In my 14 year career as a caterer, I have maybe done a dozen tastings. They are time consuming and expensive to produce. I could do the entire event in just a little more time than a tasting. And, as the saying goes, "There is no such thing as a free lunch." The cost of the tasting is rolled into the cost of catering an event. Not doing one keeps the cost down. Most people have either eaten my food or heard about it from someone who has raved about it. If not, they trust my perfectionist streak or look at pictures on this website. That said, I did a tasting yesterday.
Catering Hillelfest, Hillel UW's now biennial fundraising event, is a call to push the limits of creativity within a theme. In year's past, Gil Mark's came to town to speak for the event. I created a menu out of his cookbook's to great success. I made "7-layer cakes", or Dobos Torte as it is originally called, replete with the caramel layer. I made 20 of them. 20 x 7 = 140 layers of spongecake. Kris reminded me yesterday that I had made the 7-layer cakes for the student Shabbat dinner at that same time. I made them in large slabs like the bakeries back East, cutting thin longs and pouring ganache over the top. Gil Marks came into the kitchen to meet me and saw THOSE, not the beautiful buttercream, ganache and caramel Dobos Tortes I had made. Looking like he wanted to cut and run, I confidently assured him that I wasn't about to shame him and his books. I love his books.
Another year, I made an Italian themed buffet spread. I was proud that the only bit of pasta was small tortellini on skewers. That was the year I discovered salmon wrapped in tarragon crepes and ling cod with leeks. These Hillelfest events require taste testing; its all new to me.
I'm not going to spoil Hillelfest this year by telling the entire menu YET. Suffice to say I made 17 different items yesterday and we're changing the salad dressing. We also opted do do away with the imitation whipped topping dessert. I had researched the menu items for hours and felt good about the assortment. I forgot how slowly cooking goes with unfamiliar recipes and ingredients. Reading and rereading directions, imagining what I'm attempting to duplicate all the while making notations so I can do it again the same way. Not only does each item have to work, they all need to work together. I looked like heck and the kitchen looked like a bomb went off as the committee approached the dining room.
I'm sharing this one item because it is so good. Surprisingly quinoa, subtle but substantial, flavorful yet inconspicuous, it is a must add to your repertoire of sides. As I scrounge time to upload recipes, it is important to me that they are noteworthy. Quantity vs. quality; I'll take quality. This is a keeper!
|Number of servings:||about 8|
|Skill Level:||1 - Easy (1 Easy - 5 Hard)|
|Estimated POINT value:|
- 2/3 cup regular quinoa
- 2/3 cup red quinoa
- 2/3 cup black quinoa
- 4 cups 'no chicken' chicken stock (or real if meat is okay)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, or to taste
- 1 cup sweet white corn
- 1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped ~ optional
In a medium sauce pan, place the quinoa and stock. Bring to boil and turn the heat down to a slow simmer. Every now and then, give it a gentle stir. It is better to let it steam covered with the heat off than to burn it. So, when it is just about done, turn it off and keep the lid on the pot. The quinoa will absorb the water.
Add the rest of the ingredients and heat through. Adjust salt, pepper and lime juice to taste. Add chopped cilantro if using just before serving.
How easy is that?
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Hi! Thank you for stopping by to watch me, Leah, cook kosher. I've been the owner operator of my boutique catering firm in Seattle, Leah's Catering, for the past 14 years.
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