Catering by Linda

Archive for the ‘appetizers’ Category

A Caper Caper

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Ready for a little quiz?

Capers are:

b) usually pickleda) edible flower buds

c) delicious

d) commonly avoided at all costs because many people think they are fish eggs

e) all of the above

Drum roll, please!  The correct answer is “e”!

Capers are a funny food. They aren’t humorous/”ha-ha” funny, but funny in that people either love them or hate them. I had three catering events this weekend, and two of them had menus that involved recipes that used capers. One host asked me to put them on the side because she doesn’t like them and wasn’t sure if her guests did either, and the other host asked me to “bring ’em on!” Capers are like cilantro, olives, and mushrooms; some people flick them off in contempt, while others hope that the haters will flick them onto their plates.

Capers are the flower buds of the caper bush, and they are most commonly pickled, which accounts for why they are so deliciously salty. They are commonly found atop bagels with lox, fish, pork, and chicken, and in pasta sauces, tartar sauce and relishes, and caponata.

My favorite combination is salmon and capers. I make a simple, low-cal salmon dish that is easily duplicated: Place salmon fillet on a large piece of foil. You can wrap each portion separately, or wrap a whole side at a time. Drizzle olive oil and marsala wine lightly, sprinkle dill and/or rosemary, salt and pepper, add some slices of lemon, and toss on some capers. Wrap the fish in the foil with good “seams” so that the steam won’t escape, and bake in the oven (on a cookie sheet) for 15-20 minutes at 400°. (Plan 15 minutes for individual portions and 20 minutes for a whole side of salmon). When it’s done, open the foil carefully, and enjoy!

And because I am addicted to capers, I also toss extra capers onto chicken piccata, and make a mayonnaise-caper-mustard combination that tastes great on deli sandwiches. To try it at home, mix mayo, a dab of Dijon mustard, sliced green onions, a few drops of lemon juice, and capers in a bowl and allow the flavors to marry (if you can be patient) or use right away (if you are hungry and/or impatient). My whole family loves this mayonnaise with roast beef, in particular.

In this post is a picture of one of the items on my catering menu: Smoked Salmon Pizza. It is a favorite of many, and a great way to enjoy smoked salmon and get your fill of capers. The crunchy, salty burst of flavor livens up any dish, and is sure to be a great conversation starter next time you are at brunch and ask the other guests if they know where capers come from…

Posted in "the biz", appetizers, recipes and meal ideas, tips | 1 Comment »

Winter “Bites”

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

At the start of the Winter season, I get excited about all the Winter comfort foods, and we spend about a month revisiting Beef Stew, Chicken Casseroles, Italian Wedding Soup, and Meatloaf.  When the excitement of visiting “old friends” dies down, but sometime before Spring arrives with its fresh Asparagus and Rack of Lamb, we are in dire need of flavorful, fun, and different foods, and that is when I get creative.  It is almost as if, since daylight is shorter-lasting, I need something yummy to wake up my tastebuds!  I start becoming more adventuresome with my salads, tossing mixed greens with nuts, berries, cheeses, and using a flavored vinegar and oil.  I layer the previous night’s leftover chicken or beef with a fun spread of Harry and David’s bruschetta, or Fruit Topping for Cheese (you know– the jar of topping that came in that Christmas basket of goodies from your sister-in-law?), and make paninis to go with the soup!  If you don’t have a panini maker, treat yourself to one!  They make every sandwich combination something yummy and gooey on the inside, and crunchy and buttery on the outside!  And I love making appetizers for parties, such as the ones below.  Figs wrapped in Prosciutto, then layered with Gorgonzola and a Walnut, all skewered together in one salty, sweet, creamy, and crunchy bite with a frilled toothpick.  Talk about chasing those Winter blues off your plate!

Posted in appetizers, seasonal foods | No Comments »

Making the Most of Harvest!

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

I love when the seasons change and new colors appear on leaves and in the produce departments.  Summer Salads give way to Beef Stew, and Strawberry Shortcakes yield to Pear and Apple Crisps.  By the time the nights get cool, I am already craving crisp, fresh apples, straight from the orchard.  I purchased a bushel of “seconds” from a local orchard for $10, and half of them were prime enough to eat right away!  The other half have been made into apple bread, apple pie, and applesauce.

Fresh pears are another extravagance of Fall.  We all love eating them as Mother Nature intended, and the subtle flavor and inherent sweetness lend themselves to a variety of alterations.  A new favorite recipe calls for caramelizing the pears and serving them on a crostini with some brie cheese– fruit and cheese are a classic combo!  Another favorite makes a “pear canoe” using endive lettuce, a slice of pear, and a mixture of cream cheese and gorgonzola, and a walnut or pecan for the finishing touch.  The sweet pear, crunchy endive, and creamy gorgonzola mixture provides flavor that pops as a satisfying appetizer, or these tasty morsels can be paired (pun intended) with a soup and some biscuits on a cool night.

What are your favorite Fall recipes?

Posted in appetizers, tips | 1 Comment »

Sushi Night!

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Home-made sushi! We were all having a craving...

Jack has been craving sushi recently. When the warm weather comes, the kids always ask for something “cold” for dinner.  Not wanting them to eat ice cream for dinner EVERY night, we have sushi a few times during the Summer months.  Usually one of the kids is available to help me make it.  Today, Natalie helped out.  Perhaps you can tell by the way the plates are decorated by the fake grass?  We made the sticky rice, put our favorite fillings in side, and even personalized a few with spicy sauce for me.  Some had crab, some had shrimp tempura, and some were strictly veggie.  ALL had avocado.  YUM!

Sushi is not hard to make, and like baking bread or making your sauce, it is a great way to take your mind off the stresses of daily life, and just enjoy the process of making great food.  I buy most of my ingredients (sushi rice, nori, panko bread crumbs, and toasted sesame seeds) at A Dong on New Britain Ave, but you can certainly find these items in the international section of most larger supermarkets.  The “art” of sushi-making is traditionally shared between friends, where one friend shows another how to make it, and provides that friend with the equipment to continue the tradition herself.  If any of you want to stop by and learn how to make sushi, just give me a head’s up on a hot Summer’s night.  And if you’re lucky, I will share my spicy sauce with you.

Posted in appetizers, close to my heart(h), cool markets, recipes and meal ideas, tips | 1 Comment »

Introducing Authentic German Pretzels!

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

My friend Uwe has spent years perfecting the recipe and method by which he makes the most awesome pretzels.  Uwe is German, and some of his research has taken place in Germany, where he tasted pretzels all over the country, while talking to bread and pretzel bakers about their ingredients and techniques.  More research took place on the weekends, when he spent his free time making dough, kneading, forming, freezing, thawing, rising, and taste-testing the pretzels until he reached perfection.  (And I was so happy to be part of the taste-testing crew at a most recent Octoberfest party at Uwe’s house).  Uwe’s pretzels are both tasty and beautiful, and I am honored to have them be a part of my catering menu.  These authentic, Bavarian pretzels are delicious on their own, and are served with both a savory butter, in the German tradition, and with mustard, in the American tradition.  They are also amazing when they are stuffed with cheeses and meats!  Consider having Uwe make you a batch for your next shin-dig.  And then invite me over.  :)

Posted in "the biz", appetizers, close to my heart(h), holidays, recipes and meal ideas | 2 Comments »

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