Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cook like a Caterer, October Pic's

Octoberfest fun with Beer Whipped Cheese- Cook like a Caterer page 54
Bleary totaled and with so much food in the fridge, my family is stuffed and ready to hibernate. Only 18 more... yes, 18 more dishes to make and their pictures to take, then I will have prepared and photographed all the recipes in "Cook like a Caterer, Party Sized Recipes for Entertaining" the E book version will be available soon, YEAH!

My goal is to finish this huge task by Halloween, which means blog posting has slipped to the back burner. But with the end so close, I'll break and share some  dishes that are fall savvy, delicious and fun!

We are only days from Halloween... here are a few recipes from the book;
Chili Lime Wings are a great trick  (recipe page 23)...
leave them whole and call them "Bat Wings" perfect for spooky theme parties.

Steak on a Stick with Bourbon BBQ Sauce is another great portable treat at a finger food event. The recipe is on page 43

It wouldn't be fall without pumpkins, so here is a cute mini pumpkin soup bowl. The soup inside is Curry Butternut Squash Soup, recipe page107

An easy fun dish for a child's Halloween party, is Tortellini Skewers page 45.
Arranging the skewers by sticking them on a cabbage head makes a "scary" tasty treat!

Just  a few days left, hope you have wonderful October!

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Catering Classic, Chicken Piccatta

Every caterer has at least one classic dish in their arsenal. A dish that's simple, delicious and appropriate for any occasion. My go to classic Chicken dish is Piccatta, a bright Italian piquant sauce  that stars lemon. The technique of pan frying cutlets and serving in a zesty lemon sauce is perfect for veal, fish, pork or even vegetables.
  Traditional recipes usually call for cooking in butter, I choose to stick with olive or grape seed oil to make it a bit more healthy. Chicken Piccatta can be made gluten free by subbing corn starch for flour when dusting chicken, and adjusting the sauce preparation. Gluten free sauce is made by leaving out the roux (butter and flour thickener) and thickening the sauce with a slurry of corn starch stirred in cold stock or lemon juice. Another way to thicken the sauce is to simply reduce the liquids, but I find that sauce a little thin for my taste.

Some suggestions for preparing Chicken Piccatta for a large group;
  • 5 ounce chicken breast are a ample portion. The flattened breast looks large on the plate, and the dish is rich. 
  • To make ahead, go through all the steps except for number 4. Instead of the oven, put the chicken in the fridge. Make and refrigerate sauce. Before serving, heat the chicken to 165 degrees. Heat sauce and thin if needed with stock or wine.
  • For buffet service, when other entrees are served, consider cutting breasts in strips for smaller portions.  

Those who know me are probably amazed that I'm actually sharing a recipe that makes only 6 servings. I do have the fish version that makes a comfortable 30 servings, Halibut with Lemon Caper Sauce. It's a delicious flavorful way to serve fish for a party...that recipe is in my book, "Cook like a Caterer, party sized recipes for entertaining."

Chicken Piccata                                                                               Chef Renee Fontes

A popular light dish great for any occasion. Quick cooking keeps the chicken moist. The delicate sauce is fresh flavored with lemon and briny capers. The recipe works well for veal, turkey and lamb cutlets as well. Makes 6 servings

1 teaspoon dried dill                                   additional olive oil for cooking
½ teaspoon white pepper                       6 boneless chicken breasts 5 to 6 oz
½ teaspoon salt                                       1 to 2 cups of flour
2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil                               6 ounces sliced mushrooms( optional)   

  1. Butterfly chicken breasts, pound with a meat mallet if needed to make even. Mix together dill, 2 teaspoons oil, white pepper, salt and lemon juice, massage onto chicken.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large 12 inch saute’’ pan over high heat, add  2 teaspoons of oil.
  3. Lightly dredge chicken in flour, shake off excess (do this just as the chicken goes into the pan). Place as many breasts as fit comfortably, cook 2 to 3 minutes per side until light golden brown (do this in batches, adding oil if needed).
  4. Place chicken in a single layer on a oven proof pan. Bake until breasts reach 165°F (about 6 -12 minutes, depending on thickness).
  5. Using the same pan, quickly saute mushrooms adding a small amount of oil if needed. Remove and set aside mushrooms. Continue with sauce directions below.       


1 cups white wine                    1½ cups chicken stock
1 large shallots minced                2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons butter                1 to 2 lemons zested juiced
1½ tablespoons of flour               

  1. Add wine to saute pan. Scrape up any chicken cooking bits add minced shallot to saute’ pan, cook until wine is reduced to ½ cup.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt butter and whisk in flour. Continue whisking over low heat for 2 minutes. Slowly add wine reduction and stock, while whisking. Add capers and  mushrooms, bring to low boil, cook until thickened.
  3. Add zest, lemon juice and parsley to sauce. Adjust to taste with additional lemon. Serve over prepared chicken.

Sherry works nicely in place of wine. Capers are salty, so be careful not to add additional salt until the sauce finishes.

For those who attended the Yorba Linda Public Library Mediterranean cooking class on September 8, 2012, thanks so much! I had loads of fun, (until it was dish washing time). The community room was so full, the host had to take out more chairs! Please check that your recipe copy reads 165 degrees on finished chicken breast, the 145 temperature was for halibut version in "Cook like a Caterer," page 152.

Whats your "go to"classic dish?