I promised to reveal the  name of my fictional catering company, so here she is:

Logo and tagline for my fictional catering company

I don’t have any fancy schmancy illustration software, so that’s why it looks so crummy.  The colors are actually much nicer than they appear, and the tagline, because you probably can’t read it says, “Garden fresh gourmet cuisine for all of your entertainment needs.”  It’s also supposed to be on 1 line, but like I said, I have limited tools to work with, so this is the best you’re going to get on my blog.

Here’s the description, still a draft:

Fresh Harvest Catering aims to create memorable experiences for events and parties serving up to 50 guests. Our menus are tailored specifically to our clients’ needs.  Our company embraces green and sustainable entertaining and agricultural practices. We source 95% of our ingredients from local and/or organic farmers and artisanal suppliers in Wisconsin and Illinois, and we use high quality recycled products in our business. We let the ingredients be the star of the show with our focus on simply prepared, beautiful and delicious food. We can create the perfect experience for our clients and their guests, whether it’s a fun and casual backyard barbeque, a whimsical birthday party for a friend, a glamorous holiday cocktail party, or an elegant fundraising reception.

This is all a work in progress. The tagline might change slightly, and I plan to tighten up the description as well as my bio, but I landed on something that is pretty close to what feels right to me.

Not that it matters, because honestly, the more I read and learn about running a catering business, the less interested I am in doing it.

Holy helluva a lot of work!

Naming the company and coming up with a concept is  just one tiny part of the project that we have to do.  In addition, I must put together a proposal for an event with 50 guests. That includes a cover letter, a budget, a menu, and even financial statements.

There’s a fall event around here called the Tour de Farms, which was conceived by local chef Dave Swanson through his company Braise RSA. It’s a bike tour, during which participants bike to different farms, meet the farmers, get a taste of the harvest, and end the day with a meal featuring local foods.

I’m going to borrow the concept for my project, and cater the post-ride party for participants. I think it will be the perfect party.

If you have any suggestions for dishes, please share!

Holy Mole!

Last week in my Cuisines of Mexico class, we got to tackle mole.  I was surprised that Chef Carlos wanted us to try other recipes that night too, which seemed a bit optimistic, but I shouldn’t have questioned him. We actually made several dishes that evening.

Now the mole we made wasn’t really a true mole, which has upwards of 25-30 ingredients. This one was a “quickie” mole. Why do I put  “quickie” in quotes? Because this still ain’t a midweek meal project. It required several steps, but it’s a great starter recipe that yielded a really tasty sauce.

Quickie Mole Poblano

If you’re in Milwaukee, you can get all of these ingredients (and so much more!) at El Rey.

4 ancho peppers
4 mulato peppers
4 guajillo peppers
4 pasilla peppers
3 roma tomatoes
1 onion, large dice
6 garlic cloves
4 oz blanched almonds
1 sweet plantain, large dice
4 oz blanched peanuts
1 oz sesame seeds
1 slice white bread
2 tortillas
1 tablet mexican chocolate, chopped
8 oz lard (we didn’t have any in the kitchen so we used cooking oil)
Chicken stock (I go over how to make stock here)

In dry skillet, char onions, tomatoes, and garlic.  Get ’em blacker than you think they should be. You won’t regret it.

Seed, devein, and fry chiles in lard or oil in small batches. Soak fried chiles in hot water for 10-15 minutes. Puree in blender with stock until very smooth. Strain.

Fry plantain and set aside.

Fry tortillas and bread until golden brown and set aside.

Fry almonds, peanuts and sesame seeds until golden brown. (Do sesame seeds separately – they’ll go much faster than the peanuts and almonds). Set aside.

(You can do all this frying in the same skillet. No need to change out the lard or oil).

Blend plantains, tortillas, bread, nuts and seeds together with the charred tomato, onion and garlic.  Strain.

Fry chile paste over med-high heat for 5-7 minutes. Add the nut-tomato paste and fry for 20 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the mexican chocolate and about 2 quarts chicken stock.

Simmer for 2 hours. Adjust seasoning and serve over chicken. nom nom.

In addition to mole, we made arroz Mexicano, calabacitas con crema, chiles en nogada.

I really didn’t think I would like chiles en nogada, because it’s a sweeter dish, but surprisingly, I loved it.

The linked recipe is extremely close to how we made it in class, but if you want to amp it up, include these steps:

After peeling the skin off the poblanos, pickle them briefly – 15 minutes tops – before stuffing them with the filling.  It’s not a strong pickle. This is the mixture we used:

4 oz salt
4 oz brown sugar
pinch of thyme
pinch of marjoram
1 bay leaf
1/2 oz red wine vinegar

Actually, it’s more like a brine, but anyway, it just amps up the flavor of the peppers a bit.

Also, when you make the sauce, toast your walnuts before blending them.

Finally, in class we added a touch of vanilla, cinnamon, honey, and a bit of the adobo sauce from the can of chipotles in adobe.

So good.

The tragic thing about last week’s class is I forgot to take any photos!

I apologize for the wall of text today.

Next time:  Last week’s French Bistro menu and snow day projects!

Until then, Bon Appetit!