Rainy Day Wedding? Fear not!

small image copyjpegYou set the date a year ago having consulted all the weather apps and got a green light. Now it is one week out and it’s looking like raindrops are in the forecast. You, being one smart cookie, set a plan to let the day unfold whatever the weather.

While your wedding day mantra might be “rain, rain, go away, come again another day”, a plan for inclement weather is key. It is helpful to sit down with your coordinator, caterer and venue manager to map out the options early on. Pad your budget for extra expenses.

It might be that umbrellas will suffice for the outdoor ceremony. The bonus is a fabulous photo. An overcast sky casts a very even light and helps with squinting, unwanted aviator sunglasses, and shadows.

A tent provides great shade and easily converts to shelter from rapid downpours or daylong drizzle. You’ll want to determine the plan B table layout. A quick fix is to seat everyone at their respective tables while you exchange vows in the center of the relocated dance floor.

Room flips are the most common back up plan. Pre-set tables are placed at the edge of the room. Find a way to divert the crowd for cocktail hour (on a covered porch or under the canopy of giant trees). While they enjoy a cocktail, the staff takes care of the re-set.

Keep centerpieces low and choose lighting that can handle some wind. Invest in some fun rain gear. Be willing to dance in the rain. Years later, you look back at the amazing pics of sweet memories. The camaraderie and laughter weathered the storm and made your day extraordinary.

Portland Catering: Holiday Party Planning

Holiday Table Setting

Holiday Entertaining

Summer isn’t far behind us, yet if you are in charge of planning this year’s company party for the holidays, it’s already time to start planning.  This may be a daunting task but get a head start using our company holiday party planning list to guide you and you’ll be able to relax and celebrate the hard work you have done all year long.

Company Holiday Party Planning List

  • Beverages:  Most employees will expect at least beer and wine but several other decisions need to be made around beverages.  Will the bar be host or no-host?  Will you offer a full bar or a specialty cocktail?  A festive specialty cocktail will excite your guests and be a memorable addition to the party.  Will there be a toast?  If so, will it be with a sparkling wine?  Finally, remember the non-alcoholic options!
  • Food: This is one of the biggest decisions you will make!  Let’s face it, people come to these events for the food and drink and the food will be remembered, whether good or bad.  It doesn’t need to be over-the-top to please all palates.  Still, several decisions need to be made surrounding the menu.  What type of meal service do you want (family-style, passed and stationary heavy hors d’oeuvres, plated meal, simple buffet)?  Do any guests have dietary restrictions you need to accommodate? What flavors or types of foods do you want to include? Is there a theme (holiday luau, holiday movies, 1950’s)?
  • Guests: Are you inviting employees only or including a plus one?  What about kids? If kids are invited, consider providing child care, kid-friendly fare and activities.
  • Music: Do you have the budget for a live band?  Will an mp3 device or a computer playlist suffice? Do you want soft dinner music or upbeat dance rhythms? The music will affect the overall vibe of the party!
  • Games/Presents/Prizes: Whether or not you have games or gift exchanges, make sure you at least have some activities to keep guests engaged.  A good rule of thumb is to have some sort of activity every hour.  This could be dinner, dessert, gift exchange, toast, or a roasting of the boss.

Portland Catering: Delicata Squash Rings

Squash Recipe

Squash Rings

Summer has officially passed and the brisk weather of autumn has arrived.  For Oregonians, this isn’t necessarily bad news.  Most farmer’s markets will be open for many months to come and the stands are abound with vivid autumnal hues of ginger, gold, and lichen of the many squash varieties! One of our favorites at GP Catering is the delicata! It has a natural sweetness that really comes out when roasted!  The best part about this oblong, yellow and green-striped squash is you won’t even need to peel it because the skin is soft and edible!  Our chefs have shared one of their favorite recipes below.

Delicata Squash Rings with Roasted Shallot and Thyme

Ingredients:

Delicata Squash, cored and cut into ¼”- ½” rings
Minced Shallot
Fresh Thyme
Salt
Pepper
Olive Oil

Recipe:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Coat a sheet pan with olive oil and rub squash rings in oil on both sides.

Sprinkle rings with salt, pepper, shallot, and finely chopped thyme.

Roast for 10-12 minutes until brown on bottom, flip rings and brown on underside.

Trends: Wedding planning is not for sissies!

We’ve seen plenty of trends out there: vintage, DIY, pewter tones, cupcakes, lemonade stands, flip flops, chandeliers, herringbone, reclaimed wood, candy stations, glassy babies, to name a few.  The latest trend we’ve noticed at GP Catering is the groom doing the planning, and we are not just talking about same sex marriages here.

Traditionally the groom has been given the job of tasting the food and picking out the booze.  They are are no nonsense straight shooters who want their guests to leave with full bellies.  The grooms who are more involved with the planning have definite opinions on how they want their meal served be it family style, buffet or plated.  They want their beer served amply in pints and their signature cocktail in mason jars.

Elijah in love!Consider this, the best man contacts you for menu suggestions and a proposal.  He and the groom proceeded to determine the rentals, site plan and program.  The groom chooses the DJ, florist, photo booth and handles last minute queries.  He hand makes the chalkboard signs for the ceremony & reception as well as the s’mores for late night snacks.  All the bride has to do is: look over the guest list, try on dresses, and show up.  Sound like a reversal here?  A dream come true or your worst nightmare?  How involved is your partner?

Portland Catering: Heirloom Tomatoes

Caprese Recipe

Heirloom Tomato Caprese

Remember when you thought a tomato was a tomato?  All were of uniform size, hue, and had the same unexciting flavor.  The primary culinary uses were on a sandwich, or in a sauce.  With the sustainable farming revolution has come the return of tomatoes the way they were intended to be (without genetic modification): large, small, orange, yellow, green, purple, striped, speckled, bulging, odd-shaped, and bursting with flavor.  Your grandparents will probably give you a glazed-over look if you mention Green Zebra, Brandywine, Black Krim, Candy’s Old Yellow, Green Sausage, Orange Cavern, German Red Strawberry, Banana Legs, or Burgundy Traveler but you know better.  Not only are you doing yourself a favor by incorporating tomatoes into your meal because of the health benefits (tomatoes are filled with lycopene which is a cancer preventative and great for your vision), but the variety of colors make for a gorgeous addition to any plate!

I suggest adding refreshing caprese to your next menu!  It’s easy, pick your favorite tomatoes, slice them about ¼ inch thick, layer with fresh mozzarella and basil, sprinkle with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.

Portland Catering: Rose Cocktails

Rosewater Cocktail, Rose Petals

Portland Catering: Summer Cocktails

June is coming to an end and with it comes another farewell to the Annual Rose Festival in the City of Roses. The roses, however, are still blooming all over Portland, allowing their sweet fragrance to fill the air.  Being the culinary enthusiasts we are, we can’t help but incorporate this symbolic Portland flower into refreshing beverages to wash down the array of fresh seasonal items being served at outdoor gatherings this summer.  Make them yourself, or ask GP’s talented staff of bartenders to mix them at your next catered event!

Roseberry Sparkler:

Add 2 drops of rose water to your favorite sparkling wine and drop a raspberry in the bottom of the glass

Romeo’s Rose:

Rim glass with crystalized rose petals (directions below). In a shaker or separate glass, mix together 1 1/2 oz gin, 1/2 oz Gran Marnier, 3/4 peach puree, 1/2 oz rose flavored simple syrup.  Fill rimmed glass with ice, pour over ice, sip, and enjoy the summer!

Crystalized Rose Petals:

Choose any color of rose petal you would like (the brighter the better). About 12-20 petals should cut it for 3-4 cocktails.  Beat 1-2 egg whites in bowl. Use a basting brush to coat each petal with the egg white.  Generously sprinkle superfine sugar on each petal and place them on a sheet of parchment paper to dry for about 2 hours.  Once fully dry, crumble the petals into a bowl for rimming.

Portland Catering: Steelhead

SteelheadMemorial Day weekend has become synonymous with first camping, hiking, and fishing trips of the year.  For me it brings back fond childhood memories of sitting by the creek for hours on end trying to catch the biggest brook trout for an annual fishing competition.  While I never won that competition, I did develop a love for procuring my own meal and the taste of trout.  There is something very fulfilling about understanding exactly where your ingredients come from.

In Oregon, this is not a difficult task.  GP Catering uses a wide selection of local purveyors who are more than willing to tell us exactly where each item came from (even down to the day it was picked or slaughtered).  While you probably won’t find brook trout on an event menu, its cousin, the Steelhead, can go much further in feeding a large crowd.  Steelhead is essentially a large rainbow trout that migrates much like salmon.

Many Oregonians favor the flavor of steelhead over salmon, but due to their very stubborn nature, they often fight their way off the hook, making them less prevalent on menus.  As I mentioned before though, our purveyors know where to find the best in season so we think steelhead is the perfect addition to your upcoming event menu!  One of our favorite treatments is Fresh Caught Oregon Steelhead with Foraged Mushrooms, Leeks, and Truffle Butter!

The RECIPE:

Sprinkle sea salt and pepper over your choice filet of steelhead and pan-sear in olive oil over medium-high heat until golden brown.  Transfer the fish to a sheet pan and roast at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

While the fish is baking, sauté mushrooms, leeks, and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until soft.

Add Shaved truffle or truffle salt to one tablespoon of soft butter and blend.  Form a pat of butter and put it in the refrigerator.

Plate your steelhead, with a generous amount of the mushroom mixture over top, serve with a pat of truffle butter, and prepare  to indulge your tastebuds!

Portland Catering: Spring Farmer’s Market

Farmers Market

Asparagus

Spring has finally arrived!  In and around Portland, this means long-lost neighbors begin to appear in their yards, unicycles are back on the streets, there is the occasional appearance of that great ball of fire in the sky, and (my favorite) the seasonal farmer’s markets have opened back up!  This is a very exciting time for Oregon culinists.   There is already an abundance of flavorful delights at every stand, from green garlic and spring onions, to Dungeness crab, salad and sautéing greens, and a wide assortment of foragables such as wild mushrooms, nettles, fiddleheads, and asparagus!  Check out the Portland Farmers Market website for a listing and schedule of area markets. If you are at the right market at the right time, you might see our executive chef perusing the stands looking for the freshest ingredients to include in our event menus. Chef Jim is always willing to share his tips, so feel free to ask for a suggestion if you see him sifting through the bins to find the perfect bunch of kale.  Meanwhile, I’ve asked him to share one of his favorite spring recipes with our readers.

Asparagus with Salsa Verde

Ingredients:

2 lbs. Asparagus
1/2 c. Minced Parsley
1/2 c. Minced Chive
1/4 c. Tarragon
1 T. Minced Capers
1/2 c. Olive Oil (Lemon or Orange Infused)
1 T. Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Trim asparagus and blanch in salted, boiling water until tender (about 1 minute).
  • Shock asparagus in ice water to stop the cooking process, and to preserve the bright green color.
  • In a medium size bowl, place minced herbs, capers, and mustard.
  • Into the herb mixture, whisk in olive oil in a steady, but slow stream to create a smooth emulsified consistency.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Drizzle over asparagus.

 

 

 

 

Portland Catering: Lucero Grand Opening

Flavored Balsamic

Flavored Olive Oil

Any culinary enthusiast will tell you there is a difference between olive oil varieties.  In most instances, you get what you pay for.  On March 21st and 22nd, GP Catering had the opportunity to work with Lucero Olive Oil in their grand opening and pairing event at their Bridgeport Villiage location.  Our chefs spent an afternoon tasting Lucero’s specialty oils and vinegars and developing recipes that emphasized Lucero’s refreshing flavors and the start of spring.  The menu was as follows:

-Asparagus Spears drizzled with Meyer Lemon Olive Oil and Pine Nuts
-Pretzel Bread Crostini with Caramelized Sweet Onion, Bacon, and Fig Balsamic
-Seared Ahi brushed with Mandarin Olive Oil, served on a Sesame Crisp
-Lemon Olive Oil Cupcakes with Lemon Balsamic Frosting and Rosemary
-Vanilla Bean Ice Cream drizzled with Olive Oil, served with Basil Olive Oil Chocolate Cookie

I had to beg and plead with Pastry Chef, Mandy, for the recipe for her Basil Olive Oil Chocolate Cookie but she was finally (hesitantly) willing to share it with our readers!

Basil Olive Oil Chocolate Cookie
*Makes approximately 2 dozen 2 inch cookies

Ingredients:
2 1/4 c. flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 c. brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 c. basil olive oil
1 egg
6 oz bittersweet chocolate (melted)
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 TBSP vanilla
3 TBSP fresh basil
1 TBSP basil crystals

Directions:

  • Melt chocolate and let cool.
  • Emulsify egg and oil, add vanilla.
  • Sift together dry ingredients in separate bowl.
  • Mix dry and wet ingredients together and fold in melted chocolate.
  • Mix in fresh and crystalized basil.
  • Chill dough for 1 hour.
  • Roll and use cookie cutter to cut out.
  • Bake at 350 for 12 minutes.

Portland Catering: Parisian life in a bottle

On December 1st we were honored to cater the VNAM Foundation’s first annual Charity Dinner at The Foundry in Lake Oswego. Upon arrival, guests were greeted with an elegant St. Germain signature cocktail. The GP staff worked alongside Ms. Emily Baker, the Oregon ambassador for St. Germain. She mixed and we poured as we both spread the St.G gospel to the swooning guests. Several years ago we were given a bottle of St. G as a gift and fell in love with this beguiling nectar. Each spring fragile elderflower blossoms are handpicked in the French Alps and macerated for 4-6 weeks to produce this curious elixer. Not quite peach, nor pear, lychee or citrus, it’s a subtle delicate blend of these and more. The French call it un mélange curieux, which means a curious or intriguing combination. The sophisticated Belle Époque style bottle is designed by Sandstrom Partners right here in Portland. Emily shared with us the drink recipe from the event and we’d love to pass it on to you. Enjoy!

St. G’s signature cocktail is simple – pour together 2 parts champagne, 2 parts club soda and 1 ½ parts St. Germain, over ice with a rose petal float.

PS: Sambucus or elderberry is often found in cough syrups.  We’re not saying it’s a sure cure, but next time your feeling under the weather, we suggest drink a hot toddy with St. Germain.