Sunday, March 25, 2012

Catering A Gypsy Theme Event

I was planning an event for a client who has had so many parties, it seemed like every theme we thought of had been done before! Someone suggested the idea of a Gypsy Party, at first I was stumped. What seemed like it would be a challenging theme to work with, ended up a lot of fun.

The party was for the hosts birthday and 275 guests were invited to his private residence, (turned Gypsy Camp), in Yorba Linda, CA. The property is lush with mature trees and rambling gardens, the perfect forest look for a Gypsy camp. Props, menu and entertainment added to the flavor.

I rented a few old world style backdrops such as a cottage, forest, and thatched roof house. These were set dressed with luggage, tools, barrels and trunks. A few tents, wagons, wishing well, some farm animal props and bench seating helped with the camp look.

Most of the cooking was done on site in full view of the guests. The dishes were served on wagon covered buffets to protect the food as well as add to the rustic look. The party lasted into the night and everyone had a ball!


Market Fair Fruit, Cheese and Vegetables
Piroshki Russian Tiny Turnovers
Mystic Meatballs
Beggars Purse
Rosemary Steak Skewers


Chicken Paprikash
Hungarian Beef Goulash
Rag Noodles
Rose Potatoes with Olives in Basil Oil
Chopped Peasant Salad 
Goat cheese, cucumber, tomato, shaved red onion and wine vinaigrette,
Rustic breads 

Mixed Stone Fruit Cobbler with fresh whipped cream
Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce


Lemonade Iced Tea and Campfire Coffee
Tavern Bar


Crystal ball reader, Tarot Card Reader, Gypsy Dancers, Strolling Music Playing Duo and a Theme Gypsy Band.

Prop tent makes a fun setting for a crystal ball reader
Props and buffet station settle nicely into the lush yard
Fortune Tellers tent
Benches and props set to watch the entertainment
Gypsy dancers liven up the evening
A colorful party

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pinterest and a Edible Pineapple Flower Craft

Pineapple Flower, Fresh Ideas, by Renee Fontes
I have been trying to get up to speed on the Pinterest mechanics and finding it kind of confusing. I'ts like leafing through stacks of MS Living, but you can't tear out the pictures. Lot's of cool things to look at and pinning them to imaginary bulletin board (hope I'm doing it right!) and wow, I found edible art!

While learning new social network skills, I'm also learning some great food preserving skills in the Orange County Master Preservers Group. For homework 2 weeks ago we were told to dry something to show at the next class. I saw these pineapple slices on Pinterest they looked like flowers and gave it a try.

The picture I found didn't have directions but did have a series of photos that were easy enough to follow. Below is how I made these and at the bottom (I believe) is the original source for the pineapple dried flowers. Give it a try, and let me know if you have questions, suggestions or success!

Canning Jar of dried pineapple slices that look like fresh picked daisy's, by Renee Fontes
Dried flowers can be stored in a clean dry jar. They are pretty gifts, garnish and taste good too!
To make:
Cut top and bottom of pineapple.

 Trim away sides.

Notch texture on surface, this helps make petal edges.

The center of this dried pineapple slice looks just like the center of a flower! Photo by Renee Fontes

Slice thin with a sharp knife and lay on a silpat. Dehydrate at 135 until dry, but slightly pliable. It took mine 6 hours. Move from silpat to cupcake pan to help form shape.

 Allow to dry 2 more hours, place in sealed jar or container.

Drying pineapple flowers. Photo by Renee Fontes
I've tried to find the source of the original idea, best I know this is the one I pinned. Great idea!
Inspiration source-

Monday, March 12, 2012

Canning Lesson at The Farmers Kitchen Hollywood

When you think of Hollywood...steeping orange peel, cabbage cheerfully fermenting in curious containers and racks of hand preserved tomatoes do not come to mind. That's why one glance in The Farmers Market Kitchen, has you thinking rural town instead of a film town.

Location is the not only surprising thing about this cafe, it is an extension of the great Hollywood Farmers’ Market. When the market is silent the fresh food continues through a unique commitment to the community. Good for farmers, good for urban dwellers.

 Farmers Market Kitchen supports the community with healthy farm to table meals prepared by caring chefs and apprentices. This joint effort between farmer and chef brings affordable food, nutrition and education programs including job training to the neighborhood.  

 This fresh looking cafe is a showcase for traditional old school preserves (in all the fun flavors grandma used to make). It also is new school too, as the facility is used to teach canning, drying and fermenting, many of the products lining the restaurant walls.

This is all part of an  extension of the Hollywood Farmers’ Market and the Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles  (SEE-LA) I'm in awe of the jewel toned jars... mixed berry, pepper, quince and plum (imagine what they would do if they had room for a hen house and cows?) 

The Orange County Master Preservers (I'm a trainee) were treated to a pressure canning class last week. I can't say enough about our hosts at  Farmers Market Kitchen and the Master Preservers LA County. The hospitality, time and education these volunteers gave was priceless!
The UCC Master Preservers are a volunteer organization who learn food safety and preserving techniques to help others properly prepare wholesome, economical and safe food. Master Preservers not only to help others with food safety, but to keep the tradition of home canning and preservation alive.

Master Preserver Chef Ernie Miller delivers an informative lesson on the history and function of a pressure canner. His overview includes history, safety and the economy of home canning. Chef Miller's experience and knowledge helps take the fear out of handling an intimidating piece of equipment. 

The class is part hands on and Master Preservers LA Chef Karen and Chef Jake take us through the intricate details of preserving under pressure. Other very kind MFPLA (who missed my photos) were graciously on hand to help prepare samples, clean up and expertly host our OC Preserving group.

We learned to can chicken and split pea soup. The process takes several hours but is actually simple as long as you follow the rules to the letter. Jars are filled to proper head space, lids are fixed, they are loaded into the pressure canner and processed for the time the recipe states. Once pressure canning is complete, seals are checked and jars rest.

 Follow the link for more information on the Hollywood Farmers’ Market, and visit Farmers Market Kitchen for great dine in or food to go. Great gifts line the sunny room including preserving kits, jams, jellies and pickled products, stock up!