Give the Gift of Me

October 30, 2009

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Over the next few weeks, I will be working with a number of new clients, preparing menus for dinner parties throughout the city. These new opportunities are most exciting for me because, creating a stress free, delicious and exciting meal for a small gathering is something I absolutely love. And for the diners and host specifically, being able to entertain and enjoy the night without the worries of overcooking or a late delivery man makes any occasion a special one. So moving forward, especially into this Holiday season, consider giving the gift of a meal to someone in your circle of friends or family. And rather than running out to the nearby restaurant for a gift certificate, consider what Silver Caterers can offer. For more specifics you can contact me but in the mean time, enjoy the menus I’ll be posting.

This past week, I created a three course menu for five. Sometimes the meal itself can be a special occasion which is why I wanted to make this one seasonally visual and flavorful. How perfect then is the butternut squash and fennel soup I posted about earlier in the month garnished with the roasted butternut squash seeds. The vibrant orange color and the warming quality of this soup, yells “Fall” and was a big hit. For the entree, I wanted to show my affinity towards blending flavors. Taking a bite of roasted sweet potato along with the sauteed swiss shard and spinach all with a bit of poached halibut in a tomato and orange reduction created pure excitement in your mouth. So many great flavors, all working together in unison. And with the beautiful colors, the plate was just as delicious to look at as it was to eat. Lastly, for dessert, a chocolate mousse cake with a fresh raspberry sauce finished this meal off with a bit of richness and a whole lot of smiles. Who doesn’t like chocolate mousse!

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The List: Gemelli (Narberth, PA)

October 29, 2009

“Where have you been!”

I know. I asked myself the same question this morning. It’s been a crazy month and despite having kept busy in the kitchen, I haven’t been letting you in on my most recent endeavors. Even with some more work for Silver Caterers (which I’ll post soon), I find myself searching for some new inspiration. Because no matter how well you can cook, sometimes you just need a refresher. A refresher on what makes a dish fantastic, and what makes a meal truly memorable.

This past weekend, I ventured home (outside of Philadelphia) and had one of those truly memorable meals. My good friend, Clark Gilbert, just recently opened his own BYO in downtown Narberth. Gemelli, a French and Italian inspired bistro, has a awesome menu studded with classic flavors and creative twists that could get any diner excited. We had the opportunity to go on a Friday night where the dining room was bustling as the kitchen (which is open to the diners) pumped out dish after dish. I’m always a bit amazed with open air kitchens, mainly because it requires so much more. And anyone who has worked in a restaurant, front or back of the house, can appreciate that.

But it was the food and service together that make Gemelli so special. The four of us tried a number of the appetizers including the beet salad, the mussels, the calamari special, and the tuna tartare with veal cheeks. All were prepared perfectly, but the tuna tartare was my favorite. The combination of flavors and textures took a fairly common menu item and made it feel brand new. For entrees, my gemelli with lamb bolognese, merguez, and broccoli rabe was savory and delicious. Although I was too busy eating my own to sample the spinach and ricotta ravioli and the chicken breast with piperade, I am sure they were both delicious. Why? Well an empty plate is the surest sign of success. But lastly, my favorite dish, a dish I had been excited for since I found out Clark was opening Gemelli, was the pappardelle with braised rabbit, cerignola olives, and spinach. If you haven’t had rabbit or even if you had, this rich and hearty dish is the one to try. The balance between the ingredients is a perfect example of what cooking should be.

But what’s a meal without good service. In a space that is easily filled, especially on a busy weekend night, not once did we feel rushed or unattended. And you might be saying to yourself, “well you knew the chef”. That may be true, but it’s easy to see through the sounds of conversation and clinking forks and spoons that this dining room was being run correctly. And with fantastically priced menu items and the prospect of bringing your own wine, how can you really go wrong?

Ultimately, Gemelli is the kind of place you would want to be a regular at. So go give it a shot. You won’t be disappointed.

Gemelli Menu


Sweet with my Salty

October 21, 2009

Roasted Cauliflower, Currant, and Sage Gratin

I used to always hate the idea of sweet ingredients incorporated into savory meals. Fruit in my salad, dried fruits in my pasta, or even cranberry sauce in a turkey sandwich just didn’t seem to make sense to me. Good thing that didn’t last too long because I would have missed out on a whole lot of great food. And nothing teaches you to appreciate these flavor additions more than the cooking process itself. How many times have I discussed adding honey (or even that soda) to balance a sauce. It’s the same idea and I’m glad I didn’t let my childhood stubborness get in the way…

I thought up this dish the other day because of a delicious pasta I had eaten a while back. Roasted cauliflower, pine nuts, and dried currants were perfect textural and flavor additions to the noodles and it was one of those truly memorable meals. Rather than replicated the dish exactly, I decided to take the idea and work into my own. This roasted cauliflower, currant, and sage gratin was a big time favorite and will almost certainly be appearing at one of many holiday dinners to come.


Silver Caterers: Welcome to the Neighborhood

October 19, 2009

Asparagus wrapped in Prosciutto and Chickpea and Arugula Bruschetta

When you love to cook, preparing and serving food can be one of the most rewarding experiences. And when you get to be a part of a fantastic event, its easy to have your expectations exceeded….

Yesterday Silver Caterers provided food and service for the Sea Cliff Civic Association’s new comers cocktail party. I could be wrong, but it seems an event like this one has become more and more unique over the years. Going past the welcome to the neighborhood jello mold apple pie, Sea Cliff welcomes their new home owners with a gathering full of food, drinks, and great conversation. This year I was asked to provide the food and I wanted it to be perfect.

The finger food menu consisted of two bruschettas (a tomato basil and a chickpea and arugula), asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, miniature spinach quiches, tuscan stuffed mushrooms, and shrimp cakes with a roasted red pepper sauce. I only had the time to snap a few cell phone pics but I was thrilled with the way the food looked and tasted. And by the looks of the empty platters, the Sea Cliff community agreed.

Shrimp Cakes and Asparagus wrapped in Prosciutto


Can’t get enough of this soup…

October 16, 2009

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I know. It seems like all I’ve been eating is soup. But honestly, what is better in December. Wait, its not December? It’s Halloween in two weeks, not Christmas? Well that’s news to me….this Fall is cold man!

But seriously, soup is one of the most soothing meals. Not even just to eat. Preparing a big batch of your favorite soup is one of the most rewarding and comforting culinary endeavors; adding ingredient after ingredient and watching them slowly meld together leaving something way more than the sum of its parts. And the nice thing about soup is the process. Once you get the basic idea down for a recipe, you can dial in flavors and ingredients ensuring that boredom will never be an issue. One of the best examples of this is my chicken tortilla soup…

This is a soup I’ve been making since my years at Skidmore. Variety after variety, this soup has always been one of my favorites because of the amazing flavors. Whether I’ved called it tortilla soup, taco soup, or even nacho soup, the familiar mexican inspired seasonings and ingredients make this soup absolutely delicious. This batch was by the best I’ve ever made. Big chunks of chicken breast, sweet and hot peppers, corn, black beans, and onions all mixed in with canned tomatoes, chicken stock, and a corona (one of my favorite additions). Lastly, I thicken this soup with some fresh corn tortillas giving it a fantastic color and background flavor perfect with a little sour cream, a few chopped scallions, cotija cheese, and fresh homemade corn tortilla chips. A full meal in a bowl!

Oh and you can’t forget about the best part of making your own soup….Leftovers!


A Bowl of Fall…

October 12, 2009

Butternut Squash and Fennel Soup

I know I’ve been obsessing over the season change, but is there really anything more dramatic than the summer to fall turn? There is so much that goes hand in hand with the temperature change and were constantly bombarded by it. The leaves, the sports (certainly weird to see the Phillies game in Colorado last night being played in 31 degrees), but mostly it’s the food. Whether it’s the many varieties of squash lining the outside of the markets or the apple picking adventures that ends up in fresh homemade pies, there is something about the food of the fall that makes us all a little more comfortable.

I’ve been working on this soup for a while now. Actually, that isn’t true. I’ve  have been making this soup over the last few years, but I’ll be honest it was one of those, first time’s a charm kind of recipes. Probably because the flavors are so perfectly matched.  Between the butternut squash, the fennel, the curry, and my secret ingredient, this soup is perfect during a brisk October day. With a little sour cream and some homemade spiced butternut squash seeds this soup is a perfect warm up to the holiday season which believe it or not, is creeping up on us quicker and quicker.

Oh and that secret ingredient….Martinelli’s Apple Cider. No need to keep secrets here. Message me if you want the recipe for this simple and delicious fall soup.


Learn Something Food Everday: What’s that smell?

October 5, 2009

asparagus pee

How much do you love asparagus? It’s one of my favorite vegetables for sure. I just can’t get enough of it. And although it may not be in season at the moment (at least the local stuff) I couldn’t help but post about it. Except this post has nothing to do with the taste. This post is about the aftermath.

Now half of you may not have any idea what I’m eluding to. For some of you, you may have never experienced what I experience. And to be honest, you may think your better off. But having done some research I’m not so sure of that.

The jury is still out, but that potent smell, you know the one that seems to come within minutes of consuming the green (or white) spears seems to have a few possible causes. The major assumption is that through the digestion of the asparagus a stinky compound known as methyl mercaptan is produced and excreted through the kidneys. Methyl mercaptan, often described as having a rotten cabbage, rotten eggs, or ammonia like smell, seems to only be created by those containing a specific enzyme. The data suggests around 50% of people contain this enzyme and therefore produce the smelly effect.

But this may not be the whole story. Interestingly enough, there is data that also suggests a genetic ability to smell the mercaptan compound. That’s right all you people who enjoy your odorless evenings aftering chowing down…I can smell something you can’t! It’s just too bad methyl mercaptain doesn’t smell like strawberries.

That awesome bumper sticker is available at cafe press.

And some of the links for the info if you’re interested:

Discovery: The Skinny On

eHOw

wiseGeek


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