Catering by Linda

Archive for the ‘“the biz”’ Category

Layering Depth of Flavor

Friday, January 19th, 2018

Layers of frozen beef broth are at the ready!

Layers of frozen beef broth are at the ready!

You may have heard the term “one note” on your favorite cooking show. The term refers to foods that have one flavor that masks all the other flavors in that dish. Building a “well-rounded” dish that contains equal and various flavors is an art! Recently, a friend and I went to Flora, in West Hartford’s Center (, for drinks, and I ordered their smoothie called “Pineapple.” It was purported to contain pineapple, cream of coconut, banana, lime, and mint, so when the drink came, I took multiple sips and tried to identify each ingredient, even though it was blended with the others. I felt like I was a judge on “Master Chef” and it made me think about the fabulous Thai Chicken & Rice Noodle soup I am making for my annual soup swap as it builds on flavors, too: ginger, curry, coconut, brown sugar, turmeric, lime. All contributing to an amazing broth in its own subtle way, none overpowering another. Layering those flavor profiles causes a depth and complexity of flavor that keeps a foodie coming back for more, and is the reason behind my dedication to the idea of saving beef pan drippings for use in soups and stews. When I roast a tenderloin, for instance, the drippings aren’t needed for gravy, so I cool the drippings– full of the herbs and seasonings I used in the rub– and pour them into a dedicated Tupperware container I keep in the freezer, and anytime I make a beef soup or beef stew, I have a “mountain” of layered drippings, ready to lend nuances of rosemary, garlic, and thyme to whatever I am making. Last week when I made beef and barley soup during the snowstorm, I just popped these babies, frozen, right in the crockpot!

Posted in "the biz", close to my heart(h), recipes and meal ideas, seasonal foods, tips | 1 Comment »

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 »

Love People. Cook them tasty food.

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

“Love People. Cook them tasty food.”  It’s Penzey’s Spices motto, and a message by which I abide so whole-heartedly, that I bought the magnet to put on my van! I have always showered friends and family with food. When Bill and I first met, I surprised him with home-made cookies, invited him to my house for cook-outs, and even made him a two-pound loaf of pate (long story). It took a few years for Bill to understand that cooking people tasty food is one of the ways I show I care. He wasn’t raised with that same connection, but since then, he has hopped on board. In this picture, Troy of co:lab, is showing his enthusiasm for the lunch I brought him and his co-workers in thanks for the great work on my website; in fact, now that I think about it, co:lab always scheduled our meetings right around lunchtime. Foodie gestures never go unappreciated. One of our friends admitted she had her 3rd, 4th, and 5th baby just so I would bring her dinner.

I believe in showering the people I know with good food to delight, nourish, and honor them. I believe that cooking with love and care makes the food taste better. I believe that the time and mood has to be just right to make a soufflé rise or a sauce come together. When the kids were young, I created the rule that there is no arguing or angst in the kitchen, and since then, I haven’t burned a single cookie or pie.

I recently catered an Open House for someone I had only met once, and in her thank you note to me, she wrote, “I think what I liked most was that although it was a business arrangement, you made me feel like a friend.”

Cooking for people I care about– friends, family, clients– it’s what I like to do.

Posted in "the biz", close to my heart(h) | 5 Comments »

Bringing in the New Year with Poached Pears

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Happy New Year!  Our family brought in the new year with great friends and a fabulous dessert that won raves!  (Look for it on my catering menu!)  For the little work that they took, these pears produced a huge “wow factor.”  The pears were brilliant red and had white mascarpone filling peeking through below the top/stem.  They were yummy, comforting, and fancy all at the same time, and I loved how I could make them in advance.  Do-ahead recipes allow hosts to spend more time with family and friends and less time in the kitchen.  This recipe fits the bill, as the pears are best when they are poached a day ahead and left to absorb the sauce overnight.  The day of the party, you can core the pears, pipe in the filling, and plate for service later.  No fuss, no muss, and lots of guests saying, “Wow!  Mmmm!  Can I have the recipe?”  Well, thanks for asking, and yes, you can: Poached Pears.

Posted in "the biz", desserts, holidays, recipes and meal ideas, tips | No Comments »

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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