Friday, February 17, 2012

Cook Like a Caterer - a resource for the fledgling caterer, the experienced home entertainer and anyone else who loves delicious food + recipes in quantity!

Today's Caterbuzz blog features Chef and Caterer,
Renee Weir-Fontes, a seasoned caterer
in Orange County, California who recently published
a fantastic cookbook offering catering sized recipes.

COOK LIKE A CATERER, Party Sized Recipes for Entertaining

Although Renee's  original intended target audience was
the new chef looking to start a catering business
or the seasoned home cook who loves to entertain
for a crowd, caterers from all over the world
have been intrigued by the concept.

When Renee posted the link on our private
International facebook catering group, Caterbuzz,
the orders for her premiere book started pouring in.

You can order a copy of Cook Like a Caterer here,
offering over 240 large party sized recipes that
Renee Weir-Fontes has developed and used in her
catering/event design business, Fresh Ideas Catering 
over the past 25 years.

The recipes are international in scope but have a
west coast California flare offering California favorites
such as
...Mandarin Chicken Salad
   Renee's version of the ever popular Chinese Chicken Salad,

...Cabo Shrimp Cocktail
   A Cal- Mex cerviche style shrimp cocktail

...Artichoke Chicken with Mushrooms + Parmesan
   According to Renee, Artichoke Chicken is a tradition on party menus

...West Cost Grilled Tri Tip with Housemade BBQ Sauce
   well it wouldn't be a California based cookbook
   without a tri-tip recipe, would it?

Renee's catering recipes cover a variety of food themes
and include useful references such as food yields,
ideas for beverage services and catering notes in
many of the recipes, such as equipment you would
need to serve recipes that might also work well
as stations for your next party or event.
No party is complete without beverages
to compliment the food.
So recipe offerings for making
five gallons of fresh lemonade or
three quarts of spicy bloody mary will come
in handy along with more elegant offerings
such as crimson royal champagne punch,
simply marvelous for your next holiday event!

Rounding off the recipes, are catering notes
Renee includes in many of the recipes
that could  be a great help to the newbie caterer
who is just starting out on this amazing journey
we call professional catering.

Chevre Cheese Tart with Red Onion Jam
Cook Like a Caterer, page 58

Appetizer Sized Thai Pork Patties
with Red Curry Coconut Sauce
Cook Like a Caterer, page 44

Endive with Chevre + Pear,
Cook Like a Caterer, page 26

This catering gem is a cookbook with recipe selections that vary from basics like Chicken Parmigiana (chicken parmesan to us east coasters) serving 100, to a beautiful and sophisticated
yet simple to prepare appetizer of fresh endive leaves with chevre goat's cheese + pear serving 60.
Please enjoy some sample recipes and let us know what you think or better yet,  just order your own copy!

Ginger Sesame Pork Tenderloin Platter
Cook Like A Caterer, page 61

all recipes reprinted with kind permission
of author Renee Weir-Fontes

Here's the first recipe that really caught my attention 
- although there were many others that intrigued me, 
this is one concept I will be using in my own NYC catering business.

Bleu Balls of Fire
with Raspberry Chipotle Sauce

Renee writes:
 Name after the song, "Great Balls of Fire", 
and my two favorite ingredients, blue cheese and heat.
These stuffed meatballs deliver both.
The combined flavors are a great hit at parties
and has been one of my most popular cocktail appetizers.
The raspberry chipotle sauce is also delicious on ribs.
3½ pounds ground beef (18% to 20 % fat)
1 bunch green onions finely chopped
1¾ cups panko bread crumbs
2 eggs
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
14 ounces blue cheese

1. In a large bowl, mix by hand the ground beef, 
   finely chopped green onions and panko bread crumbs. 
   Whisk eggs with salt and pepper and add to ground beef mixture.

2. Divide mixture into 30 to 35 even sized balls. Flatten each ball 
    with palm of hand and distribute blue cheese among meatballs 
    (saving about a tablespoon for garnish). Roll meat back into balls, 
    careful to keep the blue cheese centered and inside. 
    Chill completely or even freeze before browning.

3. Brown meatballs in a skillet in batches, turning often to color all sides.

4. Place in 350°F oven for about 5 to 7 minutes to finish cooking.

5. Arrange meatballs on a serving platter and 
    pour heated raspberry chipotle sauce over them. 
    Sprinkle with remaining blue cheese crumbles for garnish.

1 tablespoon oil
½ cup white onions chopped
3 cups raspberry jam seedless
4 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon salt
12 ounces chipotle pepper in adobo

(note from Lisa - When I queried Renee
 if this was truly the right amount of 
chipotle in adobe as it seemed a lot to me, 
but Renee assured me that if you rinse the adobe 
off the heat level is perfect.)

In a medium sauce pan, heat oil and cook onions until translucent, add jam.

Wearing gloves, rinse adobo sauce from peppers, de- seed and chop peppers.

Stir in molasses, salt and peppers and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally.

Cook until reduced by half, strain and serve over meatballs.

These Bleu Balls of Fire Meatballs look and sound so delicious
 - I predict them becoming a new fav!

Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Many first time tasters are surprised that the curry in this recipe 
is not overwhelming and the color is as delicious as the soup. 
Curry butternut squash soup is especially nice for a Fall party 
and is charming served from a mini hallowed pumpkin.
Serves 32

8 tablespoons olive oil
8 cups onions chopped
6 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 quarts butternut squash cubed
3½ quarts chicken broth
3 cups heavy cream

Heat oil in large pot, add onions. 
Cover and cook over medium heat until soft, 
stirring often (about 5 minutes).

Add curry powder, ground ginger and ½ teaspoon of cayenne, 
Stir 30 seconds. Add squash and broth, 
bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low. 
Cover and simmer until squash is very tender (about 30 minutes).

Puree soup in batches, in blender, until smooth.

Return to same pot. Stir in cream and add salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.
Vent blender when pureeing soup to keep steam from building up.

This delectable looking Italian Stuffed Turkey Breast has already been pinned to my Holiday Pinterest board for next Thankgiving or for the next client who would like to serve an interesting and festive Turkey dish.

all recipes reprinted with kind permission
of author Renee Weir-Fontes  Cook Like A Caterer

Italian Stuffed Turkey Breast
with Shallot Cream Gravy
Try this stuffed turkey breast for
an untraditional holiday main dish.
The filling has richly flavored mushrooms
and pancetta blended with frangant spices

Try this stuffed turkey breast for 
an untraditional holiday main dish. 
The filling has richly flavored mushrooms 
and pancetta blended with fragrant herbs.
Makes 16 to 20 servings

2 cups water
1½ ounces dried Porcini mushrooms
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 ounces crimini mushrooms chopped coarse
1 cup finely chopped shallot
12 ounces Pancetta (Italian bacon) chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
4 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from French bread
6 to 8 pound turkey breast boned but skin left intact

1.Bring 2 cups water to a boil and add dried mushrooms 
and remove from heat. Let stand until soft, about 30 minutes. 
Drain and chop, reserving soaking liquid from mushrooms.

2.Sauté pancetta in heavy large skillet over medium heat 
until crisp, transfer pancetta to paper towel to drain. 
Add 2 tablespoons oil to drippings in skillet. Add 
½ cup shallots and fresh mushrooms sauté until 
mushrooms begin to brown and liquid dries. 
Remove from heat, stir in pancetta, chopped porcini mushrooms, 
parsley and rosemary. Mix in breadcrumbs and 
as much reserved mushroom soaking liquid as needed to moisten. 
Season stuffing to taste with salt and pepper. 
Set aside and cool completely.

3.Double butterfly turkey breast by slicing 
each side of the breast open down the middle 
¾ through and fold out. Cover with plastic wrap. 
Using a meat mallet, pound to ½ inch thick rectangle 
(about 14x10 inches). Remove plastic wrap and sprinkle 
turkey with salt and pepper.

4.Spread stuffing over, leaving a one inch border open. 
Starting at 1 long side, roll up turkey jelly roll style. 
Secure with kitchen twine every 2 inches and once 
lengthwise to secure ends and to hold shape.

5.Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat remaining 
2 tablespoons oil in heavy roasting pan over 
medium-high heat. Brown turkey roll on all sides, 
pour ½ cup broth into bottom of pan. Cover turkey with foil, 
roast for 30 minutes then remove foil. Brush turkey with 
1 teaspoon butter, roast until turkey is brown and thermometer 
inserted into center registers 165°F (about 3 hours). 
Transfer turkey to platter to rest tented loosely with foil.

6.Remove strings from turkey. Cut roast crosswise into 
½ inch thick slices and serve with shallot cream gravy.

1 cup sherry
4 cups low salt chicken broth
1 cup finely chopped shallots
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
salt and white pepper to taste

1. Deglaze roasting pan with sherry, scraping up bits from the pan. 
Add shallots and broth, lower heat simmer 
and cook shallots until very soft.

2. In a medium saucepan melt remaining butter and 
whisk in flour to make a roux. 
Strain and add pan liquid to roux whisking vigorously. 
Cook until thickened about 5 minutes remove from heat, 
whisk in cream and season to taste with salt and white pepper.
Bon Apetit and get ready to ....

To order Cook Like a Caterer 
please click here 
thank you to Renee for supplying the recipes and photos 
in this caterbuzz blog post
Renee tells us that she is currently
 working on an EBook Version 
with full colored photos of all the recipes.
Stay tuned for more details as they become available.
you may also contact Renee directly 
Fresh Ideas Event Services 


Besides running Fresh Ideas Catering,
 teaching cooking classses, 
and consulting on special projects
Chef Renee Weirs-Fontes is also the Event Designer 
for the Orange County Fair and Event Center 
in Costa Mesa, California

Hi, I'm Lisa Teiger, co-founder of caterBuzz, owner of CuisinEtc Catering + Special Events,  
a boutique NYC catering concern, a food stylist, culinary fashionista and roving 
caterBuzz catering reporter, coming to you from NYC but always going beyond !!!  

We hope that you will consider caterBuzz as your traveling eye for the inquisitive professional catering guys and gals around the globe.  Sharing and learning from each others as only like minded professional caterers can do, through pictures, stories, questions and answers, available here on and also on our facebook caterBuzz group page, a private forum for the catering community.

    If you are an experienced event or catering professional
    and wish to join in the Facebook caterbuzz group,
    please email me
    with a brief note indicating your
    professional experience + current position,
    your catering website and your facebook catering page.

    Membership is restricted to experienced professionals
    so that the level of conversation provides
    peer to peer communication.

    If you are a new caterer or someone looking to become a caterer, by all means 
    contact us as well, and we can guide you to many resources that will be helpful for  
    starting your catering business.

    Thanks for stopping by the Caterbuzz Blog, 
    please leave us a note or comment below 
    and we will be sure to get back to you!

    Life is a journey, 
    Caterers help you make it a delicious one!!


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PxCater - Atlanta said...

After reading this I cannot wait for my copy to arrive. Thanks for the sneak peek Lisa!

Renee Weir- Fontes said...

It was a challenging, exciting, scary, thrilling mental coster ride writing and self publishing a cookbook. It's just like catering your first "big event" only with less clean up.
I appreciate Lisa's Teiger's kind words, and help by posting a review. Along with caterbuzz support, it helped with that raw "just put myself out there feeling."

Pictures I know are helpful, but keeping printing cost down seemed important this time. I will get an E Book out soon with shots of the dishes. Thank you, Lisa!

Brett Rodgers said...

Thanks for this post. My fiance and I have been looking for a catering company in Utah for our wedding. We have looked at plenty of catering companies and this one is probably our favorite one so far. Thanks for the post again and we will be back to check it out.

Alex Smith said...

Nice Post.
Thanks for share such useful info with us.
Orange County Catering