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Posts posted by KarenDW

  1. another very popular and easy chicken thing, although your seniors might balk at the perceived "foreign" food... I am making this next Thursday for my Community Meal: Salsa Chicken. Bake the chicken on trays, then move to hotel pan inserts. Cover w/ mild salsa and/or chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle w/ grated cheese. Finish baking & hold hot. Serve w/ rice. What the heck, go out on a limb and add some chopped bell peppers and a little cumin to the rice. I might just use some taco seasoning mix from the food rescue place. The last time I served this meal the response was very good.

    Romaine hearts are pretty inexpensive around here, and I can also order pre-chopped romaine for $6 a pound from the food service suppliers. Our program sometimes receives donations from the local food bank, including things like tomatoes and ketchup. So, this week I may be using donated items instead of pre-done salsa. We also have been receiving fresh carrots and other root veg from a local rural park initiative. It's so cool. Last Tuesday I went and harvest the carrots we served on Thursday night. The guests seemed interested that I was able to be so engaged. The donations make it possible for me to keep to my $3 per person budget (which also includes napkins, take out containers, iced tea, milk, foil, parchment paper)

    I have a thread on this forum which talks about the Community Meal Project I work for. But maybe people have to be members of the forum to access the archives.

  2. just a quick note, for your pseudo Thanksgiving dinner: At the beginning of October (before Thanksgiving) I did roast chicken with apple stuffing. tossed salad, maple glazed squash & carrots, and pumpkin chiffon tarts. Total cost was $3 per person for 100 ppl. Portion size was two bone-in thighs, 1 cup of salad, 1 up of veg, and one 2" tart. I baked the chicken separately, then put it on top of the stuffing to finish. Then I was able to use the juice from the cooking chicken in the gravy (Knorr mix).

    Pumpkin filling was about 6 "regular" size tins of pumpkin and pumpkin pie filling from the church pantry, mixed w/ vanilla pudding mix and some cream, and I bought pre-done tart shells on sale at the grocery store. Lucky us, we have a Costco close by (30 min drive), and so I was able to get the chicken there. Salad greens come from a restaurant supplier about 30 min away who does cash and carry; I ordered 15 lbs of chopped romaine & other lettuce.

    Unfortunately, I take very few photos of my work. But some other people did. Suanne posted the photo here http://chowtimes.com/2007/10/roasted_chick...e_stu.html#more. The original recipe was in the Oct issue of Eat magazine. I adapted to suit people who don't eat pork.

    Other than pre-made stocks, gravy mix and pudding mixes, I try to use as little pre-fab food as possible, but really, I totally need to use the frozen peas now and again. It seems impossible to find anyone who will shell peas for 100.

  3. a kick-a$$ mac & cheese... marscapone, sour cream, half & half, about 1/2 lb of your fave sharp cheese... and the pasta (just about forgot). Whip the heavy cream w/ a bit of sugar and freeze individ. portions on a tray; pop into bags in the freezer for "later"

  4. That's awesome!

    I have to sometimes peel AND dice a case or two of butternut at my job, maybe a jigsaw could be brought into play here as well (I can't feel my knife hand after finishing that case).

    Keep up the good work!

    For two cases, I would suggest a table saw setup. :raz: Some days... power tools RULE!

  5. I would SO love that set-up! We have about 30 ambercup squashes that need "doing with". They were a donation from the neighborhood Sharing Farm to the Community Meal that I cook weekly.

    Personally, I use a knife.

    Some of our volunteers have knife skills which I can only describe as "scary" in a group kitchen context. The skins of the ambercups are really tough, I've watched a couple of knives slide off :shock:

  6. It was like he became the stern dad, and she was the petulant 5 year old faced with a plate of spinach, broccoli, and brussle sprouts.

    This sounds like it is about more... although food is a good barometer. In any romantic relationship there must be some give and take, as well as a willingness to accept the differences between one's partner and oneself.

    Insisting that one's dinner partner "try something" sets up quite a different dynamic than offering a sample. Subtle, perhaps, but important.

    That said, I dated someone (briefly) who didn't eat broccoli, one of my favorite foods. It lasted about a year. I am now married to someone who likes to cook, eats a variety of foods, but doesn't like some of the things I do. Oh well. We work it out. That's kinda what life is all about. The important part is that he is willing to try new things. As am I.

  7. My first husband used to always roll w/ a rolling pin. He was more of the artist type.

    My 2nd husband uses a pasta roller. He is more into machines. So much, so, that he really wanted the KA pasta attachment... but I held out for the hand roller.

    We use AP flour, because it's already here :-) I like to make sure that there is somewhere to dry the pasta for a little while before cooking.... laundry rack?

  8. I have attended the Apple Festival in previous years. On one memorable visit, I arrived early in the day, with plans to taste what was available, observe the demos (prime cider-making tool: the InSinkerator!), and to meet with a few casual orchardists. These tasks made for an enjoyable afternoon. It turned out that a few members of the Apple ID Squad (not the real name of the committee) live in my neighborhood. A few days later, the group had identified six possible varieties of apple which grow on our property (and NOT delicious, mac, gala or spartan). It was very cool.

    Obviously this year's Festival did not meet the expectations of Currypuff and Tough Cookie, and there may have been many other disappointed attendees. From an event planning and marketing POV, I would suggest sending a bit of feedback to the Apple Festival organizers. There may be some changes to be made in future advertising to better indicate the sort of event to anticipate. IIRC, the event is organized by volunteers, not a professional event planning company. Volunteers are wonderful; they make things possible in otherwise prohibitive situations.

  9. Thanks for your reply, Carolyn. Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to check back before we left.

    We decided to take the "slow" route south, with stops in Bodega Bay and Santa Cruz. Notable eateries included:

    Hurley's for lunch in Yountville. Such a lovely way to stop for the mid-day meal. A warm and comfortable room; wonderful fish soup as part of the 2-course set lunch with crab & saffron risotto. The staff were professional and efficient, without being stuffy.

    Soif, the new-ish wine bar in Santa Cruz. The "flight" of the week was Australian Reds, which DH took to immediately (after 2 days of Napa). Best bar food I've had in a long time. I really enjoy the CA custom of the Tasting Portion, which allowed me to sample wines to pair w/ the tapas we chose.

    Phil's Fish Market in Moss Landing, for the sheer freshness! Oysters were sweet, juicy and tender, blue points, I think. Crab salad with Louis dressing...mmmm.

    Of course there will be repeat visits.

  10. Perhaps the menu/ingredient question is best answered by considering the reason for getting together over a meal. Is it convenience (i.e., quick supper before the theatre); then make a simple menu with little or no fussing. If the gathering is more of a social affair, to be conducive to conversing a la salon, then again, keep the menu sophisticated yet with one or two very accessible main items so that guests can focus less on what to "not eat" and more on chatting.

    If, however, the gathering is more food focused, as in trying out new things, then invite those guests who will appreciate the particular menu you have planned. There will surely be other occasions to which you can invite your more particular guests.

    If this is a family function, birthday, parents' anniversary, or similar... you are doomed. The finicky eaters will not like anything anyways, and those who anticipate something fun or creative... will be disappointed. Order out. :-)

    But seriously, if the finicky diner is an important member of the guest list, then provide ample notice that The Dish will be on the menu, and offer to prepare something more palatable, but simple (or offer to order out for them).

  11. If they are major salad eaters, and you have someone serving at the buffet: about 4 lbs total of whole lettuce & greens & "other bits". Or 2 x 1lb (454 gm) boxes of spring salad greens .The nutrition info label says 3oz. per serving, but in a buffet the leaves will usually go farther.

    about dressing: you will use less dressing if you pre-dress the salad, but then the leaves wilt, look smaller, and people might take more :unsure: . If you want to have diners dress their own salad, put a small ladle in the bowl, the size of portion you planned for (i.e., 1 oz = 2 tbsp, which is average)

  12. updates, anyone?

    heading down in a few days (Wed-Sun) beginning w/ Napa. We will have a car, and wondered about heading to Monterey for the weekend.

    This is a budget trip, so probably no stop at Panisse, nor TFL. But still, we'd like good food, and maybe music. Jazz or blues.

  13. 95 seat dining room. Casual w/ linen. lol. Live jazz. 5% table turnover on a busy night. Open weekends only. Walkins account for 10% or less.

    FOH: 4 servers, bartender, host, server assistant if more than 75% booked.

    Kitchen: Chef, 2 cooks, d/w

  14. How many restaurants pool tips?  Quite a few, I'd bet.  If this is the practice then all pretense of rewarding good service is gone and the tip is just underwriting the owner's bottom line.

    In our dining room, the tips are pooled. But then, so is the service. Each table is assigned to a particular server, but every person on the floor is capable of providing service (running food, drink orders, etc). Mind you, the room is small (25 tables) and there are 3 servers, a bartender and a host.

    IMHO, "good service" should be a global sense from the entire dining room, but the dining experience can be enhanced greatly by the ministrations of an individual. And that individual can be rewarded individually, as well, by a cash tip, personally delivered, along with "thank you for adding to our enjoyment of this evening".

  15. I used to have my freezer separated into areas for breads, proteins, and produce. Then I got roommates.

    I also used to use one of the crisper drawers in the fridge, just for condiments. Then someone else decided we should get a new fridge, with fancy shelves on the door. There's not enough room for the condiments. :hmmm:

    Some days I think I should get new roommates.

    Also, for freezing, I actually prefer zipper bags to containers for some items (anything which can be squished flat), as the bags take less space. Chopped vegetables, extra bits of thicker sauces, soups & stews, pesto, also for the cubes of stock/tomato paste/juice that are left from other recipes, even pasta with sauce; these can all go in zipper bags.

  16. What I'd be interested in is Thanksgiving dinner served on the only real Thanksgiving Day: the fourth Thursday in November.  That's right, I said it.  I'll be celebrating Thanksgiving with the majority of North Americans and to heck with this October nonsense!  :raz:

    Then come on down and lend a hand at our Community Meal in Richmond! We are having turkey dinner the last Thursday in November, and then we shut down for a month's break. There are usually lots of other community meals in December, and our volunteers could use some time out.

    Dinner is at 5:30. Prep shift starts at 2. :-)

  17. I really need to get a giant braising pot.  My ex catering boss has one I could borrow, but I dont really like asking.  I think I'm going to write a letter to the restaurant supply in London and see if they can donate one.

    or, you could use the hotel pans, if you have some. Or the roasting pans which are sometimes available at Costco... there's one in London, right? Mostly, I do oven braises, because it's less lifting, overall.

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