Going back to December 11th, I had the opportunity to cater an incredible 4-course dinner party for Elizabeth Cooper-Golden and the agents of her realty group, @ Homes Realty. You know, sometimes you just sort of vibe with someone naturally and get along with them instantly, and Elizabeth is that way. From the very first phone call, I just adored her right away and couldn't wait to cater her party. She is such a giver at heart, and had all of her agents "adopt" a family for Christmas and shower them with gifts and pizza and show these less-fortunate children a great Christmas. THEN, she brought the agents to her home and showered THEM with gifts, in the form of a gourmet dinner with lots and lots of wine. :) What a fantastic woman- one who I am proud to have as a client and friend. Anyway....here are some shots of the dinner party!
The table is set, and waiting for guests. Elizabeth's daughter, Miranda, was my server for the evening!
Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with torn Prosciutto, crumbled Goat Cheese, and Champagne Vinaigrette
Berries and Blue Salad with dried Cranberries,
sweet 'n spicy Pecans, crumbled Blue Cheese,
and Honey Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette
I plated the salads with the vinaigrettes in shot glasses.
The salads are set, the candles are lit,
all we need now is the guests!
Second course: Shrimp and Cheesy Grits Tapas with crumbled Bacon, diced Tomato, slivered Scallions, sauteed Mushrooms, and a creamy Lemon Pan Sauce
Main Course: Pan-fried Chicken Breast with Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Orzo Pasta,
butter-braised Artichoke hearts, shaved Parmesan,
and a Sherry Cream Sauce
Main Course: Grilled Filet Mignon with Blue Cheese Butter, Balsamic Demi Glaze, flame-grilled Asparagus, and Garlic whipped Potatoes
Dessert Course: Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding with White Chocolate Glaze and Strawberries
Dessert Course: Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifle with Chantilly Cream, Toffee Crunch, and Caramel Tuiles
Me and the happy hostess, Elizabeth Cooper-Golden!!
Fast-forward a few days later to December 16th, and another one of my most favoritest clients, Shotsie Platt, has hired me to cater the Christmas Cocktail Party for the Community Free Clinic, at which she is the hard-working director! If you've never had the pleasure of meeting Shotsie, she is a DOLL!! She is a very hardcore runner (she was jogging on her lunch break in 28 degree weather when I came to meet with her!!) and does a lot of great things for the community. Besides that, she is one of the most pleasant and kind people I've ever had the pleasure of working with. I did a smaller cocktail party for Shotsie back in October, so I was so happy when she called and wanted me to do this large one for her employees. She picked a great menu and everybody was really happy with the food!
We set up the food in her conference room so everybody could gather around and chow down! The pictures might look kind of....cheesy...with the lights on the table and what not, but the lighting in the room (minus the camera flash!) was very charming and really looked nice.
My Mom's Cheesy Artichoke and Black Eyed Pea Dip....this stuff is ridiculous. I've already had a few phone calls from ladies either A) wanting to order this for Christmas, or B) wanting the recipe!!
Chicken and Mushroom Quesadillas with Spinach, Gruyere Cheese, and Honey Mustard
Sweet 'n Sour Meatballs!
Asiago-stuffed New Potatoes.
Everybody loves these tasty little devils.
with Cheddar and diced Tomato
Last but not least, another one of my Mom's famous recipes- Tangy Two-Week Shrimp Cocktail! It literally marinates for two weeks. Also had someone call and order this for their family. :) Thanks, Mom!
Skip ahead two more days, to December 18th, and we're at Debbie and Kendall Black's beautiful home catering their annual Christmas Cocktail Party! I met these two treasures while I was doing the first cooking class at The Wine Cellar back in October, and they instantly came up to me and told me they wanted me to cater their annual party in December. They were regulars at the next class, invited me over for a glass of wine and to plan the menu, and voila! As simple as that. Their home is GORGEOUS, and since Dr. Black is a Chef himself, the kitchen is a dream. Counter-space galore, prep sinks built in the island, double ovens that sing to you when you press any buttons...I was in heaven. They had 70 to 80 guests and let me tell you, it was a BLAST. The party started at 6:30pm on the dot, and the last guests headed out the door around midnight. That's the sign of a great party! We even designed a special "Santa Claus Shot" for the last 15 people there, which was a huge hit. Chef Margaret even took one......but that's beside the point. Debbie and Kendall are so much fun and I am already looking forward to doing their "Summer Party"!
The beautiful table. If you'll notice a huge plate of meat in the middle, those are Dr. Black's famous smoked Lamb Lollipops! Apparently he marinates them for 5+ days, then smokes them for 3 hours until they are perfectly pink inside....goodness me I've never had something so delicious.
Smart people that they are, they chose Mom's Cheesy Artichoke and Black Eyed Pea Dip!
They couldn't pass up the Bloody Mary Tomatoes floating in Peppar Vodka and Zing Zang with Celery Lime Sea Salt for dipping.
Kendall has a soft spot for Smoked Salmon Canapes with Cucumber and Dilled Cream Cheese....at one point I caught him hovering over them with a toothpick just stabbing and popping them in his mouth over and over and over.
Probably the biggest hit of the party, aside from Kendall's Lamb Lollipops: Asparagus Spirals with Cheesy Puff Pastry and homemade Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce
They made another wise choice in selecting the
Tangy Two-Week Shrimp Cocktail
Likely the second most popular item-
the Asiago-stuffed New Potatoes!
In case there wasn't enough food already, they selected our delicious Pork Tenderloin Sliders with Rosemary and Maple Dijon Mustard Sauce. Yum!!
Here come the "Santa Claus Shots"....Orange and Cinnamon Tequila Shots. Forget Lime and Salt forever!! Orange and Cinnamon is the way to go.
Well, they felt that I had earned myself a shot, so it would be rude of me to decline it, right??? ;)
When all is said and done, I am completely exhausted, and just now about to head back to Birmingham to be with my family for Christmas....but it has been the greatest month of my life, and I feel so incredibly blessed to get to do what I do and meet so many fantastic people. Some days I still can't believe I get paid to do what I love, and I wish everybody on Earth could have the satisfaction of waking up every day and being excited to do your job. It is truly a blessing and an honor to get to serve these wonderful people of Huntsville. I am SO SO SO excited for 2011- meeting all of my Groupon recipients, some dinner parties already on the books for January, two weddings in the works for the summer, and possibly a Cooking Demo space of my own????? We'll see. But until then, I hope all my readers have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
The Chef Next Door