Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Itty bitty baby!

A few weeks back we were contacted by a client to provide brunch foods for an "Itty, Bitty, Baby Shower" being hosted in her home. In keeping with the theme we chose a combination of traditional comfort foods with a "Mini" twist.
A stationary display was set up with classic breakfast items such as shot glasses of french toast sticks with a vanilla maple syrup, mini bagels sandwiches with egg, bacon, sausage and cheese and our "Cosmo" salad. Mixed baby field greens were tossed with mandarin oranges, goat cheese and toasted almonds and dressed with a margarita vinaigrette and served in stemless Cosmo glasses.

As the guest of honor was opening presents, servers passed mini shots of Roasted Tomato bisque with bite size grilled cheese triangles, mini Angus sliders with cheddar and spicy ketchup, and the real show stopper, Mini Quarter sized pancakes skewered on a pipette filled with syrup and garnished with fresh berries.

Planning a shower? We love working with our clients on new and innovative twists on classic dishes.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Caitlyn and Jeff

I met with Caitlyn this past September 29th. Caitlyn came to me with a unique situation. Her mom was suffering with cancer and not getting any better. Not knowing how long her mother had to live, Caitlyn and her finace Jeff had decided on having a small backyard wedding at Caitlyn's parents house in Coatsville, so that her mom would be able to attend the ceremony and if she wasn't feeling up to it, would be able to go back in the house during the reception. One small obstacle was in the way, they were planning the reception for Saturday November 5, 2011 (36 days away!).
As off premise caterers, we handle last minutes requests all the time; lunch for 15 tommorrow afternoon; Tray of chicken for 30 this Saturday, no problem. But a wedding in 36 days? When planning a wedding, there are a million details that need to be taken care of. Where will be preparing the food? China, linen and glassware need to be picked out and ordered. Tenting, tables, chairs, lighting, heat have to be reserved. Timelines for the day of. Cake, flowers, decor,etc. All of this can be taken care of reather quickly, but I forgot to mention that the bride was living in Pittsburgh and would only be home intermittingly leading up to the wedding, so everything would have to be take care of thru phone and emails.

The next day we had a plan in place, a contract signed and an appointment to see the property.
2 weeks before the wedding I receive a call that Caitlyn's mom had taken a trun for the worst and although she would be home for the rest of the time leading up to the wedding, she had would be spending all her time at the hospital and she was leaving it in my hands to take care of all the details.
November 5th comes and I assembled my staff at our shop before heading over to the house. I explained the situation the family was going thru and that we were arriving a little earlier than usual to help assist them with any loose ends they may not have had time to attend to. Unfortuantly Caitlyn's mom was in the hospital and would not be able to attend the ceremony, but we later found out they had did a small ceremony at the hospital a week before so that her mom would be able to see her get married. The ceremony started about 30 minutes later than planned, but our staff did a great job once the ceremony ended in not only getting drinks and appetizers into guests hands, but also moving the tables and chairs into place,(they had been moved for the ceremony); but also in getting the day back on schedule. Although it was a very lo key reception, guests enjoyed a stations menu with a crab cake station, pasta station and carving station. Dessert was an assortement of cupcakes set up on a large tired stand.
One of the coolest touches that day, was an assortment of paper decorations that one of the brides long time friends had made just for the day in Mexico where she lives.

As dessert was being served, Caitlyn's father excused himself to return to the hospital to be with his wife. We later learned that she passed away peacefully the next morning with her husband by her side.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Jennifer and Patrick

This past Saturday we made our return to Hilltop House in Devon for our first of 2 weddings we are catering there this month. The plan called for a 5:30 ceremony in the courtyard followed by cocktails on the back patio and dinner in the Great Room at 7:00. For the second week in a row, grey skies loomed above just as we had finished setting up for the ceremony. With our fingers crossed we sent the bride down the aisle for a very touching 25 minute ceremony performed by Susan Wilson from Journey's of the Heart. I have been to countless weddings over the years both as a caterer and as a guest, many times the officiant does a very by the book event where they spew a generic ceremony and "let's share in the love" blah, blah. I have had the pleasure of working with Journey's of the Heart for 6 or 7 weddings over the past 2 years (including my brother's), and each and every officiant takes the time to sit down with the couple and genuinely get to know them. You feel as though they have known them their entire life. Hat's off to Susan for another great ceremony. Just as the ceremony ended and the guests were safe inside a small shower came thru which delayed pictures for a couple of minutes, but allowed the Jennifer and Patrick to join their guests for the first part of cocktail hour. Guests enjoyed Passed hors d' oeuvres of mini Fingerling Potatoes stuffed with Cashel Blue Cheese and Bacon, Arrancini stuffed with Fresh Mozzarella and a Romesco Sauce and Ahi Tuna on a Wonton Crisp with Wasabi Cream.

Jennifer's uncle Larry introduced the wedding party into the foyer where they shared their first dance. As guests were being seated in the Great Room our staff was busy finalizing the dinner stations. In the Library we set up a carving station with Cowboy Steak and Roasted Turkey as well as our Paella station, complete with an attendant serving from our 36" Authentic Paella Pan and various tapas including Torta Espanola, Gambas al Ajillio (Garlic shrimp)and Pane y Tomate.

In the Garden Room is where we had the chance to really personalize the event. On our initial meeting Jennifer and Patrick had told me they had their first date at Creperie Beaumonde in Center City and had wanted to incorporate crepes somehow into the event. After 2 tastings with the bride and groom we came decided on a Grilled Chicken and Wild Mushroom Crepe and Spinach and Wild Mushroom Crepe served with a Field Green Salad with Dried Cranberries, Gorgonzola and Walnuts.

Generally I am very apprehensive when brides tell me how much do it your self they are planning for their wedding. I understand making your own invitations or favors and even centerpieces,but when Jennifer told me she was a Pastry student at the Restaurant School in Philadelphia and was going to make her own cake, I was nervous to say the least.

Well, did she ever prove me wrong. As the guests and even my own staff commented on how beautiful the design work was, as a chef I knew the pain staking work that went into the petals of the flowers on her beautiful creation. The best part was it tasted even better then it looked. In addition to the cake, moms and grand moms from both sides of the family made as assortment of homemade Italian cookies that will put the best bakeries in Philly to shame! It was a pleasure working with such a great couple and with Sandy from the Hilltop House who is always there to lending a helping hand when needed.

Sue and Chris

On Saturday September 24, 2011 we had the pleasure of working with Sue and Chris for their backyard wedding at their home in Malvern. From our initial meeting Chris and Sue both stressed that because they were having at their home, they wanted it to feel like a big party, that more than likely would go into the wee hours. The plan was for the ceremony to be held on their back patio and then our staff would move the chairs into the adjoining tent for cocktails, dinner and dancing. Although the skies were turning gray as we approached ceremony time and we thought for sure Plan B would be going into effect (Moving the ceremony into the tent), the rain held off for a beautiful ceremony.

With the ceremony behind us and Sue and Chris off taking photos, our staff quickly moved the chairs into the tent cocktail hour started. Tray passed hors d; oeuvres included Kennett Square Mushrooms stuffed with Lump Crab, Sesame Chicken Skewers and Mini shot Glasses filled with a Jumbo Shrimp and Crab Claw.

After pictures and a wild introduction from Disc Jockey and Family Friend Rob Hallinan guests were treated to 3 dinner stations including a carving station with Sliced Bistro Steak and Roasted Turkey, a Pasta Station with Penne Vodka and Bowtie Pomodoro and the big hit of the night a Philly Cheese Steak Station. With myself and an assistant chopping furiously away, guests loved the Philly Rib eye and Chicken Cheese steaks complete with Sauteed Onions, Mushrooms and Cheese Whiz.

The skies held up for the rest of the night and Rob had the dance floor packed until late in the night. Special thanks to Flowers by Priscilla in Paoli who once again did a great job with the centerpieces and Buffet enhancements.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Aimee and Bobby

On May 7th we have the pleasure of working with aimee and Bobby for their wedding at Greystone Hall. Although we do countless weddings each year and everyone becomes special to us, this wedding has some very special sinificance for us. I have worked with Aimee's mom, Betsy for a number of years when we would cater the annual Wayne Senior Center luncheon at the Willows in Radnor. Two years ago we catered Aimee's cousin Stephanie's wedding at the Willows and aimee's wedding was to be the first wedding we would be doing at the Historic Greystone Hall in West Chester. Aimee and Bobby had decided to have their ceremony in the beautiful gardens on the property but, unfortuantly at the last minute we had to switch to plan "B" as a quick moving storm came in just as the last of the guests were seated outside and the bridal party began to line up. Not to be deterred, our staff assisted the staff of Greystone in quickly setting up the ceremony inside. As the ceremony ended the skies cleared and we were able to present cocktail hour on the north garden terrace. Guests nibbled on Lobster Macaroni and Cheese on Asian Spoons, Coconut Shrimp, Arrancini with Fresh Mozzarella, Pear Wedges with Blue Cheese and Walnuts and what has become our biggest seller Philly Cheese steak Eggrolls with Sirachi enhanced Ketchup.

After cocktails and hors d' oeuvres guests were ushered into the beautiful tent overlooking the south lawn for introductions, dinner and dancing.

Dinner stations included our very popular sautee station with lump crabcakes and shrimp scampi cooked to order in front of guests, a pasta bar with Tortellini Vodka and Bowtie Pomdoro and a carving station with Roasted Pork Loin and Tenderloin of Beef complimented with a Roasted Fingerling Potato Salad and Grilled Seasonal Vegetables.

Dessert included a chocolate fondue and a beautiful wedding cake from Bakers of Buffington. As a final touch our servers butlered warm cookies and shots of ice cold milk as the last song of the night played and guests boarded the shuttle to continue the party.

Friday, December 10, 2010

7 Fishes

December brings the same questions to me every year? What is the deal with the “7” fishes?

On Christmas Eve Italians throughout the world celebrate La Vigilia or “The Vigil”. Although there are different accounts to how this tradition started, one of the most widely believed is that it traces back to the Medieval Roman Catholic Tradition of abstaining from eating meat or dairy products on specific Holy Days. Catholics would typically eat fish fried in olive oil on days of abstinence.

There are many theories as to why 7 fishes. The 7 Sacraments? 7 Days of the Week? The 7 deadly sins? Regardless of which theory they subscribe to, some families still uphold this tradition today. Sadly many families have given up this tradition due to the sheer labor involved in it’s preparation. With parties to attend, gifts to wrap and relatives to visit, not everyone has the time to soak their Bacala for 3 days or clean and stuff their Calamad.

Don’t fret, What’s Cooking is once again offering our Traditional 7 fishes dinner for take-out. You are a quick phone call away from picking up all of your Christmas Eve favorites from stuffed flounder and shrimp, broiled scallops and salmon, even Bacala and Calamad.

Maybe fish isn’t your thing. If you’re not a fan of stuffed squid or salted cod, don’t worry we also offer Prime Rib, Turkey and Baked Ham.

A full menu is available on our web site, and we do ask for all orders by Monday December 20th so we can soak the Bacala!

Buon Natale