Christmas with a Difference

We all know Christmas is going to be very different this year across the industry, the key is looking at what opportunities exist and making the most of each and every one.

Customers still want to see winter and festive flavours across menus whether it is a three course sit down meal or grabbing lunch on-the-go or to take home.

Wrapping everything customers love about a Christmas dinner into a filling, handheld menu option is a definite winner. Take a giant Yorkshire pudding as the ‘wrap’, add a smear of Country Range Cranberry Sauce then fill with layers of cooked turkey, stuffing, pigs in blankets, parsnips, roasted potatoes, Country Range Fancy Peas and hot gravy. Roll up as you would a wrap and serve – delicious!

Offering different promotions such as a bottle of wine and a sharing dish such as this delicious Baked Camembert with Sage and Bacon can encourage diners who don’t necessarily want to go venture out for a full three course meal to treat themselves to a smaller occasion.

The dish is so easy and simple to make too. Defrost some Country Range Doughballs, cutting each one into 8 then roll the dough into small balls. Prove on an oiled tray for 30 minutes. While proving, dice your Country Range Bacon, cook off then cool.

Add your camembert with the doughballs arranged around then sprinkle with the diced bacon and dried sage. Drizzle olive oil over and bake in a pre-heated oven for 8 minutes.

“Customers still want to s winter and festive flavours across menus.”

A Different Approach

A lot of caterers are looking towards a new way of operating with takeaway and delivery options becoming a big part of their offering. As a result, it is difficult to stand out from the crowd. 

In uncertain times, plant-based dishes provide an inclusive, sustainable menu option while reducing cost per serving. To offer something a little bit different on your menu, bring together core plant-based products with global-inspired BBQ flavours – perfect for summer.

To create this Korean BBQ Cauliflower with Fried Rice dish create a marinade using Country Range Soy Sauce, Country Range Pure Clear Honey, peanut butter, Sesame Oil, garlic and White Wine Vinegar. Brush the mix onto a char grilled cauliflower steak or bite sized cauliflower florets and grill further until tender and charred. Serve with egg fried rice, which you can make using Country Range Easy Cook Basmati Rice, Country Range Free Range Eggs, Country Range Soy Sauce, onion, garlic and veggies of your choice. This could easily be served as an on-the-go rice box with a twist, as a lunch offering or as an alternative to the traditional Chinese takeaway on an evening delivery menu.

Another dish that is great for health-conscious diners that want a tasty treat is King Prawn Satay using the sweet and succulent Country Range King Prawns.

Mix peanut butter, lime juice and zest, Country Range Coconut Milk, Country Range Soy Sauce, Country Range Pure Clear Honey and curry powder to create a marinade for the prawns. Marinate your prawns in the mixture, making sure you leave half as your dipping sauce to serve. Brush the prawns with oil and place in a pre-heated oven at 260°C for 2 minutes, then turn and cook for another 3 minutes. Serve with the dipping sauce on the side as an al-fresco starter if your business layout allows.

The Country Range King Prawns are raw, peeled, deveined and sustainably sourced. They are farmed in warm tropical waters and IQF guaranteeing the freshest and finest quality.

Keep safe, keep sane – keep cooking.

Dickson’s Diary: Feeling Special

The number of people following special diets continues to grow and it’s therefore massively important for caterers to take responsibility to prevent cross contamination.

Gluten free is seeing the biggest growth driven through lifestyle change, and separate preparation areas and equipment are an absolute must.

Front of house personnel need to be educated and take responsibility too. There are lots of easy changes you can make, such as substituting flour with cornflour, and there are plenty of Country Range products to help in the making and preparation of FreeFrom and Gluten Free dishes.

There has been a lot of development in ready-made products, so much so that you can’t tell the difference. A great example is the Country Range Gluten Free Carrot Cake – it’s delicious! The question is, do you need to have both? Why not minimise the risk (and cost) by only offering Gluten Free?

Menu planning should be as simple as possible and you should write your recipes  focusing on a small group of customers, then extend them to different food groups. For example, take the Country Range Five Bean Salad, which is vegan and gluten free. Add some chilli, garlic and vegetables for a Mexican vibe which will appeal to vegans, then you can add cheese for vegetarians, prawns for pescatarians or meat for meat-eaters. Focus on seasonality and use spices to enhance your dishes and keep an eye on current trends.

The Country Range Curry Pastes are allergen-free and vegan and also tick the box for gluten free too. Add chickpeas, sweet potato, butternut squash and seasonal greens for a good vegan, FreeFrom dish. Add flaked salmon or Country Range King Prawns for pescatarians or create a surf and turf for meat eaters by adding pork or chicken to the prawns. Serve with Country Range Easy Cook Basmati Rice.

Dignity in Dining

The miniature elements included within an afternoon tea or ‘finger foods’ have some real benefits when it comes to different issues that can be faced by residents within a care home.

Caterers in the care sector are all too aware of dysphagia – the life-threatening medical condition, which causes sufferers to struggle with swallowing.

To allow all residents to fine together and enjoy attractive, delicious tasting foods we have utilised a variety of Country Range products to create a lovely afternoon tea suitable for those residents suffering from dysphagia.

• Country Range Ready to Serve Custard
• Country Range Plain Sponge & Pudding Mix
• Country Range UHT Dairy Whipping Cream
• Country Range Scone Mix
• Country Range Supreme Coronation Chicken Filling
• Country Range Frozen Medium White Sliced Bread

IDDSI (International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative) testing methods were used throughout recipe creation to ensure the food/liquid meets IDDSI Level 4. However, please always carry out your own IDDSI texture checks before serving any dishes to residents suffering from dysphagia.

To access the full recipe for each element of our afternoon tea please visit

Making An Occasion of Tea 

A good cup of tea has the power to unite us, even during the gravest of crises, such as the one we are currently experiencing. For care home residents, who are isolated from their families, it’s important to create sociable events and provide comfort and reassurance. Afternoon tea provides the perfect opportunity to gather everyone together, and your Country Range Group wholesaler
has everything you need to create it with ease.

Country Range 40 Mini Cake Assortment
Country Range Sultanas
Country Range Scone Mix
Country Range Cooked Gammon Ham
Country Range Mature White Cheddar Cheese Slices
Country Range Medium Wholemeal Sliced Bread


Benefits of Finger Food in Care 

  • Finger foods provide a nutritious and enjoyable alternative to plated meals
  • They can be used as extra nutritious snacks for those who need them. This can be particularly useful for people who forget to eat or find coordination difficult such as with dementia or following a stroke
  • Can be eaten easily without the need for cutlery and hold their form when picked up, ideal for a person who finds coordination difficult
  • Encourage people to maintain their independence by enabling them to eat themselves
  • For people who take a while to eat, don’t try to serve hot finger foods. Instead opt for foods which are best serve cold
  • Miniature versions of foods are often better than cutting up larger items, as this creates a more stable product that is less likely to fall apart
  • Many cultures provide examples of finger foods which could be adapted for older people

Not to be confused with High Tea, Afternoon Tea was introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the year 1840. The Duchess often became hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon and was said to have complained of “having that sinking feeling”.

• Afternoon Tea Week 2020 takes place from August 10-16
• For a variation on the afternoon tea theme, why not celebrate national Cream Tea Day on June 26? You could ask some of your residents to help make the scones too

What’s Your dream Tea Party?

NAPA, the National Activity Providers Association, is giving care settings the chance to win an all-expenses paid tea party. All you need to do to enter is share your thoughts on what your dream party would involve. FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN a ‘Tea Party In 2020’ with all costs covered up to £500, simply complete the following statement “Our dream Tea Party would include… (in 250 words max) and email it to:, including the name of the care setting, a contact number and the name of who to contact should you win.

Closing date for entries is 1st June 2020


Dickson’s Diary: Spring into Action

Now that spring is here, it’s time to shake up your menus and introduce some lighter, healthier dishes. Salmon pastrami is my new favourite dish and it’s really easy to make. Firstly, you need
to brine some Country Range Farmed Atlantic Salmon Fillets – or you could use a whole side of salmon if you wish – in water with salt, brown sugar, slices of garlic, a bay leaf and some Country Range Peppercorns, Whole Fennel and Whole Cloves. Leave to brine for 24 hours (or 48 hours for a full side). Once brined, wash off the salmon then cover in cracked black pepper and some lemon zest and smoke it in a low oven or on a barbecue in a gastronorm with some woodchips. Light the woodchips with a blowtorch and place the salmon on a rack with the lid on. The salmon needs to be cooked to 70°C.

To accompany the salmon, mix some Country Range Pickled Sliced Beetroot with some Country Range Horseradish Sauce, French Mustard, Set Soured Cream and some chopped fresh dill. Blitz it to dip  consistency and serve with a seasonal salad, some in season asparagus or some Jersey Royal potatoes.

Rhubarb is in season and, with retro desserts on trend this year, this rhubarb, custard and ginger fool with almond crumble is sure to be a hit. If you don’t have fresh rhubarb, drain off a tin of Country Range Rhubarb and fold in some puréed stem ginger and Country  Range Crème Fraiche. Next make a sheet of meringue, break into small pieces and add to the mix.

Bake off some Country Range Crumble Mix and mix with some toasted Country Range Flaked Almonds. Use a presentation glass to build up layers of the rhubarb mix and crumble mix, along with some Country Range Ready to Serve Custard. Finish with a piece of rhubarb on top.


Paul Dickson
Country Range development chef