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Chef Heidi

Chef Heidi    |    Weddings


Adirondack Regional Chambers of Commerce

Last night at the fantastic Wood Theater in downtown Glens Falls (and just off the new round-a-bout) the Adirondack Regional Chambers of Commerce (ARCC) held their Annual Meet the Board Mixer.  The new board members were all present as was a large crowd of Chamber members.  Michael and I were one of three sponsors for the event and when we sponsor something it is generally directly translated into FOOD!!

We made loads of food, our great staff served and everyone enjoyed themselves completely.  The wine was flowing and even though I’m not sure anyone heard any announcements over the roar of the crowd I want to thank the Chamber for allowing me to speak about our business. 

We’ve belonged to ARCC since 2001.  Since then our business has grown trememdously.  A large portion of our catering events take place in the Glens Falls/Lake George/Queensbury area.  We also support more non-profits in these areas than we ever have.  And with each passing year we’re sure our catering and support will grow with the help of this most helpful chamber. 

   


YMCA and First Night Volunteers

I never realized what it took to pull off the very successful First Night event in Saratoga Springs.  I’ve always been too exhausted (from cooking or carving ice scultures, more of this story to come) to attend this event.

Here in Saratoga Springs the YMCA is the power behind this evening.  I’m not sure if it is a fund raiser for them or if they break even and it’s just part of their contribution to this community.  Either way, it’s fun, it’s done right and it’s hard to not find something to do at any time.  What I didn’t realize is just how many people gave up their evenings to volunteer and make it all happen.   It takes 300 to be exact. 

For the last few years, myself and several other talented chefs donated ice carvings that were displayed in front of the Visiter’s Center.  Once they were all up and the back lighting was added they all looked very impressive. 

Now, to say I’m accomplished at this is to say I am accomplished at chicken wings (see last posting!).  OK, I’m better at ice carving than chicken wings BUT that doesn’t mean it’s easy.  I don’t have a great place to carve and it’s not something we really offer in our day to day catering so I typically end up in the back of my Dodge Ram pick-up with my chain saw, dremel and chisels.  Are you visualizing this yet?  If so, add wind, sub-zero temperatures and snow.  Now you’re getting the picture.

This year my supportive husband kindly asked if there was possibly something else we could do to help with First Night.  They mentioned they needed to feed their volunteers and we jumped at it.  THAT we can do and I won’t get frost bite.  It was our first time doing it but we came up with a bagged meal for all 300 volunteers and we hope they enjoyed them.  Now that we know how the whole evening works we’ll do an even better job next year and really get a food program down.  We have some great staff who volunteered themselves to help assemble the bagged meals. 

I want to thank all 300 of the incredible volunteers who donated their entire evening to make First Night so successful and if I could forgo the ice carving next year I’ll feed you all again.   


Expectations

My daughter cries out, “Step away from the chicken wings Mom!”  Yes, that would be me, Mom.  It seems there is a food I am banned from making in our house.  Chicken Wings.

Let me explain.  I’m not a huge fried food person.  Don’t misunderstand me…………… I love a good platter of real fish and chips and the thought of authentic Pommes Frites (which if you haven’t had them at Ravenous on Phila Street you are missing out!) served with aioli could send me into nervana.  I guess it’s the entire cuisine from a fryolator I don’t get.  It’s not a stretch of the imagination to say I’ve been to weddings/events where I’ve been served hors d’oeuvres, appetizer and entree all served from a fryolator.  Ask any Sysco executive what drives their business and I’d bet it’s items supplying the fryolator including the vats of oil to fill them.  I pick Sysco because, right or wrong, I feel they are one of the power houses behind the monster machine pushing processed, fried, adulterated foods into our lives on every level.  They are the ones who find the sources to sell all these foods to.

 Back to me and my family.  I tried to do something nice for my children on Christmas so I made them chicken wings.  You might be thinking why?  My two girls don’t get many “junk” foods although the one in college is making up for it.  I baked fresh chicken wings in the oven, poured off all the fat, made a sauce of tabasco and margarine, poured it over and served them.  I was met with looks of amazement.  Evidently, I somehow made soft, moist, fall-off-the-bone wings with a slight glaze of orange. 

They wondered how they could put any difficult recipe in front of me and I could make it with no issues but put a simple chicken wing recipe in front of me and I make a mound of anemic meat with runny sauce.

I’m not sure I’m insulted.


Gifts for the chef in your life (even if it’s you)

I am constantly adding “I wants” to a physical list and a mental list.  Just to give you an idea of the kind of things I might want I selected a couple to show you.  Understand, these are cutting edge and when you hear of them in a year or so, remember you heard it here first! 

The first is a table top smoker.  Now, I know what you’re thinking and this is not that kind of smoker.  It will add aromas to a dining area or add a smoke flavor to mildly cooked foods such as is done in a sous vide method.  Check this out…..

http://www.cuisinetechnology.com/thesmokinggun.html

This one is not even available in the US yet.  It’s in Japan but it is so cool and so impressive to a few chefs in this country that I know we’ll be seeing the technology being used here in hip, urban restaurants soon.  Here’s an explanation of what you’ll see because the website I’m sending you to will be in Japanese but watch the video it displays.  This is a segment from a professional chef’s website that explains what you’re about to see (Seiji Yamamoto is on the rise in chef stardom) ……………………….

” Seiji Yamamoto of Ryugin in Tokyo blew our minds with a lemon verbena and mint iced tea at the International Chefs Congress: as he poured the liquid into the chilled cocktail glass, it turned to slush at room temperature. It didn’t make sense until he explained the “Magiquoal” refrigerator, an insulator that has the technology to keep liquids liquid even at below-freezing temperatures. Once agitated, or even poured, the liquid turns into a solid – except it’s not really solid, it’s a “freezy”……”

http://www.magiquoal.com/

So what do you buy the cook in your life?  Ok, possibly not either of those two items but……. 

Good knives are always on the top of lists.  Just a note, be sure the handler of these knives has had them in their hands and has really enjoyed the feel and ease of motion the knife offers.  There are many professional knives that don’t feel right in my hand.  When I find one that fits I buy it!

Whisks are also a great benefit to cooks.  Get them an assortment of 4 or 5 types and sizes.  There are piano or balloon whisks.  There are the classic French whisks.  There are skillet whisks.  There are coated whisks to use in teflon pans.  All of these come in various sizes and sturdiness.  I could not live without all my different whisks.  They are part of the foundation of good cooking.  Go to a good kitchen store to check them out or see some of them here………………

http://www.jbprince.com/33962883CB4746D1BE511C0E1252C63D.asp?sc_id=

And what about pot holders?  Who invented some of these things I see in stores?  Go for utility over looks!  I almost go into mourning when a set of excellent pot holders become worn beyond usefulness and I have to throw them out.  Here are a pair of my favorite. 

http://sf1000.registeredsite.com/~user964620/miva/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=P&Product_Code=KBW&Category_Code=CGHP

Happy Cooking everyone!!!


Locavore

If for some incredible reason you have not been aware of the local food movement then you may find this word shocking.

Locavore is the New Oxford American Dictionary 2007 Word of the Year.  It refers to persons who only eat foods produced or grown within a 100 mile radius.  It’s a hot word and one you will be hearing more about.  Check out these two sites.

http://blog.oup.com/2007/11/locavore/

http://www.locavores.com/

Although Locavore is a fascinating word this post might have been quite different if one of the runner up words won the honored title of 2007 Word of the Year.  For instance………

Cougar:  an older woman who romantically pursues younger men.  :)

On a more serious note, I wonder what low income, inner city families might think of this word.  After all, do they even have a choice?


Michael and I have been supporters of The Hyde Collection on Warren Street in Glens Falls for years. This museum holds world class art within its walls and consistently features new and exciting exhibitions. We make sure each of their exhibit openings are filled with cutting edge hors d’oeuvres and wines to rival any museum in the biggest city. The Hyde Collection has always had a number of fund raisers throughout the year but about five years ago we worked closely with them to begin a new fund raiser that would appeal to adults of all ages. The event is called A Taste of Art and it features wines and beers from around the world. The products span the spectrum of fun and flavorful to world class. What makes the evening even more appealing (and is that possible with unlimited tastings?) are the restaurants, and in our case caterer, featuring foods to pare with the fine beverages. We serve passed hors d’oeuvres throughout the entire evening and we also prepare foods to pare with very specific wines or beers. This year we will be featuring foods to pare with fine Italian wines in a special tented area. This evening of exquisite wines and beers is also supported by the hard work of Putnam Wine located in Saratoga Springs and Upstate Wine and Cork located in Glens Falls. Buy a ticket for yourself and a date and come to the best evening of wine and beer tasting in the area. For tickets contact Cynthia at 518-792-1761, ext. 23. The date is Friday, October 12th 6:30-9:30. The ticket includes unlimited tastings and foods and costs only $75. Come and see The Hyde Collection and everyone who works hard to support this gem and sip some wine while you’re at it.


If you love almonds and marzipan you would love my almond crescents. I could twist these little treats in any number of “cookies” by adding apricot jam or chocolate or espresso ganache. But in their natural form they are still to die for. I mix a very good grade of almond paste and egg whites, pure vanilla and some sugar. I then scoop 1 ounce portions into crushed, natural, sliced almonds. I roll the dough in the nuts until they are completely covered. I then shape them into small crescent shapes. After baking I shake a generous amount of confectioner’s sugar on each crescent and serve. They are so good.


I love making small foods for guests to enjoy. I just began making dessert shooters. These are mini portions of rich dessert in cute little vessels. I just made a few hundred Espresso Mousse Shooters and Tiramisu Shooters. Everyone loved them. I guess if I had to decide between a dinner or a dessert ………….I would lean toward dessert the majority of the time. After all, how long is life again?


I have a favorite way to prepare pork loin at this time of year. I butterfly an entire pork loin of about ten pounds (you could do this with much smaller pork loin portions as well), I then salt and pepper the inside, give it a healthy drizzle of olive oil and then lay down eight to ten full stems of fresh sage. I roll up the loins and firmly tie them. Sprinkled with a little more salt and pepper and rubbed with more olive oil, I place them in a 350F oven and roast till they reach an inside temperature of 160F. I remove them from the oven, slice into ½ inch portions and serve with an apple cider reduction. I love to pare this pork loin with Thai Sweet Potatoes from my menus. What is that? That’s another day, my friend.


October is becoming the new June for weddings. It’s such a beautiful time of year and there is something about the fresh air in October. I was married in October 21 years ago and it was the most gorgeous day in Vermont where we were surrounded by sugar maples in full color. I’m sure there are many reasons this month is becoming so popular but from a chef’s point of view we believe it’s because there is such a range of seasonal foods to choose from it could almost boggle the mind. I’ve been asked to make caramel apples, I’ve served pumpkin cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting and edible fall flowers and apple pies with Vermont cheddar. There is salsify, a black root vegetable that is almost delicate and buttery. Beets of all sorts, potatoes with skins so thin it is a crime to peel them, squashes of all colors and flesh, pears and plums to add to sauces and lastly, turkeys. Marinated turkeys, smoked turkeys, BBQ’d turkeys, stuffed turkeys. Can you think of anything better?

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