Thursday, September 30, 2010

Gluten Free Catering

Today was different than any other day I have worked. I was put in charge of putting together 5 dishes for a catering event. Putting together 5 dishes is a piece of cake, but when you have to make sure there are 75 of each hors d’oeuvres, things get more complicated. Especially since the entire menu is gluten free.

The first dish was simple, our hummus served with crudite. I peeled and sliced cucumbers and carrots. By cutting them at a diagonal you are able to increase the surface area and make vegetable chips, perfect for dipping! Next I peeled the celery and cut off the tops and bottoms. Yes, I peeled the celery. This was a new technique for me, but it makes such a difference. No more awkward moments trying to bite through all of those filaments. I also cut orange, yellow, and red peppers into strips. Put all the vegetables on a white plate, and made a beautiful presentation full of fresh vibrant colors. We put the hummus in dishes and then squeezed lemon juice and sprinkled paprika on top.

I continued onto the next small bite- dates stuffed with Manchego cheese and celery. Manchego cheese is a firm Spanish cheese made from ewe’s milk. It has a golden color and a full, mellow flavor. I had to pit all of the dates in order to stuff them which is a very sticky process. The stickiness of the dates helps hold the celery and cheese once placed inside, so they are an easy one bit appetizer.

Moving on, it was time to make marinated carrots. The marinade consisted of red wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, parsley, oregano and red chili flake. I rough chopped everything and then pulsed it in a blender. We had to blanch the carrots before adding them to the marinade. Blanching means that you cook the food very briefly in boiling water and then remove and place in an ice bath to immediately stop the cooking process. This way the carrots are cooked, but still have a nice crunch. We added them to the marinade and let them soak in all the flavors for a few hours.

I also helped prep for some caprese crackers. We used gluten free crackers and then topped them with fresh mozzarella, basil, and roasted tomatoes. They were delicious and so simple!

Our final appetizer was an endive spear filled with goat cheese, pomegranate seeds, and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Endive is a type of lettuce that is very bitter. The smoothness and tanginess of the goat cheese really made this dish work.

It took all day to make all of these dishes, but it was so fun! I never even looked at the clock because I was constantly working and also had a clear understanding of everything I needed to accomplish. I liked being given this much of a responsibility, I really felt like I was able to get so much done, and everything looked so great!

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