Cheeseboard Mac & Cheese

Cheeseboard Mac & Cheese

Macaroni cheese is a firm favourite with all of the family. This version has a grown up twist which adds a little something extra to the classic dish.

Our Head Chef, Richard Trant, has put this recipe together, along with a challenge for anyone who’s a dab hand in the kitchen. All you have to do is take a photo of your completed Cheeseboard Mac and Cheese, email it to [email protected] and you’ll be entered into our competition to win a bottle of Champagne.

Richard Trant

Ingredients – Serves 4

200g leftover cheese, grated
100g diced, white leeks
400g cooked macaroni pasta
50g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
500ml milk

Method

Pre-heat oven to 185c.

Butter an earthen ware dish.

Cook off the leeks in a knob of butter until tender, be careful not to colour. Then leave aside to cool.

In a heavy pan melt butter, when melted add plain flour and cook gently for 10 minutes into a paste (stirring continually). Add the milk into the paste and stir in until a smooth white sauce is achieved. Add the cheese (leaving a small handful for the topping) and cook for a further 10 minutes on a low heat, then season with salt and pepper.

Take your cooked macaroni and place with the softened leeks into a well buttered earthen ware dish. Poor over the white cheese sauce and mix in well. Crumble remaining cheese on top and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.

Serve with a green salad and warm French bread.

Stilton and Cranberry Scones

Scones are an easy way of using up leftover dried fruit and cheese, which is plentiful over the festive season. Richard Trant, Head Chef at Merchant Taylors’ Hall, has created this simple and delicious Stilton and Cranberry Scone recipe to help you make the most of any Christmas excess.

If you fancy yourself as a bit of an expert baker, why not try and win yourself a bottle of Champagne? Simply bake the recipe below and send a picture of your efforts into us on [email protected]. We’ll choose the best-looking batch and reward its creator with a bottle of bubbles.

Richard Trant

Ingredients – Makes 6

225g self-raising flour
55g of fridge-cold, chopped, unsalted butter
50g of crumbled stilton
10g dried cranberries
2 large eggs
5tbsp of sour milk
Pinch of salt and pepper

Method

Pre-heat oven to 220c.

Grease baking tray.

Rub flour, salt and butter by hand until it resembles breadcrumbs, then add the crumbled stilton and cranberries and make a well in the middle of the paste. Add the sour milk into the well and work the mixture into a dough. Roll out into 2 inches thick and cut out scones with a round pastry cutter.

Place scones on a greased baking tray and bake for 8-10 minutes until sandy brown.

Serve with your favourite chutney.

Date & Nut Shortbread

Don’t let leftover nuts go soft and unloved this Christmas. If you don’t manage to get through your nuts and dates this December, you can easily turn them into delicious shortbread with this simple recipe. You’ll need just three other ingredients.

Our Head Chef Richard Trant, who created this recipe, is offering up a bottle of Champagne as an incentive to encourage you to get baking with your leftovers this Christmas. Just send in a photo of your Date and Nut Shortbread to [email protected] and the best-looking attempt will win the prize. Good luck!

Richard Trant

Ingredients – Makes 20 pieces

125g good-quality, unsalted butter
55g caster sugar
180g plain flour
Leftover dates and (unsalted) nuts

Method

Pre-heat oven to 185c.

Cream together the butter and sugar, sieve in the flour gently then fold in with the dates and nuts. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Roll out mixture on a work surface about half an inch thick, cut into rounds or oblong shapes, sprinkle with caster sugar then rest in a fridge for 1 hour.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until pale to golden.

Leave to cool – best eaten the following day.

Panettone Bread and Butter Pudding

If you get left with any of this delicious, Italian sweet bread over the Christmas break, don’t throw it away. Our Head Chef, Richard Trant, has created this fabulous bread and butter pudding recipe so none of it has to go to waste.

What’s more, if you cook the following dish make sure you take a photo of and send it in to us. The best-looking dessert will win a bottle of Champagne. Email your entry to [email protected]

Richard Trant

Ingredients – Serves 6

Sliced up, left over panettone soaked in brandy
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
150ml double cream
150ml milk
1 vanilla pod, split
2tbsp caster sugar

Method

Pre-heat oven to 160-170c.

Butter a 2-litre square dish.

Warm the milk, cream, vanilla pod and sugar in a pan. Bring it to a light simmer and then turn off the heat to allow to cool. Once the mixture has cooled down, remove vanilla pod and whisk the eggs and the egg yolk into the mixture.

Place the sliced panettone into the dish and speck with small pieces of butter, Poor over the cream mixture and place in a bain marie and bake for 30-35 minutes or until set. It should not be firm but soft to touch.

When it has set, take it out from the oven and sprinkle with brown sugar, place back in the oven to caramelise.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then serve with a good quality vanilla ice cream.

Advent Calendar Quiz

Every day this Advent you’ll have a chance to answer the Christmas themed questions hiding behind our calendar windows. Each time you get a question correct, your name will be put into the hat to WIN a bottle of Champagne. Play it now!

10 Christmas party ideas you’ve not thought of yet

10 Christmas party ideas you’ve not thought of yet 

Do something different this year and choose one of our fabulous Christmas themes or ideas for your festive party. We bet all the brainstorming in the world wouldn’t have led you to some of these!

Open fire marshmallow toast 

There’s nothing more atmospheric than sitting round an open fire toasting marshmallows. The Courtyard Garden at Merchant Taylors’ Hall looks particularly pretty when dressed in fairy lights at a winter party. Throw in some Christmas carols and mulled wine and you’ve got a Christmas party to remember.

 Ugly Christmas jumper party 

Come December the shops are packed to the rafters with tasteless, joke Christmas jumpers. So why not embrace the onslaught? There’s no better ice breaker than fancy dress and the great thing about a silly jumper theme is that everyone can get involved.

 The great cookie swap 

Put a personal twist on your secret Santa this year and get colleagues to bake cookies instead of buying a gift.

 Christmas carol sing-a-long 

Get your staff and colleagues in the festive spirit with a carol-themed sing-a-long party. You could use a piano or a karaoke machine, print out the words of lots of popular songs and let people choose what they want to perform. The acoustics in the Great Hall at Merchant Taylors’ are fabulous for singing. Make sure there are chances for everybody to sing along together so those who don’t enjoy the limelight can get involved with the festivities.

 Topsy turvy summer party 

Why not turn Christmas on its head and throw a summer beach party? You could go all out with palm trees, a beach bar serving Pina coladas and waiting staff dressed in grass skirts and Hawaiian shirts. It would certainly be a memorable night!

 Winter Wonderland 

It’s a traditional Christmas party theme, but if you go all out with the decorations a Winter Wonderland you can really create a show-stopping event. One event at Merchant Taylors’ Hall saw one of our room transformed into an ice bar – so think big.

 Cocktail making party 

Get your Christmas party guests making their own festive cocktails under the expert guidance of a mixologist. With help to select complimentary flavours and garnishes, your guests will love the opportunity to create a signature drink they can enjoy for the rest of the evening.

 Christmas movie fancy dress 

Everyone has a favourite Christmas film, so why not set your team the task of coming to the Christmas party dressed up as a character from theirs? It will certainly get the conversation flowing!

 Christmas quiz 

A big Christmas quiz works well with designated teams, prizes and a wide variety of questions. It might be something that could pepper the whole evening with rounds of questions in between courses to break up a sit down meal. The dais in The Great Hall at Merchant Taylors’ is a great spot for the quiz master to sit.

 Creative Christmas party  

Whatever you decide to do for this year’s Christmas party, Merchant Taylors’ Hall will have a beautiful space in which you can host it. Our Events Team loves getting creative with themes, so give them a call to discuss your ideas on 020 7450 4445.

If your Christmas party is a lunch or day time affair, an activity like making a Christmas wreath can really bring people together. You can choose your creative activity to suit your guests or give people a choice when they arrive. You could consider making gingerbread houses, decorations or Christmas tree ornaments.

Post-conference entertainment in the City

Post-conference entertainment in the City 

Whatever fantastic content the meeting or conference you’re holding has to offer, the truth is that attendees are also drawn to the ‘frills’ of an event – and this includes post-conference entertainment. Merchant Taylors’ Hall is situated in the heart of the City of London and has some of the world’s best restaurants, bars and attractions right on its doorstep. We’ve made a small selection of some of the finest places the City has to offer to help tempt delegates to your event – all based within the Square Mile and therefore walking distance from Merchant Taylors’ Hall. 

Food

As far as rooftop eateries go, you can’t beat Coq d’Argent. The stunning bar and grill is on top of James Stirling’s pink and terracotta No.1 Poultry building. The outside grassed area is beautifully lit in the evening and the views over the City are unrivalled. The food is of a classic French style during the week and, unusually for City restaurants, is open on the weekends and caters for brunch and jazz evenings. 

Located in the former Reuters building on Fleet Street, Lutyens restaurant serves modern European, highly seasonal food with a Nordic twist. The Conran-designed restaurant boasts one of the finest wine lists in the City and a cocktail bar that makes a great venue for drinks on a delegate night out. 

Shopping

The two main shopping malls in the Square Mile are the old faithful Royal Exchange and the comparatively new One New Change. The former comprising over 30, predominantly old school, high-end retailers and the latter housing a wide selection of high street shops. Also not to be missed is Leadenhall Market. A beautiful, covered market which dates back to the 14th century, it sells mainly fresh food and flowers and is well worth a visit just for window shopping. For something a little more alternative, Old Spitalfields Market is the perfect destination. With stallholders 7-days a week and themed days including antiques on Thursdays and fashion on Fridays, the covered Victorian market has something to offer any visitor looking for something a little different. 

Bars

Your delegates will be spoilt for choice for places in the City to find a delicious glass of wine, a real ale or a fancy cocktail. A selection of the best bars on offer includes 28*-50* Wine Workshop and Kitchen, Craft Beer Company (Clerkenwell branch) and Barsmith, respectively 

Sights

The City is awash with historical buildings, attractions and fun things to see and do. Top of our recommended list must be a wander round St Paul’s Cathedral, a trip to see Tower Bridge, a visit to the Museum of London and a tour of the Roman Bathhouse. 

Whether you’re organising post-conference entertainment for your delegates or leaving your attendees to make their own plans, we know the City will have something to suit everyone’s tastes. Merchant Taylors’ Hall is nestled in the heart of the Square Mile within walking distance to a plethora of eateries and attractions. Our Events Team know the area inside out and will be more than happy to help and advise you on any extra-curricular activities. Call us on 020 7450 4445 to discuss your next event.

Enhance networking opportunities at your event

Enhance networking opportunities at your event 

People’s primary interest in your meeting or conference is its content, but coming a close second on the list is the opportunity to network. As an event organiser you can’t rest on your laurels and just hope that the right people end up meeting each other, you need to do everything in your power to make it happen. Here are some of Merchant Taylors’ top tips on creating an environment conducive to conversations and introductions.

 Pre-event questionnaire

If you know your guests are interested in networking, then compile a short questionnaire for them to fill out before the event. Find out what ‘sort’ of people they want to meet and make a point of making introductions during breakout sessions. Make sure this is a two-way street and that you ask all your attendees how they may be able to help other delegates. Always make sure you give people the opportunity to opt out if they aren’t keen. 

                                          Pre-event online presence                                            

Before you announce your event, make sure you have your online social media platforms ready to go, so your attendees can get involved from the get go. This will give your delegates the opportunity to see who else is going to be at your event, and ear mark individuals to meet on the day. Encourage this in any of your posts and get conversations going that might provoke interaction between your guests-to-be. 

Choose the right break out space

If you’re creating a networking opportunity during a break in talks, be considered about the type of space you use. Make sure it’s a room with a good flow, no chairs but plenty of ‘perching’ opportunities like high, round tables so no one is stuck in a corner, a long bar so people can chat while ordering drinks and event team staff to help with introductions. The Cloisters at Merchant Taylors’ Hall is a popular choice amongst organisers looking for a breakout space. 

Icebreakers

This won’t suit every event, but given the right audience and situation, ice breaking games can be a fabulous networking facilitator. Whether you choose to play team building games or lead sessions where your guests are encouraged to share professional success stories, structuring interaction between your delegates will lead to new contacts for everyone. 

Get involved

Make sure some members of your team are circulating the event making introductions and helping people meet useful contacts. As the event organiser, you and your team are the common factor between all of your guests, so take advantage of this and help out. 

Events at Merchant Taylors’ Hall

The best way to get a feel for our venue and which spaces would work best for networking at your event is to book in to be shown around. Call our Events Team on 020 7450 4445 to find out more.