Saturday, March 27, 2010

Small Business of the Year

We were just told we have been voted the Chamber of Commerce's Small Business of the Year for 2010.  The awards ceremony is scheduled for April 29th.  We've worked with many of the prior recipients of this award and know the quality and character of those businesses, which really makes this a high honor for us.
Thank you Petaluma.

Friday, March 26, 2010

March in like a Lion, out like a Lamb Chop

The month has just flown by here at the catering company.  Between winery events and fundraisers in town it has been head down and cook away.  It's hard to believe that we will be celebrating our first anniversary in the new building in just a week. Yes, we moved in on April fools day.  When else I say.

The summer season is coming in steadily and looking to be quite busy.  I've spent time over the last couple of months writing menus and adding to our repertoire of yummy eats.  I am very proud of a new set of menus that we wrote titled “Big Bites” (on our Nibbles & Bites page).  How often are you throwing a party in the afternoon or evening but don’t want to serve a whole meal but think that “hors d’oeuvres” might be just a bit to high brow.  From taqueria to sliders this is the menu for you.  Big enough to cover an appetite but not to cover for a whole meal.

This weekend we are also having an hors d’oeuvre tasting for our staff to get together and prepare for the season- some of the yummy new items are

- Truffle Pancakes with Short Ribs
- Short Rib Stuffed Petite Potatoes
- Rosemary Parmesan Shell with Roasted Cherry Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella
- Asiago Pepper Piccolo with Prosciutto & Havarti
- Asiago Pepper Piccolo with Mozzarella & Tomato
- French Artichoke with Roasted Cherry Tomato Pizza
- Thai Ahi Crudo with Cilantro Crema
- Ceviche Cups with Avocado & Lime
- Chilled Prawns with Three Sauces – Classic Cocktail, Chimichurri & Salsa Roja
- Bali Ahi Yakitori
- Sesame Nori Ahi with Wasabi
- Sesame Nori Salmon with Teriyaki
- Lamb Chop Pops with Basil Aioli

Just a few ideas.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hushpuppies & Chicken Jambalaya at Kunde Estate Winery

Today and tomorrow we are at Kunde Estate Winery for the Savor Sonoma event.  We'll be serving about 2,000 people our hushpuppies and jambalaya.  The hushpuppy recipe is new (we got it from one of our brides last summer, thank you) and it's awesome.  I've always liked hushpuppies, but found them heavy; these are light as a dream!

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 1¼ cups)
2 Tbl Vegetable Oil
½ cup Finely Chopped Green Onion
Vegetable 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

The jambalya recipe is great as is, but is also a great starting off point.You can add seafood, turkey or pork to your taste.  Be creative!

Chicken Jambalaya
1 lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs (cut in ¼s)
¼ cup Vegetable oil
½ lbs Smoke Sausage
1 large Onion diced
4 cloves Garlic crushed
1 Green Bell Pepper (diced large)
3 ribs Celery (diced large)

Salt and Pepper
1 cup Rice
¼ tsp cayenne
1 tsp Thyme
1 Bay Leaf
1½ cup Chicken Broth
1½ cup chopped Tomatoes (fresh or canned)

Season Chicken thighs with salt and pepper
Brown in vegetable oil
Add smoked sausage and brown
Add all vegetable ingredients and brown lightly
Stir in rice – stir well till coated
Add in spices then liquids
Bring to a boil
Turn down heat to simmer and cook till rice absorbs the liquid and is tender
Stir occasionally
Garnish with chopped green onions
Yields dinner for 4 (about 8 cups)


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Best Caterer in the North Bay!

We just found out that we received the Bohemian Best of the North Bay 2010 for Catering.  It will be in the paper next week.  Always nice to be acknowledged!  Thank you Bohemian readers!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dry Creek Barrel Tasting Weekend

This weekend we catered the annual Dry Creek Barrel Tasting for Dutcher Crossing Winery and Quivera Winery with a fabulous turn out for both wineries with well over 2,000 each.  No doubt helped by the lovely weather and beautiful drive out Dry Creek Road, not to mention the wine and food!

At Dutcher we did a wonderful Risotto topped with Sausage Ragu and Roasted Rosemary Cherry Tomatoes.  I actually had email requests for the recipe before the first day was even over!

4 Tbs butter
1 small onion diced – approx ½ c
4 cloves garlic crushed
1 tsp thyme- dried
1 cup Arborio rice
1 cup white wine
4 cups broth chicken or veg
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Saute onions, thyme and garlic in butter till tender.  Add rice and sauté untill well coated, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add in 1 cup of wine, reduce to medium heat, stir till combined.  Continue to add broth 1 cup at a time, allowing it to be absorbed between batches.  This will take 15 to 20 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Finish with parmesan.

Sausage Ragu
1 lbs sweet Italian sausage
1 Tbs fennel seed
1 small onion diced – approx ½ c
4 cloves garlic crushed
1 Tbs Italian seasoning
¼ cup olive oil
15 oz can crushed tomatoes

Place first 6 ingredients in a heavy bottom sauté pan over medium heat.  Cook till brown, you can choose the texture of the ragu by how much you macerate the meat.  Add tomatoes; simmer 15-20 minutes till liquid evaporates.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
1 basket grape cherry tomatoes
1 Tbs olive oil
1-2” stem rosemary
Salt and pepper

Strip Rosemary from the stem.  Place all ingredients on a baking sheet and mix to coat.  Bake at 300 for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tomatoes burst.

To serve - Entrée portion
Place 1 cup of Risotto on a plate or bowl, top with ½ cup of Sausage Ragu.  Finish with cherry tomatoes and fresh parmesan.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I love breakfast!

I have been reading about a new diner that opened just out side of Sonoma, out on Hwy 12 (or Hwy 121 or Fremont Dr, they're all the same road at that point).  For years it was Babe’s, a great place to get burgers, but it had fallen into disrepair and was recently snatched up and renovated into the Fremont Diner.  Styled as a diner / roadside stop with a definite southern flare.

We enjoyed their Smoked Brisket Hash and their Biscuits & Gravy.  The brisket is smoked over oak with a rich flavor then grilled with Yukon Gold potatoes and onions; a nice sweet rich smoky flavor and topped with an egg done your way.

My biscuits and gravy were incredible.  I love biscuits and gravy but usually plan to eat too much because they are so rich, these were perfect.  They make their own cream biscuits and the grill them till toasted, then topped with not your ordinary biscuit gravy.  You can actually see the sausage in nice large chunks that you can catch with each bite.  The gravy was heavenly, perfect thickness to coat and not drip but not so thick as to weigh you down.  Can you guess I loved the dish?  I have an eccentric habit at breakfast;  I like a nice light green salad.  I was thrilled when they said no problem at all.  Tender organic greens with paper thin sliced apple and beet dressed perfectly.

The diner shows a growing trend in dining.  Many chefs are opting to do it their way.  They are not opening big expensive restaurants but finding small quaint locations to work out of.  These locations are often only 12 to 14 seats and the chefs are aiming for locavore menus.  The fewer seats allow them to work directly with the growers and producers, to know their customers, and avoid the overhead of a grander establishment.  It also allows more creativity and frequently changing menus.

We dined inside (given the weather) which had a nicely appointed homey feel, but in sunny weather the picnic tables with umbrellas provide a spectacular view of the surrounding vineyards.

Congratulations Fremont Diner – I’ll see you again, soon.