Blog Archive

Monday, October 15, 2012

Party Venues

With so many different party spaces in the tri state area and new ones opening all the time, finding the right venue can be a daunting prospect for the uninitiated. Your caterer is an invaluable resource for what is available. With guidelines from you, such as size requirements, loft or townhouse, we can help locate an event space from our extensive list that will meet your needs and budget. 

A favorite is Studio 450 on West 31st Street overlooking the Hudson rail yards and river. Oversized windows abound, offering sweeping views of River and city, equally dramatic in daylight or at night. This great thing about 450 is its versatility; it is a duplex with a rooftop space that can be utilized or not and the enclosed lower floor, which can accommodate 250 seated guests with dancing, can be partitioned for a smaller party. Our last event at Studio 450 was a daytime summer wedding for 125.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Planning the Party at Home

As well as doing parties in large event venues, a major part of our business is the "at home" party. They can be dinners for as few as 15 or as many as 75; or a cocktail party for 35 or 125. This depends, obviously, on physical space and party format.

What makes a successful party is not only excellent food and service, but careful planning. As a guest at parties, I've sometimes waited on one snaky buffet line where two lines would have made a big difference and reduced waiting time. As a catering professional, I could easily see that this problem could have been solved by simply having two smaller buffets or a duplicate station at one buffet. Many of us can also identify with trying to negotiate a drink in a crowded and noisy bar area where putting the bar in a better location would have alleviated the problem.  A big part of our catering service is to work with clients to provide the best possible plan to avoid these pitfalls.

Hosts often don't think so, but planning aspects of a small party are equally important as for larger events. Every party needs the same attention to detail; the larger parties obviously have more details to attend to. Use your caterer's expertise; we have more to offer than just good menus.  

Monday, September 24, 2012

Not Just Pesto…..

The feeling of Fall in the air is, among other things, a reminder that it is time to harvest the basil before it goes to seed or succumbs to the first overnight frost. This year’s crop has been a bumper one and we have had pesto sauce, caprese salads and basil chiffonade in our herb salad menus all summer long.

But there are many things to do with the basil to preserve it for use during the cold weather months. We puree it with olive oil and freeze it in ice cube trays for future use.
We infuse oil, which is a great addition to minestrone, white bean stew, risottos and mashed potatoes; and as an accompaniment for grilled fish. A trick to retain the basil’s bright green color is to blanch the leaves in boiling water for a few seconds and then immediately plunge them into an ice water bath.

                                                           Basil Oil

Wash 2 packed cups of basil leaves taking care not to bruise them.

Plunge them into boiling water for no more than 15 seconds and then submerge in ice water.  Drain and dry the leaves and gently squeeze out as much moisture as possible.
Puree the leaves in a blender with 1 cup of olive or canola oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Store in the refrigerator for a week or freeze for future use.

                                                  Basil Mashed Potatoes

Serves: 6

2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes peeled and cut into 3/4 pieces.
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cup basil oil
2 tbs. butter
2 tbs. milk
Salt and white pepper to taste

Put potatoes in a saucepan with enough cold water to submerge.  Add salt, cover and simmer until potatoes are soft.
Drain, add remaining ingredients and hand mash or puree with the flat paddle of an electric mixer until desired consistency.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Shaking It Up and Breaking the Ice

During the consultation process, catering clients often ask us for assistance in determining what alcoholic beverages to serve, estimates of quantities needed and how best to set up bar service. Some clients are adamant about serving white wine and clear liquors only so that the risk of damage and staining from spills is minimized. However, before deciding which beverages to serve, we advise all clients to consider the nature of the occasion and its timing, the general profile of the guest list and their drinking habits if the event is a social one; and the physical space in which the event is taking place.
A recent trend, particularly for cocktail receptions, has been to offer a “specialty” cocktail along with traditional wine, beer and soft drink options. The advantage of this is many fold and one that we highly endorse and encourage. This is a way to simplify the process of stocking the bar, to control costs and still maintain a generous, gracious and stylish ambiance. For us, a most important aspect of the featured drink is the way it can launch a party as it is offered to guests upon arrival. We find the having the drink pre-poured or available in pitchers on the bar helps to ease those initial, sometimes awkward social moments when guests are filtering in and have not had the chance to mingle and zgreet one another.
When deciding the drink to serve, our advice is to consider the season, theme of the party, if any, and a choice that will appeal to a variety of tastes. At a recent party we served a pomegranate Cosmopolitan, a slight “twist” on the classic cranberry juice version.

Pomegranate Cosmopolitan 
for 10 drinks:

16 oz. citrus vodka
5 oz. Cointreau
5 oz. fresh lime juice
2 tbs. Agave syrup (one tbs. agave mixed with one tbs. warm water)
8 oz. pomegranate juice
Lemon twists for garnish
Mix all ingredients in a pitcher.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add approximately 3.5 oz. per drink. Shake well and strain into a martini glass.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fresh Tomato Salsa and Winter parties

Though the calendar says September, the roses of summer are still on my vines and the fresh produce at our local farmer’s market co-op is at its peak in quality and quantity. We could be deluded into thinking that this will go on forever, but for the fact that clients have begun to call to inquire and book events for this fall and holiday season. We have been hired to cater our first Christmas holiday event of 2012 and while we are still grilling swordfish, making gazpacho and fresh tomato salsas (see recipe); we are planning menus of short ribs and stuffed quail, root vegetable gratins, bread puddings, hot souffl├ęs and Tartes Tatin. This summer/fall is our first as shareholders in a farm co-op. While we normally get most of our produce from various purveyors at the city greenmarkets; we thought that it would be an interesting experiment to supply our summer test kitchen with the produce from a single farm with its specific offerings. This has been a challenge to be creative with only what we are given and has defined the recipes for us. We love our yellow tomato salsa on grilled fish, burgers, as a bruschetta and, of course, with tacos and quesedillas.

Mild Yellow Tomato Salsa (Source: Perfect Pear Caterers, New York)

1 ½ lbs. yellow or red tomatoes seed, cored and diced ¼ inch: about 2 cups

1/3 cup minced red onion
4 tsp. minced jalapeno, seeded and cored
1 lg. garlic clove minced
4 tsp. chopped cilantro 

Juice of one lime
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
¾ tsp. kosher salt, ¼ tsp. black pepper

Combine all ingredients and allow to stand at room temperature for one hour before serving
Yield: approximately 2 1/4 cups

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Plethora of Peppers

Fire roasted peppers are great to have on hand and can be a quick and easy solution to the problem of storage and shelf life, especially when one goes overboard at the Farmer's Market.

Char them on all sides on the stove top over an open flame; sweat them in a bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap until cooled.  The skins will separate from the peppers and peel away easily.

Roasted peppers are as versatile as tomatoes; use them in sandwiches, salsas, dipping sauces and main dishes.  Here is a simple recipe for a wonderful bruschetta with goat cheese.  Serves approximately 2 as an appetizer.  

Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Bruschetta

3 large red peppers, charred. sweated, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
4 slices of Pane Pugliese or other country Italian bread (Sullivan St. Bakery makes an excellent one)
2 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
2 tbs. olive oil plus olive oil for drizzling
4 oz. goat cheese softened
2 tbs. chopped fresh basil

Mix peppers with 2 tbs. oil, salt and pepper and set aside.
Rub bread with garlic cloves and drizzle with olive oil, Grill or toast bread.
Spread goat cheese on toasted bread, cover with red pepper mixture, garnish with fresh basil.
Platter and serve.