Another crisis successfully averted and triumphed over

victoria —  December 4, 2006 — 1 Comment

A thing I have learned over the weekend: when one has a big catering gig, one should hope that one’s child does not become ill and that one’s husband does not have his wisdom teeth out and is therefore drugged loopy.

Despite the severe reduction in the time I had to prepare for the party it seemed to be a smashing success. I did about four days worth of work in about 20 hours with some help from J.C. (meaning my catering business partner, not the Big Guy upstairs, though assistance from any quarter would have been taken gladly). We managed to throw down some seriously beautiful and tasty food.

The menu for the Tapas party was:

Smoked paprika cocktail almonds
Potato tortilla (Spanish omelet)
Serrano ham and wild mushroom barquetas
Baccal (salt cod spread) with toasts
Chopped salad cups w/ sherry vinaigrette
Gazpacho blanco shooters
Three cheese Spanish cheese board with Manchego, Idiazabal, and Spanish Drunken Goat with two types of figs, roasted red peppers, water crackers, Marcona almonds, and membrillo (that I made, go me)
Basque-style pork tenderloin with yeast biscuits and saffron aoli (also made by me)
Madeira cake with sherried whipped cream and candied orange peel
Crme Brule Trio: coffee, pomegranate and vanilla bean

Friday was a mad dash of doing everything I could do not on the day of. J.C. picked up the pork tenderloins and brined them. I didn’t even get started until 1:00 because I was at the oral surgeons with Keifel that morning and then Jules had to go get a strep test because he couldn’t swallow his own spit. I got home, got them cozy and got to work. I knocked out the candied orange peel, membrillo, almonds, vinaigrette, cake, crme part of the crme brule and something else (my memory is a little fuzzy from the way-too-much-coffee delirium).

Saturday, I got up at 5:30-6ish and chopped all the veg for the chopped salad. Then I went to school and taught for four hours. Back to the grind until right up to the second we had to leave. I was still searing off the tenderloins as J.C., Keifel and the Jules (now, thankfully, healthier) were loading out.

We got there, hauled all the gear up the outdoor deck stairs and had everything plated about 10 minutes late. Again, thankfully, the guests arrived 15 to 20 minutes late. J.C. cleared the glass racks out of the kitchen and we went into full production mode. It took everyone a while to actually dig in. They kept saying the food was too pretty to eat. Thank you, but eat it while it is at the temperature at which it is supposed to be eaten!

We did have a lot of leftovers, which I think made our hosts very happy. I think they may have thought we wouldn’t have enough food. We actually had leftovers for days, especially of the baccala. I think people didn’t exactly know what to do with that. It was pretty powerful taste-wise: potato base with salt cod, truffle oil and mustard. The truffle oil really put it over the top into gastronomic delight but I think it was a bit much for non-adventurous eaters. I also burned the second tray of toasts because I couldn’t hear the timer go off in the din. I called Keifel and he and Jules went to three different places to find baguettes. The ones they found were a range of hard as bloody rocks to just stale enough to toast well. Jules said he thought the Nashville Baguette War must have broken out and all the supplies were commandeered. It’s a shame they missed the stash he and Keifel found as a few of those were hard enough to inflict some pretty bloody wounds.

We sent out desserts around 8 and the crme brules were descended upon. I think it took people awhile to figure out that there were three different flavors. We probably should’ve labelled them more clearly, but I thought that placing the coffee ones on a bed of coffee beans, placing a cracked-open pomegranate on the pomegranate ones and leaving the vanilla tray plain (wish I’d had some edible orchids) was a clear signal. I say, “Don’t overestimate the deduction power of hungry people with a few drinks in them”: hence, our new motto.

Everything wrapped about ten and I was home by 11. The things I heard about the most were the shooters (the recipe follows) and the crme brules. I think the coffee and the pomegranate were a big hit and almost every person on the planet loves vanilla. The baccala and the Madeira cake seem to have been the losers. Those were the two things I was most excited about, so that was kind of a bummer. The cake was perfectly light and slightly but not too lemony, the sherried whipped cream was good enough to bathe in and my little baby pieces of candied orange peel had a perfect sugary gloss. J.C. cut the cake into tiny squares (1″) and placed them in those teeny sliver baking cups. I topped them with a perfect little star of whipped cream and planted the candied orange peel like a proud battle flag. Oh well, I’ve been enjoying the leftover cake with coffee and I left another large chunk of cake with the whipped cream for the hosts.

When I got home my feet felt like bloody stumps and my back was on fire, but I was also elated in the overall reception of the food, that we had gotten paid promptly and that the hosts had both hugged us good night and said it was the best food they had ever had at one of their office parties. Yay, us! (I’ll try not to dislocate my shoulder too badly whilst patting myself on the back.)

It was a hit, but it did remind me again why I prefer doing the drop-off food and dinner parties so much more than the big cocktail/apps parties.

Gazpacho Blanco
Serves 4-6 as a main soup, 8-12 as a tapa

1 pound seedless grapes
3 medium cucumbers, peeled and seeded
1 shallot, chopped fine
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 cups plain yoghurt, low or non-fat is fine, but full-test with cream top is delightful
teaspoon salt
teaspoon white pepper
Sliced grapes and toasted sliced almonds, for garnish

1. Puree grapes in the blender or food processor and strain out skins. Return juice to the blender.
2. Add remaining ingredients, except garnishes and puree until smooth but not watery. Chill until ready to serve.
3. To serve, pour gazpacho into shot glasses or similar small bowl or glasses and garnish with sliced grapes and almonds (though I would skip the almonds for shooters as they are a little harder to drink and you don’t want your guests to aspirate a big slice of nut).



One response to Another crisis successfully averted and triumphed over

  1. You certainly overcame and averted a crisis. Love reading your blog. I certainly hope all have recovered including Julian and Keifel.

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