Thursday, December 31, 2009

Arugula Salad in a Whole Roasted Pumpkin with Chevre and Peppitas

I decided to be creative for Christmas dinner this year. For the past several years we have been going into SF for a special holiday dinner; this year I decided to cook at home. I had seen a whole roasted pumpkin in a South American cooking show and decided to give it a try. It was remarkably easy, and remarkably good.

I purchased one 14 pound hubbard squash (any hard winter squash with yellow or orange flesh is considered a pumpkin; that Libby canned pumpkin that you make your pie with is most likely butternut or banana squash).
I pierced the pumpkin about 5 times with a long skewer (so it wouldn’t explode) and then placed it in the oven on a cookie sheet. Not knowing how long this would take I started it 4 hours before dinner at 300 degrees. Checking every 30 minutes or so (I was actually curious too), it took approximately 2½ hours to be skewer tender. I set it aside till dinner. One very interesting thing was a clear “juice” that pooled at the stem of the pumpkin while roasting (Harry Potter pumpkin juice?) it was sweet with a nutty flavor.

Once everyone was seated at the table, I brought several bowls to the table - wild baby arugula, toasted pumpkin seeds, crumbled Chevre, and Pomegranate vinaigrette

I chose to cut open the top of the pumpkin much like you would do a jack-o-lantern, next time I will cut the top off straight across and a bit lower to give more mixing room. Then scooped all of the seeds and strings from the inside.

Then I put all the ingredients in the pumpkin to toss them. Starting with the greens, then the pumpkins seeds, stirring and incorporating spoons of the pumpkin flesh into the salad, last the Chevre and vinaigrette. Folding gently until the greens just wilted.

It’s one I’ll be trying again.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Kitchen time 2:08PM
8 hams
5 tarts
4 turkeys
3 emergencies
2 legs of lamb
Time to go home
1 Happy caterer

Happy Holidays to everyone

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Stick out your tongue on New Years Eve

I am a foodie, yes a gourmand, but a foodie too. To me a foodie is not snooty in what they eat, we are willing to try it and appreciate it for what it is. Yes I eat at taco bell - 2 tacos and a bean burrito please. Yes my favorite all time dish is Foie Gras and French Toast – you have heard about that before.

However my friends often say that I'm scary to cook for, how many of you have cooked for a trained and awarded chef? My mother in-law will tell you that I am a magnificent guest and will eat and enjoy anything that is cooked for me. The point is I didn’t have to cook it!

For New Years Eve we will be dining at a friends house. This friend on a number of occasions has pulled out an old fashioned southern cook book and tried many a recipe, but for this special evening we will be having a family classic. Smoked tongue smothered in split pea soup. In this day and age eating tongue is not that unusual with return of the nose to tail movement in eating. However she was doing it long before then. The process is to order a smoked tongue, then boil it as you would for a tongue that you were going to slice or pickle (my mother often pickled them). Then allow it to cool and peel the outer skin off. Finally, slice and cover with split pea soup. So by now you may be swaying in your seat, but just think of corned beef with split pea soup. It is unusually good.

Yes they are our best friends and the only ones they will share with.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cookies, cookies, toys?

At three o’clock in the afternoon do you need a pick me up. Maybe a chocolate chip cookie?  For the last several years we have been donating the funds that come in from our self serve coffee and cookies to charities in Petaluma. Many of our staff no longer have little kids to by toys for, so when the call came in that Christmas Cheer needed toys for kids they went shopping, that was 8 years ago. For the past several years we've donated about $3,000 per year in toys and food, this year our cookie/coffee sales fell off when we moved (people are still finding us) but we still came up with $2,100 to help with food and toys.

The next time that you feel guilty about that afternoon snack... don’t, you're helping charity and that's good for you!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
A. and all the gang at PSC

Monday, December 14, 2009

To house or not to house, that is the question (Gingerbread)

So it's December 14th and you have promised the kids to build a gingerbread house… here are a few tips from a pro, you might have seen my gingerbread version of our new building last year or heard of the gingerbread towns I constructed when I was the Pastry Chef at the Ojai Valley Inn and Country Club.

Here's my recipe for gingerbread houses/men/bells...

     2¼ cup molasses
     1½ cup brown sugar
     1 cup water
     ½ cup shortening
     10 cup flour
     1 Tbs baking soda
     1 Tbs ginger
     ½ Tbs all spice
     ½ Tbs cloves
     ½ Tbs cinnamon
Bake at 350 degrees
15 to 18 minutes for gingerbread men and things that will likely be eaten
20 to 25 minutes for gingerbread which is going to be used for construction

If you have enough space roll out your gingerbread on the paper you will bake it on. Often when you cut out your pieces and try to move them they will shift or warp; this will help them keep their shape.

Right out of the oven when still warm, place your patterns on to see if they still match, if they do not, trim at this time before it hardens up too much – use a bread knife or an exacto knife.

When putting the house together, classically royal icing is used as the "glue".  It's a combination of egg whites and powdered sugar.  The down side of royal icing is that it can take hours to harden, even if cooled, which means you're stuck building a house of cards.  Professionally we have a trick- Chocolate! Melt chocolate and pipe it on to hold the pieces together, and to speed this up use a can of “dust away” (that canned air stuff) turned upside down.  It will come out very very cold (be careful, watch your fingers and face, and do not allow the kids to do this). The chocolate will harden almost instantly!  This will get the houses up and ready for the fun decorating.

This year there was no time for a big house to decorate at the shop –or a place to display it.  We had a lot of fun with a client ordering 125 Giant Gingerbread Boys and Girls for their employees kids to decorate at the company party and then take home.

Just the smell of baking gingerbread is reason enough to start baking.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Home Sweet Holidays (The Petaluma Post)

I've started writing a regular column for The Petaluma Post.  You can find the Post at shops all around town, and (of course) at my place when you pick up your daily cookie and coffee.  Here is a copy of this month's, I hope you enjoy it.

To me Sonoma County is one of the most beautiful places on earth, our rolling hills, the pacific ocean and green pastures make it a great place to live. I am lucky to have been born and raised right here in Petaluma, though my feet have wandered and I have cooked around the world, I still came home to stay.

Even when you live in such a great place there is nothing like the holidays to make you think of where you come from. When planning your holiday meal why not bring your longing to the table and add a regional flare to mix?

My husband’s family is from the east coast, they moved here 40 years ago, he loves to tell me that even though he is a transplant he has been her longer than I have, one month before I was born. One of my favorite recipes his mom does is a French stuffing reaching back to the French Canadian Border Area. It is made with Potatoes instead of bread. For the first few years I was hesitant, but I love it now. However I still want the stuffing from my family’s tradition, so Mom B knows that she has to make two kinds of stuffing; one just for me . Thanks Jan.

For an Elegant New England Starter why not try a soup course of New England Corn and Lobster Chowder

10 ounces cooked lobster tails, thawed
4 cups frozen yellow corn kernels (about 2¼ pounds), thawed
3 cups low-salt chicken broth
8 bacon slices, chopped
2 cups chopped onions
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
2/3 cup finely diced celery
3 cups bottled clam juice
1 ½ cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons (¼ stick) butter
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Place Bacon, thyme, onion and cerely in a heavy bottomed pot, saute till tender and translucent.
Add in the corn chicken broth and clam juice, bring up to a boil.
In a separate bowl combine vegetable oil and flour to create a slurry. Turn the soup down to a simmer and whisk in the slurry. Continue to stir as it will thicken quickly
Finish with heavy cream, slat and pepper to taste
Just before serving sauté the lobster in 2 T aof butter and top each dish
Garnish with chives

How many great things can we pull from the southern states?! Greens, peas, great desserts? One that has been a hit at my house is a Turducken. This creation has gained in popularity over the last several years. It is a turkey that is stuffed with a duck and a chicken. When done in proper southern style it should have 3 different stuffings layered in. The key to this dinner is lots of guests, the average Turducken weighs in at approximately 25 pounds, that is all meat and stuffing as all but the leg bones and the wings are removed. Jim, my husband, had always wanted me to make one, so one year of course I did. Being lucky enough to have a commercial kitchen I boned each of the birds and layered them with just the traditional celery and sage stuffing and tied and trussed it just like a traditional turkey. Taking it home the day before thanksgiving I put it in the over 18 hours – yes 18 hours before dinner. It cooks at a very low heat for a long time to get all the way through. As the family arrived I pulled it out and with a bit of help got it to the table, even I don’t have a tray that big. The breast of the turkey sinks a bit without the breast bone but it looked beautiful. The awe moment came when you cut across the whole bird to reveal the layers. If you are a good cook and want to try to make your own there are great directions on the web, if you just want to each you can order them too.

Do you miss seeing the pueblos lined with luminaries? Then I suspect that your thanksgiving dinner might also include some Chiles. A great addition to any table would be a Pablano Chile Born Bread to a bit of spice to the table.
1 medium Pablano Chile, roasted, skinned and chopped
2 cup yellow corn meal
1½ cup flour
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
1 cup milk
¼ cup sour cream

To char Pablano chile, place over an open flame or broiler until all sides are blackened, turning often. Enclose in a paper bag for 15 minutes, the skin should just slide off, remove seeds and chop.
Combine dry ingredients, add wet ingredients, mix well, and last add the chile. Place in a 10” oven proof pan. Bake at 350 degree for about 15 minutes till a skewer comes out clean.

Well, I’ve exceeded my allotted words, but from Hazelnuts in Oregon to cherries from Wisconsin , just remember to bring those tastes to your holiday table. For more regional holiday ideas see my blog ( Have happy and delicious holidays!


Friday, December 4, 2009

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

When you think of winter most people think of snowflakes and Christmas carols, me I love the winter farmers market. The bright colors of summer may be gone but there so many wonderful things to find, so I picked up a weeks worth of culinary treats.

That night our dinner started with Brussels sprouts; young and fresh, roasted and then tossed with a bit of Point Reyes Blue.  Who needs mac 'n' cheese!

For a snack I picked up the first of the Satsuma tangerines.  I love the loose fitting skins that nearly fall off when you peel them.

The first Meyer lemons are already out, it seems a bit early, but I cannot pass them up when they smell just like perfume.  Those went in to a bit of a treat by way of a Lemon Drop cocktail; nothing beats fresh lemon in this and no lemon beats Meyers.  I haven't been happy with traditional lemon drop recipes, but Jim came up with a good one (he can't cook, but he can mix):
   2 parts Vodka
   1 part Lemoncello (an Italian lemon liquor)
   1 part fresh lemon juice
   1 Tbl spoon fine sugar
   1 part water
   lemon zest
Shake well with ice, and serve up in a sugar rimmed martini glass.

Inverness by Cow Girl Creamery (a hand made cows milk cheese in a Brie style) paired beautifully with the Lemon Drop.  The clean flavor of the cheese against the rich lemon flavors were an awsome combination.  Cheese is nor only for wine. Try it and enjoy.

I still have the Yellow Finn potatoes, one of my favorites.  I feel they lost out when Yukon Gold potatoes got popular. The yellow finns are a better roasting potato.  With just Olive Oil, Salt &Pepper you have home made fries in the oven –MMM dinner tonight?

For my sister the Pomegranates are out there - pretty for decorations or a snack.

After visiting Spain a couple of years ago my husband found a taste for fresh roasted chestnuts. Just place a small X slit in the bottom of each one and roast in the oven, or an open fire if you have one. Enjoy.

It might be nippy in the mornings but you will find great treasures there.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009


On a recent trip to Mexico we had the chance to visit a family run tequila distillery. From the freshly harvested piña, to the steamer, chopper and the distilling area.

It was neat to actually see the pinas in raw form. They had been carved down to just the hearts, the sap was a deep red color and slightly bitter. The pina is the heart of the agave plant and is the core ingredient in tequila; after they chop all the fronds off it looks a lot like a giant pinapple, in fact the distiller referred to them as "Mexican Pinapples"

They still had the old pina roasting oven from a 100 years ago, but had upgraded to a modern pressure cooker for production.  They had a guided tequila tasting with their Master Distiller.  We started with the standard three varieties of tequila (white, resposado, and anejo), they also had something I've never seen in the US, flavored tequilas; almond tequila liqueur, and a coffee/vanilla (esentially kahlua).  All very good.  We also had the chance to try their "moon shine", the distilled agave before it is turned into the final product; 190 proof!  I let Jim try that one.... he said "good, smooth, a little burn" ... then a moment later "still burning... burning more! still going!" He's good for tasting things ;)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Oh lord it’s hard to be Humble

There have been many changes in eating habits over the last year. With reports of economic uncertainty people have turned to homey cuisine. We're seeing lots of soups and comfort foods on our menus. One great thing it has brought back is PIE! We all love pie; from the holiday classics to our summer favorites.  To my delight in the burgeoning dessert trend is a great little place called Humble Pie. Located in Downtown Penngrove - well ok on the main street, really the only street with stores - is this great new restaurant and pie shop (Pie-eria?).  Chef Miriam is making some creative and tasty treats.  I have been recommending her to many customers for that different twist on party desserts; from weddings to bar mitzvahs she has wowed them all. Over Thanksgiving she only made 35 pies and sold out quickly. One of my staff was able to get her hands on the vanilla berry with graham cracker crust. While trying to hold my self back from all of the eating this week I know that I will give in.

If you want a quaint dining experience stop in for dinner at the restaurant too. They offer an artisan menu Wednesday through Sunday with produce from their own garden.  It's a good creative menu but with a homey feel. There are only about 15 seats, so get there early.  And save room for dessert!


Monday, November 23, 2009

An American Classic

Next week one of our favorite wineries (Kunde Estate) will be having a holiday open house and has asked us to make the ultimate American classic, grilled cheese and tomato soup!

Hummm, that is a hard bill to fill, something so icon and classic… It needs to be gourmet, yet traditional and comforting.

We are known for our tomato bisque soup, it won the Kendall Jackson Tomato Festival a few years back so that one should be easy. A flavorful tomato soup with just a touch of cream but not too rich.

½ cup chopped onions
½ cup butter
1½ tsp. dill weed
5 cups chopped tomatoes
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 tb flour
¼ cup chopped parsley
4 tsp. honey
1¼ cup heavy cream
2/3 cup half-and-half
Salt and pepper

In a large pot, sauté onions in 6 tablespoons butter along with the dill weed for 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add tomatoes and broth and heat.  Make a roux by blending 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons flour, whisking constantly over medium heat for 3 minutes, without browning. Add roux to stock and whisk to blend. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add chopped parsley, honey, cream and half-and-half.  Remove from heat and puree. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Then the grilled cheese, it has to be flavorful but not over powering, gooey is a must but not messy, crisp buttery crust but not too bready. We tested a local organic white cheddar from Spring Hills Cheese, then St George from Matos, and last one of my favorites a Havarti. Thinly sliced brioche- yes I know it is French but we are the melting pot so bring on the best, brushed with unsalted butter – yes it is from our own Clover -  then cheese 2 slices thick. Grill and cut into sticks for easy dipping; you have to be able to dip it in the tomato soup.

And the winner is... the Havarti.  It's a perfect combination of all of the flavors and just melty enough to stretch.

Now we just have to make the 550 sandwiches and 40 gallons of soup and we're all set!

Friday, November 20, 2009


Another favorite cheese from our area. With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, we are all trying to find one or two easy items to fill out the menu. One of our most requested cheeses is our Bellwether Farms Crescenza with Lavender and Honey. It is a rich and buttery cheese made in a classic Italian style, the has a creamy texture that is just perfect for spreading.

Allow the cheese to come to room temperature, just before serving sprinkle with a pinch of crushed lavender flowers and a generous drizzle of local honey. I love it with a sweet baguette or whole grain crackers. The cheese has just enough tart flavor to offset the sweetness.

A great hors d’oeuvre before the big dinner.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

COTS & California Waterfowl

Breakfast for 600 yesterday morning, a prime rib dinner for 250 this evening and hors d'oeuvres for 230 tomorrow, along with all the Thanksgiving orders coming in for next week... whew!  I'm feeling awfully busy for the slow time of year.

Breakfast was COTS annual event, featuring frittata, pumpkin bread, fruit skewers and lots and lots of coffee (it was early).  Dinner this evening is the big California Waterfowl fund raiser with carved prime rib, chicken cattatore, and all the traditional sides.  Always a lot of fun.


Friday, November 13, 2009


Lately I have been enjoying Vietnamese cuisine, the fresh and simple flavors, lime, basil, cilantro.

There are two restaurants we visit often.  Three Seasons in SF in the Cow Hollow area, they are considered modern Vietnamese and I have been known to make a side trip when in the city to pick up their duck rice paper rolls or garlic parmesan noodles. A bride recommended them to me many years ago for their Ahi Mango rice paper roll.  I rate everything on their menu as at least very good, and most of it is truely excellent.

La Maison de la Reine is in the Corte Madera Town Center mall, much closer and a great place to grab a light lunch.  This past weekend I had a Vermicelli bowl; a thin round rice noodle that was cooked and chilled, it was served on top of lettuce and mung bean sprouts, and topped with bbq pork, then garnished with shredded carrot and daikon, cucumber and lime wedges.

I've been experimenting at home.  If you have not worked with the rice noodles before they look a bit intimidating, they cook very quickly-3-5 minutes in boiling water. Try using them in place a of steamed rice for your favorite Asian dish.  For a great lunch or dinner try pairing with left over roast chicken, grated  carrot and juillaned snow peas, serve with a great peanut dressing.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Wine Road

This weekend is the 11th Annual Food and Wine Affair by Wine Roads. A three day tour through some of Sonoma County's most beautiful wineries.  If you are looking for a yummy nibble, stop by the two wineris we are at. Windsor Oaks Vineyards will be serving up a Mushroom Bisque with White Truffle Oil and a Shaved Leg of Lamb on a White Bean Hummus with Roasted Garlic

At Dutcher Crossing Winery, way out on Dry Creek Road, we have a Lamb Tagine on an Artichoke Risotto. (recipe below)

Taking place both Saturday and Sunday (11/7 & 11/8/2009).  Go out and enjoy the vines, the wine and some great food.  It's a scenic must this time of year, the vineyards are turning into a sea of color to rival the northeast.

We are also featured with two of these recipes in Wine Roads' cookbook, but here's one to get you started:

Lamb Tagine on an Artichoke Risotto

Mediterranean risotto with spicy lamb.
Entrée serves 6 / Appetizer serves 10

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup chopped shallots
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
½ cup red wine
6 cups chicken broth - heated and divided
¾ cup grated Asiago cheese
2 cups slow roasted lamb Tagine (approx 1 pound)
6 ounce marinated artichoke hearts, chopped with juice
Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Stir in the shallots and garlic, sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the rice and stir well to coat, about 1 minute.
Add the wine and allow it to get absorbed by the rice, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in the chicken broth, ½ cup at a time, waiting until the rice absorbs each ½ cup before adding the next ½ cup. Save ¼ cup of broth for later.
Cook until the rice is done but firm (15 to 20 minutes).
Turn off the heat.
Stir in the remaining ¼ cup of broth, the cheese, and artichoke hearts.
Top with warmed Lamb Tagine (about 1/3 cup or 3oz per serving)


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cheese, glorious cheese

Did I mention that I like cheese?  It could be my true down fall in trying to eat healthy.  I would rather have a wedge of cheese and bread then an entire dinner, and have done so in the past.

There are so many great local cheese – where do you even start?  I thought that I would take them one at a time.

Let’s start with St George by the Matos Family, a locally made (Ilano road, Santa Rosa) semi hard cheese with a cheddary flavor.  The recipe was brought over in the 70’s from the Azores in Portugal.  This is a great one to put out in a wedge and just chip away at. It goes great with apples and pears but also stands up well to our spiced almonds and would go well with beer.

A nice one to put out to nibble on at a party or a ball game.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Just last week I had a client ask for a Halloween menu.  Halloween doesn't have anything traditional like Turkey or Ham (unless you want a big bowl of candy for dinner), so I did more of a play on words to spice it up.

Here are a fewof ideas:

Turn goulash (a warm pork or beef stew) into Ghoulash, and tell them it is made with werewolf shoulder (ha ha).

We did witches hair and eyeballs aka spaghetti and meat balls.

The fun one was we took small Phyllo cups (available in your freezer section) made a savory pumpkin, white truffle and parmesan filling (the color was great bright orange) and then a sliver of olive – it looked just like a cat’s eye.

Remember it is ok to play with your food.


Monday, October 26, 2009

It’s beginning to smell a lot like turkey…

Wedding season is just barely past and I am off into turkey land. You might have seen that our Thanksgiving menu is up and out for ordering. But before it could be finished the Turkeys had to begin…

Over recent years there have been many thoughts on how to cook the best bird. I like turkey a lot and have tried most of the recipes out there... deep fried... paper bag...Turducken... (The turducken is a whole story of its own)

This year I decided to experiment with what we would be offering on the menu.

It is a 95° day and I am face to face with 3 turkeys, this is not turkey weather. I scour my many cook books plus the internet for a brine recipe and a dry rub recipe. We use a 12-14# natural turkey. This is your classic turkey that mom cooked at home, not salt injected or heritage, just a good old turkey. Both brined and dry rub take an extra day of prep, the ideas is the extra time with salt water or salt should help to keep it moister. The brine we did submerged in a bucket over night approx 12 hours. The dry rub is rubbed inside and out and let rest 12 hours

Wednesday morning I prep all three turkeys; the brined bird is rinsed and panned;  dry rub is ready to go, and last I make a classic herb butter and season turkey number 3. We do not stuff our turkeys here and have the luxury of a convection over so after about 2 hours the turkeys are done.

Guess what we had for lunch… We blind taste tested all three and the old fashioned butter herb won!  A couple of our thoughts:  the brine changed the texture of the meat to be more deli turkey, though flavorful and moist it was just not right, the dry rub put off the least amount of drippings but at the same time the flavor did not come though and the drippings that were put off were really not usable for your classic gravy. I guess Mom’s turkey wins again ;)

Gobble, gobble


Saturday, October 24, 2009


It's not even Halloween, but in the culinary world it's time to start thinking about Thanksgiving.  We've already had the first few calls about our Thanksgiving menu, so I rolled out of wedding season and wrote the Thanksgiving menu first thing.  We did a taste taste between our classic Herb Roasted Turkey, a new Brined Turkey, and a Dry Rubbed Turkey.  The classic won hands down for flavor and moistness.  But we have substituted Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes for the traditional; great flavor.  Plus added a few new items.

Herb Basted Turkey 12 to 14lb.

with choice of four sides
Celery Sage Stuffing with Golden Raisins
Buttermilk Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes
Tarragon Roasted Vegetables
Maple Yams with Brandied Raisins
Roasted Squash with Apples, Onions & Thyme
Creamed Corn with Bacon & Caramelized Onions
Scalloped Potatoes with Fennel

choice of one accompaniment
Cranberry Orange Conserve
Pear Sauce with Cranberries

all with
Mixed Sonoma Greens
Pomegranate Vinaigrette & Pralines
Turkey Gravy
Dinner Rolls

and choice of one dessert
Apple Streusel Pie
Traditional Pumpkin Pie
Fresh Baked Cookie Platter
Chocolate Pecan Pie

Thursday, October 22, 2009

MMMM Lemon White Chocolate Mousse

Many of you know that I am by education a chef, by experience a pastry chef, and by choice a caterer. I don't get to do a lot of pastry work these days since it needs to be done last minute, and even after the move there is not enough room for the dedicated refrigeration that is needed (I hate butter that tastes like garlic).

However this week for a special event I made Lemon White Chocolate Mousse.  The excitement is that I created the recipe from scratch and it is incredible!  We will be serving it up in a martini glass with fresh black berries.

1 cup Lemon Juice
1 cup Sugar
4 Eggs
12 oz Butter
8 cups White Chocolate Chips
4 Egg Whites
1 cup Sugar
8 cups Cream
Makes about 50 4oz servings

Combine the juice, sugar and whole eggs over low heat (don’t scald) to create a lemon curd. 
Take off  the heat.
Add the butter and white chocolate chips to the lemon curd, and stir in and allow to melt slowly.
Whip the eggs and sugar into a meringue. Set aside.
Whip the cream. Set aside.
Fold the meringue into the lemon mixture.
Fold in the whipped cream.

Off to make more goodies.  Chocolate marquis pavlova any one?


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Petaluma Golf and Country Club

In the last couple of weeks we have catered a couple of weddings up at the Petaluma Golf and Country Club.  For many years it was members only, with only one caterer allowed; that has changed.  They have now opened it up for rental to the public, and (Yeah!) we can cater there too.

Such a beautiful view out over the Petaluma hills and the golf course.  The golden hills help to set the perfect back drop for the Fall themed wedding that we did last weekend, the blue and gold tables with Fall accents just set the mood perfectly.

It comfortably held the 160 guests with room to dance.  Cyndy (the club's Event Planner) is doing a great job helping the big events plan and run smoothly.  If you are starting to look for next year- stop in and take a peek.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

It ain't easy being green (actually it is)

Yeah Us! Go green!

After months we got word that our Green Certification from the County has gone through. It's great to be recognized for practices that we have had in place for many years. And we're now even better with our new building.  We had reps from the water department, PG&E, waste management and the County out to check our water and power saving devices, and our recycling program and waste reduction practices. All of which met or exceeded the county specs.  The presentation is on Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors meeting.


Thursday, October 8, 2009


I got to do a great event last night - some business friends Phil and Natasha had a party and asked me to come and make Paella. What a great thing it was. I don’t always get to be out in the kitchen as much as I would like and I was there in the middle of the party cooking where the guests could watch.

Paella is a classic Spanish rice dish that is made open style, you never actually cover it. For this event I made it with Chicken Thighs, Sausage, Peas, Roasted Peppers and Artichokes. It is often combined with many seafoods. One of the key ingredients is saffron - one of my absolutely favorite spices - every time I cook with it I have to start with sniffing the bag for the beautiful aromas - who says cooking is not addictive.

For cooking heat I used an outdoor propane burner (much like that for a crab boil or deep fried turkey) and a large heavy skillet with slanted sides.

For 40 guests I used
15 lbs chicken thighs cut and rubbed with ½ cup paprika, ½ cup granulated garlic, salt and pepper. I did this earlier in the day and allowed it to rest for 3 hours.

2 cups olive oil
Brown together; brown in small batches, and as it is done push it up the sides of the pan away from the hottest part of the pan.

2 cups chopped garlic
1 tsp saffron
Place in the center of the pan and sauté

3 large Spanish onions - diced
Add to garlic and sauté
Once done spoon over the chicken up the sides of the pan

5 lbs sausage - chopped to bite sized (you can use anything you like here, often chorizo is used but a milder one is just fine)
Place into the center of the pan and brown slightly. As you can tell your cooking area is the center of the pan with the sides being a holding area. Once browned bring all ingredients back into the center of the pan and mix together well.

10 cups of rice - a medium grain rice that holds well (for ease on an outdoor event I used Uncle Bens)

By tradition the rice is poured on in a cross format, ostensibly honoring JC given Spain’s Christian background, but from a cooks perspective it offers a good visual add for anyone who cooks paella regularly as to how much rice to put in (saves that pesky measuring step). I suggest you measure it for the first 50 batches or so.
Then stir it into the to the meat mixture, making sure the rice is mixed in well and covered by the other ingredients.

Turn the heat down to med-low

Add in 4 cups of chicken broth at a time (16 cups total)
Each time making sure to stir well bringing the outside edges in
Allow to simmer till only moist

When the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed add in your garnishes. I used
2 lbs Frozen Peas
4 cups Artichoke Hearts
Stir well

Garnish with strips of Roasted Red Pepper, Chopped Parsley
 and Lemon wedges.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Soupa, soupa, soupa

More soup!  It is the time of year for soup.  We had a great event today with soup for 2,050 people (nope, not a typo it's 2,050), that equals 160 gallons plus 100 loaves of bread and 12 large batches of cookies.  For the soup we offered a choice of Chicken and Wild Rice with Vegetables or Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque.

A bisque is a smooth cream soup that is thickened with a roux (flour and butter mixture).  The mass of the soup is made up of a “meaty” material, two of my favorites are Butternut Squash or Tomatoes (you know our tomato bisque). 

Here is the recipe I used for the bisque  It yields approximately 5 gallons (which is as big of a pot as I wanted to lift).

6 cups of diced Onions – caramelized in ½ c olive oil
1 lbs butter
2 cup Flour
Melt the butter, whisk in the flour, then cook slowly till bubbly and sandy in texture

30 lbs Squash (you can use butternut, acorn, baking pumpkin, banana squash)
Split the squash into handlable size pieces (what we use comes in really big pieces 40-50 lbs each)
Place flesh side down on a baking sheet or dish (you want one with edges since it might leak a bit)
Roast till very fork tender
Allow to cool then prep for soup
Seed and peel (yields the 25 lbs you need for the soup)

4 gallons of roasted vegetable stock or chicken broth
½ cup honey (depending on how sweet the squash is)
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a large pot, use emersion blender to puree
Place on stove and cook slowly until it boils
Finish with 8 cups of heavy cream

Bring to a boil before serving

For home this might be a better size recipe  ;)
½ cup onions
1.5 Tbl Flour
1.5 Tbl butter
2.5 lbs raw squash
5 cups of stock
2 tsp honey
Salt and pepper
4 oz whipping cream


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Petaluma Electric Incubator Factory

I just met the daughter (Lorraine Byce Skoog) of the owner of the incubator factory that used to be in our building, and she was able to fill us in on a few more details. The factory was the "Petaluma Electric Incubator Factory" owned by Elwood Byce (not to be confused with the Petaluma Incubator Factory which was owned by Lorraine's grand father). It was here from 1938 to 1955.

I'm still hoping someone will find an old photo of the building.  That would be really cool.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lemon Mushroom Soup

Last week we catered Canine Companions' Bone Appetit event providing a delicious Lemon Mushroom Soup for the 500 guests.  It was great success with many requests for the recipe.  Here's a scaled down version for about 12 to 14 people.  Enjoy.

Lemon Mushroom Soup
2 lbs sliced Crimini mushrooms

1 medium onion diced
2 Tbl fresh thyme- lemon if possible
2 lemons - peel skins with vegetable peel
¼ cup olive oil
Sauté till moist

6 cups water or mushroom stock (chicken stock is ok, if not vegetarian)
Juice 2 lemons (from above)
1 cup wild rice
Simmer till rice is tender

1 Tbl white truffle oil to finish


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Taste of Petaluma Recipes

Here are the recipes for today's Taste of Petaluma:

Ratatouille ala PSC
1 small yellow onion diced
1 red bell pepper diced
5 cloves garlic chopped
2 Tbl olive oil
Sauté together until tender

1 lbs zucchini diced bite size
1 medium egg plant diced bite sized
2 Tbl olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbl herbs de province
Toss together and then roast until lightly golden (15-20 minutes)

2 cups diced garden fresh tomatoes- bite size
2 cups bread crumbs
½ cup parmesan cheese
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup butter
2 Tbl white truffle oil
Melt butter & toss all ingredient together

Combine onion/pepper mixture with zucchini/eggplant mixture
Place in an oven proof baking dish
Top with tomatoes and then bread crumb mixture
Bake at 350 until bread crumbs are golden

Top with fresh pesto just before serving

Quick Pickled Vegetables
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
1.5 cup sugar
½ cup salt
2 Tbl pickle spice
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp turmeric
Bring to a boil pour over veg
Allow to sit 4 hours to 2 weeks


Monday, September 21, 2009

Face Book

For those of you that Face Book, we have a page there too.  There is a Face Book widget with a link at the bottom of this page if you would like to become a fan or just see what else is going on.


Changing of the Seasons

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” at least to me.  I love the fall,  I love autumn… Here in Sonoma County we are often just beginning to get the best of the local farms – the tomatoes and peppers - and the days are hot (this week really hot) but the evenings cool off to a beautiful temp with clear sky for star gazing.

My mind starts thinking of soups and stews, pumpkins and pomegranates.  I look forward to a ride out to Sebastopol to my favorite pumpkin patch to get a great variety of pumpkins and gourds to decorate our front step for Fall.

I’ll have a recipe later this week for the ratatouille that I'm making for the Taste of Petaluma this Saturday.  Look for us at the Barry Singer Gallery.  I have the pleasure of pairing up with Three Ox Farms and all of their great produce. They sent me this list of incredible items and I felt like a kid in a candy store choosing whatever I wanted.  So far I have planned a Pepper and Squash Ratatouille with White Truffle Oil, a Chioggia Beet Salad, and Quick Pickled Vegetables with carrots, beans and cucumbers.  Can you say "yum".

Stop by I’ll see you there

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Heritage Homes!

I'm proud to say we recieved a Heritage Homes Award last night for the restoration and remodeling work we did on our new building.  We put a lot of effort and care into it, and the recognition really means a lot to me.  Also, congrats to Lala's Creamery and all of the other recipients of last nights awards.


Monday, September 14, 2009

CornerStone Gardens and White Peach Sangria

Catering is good old fashioned hard work; you heft and tote, lift and fold a lot of items. But when it comes together WOW, it feels great.  This last weekend was at CornerStone Gardens outside of Sonoma. This is a great location with wonderful vignettes throughout.  It's an architectural art garden. There are designs from different landscape architects. Quite a site (and a sight) to be seen.

As the dark clouds loomed in Petaluma, I crossed through to the valley to beautiful blue sky. The ceremony was held in front of the reflecting pool filled with water lilies. The guests then moved over to the cocktail area outside the adorable barn. We added a great specialty cocktail White Peach Sangria with Pinot Grigio (recipe below), served in a beautiful pilsner glass.

The dinner was in the rose garden under a beautiful tent, my favorite Tomato Caprese Martini was placed and ready as the guests entered the room, followed by a buffet service for dinner.

Then came the fun, during dinner the barn was turned over to a fun filled lounge for dancing, cake and celebrating.

With the use of so many areas also come many, many details. Thanks so much to Brooke Menconi, she and Kat kept us in place and lended a necessary helping hand. Thank you.
I would have loved to have had a pedometer to see how far we went, but it was so worth while.
Congratulations Kelly and Nate!

White Peach Sangria
4 cups white peach puree
1 cup lemonade concentrate
6 bottles wine (we used Pinot Grigio)
Peach and lemon slices

Refrigerate the sangria until well chilled (at least 2 hours) to blend the flavors. Serve over ice, and include some of sliced peaches and lemons with each serving.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

We all scream for ice cream!

We are always looking for something new and fun to do on events.  Here are a couple that we have used that guests love.

Being raised in Petaluma the ice cream truck always came through the neighborhood, you could hear that tune a block away. Now John Seratt has restored that same old ice cream truck. It looks brand new and really harkens back to childhood for anyone who grew up with it.  He still makes the daily tours through the neighborhoods, and you can hire him to come out to your private party too.

Imagine a great day of BBQ, fun and games, and then the ice cream truck pulls up. Talk about a blast from the past, just as if we were kids again.

We have had the cutest thing at two weddings recently; Cici’s Gelato.  They are an organic gelato company out of Mill Valley that is often at the local farmer’s markets and now they have branched out and will come to your private event. The two owners come with this adorable bike set up with two coolers and up to 6 flavors of gelato for your guests.  They can do traditional flavors to gourmet creations like Strawberry Basil.

You go guys!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

12 hours in 9 minutes - Inside a catered wedding

At a recent wedding we placed a video camera on a nearby balcony to capture the whole thing from beginning to end.  We sped it up to 9 minutes and added some titles to describe the action.  I think it's really cool, I hope you like it.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Oh Holy Tomato

The season is here!  At last we have our own locally grown tomatoes.  I have three different local growers bringing me the gold of their crops.  When I say gold…. They taste like liquid gold from the sun, especially those little sun gold cherry tomatoes.

So many tomatoes so little time; this weekend the always popular classic Tomato Caprese is on for 300 guests, and at another wedding we're doing a beautiful placed Shiraz Salad (tomato & cucumber with feta & oregano) in a martini glass for a great look.  I'm also really looking forward to our Norwegian bride whose family is flying in from Norway; they will be having just a classic platter of sliced heirloom tomatoes with sea salt and cracked pepper. I hope they enjoy it.
For myself we picked our first "Hillbilly Deluxe" from the plant at home and made it stretch to make 3 bacon and tomato sandwiches. The perfect lunch after a day of yard work.

So many tomatoes, so little time...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What a site!

This last weekend we did an incredible wedding at St Vincent’s School for Boys. Tucked off the highway between Novato and San Rafael, it is a beautiful catholic church and court yard.

We put together an Italian family style dinner in the central court yard for 230 guests. Here are a couple of pictures.
Video to come next.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Taste of Petaluma

The 4th annual Taste of Petaluma will be Saturday 9/26 from 11:30 to 4:00 in downtown Petaluma.

We will be featuring Classic French Ratatouille with a Parmesan Truffle Crumble at the Barry Singer Gallery (7 Western Ave). Keep your eye out for the recipe in an upcoming blog (we're still fine tuning it).

There will be lots of great food and great places to see/shop/dine, I hope you can all make it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Gravensteins Are Here!

I just received 12 cases of locally grown gravs for pie baking. If not busy enough with catering (August is one of the busiest months of the year), I also belong to a women’s group and one of our annual fundraisers is fresh made Gravenstein apple pies. It's a great recipe with a hand made crust and crumble topping. The hope is to sell 200 hundred this year- so far 125 and counting.

The best part of this is the smell of the apples. My husband would say it's the smell of the apple pies, but having grown up in Sonoma County the last week of July or first week of August was a reason to celebrate; Mom would head out to Sebastopol to see if she could get a case of apples just before the sugar count was high enough. The apples have to be to a certain sugar level to be considered ripe enough to sell, but Mom liking a tart apple pie wanted them just a bit green. While at the produce stand we always got to have an apple pop - do you remember these? Frozen Gravenstein apple juice in a cup with a popsicle stick inserted that you would turn out to be a frozen treat. Treat to you but mess to everyone else, melting faster than you could eat it, in the car, and of course you threw the cup away at the produce stand so now it's melting and dripping down your hand and on your clothes.

Though Sebastopol is only 15-20 minutes from Petaluma the drive seemed so long, and after about 10 minutes I wanted to be home starting on the apples. Yes even as a kid I couldn't wait to get into the kitchen.

Now when we got home the work began, peeling all of the apples. Would we freeze them, make pies or make apple sauce? Watching as the apple was peeled and just hoping that the peel would not break so you could sit and eat it like spaghetti.

Thanks to the local food movement the Gravenstein is being elevated to the level it used to be and hopefully will be here for generations to come. For now I get to enjoy their perfume in my walk-in for the week.


Congratulation Mirepoix on your pending expansion. We're looking forward to it!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hushpuppies, Beignets or Fritters

Just last weekend a bride asked me to make her Hushpuppies for her wedding; it had been a long time since I last made them, so I had to do a little bit of studying to make sure I got them just right. Which in turn led me beignets and fritters, but we'll get back to that in a moment...

Her recipe (with a couple minor tweaks, I'll admit) was wonderful and so light they would float off your plate, and it will be my hushpuppy recipe in the future.

1½ cups Yellow Cornmeal
½ cup Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar
2 Tbl Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
⅛ tsp Cayenne Pepper
¼ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 Eggs (beaten with enough Buttermilk to make 1 ¼ cups)
2 Tbl Vegetable Oil
½ cup Finely Chopped Green Onion
Peanut Oil for frying

Sift all the dry ingredients together
Stir in the eggs & buttermilk and veg oil and onion
Fill the skillet with 2 inches of peanut oil
Preheat oil to 365 degrees
Drop the batter in teaspoonfuls into the oil
When they turn golden brown (about 4 minutes),
remove and drain on paper towels
Keep warm in the over for a few minutes if needed,
but serve as soon as possible
Yields about 4 dozen

This brought to discussion what are the differences in Hushpuppies, Beignets and Fritters.

Hushpuppies are the easiest since they are just a dollop of deep fried cornmeal dough, similar to corn bread usually made with cornmeal in a course texture. The dough is almost always savory not sweet but may be finished with a touch of powdered sugar.

Bengeits and fritters were harder. It comes down to batter vs. filling ratio. A fritter is anything battered and fried - banana or apple fritters, beef or chicken fritters (aka chicken fried steak or chicken fried chicken), even a corndog is technically a fritter. So a fritter is lots of filling and some batter.

A beignet would be batter with additions - shrimp, cheese or bits of diced fruit like apples. The additions are incorporated into the batter, not as a filling. So this is mostly batter with accents. This is not to be confused with the famous beignets from Café du Monde in New Orleans that are made from a dough not batter (which could be a whole other conversation).

And just to be perfectly unclear these terms are thrown around and used rather liberally on a lot of menus; I just had some lovely goat cheese fritters at Mirepoix in Windsor, but I'd call them beignets; just to say don't get too wrapped up in the name, they're all good.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Amber & Julia

I have been waiting to see the movie Julie and Julia, I plan a Tuesday matinee in a nice quiet theater. Maybe I’ll bring a snack the Julia would approve of.

I am hoping the movie is as fun spirited as Julia was herself. I had the pleasure to cook with her once when in cooking school. While at the CIA I was in the service club. The group did tours for guests and tourists and help with dignitaries. I was lucky enough to be a kitchen helper when Julia did a cooking demo. If you can imagine a school full of wannabe chefs, getting in was hard enough let alone to help in the kitchen.

19 years old and helping Julia Childs doing a cooking demo. Wow, she could tell that I was obviously nervous along with the other 5 students. We are chopping and cleaning and trying not to be in the way, when one of the students makes a mistake and Julia says “there’s not a mistake in the kitchen that I have not made” and moves right along with what she was doing. I think that day that I learned that no mistake is not correctable, just keep your cool and love what you do.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


This last year I have spent time reminiscing – yes I had the 40th birthday and enjoyed looking back. I realized that my memoirs won’t be a scrapbook or a photo album but a cookbook. I’ve been a foodie from the start and many of my memories are linked to food. This cookbook wouldn’t be just your traditional recipes and pictures but more like the ones from your grandmother; you know, the ones with no amounts and sketchy instructions.

From getting up at 6am to go to the farmer’s market with my Grandfather when I was only 6 years old or remembering canning apricots with my Grand mother. (Apricots my grandfather probably “harvested” from an orchard that was a little too close to the road.)

Here are a few that stick out in my memory. I love them, but I can't say I recommend them; they are all tied up in childhood memories so my enjoyment of them may be biased. If you feel adventurous, try them out and leave a comment.

From Auntie Jane I remember "Texas Green Salad". The most basic salad ever, but I'd call it quintessential and quaint: Ice berg Lettuce, chopped tomatoes and cucumber, Best Foods mayonnaise and salt and pepper

From Baba the best Chicken Marinate: White wine, chopped dried onions and parsley. Cover the chicken with the marinate 24 hours before BBQ - Grill slow and long - still a family favorite.

From Mom: Porcupine Meat Balls- a classic Campbell’s recipe (meatballs made from classic meatloaf mixed with minute rice and cooked in tomato soup). I made them recently and had to tell my Niece that they actually were not made of porcupine. My husband loves them.

An all time favorite from Grama: Hershey butter cream frosting between graham crackers then frozen.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Our "Famous" Dry Rub

Our dry rub isn't really famous, but we do get requests for the recipe, especially after giving away little tins of it at the PEP fundraiser. So here is the recipe. Beware that this is the commercial kitchen size recipe and done with dry measures. If you want a more home sized recipe this cuts down just fine, but remember - it's dry measures, so don't go from cups to ounces; I'd suggest 1/4 cups.

8 cups Brown Sugar
4 cups Kosher Salt
1 cup Paprika
1 cup Chili Powder
1 cup Black Pepper
1 cup Granulated Garlic
1 cup Granulated Onion
1 cup Italian Seasoning
¼ cup Cayanne

Just mix it all together and you're ready to go. This is best with beef and pork. It can be used as a quick rub, just 45 minutes before the meat hits the grill, but for the best result let it marinate in the frig overnight.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Jam to Salsa and My Apricot Tree

Summer is here and my apricot tree is bursting and throwing fruit everywhere, and the apple and pear aren’t slacking either with a lot on the way. But what to do? Preserves, jams, chutney…how to decide? Recently when I was writing our new menus I revisited the concept of what exactly is a chutney versus a compote versus a salsa versus all the other related items, and in the process I came up with a culinary spectrum which starts with Jelly and ends with Pico de gallo. I think its interesting, so here it is…

Jam is a thick mixture of fruit and sugar that is cooked until the pieces of fruit are very soft. The texture of thick puree.

Jelly is a sweet or savory food gel, usually made through the addition of gelatin or pectin. Jam which has been filtered to remove pulp and make it clear is called jelly

Preserves differ from jam in that the chunks of fruit are medium to large rather than the texture of thick puree. Jam which has whole pieces of fruit.

Compote is a sweet cooked preparation of whole or cut fruit and sugar, usually more liquid in consistency than jams, jellies or preserves. Compotes may also contain spices.

Conserve is a jam mixture of fruits, nuts and sugar, cooked together until thick. Jam which has whole pieces of fruit and nuts.

Confiture is the French word for jam or preserves. May include candied fruit.

Marmalade is a clear, jellylike preserve made from the pulp and rind of fruits, especially citrus fruits. The name is also applied to various jams made tart by the addition of lemon juice or other acid ingredients. Jam with fruit peel.

Relish refers to any savory-sweet preserve of vegetables or fruits, flavored with vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices

Chutney is a pungent relish made of fruits, spices, and herbs. A sweet-and-spicy condiment. In temperate countries, chutneys are sometimes made using local main ingredients such as apples, peaches or tomatoes. Flavorings are always added to the mix. These may include sugar, salt, garlic, tamarind or ginger.

Salsa is a spicy sauce of chopped, usually uncooked vegetables or fruit, especially tomatoes, onions, and chili peppers, used as a condiment. Mexican for sauce.

Pico de gallo can be used in much the same way as other Mexican salsas or Indian chutneys, but since it is less liquid, it can also be used as a main ingredient in dishes such as tacos and fajitas. In Mexico, pico de gallo is better known as salsa mexicana

"fruit" is considered to include many things that are not ordinarily classified as fruits: "tomatoes, the edible parts of rhubarb stalks, carrots, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, melons and water-melons".

So for this year I’m thinking Apricot Preserves, Pear Compote, and Apple Marmalade.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cookies, Cookies, Cookies

I was just reading one of my favorite blogs, Bite Club in the Press Democrat, and she had an article on non bakery bakeries. I had to add our own cookies to this list (I hope that's not bad). I started out in the pastry trade and spent a fair number of years as a Pastry Chef. I did my apprentice ship in Innsbruck Austria and worked in hotel bake shops for years. I have always made sure that we have had the best cookies.

Our "Cookie Following" all know that Mom is behind the cookies, and yes Mom is actually my mom - her name is Mary. She comes in 5 days a week to make all of our cookie doughs, from your classic Chocolate Chip to the most popular to specialties like Lemon Coconut or Gingersnap (Even if you don't like gingersnaps you should try these - the snap is from the ginger in this soft chewy cookie). Everyone has a favorite. Many of my recipes have personal memories attached and that makes them even tastier to me.

Come on down and have a cookie - one of the best things in life. Our cookies and coffee are available for self service Monday thru Friday, just a dollar each with every dollar going to charity - one of the best things in life just got better.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Viva la France

Wednesday was Bastille Day, so I'm thinking in french, well culinary french. There has been a resurgence of French cuisine in recent years. I think people have had enough of modern eclectic cuisine and are getting back to basics. French cuisine is full of technique and time. For a trained chef in so many ways it is back to the basics.

Even with the heat that we had I was inspired to create my own French menu for the evening:

Toasted Croustini with Champignon and Brie
with a Mesculan salad mix & Sherry Vinaigrette

Sauté of Chicken Livers with Bacon and Onions
served on Pomme Puree

I started off to make Chocolate Soufflés but the heat won out over the oven and Hubby enjoyed a rich bowl of Chocolate Pudding (aka soufflé base)

If you are looking for a nice French meal out check out K&L’s Bistro in Sebastopol - one of my favorites.

Monday, July 13, 2009

My 1st YouTube video

A couple of weekends past I did the Lemon Soufflé cooking demo at the fair (see my 6/18 post for the recipe). We recorded it and put it on YouTube. This is my first video so please be kind! I will confess that I didn't test the demo kitchen's oven and found out (as my souffles fell!) that it ran 50 degrees too hot. But it was still a great lemon pudding!

The video is cut into 3 pieces of 9 minutes each to account for YouTube's 10 minute limitation.

Friday, July 10, 2009

What a night!

We had our chamber mixer last night with great success. Somewhere between 225-250 guests came in and enjoyed a great night of food, beverages and business connections. I know that I did not get to speak with everyone personally, I would like to say thank you for coming and you know we are here any time you need us.

But on to the food part of the night. It was a lot of fun for me to create the menu. I was able to choose many items from what was fresh and seasonal, and try out some new ideas I've been working on. One item that fits both, was a real hit - I thought they were going to lick the plate on the Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone! Here’s the recipe:

4 lbs fresh peaches - free stone are best
8 oz mascarpone cheese
2 T honey
1 t fresh chopped tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 T sherry vinegar

Halve your peaches or ¼ if it is hard to remove the pits
Toss lightly in oil
Grill till marked - do not over cook
Cool completely

Combine mascarpone, honey, tarragon and salt &pepper - mix gently, but do not whip

When plating:
Slice the peaches to bite size slices
Place mascarpone on one half of dish
Layer peaches on the other half
Drizzle peaches with the sherry vinegar
Serve with croustini, baguettes or toasted focaccia

You can also find the rest of the evenings menu in my June 14th post.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Great Places

One of the best things in my field is that you never know where you will be. I have the chance to work in some spectacular locations. Just last week we did a first time event for the Eames Foundation at their "warehouse". (It's in quotes because the word does not do the buildings or the location justice.)

Charles and Ray Eames were designers and creators of mid century design. Most widely known is the Eames chair. To me this was incredible. Their grand daughter walked in and said it was for Eames and I jaw dropped as I said “Eames chair, power of 10?”. These are just a couple of the things that this incredible couple did.

The family has built a foundation to help care for the legacy of design and items that were created. From pieces for 8 world fairs to their iconic designs to private work shops for the family. Who would have known?

We catered for the first annual event at their warehouse, where they are repairing and cataloging all of the items. Of course I planned a walk through to see the facility and plan they layout for the event, little did I know that it would be a private tour. I felt a bit embarrassed because I could not keep my jaw closed for all of the incredible things that I got to see. The contents are historic, the buildings fabolous and all set out by themselves amidst our rolling hills. It was beyond picturesque.

I have gotten to cater in million dollar homes, for presidents and movie stars, this will go down as one of the most incredible to me personally.

Thank you Eames Foundation.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Petaluma Art and Garden Festival

If it's summer in Petaluma it is time for the Art and Garden Festival
Sunday July 12
11am- 5pm in downtown

I had the pleasure to help start the festival 7 years ago and I still enjoy participating. This year we will be doing two booths;

The first one will let me play with my new smoker. We'll be doing a Carolina pulled pork sandwich for 2 tickets for a taste or 4 tickets for a full sandwich.

The other booth will be a bit more gourmet. For any one that read my blog on Sesame Noodles, now is your chance to taste them. This is asian noodles with baby spinach in a seame dressing with a grilled Bali BBQ Ahi Skewer. All dressed up in a take out box with chop sticks.
1 skewer for 3 tickets or 2 skewers for 5 tickets

I promise Pomegrante Iced tea too!

Come by and say Hello - we love our new building, but we miss everyone downtown.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Last weekend just kicked my butt. You can plan for everything but Mother Nature. And when it gets above 90 degrees the heat just kicks in.

We had a lovely wedding a Kunde Estate Winery. We love them (Hi Naomi and Stephanie!) Boothill is their wedding location on a hill top overlooking the vineyard and Kenwood Valley and surrounded by oak trees. Thank heaven for the trees, the shade was a life saver. Setting up all the tables and chairs in the beating down sun is a tough job; Jim recently told me that we’ve rented about 5,000 chairs over the past year, well it feels like I moved everyone of them just this last weekend. Plus we had to put the extra hustle on, with the heat we had to choose to not set tables till the last minute; champagne glasses in hot sun is not the best idea.

The menu was a lot of fun. It was a Sonoma/Indian (Indian not Native American) menu, and I always love to do something new. The groom’s family taught me how to make two Indian dishes - Mattar Pilau (in basic words a curried Indian fried rice) and Raitia (the cool yogurt sauce). From there we had local classics like Grilled Vegetables, Roasted Pepper Chicken, and Spinach Artichoke Raviolis. It was a wow menu- after the heat the Raitia on the spicy matter pilau was fabulous. I was afraid that with the heat no one would eat much, but the food combination was awesome for the hot day.

Also, kudos to all my crews that day. They all did great jobs and had wonderful events despite the heat.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I like food!

I am sure that it’s no surprise to those who know me that I love food. I was talking with a friend recently who we often have dinner with. She told me how surprised other people are when she tells them she is cooking for a chef. They expect that a chef eats gourmet food 24/7 and would disdain anything else. Well it’s not true!

I find joy in comfort foods like a perfect mac ‘n’ cheese with meatloaf, to gourmet duck confit, to the late night runs for the border [ yes people know I’m a Taco Bell fan, but don’t tell anyone ;) ] My husband says a true gourmand is like a musician, they like everything, not just the classics or avant-garde, so long as it is done well.

I find my self overjoyed when the seasons start to change and new produce is on the market. I try hard to get the best of every season; right now I can’t pass by cherries and I am awaiting my apricot tree to ripen.

To those who want to be gourmet, I say be a foodie instead and enjoy everything!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Summer Corn & Butter Bar

I can never wait until the fresh corn is in for the season. Boiled on the stove or grilled on the BBQ it is simple, fresh and summer. When planning a party corn on the cob is a classic side dish- why not dress it up? Try making flavored butters like Pesto, Roasted Garlic or try my recipe for Chipotle butter.

I have a bride later this summer whose wedding is featuring a corn and butter bar, and is giving corn picks as her wedding favors- I love it!

1 pound unsalted butter
2 T kosher salt (the larger the flake the better)
2 T chipotle chili powder (available in gourmet markets)
2 limes (you'll need the Zest of 1, and the Juice of 2)

Bring the butter to room temperature
Combine all ingredients with a wooden spoon, do not whip.

Place into nice crock or bowl

This should keep for up to a week refrigerated, or up to 6 months frozen.