Summer is quickly approaching and for most of us this means a good deal of get-togethers! It is one of the most delightful things about the warm season. A summer of nuptials or wedding planning is no exception, in fact it may even mean an increased amount of diner hosting in your life. Bridal showers, meet the parents, family reunions, bachelor parties … all sorts of events of this nature will throw down this summer. I for one panic a bit when my responsibility is food. So I thought today a great post would be from a true professional in the catering field, Rachel Heimer of Brown Brothers Catering. She really simplifies the process for us and gives us both intimate diner and big event advice on what to feed the herd.
My favorite part of summer is putting together informal dinner parties for my close friends and family. Surprise!! I love to entertain and cook even when I’m not working! Feeding people delicious food makes me happy. Watching my friends and family relax and truly enjoy every bite of what they are eating is an experience like no other to me. However, I do not enjoy cooking for hours on end before my guests arrive! I love a simple, light menu that packs a punch and doesn’t leave me knocked out after preparing it. I too want to enjoy my company and not feel like I have just fought ten rounds in order to make it all happen! You hire a Caterer for those events!!! This menu is simple to prepare in that you can prep most everything ahead of time! I serve it family style on large platters with a simple table setting and some fresh limeade or a crisp, white wine such as Pinot Grigio or Voignier.
The Beets in this Roasted Baby Beet salad can be roasted and sliced the night before my gathering and this simple, lemon vinaigrette can also be prepared the night before. I can never just stick with the recipe so I have adjusted a few things…I candy the nuts the night before too. I just prefer the sweetness in contrast to the earthiness of the roasted baby beets. Candied nuts are simply oven toasted nuts, melted sugar in a saucepan to an amber color, mix these together, and sprinkle with a dash of salt. The trick with candied nuts is to make sure that you have a cookie sheet with parchement paper close and that you quickly separate the nuts before the candy solidifies leaving you with walnut candy balls rather than individually candied nuts. I also section either an orange or a grapefruit to add a bit more citrus zip to the salad…this too, the night before. This leaves me with just mixing together the ingredients just a few minutes before serving.
This Salmon recipe can either be grilled or broiled. I prefer to broil this recipe because it creates a crisp, caramelized crust with a juicy, flaky meat once you cut into it. This is the recipe you serve to those “I don’t like fish” people! It will change their lives forever! I prefer to use fresh, wild caught fish such as a Sockeye or Copper River Salmon, however, the local grocery salmon is delicious too! The fish can be marinated the night before and the glaze can be prepared the night before as well. This leaves you with, literally, three steps…lay marinated fish on an alluminum foil lined cookie sheet, broil for 10 minutes, and finish with the glaze just before serving. I adapted this recipe by adding a teaspoon of Asian Chili garlic Sauce to the marinade…it added just the perfect amount of spice!
I love risotto!!!! There is nothing else like it! Risotto is a dish that has a reputation for being very difficult to make. It really isn’t. It is, however, the most time consuming “day of” preparation we have in this menu. But, c’mon!!! The other menu items only take fifteen minutes!!! The tutorial featured here is excellent in that you are able to see the steps! Sometimes recipes are confusing in their descriptions…They say to toast until translucent…hmmm…is this translucent? I follow aroma. Always. You can smell the toasted rice when it’s ready to add liquid! These pictures taking you through each step are very accurate and the best tutorial I have seen. I find it very helpful to read through the recipe a few times and examine the photos before beginning this recipe. Also, make sure you have all of your ingredients on hand. Once you begin to cook Risotto, you cannot walk away from the stove for a good 30-35 minutes. Risotto also needs to be served right away. If it stands too long, it will become too thick so this will be your very last step in preparing this menu.
Timing is key when hosting a party and serving delicious food! This is where my catering mind comes in handy!
Before I begin anything, I mix the salad together and toss it into a bowl with tongs and set it out, leaving the dressing on the side. I have the fish ready so that the only step left while I’m making my risotto is to put it under the broiler. I time the cooking so that once I have 6 minutes left on the risotto, I put the fish in the oven. Once the risotto is finished, I transfer it to a serving bowl, sprinkle it with shaved Parmesan and set it aside for a few moments while I pull the fish out, transfer it to a serving platter, and spoon the glaze (room temperature) over top. Voila! We have an elegant, simple dinner for your guests ( and you too!!!) to enjoy!
My new obsession is homemade popsicles so I, of course, recommend them as dessert. I recently made a blood orange and vanilla yoghurt creamsicle that was to die for, but, mix together whatever you like! Check out this great popsicle making kit here! it allows you to make a posicle in seven minutes!!! Wow!!
After so many years in the Catering industry I have learned that simplicity and proper planning are key in creating memorable events. While we may all consider ourselves to be wonderful cooks, creative decorators, and talented florists, there is a huge difference between making dinner for the family or decorating a birthday party or creating a centerpiece for my kitchen table and making dinner for 150 guests, centerpieces for 20 tables, and designing a 4000 square foot ballroom. The biggest tip I can offer is to hire professionals to do this for you so that you may enjoy every moment of any momentus occassion without running around without your shoes on all day up until the moment guests have arrived, exhausted before the party has even begun!