Recipe: Chilli Pepper Catering

PUBLISHED: 15:19 02 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:50 20 February 2013

Chilli Pepper Catering's head chef, Dan Mann

Chilli Pepper Catering's head chef, Dan Mann

This month sees the start of our fabulous new series - Warwickshire Chef Masterclass. Smoked salmon and mackerel salad with green apple, celery and walnut.

This month sees the start of our fabulous new series - Warwickshire Chef Masterclass. When we held the Warwickshire Life Food and Drink Awards at Warwick Castle we were so impressed by the catering that we asked Chilli Pepper Catering's head chef, Dan Mann, to share his recipes for the ideal dinner party. Words by Jane Sullivan. Photographs by Stuart Purfield.

Dan Mann is head chef for Chilli Pepper Catering which supplies a number of Warwickshire venues including Warwick Castle, Compton Verney and Charlecote Manor. He works in the development kitchen at Chilli Pepper's brand new headquarters at Bicester in Oxfordshire, as well as 'on location' during the main summer catering season.

Outside catering is not for the faint hearted, and that's not just because you could be serving up over 1,000 meals at a time, says Chilli Pepper director Suzi Chadwick. "At Warwick we can't use the kitchens, because they're down in the dungeons, so we bring everything in and set up kitchen in the chapel." The weather too, can be quite a challenge. "I walked into the kitchens at Troon last year [for the golf] and all the chefs were in their wellies. It rained for most of the tournament!"

Dan trained in the UK and then headed to Australia where he gained experience in some of the country's top restaurants. Now he's back in the UK and delighting Chilli Pepper's customers with his delicious meals.

Smoked salmon and mackerel salad with green apple, celery and walnut

Serves six

300g oak-smoked salmon

4 fillets of plain smoked mackerel (not the cracked black pepper variety)

2 green dessert apples

1 lemon

3 large sticks of celery, washed and thinly sliced, reserve the light green leaves

100g walnuts, chopped

150g crme fraiche

100g fancy herb salad leaves or micro-cresses - for this dish I used ice leaf, red , baby parsley and red amaranth

1. Prepare the mackerel by ensuring all the small bones have been removed, cut two of the fillets into thirds, cut on an angle leaving the skin on for presentation, remove the skin from the two remaining fillets and flake into small pieces.

2. Thinly slice the apples into a bowl, segment the lemon and cut into small pieces add to the apple and squeeze out any juice remaining in segmented lemon core, add the chopped walnuts and celery.

3. Add the flaked mackerel then carefully fold through the crme fraiche ensuring just enough to bind the mix, spoon the mixture equally between six plates then divide up the smoked salmon, garnish with delicate herb salad leaves, celery leaves and serve.

Fillet of Beef Wellington

Serves eight

1.2 - 1.4kg Beef fillet, I have used a fully trimmed centre cut Angus fillet so that it is an equal size, though if you have a whole fillet including the thin tail end, then make a cut towards the tail end though be careful not to all the way through, then 'tuck' the tail under making a the fillet equal thickness. Chilli Pepper's beef supplier is Aubrey Allen of Leamington Spa (

150g chicken liver pate

200g sliced Parma ham

500g ready to roll puff pastry

Wild Mushroom Duxelle

300g Portobello mushrooms, finely chopped

150g chanterelle, chopped

150g morels, chopped

2 banana shallots, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Flat leaf parsley and tarragon

1. Make the duxelle by sweating of the chopped shallot and garlic in 3 tbsp of olive oil, add the mushrooms, season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, the mushrooms now need to cook for approx 30- 40 minutes on low heat to extract the moisture from them.

2. Usually duxelle should be a smooth paste though I like to keep this a little rustic with more texture, though ensure that all the moisture has been cooked out to help keep the pastry crisp.

3. Allow the mushrooms to go cold then mix through a handful of chopped parsley and tarragon

To make-up the Wellington

1. Season the beef fillet then seal in a hot pan, just enough to brown the outside, allow to cool.

2. Lay the Parma ham overlapping on a sheet of cling film enough to be able to wrap around the fillet , spread a thin layer of mushroom over the middle third of the ham, thinly spread half the pate over the beef fillet then place, pate side down on the mushroom, spread the half of pate on the exposed fillet, start to roll up using the cling to support ensuring that you get an even layer of mushroom and pate and a tightly rolled fillet encased in Parma Ham

3. Next on lightly floured surface roll out the puff pastry to approximately 8mm thick and just enough that will encase the fillet, place the beef on the pastry and roll the pastry around the fillet, use two egg yolks and a pastry brush to seal the ends, cut off any excess pastry - you can use this to decorate the top if you wish - then thoroughly egg yolk the pastry.

4. This can now be kept in the fridge until required. To cook, preheat the oven to 180c. Cook for 10 minutes then turn the oven down to 170c and cook for a further 25-30 minutes, allow to rest for 10 minutes then cut into 8-10 slices.

Roasted winter vegetables

This can be cooked in advance then reheated.

large swede, roughly chopped

4 carrots, peeled and split lengthways into quarters

3 large parsnips

large butternut squash, roughly chopped with skin on

2 large red onion, peeled and cut each half into quarters

15 baby shallots, peeled

1 large leek, cut into large chunks then blanched

75ml honey

Chopped rosemary and thyme leaves

1. Mix the vegetables together then coat in olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper.

2. Roast in a preheated oven at 160c for approx 40 minutes, 10 minutes before end of cooking drizzle honey and rosemary and thyme over the vegetables carry on cooking until tender and caramelised.

3. Just before reheating the roasted vegetables mix in the blanched leeks to add an extra vibrant colour

Serve finished dishes with potatoes of choice and a rich red wine beef jus

Winter fruit and whisky tart

For this you will need a 12-hole mini-muffin tin

1 packet filo pastry

50g soft dark brown sugar

50g butter

1 dessertspoonfuls golden syrup

1 egg

Zest 1 lemon

25g currants

25g raisins

1 tablespoon whisky

25g walnuts, chopped tbsp whisky

1 Cut three 10cm squares of filo pastry brush with clarified butter and make a star shape push this into the mini muffin tin making a rustic pastry tart case repeat this to fill all 12 moulds

2 Gently melt the sugar, butter and golden syrup in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and beat in the eggs, add the lemon zest, dried fruit, whisky and walnuts

3 Spoon the filling into each mould then bake in a preheated oven at 150c for 10-12 minutes

Rhubarb and mascarpone trifle

You will require 8 shot glasses

4 large sticks of forced rhubarb, cut in small batons

150g icing sugar

250g mascarpone

250g double cream

1 vanilla pod, split

Sponge, for this I make a fatless sponge though for ease you could use a shop-bought lemon sponge

100ml Sherry

25g flaked almonds

1 In a warm pan saut the sticks of rhubarb, take care not to brown it, add two tablespoons of icing sugar and a splash of water, this will cook very quickly, then when softened remove from the heat and allow to cool, the rhubarb should remain a vibrant pink colour.

2 Semi-whip the double cream, then fold in the mascarpone and vanilla seeds, sweeten to taste with icing sugar

3 Cut small rounds of the sponge and push into the shot glass soak the sponge with sherry then layer up the mascarpone with the cooked rhubarb finish with rhubarb on the top and decorate with a touch of mascarpone and flaked almonds

Chocolate fondant - makes 12 (it's always good to have some spare of this one!)

For this you require a small ovenproof tian mould, which has been well greased with butter

Filling - make this well in advance

50g butter

125g good quality 70% chocolate

60g water

1 Put the chocolate and butter into small heat-proof container, boil the water and pour onto the chocolate, stir until melted and well mixed

2 Spread the mixture into small tub and place in fridge to set, once set, cut into approx 1cm squares and freeze


110g good quality 70% chocolate

40g plain flour

40g ground almonds

90g sugar

50g butter

2 eggs separated

1 Melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler

2 Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until thick, add to the chocolate mix, then add the flour and ground almonds

3 Whisk the egg whites to full volume then carefully fold into the chocolate mixture, divide between the moulds then push a square of the frozen chocolate mixture in the centre of the mould then cover with the remaining half of the mixture

4 Bake at 170c for 10 minutes, turn out from mould and serve immediately as the centre should be soft and gooey.

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