’s Companion. The former is perfect if you're uninspired by the mundanity of the weekly shop, care about where your food comes from, and wish to add excitement to the idea of feeding and watering yourself. Mark, meanwhile, is a gardener as well as a cook. Full of ideas for enjoying and using herbs, it’s so much more than your average recipe book. Not only does he share the techniques at the heart of sourcing, preparing and using herbs well, but he also shows you to make delicious food that’s as rewarding in the process as it is in the end result. They’re both titles I come back to time and again.”

Asian food is delicious but seems tricky to do well yourself – any tips?

Clare: “For us, there are five key elements to making any Asian dish sing: salt, spice, sour, sweet and bitter – if you make sure you have a mix of all five, I guarantee it will be great!”

By the time the weekend rolls around is there a classic twist on a cooked breakfast you recommend?

Clare: “Avocado and eggs is always a popular combination but to make it a bit more special, we love making labneh with dukkah, sourdough and a tomato salsa.”

What are some of your top dinner party menus?

Clare: “Butterflied leg of lamb, salsa verde, crushed roasted new potatoes with crispy capers and chives and a couple of seasonal salads. For a show-stopping starter it would have to be cured trout with pickled vegetables.”

Sarah: “Remember to marinade your lamb overnight with lots of rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper and some oil. Allow the meat to come up to room temperature and then BBQ it on a high heat. Once it’s nicely coloured move the meat to a cooler part of the barbecue if possible. Keep your salsa verde chunky, too – don’t over blitz it.. It’s also worth adding some more mint to it when you’re doing lamb.”

What are some of the simplest ideas for puddings that still have the wow factor?

Clare: “For the summer nothing beats a fresh fruit salad platter with a mint or basil syrup and sometimes a brown sugar meringue. They’re crispier than the white variety, so they just add some extra texture – plus, they’re a bit different to the norm.”

Are you a fan of a cheese plate and what’s your favourite to serve? 

Clare: “When it comes to cheese, it’s best to go straight to the Cheese Merchant to check out their amazing selection – they source all their cheese from British suppliers, so you’re supporting local businesses and producers, which is great. The Driftwood Goat’s Cheese is a standout, as is the gouda from a small farm in Cornwall. Delicious.”

What’s your secret to throwing a really good party?

Clare: “It’s simple really: delicious food, good company, great drinks – we love sparkling English wine – fun music and plenty of candles to set the tone. Remember, the reason you are throwing a party is to see your friends and have a good time, something that’s never been more important after the last year we’ve all been through.”

Sarah: “I agree – you don’t want to be worrying about being in the kitchen all night faffing with dishes which have only made you feel out of your depth – so get what you can done in advance to ensure you get the most out of the evening with your loved ones.”

As restrictions lift, how are you finding business to be? 

Clare: “We’re excited to be back at events again – despite the current restrictions on numbers. We have loved organising weddings for 30 guests, with families and friends celebrating in beautiful intimate surroundings. Most recently, we had the privilege of working alongside Simon Stallard at the G7 Summit in Cornwall, which was a pretty surreal experience and an honour to be part of.”


For more information visit DoggartAndSquash.com and follow @DoggartAndSquash on Instagram. 

Fashion. Beauty. Culture. Life. Home
Delivered to your inbox, daily