Wednesday, November 5, 2008
This is a delicious appetizer, you can prepare them ahead of time
and bake off just before serving.
36 asparagus spears
4 sheets of phyllo dough, thawed
6 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup butter, melted
salt and pepper to sprinkle on top
Preheat oven to 425° F
Trim ends of asparagus. Blanche asparagus in boiling salted water until lightly
tender to the bite, about 3 minutes.
Place one sheet of phyllo on a cutting board. Set aside the remaining sheets,
cover with a damp towel. Brush the phyllo sheet with melted butter. Cut the sheet
into nine rectangles, two cuts down from the top, two cuts across. Place an
asparagus spear at the bottom of the short side of the rectangle with the tip
sticking out from the dough by 2 inches. Sprinkle on a teaspoon of cheese. Roll
up spear and seal with butter. Finish with remaining spears.
Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with remaining
cheese, salt and pepper. Cover the exposed asparagus tips with foil. Bake until
golden brown and crispy 10 to 12 minutes. Serve warm.
Lemon Parmesan Aioli
½ cup Sour Cream
¾ cup Mayonnaise
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese (2 ounces)
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Fresh Lemon Zest from 2 lemons
1-teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
Whisk together all ingredients in a bowl and let chill for 2 hours
Makes 36 single asparagus straws.
Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella skewers with Balsamic Glaze
Saffron Butternut Squash Risotto with Peas in spoons
Tuna Tartare on crispy wonton with Edammame Wasabi puree
Chicken Pecan Salad with Dried Cranberries in Phyllo cups
Miniature Chicken Pot Pies
Dijon Rosemary Petite Lamb Chops with Fresh Mint SauceMini Cheesecakes: Cherry, Blueberry & Pumpkin with Carmel Butterscotch
Friday, September 19, 2008
Catered a big crowd of one hundred guests at UC Berkeley last night at the Alumni House. Had the pleasure of working with many of the guests that were there at previous events. This was a double retirement party. The menu had an Italian flavor to it and we all had a great time and people were toasting and remembering good times!!!
Artichoke, Ricotta and Parmesan Tartlets
Cherry Tomato & Mini Mozzarella Cheese Skewers
Fresh Tomato Bruschetta
Mixed Baby Greens with Bleu Cheese, Walnuts, Cherry Tomato halves, Chopped Apple and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Baby Carrots & Green Beans with Thyme Orange Butter
Pesto Cheese Tortellini with Asparaus, Red Bell Pepper and Mushrooms
Cake, Cookies and Peet's Coffee
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Catered a double birthday party for Bruce & Peggy in Los Gatos this past weekend!! What a fun party...they had their own Bocce Ball court that their guests were playing and what a great view of downtown San Jose from their home in the hills. The menu was all appetizers and finger foods. I find that most of my events that I cater, people prefer that over just a dinner-it's more fun and the variety pleases many party guests. Here is the menu, you will notice some repeat items on this menu that I've done before, but these are crowd pleasers!!!
Grilled Spicy Sausage & Shrimp Skewers with Bell Pepper & Eggplant Dip
Wasabi Lime Crab Salad on Cucumber
Saffron Butternut Squash Risotto with Peas served in Spoons
Turkey Pannini with Pesto, Provolone & Dijon
Assorted Fine Cheeses with Crackers & Fruit
Chilled Pea Tarragon Soup served in Shot glasses
Chinese Chicken Salad served in Mini Chinese Take Out Containers
Fig & Goat Cheese Bruschetta with Balsamic Glaze & Pumpkin Seeds
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Bacon Wrapped Almond Stuffed Dates
Mini Cheddar Burgers with Rosemary Onion Jam
Mini Shrimp Cocktail in Shot Glasses
Tuna Tartare on Crispy Won Ton with Edammame Wasabi Puree
Baked Orange Salmon with Hollandaise Sauce in Spoons
Rosemary Dijon Lamb Chops with Honey Peppercorn Mint Sauce
Cheddar Sundried Tomato Grilled Pannini
Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella Cheese Skewer with Balsamic Glaze
Fine Cheeses with Crackers
Shrimp & Spicy Sausage Skewer
with Roasted Red Bell Pepper Aioli
Mini Artichoke & Sun-dried Tomato Pizzas
Mixed Baby Greens with Pickled Beets, Goat Cheese Walnut Truffles, Fresh Mission Figs, Foccacia Crouton Tossed with Gorgonzola Pear Vinaigrette
Pork Tenderloin wrapped in Prosciutto, Mushroom Duxelle and Spinach, wrapped in a delicate Phyllo Crust,
surrounded by Pomegranate glaze & Pistachio Apricot relish
Served with Asparagus & Pea Risotto with Lemon & Manchego Cheese
Rustic Apple Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Miniature Cheescakes: Strawberry, Blueberry & Cherry
Just did a bridal shower today in Burlingame, it went very well and the ladies loved the food! Below is the menu
Bridal Shower Menu
Ham & Cheddar Tartlets
Artichoke, Ricotta & Parmesan Tartlets
Mixed baby green salad with sliced almonds, cherry tomatoes, english cucumber, dried cranberries, chopped apple & pear gorgonzola vinaigrette
Assorted Tea Sandwiches
Turkey & Cranberry on whole grain bread
Tuna Salad on whole wheat bread
Cucumber & Cream cheese with arugula on potato bread
Assorted Fine Cheese with crackers
Miniature Cheesecakes, blueberry, Strawberry & Cherry
Double chocolate & walnut brownies
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Up Close View
Strawberry Goat Cheese Bruschetta with Pistachios
My twist on the familiar "Brushetta", this Strawberry Brushetta is perfect on a nice spring or summer day, the combination of the tangy goat cheese and the balsamic dressed strawberries with the crunch of the Pistachios is delicious! My original recipe and some interesting facts are below...enjoy!!
Bruschetta (pron. bru'ket'ta in English, /bɾu'sketta/ in Italian) is a food whose origin dates to at least the 15th century from central Italy. It consists of grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Variations may include toppings of spicy red pepper, tomato, vegetables, beans, cured meat, and/or cheese; the most popular American recipe involves basil, fresh mozzarella, and tomato. Bruschetta is usually served as a snack or appetizer. In Italy, Bruschetta is often prepared using a brustolina grill. In Tuscany, bruschetta is called fettunta, meaning "oiled slice".
Strawberry Bruschetta with Goat Cheese
*Appetizer; serves 8 to 10, makes approx 25 pieces
2 pints of Strawberries, hulled and sliced
3 TBSP Balsamic Glaze (can be found at most gourmet stores)
11 oz log of Goat Cheese
6 to 8 basil leaves, chopped
1 TBSP Olive Oil plus more for brushing onto bread
½ cup of roughly crushed toasted Pistachios
Pinch of salt and freshly cracked pepper
1 narrow loaf of French baguette, sliced on a diagonal into 1/2 inch slices
Preheat oven to 375* brush bread slices with olive oil and bake for approx 10 min. or golden brown, set aside to cool. Toss strawberry slices in bowl with the balsamic glaze, salt, pepper, basil and olive oil. Spread each toast with cheese and top with sliced strawberries, sprinkle with Pistachios and enjoy!
Suggested wine pairing: Chilled Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio
All rights reserved 2008. Recipe developed by Joseph Sciascia
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Miniature Grilled Tomato & Cheddar Pannini with Dijon
Miniature Cheddar Burgers with Rosemary Onion Jam
It was another smash hit birthday party that I catered last night in Los Gatos. This was a 60th birthday party for a new client.
She had ordered 10 different Hor D'Ouevres passed by servers and buffet style. The biggest hit of the night were the Orange Tarragon Salmon with Hollandaise Sauce served in Asian Soup Spoons, people could not get enough of those and of course the Mini Burges, who wouldn't want that, comfort food city! (menu below).
Over the years I have catered numerous parties and the interesting thing is, most of them are Hor d'ouevres parties. The reason why I think that this type of party is so popular is that people can taste many different cuisines. I get more excited over the prospect of catering a party of all finger foods. I enjoy the challenge of inventing new ones so I don't get bored and It really puts a smile on my face when I get to present foods in a "small" way that party guests don't see or get to see everyday!
Food should be fun and interesting not boring, it not only nourishes are bodies but it should nourish are imaginations and tastes. Appetizers, Small Bites, Hor d'ouevres, Finger Foods, Tid-Bits-Whatever you may call it, is always in style!
Mini Cheddar Burgers with Rosemary Onion Jam
Tuna Tartare on won ton with Edammame Wasabi Puree
Miniature individual Macaroni & Cheese
Orange Tarragon Salmon with Hollandaise Sauce in Spoons
Grilled Chicken Skewers with Peanut Sauce
Baby Lamb Chops with Honey Mint Peppercorn Sauce
Fine Cheese & Crackers
Mini Tomato & Cheddar Pannini
Asian Peanut Noodle Salad in “To Go” containers with Chopsticks
Butternut Squash Soup “Sips” in Shot Glasses with Pumpkin Seeds
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Had the pleasure last night catering a dinner party for my fabulous client's Lisa & Marcel. This was a five course sit down dinner for ten people in their lovely home in Palo Alto.
Shitake Mushroom & Gruyere Cheese Tartlets
Ahi Tuna Tartare with Wasabi Edammame Puree on Won Ton Crisps
Chilled Avocado & Mint with Cojita Cheese, Tomato & Crunchy Corn Tortilla Strips
Mixed Field Greens, Candied Pecans, D’Anjou Pears, Dried Cranberries,Gorgonzola Pear Vinaigrette, Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
Wild Halibut with Grapefruit Beurre Blanc
Grapefruit Parsley Red Onion Salad on Wild Mushrooms
Herbed Corn & White Cheddar Soufflé
Vegetable Strudel with Asparagus, Spinach, Onion, Red Bell Pepper, Pesto, Goat Cheese with Vodka Tomato Sauce & Artichoke Tapenade
Blueberry Cobbler with Whipped Cream
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Antipasti (the feminine form of the word) or Antipasto (the masculine form of the word is also often used. The Italian equivalent of hor d’ouevres, meaning “before the meal” (anti=before, pasto=meal) literally “before the pasta”, since pasta is traditionally the first main course served in Italian cooking. In Italian cuisine, this typically consists of savory cold foods such as cheeses and raw or marinated vegetables, as well as cold cuts and cured meats such as prosciutto.
Puting together an antipasti platter is not complicated at all, it’s actually the easiest and quite beautiful to display and put together. With just a few ingredients that you may already have at hand in your refrigerator or pantry you can put together an impromptu appetizer for those quick soirees. The photo above is a vegetarian Antipasti platter; this particular dinner party I was catering had some vegetarian guests. What I think makes this particular display beautiful is that I used various sized bowls and styles. This does not need to be expensive either, many of the bowls pictured here, I bought at a local Latin grocery store for only a few dollars, I like the rustic look of the various shapes and textures of the clay ones, metal and ceramic. The more rustic the better!
I made a Tomato Basil Hummus (recipe below) and served it with Pita chips along with some colossal olives, mixed nuts, bread sticks, mini mozzarella balls, marinated artichoke hearts and caper berries. Next time you’re entertaining remember to keep it simple and first and foremost, enjoy yourself!
Tomato Basil Hummus
1 15-oz can garbanzo beans
1 15-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
¼ cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
¼ cup of fresh Basil
4 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp tahini
2 garlic cloves
½ tsp. Sea salt
¼ tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp. Crushed red pepper
Add all ingredients to food processor and puree until smooth. If it looks too chunky, add more oil and process again until smooth. Serve with crispy pita chips or crusty bread
Saturday, January 26, 2008
What’s Your Comfort?
Wintertime always conjures up wanting comfort food. There’s nothing like a warm, delicious and comforting plate of food to ease your worries away. What’s your comfort food? Is it a slice of warm apple pie or maybe some homemade chicken soup to ease your aches and pains away?
I believe that comfort food comes from are childhood; I was lucky enough to have a mother that was a caterer, so there was always something good smelling in the air. I always wanted to help my mother in the kitchen, she taught me a lot, but the one thing that I did learn, is that uncomplicated simple food was the best!
In most households, comfort foods were the dishes we grew up with. I came from an Irish and Sicilian home, so I love potatoes and we ate a lot of Spaghetti and meatballs. There was nothing more comforting to me then coming home from a long day at school and smelling a pot of marinara sauce on the stove. I also enjoyed those quiet, special moments watching TV with a bowl of macaroni and cheese, that’s comfort with a capital “C”. As I got older I learned that this cheesy pasta concoction doesn’t just come out of a box. There is nothing better than this homemade version of a childhood favorite. I’ve served this many times as an appetizer at my events in miniature ceramic ramekins with a bamboo fork, the party guests can never have enough of them, I don’t think I’m the only one that enjoys the comfort of warm cheesy pasta with a crunchy crust; pictured above. Get a fork and dig in to your comfort…
Macaroni and cheese
Serves 6 to 8 as entrée or 8 to 10 as a side dish.
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 pound elbow macaroni
3 cups coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (about 12 ounces)
1 1/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 4 ounces)
1 cup Panko style Japanese bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350°F. and butter a 3- to 4-quart gratin dish or other shallow baking dish. In heavy saucepan melt 6 tablespoons butter over moderately low heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes then add flour and cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add milk in a stream, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking. Add mustard, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 2 minutes. In a kettle of salted boiling water cook macaroni until just al dente, about 7 minutes, and drain well. In a large bowl stir together macaroni, sauce, Cheddar, and 1 cup Parmesan and transfer to prepared dish. In a small bowl stir together breadcrumbs and remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons of butter in microwave or stovetop and mix into breadcrumb mixture and sprinkle evenly over macaroni. Bake macaroni in middle of oven 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Good cheese, wine, bread and friends; what more could you ask for!
I have served numerous cheese displays at my client’s events, people request it and I suggest it. I will give you some fantastic ideas on how to display cheese and what to serve. There are so many different cheeses out there in the world. A good cheese board could have up to 6 or so different cheeses. What kind of cheese do you ask? Well, I like to serve all kinds, the varieties that a lot of people may not have had a chance to try. I usually do not serve basic cheese like, Monterey Jack or Mild Cheddar and the like. Too many of us consume those kinds of cheeses on a regular basis, there is nothing wrong with domestic mild cheeses but you don’t have a chance to let ones taste buds travel around the world a bit.
Aspire for variety in taste, texture and appearance. A delicious selection might include a soft, mild cheese like triple cream Brie, a hard, mild, nutty cheese such as an Asiago, and semi-firm, sharp Stilton. You can also build your cheese selection around a theme. You could serve all goat cheeses: a Cabrales which is a semi-firm, blue cheese; a Montrachet which is a soft, fresh cheese; and a Gjetost which is a hard, whey cheese.
Select a country for your theme; for example, you could choose Spain and serve Manchego, a cured cheese from the region of La Mancha made from the milk of Manchega sheep. I love this cheese; it’s tangy, nutty and full-flavored. Sometimes this cheese is infused with rosemary. Cabrales, a Spanish blue cheese, a robust flavor produced by Astruian dairy farmers. Idiazabal with its smoky, rich tasted; it is the quintessential Sheppard’s cheese of the Basque country.
Appropriate Accompaniments: Accompany your cheese board with crackers and bread that don’t have very strong flavors that would compete with the flavor of the cheeses. Fresh fruit like, Apples, pears, grapes and figs go very well with cheese. I love to serve dried fruits and nuts with my cheeses, yum.
Serving Suggestions: I have used many different items to serve cheese on, whatever inspires me at the time, I guess. My favorite is a large piece of marble, you can also use various large pieces of dark slate, glass blocks, old wooden cutting boards with baskets of crackers, bread sticks and nuts. And one thing that I think is a must is labeling your cheese; this will keep the guesswork out of the way for your guests. I print cheese labels on my computer with address labels and stick them on bamboo skewers and then stick it in the cheese, no more guesswork and it’s so chic! You can even get small pieces of black slate and write the name of the cheese with chalk, or use place card holders with small cards with the names of the cheeses written on them.
Pairing Cheeses with Wine
Blue cheeses such as Stilton or Gorgonzola go well with dessert wines like Sauternes and Ports. To accompany fresh cheeses like a goat or feta, choose a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir. Soft-ripened cheeses like Teleme or Brillat-Savarin go well with Chardonnay. For aged cheeses like Cheddars, aged Gruyeres and Parmigiano-Reggiano serve Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel or Burgundy.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
The life of a caterer is all about balancing budgets for food, service, rentals and sometimes décor or floral for the tabletop. Food and table presentation is very important to me at all my events, no matter how small or large the party is. Not only is my reputation at stake, but the reputation of the host or hostess that hired me. Besides reputation, I really care and have a passion for all my events. I enjoy the creative process that’s involved and I’m always learning about new ways to present and stage my food.
Floral arranging is an art in itself and a completely different ball game then catering. I am not a florist and I let my clients know that and I suggest to them that they should purchase a floral arrangement for their buffet table and/or guests tables. Sometimes in rare occasions my clients tell me they don’t want flowers or that they don’t need them, but I know perhaps their event budget was stretched a little too thin. In this case I need to be a little creative with my “art of presentation”.
At a recent holiday party, I had to think of something to “stage” or decorate the tabletop on a budget (as usual). I came up with something quick, seasonal, colorful and some of it edible. When I say quick, I mean quick-with all the other elements involved with what I do, I really don’t have the time to make elaborate floral arrangements. Since I’m always at a grocery store somewhere in my day, I look in the produce department for and inspiration on a budget. If you remember that “food” is being served, food can also be used to compliment it with style, color and texture. I saw that green apples where on sale, so I bought loads of them and then I needed a complimentary color. I found some large purple and while flowering kale, so I bought a few bunches of those. I already knew that the event location of this party had a large entertaining room with high ceiling. So, I thought I would use these large and tall cylinder shaped vases-big and dramatic always makes a statement! After that, I drove to my favorite local florist and purchased some tall bunches of curly willow, some evergreen branches and some red branchy things. I did not even arrange this until I was at the event the next day, that is how easy this is, it really only took 15 minutes to arrange.
To make the floral arrangement I put some green apples in the bottom of the vase and put in the curly willow, evergreen branches and the red branches. After putting the arrangements on the buffet table, I arranged some more evergreen branches and apples right on the tabletop and just put down the kale on the table at the base of the vase. Simple, elegant and decorative and on a budget…in some cases you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make something look great and unusual.
This recipe is such a hit with my clients and friends. So much so, that my friend Paula in Spokane, Washington opened a restaurant there recently called "Olive Oilz" and she serves it on the menu as an appetizer. But I have to be honest, anything deep fried is good, you can take the tire off your car and dip it in batter and fry it and it would be good!
Sesame Tempura Green Beans with Soy Dipping Sauce
4 Cups Vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Teaspoons Fresh Lime Juice
1 Teaspoon Superfine Granulated Sugar
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
¼ Cup Sesame Seeds
1 Cup Beer (Not Dark)
¾ Lb Green Beans, Trimmed
Heat 2 inches oil in a 4-guart heavy pot over moderate
Heat until deep-fat thermometer registers 365*F.
While oil is heating, make dipping sauce by stirring
together soy sauce, lime juice, and sugar until sugar
is dissolved. Whisk together flour and sesame seeds and
whisk in beer until batter is smooth. Toss about 10 beans
in batter until coated. Add to oil 1 at a time and fry, turning
until golden, about 1 ½ min. Transfer with tongs to paper
towels to drain and sprinkle with salt to taste. Coat and
Fry remaining beans in same manner.
Serve beans with dipping sauce and enjoy!
P.S.-I’ve served this with a hot & sweet mustard for dip
And it was very good!
Makes 6 (hors d’oeuvre) servings.
A little history about Tempura, it was introduced to Japan in the mid-sixteenth century by early Portuguese visitors. The word tempura may be derived from the Portuguese noun tempero, meaning a condiment or seasoning, or from the verb temperar, meaning "to season". Theree is still today a dish in Portugal very similar to tempura called peixinhos da horta, "garden fishies". An alternate explanation for the word is that it is derived from "Tempora", a Latin word used by either Spanish or Portuguese missionaries to refer to the Lenten period where they could not eat meat.
Monday, January 14, 2008
½ day 20 min prep
1 lb halibut or sea bass fillets (or use a mixture of fish and shrimp)
5-6 limes (Enough Juice to cover fish) 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
1 red bell pepper, chopped
5 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped (or more to suit your taste)
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 dash hot sauce lettuce leaves (to line serving bowls)
Dice the fish (approximately 1/2-inch dice if using shrimp use cleaned shrimp).
Marinate fish in the lime juice in the fridge overnight (this step cooks the fish).
Pour off most of the lime juice (just leave it moist).
Add remaining ingredients except lettuce, avocado and olive. Do this preferably a few hours before serving & refrigerate.
Toss well and arrange in individual serving bowls (I used chinese spoons to serve the ceviche in, since my servers were passing this as an appetizer) that are lined with the lettuce leaves.
If you wish garnish with sliced avocado and sliced black olives.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
By the way, if you are not on my mailing list please let me know and you will get a great recipe card about 3 to 4 times a year
Pumpkin Waffles- makes 12 (4-inch) waffles
2 ½ Cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed Light Brown Sugar
2 ¼ tsp. Baking Powder
½ tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking Soda
2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp. Ground Ginger
¼ tsp. Ground Cloves
4 Large Eggs
1 cup Whole Milk
1 cup well-shaken Buttermilk
1 cup Canned solid-pack pumpkin
¾ stick Unsalted Butter,
melted Veggie Oil for brushing waffle iron
Preheat waffle iron, if you don’t have a waffle iron- make pancakes. Sift together flour, brown sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices. Whisk eggs, milk, buttermilk, pumpkin, and butter until smooth. Whisk in dry ingredients just until smooth. Brush waffle iron lightly with oil and spoon batter into waffle iron, spreading quickly. (about 2 cups for 4-inch Belgian waffle iron)Transfer waffles to warm oven. Serve with Maple Syrup and crumbled candied pecans!!!
Soup: Coconut Pumpkin Bisque with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Creme Fraiche
Salad: Baby Greens, Persimmons, Pomegranate seeds, Candied Walnuts, Sharp Cheddar, Pear Dijon Vinaigrette
Entrée: Roasted Pork Loin with Blackberry Sauce
Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding
Dessert: Chocolate Crème Brulee