The Definitive Guide To Herbs And Spices

Herbs and spices are a huge part of cooking, but I’ll admit that they are largely mystifying to me. They can provide every sort of flavour alteration, alter the smell and look of a dish, and transform it into either an incredible success or a catastrophic failure (see: when I attempted to make a chicken and rice stir fry with garlic, chillies, basil, ginger and a tin of coconut milk).

Tired of looking at the myriad of combinations of spices and seeing only inscrutable magic at work, I went looking for a guide to help show me, in simple terms, what to do with each spice, how to combine it with other seasonings and how to know when to use it and when to leave it out. It took a while of searching, but I’ve finally found it: the Spice Bible. The Codex of Herbs and Spices. The Well-Seasoned Holy Grail.

The following infographic will take every spice you may ever wish to use, and show a visual representation, give you a description of the flavour of the seasoning, and explain what dishes it belongs in. Meats, fish and vegetables that it pairs well with are included for each entry, as is an entry for which other seasonings it combines well with!

The simplicity of it is incredible, and in a field as diverse and complex as seasonings, it’s a welcome change from the complicated guides I’ve found elsewhere. I couldn’t help but share it!


Spices Guide

Now go forth and never cook a bland meal ever again!

Catering For A 21st Birthday Party

shutterstock_192511769Organising a 21st birthday party can be both exciting and stressful in equal measures. Depending on how many guests you are planning on inviting, you could save yourself time, money and worry by arranging for a catering company to deal with the food element of the evening.

Even if you decide to hire a catering company, there are certain food touches you can add yourself, such as nuts, crisps and savoury biscuits on the tables or dotted around the venue. This will mean that your guests can nibble and won’t be constantly asking what time the food will be served.

The type of food you decide on can be a big factor when it comes to these types of events. Keep in mind the number of guests you need to feed as well as what foods you know your family and friends enjoy. There isn’t much point in opting for a curry if you know your friends and family don’t like spicy food, no matter how many people it will serve.

Also bear in mind the needs of some younger guests. A good option is to have some garlic bread, pizzas or ham sandwiches on the buffet table, but ensure that these are saved for the younger guests or they go to get their plates first.

shutterstock_263966777It is important to ensure that the food is served early on in the evening. For example, if the party starts at 7:30pm, you will want to have fed your guests before 9pm, to limit the impact of alcohol causing problems. You don’t want the night to be remembered for the wrong reasons!

Another thing you can do is leave the food out for the remainder of the night. Okay, the bread might go a little bit stale, and hot dishes might not be as hot as they were when they were first served, but the majority of it will be perfectly fine and means that people can float to and from the table throughout the night.

And when the night is over, you can take the leftovers home for lunch the next day!


6 Foods to Consider For Your Next Big Event

1. Canapes

Pre-dinner nibbles of some kind to whet your guests’ appetites are always going to be a winner. But canapes will make things look all the more extravagant using just a few simple ingredients.canapes

Using a bite-sized base such as bruschetta bread, melba toasts or even mini jacket potatoes, you can pile each canape as high as you like with a mix of protein and vegetables. Opt for smoked salmon; cream cheese with chives; hummus or salsa, and asparagus, dill, tomatoes or olives to top.

Remember that canapes aren’t just for starters – sweet canapes such as mini bitesized cheesecakes or brownies can impress too. Find plenty of inspirational recipes over on the BBC Good Food website.

2. Cold Centrepiece

You can’t go wrong with a beautifully cooked and presented centerpiece at your event, such as a large smoked salmon or boiled/roasted ham. Serve cold with a mix of accompanying vegetables, salads and dressings, and let your guests help themselves.

It may be useful to think about what flavours and textures go well together. Most people like to pile a bit of everything on their plate, so too many clashing dishes won’t go down as well. Be selective and combine carefully.

3. Hot Pot Dishes

One or two simple hot pot dishes with an accompanying carbohydrate is a fuss-free alternative to putting together lots of smaller fiddly dishes. Common one-pot dishes, such as a thai curry; mexican chilli or a wonderful Italian pasta are likely to go down a treat.

You’ll want to provide lashutterstock_158698952rge quantities so your guests can go back for seconds, and serve with whatever you think best compliments the main – rice; potatoes, or some freshly baked bread. Why not stick to a theme and serve additions like nachos; naan breads or marinated olives to complete the feast.

4. Hog Roast

A hog roast is a huge winner at larger events, particularly if part or all of it is taking place outdoors. Del Fuego can provide a delicious hog roast in Liverpool, which can be a delicious way to keep your guests warm.

Serve up with some fresh bread rolls, warm apple sauce or a range of tangy chutneys to compliment. Perfect handheld food.

6. Cupcake Tower

There’s few things more impressive than a tremendous tower of cupcakes, displayed expertly on a beautifully decorated cake stand. When it comes to the cupcakes, the more varied they are the better, both in sponge, filling and decoration.

Caterers like Camp Cupcake  can offer you cupcakes for any occasion, including corporate cupcakes with the business name displayed in icing. cupcakes-catering

7. Gourmet Popcorn/Candy Floss

Hiring a popcorn or candy floss stand for your event can be big hit, especially with children. It can be a nice addition or alternative to dessert (depending on the event), and the fun packaging options available can make it all the more fun.

However, many caterers are taking this simple concept to the next level with gourmet popcorn – popcorn that’s made from all-natural ingredients and served warm, with glazes of caramel; chocolate; salt; dill pickle or cheddar cheese (for savoury options)! This is a real chance to do something different that will wow your guests. It’s also perfect for party favours.

The Ways To Stay Safe While Cooking

There are few household appliances that we use more than the kitchen oven. The average family will use it one or two times every single day to help cook meals. However, it can also be a dangerous appliance if it is not used correctly. From the moment you purchase an oven to using it years after you brought it home, there are several steps that must be taken to ensure you are using it safely. This will also guarantee that it has a long life-span, so you don’t have to worry about forking out for an expensive upgrade any time soon.

The path to having a safe, efficient cooking begins from the moment you purchase your oven. You should be paying close attention to the specs of the model to make sure it has been tested independent laboratory. This will usually be verified by a label on the appliance. You could also check out reviews from trusted third parties such as Which?

Installing your oven must be done correctly once it has been purchased. You should check to see if there is a safe distance between the hood and the oven’s wiring and test it rigorously before attempting to cook any meals. If you have children around the house, there are additional steps you may wish to take in order to ensure they are not harmed by the oven. Safety devices like knob stops and locking straps, for example, can be installed.

Afterwards, you may also wish to register your oven online so that its manufacturer can inform you about potential dangers or recalls if the appliance is faulty.

It is also possible for particles of food and residue from grease to cause a fire. It is highly recommended that you never leave the room while you are cooking to ensure that, if this does begin to happen, you can quickly extinguish it. If you believe there is a build up of food or grease and your oven needs a deep clean, you can hire professional oven cleaning services in Warrington, St. Helens and many other areas of the North West.

Burns from ovens can be painful. You can minimize the risk of receiving one by making sure you are using the oven in a correct way. Only use pans or pots that are the correct size and never leave them on a hot hob unless you are cooking If you are, ensure that all the handles are turned inwards so that you do not accidentally knock the contents over yourself.

6 Alternatives To Traditional Sit Down Meals At Your Wedding

When it comes to organising your big day, there are many decisions to be made about all sorts of areas, including food. It can be argued that the meal is the centre piece of your wedding, as it is the time when guests are encouraged to interact with each other and the odds are you won’t be given the chance to do anything like this again.

For many people, getting the menu right is one of the most stressful parts of organising a wedding. It is important to remember, while you want your guests to be happy, it is ultimately your own decision and you should opt for what you feel is best.

There is no rule book that says you must have a traditional wedding meal, nor is it set in stone that you must have a particular type of menu. Here are some alternatives to a traditional sit down meal that is normally served at a wedding breakfast:

1. Picnics

A picnic inspired menu would feature elements such as cold meats, breads, cheese, finger food like sausage rolls and crisps as well as cupcakes. This would result in a less formal meal, which might be exactly what your after, especially if you have a lot of younger guests. It can also encourage your older guests to mingle and chat with each other, as it doesn’t feel as stiff and proper as a sit down meal.

This style is even something you might think about doing yourself, without the need to call in the professionals, saving the need for a caterer for other important elements such as drinks. The only thing that is difficult to ensure is for this style of menu you would need some sunny weather, which can be rare in the UK. However, if you wedding is in June or July, you can usually get a clear day.

2. Hog Roasts and Barbecues

Hog roasts and large barbecues are another relatively cheap form of catering that encourages a welcoming and sharing atmosphere as well as meaning that there is no need for a formal sit down meal. There are other alternatives to red meat, such as prawns and paella and these can be served with sides of corn on the cob, breads and cheeses. Again, if you envision this as an outdoor method of catering, you will need to have the weather on your side.

It is becoming increasingly popular these days to have a hog roast as either a main course dish or even for a later meal, almost like a midnight snack, after the main part of the wedding reception. It is key to be completely confident in the abilities of your hog roast provider as cooking a hog roast is much more complex than it seems. The meat in the middle of the hog must be cooked thoroughly without burning the outside to a crisp, which is incredibly difficult to achieve unless you are used to cooking this type of meat.

3. Fast Food

Although this is quite an unusual choice, some couple prefer to order fast food for their wedding meals as it is cheap, quick and the chances of things going wrong are relativity slim.

However, it may be best to consider this as a late night snack, rather than the main course; once your guests are full of drink, the chances are some hot fresh pizaas would be more than welcome!

Obviously, this option is best suited to an informal event, so bare in mind the overall style of the wedding.

A Note On Informal Catering

It is important to remember, as great as these informal alternatives are, you might have guests, particularity older family members, who fully expect a formal sit down meal and the idea of a barbecue or a picnic style buffet is something they would consider to be horrifying. Remember that your meal should be tailored to suit your guests, as well as yourselves.

4. Fruit

As a cheap and easy snack between the ceremony and your reception, fruit can be a god send. IT can also fill in between courses, as it isn’t overfilling and there is always the option of including cheese as well if you want a fuller snack range. You could even opt for this as a desert option, instead of a sickly sweet pudding, if it works for your occasion.

5. Local Restaurants, Butchers Or Delis

It might be where you went on your first date or it could be where you go to buy a special treat every once in a while, but there is no harm in asking your favourite local resutrant, butchers or deli if they offer any catering services.

It can make your day just a little bit more personal to you two, which is easy to loose in the madness, and they tend to provide buffet services. One of our favourites is the range offered by Bexleys, which can be extended to suit your requirements. Just keep in mind that you will need to find out about extras like linen, cutlery and dishes.

6. Homemade Cakes

If you want to try and save some of your budget, you can always ask your close friends and family to bake a cake for your special day. It could even be the case that your Auntie Denise makes an amazing treacle tart or some of the best cupcakes you’ve tasted and you could serve these as snacks throughout the day.

The chance are, you will decide to go for a professionally made wedding cake, so this extra personal touch can be just what some people are looking for. It can be especially nice to include certain guests in your big day in this small way, without having the need to ask them to cater the entire event.

Hog Roast Traditions From Around The World

The tradition of roasting a pig goes back centuries, maybe even further. There are a number of different ways to roast pork, which can vary depending on where in the world you are. Here are some areas famed for their hog roasts:

Miami (and other areas with large Cuban, Puerto Rican, Honduran or Caribbean populations)

In areas with a big Cuban, Puerto Rican, Honduran or Caribbean population, such as Miami, it is common for pig roasts to be held on Christmas Eve. Family and friends attend the event. However, in somewhere like Hawaii, a roast is normally held on memorial day.

Puerto Rico

Lechon Asado, a roasted suckling pig, is a national dish of Puerto Rico and is typically served with arroz con gandules, a combination of rice, pigeon peas and pork.

Pig roasts are held all year round in Puerto Rica, but there are considerably more of them as part of Christmas and New Year celebrations.


Referred to as Lechon Baboy, roasted pig in the Philippines is traditionally prepared for celebrations at Christmas, but it is not uncommon to also see them at birthday parties, weddings, debuts and family reunions.


Indonesians refer to a pig roast as Babi Guling, Babi Panggang or Babi Baker. It is rare to find a pig roast in Indonesia as the majority of the country are practising Muslims; however, there are some areas with a smaller muslim populations, such as Hindu Bali and Christian Batak lands in North Sumatra, Minahasa people of North Sulawesi and Toraja in South Sulawesi.


Called Babi Guling in Bali, roast pig is typically served with lawar, a mixture of vegetables, coconut and minced meat mixed together with rich herbs and spices, and steamed rice. It is a very popular dish in Balinese restaurants and warungs.


The traditions of Batak are that roast pigs are given as a prerequisite for a wedding offering to the brides family.


Both pigs and yams are roasted in Papua, in heated stones that fill a hole that has been dug in the ground and covered with leaves. This method of cooking is known as Baker Batu — burning the stone — and it is seen as an important cultural and social event amongst the residents of the country.


In China, particularly in Southern China, a pig roast is commonly known as a Siu Yuk and is generally purchased for special family events, the openings of new businesses or as an offering for a ritualistic spiritual event.

An example of the latter would be an offering of one of several whole roasted pigs to the Jade Emperor in celebration of a Chinese film opening. The pig is sacrificed in a bid to ward off evil spirits and in return the prayer of the film becoming success are to be answered.

A common garnish in China is a circular slice of pineapple and cherry, to make the dish look more appealing, and the pig can sometimes be placed in a red box, for good luck.


A roast pig in Spain is known as a suckling pig, or a Lechon Asado. It is becoming more popular to see hog roasts in Spain, especially in southern Spain, due to the growing expatriate communities.


The tradition of pig roasting in the United Kingdom is a centrepiece at a variety of occasions, mainly parties and celebrations. These events tend to be held at an outdoor venue and a hog roast is a staple meal at most show events.

It is tradition to either roast the pig on a spit, regularly turning the pig under a flame, or to place it in a large oven in a roasting pan. It is a common occurrence to roast pig that weigh more than 200lb.

Usually, the pig is roast in cider and bay leaves, as well as having salt rubbed into its scored skin to create crackling.

Many companies around the UK offer hog roast services for hire. Smoke ‘N’ Spice is one such company, offering pork that can be cooked in variety of traditional ways, including methods native to America, Jamaica, Italy, Mexico, Brazil and of course, Britain.


Welcome to the Catering Network.

We are a team of caterers and food lovers who just love to talk and write about food.

This website is the start of what we hope will be a great resource for tips and help on everything to do with food and catering generally.

There are so many types of catering, so we’re looking forward to start writing.

Come back soon!