Monday, December 21, 2009

'twas the week before Christmas

Ugh. As in, that was one ugly week.

After the dessert-for-40 morning came the day of prep for the lunch-for-40. Everything was smooth sailing, because, hey, I just did this two days ago! That is, until I drove to the site...I wasn't even driving quickly--hey, I had plenty of time!--and I heard something knock over in the back of the van. Hmm. Then I heard dripping liquid. Sheer panic gripped my insides like I have never felt before, and I have panicked plenty in my life. As I was only 2 blocks from my destination, I figured I may as well see what happened when I got there.

No big deal, as knives and utensils clattered to the icy driveway! The turkey roaster managed to tip itself into the proper insert that held the rest of the turkey. If only the rest of the day went that smoothly.

Lost gravy (there are no words right now), chafing dish Sternos that refuse to stay lit (" Umm, the vegetables are getting cold"), worried looks from the hosting principal, a "Dr." one, no less, and the assistant that was supposed to help me did not get back to me, so I was relying on the kindness of strangers to make the punch.

I am looking forward to Christmas dinner when it is only 13 of us.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 it's dessert for 40 people

So pardon me as I speak in incomplete sentences.Like that last one.

On tomorrow's menu (to be delivered at 9:30...silly, prompt teachers!) :lemon meringue tartlets in a puff pastry shell, red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing and chocolate shavings, dark chocolate cake with raspberry drizzle and carrot cake muffins with dulce de leche icing.

For those of you that appreciate hypnotic, thoughtful music: Radiohead's latest "In Rainbows" is what is keeping me going.

Photos of the desserts will follow as soon as my dear 8 year old will show me how to figure that out!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Imagine Christmas dinner for 45 people...'s catering hell! I know, I know, I wanted to do this, but after a pretty soft roll-out of pizza, pasta, soup and no-knead bread, this turkey-with-all-the-trimmings plus ham and dessert is a bit much!

The logistics alone have almost required a spreadsheet (I definitely need a second fridge, since the garage is not reliable) and a second slow cooker or an induction element (for the stockpot alone!) could be in the picture. I can see a trip to Crown restaurant supply in my future.

Pictures may follow, if I remember the camera!

ps--Now that I am not employed at a certain cookware store, I can tell you that I just picked up a 5 qt. cast iron enameled dutch oven (oval, so I can do 2 batches of NK bread at once) for $90. Substantial savings and made in France, so it is all good.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A soup sort of day

Since there was nothing to put in the slow cooker today, soup was the next best option. I have also been meaning to replicate the balsamic onion marmalade from W-S, so a date with the food processor was in order. And since slicing onions en mass was already on the prep list, it only seemed logical to make onion soup.

French onion soup is a tad old-fashioned, but how can you argue with soft, caramelized onions, no-knead bread croûtons and melted cheese? That's right. You can't. At one point in my life when I was in full 'food-combining' mode, I would order the soup without cheese and extra croûtons. The cooks all thought I was mad, but that is how I liked it. Now I am willing to risk a bit of a stomachache to get the full experience. The really great thing about making this soup yourself is that when you are scraping the last bits of deliciousness from the bowl, you can go right back to the broiler for a bit more. Not possible in a restaurant, although I do recall a table ordering 4 lobster gratin appetizers at the beginning of their meal and 4 more for dessert. They weren't sharing, either.

French Onion Soup

2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 T. butter
2 t. flour
black pepper
2 c. beef stock
1 c. chicken stock
1/4 c. sherry or Marsala
1 T. soy sauce
salt, to taste
croûtons or toasted bread slices
grated Swiss or mozzarella

Melt butter in a medium saucepan and saute onions until softened, abut 8-10 minutes. Add flour and as much pepper as you like and stir well. Add both stocks, sherry and soy sauce, bring to a boil then simmer 15-20 minutes. Check for seasonings and add salt if desired.

Ladle soup into 4 heavy bowls, add bread and cheese and broil for 2-3 minutes until melted.

(still tweaking the onion marmalade...)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bad blogger! +'good things'

Excuses, excuses. I know, it is pointless to explain away absences, so I will not. Instead, I will talk about 'good things' that might interest all the foodies out there--yes, all two of you who are reading along...

In order to get the catering company up and running this past week, I needed some serious tools to assist in feeding 20 + people lunch. More about that later. After checking out one small company and enroute one of the big, national restaurant supply store, I stopped at a Yellow page find (new and used--yes!) called Crown restaurant supply (58th and 4th street SE, just east of Chinook).

It was like walking into a dream. Clean, bright and the first thing I laid eyes on was a full-sheet baking pan for $9.95. Yay! I love sheet pans and use them every day. Then pots and pans and spoons, oh my, and I hadn't even stepped foot in the used/auction items in the back warehouse. If you need a barely-used chest freezer or a small bar fridge for your basement, this is your place.

I will be going back.

Regarding the lunch, it was a huge hit. The smell of garlic and lime and cilantro, mixed with coconut milk lured everyone into the staff lunch room and all was well. I just need to get them some proper knives....Next week it is sausage and lentil stew with no-knead bread, mixed green salad and something for dessert. Lucky teachers!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Edited Vegan Chocolate Cake recipe

Yes, this is in a certain-cookware-store code. For those of you that know what I am talking about, my memory failed me (showing my 43 years already...) but my instincts did not. Remember how I said "this doesn't look right"? That is because it was not. Thank goodness for cooking instincts.

1 1/2 cups of flour, not 2.

For the rest of you, here is a fabulous and easy pantry sort of chocolate cake that the Moosewood Restaurant in New York state adapted/borrowed from a Good Housekeeping recipe from the 1950's, originally called 6 Minute Chocolate Cake. Yes, it is that easy and all you really need is a fork, a 2 cup liquid measure and an 8"x 8" baking dish. If you want to get fancy, you can sift the dry ingredients, but the charm of this cake is that it is no fuss and spectacularly delicious. If you prefer, you can mix it in a bowl and then make cupcakes. Baking times follow.

preheat oven to 350

Sift into an ungreased 8x8 baking dish:

1 1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. cocoa
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 c. sugar

Measure into your 2 c. liquid measure, stir, then add to dry ingredients. Mix with a fork until well blended.

1 c. cold coffee (Decaf for kids, or water is fine. Coffee is better!)
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 t. pure vanilla extract

Swirl artfully (not really!) into mix:

2 T. Vinegar (white or cider)

You will see the chemical reaction right away.

The reaction between the baking soda and vinegar gives the bubbles and lift to the cake. And, no, you do not taste the vinegar.

Pop it into the oven immediately. 25-30 minutes for an 8x8; 18-20 minutes for 12 standard cupcakes; 20-25 minutes for a 1/4 sheet baking pan ( the one that I love so much, lined with parchment, usually!)

Here we go!

The shame.

My name is Elizabeth, I am a cookbook author and I teach cooking classes at a certain very fancy cookware store. They call me the "Culinary Expert"...

My 8 year old daughter, who has been posting mostly about our new puppy on her blog, decided to post one of her new favourite recipes. I knew then that I had to get my act together.

A recipe will follow shortly, as I now need to go make dinner: Double-decker tacos (a riff on the Taco Bell creation, but far, far better). I use either refried beans or melted cheese to 'glue' together a soft flour tortilla around a hard corn tortilla. The result is the great taste of hard tacos that won't shatter all over your plate. I am filling them with leftover chicken, fresh salsa and shredded lettuce.

I guess that kind of was a recipe already. Yippee!