We had a very busy week -- a great start to July. First, a party for 25 people last Friday at a client's home, then a wedding for 200 on Saturday at the UW Horticultural Center, a cooking class for 20 on Wednesday at Dish It Up in Ballard and yesterday I helped Gluten-Free Girl Shauna Ahern with a farm-to-table dinner at Dog Mountain Farm. Shauna's husband, Dan (aka Gluten-Free Chef), and I worked together in Colorado.
We had to shop for the wedding and party earlier in the week filling the freezer and new fridge with product. I made a few trips to Delaurenti at Pike Place Market for salumi and some specialty items. It's funny how chatty people get when they see you two or three days in a row spending pretty good amounts of cash. My friends at Don and Joe's Meats and Frank's Produce also had a huge hand in getting me the best meats and highest quality produce to make both events come off without a hitch. Mark M. from Merlino Foods was also key in getting me large restaurant-volume items like pasta sheets and bulk Italian sausage for meatballs and bolognese sauce for the multiple lasagnas for the wedding.
Friday night's event was a birthday party for a new client. She found us on the Internet which is nice to see our website working for us. She had emailed us the week before and we worked out a menu that seemed to work for her. I gathered my products and headed to her house, and what a great kitchen! I have a little shoebox of a kitchen at home. This was a luxury liner of a kitchen. We chatted as I worked. I worked for a few hours putting together the food:
- Dork (duck and pork) meatballs in smoked paprika tomato sauce
- Tortilla espagnole with chorizo and a nut-free romesco sauce
- Peppadew peppers stuffed with herbed cheese
- Goat cheese and caramelized onion crostini topped with prosciutto
- Roasted sherry mushrooms with peppered feta
- Dijon and balsamic chicken skewers with caper and parsley aioli
- Smoked paprika and toasted cumin chicken skewers
- Heirloom tomato caprese bruschetta
- Chipotle and goat cheese deviled eggs
- Green salad with marinated garbanzo beans, provolone, red peppers and salami with a red wine dijon vinaigrette
Everyone seemed really happy with the food. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the camera. I need to write myself notes or something, because I just can't seem to remember to bring it.
Saturday's wedding for nearly 200 guests was another story. I have to give Lydia (my wife), Kay and Maria a heartfelt "thank you." I couldn't have done it without them. I worked with Kay at Vito's and she brought Maria along to help as well. I was a basket case prior to the event. I get a little wound up as it is but when it's this big I was probably more like a tyrant. Lydia laughed a bit after I was in the kitchen and the girls and I started cooking. She said I calmed right down and was focused. I replied, "I get so worked up when things are out of my control like the traffic getting here, but once I'm in the kitchen, things are how and what I want them to be so I calm right down."
For the wedding, we created a menu that represented the backgrounds of both the groom (Italian) and the bride (Brazilian):
- 11 pans of lasagna
- 600 meatballs
- Fruit, cheese and salumi plates with rustic bread
- 15 pounds of feijoada (a traditional Brazilian dish)
- 10 pounds of collard greens
- 10 pounds of steamed rice
- Garlic bread
- An overabundance of green salad with beets and feta
Roughly 200 people, 10 hours of work with three people in the kitchen and Lydia, mistress of the buffet line and keeper of all beverages non-alcoholic. The groom and his mother gave us some really nice compliments on the food. A quote from the groom, "I would make my grandmother turn in her grave if I ever proclaimed anyone's meatballs to be better than hers, but I will say Patrick's were a very, VERY, close second!" All in all, it was a great day. When it was over we loaded up the dirty pots and pans and drug our very tired butts back home.
I couldn't be prouder of our little catering company, my wife and the friends who come to help from time to time.
Some of the leftover lasagnas from the wedding made it to Lydia's work since the groom is a co-worker of hers, and we had a couple people ask about the recipe, so here it is. The secret: bechamel. It makes for a very creamy filling.
For this lasagna, you need to adjust the amounts for whatever size pan you are going to use so I'm just going to give you a list of ingredients and how to put it together.
- Your favorite marinara sauce
- Pasta sheets/lasagna noodles (no boil or pre-cooked)
- Ricotta cheese
- Shredded mozzarella
- Cooked Italian sausage, crumbled
- Cooked ground beef, crumbled
- Dried basil
- Dried thyme
- Garlic powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4# butter
- 1/4# all-purpose flour
- 1 quart milk
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter in large sauce pan over medium heat. When butter is melted and frothy, add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add flour and whisk it in. When flour has absorbed all butter and is a thick mass, add milk and whisk. Reduce heat to low. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and continue to stir until thickened. Cool completely.
To assemble lasagna, start by combining two eggs per pound of ricotta cheese. Then add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon each of dried thyme and basil per pound of ricotta. In the bottom of your baking dish, put one ladle of marinara sauce, enough to cover the bottom of the pan in a thin layer. Follow this by a layer of pasta, covering entire area of pan. Add crumbled meats, another ladle of marinara, and mozzarella, all covering entire area of pan. Start the next layer with pasta, then a thin layer of bechamel, another layer of pasta, then a layer of ricotta. Follow this by another layer of pasta, more meat, marinara and mozzarella. You can either stop there or repeat the entire process again. Bake the lasagna at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden, brown and delicious.
Next time...a wrap-up of the class at Dish It Up and the dinner at Dog Mountain Farm