Menus should be put together with thought to the occasion. This includes the diners’ tastes, ease of delivery (from cooking pot to table and finally to plate), the number of people eating, age range, the time of day and the length of time being spent at the venue.

Food should be put together like painting a picture or decorating a room. Remember your eyes feast first and the look of the food can be either mouth-watering or off-putting.

Elements to be considered: flavours, colours, ingredients in season, preparation time..

The next point to think about is the balance of the meal: carbohydrates, proteins, fats and the all important fruit and vegetables for vitamins and minerals.

The worst meals are those with an overload of the same type of food. One of my pet hates is lasagne served with chips. This dish has double carbs that overload the plate with starchy, fatty food.  Salad helps reinvigorate the blood and can be used as an accompaniment to dishes hot or cold. It goes especially well with lasagne.

I was once given a useful tip: to start meals with salad. This fills me up and hopefully stops me from indulging in a dessert!

When putting food groups together and creating a menu, remember this quote. ‘Humanity marches on its stomach so the cook has it in their power to delight or depress with what is presented as the meal on the table’.  It has been long-established that certain food or dishes evoke strong emotions and bring back memories long forgotten. 

Hopefully, the dishes and menus on these pages will help you add to your memory bank of gatherings great or small, round the table or standing tall and recalling happy times.  Each feast leaves an impression on the mind to be recollected next time the food is presented. It means our individual histories are strung together with meals and their emotional connections to the people and places.

Cooking, roasting and baking stays with you long after the plates have been cleared away.