Thursday, August 28, 2008

If Life gives you a case... Make Lemonade!!

Maybe everyone doesn't have a case of lemons begging for use or an over producing tree, or a neighbor does... and their not home, but if you did...Heres a big batch recipe for a party size punch! I have never tasted a suitable substitute for the real thing and I love to serve it in a giant glass dispenser. Can you believe I have actually made it to and from a events with this big glass dispenser without breaking it? The lemonade hasn't always been so lucky, and let me tell you, it isn't easy to clean five gallons out of a van.
  On one occasion for a wedding I catered , we set up a lemonade stand at the entrance. The wedding was held outdoors on the hottest summer day in history. Not only was it the best solution to hydrate the melted guests, it served as a great non-alcoholic cocktail time at the start of the event.


4 quarts lemon
4 quarts sugar
Squeeze approx. half case of lemons to get 4 quarts of lemon juice squeezed.
Add 4 quarts of sugar and cook until sugar is disolved.
Add water until 5 gallons is reached.
makes 5 gallons-105 8 oz. cups

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Black dress? No,but this is a dressy appetizer for your next party!

Looking for something elegant to enjoy at your next gathering? slip into this little number! A delicious filling of creamy goat cheese, sweet, crisp pear and candied pecan cradled in a crisp endive leaf.
A few years back I had a call from a client who wanted a fancy dressy cocktail party, but did not want me to use any meat or bread products in the menu. I love a challenge and this was one of the items I enjoyed creating for her evening. Endive with Chevre, Pear and Candied Pecan is so easy to make I love it's fresh taste and know you will too!

Endive with Chevre, Pear and Candied Pecan
3 heads endive
6 ounces Chevre cheese
cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste
1 pear
¼ cup pecans candied

Remove leaves from endive heads. Wash and pat dry.
Cut pear lengthwise( seed but do not peal) and dice 1/2. Save other half for tray garnish.
Mix chevre with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, fresh cracked pepper and pinch of salt. Fold in chopped pear and 1/2 of candied pecans. Be very gentle when mixing, best to use gloved hands.
Top each leaf with chevre mixture and arrange on platter, sprinkle with remaining pecans and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, some salt and more cracked pepper.

New look for ...Layered Cheese Pesto Torte

Once and a while, I take a look at a favorite recipe and see if it is ready for a remodel... this one was! Layered cheese pesto spread and I have been friends for a long time. I first made it for a spring cooking class and used a tall flower pot to create it's shape. Get it? flower pot, spring? I thought it was cool at the time, don't laugh... . Now after making it for a few years, and years, it was due for a new look.
Originally the torte had thinner layers of the cheese mixture interspersed with the pesto layers and like I said, was molded in a taller cone shape. Re-styled with the pesto layer on top, the spread has a more dramatic look. Still popular at a party, the updated appetizer can make you popular too!
This recipe is for a large gathering and is very rich. Consider cutting the quantity in half if your having less then 25 guests or serving several other dishes.

Layered Cheese Pesto Torte

½ lb. feta cheese
1 ½ lbs. Cream cheese
1 lbs. unsalted butter
30 ounce Pesto sauce, Prepared
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated

Strain prepared pesto over fridge overnight.
Bring cream cheese, butter and feta cheese to room temperature.
Beat cream cheese, butter and feta cheese until smooth, scraping occasionally from the sides of the mixing bowl as needed.
Separate 3/4 of cheese mixture and set aside.
Add strained pesto to remaining 1/4 of cheese blend in mixer.
Add 1/4 cup of parmessan cheese.
Blend together until combined
Prepare a 10 inch by 2 inch round cake pan by placing a 24" square plastic wrap on bottom and up sides.
Put pesto cheese mixture in bottom of pan, spread evenly.
Allow to sit refrigerated 30 to 60 minutes to firm.
Layer the remaining cheese mixture over pesto, chill until set.
Turn out onto platter. Remove plastic, and garnish, serve with sliced baguette or crackers.

Indian Chicken, For My Fair Friends

So I haven't had a chance to share what I did this summer, needless to say it was cheesy! I will have to tell the incredible story later, but the short is, I coordinated a cheese exhibit for the OC Fair .
This isn't a blog about the project, but about a few the people I worked with. Kimiko, Julie and Chris, Event Coordinators who work year round at the OC Fair and Events Center. These ladies are lovers of good food and enjoy a good recipe and to share ideas over lunch. They will trip you in the hall if your lunch looks good so they to can learn to make it too! Either that or they are messing with me and only pretend to like my cooking...So any way...Juile, Kimiko and Chris are hard workers and the I am not sure they make time to eat most days, but I finally wrote down the recipe for Indian Chicken to share. The day I brought it in as a leftover, it was one of those cook from the hip dishes I make. You know of course, I put lots of  ingredients in it to make it look really complicated that way you guy's think I work hard too.  Ladies enjoy the recipe, I enjoyed working with you!

Indian Chicken
1 whole chicken fryer cut into 8 pieces
6oz. plain yogurt
1 tsp. corriander
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. curry
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. tummeric
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cloves fresh garlic crushed
1/4 cup cilantro chopped

Mix all ingredients together and coat chicken. Allow to marinate 1 to 2 days before cooking.
Chicken can be cooked on a grill, with indirect heat or in a 375 degree oven for approxiamatley
45 mins. or until 165 degrees .

Savory Brunch Bread Pudding

Hey try this recipe! I was looking through my one dish recipes for one of the demos I did recently at the OC Fair. Remembering this as one of my favorite catering dishes, I revised it to fit regular home size pans instead of larger commercial pans. Savory Brunch Bread Pudding is the perfect hearty one dish morning meal.The great thing is it can be assembled the night before, and baked before serving, making it a great dish for holiday mornings. I love how the buttermilk adds a tang to the taste which works well with the other earthy ingredients. I have experimented with many other additions such as sausage, chilies and a variety of cheeses with much success.

8 each bacon slices
1 teaspoon black pepper
8 ounces mushroom, wild sliced
4 each scallion chopped
1/4 cup chopped dried tomato
2 teaspoons sage dry
8 each egg
5 cups buttermilk
1 cup parmesan cheese shredded
1 teaspoon salt
8 cups french bread cubed, dry
1 bunch sage fresh

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease individual custard cups or large 9*13 casserole dish. 
Sprinkle bacon with half teaspoon of black pepper and cook until crisp. Remove, drain and cut into pieces (reserve). 
Cook mushrooms, scallions and dry sage in remaing bacon drippings until tender. Remove with slotted spoon (reserve). 
Add bread cubes to skillet stirring to toast for about a minute. Add reserved bacon and mushroom mixture, stir together another minute or so,add in dried tomatoes . Place in prepared baking dish/dishes.
Whisk together eggs, buttermilk, parmessan cheese, salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Tear 8-10 sage leaves, stir into mixture. 
Pour over bread mixture in baking dish/dishes. Bake at 350 degrees 20 minutes for individual servings or 40 minutes for casserole dish until set and golden brown. Serve warm, garnished with additional sage leaves. Serves 8.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Goodbye Dinner At Eight!

I closed my Catering business, Dinner At Eight Productions Inc. after a successful 20 plus year run. I didn't sell it, how could I sell it? it was my baby! Catering is what I know and love but I couldn't run it any more either. The game gets harder and harder every year, it can wear you out before you know it. It was time to make a change and start work on new projects I only dreamed about doing, but found hard to do while working in the trenches.

I look back amazed at the thousands of challenging events I had a part in and the millions of things I learned, I know you can't go to school for that!
I have also had many wonderful experiences and worked with many great people clients, vendors and employees as well. You want to know the best part? Catering is how I met and married the man I love, my friend, partner my husband and father of my gourmet son. That's another story, lets cook!