Black Diamond Caterers - Professional Off-Premise Caterers
Weddings Corporate Concessions Venue Directory What's Hot? Why Hire Black Diamond? Blog Home
Chef Heidi

Chef Heidi    |    Weddings


24 Gifts for the Foodies on Your List
  • Dec. 1    Foodie Gift #1:

A book- Let’s Bring Back-The Cocktail Edition AND a bottle of Bittermens Boston Bittahs. I listened to an interview with the author, Lesley Blume, and knew I had to have it! COCTAILS ARE NOW THE RAGE and these refreshed oldies will wow you. A must have along with  a bottle of Bittermens Bitters, a small batch producer in Brooklyn, NY. Superior products! If you don’t quite grasp the purpose of bitters…. Good Bitters are to cocktails what Good Salt is to food!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbL-LDDgFPg

  • Dec 2nd    Foodie Gift #2:

Joseph Joseph products! Need a gift for a young couple or a spaced starved kitchen or for someone who loves clever design! Cool cutting boards like the Rinse and Chop, futuristic tools like the Fold Flat Grater and cool new TriScale Folding Digital Scale for weighing ingredients……really, really snazzy stuff! http://www.josephjoseph.com/

Joseph Joseph | Stylish Kitchen and Cookware Accessories, Utensils and Gadgets
  • Dec 3rd     Foodie Gift #3:
 A beautiful Granite Mortar and Pestle from Chefs Catalog! Anyone who cooks or bakes has at one time or another wanted a mortar and pestle. Used for crushing spices, herbs, pesto, guacamole, nuts, dried chili peppers, salsa and even gazpacho! It is a heavy, quality piece that will sit pridefully in plain sight on any kitchen’s counter. Buy it…they will love you.
Shop Natural Granite Mortar and Pestle Set at CHEFS.
Natural Granite Mortar and Pestle Set
  • Day 4th     Foodie Gift #4:
Award winning Old Sin Dry Cider from Slyboro Cider House at Hicks Orchard. Slyboro makes fine hard ciders from assorted apples on their over one hundred year old orchard located in Granville, NY. This is a delight to pair with food at dinner or serve at parties. A pure treat for the palette and…..fits in a stocking!  Ships to your door.
Slyboro Cider House – Hicks Orchard
  • Dec 5th     Foodie Gift #5:
Vintage issues of the prized Chocolatier Magazine! An outstanding magazine no longer in print but still available. Each issue is a treasure of ideas and recipes from the pros. Perfect for that baker on your list! http://backissues.com/titles/Chocolatier-Magazine
backissues.com – Chocolatier Magazine – Title Details
Welcome to our Chocolatier Magazine list. We sell Back Issues, Used Magazines, Past Issues and Old Mags at competitive prices, we ship to most of the free world.
  • Dec 6th     Foodie Gift #6

Mapleland Farms Pure Maple Syrup! Located in the hamlet of Salem, NY on the VT border, Terry and David Campbell have been making premium Maple Syrup from the maple trees surrounding their family farm since 1972. Maple Syrup is coveted around the world for its uniqueness.  A wonderful gift for your foodie!

Maple Syrup, Maple Candy, Maple Cream, and Maple Peanut Brittle from Mapleland Farms in Salem, NY
  • Dec 7th     Foodie Gift #7

Bamix Immersion Blender! The power house of all hand held blenders, a must for every kitchen. There is no list of foods/recipes/tasks long enough that this piece of extraordinary equipment can’t tackle.

  • Dec 8th     Foodie Gift#8

Askinosie Chocolate! Fill a Chocoholic’s stocking with rich, fare trade, origin chocolate knowing each bar is made from beans delivered from a specific farm then roasted, ground and mixed at Askinosie. This company not only creates real chocolate not mass produced confection but also makes certian  the  farming communities benefit from their hard work.

Chocolate Bars | Askinosie Chocolate Bars
  • Dec 9th     Foodie Gift #9
Dean’s Beans Coffee! 100% Organic & Fair Trade, this coffee is sensational! Making relationships with each farmer on one side then offering exceptional service and coffee on the other. They are actively aware of their commitment to Real Fair Trade. You can create a customized blend and label for the Foodie on your holiday list!
Dean’s Beans - Fair Trade Coffee Fair Trade Coffee Roasters Organic Coffee Roasters
Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee Company is a fair trade pioneer in the coffee industry
  • Dec 10th     Foodie Gift #10
 Charles H Baldwin & Sons Extracts! Located in W Stockbridge, MA, this family company is over 100 yrs old! Exceptional quality, apothecary bottle styling and a nice selection….an assortment will be an excellent gift for the baker on your list.  Vanilla is the most popular but I am a huge fan of the peppermint and anise!

Charles H. Baldwin & Sons Price List
  • Dec 11th     Foodie Gift #11

Fagor Duo Pressure Cooker! Fast, easy and healthy cooking…cooks with busy lives can still create amazing dishes but in a fraction of the time. This quality, stainless steel pressure cooker comes in several sizes and is super easy to use. Pressure cooking is coming back in a big way and Fagor is the perfect gift.

Duo Pressure Cooker | Fagor

Fagor is a European cookware and major appliances brand. It is market leader in the pressure cooking sector; its cookware is sold at major retailers nationwide.

  • Dec 12th     Foodie Gift #12

Oxo Spatulas & Turners! A cook’s dream is to decide which spatula in their arsenal will work best at the moment! Every kind and style of well designed spatula from Oxo has a purpose. Buy several and tie a big bow around them!

OXO – Tools you hold on to – Spatulas & Turners
Spatulas & Turners
  • Dec 13th     Foodie Gift #13
Sea Salt Blends from Coastal Goods! Famed cookbook author, Sarah Leah Chase, has created flavor profiles of salts and peppers based on her extensive gastronomic travels. Sarah brings a world of intense flavors to the kitchen of the chef on your Holiday List!
Coastal Goods :: Products :: Sarah’s Sea Salt
  • Dec 14th     Foodie Gift #14
Seasoned 12″ Lodge Cast Iron Skillet! There is no kitchen that should be without one! I use mine so often it rarely gets put away, instead resting on my stove top waiting for its next food venture. Lodge has been making quality cast iron products for over one hundred years! http://www.lodgemfg.com/seasoned-cast-iron/skillets-and-covers/skillet-L10SK3
12-inch Skillet
www.lodgemfg.com
Everyone from Martha Stewart to Campfire Cook Johnny Nix considers Lodge Foundry Seasoned Cast Iron Skillets essential cooking tools.
  • Dec 15th     Foodie Gift #15

Puckers Gourmet Pickles!  Pickle Lover on your list? Handcrafted & hand packed in rural Washington County, NY, these pickles are amazing! Give one of each Half Sour Garlic, Dilly Sweet, Super Garlic Sour & Habanero Fire Sour.

Pickled Delectables! – Puckers Gourmet
  • Dec 16th     Foodie Gift #16
Foodie Fight or Wine Wars Trivia Games for Serious Foodies by Joyce Lock! These games are very fun and allow you to strut your culinary prowess. These games are intelligent and cover a wide span of culinary and/or wine topics. Rave reviews everywhere and I will add mine… Great game!

  • Dec 17th     Foodie Gift #17
Vermont Salumi! This season ignore the usual mass produced sausage baskets and give the gift of craftsmanship. Making unbelievably delicious, fine Salumi, founder Peter Colman, combined his years of apprenticeships in his native Italy with Vermont’s agricultural landscape to create “The cure for the common meat”. Pasture raised, hormone and antibiotic free the sausages are produced in small batches. Choices are the Daily Grind, the Roma, the Benito and lastly, Great Expectations which is the classic pub style English banger.


The Rise of White Chocolate

True white chocolate has a beautiful ivory color and a velvety, buttery flavor.  Nibbling good white chocolate is all about the experience of flavor and texture.

Most of us know the general process of making chocolate but how is white chocolate created?  Dark, milk and white chocolate all begin the same way.  Cocoa nibs which are part of the cocoa bean are roasted and ground into finer and finer particles.  This creates a substance called chocolate liquor or cocoa mass.  Despite the liquor term there is no alcohol involved in this step.  At this point the chocolate liquor consists of  50-60% cocoa butter and 46-48% cocoa powder. 

Now the chocolate varieties begin to differ.  The light colored cocoa butter is separated from the dark “powder”.  Dark and milk chocolates will each be created from the cocoa powder by adding vanilla, sugar and/or milk with some cocoa butter added back in.  White chocolate, however, is fashioned from the rich cocoa butter.  The term butter defines the look and feel of the product as there is no dairy in cocoa butter.  Askinosie Chocolate, a chocolate producer in Missouri, adds goats milk powder and cane sugar juice to produce their award winning, white chocolate bar.  Each fine chocolate producer adds their own touches to their cocoa butter to create their unique flavor profile. 

There has never been more chocolatiers creating great white chocolate allowing us to have many nibbling experiences.

 WHITE AND WONDERFUL HOT CHOCOLATE

Serve with freshly baked oatmeal cookies!

 1/2 cup plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon granulated sugar or agave syrup

1/2 teaspoon ground dry ginger

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. orange zest

5 ounces grated or finely chopped quality white chocolate, such as El Rey, Askinosie, Valrhona or Guittard

  • Combine and blend above ingredients in a bowl.

 3 cups milk

  • In a saucepan, heat the milk until very warm, about 175F
  • Add the white chocolate mix and whisk until the chocolate is melted.
  • Whisk constantly until the mixture is very warm, about 175F.

 Enjoy!  Chef Heidi

References:

guittard.com

allchocolate.com


Who Counts the Fish?

In the last 15 years we’ve seen the collapse of fishing grounds as well as the decline of specific fish species.  As a user of fish purveyors I do my very best to keep abreast of fish populations.  But who do I rely on to keep me accurately informed?

There are government and independent groups around the world that monitor the fisheries and seafood stocks. In the a recent Food Arts magazine issue there is an article outlining the struggles of these groups to monitor the populations while struggling to maintain consistency in their goals. The struggle arises from the conflict of the goals, interests and missions of each group. 

“It’s a challenge to have that many different countries involved,” says Christine Patrick, NOAA spokesperson.  “They all have their interests and battles that don’t always align with what’s in the best interest of the fish.”(Food Arts, March 2011, pg. 50)

In 2010, President Obama signed an Executive to create the National Ocean Policy.

According to the White House website the Order established for the first time a comprehensive national policy for the stewardship of the ocean, coasts and Great Lakes.  This will set us on a path toward planning for preservation and sustainable usage.

But as Warner Chabot, executive director and CEO of the California League of Conservative Voters, the nonpartisan political action arm of California’s environmental movement.  “Regulations can solve part of the problem. But regulations also can be very tough to enforce.  That’s why we need market solutions like Seafood Watch.  In a decade, it’s made sustainable seafood a mainstream issue. It has rocked the ocean conservation world.” (March 2011, Food Arts, pg. 50)

And that brings me to the organization I turn to, Seafood Watch of the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California.  These are the people who “count the fish” for me so I can fulfill my client’s wishes while aiding in the goal of sustainable fish populations.

Be an informed consumer.  Please see the following sites:

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx?c=dd

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishwatch/

http://www.blueocean.org/sushi


Where’s the Beef?

We offer a porterhouse, a cowboy steak, a filet mignon and a Kobe skirt steak.  But we would be foolish to ignore the most recent driving force in the restaurant world.  There is a wave of meatlessness flowing over chefs from coast to coast.  And it’s not just meat but any product produced from any animal. This includes all dairy, eggs and even honey.  This is not vegetarianism but veganism. 

 

 

 

If you are assuming the vegan talking to the waiter at the next table is a throwback to the ’60s you are probably wrong. People are turning to a vegan way of life for their overall health, hormone imbalances, environmental concerns, the National debt, animal rights, longer life, religion and food budgets. 

 

 

 

If any of these reasons don’t suffice let me announce the best reason to dine as a vegan. Chefs are falling over themselves competing with one another to create incredibly delicious vegan dishes.  Go to Vegas and the restaurants are bubbling with vegan choices.  Steve Winn, the casino and restaurant mogul, is requesting his star chefs add vegan choices to their already exceptional menus.  New York City leads the way with not only vegan menu additions but exciting vegan restaurants.

 

 

 

This past November, I took my family to NYC.  While there we celebrated Thanksgiving.  On that day most were in pursuit of the turkey but I took my family to Peacefood Cafe on the upper Westside.  They offered a prix fix menu and we dined on four courses of some of the best food I’ve experienced.  The chestnut soup was delicate and exceptional.  My entree featuring a rich lentil loaf was served with a luxurious mushroom sauce, a whole cranberry sauce, golden raisin stuffing, purple sweet potatoes whipped with coconut milk, roasted lotus root and lemon kale.  Not one of us missed the turkey. 

 

 

 

At Black Diamond Caterers, we use organic agave nectar as often as honey.  We make a Tunisian Stew filled with aromatic spices, sweet potatoes, garbanzo beans and currants as frequently as we make Tunisian Chicken.  We make Himalayan red rice salad filled with pecans, scallions, apple and dried cranberries as often as we make tarragon albacore tuna salad.  And while my paella can be filled with shellfish, sausage and rabbit, we also make a delicious vegan paella with sunchokes and exotic mushrooms.  

 

  

 

Next time, treat yourself well and order the vegan dish. 


2011 is all about sexy..

2010 was the year of retro comfort foods in the world of food service.  Caterers and restauranteurs across the nation recreated meatloaf, mac & cheese, burgers and fried chicken in their likeness.  I dipped into the mac & cheese scene by adding Italian black truffles for eye rolling decadence.  I also tossed a slider burger onto the menus for our guests to order.  And order they did.  More events than not had my mini burger of hand packed, ground Kobe beef served medium rare with Gruyere cheese and my onion jam nestled on a rich brioche roll just out of the oven that day.

As 2011 rolls in we are adding new items to our menus.  We are predicting that 2011 is the year comfort foods get sexy.  Watch your favorite chefs for sexy cheese sauces like smoked blue cheese, mixes of meats and exotic fruits exuding sex appeal as well as pan fried poultry paired with sexy foie gras or luscious lobster.

I’m moving on my sexy now.  My menus are splattered with it and my 2011 clients are going to have a tryst with my food. 

My wheel of Rogue Creamery Smoked Blue is on its way from Oregon as I write.  An affair is about to begin.


Tempering Change

There is a down side to maintaining Facebook and Twitter.  Because I also blog I feel as though the mini thoughts I send out daily zap me of the interest and urge to create a written piece for my blog.  I love my blog so I will be putting a greater effort into maintaining it even if it translates into fewer Tweets. 

Recently, I suffered through the removal of Gourmet Magazine from existence.  I’ve been a lifelong fan.  My subscription has resulted in masses of Gourmet Magazines stuffed on every bookshelf, counter and storage box.  I simply loved the magazine.  I was thrilled with the most recent editor in chief, Ruth Reichl.  And when I received a note in November informing me that my subscription would be automatically transferred to Bon Appétit, another Conde Nast publication, I was less than thrilled.  I had passed this magazine in grocery stores hundreds of times over the decades only being enticed to buy one every few years.  So when I received my first issue I flipped through it as if I had a copy of the National Enquirer. 

Today I received my third issue.  When I opened the March 2010 issue I decided to give the booklet my full attention.  I read each page and every written word and I had a strange awakening.  I did find myself being pulled into some of the writer’s articles and I did examine the recipes with the sharp eye of a critical chef.  But it was page 32 that made me smile. 

The Restaurant Editor, Andrew Knowlton, is Bon Appitit’s “Foodist” and answers questions sent in by foodies.  I loved the answer to one question and I think it’s the best answer on the topic I’ve come across………….. 

Question:  “I often hear chefs on cooking shows and reality shows talking about a person’s palate.  “So-and-so has an exquisite palate,” they say.  What exactly does that mean, and can I train my own palate?”  -K.B.    

Andrew writes:  “When it comes to professional chefs.  I think a “great palate” is the ability to create or refine dishes simply by instinct.  I’ve seen some of the world’s most talented chefs, having tasted a flawed or incomplete dish, suggest improvements in a flash-adding a pinch of salt here or a squeeze of lemon there- with amazing success.  For professional eaters -and folks who simply love food- the term means something slightly different:  It’s the ability to identify flavors, ingredients, and even techniques in a particular dish. 

But what really defines a great palate, I think, is taste memory.  It has as much to do with your head as with your tongue.   …a well-developed taste memory comes with experience and the willingness to try new flavors.  ….” 

I think I might have a new foodie magazine.

march_10_cover-bon-appetit.jpg


Luscious Hard Cider

Michael and I are big fans of hard cider.  And it seems there are many who feel the same way.  Today on NPR you’ll find a great story  on hard cider at Poverty Lane Orchard in New Hampshire.  Give it listen and it’ll make you smile.

 

It was shared with me by Hick’s Orchard in Granville, NY, my absolutely favorite orchard.  Maybe it’s because I used to live near by once upon a time and I could barely wait for the apples to ripen.  Hick’s Orchard is the oldest U-Pick apple farm in the state of New York.  Their orchard is charming, beautiful and very fun.  Their classic apple cider is a premium product.  We go out of our way to procure gallons for as long as it flows.  A few years ago Hick’s started Slyboro Ciderhouse and they’ve never looked back.  The motto on their website is “reviving lost spirits”.  They make three varieties of hard cider; still, sparkling and ice.  These beverages are not to be missed.  You can find places to purchase them on the Slyboro website.  Or go there yourself!  It’s well worth the trip.

.hard-cider.jpgice-cider.jpg

Slyboro Ice Cider from Slyboro Ciderhouse

18 Hicks Road    Granville, NY


Cheese Please

 

Long, long ago in a land far away ………………cheese was born.  This happened around 3500BC.  Think about how long ago that was.  This is considered the Middle Stone Age.  A rudimentary form of the wheel was invented about this time.  The first domesticated animal, the ass, was adapted to be a pack animal at this time allowing long caravans which could carry items great distances for trade.  It was on one of these long journeys that cheese was accidently invented.  Milk was placed in a dried animal stomach for consumption and down the “road” the creator discovered curds and whey.  If that person could only know what he or she contributed to us.                                  

In the United States we find ourselves in an exciting moment in time with the Artisanal Cheese Movement.  It is hard not to notice the amazing cheeses being created in many states.  I believe many of the cheeses of this country will become as sought after as any cheese from Italy, France, Spain or England just as the world grew to appreciate the great American wines over these last decades.  The American cheese artisan has a fresh approach to cheese making that often involves twisting classic methods of the old world European varieties.  

Several of the cheeses I’m serving right now fit in that category.  Two are from Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station, California, and are among the hippest, award winning cheeses out there.  The moment the box arrives I have knife in hand and begin sampling.  Another favorite I have is a Twig Farm cheese from West Cornwall, VT.  I love to serve this rustic goat cheese with Wood’s Boiled Cider elevating it to a heavenly treat.

pierce-pt-cowgirl-creamery.jpg                           twig-farm-square-cheese.jpg

 

        Cowgirl Peirce PT                                Twig Farm Square

 

At our Rock the Holidays Extravaganza I will be featuring a large station featuring cheeses.  I will be creating a decadent Truffled Mac and Cheese.  I’ve been making this for some clients and it is unbelievably good.  From the Panini Grills I’ll offer a classic Aged Cheddar on Rockhill Bakehouse’s Sourdough bread and a Provolone, Hot Cappy Ham, Pesto and Roasted Red Peppers on Rockhill’s Onion Rye and, finally, I’ll have a Smoked Gouda, Sautéed Mushroom and Onion Jam on Konto’s Nan.  I have tried all of these a multiple times and the last one is my favorite!  Lastly, I will also be showcasing a cheese fondue “river” with loads of items to dip.  And as if that was not enough cheese, I will be serving small farm cheeses, including those listed above, alongside my Dessert Presentation.

Make an effort to discover American cheeses.  


We follow you…You follow us….

Follow us on Facebook here!

Or follow us on Twitter…. 


If you haven’t noticed the subtle evolution of gourmet marshmallows in your store or internet travels you might want to pay attention.  Marshmallows are on the verge of being the next big craze.  I’ve been a big fan of marshmallows all my life.  The marshmallows I make are to adults as some literature can be, if you get my drift.  They are sensuous and naughty.  My favorite are Kahlua marshmallows that I encourage guests to plunk in hot chocolate.  MMMMMMmmmmmm.

I will be making these treats for the already decadent hot chocolate we will be serving at The Rock The Holidays Extravaganza being held at the Canfield Casino on December 11th.  Haven’t got your tickets?  Shameful.

Some numbers to make my point will astonish you.  Retail marshmallow sales (excluding Walmart) totaled about $146 million in 2008, up from $141 million the year before, according to market research firm Information Resources Inc.  Wow!  Up $5 million in one year.

This past summer I noticed a larger strawberry flavored marshmallow from the famous Campfire Marshmallow company.  But there are some talented people out there with some great marshmallow ideas that are rocking this chic sweet  back into vogue.  Here are just a couple of my favorites easily ordered on-line.

Chocolate Stuffed Marshmallows from Gud Fud

Or Luxurious French Marshmallows from the exclusive Recchiuti’s of San Francisco

 

Caramel Swirl Marshmallows from Plush Puffs

Subscribe
  • RSS 2.0 RSS Feed
  • Atom Atom Feed
  • Pricing Tell A Friend Adventures in Catering Newsletter Contact Us On Call Caterers Adirondack Barbecue