Tag Archives: parmesan

Family Catering

Croque-en-Bouches with Mixed Berry and Crème de Cassis Sundae

A couple months ago, my mom told me that she had offered to cater a party for my grandma as a birthday gift and that I was invited to be her catering partner. The catering “service” would include brainstorming, preparing, plating, and serving a five-course, gourmet menu to eight hungry and self-claimed foodie guests. I was 100% on board.

So as soon as I got back home from my end-of-the-spring-semester activities, my mom and I started to prepare for the event. We worked on developing a few dish ideas by looking through all of our recipes from books, Word documents, online bookmarked pages, and collaged cutouts from magazines. We discussed and debated, and about a zillion ideas later, finally put them together into a cohesive and appetizing menu. A shopping list was written and a few days before D-day we began the incredibly long (and tiring) process that was the cooking.

However much time and energy it might have taken, the final result was well worth the effort that it took to develop the menu and then make it a reality—with a few exceptions of course. The gazpacho and avocado mousse with two Parmesan crisps was a much-enjoyed appetizer, but the tomato and avocado lollipops served alongside it, for example, were more of a failed experiment in molecular gastronomy than anything else. Visually, they were perfect, but their rubbery texture and imbalance between the flavorless avocado and acidic tomato was definitely a turnoff. At least we had the delicious and popular pancetta-wrapped fig skewers (stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with honey) and grilled eggplant dip served with rosemary flat bread to wash it down. Not to mention the paired rosé, whites, and port that my dad served throughout the meal.

Eggplant and Pepper Dip

Food successes and failures aside, the best part about this catering event was, oddly enough, everything but the taste of the food. I loved watching people decipher the menus we’d printed out when we brought out the mini croque-en-bouches and mixed berry sundaes, or listen to the “oohs” and “ahs” and diplomatic “very interestings” in reaction to tasty or not-so-great dishes. It was a time- and energy-consuming endeavor, and I am so glad that everything turned out well (or almost). But more so than that, it was amazing to experience the meal coming together and to then present and share it with my grandma and her closest friends and relatives.


Are you chicken?

Amanda takes the dive and nervously makes chicken parmigiana but is pleasantly surprised.  Spoiler alert, there’s a vegetarian option at the end.

So, here’s the deal: before this summer, I had never cooked meat on my own.  Sure, I had watched my mom marinate steaks or seen her flattening chicken.  Of course, I’m still scarred aware of the memories of Thanksgiving turkey and the treacherous caverns of the beast.  However, without a dining hall or my family to supply me with a creative diversity of food, I knew I was going to have to venture past pasta and grilled cheese at some point.  I flipped through my mental memories of simple meat recipes.  After a few minutes, it was settled.  TARGET ACQUIRED: chicken parmigiana.

At this point, I’ve made it on the other side.  I ventured into the unknown.  I vanquished my fears.  I forded the metaphorical rivers from Oregon Trail and didn’t lose any supplies from my saratoga wagon.  I cooked chicken.  And as far as I can tell, I don’t have salmonella.  To top it off, my food actually tasted pretty good.  I’d call this a success.  I was so excited that I texted my mom with several exclamation marks explaining that this was a grown up step for me.  My fellow Culinarians are far more adventurous cooks than I, and they have an incredible talent for constructing elegant and complicated dishes.  But this post is a shout out to the college cook, the ramen masters, the hey-I-could-eat-cereal-for-every-meal!-ers…you can totally make this dish.  For the record, everything below is available at Morton Williams so if you’re in New York, don’t be afraid!

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