Monday, June 8, 2015

Where’d They Go...?

If you’re looking for newer posts from Foodisima, check us out at our new location. We’re still serving up the same great stuff, just at a classier location.

Join us please.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Simplicity Rules

Right now, as is the case every year, I am gearing up for a busy wedding season. Part of this is spending quiet moments in the kitchen, trying out new things either because some technique or ingredient has piqued my interest, or because a wedding couple has requested something particular that I want to get just right. And it’s an easy thing sometimes to get into that room and get all caught up in technique or tradition or some multi-staged process and forget that, in many cases, food is at it’s very best when we keep things simple and beautiful. And when we reach carefully for the place that brings food to its most pure and essential: to being the best that it can be.

The dish illustrated here is such a good example. I prepared it for a small wedding about a year ago. And this is a dish so simple, it just about makes itself. In this case, the pasta is handmade, of course. But you could do this yourself at home with store bought pasta without much loss of flavor.

The technique here needs no explanation, really. A shallot, some garlic, some butter, some wine. Black pepper. Chopped parsley. Live mussels and a large pot with a lid. Perhaps five minutes until everyone is open.

The mussels are steamed, then removed so the sauce can be reduced. Some of that is tossed through perfectly cooked pasta. Which is then plated. More sauce. Carefully placed mussels. In this case it was the second course of a plated winter wedding dinner. At home, though, even after a busy day at work, add a baguette and maybe a salad and you’ve made a beautiful, nutritious and even elegant dinner for yourself or your family. And with almost no work at all!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Recipe: Beurre Composé = Elevate!

When it comes to catering, one of the Foodisima go-to words is “elevate.” It’s at the heart of everything we do. The idea: create this thing beautifully, perfectly, simply and it’s wonderful. But now what can we add that will elevate it to the next level? And that which elevates can be quite simple. A classic: smoked salmon on toast rounds smeared with cream cheese. Lovely. Now hit it with capers and thinly sliced red onion and it’s a canape. It has been elevated very simply.

Composed butter is like that, too. The bread we serve at our caterings is already very special. House-made, there is always a vegetable ingredient -- sometimes spinach, sometimes potato, sometimes olive, sometimes nettle -- even in our gluten-free breads. We believe this vegetable element adds freshness to the loaf. This is undocumented but it has been our experience and so we always do it for catering. (The bread stays fresher longer. Beautiful! Also, it’s a pretty good example of something simple elevated.)

And what is a bigger treat than bread with lovely butter? And here you see another of our classic elevations. Though sometimes plain butter is available, most of what is on offer at an event catered by Foodisima is composed. Beurre Composé for that extra little something -- the surprise in the mouth -- that composed butter offers.

You can -- and we have! -- make Beurre Composé with any number of ingredients. The addition of Chanterelle Mushrooms produces a butter with a warm, earthy flavor and a golden glow. Curry, mustard, marjoram, dill, rosemary, tarragon, paprika, capers, chives, curry powder, shallot, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, anchovies or almost whatever you imagine can be added to butter to produce an interesting spread or topping for meat or fish. When making a compound butter, think of what the resulting spread is intended for. The compound butter you make to melt on a steak might be different than what will be spread on bread.

After many years, Foodisima has a signature Beurre Composé that never fails to delight the hundreds of people we feed each wedding season. We begin with high quality butter, then add fresh parsley and lemon zest. This is a very simple composed butter that people just adore. Something about the bright flavor of the lemon, the fresh flavor of the parsley and the rich fattiness of the butter that, for us and many of our customers, provides the perfect balance.

After all of this discussion, you will find Beurre Composé almost distressingly easy to make. Easiest of all with a food processor, but you can mix the ingredients in by hand if you must.

Foodisma’s Classic Beurre Composé
1 pound highest quality butter
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons parsley, trimmed and ready for chopping
1 tablespoon lemon zest (the zest of one large lemon)
With the chopping blade in place, add olive oil, parsley and lemon zest to the food processor bowl. Process until blended.

Roughly cut butter into chunks and add the chunks to the ingredients in the food processor. Process for several minutes, until the butter lightens and changes color. Scrape butter from bowl and place on parchment paper or cling wrap, to be formed into logs and either refrigerated or frozen. Alternately, spoon into ramekins or small canning jars (as shown) for easy transporting and serving.

For table service, the logs can be cut into discs for an elegant presentation. For the buffet table, we prefer low wide-mouth canning jars with the lid off but the ring back on for a rustic but elegant look.

Chill at least two hours before serving. The butter will last easily for two weeks in the refrigerator.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Foodisima’s Favorite Rasin Scones

This is one of the most requested of all of my recipes. Though, in fairness, it’s one of those I make most often.

Many yoga and other types of retreats have enjoyed these bad boys. I’ve served them at wedding brunches and afternoon teas. And when friends stay over, I inevitably put together a batch of these for breakfast. At this point, I’ve done them so often they practically make themselves.

The instructions below call for a food processor. If you don’t have one, you can go old school and use a pastry cutter, blending the butter and dry ingredients by hand until the mixture looks like small peas.

Want to do a vegan version? Replace the milk or buttermilk with coconut milk and the butter with a vegan margarine like Earth Balance and -- voila! -- vegan scones.

Raisin Scones
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups all purpose or unbleached flour
1/2 cup COLD butter, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 scant cup buttermilk OR 2/3 cup milk and 1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoon lemon zest or zested ginger
Sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Place salt, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, flour and butter in the food processor. Pulse briefly as many times as necessary until the butter is incorporated. Ideally it will look like peas in snow, but most modern food processors are so powerful, you go straight to the snow stage. In any case, you want to work with the dough as little as possible to avoid toughness.

Transfer dry ingredients to a mixing bowl. Add raisins, lemon or ginger (if using) and the milk or buttermilk. Using a spatula, stir gently, just until the ingredients are mixed. The dough will be slightly sticky. If the dough seems too wet, add another tablespoon of flour and give it one more stir.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead gently, just until it’s well enough incorporated to form into a large ball. Keep in mind that the less you handle the dough, the more tender the scones will be. Flatten the ball until you have a rough circle, about one inch thick. Cut, pie-style, for eight equal triangular-shaped pieces. Place on a parchment-covered baking sheet and sprinkle each piece with the reserved sugar.

Bake in a preheated over for 20 minutes, or until the scones are golden brown.

Serve with butter or your favorite jams and jellies though they’re also pretty great on their own.

Makes eight scones.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Cookbooks: The Deerholme Mushroom Book from Foraging to Feasting by Bill Jones

There are as many books about mushrooms as there are, well… mushrooms. And like those mushrooms, some are just more collectible and digestible than others.

My own collection of mushroom books -- field guides and cookbooks -- is pretty respectable. I love edible mushrooms and I love learning about them, thus feel I can state with some authority that, when it comes to cooking with mushrooms, The Deerholme Mushroom Book (Touchwood) is better than the best of them: a golden chanterelle in a forest of slippery jacks.

The Deerholme Mushroom Book is nearly the whole package. Author/chef Bill Jones has brought together his experience as an food writer, his expertise as a chef and his passion for wild mushrooms and foraging into one absolutely terrific book. The book bills itself as “every chef’s essential guide to edible mushrooms,” and that encapsulates it pretty well.

No chef who loves mushrooms -- from amateur to professional -- will not find something to make their eyes widen here someplace. When it comes to cooking with both wild and cultivated mushrooms, Jones has covered all the bases from a variety of stocks, through pantry basics (the Porcini Gnocchi slayed me here and the mushroom compound butters may alter my entertaining table forever).

Tapas, Mezes or Pickles, anyone? The Mushroom Hummus was unlike any other and the Mushroom Ketchup might change your mind about that condiment. I was a little disappointed in the section on Pates and Charcuterie only because it didn’t include more vegetarian recipes (though that’s true of the book overall). Even though I’m not a vegetarian, a book so good about cooking lovely, meaty mushrooms could have serviced the vegetarian segment somewhat more effectively. That said, the Beef, Chanterelle and Cheese Curd Terrine is beyond belief and the Mushroom Pate is a very solid vegetarian option.

There are very good and complete sections for all parts of the meal, from breads and flatbreads through appetizers and starters, a chapter on side dishes (though I’d enjoy any of these sides as a main!) rice, grains and beans; soups and chowders, salads, seafood; Sauces; Meat an Poultry; and -- yes -- even Desserts and Beverages. Though, to be very honest, I wasn’t very tempted by the Candied Chanterelle Panna Cotta or (especially!) the Caramelized Mushroom Ginger Upside-Down Cake. (Though the Chocolate Truffles made with actual truffles is something I might try if I ever have an abundance of truffles.)

Conclusion: The Deerholme Mushroom Book is good in an epic way. I’m anticipating that a follow-up title, The Deerholme Foraging Book: Wild Foods from the Pacific Northwest, will be just as terrific.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Wedding Trends for 2013

With summer zooming at us at record speed, weddings are much on our mind. After all, we’ll be spending a lot of the summer months deeply involved in many aspects of the various weddings we’ll have the honor of catering. And of course, Foodisma’s part is always food, but -- inevitably -- we’re called upon for various matters relating to that special day.

In food trends, like a lot of caterers, this year we’re going to be doing more stand-up weddings than ever before. As a result the Foodisima test kitchen has been busy concocting new ways for wedding couples and their guests to have an elegant and satisfying wedding meal, cleverly disguised as a cocktail party.

Outside of the food, we find other trends interesting, as well. For instance, this article at iPhoto outlines visual wedding trends for this year. And from what we’re seeing with the wedding couples we’re talking to right now, this is a terrific example of current trends: the bright pastels, various threads of vintage and rustic (not necessarily together!) and perfectly executed whimesy. (Think Eloise in Paris or Dr. Seuss… with fewer hats!)

And, remember: if you’re going to be using Foodisima to cater your wedding, (this year or any other!) keep us looped in as you go through your own process of design. As much as possible, we’ll work with your colors and motif to help you create an entirely magical and memorable day.