Gratitude Stew ~ A soup tasting and fundraiser

Hey Community, Crave Catering is doing a fundraiser for the Opportunity Council. Chef inspired soup and stew, refreshments, community art sculpture, interactive presentation, and two stories of gratitude by Peter James and Natalie Ransom. Join us for a fun all ages evening; tickets available online at Brown Paper Tickets: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3740822

 

Adventures in Culinary- Hummus!

 

One of our favorite things at Crave Catering is making fresh hummus. We’ve served it inside appetizers, as a spread in a sandwich, and in a bowl for dipping bread and vegetables. Hummus is high in protein and iron, which helps fight hunger and boost energy. Some studies have shown that eating chickpeas and legumes can lower rates of certain kinds of cancer. http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/legumes.html

Most of all, it tastes great! You can buy Crave Catering hummus as part of an event package or just ask and we will sell you as much as you want for $5/cup (with adequate notice). Call (360)223-4900 to order.

Bellewood Acres Apple Cider

Most of the residents of Whatcom County have seen Bellewood Acres apple cider in the cooler section.  What you may not know is that the entire process is contained at a “juicing parlor” next to their apple orchard on Ten Mile Road.  The apple farm used to be a dairy farm, and it seems to be a perfect fit to assemble a juicer and bottling equipment in the old milking parlor. 

There’s just something really satisfying about watching fresh apples get rinsed, ground up, pressed for juice and bottled.  During apple season there are several field trips organized by elementary schools so the kids can see the different types of apples grown and processed into juice, apple chips and other things.  It’s a quality product without any artificial ingredients and well worth the cost.  Crave Catering has been a tenant and collaborator of Bellewood Acres for years and walking past the juicing parlor made me inspired to seek out local products of the highest quality for my diet.  It just makes sense.

 

 

Tuna Club 2016

Recently some Crave Catering personnel had the privilege of working with Tuna Club 2016, a local group organized by some local fishermen and fisherwomen.  The concept is simple- take between four and five thousand pounds of sustainably caught albacore tuna and work as a team to get it cut, trimmed, packed into jars and canned for the pantry.  The work took place at Rome Grange this year, and for three or four days local fisherman Jeremy Brown directed a team of tuna enthusiasts in the necessary duties.  The resulting jars of tuna are extremely tasty and well worth the effort and cost.  This year the jars were sold $68 for 12X12oz jars, which is necessary to cover cost of supplies.  Below are some pictures from Friday, November 25th when Pamela, Darwyn and I helped with the cutting.

This project is close to my heart for several reasons.  Jeremy has been involved in tuna canning for several years and I have been lucky enough to eat this delicious (and sustainable) fish from past batches.  But being a part of the process this year I felt something different.  Its a unique sense of accomplishment when you make your own food (as opposed to buying factory food) and being a part of this team felt special.  Also important to me is the idea that we should invest our food dollars in local people who produce quality goods.  This is as simple as it comes (chunks of fish with oil and salt in a jar) and yet it tastes infinitely better than the overly processed tuna you buy at the supermarket.  In a private club (as opposed to a business) the point is sharing the work and sharing the resulting product rather than profit margins for huge companies.  Lastly, since I plan to give some of my jars away as Christmas gifts I am proud of the accomplishment (even though I had only a very small part in the process) and feel that sense of ownership transferred when I give them away.  That’s what a gift (especially food) should be about.  Thank you Jeremy for including Crave Catering in Tuna Club 2016 and we look forward to returning in future years.

A good time for a good soup

November is a good month for soup.  The weather gets colder and there aren’t many things more satisfying than a hot bowl of stew or chowder to  fill you up.  My training in scratch soups goes back more than twenty years and I’ve picked up a few tricks on the way.  Of course there are infinite varieties and styles, but I would like share how I make beef barley soup as an example.

The first thing a good soup needs is aromatics.  Celery, onion, carrot, thyme, parsnip, garlic and leek are examples of vegetables that (when used properly) will enhance the flavor of a soup.  My philosophy is to dice the above vegetables small and stir with minimum oil over medium high heat until they are soft and the natural water has been mostly evaporated.  After the aromatics have cooked down I like to add steak that has been cooked separately and diced into bites.  The flavors combine nicely and when the pot is very hot it is time for acid- in this case a robust red wine such as a strong cabernet.  Ideally the wine should reduce as the alcohol cooks off and soaks into the meat and veggies.  One common mistake many people make is to add the stock too early, but waiting until the wine reduces will produce a much better product.  Real beef bone broth is ideal for the next step, though I have seen people make this soup with beef base and water.  The broth goes into the pot and I recommend getting it very hot but not boiling.  Typically a film of oils and impurities will rise to the surface of the hot stock where they can be skimmed off.  This skimming action should be repeated as needed while the soup simmers.  Pearl barley is a wonderful grain for soup because it retains some texture after it is cooked.  I add my barley to the pot while it is simmering and stir occasionally until it thickens and the barley is softened.  The last stage is to season the soup to a desired level with salt (or bouillon) as well as pepper, red wine vinegar and ground celery seed.

When the wind is blowing and the winter chases you inside… its time for soup.  Paired with a nice piece of bread and a salad it will do your body good.  As a caterer I am happy to feed you this or any other soup.  We can arrange servers, chafers, side dishes, bowls & spoons if you would like an “event” or we can sell you just the soup in cold containers that you can heat up as needed.  Recommended options include: Beef Barley, Split Pea & Ham, Chicken Corn Chowder and Vegetarian Chili.  Sale price is $36 for four quarts (cold) if you pick it up at our Bellewood Acres location.  Hot meals are priced as a package, so feel free to call (360)223-4900 and we will write an event plan for you.  Please allow 48 hour notice (some exceptions can be made) and expect real flavor.  Crave Catering reserves the right to change menu options based on availability and schedule. 

 

Holiday Season Menu

holiday-menu-2016

This holiday season please think of Crave Catering for something tasty and convenient.  We will do the work and you get to relax with your loved ones.  We are taking orders for full service and on-the-go parties for the winter and would love to add you to the list!  Call (360) 223-4900 to discuss your needs and keep in mind we can customize the package to your needs and tastes.

 

Best of the Northwest 2016!

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Thank you to all who voted for the Bellingham Alive! poll.  In the category of Best Distillery… our landlord and collaborators at Bellewood Acres!  Voted Best Florist… Pozie By Natalie!  (our favorite florist and occasional employee)

And as Best Chef 2016… Justin Hawkinson of Crave Catering!

We are very honored to receive this kind of praise from the community and I hope it will lead to more friends and clients that we can share our vision for quality catering.  Even though this is an individual award I have to give significant credit to Pamela Felke for running this company and our entire staff for helping me to provide tasty food to so many this year.  We look forward to the future and everything we can accomplish together.

 

Chef At The Market!

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On Saturday, September 17th Crave Catering was honored to be a part of the Chef At The Market Series. The NW Washington Chefs Collaborative is a group of local food professionals who work with Sustainable Connections to promote local food culture through events and social programs. This year the members of the Steering Committee were paired into five teams and each given a slot to promote the local foods of the Bellingham Farmers Market.
Our event was the last one of the year, and Josh Silverman (a private chef associated with certain local restaurants) was paired with me for our presentation. September is a great time to see what the farmers market has in store, and our demo was intended to show some new ideas to the Saturday market shopper.
We chose Roasted Butternut Squash and Corn Quesadillas as our demo item and people watched as Josh roasted peppers over a flame for his spicy coleslaw dressing. Then I made a filling of corn, onion, garlic and roasted butternut squash. The last step was to put a spoonful onto corn tortillas with a little local grated cheese.
It was a really fun event that we were thrilled to be a part of and I hope that some of the friends we met that day will look us up for more events in the future. Thank you Bellingham Farmers Market and Sustainable Connections!

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Announcing our next Distillery Dinner May 26th

Halibut Dinner 1

The next in our series of Distillery Dinners will be May 26th and I am hoping that we can get a full room.  This time our featured ingredient will be halibut, and I have arranged to get a whole fish fresh from Alaskan waters for the event.  We will be using the fish in several ways throughout the course of the night and the menu is currently in its final revisions.  Expect some unusual offerings since we plan to use the fish in four of the five courses.  More details to come, but tickets can be purchased any time!  We will have alcohol pairings for each course and I expect the attendees will learn something about Bellewood Spirits as well as the possibilities with this versatile fish.  Hope to see you there!

March Hare Distillery Dinner

March Hare 6

On Friday, March 11, John Belisle of BelleWood Acres and Justin Hawkinson of Crave Catering will collaborate on the first of four in a Dynamic Distillery Dinner series. The Mad Hatter, Master of Ceremonies, will mark the seasonal change from winter to spring with poetry, story and song. Attendees will enjoy a 4-course meal paired with BelleWood superior spirits. While John and Justin delight you with their magic, guests will have the opportunity to talk with farmer Michael Dietering of Chubby Bunny Farm about sourcing local alternative meat and our area’s regional abundance of salad greens. Vartanyan Wine will also be in attendance with a variety of regional wines specially selected to complement the meal.

Spring: As the seasons change, we get together to toast new beginnings and look forward to the warmer months to come. Spring on the farm is our chance to showcase the first ingredients of the year. It is a chance to gather your family and friends and enjoy the sun after a long winter.

Taste: Start the night out with our succulent rabbit with a sweet honey glaze. Then to follow is a wonderful salad of bitter rockette, sweet pea shoots, BelleWood cider-infused figs and salty feta cheese, all tossed with a housemade honey shallot vinaigrette, topped with crunchy toasted pecans. Seafood will be featured third, with a bowl of local clams and mussels stewed in peperonata and garlic bread. For the main course, our chef is preparing steak with locally sourced potatoes, parsnips and lacinato kale raab. We suggest that you save room for dessert because we have an unforgettable and delectable molasses cake with ginger and brandy cream that you won’t want to miss. 

Sip:  All food will be paired with delicious libations featuring brandy, gins and vodkas distilled at BelleWood Acres. Vartanyan wines will be presented to complement the main course.

When: Friday, March 11 | 6:30 p.m.

Where:  6140 Guide Meridian, Lynden, WA 98264 | 360-318-7720

Why:  Enjoy an evening of entertainment mixed with education about local food and spirits. Get to know your local farmers and share a delectable meal with your friends and neighbors.

Advance tickets ($62) on sale now at bellewoodfarms.com.

    (Above text was published to whatcomtalk.com and other promotional sites prior to this event.)

 BelleWood Acres - Apples and Apple Cider Page Liked · March 12 · .. Our first course began with Rabbit Three Ways- Roasted Drumettes with Honey-Lemon Glaze, Tenderloin Roulade with Carrot Relish and Crispy Rabbit Coronets with Remoulade and Leaf Lettuce…featuring Chubby Bunny Farms The first course was paired with BelleWood's new Trifecta (Vodka, Gin and Bubbly).


Our first course began with Rabbit Three Ways- Roasted Drumettes with Honey-Lemon Glaze, Tenderloin Roulade with Carrot Relish and Crispy Rabbit Coronets
with Remoulade and Leaf Lettuce…featuring Chubby Bunny Farms
The first course was paired with BelleWood’s new Trifecta (Vodka, Gin and Bubbly).

 BelleWood Acres - Apples and Apple Cider Page Liked · March 12 · .. Rockette Greens with Green Pea Shoots, Roasted Pecan Pieces, Cider Infused Figs, Feta Cheese and Honey Shallot Vinaigrette

Rocket Greens with Green Pea Shoots, Roasted Pecan Pieces, Cider
Infused Figs, Feta Cheese and Honey Shallot Vinaigrette

Penn Cove Mussels and Hood Canal Clams in a Savory Broth with Grilled Garlic Baguette. This was served with a touch of BelleWood's Reserve Brandy.

Penn Cove Mussels and Hood Canal Clams in a Savory Broth with Grilled Garlic Baguette.
This was served with a touch of BelleWood’s Reserve Brandy.

Prime New York Steak with Red Wine Demi Glaze, Root Vegetable Medley and Kale Raab. A complimentary wine from Vartanyan was served - Cabernet Franc Reserve

Prime New York Steak with Red Wine Demi Glaze, Root Vegetable Medley and Kale Raab. A complimentary wine from Vartanyan was served – Cabernet Franc Reserve

Molasses Cake with Ginger Brandy Glaze and Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream. served with Eau de Vie Elixir with almond, honey & mint Earl Grey Tea

Molasses Cake with Ginger Brandy Glaze and Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream. served with
Eau de Vie Elixir with almond, honey & mint
Earl Grey Tea

This was a fun night.  We started with a trio of rabbit appetizers.  Roasted rabbit drumettes with a lemon-honey glaze on the left, tenderloin roulade (stuffed w/ carmelized onion, roasted garlic, spinach, basil and shredded carrot) was sliced and arrayed as pinwheels on an asian spoon with roasted carrot & chardonnay relish in the middle.  On the right was a crispy fried rabbit thigh fritter with spicy pickle remoulade wrapped in a lettuce leaf coronet.  The guy who raises and butchers the meat is Michael from Chubby Bunny Farm and he came to share some stories and enjoy the evening.  He really liked the food and we’ll be keeping in touch.

Second course was a rocket salad with fresh cut pea shoots, a little cabbage for color, cider infused figs, feta, roasted pecans and honey shallot vinaigrette.  John came back and joked that we didn’t need to wash the plates because they licked them clean.  I laughed, then made sure we washed the plates anyway.   It was a good salad and it used up some light colored figs I had in an unusual way.

Third course was changed at the last minute, but I thought it worked out.  Steamer clams & mussels with a little pappardelle mixed with chardonnay, butter and clam juice.  When I called it done… it was perfect and for shellfish in March… had a nice flavor.  I did get one report that their bowl was overdone, but it may have sat too long.  Little bits of mussels and clams tend to end up chewy, and I can only hope that most of them were eaten fresh.  Anyway, the others seemed to like them.  There was a thick slice of baguette that I treated with garlic oil, s&p and crisped it up on the bbq.

Then while the grill was still hot, I laid out 8oz NY steaks (somehow kept them MR which I wouldn’t have bet on considering I was using a propane bbq in the dark) and they got topped with demi glaze I made from my personal secret stash of real beef stock).  The starch was a melange of roasted yams, parsnips, red & gold potatoes, thyme, garlic and oil.  Oven baked lacinato kale raab from a local farm made a really nice veg with lemon and toasted garlic.  All in all I got a lot of positive responses considering that steak dinners are not what I consider “original.”  I had to add a real demi to make it something I could be proud of.

Dessert was a tall molasses cake with pumpkin spice whip filling and ginger brandy glaze.  Pretty nice dinner, really and each course was paired with a cocktail from Bellewood Spirits or wine from Vartanyan Winery.  There was a guitar player dressed as the Mad Hatter and I think he performed some sort of story while I was working.

I do wish we had more people, but 20 made for a good first pairing dinner.  Maybe we can get the word out with our next one.  I just need to think of something really exciting to get people lining up for tickets.  Feel free to make requests!