Category Archives: Local News

2013 – The Highlights

It was our busiest year ever, a year that saw us welcome my brother Christian Orde and his young family back from New Zealand to join the business and help with what would be an amazing Summer season.

Tasting Plate of Cherries - Charity Dinner June 2013

Tasting Plate of Cherries – Charity Dinner June 2013

In the previous year and early 2013 we recruited some excellent staff; a pair of first class chefs, a tireless event manager, a Duracel restaurant management team, waiters, cooks, secretaries and a kit manager. These new additions slotted admirably into our existing and long serving brigade and without the esprit de cours they developed over the winter of 2012/13 I doubt we would have coped quite so well in the virgin territory we were to forge. New staff at Abbotsford’s Ochiltree’s Dining even managed to get some training for the Winter Olympics in! 

All our staff come from the Scottish Borders and we are all proud to cater to the good people of our region (and further afield) using locally sourced quality food and drink cooked and served to high standards, standards we are always trying to better!

Trio of Border Salmon - Gill Orde in Catering Ltd

Trio of Border Salmon – Gill Orde in Catering Ltd

We kicked off our 2013 events with snowfall at Abbotsford and a spree of private dinner parties. Once staff holidays were through we prepared for March with a Silking dinner for the Faculty of Advocates, Corporate Catering at the ever popular Buccleuch Point to Point for Lycetts and a wedding in an unusual location – St Georges School, Edinburgh! We prepared and served 150 guests from a maths class room we had converted into a kitchen. The menu of Trio of Border Salmon, Smoked, home cured gravadlax and hot smoked was followed by Wild Highland Venison carved at the table. Apple Tarte with Over Langshaws Vanilla Ice cream finished off the meal in style.

With Spring and April came a special Wedding for a fellow caterer and family friend from the South for whom we provided one of our favorite dishes of the year. We really enjoyed preparing all the sweet treats that went into this dish and getting the puddings out for the 200 guests was fun but hard work. The vibrant colours really brought a wow factor to the meal, great fun!

Dessert Sharing Platter - Gill Orde in Catering

Dessert Sharing Platter – Gill Orde in Catering

We also were busy opening our Tea rooms and Cafes for the season, Mellerstain and Harestanes had a good run over the year with increased visitor numbers and some very nice weather helping things along. Unfortunately Thirlestane Castle needed to be closed for refurbishment during all of 2013, however we did cater some very nice weddings there.

Charity DinnerMid Summer 2013 was unlike anything we had experienced before. The official opening of Abbotsford House by HRH Queen Elizabeth II was  day to savour for all involved. We provided a taste of the Border’s for her Majesty and 28 VIPS showcasing Tweed Smoked Salmon, Border Lamb and Tweed Valley Strawberries. A further 600 guests enjoyed picnics using local produce from Shaws Fine Meats and Standhill Dairy. All the packaging was made from Scottish produced 100% recycled and biodegradable Vegware. Our team really pulled together and it was a honour to serve such high profile guests and to work with such committed and talented staff.

Prepping desserts for 200

Prepping desserts for 200

Swiftly following the opening of Abbotsford were a series of high profile weddings and events which saw us cater for over 5000 people in the space of a fortnight! It’s all a blur now and to have worked at that level of intensity with such professionalism deserves great respect and recognition for all our staff. When people ask us if we are busy it’s alway set in comparison to those two weeks and when doing multiple weddings and events over the rest of those Summer days, week in week out, we simply dust off  our shoulders and say “It could be busier.”

We had great fun on the 13th of July… some people are superstitious but we had a couple of events on that day, clearly we have some care free and fun focussed clientele. One in a marquee dramatically jutting from the front of a Georgian Mansion house – what could go wrong???….


….And a wedding for over 250 guest where we served an ambitious dessert including an Ice cream bombe… again… what could go wrong in 31 degree heat??? Everything went to plan, come guys, what did you expect? It’s GILL ORDE IN CATERING! I left the marquee the night before at 11pm and was back at 9am prepping the puddings. The freezer was running at a steady 0 degrees and close to packing in but thank heavens we got the meal served!

Assiete of Summer Puddings - Mini Pavlova, Gran Marnier Ice Cream Bombe, Lemon Mousse

Assiete of Summer Puddings – Mini Pavlova, Gran Marnier Ice Cream Bombe, Lemon Mousse

I like the story behind this dessert. I managed to have a chat over a pint with the Bride and Groom before the wedding and discovered that they both loved Terry’s Chocolate Oranges – I knew i had to get those flavours onto the menu somewhere so we asked local ice cream producers Over Langshaw Dairy to make a chocolate and Gran Marnier ice cream which we would cast in chocolate spheres. It was a charming moment when, at the top table, the bride and groom got to share one of their favorites treats whilst everyone else commended them on their good taste!

We must mention the fantastic marquees and dining spaces we served our food in over the past year too! We had African themed marquees, brilliant cream and gold interiors and flowers that filled the air with really luxurious scents. We were well looked after by our event suppliers too, a big thank you needs to go to:

Best Intent Marquees

Carnival Chaos

Get Knotted

Michael Wares

Sitting Pretty


Tower Productions


As Summer merged into Autumn we found ourselves looking after some lovely guests at some of the large holiday homes we cater for. We’ve had guests from China, France, USA and across the UK. It’s been a pleasure hosting them and giving them a taste of the Borders.

We look forward to a busy 2014 with bookings through January and February to keep the wolf from the door. We will be pushing ourselves harder than ever to improve upon this years successes and we thank our wonderful loyal clientele for supporting us through this year and the many years previous to that.

Roll on 2014!

Justin Orde


Cocktails, Hen Nights, Mother’s Day and more.

We’ve been busy as ever here getting geared up for a number of events over the month of March. We’ll be in the field, in the hills and by the river over this month with our cocktail barmen doing some exclusive parties, our private chefs delivering fine dining in some amazing Country Houses and our events team serving the hungry hordes at the Point to Point races.

Gill and Michael have been enjoying some relaxing time with my Brother and his family in New Zealand. They’ve brought me back some amazing spices like Horopito – a lovely peppery bush plant. They’ve also placated me with some excellent Patagonia Chocolates from Queenstown – Wasabi flavour… you can see I’m a fan of the spicy end of the flavour spectrum.

We’ve also recently been reading a couple of handy cookbooks:

Essence: Recipes from Le Champignon Sauvage,  David Everitt-Matthias

Letters to a Young Chef: The Art of Mentoring – Daniel Boulud 

I’m in the midst of building up a fresh young team of waitresses, commis and admin staff who have joined us as part of our recent expansion. Both these books are fantastic documents that aid in personal development but the first book I ask young chefs to read is:

Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain 

If only because I found it so inspiring personally and Bourdains writing is engaging and incendiary. Maybe not the worlds best chef but he really know’s how to bing to life the hustle and bustle of a busy kitchen.

So Mother’s Day is upon us and Ochiltree’s Dining is fully booked. We have a great menu on and complimentary Bucks Fizz for Mother’s to enjoy upon arrival. It promises to be a great day!

If music be the food of love: Junior Wells – Chitlin Con Carne

So here’s another food related track. I like the vibe of this one – I listened to it whilst making a nice “three alarm” chilli con carne as well… how apposite! I went deep into the umami cave and developed a pretty tasty batch with chipotle, birdseye and habenero peppers as well as some sweet pointed and bell peppers. Throw in some of my colleague’s husbands smoky paprika and chilli mix and some other wee flavour bombs and I’m half way to heaven.

Wish I had some of The Tempest Brewery’s Cascadia Blonde beer to wash it down!  Another favorite of mine. Whilst on that note a big well done to them and their brewery tap The Cobbles  on yet more CAMRA award success!

Kiwi Chutney and the importance of spreading yourself thickly!

Kiwi Chutney - Mildly spicy and deliciously tangy

So it’s been a hot minute since I last posted on this blog  – my apologies if you have checked back and not found anything new to get your mouth watering. We’ve been a busy bunch with our Outside Catering and Cafes with new sites being considered and wonderful wedding upon wedding to help celebrate . We had a successful Border Union Show where the food-hall was buzzing. I have some lovely Chorizo Iberico to cook something up with and I’ve already scoffed the Boerewors I get from Peelham Farm each year.  There was lots of fantastic produce on show and our own wee stand got quite a few visitors. Old and regular customers popped by for wee complimentary shortbread punnets wrapped with Tartan ribbon. Many new faces enquired after our services and we were only too happy to show them our menus and food images. We had a stall packed with lovely Border Tarts, Meringues and Cakes all freshly prepared by our bakers Maryna and Kate. It was a sell out show! Here’s a pic our our wee corner:

Border Union Show Food-Hall Stand

I digress, I have a kiwi chutney recipe to share and I shouldn’t keep you from it any longer.  For this recipe you will need:

500g of  cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced
230ml of cider vinegar
110g of  dark brown sugar (you can use light brown sugar for a more delicate taste)
100g of sultanas
2 tablespoons of lime juice and the zest of 1 lime
½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon of ground ginger
½ teaspoon of cumin
¼ teaspoon of ground cloves
¼ teaspoon of allspice
¼ teaspoon of salt
1 clove garlic, minced

6 large, ripe kiwifruit, peeled and diced.


In a large pot bring all ingredients except the kiwifruit to a boil.

Boil gently for 18-22 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the kiwis and boil gently for another 20 minutes or until chutney is thickened, stirring frequently.

Ladle the chutney into hot sterilized canning jars, filling to within 5 mm of top.

Seal and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Remove jars from bath and cool away from drafts.

Store sealed jars in a cool place until ready to use.

All that is then left to do is to enjoy your chutney with some nice spicy boerewors or some tangy mature cheddar. You can also serve it, as I did, alongside some lightly spiced prawns or any other curry dish… but you know that.

Ice Cream: Hacked, Debated, Hacked

It’s worth mentioning this nicely written piece from Serious Eats about how to make the “best” Ice cream with out an ice cream maker. I have delved into this contentious area of culinary science on this blog with my piece, “Ice Cream: The McGyver Way” and though I believe my method is perfect for producing fruit flavoured ice creams, in order to make a great vanilla ice cream – like you’d get from Doddingtons or “Cool As” from Over Langshaw, both down here in the Borders – you have to go into a little more detail.

Anyway, please check out the piece here:

The Food Lab: Real Ice Cream Without an Ice Cream Machine

The debate that ensues in the comments section is an eye opener in itself.

Other Ice Cream News:

The Icecreamists have taken over a section of Selfridges flagship store in London. This particular brand of ice creamery is a cheeky blend of punk aesthetics and risque “Carry On” style British humour. I’m not entirely convinced by it all. as the Sex Pistols said… “Never mind the Bollocks”.

It seems to have annoyed the SexPistols enough for them to issue a writ for plagerism. Honestly, what a lot of Pavlova… I mean palaver.

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Schmmmokin’ Smoked Chicken

Tombuie Smoked Chicken, Mango & Avocado Salad

The Sunday after the night before… I have a load of images from the wedding yesterday and a lot to say about it but I’m enjoying watching the golf and finishing off the chicken we had smoked for the starter last night, ipso facto – I’m not going to get too in depth on the Wedding… today.

Just over the hill from Home farm, where we are based, is Hardiesmill Farm. Robin and Alison Tuke produce some very, VERY high quality Aberdeen Angus (just take a look at their website they are “weel kent”/well known as we say around here). They also have a great wee smoke house and produce some tasty smoked cheese and chicken as well as smoked beef… it all melts in the mouth, as you can tell I’m a fan of smoked foods.

So to the salad, I’ve just thrown together avocado, fresh mango and the titanic smoked chicken with some rocket, cucumber and cherry tomatoes. I’ve dressed the salad with some Balsamico Bianco, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Orange Zest. A good pinch of sea salt and ground pepper follows and I’m getting my Summer Sunday munch o’ lunch on.

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Mars Attacks – Salmon Saves.

Snacks are magical – we all know that. Having blogged about Caramacs and Cadburys and even arty cupcakes you’ll know that I have something of a sweet tooth. I’m not a fan of the Mars Bar per se, I do like the mini ones quite a lot though. I manage to pack away at least two a day whilst catering during the shoot season as they are very popular with the Guns (hunters) as they can easily pop them in their pockets after lunch as a takeaway snack from the bothy. My particular affinity with Mars Bars comes from the Mars bar crispie that we make and serve at our tea rooms. Everyone in the UK knows this treat. A favorite of tray-bake sales and church fetes the nation over. It’s a simple joy and one I salute for it’s honesty.

Confections are a part of the very fabric of our nation – not necessarily high brow epicure chocolates or complicated pastries but homely traybakes, cakes and loaves. It’s the improvised, hacked or bodged amalgams of sweet, crunchy and unctuous ingredients that find their way into our fridges and ovens that I want to celebrate today. It’s a form of masochism if you will, I’m living healthily right now. I’ve cut back on dairy and fat… I’m eating tofu… I need a MARS BAR.

I’m suffering from what one of my favorite food bloggers Sasa Sunakku would call Hangrr (frustration, anger, tetchiness brought on by hunger). I’ve been uploading pictures of this weekend’s dishes to facebook and as lunchtime approaches the combination of reviewing food images, thinking about blog posts and wondering what to have for lunch is all becoming too much.

…… some 5 minutes later……

I have some really great rustic bread from Northumberland, well Etal, just down the road from Kelso and some home smoked salmon I got from one of the Ghillies on the River Tweed. The salmon has a really deep smoke to it, much more rounded and deep in flavour than shop bought simulacrums. You can immediately see from the colour of it, this piece of fish has been handled properly, it’s sweet, not at all bitter or over done. I’m a lucky bugger to have this.  A quick look in the fridge has turned up some capers, hollandaise and creme fraiche and I know I have some dried dill, the makings of a healthy hunger buster are underway…

I quickly toast a couple of slices of bread, mix a loaded teaspoon of hollandaise with a loaded teaspoon of creme fraiche and give it a hefty pinch of dill. I spread, well, rather dollop the mixture on the toasted bread and layer the smoked salmon and capers on top. A grind of pepper cast across the snacky surface and I’m eating again, having photographed this snack for you and staved off some considerable irritation at the lack of Mars Bars in my life. YAAAAASSSSSSSS! I don’t know how many birds I’ve just killed with one stone but damn if I no longer want a Mars Bar, this Hangrrr has been remedied – need to find a song about smoked salmon now. Most. Schitzo. Food-blog. Ever.

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