Saturday, July 30, 2011

A night out on the town

Even in the middle of wedding season there has to be time to have fun.  Recently Mr. PSC had a birthday and we headed in to SF for dinner and a show.

It might be his birthday, but you know I am the one that choose the restaurant.  Of course with special attention to details that he likes, especially the bar menu.

My choice was Bix, a great little jazz restaurant near the financial district.  Had a very nice 1920's setting with waiters in white jackets, but not at all stuffy.  Set up in a club style with most of the tables are in a balcony to sit above and enjoy the music.

Wanting to see a show later we choose an early reservation, we were the first people in the door and decided to enjoy the ambiance of the bar till our table was ready.  Jim chose the Bourbon Cherry Smash to start, which he described as a refreshing alternative to a Manhattan, finished with club soda to make it mild.  I had the Meyer Lemon Colins with Gin (Meyers are my absolutely favorite lemon).

The appetizer menu looks so great that we choose to not do dinner, but just share a bunch of small plates.  Our server was excellent; she timed each dish to come out one after another, and set to order to follow the flavor palate.

Of 6 dishes I would say that my favorite was the Deviled Eggs with Summer Truffles, Romano Beans and Chives.  Light and delicate with just a touch of tang finished with finely grated white truffles.  We could have had 2 plates.  We also had Truffle Cheese and Sweet Onion Croques, which were simple and too good.  The Mini Lamb Burgers with Cucumber, Dill and Harissa were Jim's favorites.  The surprise of the evening were the Beer Battered Fiorelli Blossoms with Spicy Buttermilk Sauce, which were light and tasty and could be served by the bucket!


Friday, July 29, 2011

Fortune Cookies

For an upcoming client event we have fortune cookies with custom fortunes.  No we didn't make them; can you just imagine Mom handwriting and folding 2,500 fortune cookies!  That got us discussing the fortunes we did for our booth at the Lions Clud Taste of Petaluma a couple of years ago.  We all liked them and thought we should share them again (some original some poached from the internet).  Enjoy.

We see a fabulous party in your future.

Do vegetarians eat animal crackers?

Ahhh, we met again.

STRESSED spelled backwards is DESSERTS!

You’ve got good taste, we’ve got good taste. A match made in heaven!

We see braised beef short ribs in your future.

Mmmm…. chocolate fountain

You may pass hors d’oeuvres but never pass on an hors d’oeuvre

If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry?

We see good fortune and good food in your future.

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

Good Taste. Good Fortune.

All happiness depends on a leisurely meal.

Those who forget the pasta are condemned to reheat it.

He who eats alone chokes alone.

All sorrows are less with chocolate

Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Buckeye Nursery

This last weekend we were at a great new venue right here in Petaluma, the Buckeye NurseryThe location is a show place for the work of Bertotti Landscaping.  Set at the base of Sonoma Mountain on the east side of Petaluma it is laid out perfectly for weddings and events.

We comfortably sat 200 guests with room for more in a beautiful natural garden setting.  Perfect for a farm or naturalist wedding.  The couple got married out in the field with hay bales for seating.  Cocktail hour was held pool side with dancing on the black top.

What a great site!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Chocolate Pate with Fresh Berries and Creme Anglais

I recently created something that has been nick named "Chocolate Nirvana".  It is a flourless chocolate base (like a chocolate tort) and a double chocolate ganache top (like a chocolate truffle filling).  The richest, chocolatiest indulgence I've had in a long time.  We've been serving them as 1" cubes as little dessert nibbles.  The photo depicts a larger serving (1x2x3) as a plated dessert officially called Chocolate Pate with Fresh Berries and Creme Anglais.

So good!  If I do say so myself ;)


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hot, Hot, Hot

Here's my July column from the Petaluma Post:

Hot, hot ,hot…or at least we hope so!  As I sit here in June to write my July article we have actually had two days of sunshine in a row.  By the time you read this I am hoping that summer is here and we are all enjoying the warmth.  So often with hot weather we don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen cooking.  Hopefully you are out beside the BBQ enjoying time with your friends and family.  I thought it would be a great time to share some of my summer time favorites.

Fruit salad is so often just a stand by, however with some new twists you came make it pop.  One of my favorites is fresh peaches with melon, mint and lime.  Peaches can be a bit tricky to work with, they will turn brown if you do not toss them with a bit of lime juice.

Peach, Mint & Melon Salad
8 peaches, sliced
1 small Honeydew, sliced to match
2 sprigs mint
1 lime, Juice of

Julienne the mint, toss all ingredients together and serve chilled.  For a great seated salad serve up in a martini glass- Wow!

Another great fruit to work with is Watermelon.  With its hearty texture it can stand up well to big flavors.  Would you think of watermelon and feta?  It is incredible.

Watermelon & Feta Salad
1 small seedless watermelon, large dice
½ c crumbled feta
1 c wild arugula
¼ c balsamic
½ c olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Make a vinaigrette out of the balsamic and olive oil.  Toss the watermelon with arugula and feta together, then dress to taste with balsamic, and season with salt and pepper.  Serve Chilled.  Try this one with half red and half yellow watermelon.

My favorite summer fruit is apricots.  I remember growing up; my grandparents in Sacramento had an ancient apricot tree.  Mid summer, usually 4th of July we would go over and climb the tree to pick them.  I could eat them still warm from the sun till I had a stomach ache. One of my favorite simple summer time Hors d’oeuvres is

Blue Cheese Stuffed Apricots
10 fresh ripe apricots. ½ or ¼ depending on size
4-6 oz Point Reyes blue cheese
1 T honey

Split the apricots open and cut to bite size pieces.  Place a small chunk of the blue cheese in the spot where the seed should be, then drizzle with honey.  Simple, fresh and delicious.

Fresh corn is just coming into season and we always have it at a cook out, however what to do with the left over ears?  You have it, it is cooked (boiled or grilled are both great for this recipe) why not think of it in a salad.

Corn & Arugula Salad
2 c cooked corn kernels
1 c wild baby arugula leaves (my favorite but any would work)
1 large red onion, wilted & sliced (sautéed or grilled will work)
¼ c grated or shaved parmesan
¼ c sherry vinegar
½ c olive oil
2 t honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the sherry, olive oil and honey with the salt and pepper for your vinaigrette.  Then combine all the other ingredients, toss and dress.  This salad would be great with the addition of some of my favorites, such as blanched green beans, cherry tomatoes, and extra grilled veggies.  Some grilled chicken would be a great touch too.  Maybe you already have some of these left over from the same barbeque as the corn.

This is an excellent use for Sherry Vinegar.  You might recall last month I wrote briefly about vinegars and promised to elaborate in my blog.  Sherry Vinegar was the first entry in my “Vinegar Chronicles”; see my June 6th blog for this one.

Tri tip is a classic to grill here in northern California, but you know you usually have an extra one after everyone has eaten.  If it is not made into sandwiches it is perfect for a classic steak salad with a twist.

Steak Panzanella Salad
1 c tri tip julienne
½ c cherry tomatoes
1 head romaine, shredded
2 oz blue cheese crumbles
4 slices hearty bread

¼ c balsamic
½ olive oil
1 T honey
Salt and pepper to taste

The twist to this salad is making it a panzanella. Panzanella is a classic Italian bread salad.  However many restaurants dry their bread too much and it comes out crunchy like a crouton.  What you want to do is brush with olive oil and grill the bread till just marked on both sides.  It should be just crisp and firm to the bite.  Dice in to large chunks.

Combine all ingredients and dress with vinaigrette.  This salad is best prepped and eaten immediately; you don’t want the bread to get either stale or soggy.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Petaluma Art & Garden Festival

The Petaluma Art & Garden Festival is this Sunday. On 4th street at usual from 11 to 5.  If you have been in the past, then you know what a great event it is; if not you really must come.  There lots of good food and wine, local artists and garden booths, and live music.  People will litterally be dancing in the street! 
We'll be serving Pomegranate Chicken Pitas with Mango Pomogranate Ice Tea and Dark Chocolate Sour Cherry Oatmeal Cookies.

There is no entree fee, just buy tickets for food and wine so half the revenue goes to the non-profit.  More info at​m/ArtAndGardenPetaluma.aspx

Hope to see you all there!


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Weddings, weddings, weddings

The summer is heating up and so is the wedding season.  I have been seeing some  interesting trends so far this year.

There have been fewer wedding cakes, brides are choosing to do something special instead.  Fresh baked cookies from mom and grama, decadent chocolate desserts, fresh baked pie.  Last weekend we had a decadent pavoloa (a baked meringue cup) with fresh raspberries and chocolate marquis, and fresh lemon tarts.   And some great hazelnuit toffee cookies - even I want that recipe!

I mentioned this earlier on our Facebook page, and someone asked about the tradition of feeding cake to each other.  It is meant to symbolize the bride and groom's commitment to taking care of each other;  so I speculate the tradition of mashing cake in the other face is meant to symbolize a good humored marriage!

The feel the trend this year is definitely a more home spun and casual feel.  From mismatched flatware and china to backyard BBQs.  The feel is friendly and laidback.  People are moving away from the formality of assigned seats and identuical tables, instead using small, medium and larger tables to break up the room.

After 20 years of catering I always  look forward to the fresh ideas of a new season.