Grill On! Put the Sizzle in Your Steak This Summer

Truly, has anything changed when it comes to grilling and good times, hanging out at home?  It reminds me of summers when I was a kid, growing up in Pasadena.  My brother Lance’s job was to stoke up the hibachi on the front porch, where it lived on a permanent, ever expanding grease spot.  We grilled Spencer steaks from a stash my mom kept in the freezer, bought when they were on sale.  A big watermelon got tucked into the ice cooler and we waited for the coals to turn red hot and ashen, and steak ready.  I can still taste the delicious char on my steak, and feel the cool Bermuda grass on my bare feet, in the shade of the old camellia hedge.

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When the weather gets hot, cooking outside with live fire beats turning on the oven. These days, you’ll catch me barefoot in the back yard, chillin’ with my friends and a cool cocktail in my hand. At home, I grill the old fashioned way on a baby Weber kettle grill with charcoal briquettes, matches and newspaper. This summer, put the sizzle in your steak with one of my all time favorite recipes – Grilled New York Steak with Zinfandel Chive Butter. This recipe is perfect for family dinners, summer parties and outdoor entertaining.

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I find the New York cut more flavorful than tenderloin, and it grills really well. When you buy your steak, choose the one that’s well marbled, meaning it has a lot of fat running through the meat. This adds flavor and helps it stand up, nice and juicy, to the heat from the grill. I season simply with salt and pepper. Make sure your grill is hot so you get a good sear on the meat. And for the sauce, I love the simplicity of making a compound butter. For this recipe, I use reduced wine and chives. Or get creative and flavor your butter with ingredients like savory spices, herbs, garlic, caramelized onions and cheeses like parmesan.

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You need a few delicious side dishes that pair perfectly with grilled steak. Slice heirloom tomatoes, add chopped herbs and drizzle with vinaigrette to make an easy and delicious salad. Try corn on the cob – slide back the husk, pull the silk strands from the corn and pat the husk back in place around the cob. Pop it on the grill to cook. For the perfect ending, brush peach halves with honey and grill them too! Serve the warm fruit with vanilla ice cream for an incredible summer dessert.

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click-here-for-free-receipeSummer’s Here!  Kick off your shoes and get your grill on!

Pamela

Creating a Cookie Sensation . . .

That’s not what I set out to do, but if you’re going to cause a sensation, it turns out doing it with cookies is a pretty sure thing.

In 2003, I launched my catering company, CuisineStyle, in the heart of Silicon Valley. In the space of a year, I’d become a mother, left a full time job running a nationally acclaimed culinary center, and started my own business. I called it Kitchen Craft. I placed the only size ad I could afford, in the Palo Alto Daily for $263, featuring my photo and “skill set.” I took out a business license, ironed and starched my chef’s jacket, and hung my shingle. Those were humble beginnings. My very first gig paid $150. I took every single inquiry and said yes to every job.

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For each event, I gave my clients a gift as a simple “thank you.” I chose to express my gratitude with a pretty, ribbon tied bag of homemade cookies. Fresh out of the oven, and laden with chocolate and cherries. The mere thought of cookies transcends every person I know to a happy place, so I knew these gifts were sure to please. Within our DNA, there lives a cookie moment or a sensation, an association that stirs indelible sweetness into our lives. In giving cookies to my clients, I wanted them to remember me with every delightful bite, long after we’d said our goodbyes.

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My business grew, and Kitchen Craft became CuisineStyle. More clients called, and more cookie gifts were given. Soon, clients and their friends were asking how to purchase the cookies. My first official cookie customer was and is a dear client, who happens to be a hi-tech titan in the Valley. She treated every guest at her big birthday bash to a bag of my Choco-Cherry-Licious cookies. That night, I added “cookies” to my “skill set.”

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With genuine modesty and surprise, I can say my cookie gifts have become a sweet business. We now have three signature cookie flavors, and another flavor in development. It all started with a gesture of thanks. Ten years later, our cookies are now available for purchase online. I’m proud to announce CuisineStyleShop.com, the newest enterprise at CuisineStyle. How wonderful it feels to know my cookies are becoming a sweet sensation. Build it, or as I like to say, bake it, and they will “crumb!”

Spring is Here, and Strawberry Season Galore!

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At CuisineStyle, we love entertaining all year round, but springtime is extra special because it’s strawberry season – ripe, juicy, sweet and delicious. Strawberries inspire our ideas for creating beautiful menus and buffet designs that show off our “berry-licious” creations.

There are so many scrumptious options for including strawberries in your spring menus. For our catered events, we blend them into cocktails and smoothies, toss them into salads, transform their perfumed sweetness into sauces and jams, and of course, we create glorious desserts.  One of our most popular spring desserts is Strawberry Shortcake, made the old fashioned way with cream biscuits. For your next party, try something different and treat your guests to a serve-yourself Strawberry Shortcake Bar.  From corporate events to weddings, and casual backyard parties, we know firsthand from our guests just how much they love the shortcake bar. The glory of this classic dessert is, it’s perfect any way you serve it – a simple presentation of biscuits, berries and whipped cream, or an elegant affair with Grand Marnier syrup and Tahitian vanilla ice cream.

The orange-zested biscuits are incredibly easy to make.  And infinitely superior to the packaged sponge cakes available in supermarkets.  For busy hosts, you can bake the biscuits in advance and freeze for later. Prepare the dough and drop it by the spoonful onto your baking pan. Once the biscuits are baked, let them cool. Hull and quarter the strawberries, and whip the cream with sugar and a bit of vanilla, to create a Chantilly Cream.

click-here-for-free-receipeTo create your shortcake bar, you’ll want to design a mouthwatering invitation that beckons guests to the dessert table. Select a favorite space or counter in your home where you can decoratively arrange the components of your shortcake bar.  Stack the baked biscuits on top of each other, piled high on a white platter, a woven, flat basket, or even a silver platter.  Choose a pretty bowl for the berries, filling it high above the rim so guests can see the heap of sweet fruit.  Do the same thing for the bowl of whipped cream. Finally, I love this touch – set out a pitcher of good quality chocolate sauce. Guests will love adding a drizzle of dark chocolate over their shortcake creations.  And be sure to make a very special serving for yourself.

Enjoy the applause. You deserve it. I hope you enjoy this wonderful dessert as much as I do.

Wishing you extra helpings of luscious sweet berries this spring, Pamela

Party Planning 2014!

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Pamela’s Party Planning Guide: Hiring the Right Caterer

At CuisineStyle, our event planning team is kicking 2014 off to an exciting start! We’re busy planning corporate events, weddings and parties galore. Planning events is our business, and it’s a lot of fun! We cater parties for 10 to 1,000 guests, and we collaborate closely with each client to ensure their party is perfect. Recently, one of our clients asked me to create a dinner, paired with an elaborate wine tasting featuring three female winemakers from the Bay area. Unlike a typical wine pairing dinner, our client would like her dinner to be a bit different and unique, and interactive. The menu I created is a four-course dinner served on platters that
downloadguideare shared by and among the guests. I love the intimacy of combining an elegant wine and food pairing experience with a family-style dinner party, all at one gorgeous table. We want nothing less than to thrill our client and wow her esteemed guests.

While the actual event is the one-of-a-kind experience everyone will remember, the mark of a truly successful event is in the planning. This process requires incredible attention to detail, timing, and quality – all accomplished by knowing exactly what the client wants, and how to create his or her vision. For professional caterers, planning parties and managing every event detail comes naturally to us, because we do it on a daily basis. However, I also know how daunting it is to be the host or first time event planner. You’re the person responsible for creating the perfect party and the first thing you need to do is hire the right caterer. This is why I’ve created the Essential Caterer Hiring Guide. It’s a simple, straight forward guide to help you plan your next, wildly successful event! Learn my top 10 event planning basics and throw your next event with confidence and style! Get your free download today. Happy party planning!

A Favorite Holiday Lamb Recipe from CuisineStyle Catering!

One of my all time favorite recipes is a simple lamb chop, with the bone dressed in the French-style, sporting a vivid crust of fresh mint and napped in a delicious port wine cherry sauce. When I entertain, I serve these gorgeous chops as hors d’oeuvres lollipops, or as the main dinner course. By the way, this versatile recipe is also one of our most requested dishes at CuisineStyle catered events. Our clients love this lamb dish, and you’ll love this recipe.

Thank you to all our clients and friends, for giving us another magical year of cooking and creating memories at the table.

I wish you a very merry table, filled with delicious foods to eat, shared with people you love.

Pamela

Rack of Lamb with Mint and Port Wine Cherry Sauce

Yield: 14 to 16 Hors d’Oeuvres Portions or 4 Dinner Portions (14 to 16 chops)

Sauce:

¾ cup port wine

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1 shallot, peeled and diced

1 whole star anise

1 ½ cups veal stock

¼ cup whole cherry preserves

1 tbls. unsalted butter

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lamb:

2 racks of lamb, trimmed of all fat down to the “eye,” rib bones “Frenched,” cleaned of all meat

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbls. canola oil

4 tbls. fresh mint leaves

METHOD:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a saucepan, using medium high heat, add the port wine, shallots and star anise. Bring to a boil and reduce to 1/4 cup. Add the veal stock and continue to cook, reducing the sauce volume to 1 cup. Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve. Stir in the preserves, then slowly stir in butter. Do not whisk in butter. It will “muddy” the look of the sauce and destroy the sheen. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.

2. Season the lamb with salt and pepper.  In an oven-proof sauté pan, using medium high heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot, place the lamb, meat side down, in the pan.  Sear two minutes, then turn and sear another two minutes on the other side.

3. Transfer the pan directly to the oven and roast for about 15 minutes, or until medium rare. An instant read thermometer will register 130 degrees for medium rare. Allow the lamb to rest ten minutes before slicing. Slice the lamb, cutting between each rib bone, to completely separate each chop from the rack to form the “chops.”

4. Finely chop the mint leaves and place them on a plate. Roll the round outer edge of each chop onto the chopped mint and place a dollop of sauce in the center of each chop.

Copyright Pamela Keith 2013