33 Components of a Dinner for Ten

KUMQUAT CREME BRULEE - ALMOND PANFORTE - DARK CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES - FRESH BERRIES WITH PETIT TETON'S RHUBARB JAM...

KUMQUAT CREME BRULEE - ALMOND PANFORTE - DARK CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES - FRESH BERRIES WITH PETIT TETON'S RHUBARB JAM...

This dinner started at the silent auction table at the 2015 Yorkville Wine Festival.  The owner of the Highland's Estate B&B was the winning bid in support of the Yorkville Fire Department.  The evening was to be a gathering of the hosts dearest friends.  I knew I wanted to dazzel the crowd with a simple menu of the "Flavors of Mendocino" and by time we served the menu, I had created 33 seperate "flavor components or preparations".  Each sauce, infused butter, pesto and roasted vegetable are each prepared seperately with different flavor profiles, then combined at the plating.

My sister called the morning of the event to encourage me before I left the kitchen.  She left me with , "ten people, simple menu...you'll rock it, it's easy! I laughed and thought how funny it is that a dinner for ten could be so complex yet translate into such a relaxing meal with friends.

I suggeted a simple menu of:

- Antipasto & Charcuterie Selection

- Green Salad with a Citrus Herb Dressing

- Local Meat Grilled and Seasonal Vegetable Selection

- Dessert Sampler Platter

I always send off the menu proposal knowing it will develop into sooo many more layers of flavors.  I counted 20 flavor components after a few days in the kitchen so, I thought I should write about how that happens in the process of developing a "simple menu".  The evening turned out to be 33 "flavor components" that I prepared to create our dimensional yet simple dinner for ten.

The Antipasto & Charcuterie (12 preparations)

I suggest a variation of a Charcuterie/Antipasto at almost every event.  You can fill it full of seasonal ingredients and everyone finds exactly what they like while settling in to the event. The components of this selection turned out to be:

- Pennyroyal Farm's - Lychee, Boont Corners 2month aged cheese and Point Reyes Blue cheese

- 2 local uncured meats - sliced (I will list these on my local ingredient list)

- Dried figs, currents, pinenuts, fresh Anjou pears,

- Candied Citrus & Petit Teton's Candied Jalapeno

- Italian Spiced Walnuts

- crostini toasts  with Old Chatham Ranch Olive Oil - balsamic vinegar - sea salt & pepper - 

- Sweet Potato Hummus

- Roasted Eggplant - Brussel Sprouts  - Garlic & Beets

- Caramelized Onions in Cabernet

- Sauteed Shiitake and Lions Mane Mushrooms

- Fresh Basil Pesto

Green on Green Salad with an Herb - Citrus Vinegarette (4 preparations)

A simple salad can go any direction seasonally at the begining or end of the meal.  The greens this week (first week of April 2016) were mostly all from Petit Teton in Yorkville and beautiful!  I choose a green salad so I could showcase the infused butters and they were a big hit.  

- Spinach, mixed greens, sorell, miners lettuce, cucumber, avocado, pistachios, herbs, edible flowers

- Fresh bread and 3 butters: Shallot/cabernet reduction, Roasted lemon, rosemary & garlic, and a Sundried tomato & thyme 

Entree - Local Meat & Vegetable Selections (9 preparations)

The hostess requested short ribs and I added local lamb racks and meatballs that I made out of Acorn Farms, Andouilli sausages.  With the sous vide cooking process for each meat and the sauces, this course was a flavor sensation!

- Short Ribs - Sous vide for 48 hours and served with a Poblano Chili & Orange juice reduction

- Lamb Rib Racks - Sous vide for 6 hours with a Mint & Basil Pesto and Fig Cointraeu Jam

- Meatballs - Sous vide for 2 hours - Acorn Farms pork Andouilli sausages

- Sauteed Mushrooms - Shiitake, Crinini, Whites

- Seared Asperagus in EVOO & balsamic 

- Roasted Smashed Artichoke-Potatoes with fresh herbs

Dessert Sampler Platter (8 preparations)

All I was sure of was using fresh kumquats, from a friends tree, in some way and I'd recently watched a cooking show featuring creme brulee. I love to "graze flavors" through every meal and dessert should be the most adventurous, dont you think?  Commiting to one large sweet flavor portion is boring so, I always pick combinations that are great with coffee or more red wine.  The dinner ended with a "standing O" (standing ovation) and I'm pretty sure it was a result of the dessert course...And the magnum of Syrah, just sayin.

- Kumquat Creme Brulee, candied & sun dried kumquat slices and local strawberries

- Candied citrus 2 ways - Anderson Valley grapefruit, lemons and organic oranges from southern california

- Blanched Almonds preserved in rosemary infused honey

- Almond Panforte 

- Italian Spiced Walnuts & Candied Walnuts

- Fresh Strawberries with Petit Tetons' Rhubbarb Jam

- Fresh Whipped Cream

- Dark Chocolate Truffles

- Mint Leaves dipped in Chocolate

Dinner was delightful and the guests loved the variety of flavors.  I intoduce each dish with a little about the local ingredients and their sources.  For me it's all about each farmer or vendor and their story and passion for their product.   I left the dinner party early so the guests could continue their stories while grazing through the dessert platters with the rest of the Syrah.  A perfect evening!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Components of a Cheese & Wine Pairing

At Pennyroyal Farm the cheese varietals yield different flavor notes throughout the changing seasons as pasture grasses mature and days become shorter... While designing a pairing menu for four Spring varietals, I read about their goats on the Pennyroyal Farm Facebook page. The crafting of the cheese varietals and their wines are clearly a passion of Farm life here in our fertile Shire. 

I'm always motivated to create fabulous flavors from our Anderson Valley ingredients. Sourcing seasonal produce from local farmers to blend the perfect pairing combinations is a goal for every menu design. I started with the four cheese varietals and did a little research on their optimal flavor pairings.  I "sketch out" possible seasonal ingredients and then it's a building process from there on.  A trip to the Farmers' Market solidifies the menu a bit more, then a flurry of emails go out to friends who farm and garden here in the Valley.  I'm sourcing the Flavors of Mendocino while trying to support every local business possible.  If I can't find it here I'll branch to within 100 mile of Mendocino and if the ingredient isn't there, it doesn't make it on the menu. Chocolate is an exception that I gladly will make, every time! If someone starts an indoor Mendocino Cacao Project, please contact me.  I make local choices because I'm motivated by fresh flavors and the highest nutrition content closest to their harvest.  I also want to support every micro business possible in our community which results in economic sustainability for our rural town.

Here's a list of the "flavor components" I created for each of the cheese varietals and a little on the ingredients, sourced for the menu.  

With the Lychee soft goat cheese, I paired;

Candied citrus - local fruit from friends who garden

Jalapeno Fritters - local from friends

Balsamic Caramelized Onions - Pomegranate balsamic from within 100 miles.

Arugula Pesto - local arugula and olive oil

Potato Latkes with Smoked Salmon, fennel, capers and Meyer lemon - all local except the capers.  (I'll try a another local pickled flower bud)

With the Velvet Sister, camembert  style creamy cheese, I paired:

Grilled Fennel Bulb with EVOO, Mendocino sea salt and pepper.  All local except the pepper.

Shiitake "bacon" and sauteed Lion's Mane Mushrooms - local

Fig & Cointreau Jam - Figs I canned last fall

Roasted Garlic - local

Sun dried tomato, fennel, fig, current, toasted pine nut  bruschetta  - all local

Italian Almond Brittle - Local herb blends from Mendocino

With the Boonter's Blue cheese, I paired:

Thick sliced pepper Bacon from Round House Meats 

Anjou Pears marinated in an AV red wine reduction syrup and grilled

Spiced Walnuts with a local black Chanterelle powder with Herbes de Provence, olive oil, Mendo sea salt & pepper

With the Boont Corners cheese, I paired:

Dried fruits & Spiced nuts (local persimmon, apples, figs, currents, walnuts)

Fire roasted Apples in a Lemon-Chipotle-Apple Syrup

Blanched-Tasted Almonds preserved in Rosemary infused Honey

Old Chatham Ranch Olive Oil & Pomegranate Balsamic

Lots of local bread and crackers

And as a standard, I included a sweet plate of:

Dark Chocolate Truffle Bark - Jalapeno Rock Sugar - Fresh Strawberries & Blueberries - Candied Citrus - and sun dried kumquat slices with a mound of roasted garlic.

The layers of flavors, "grazing options" are perfect pairings with your favorite cheeses, meats and beverages. Many of these value added products pair perfectly with ice cream also.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mendocino Food & Wine, the source of ingredients matter...

Every ingredient is grown by someone I know and the produce was harvested earlier in the morning right around the corner from the farmers' market.  I know the meat rancher and the cheese maker and the people who work for them honing the craft.  Flavors are heartier and the nutrients are most dense, the fresher the produce. Everything tastes better so, you use less salt & sweet in everyday cooking just because the ingredients offer more complex flavors. Local olive oil was pressed and stored by it's artisan producer, the goat milk for my fresh ice cream is from a goat who's name I know....I love the country and the dedication of our rural farmers and ranchers who offer the finest ingredients so close to home. I'm grateful for the flavors of Mendocino in AV's seasonal harvests of plenty. By Valerie Adair www.culinaryorigins.com 

Please check out local ingredient sources at http://mendofoodguide.org/

A reception at The Madrones for a few friends, after a long and winding road to wine country

A reception at The Madrones for a few friends, after a long and winding road to wine country

Busy raw-vegan clients love Private Chef's who deliver!

A client and dear friend was introduced across my coffee table at a summer open house. As he leaned in for a European air kiss, to each cheek, he dove for my vegan coffee table books. In a snap, I was invited to cook for he and several of his friends, days later. I arrived with all of the organic groceries and prepared a tasting menu for 20 in an all white condo posing as a gallery. We were suspended out over the shoreline some five or six stories up. It was breathtaking with sitar music drifting from hidden speakers and the ocean pulsing the beat under our feet. The vegan plates were artful and the flavors & textures balanced to perfection.  I was rockin it and my new client/friend was glad to have discovered me.  

I made weekly visits to clients kitchens, created their favorite dishes and sauces, packaged them for the next few days and left their kitchens cleaner then when I'd arrived.  Several clients hired me to cater gallery showings, open house and raw-vegan culinary class parties. Art and food all healthy and nutritious...and even freshly juiced cocktails make "healthy" a very sexy way to entertain, everyday!   I found my passion in healthy & nutritious menus served as tasty culinary art.   By Valerie Adair www.culinaryorigins.com  

Health Crisis inspires Self Healing through nutrition

"Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food" Hippocrates

"Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food" Hippocrates

I've been a primary caregiver for several of my favorite people after their cancer diagnosis. I've sat in support through meetings with genius oncologists, witnessing the ravages of chemo and radiation while friends and family disintegrated painfully in my arms.  Nurses explain how important it is to not eat antioxidants while taking chemo treatments since the abrasive chemical is designed to kill both good and bad cells throughout the process. The oncology nutritionist always suggests a diet of white rice, mashed potatoes, cream of wheat and a short list of other "white foods" suggested to keep the patient's pendulum of nausea at bay.  I had hoped cancer was finished with my family after dad's lengthy battles but cancer is, after all, the master of the "sucker punch". 

Nutritional balance & cuisine that heals

Nutritional balance & cuisine that heals

Pacing the orchard with my morning coffee and garden basket full, I've got my sister on the phone...and she asks me if I'm sitting down.  I look up to the swirls of fog dancing a farewell hula through the property and into every curve afar off at the base of the mountain. Now everything's in slow motion and I feel my knees liquify under the weight of the words "I have cancer and I start chemo in a month". 

Visions of paradise are abandoned as you walk the long hospital corridors in search of the next appointment. It's a dichotomy in a haze of well meaning and heroic medical professionals yet, with a gnawing feeling that something is missing from the puzzle...a hidden door to an ancient wisdom.  When you arrive at your appointment, the door opens to a waiting room full of desperate faces.  Each time I sit here I am overwhelmed by this crazy surreal powerlessness.  

To "resist the inevitable" I started researching alternative and integrative healing protocols, starting with nutrition. I discovered that the Gerson Institute was hosting a conference in San Diego. I took the train from the Mission and soaked up the science of nutritional healing for several days with hundreds of other hopeful caregivers, all family and friends. Along the coast and homeward I felt charged with a new energy of possibilities. I felt released or liberated by some limitless knowledge, all light and information, empowering us all to create something new.  By Valerie Adair  www.culinaryorigins.com  

 

 

My "Bucket List" Big Island adventure.

I rolled past the visiting crowds, rented a white economy car and slapped my catering business, car magnets on either side, right there in the parking lot.  My first stop in Kona was a restaurant supply that I'd GPS'd for a knife sharpener and a few other tools of the trade. At the back of the store looking at chopstick sets and sushi platters, I heard a jovial voice request "the Chef with the great car signage". On Island less then an hour and I'm shaking hands with a local guy who owns a busy catering business. He needs backup at several events within the next few weeks. After working together, he and his wife and I became great friends and they really helped to network me for Private Chef dinners and smaller gatherings.  I'd come to Hawaii primarily for a much needed sabbatical but I also wanted to jump into the culinary wave here and get into Pacific Rim cooking. Here was my opportunity for a paid invitation. Thank's for suggesting a "bucket list" dad, I've always wanted to live "Hawaii".  

Sashimi Napoleon and Roasted Beet and Truffle Salad

Sashimi Napoleon and Roasted Beet and Truffle Salad

A year on the Big Island is potentially a book all on it's own. I've got some classic stories from a variety of kitchens that can top Saturday Night Live, for sure.  Do you know that the presence of cockroaches and rats do not always constitute a dirty kitchen? My place on the board of the Farmer/Chef Association was a tasty adventure, helping to organize lavish culinary events in a tropical paradise. Grand Resorts full of World Class Chefs serving artful tasting plates paired with wines and local Island beers was a divine opportunity. I snorkeled with dolphins, crewed a catamaran with 150 visitors daily for snorkeling dive tours. It truly was an adventure, bitter and sweet.

I shipped my mini Mitsubishi jeep, full of gear, to Maui and took a Private Chef position with a family on a compound with four unique homes.  Their art and yoga retreats on the cliffs at Haiku offered fresh ocean breezes off transcendent vistas and "crazy ono" menus of local flavors land and sea, "Island style". Homemade kombucha, a beautiful organic garden and tropical fruit orchard created the perfect space for healthy guests to thrive. Maui vistas often shape shifted to resemble Mendocino through the mist. Pulling over to soak in the sunset, and squint for a green flash, I looked across the water and pictured a cathedral of Redwoods encircling me, the smell of the forest and a feeling of home.  By Valerie Adair www.culinaryorigins.com

Cooking island style - A private party for  members and guests 

Cooking island style - A private party for  members and guests 



  

Corporate Events & Vacation Homes need Private Chef Services

     Corporate Luncheon at The Pacific Institute, Seattle, WA 

     Corporate Luncheon at The Pacific Institute, Seattle, WA 

The blessing of working for yourself is the ability to re-market yourself and find a new niche where you could not see it before.  "Necessity is the mother of invention" proven when my dad was diagnosed with cancer and I chose to move closer to him to Seattle and later, follow him, to Southern California. As a Private Chef I can move with my Chef kit & coat, pans and white platters and I'm ready to throw an impressive gathering for 10 to 50 guests, fairly easily.  The stop at the local Farmers' Market for the best produce, artisan meats & cheeses and a handful of flowers and I can create a meal or a party on location or in any creative venue. 

Friend's at the beach, my sisters employer, my dot com friends, all wanted to throw parties and needed a caterer. Clients also contacted me to serve a special dinner for friends and family in both their primary and vacation homes. I served as a live in house manager / chef for a large family in Seattle and also produced a number of corporate culinary events for raising venture capitol. I've catered several of my friend's weddings and their friend's weddings. I've always offered floral arrangements for events since my mom and I had a floral business in 1984. I join ladies groups, business networking and   

Corporate Event - Four Buffets throughout the warehouse office space

Corporate Event - Four Buffets throughout the warehouse office space

local food organizations which introduce a variety of creative culinary possibilities for a nomadic Chef. Before my dad died he suggested I go follow my "bucket list" so I started watching documentaries on diving in Hawaii.  I created a gallery of my Pacific Rim dishes, posted them on my tropical website and bought a one way ticket to the Big Island. By Valerie Adair

Chef at Sea - wooden yacht charters

Chef at Sea - wooden yacht charters

I fell in love at the Wooden Boat Show and was offered a Chef's position for a week long charter through the San Juan Islands.  I drove away from the gated community and down to the marina for another adventure that lasted decades. The 1935, classic wooden, twin diesel that stole my heart was Carmelita. Her galley had dutch doors to the deck with views port and starboard with room enough for one to make chowder, while under way. Farm stands on every Island, we harvested our seasonal catch and shopped local vendors to create the menus of the Pacific Northwest for our charter guests.  

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Culinary Impressions

Culinary Impressions

We moved from Seattle to Los Angeles and eventually settled in Redondo Beach where I went to high school. My life was devoted to the beach, art classes and my new first job working for a European caterer, a Danish Chef and mentor, Lisa Eriksen.  My neighbor, she asked me over the fence if I would serve appetizers at a cocktail party that evening and to show up in black pants and a white shirt. I loved everything about the work and realized hospitality came naturally for me.

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Origins of Passion

A meeting place, was my mothers kitchen. The first one I remember had red Formica counter tops and avocado appliances separated from the dining room with swinging saloon doors.  My mom was a dining room manager at the Polynesia Restaurant on pier 51 in Seattle in the late 60's. My childhood impressions are full of Seattle dining rooms and the life of the Pike Street Market.   We hiked the Farmer's Market and ate in hidden restaurants down alleyways and long staircases through Pioneer Square and up to China Town. We toured a noodle factory in the pouring rain and finished in a noodle cafe over steaming bowls of their finest.

My mom loved the rich Native Heritage of the Pacific Northwest introducing us to traditional foods and seasonal menus on every excursion and local "field trip".  Pancakes in Paradise on Mt. Rainier, the Salmon Bake on Blake Island, steamed clams sailing through the San Juan's and a Ladies High Tea in Victoria Canada at the Empress Hotel.  Every outing an adventure and every adventure, in some way, seemed to be connected to local food. 

I grew up just outside the City in an evolving farm town called Redmond, Washington.  With Girl Scouts, 4-H and adventurous parents I explored childhood from mountains to the sea, we skied and sailed every weekend fueling up at our favorite farm stands, diners and cafes.  Snapshots and deep impressions with every meal, along the way...   by Valerie Adair