Team building, cooking events, catering, parties, and classes in the San Francisco Bay Area

November and December in the Kitchen

November 16, 2016

Holidays

We have a great line-up of events for the rest of the year! The kitchen will be humming (already is). Big groups and small, with some great menus. I thought I’d share a menu we made last Thursday, with a group of 28, taking care of some dietary needs as noted in the menu (and below it, a picture of the group, with their gorgeous buffet). It came out so great, and every dish went together perfectly with the rest. Following that, I've listed another, rather different menu, that we ejoyed making with a group Saturday. It was a three-course, plated meal and the very sophisticated group of execs loved it.

Italian-Mediterranean Small Plates Menu (for Medium to Large Groups)

  • Crostini Bar (and rice crackers) with Toppings
  • Chanterelle mushroom conserva (vegan)
  • Late season tomatoes confit, with fresh herbs and garlic (vegan)
  • Group-made ricotta cheese (to go with the two items above)
  • Cannellini beans with pancetta (we can make some vegan, too)
  • Late-season sweet peppers with olives (vegan)
  • Massaged kale and warm butternut or kabocha squash salad with herbs (vegan)
  • Polenta crisps, duck confit, marmalade sauce
  • Octopus salad, smoked paprika vinaigrette, fingerling potatoes, frisée
  • Chicken/tofu and vegetable skewers, marinated (tofu version will be vegan)

Here's what the group chose for dessert — we have lots of options for delicious holiday desserts!

  • Poached pears, chocolate ganache, candied pistachios

And finally, here's the group that made the feast above!

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Another Great Holiday Menu

Here’s our fun Cajun menu from Saturday's event

  • Peppery greens, blue cheese, pecans
  • Crisp-skinned trout, Andouille and shrimp stuffing
  • Cauliflower gratin
  • New Orleans bread pudding, rum sauce and whipped cream

We still have a few open dates — the holiday season is much longer this year than it was last year, when Thanksgiving was late in the month, and it seemed like everything was literally crowded into 3 weeks. This year, we have 5 weeks between the two holidays, and with Christmas on a Sunday, the week before it has gotten quite busy. If you’re interested in a group party, do let us know. The Schedule an Event form is the easiest way!

Help Wanted!

We're in need of someone to wash dishes during daytime events for the remainder of the year. If you're interested, or know someone who would be, contact me. This is part time work, fairly compensated, with most shifts 4-5 hours in duration.

Classes

We’re so busy, Tracy has decided not to run any kids classes. Sorry everyone! But she only has so many hours in the day, and her own two kids to deal with during the same holidays everyone else is off.

As for grown-up classes, we have Rosetta Costantino’s A Night in a Neapolitan Pizzeria this Friday, which still has a few spots open. As does her Il Cenone: Christmas Eve in Calabria, on Saturday, December 3rd.  That is the 13-dish extravaganza traditional to her home area of Calabria, and a true feast. On December 18th, she’s holding a Sunday afternoon class, Holiday Desserts from Southern Italy.

In the Market

This has been the most unseasonable season so far. So, we still have raspberries, blackberries and great, red strawberries in the market. My favorite fruits, and I’ve been buying like crazy. Persimmons share the stage, as well as apples and pears, and citrus is coming in. My Satsuma mandarin tree is going heavy this year, with hundreds of fruit, and they are all just about ripe. Usually I get them in December. Go figure.  On the vegetable side of the equation, there are still semi-decent tomatoes, but not for much longer, and ample greens of all sorts. I am still buying sweet peppers, artichokes are quite good, and Brussels sprouts have come in strong. I always buy them on the stalk. You just snap them off and trim away the tough bottoms. When you leave them on the stalk, they keep very nicely. I don’t know who’s in charge of their publicity, but these little cabbage babies have gone from reviled to being everyone’s darling over the last couple of years. And, if you don’t boil them to death, they are quite wonderful — roasted, sautéed, or quickly steamed until just tender.

Winter squash is also all over the place, from butternut to kabocha to delicata, they are all delicious. One of our favorite Thanksgiving sides, cippolini onions, are also in the market now. These little flat onions are very pungent, and when you cook them they get really sweet. We blanch them in boiling water for half a minute, peel (and top and bottom off) and then sauté in butter, seasoned only with salt and pepper, then finish them with cream. Once they’re tender they are amazingly sweet.  These creamed onions are a ‘must have’ dish every Thanksgiving. Nobody minds the prep, and the last ones get fought over.

One last note: Crabs are in! YAY! Plan on a crab dinner soon, while they are plentiful and relatively inexpensive. If you need it, here's a primer on how to cook and clean crab

Recipe of the Month

I taught “Thanksgiving Dress Rehearsal” classes for well over 20 years. Personally, I think it’s the best holiday of the year. Our extended family, for the last few years, has met up at the kitchen, cooked a feast together, and then gone home with plenty of leftovers for the next day. There is a lot of creative energy in the family, so a wide variety of food. But of course, there’s always turkey. The last few years, I’ve not made my traditional, stuffed whole turkey because most of us prefer dark meat, and since my son-in-law runs a butcher shop where lots of folks ask for breasts, he has lots of leg-thighs that we confit (slow roast in duck fat) and then crisp. But this year, my husband has requested at least one traditionally Roasted, Stuffing-in-the bird, Turkey. I thought I’d share the recipe I taught for so many years. You can say it’s tried and true, and then some.

My personal taste in stuffing is perhaps drier than some might like. Mushy bread doesn’t make me happy. Nor does a stuffing with meat in it (the family makes a sausage stuffing that has had me reevaluating the latter statement, but I still prefer mine). If you want more moisture, simply add it — get the mix wetter, before putting it in the bird. And, remember not to stuff until you roast. You don’t want bacterial growth!