FOOD - Joanna Sable helps you create a perfect dinner party – just like a caterer

Blog Post Apr 22, 2014

By Joanna Sable

When I was 17, I started working for a gourmet food shop and caterer. This chef owner eventually became my mentor. I thought that working in a food store and for a caterer sounded pretty good. Free food, lots of people to chat with, all good, right?

By and large this was true. I learned how to tell when brie was ripe, cut paper-thin slices of prosciutto and dole out lovely containers of salad. All this changed one day when Chef, ya that’s what we called the screaming maniac who came into the front where the shop was located and dragged me back to the kitchen.

I entered the domain, not as a sale staff asking questions or needing more pate, but as the newest kitchen slave. I was instructed to make chocolate mousse. I was 17 and I had never made mousse before; really, I didn’t know what exactly mousse was. I learned. How? I made it five times until it was light and fluffy and it met the chef’s expectations. I never looked back.

I went on to attend Cordon Bleu in London and work in hotels, such as The Windsor Arms and also restaurants, but I never was truly happy until I was back in catering.

Catering offers a release in the food world from redundancy. Every party, event is a new one and often many are running all at the same time. You really have to be a great planner and multi-tasker. When I was in the restaurant world, I found a certain sameness that just didn’t appeal. Catering meant, to a greater extent, that I knew the amount of guests and could plan accordingly. Being a complete control freak, this has its happy spot for me.

How does this benefit me in dinner parties? Same thing. I know my number of guests ahead of time; I can plan a theme or surround the meal by the season. However I choose, I am in control.

I love to spend time with my guests, as we all do, and I rarely do much that requires last-minute touches once my guests have arrived. On top of this there is a mantra in the food world, which goes: Clean As You Go. Live by this and you will never be stuck with a messy kitchen or a nightmare in the morning.

With casual dining and small bites all the rage, I like to plan tapas dinners. I begin the meal with a fun cocktail, probably gin-based ’cause that is how I roll. I will try to add citrus and a bit of simple syrup for good balance. An herb like basil or cilantro adds a little note of something cool.

The meal starts with a bunch of cold things ready to greet guests. Olives that I poach in orange slices and garlic, nuts fried in chili and coarse sea salt, a good cheese and salami board. I like to make some easy do-ahead salads such as Pickled Assorted Mushrooms – buy a few pounds of assorted mushrooms, clean well and place in a non-reactive bowl, which means no aluminum. In a saucepan, same non-reactive, add 1 cup of cider vinegar, 3 cups of water, a quarter cup of sugar, lemon slices, a few bay leaves, peppercorns and 2 teaspoons of sea salt. Bring to a boil and pour over the mushrooms. Leave standing for the better part of the day, strain just before dinner and place in a pretty bowl.

Another quick salad that is a friend and family favourite is Honey Tomatoes.

In a saucepan, place 2 pints of washed and dried cherry tomatoes. Add enough olive oil just to cover, 2 tablespoons of good quality honey, a sprig of fresh rosemary, 1 teaspoon of dried chili and a teaspoon of sea salt. Place on very low heat and simmer until the tomatoes are soft. Try not to burst them. Cool and add to the table with loads of assorted crusty breads.

Try a crunchy cucumber salad and then move on to warm dishes. All these dishes so far can be on the table.

Warm dishes can also be made ahead of time and if they are meat, fish or poultry kept in the fridge ready prepped until heating time. Shrimp in tomato sauce baked with feta cheese and ouzo are glorious, as are little grilled lamb chops marinated in mint, garlic and olive oil.

Try, for a change, roasting Cornish game hen quarters instead of chicken with sweet peppers and onions. All these dishes just need a pretty dish that can go from oven to table or a platter for grilled things.

Dessert is always easy; I love to ask a friend. There is usually one who is a good baker or shopper. If not, go to a great chocolate maker and get a really cool variety of chocolate truffles and purchase some fresh in-season fruit. Again, make it look great by placing one type of fruit in a wonderful bowl or interesting vessel.

Keep on hand to pour throughout dinner, Proscecco, white and red wines. For after dinner, a good Grappa is always welcome.

Eat well, cook easily,

Until next blog,

Joanna

P.S. Check in with thoughts, ideas and questions at jsable@thebumpercrop.com

---

My name is Joanna Sable and I am a Cordon Bleu-trained chef. For many years I owned my own catering company. I also worked for my mother, Myra Sable’s company, Sable and Rosenfeld foods. I now own The Bumper Crop, www.thebumpercrop.com, a gourmet food company that packs the bounty of small Ontario farmers’ fruits and vegetables into funky jams and pickled products. I love to teach and write about food and take the fear out of it. Join me on my adventure. I can be reached at jsable@thebumpercrop.com. Check in with questions and viewpoint.

FOOD - Joanna Sable helps you create a perfect dinner party – just like a caterer

Blog Post Apr 22, 2014

By Joanna Sable

When I was 17, I started working for a gourmet food shop and caterer. This chef owner eventually became my mentor. I thought that working in a food store and for a caterer sounded pretty good. Free food, lots of people to chat with, all good, right?

By and large this was true. I learned how to tell when brie was ripe, cut paper-thin slices of prosciutto and dole out lovely containers of salad. All this changed one day when Chef, ya that’s what we called the screaming maniac who came into the front where the shop was located and dragged me back to the kitchen.

I entered the domain, not as a sale staff asking questions or needing more pate, but as the newest kitchen slave. I was instructed to make chocolate mousse. I was 17 and I had never made mousse before; really, I didn’t know what exactly mousse was. I learned. How? I made it five times until it was light and fluffy and it met the chef’s expectations. I never looked back.

I went on to attend Cordon Bleu in London and work in hotels, such as The Windsor Arms and also restaurants, but I never was truly happy until I was back in catering.

Catering offers a release in the food world from redundancy. Every party, event is a new one and often many are running all at the same time. You really have to be a great planner and multi-tasker. When I was in the restaurant world, I found a certain sameness that just didn’t appeal. Catering meant, to a greater extent, that I knew the amount of guests and could plan accordingly. Being a complete control freak, this has its happy spot for me.

How does this benefit me in dinner parties? Same thing. I know my number of guests ahead of time; I can plan a theme or surround the meal by the season. However I choose, I am in control.

I love to spend time with my guests, as we all do, and I rarely do much that requires last-minute touches once my guests have arrived. On top of this there is a mantra in the food world, which goes: Clean As You Go. Live by this and you will never be stuck with a messy kitchen or a nightmare in the morning.

With casual dining and small bites all the rage, I like to plan tapas dinners. I begin the meal with a fun cocktail, probably gin-based ’cause that is how I roll. I will try to add citrus and a bit of simple syrup for good balance. An herb like basil or cilantro adds a little note of something cool.

The meal starts with a bunch of cold things ready to greet guests. Olives that I poach in orange slices and garlic, nuts fried in chili and coarse sea salt, a good cheese and salami board. I like to make some easy do-ahead salads such as Pickled Assorted Mushrooms – buy a few pounds of assorted mushrooms, clean well and place in a non-reactive bowl, which means no aluminum. In a saucepan, same non-reactive, add 1 cup of cider vinegar, 3 cups of water, a quarter cup of sugar, lemon slices, a few bay leaves, peppercorns and 2 teaspoons of sea salt. Bring to a boil and pour over the mushrooms. Leave standing for the better part of the day, strain just before dinner and place in a pretty bowl.

Another quick salad that is a friend and family favourite is Honey Tomatoes.

In a saucepan, place 2 pints of washed and dried cherry tomatoes. Add enough olive oil just to cover, 2 tablespoons of good quality honey, a sprig of fresh rosemary, 1 teaspoon of dried chili and a teaspoon of sea salt. Place on very low heat and simmer until the tomatoes are soft. Try not to burst them. Cool and add to the table with loads of assorted crusty breads.

Try a crunchy cucumber salad and then move on to warm dishes. All these dishes so far can be on the table.

Warm dishes can also be made ahead of time and if they are meat, fish or poultry kept in the fridge ready prepped until heating time. Shrimp in tomato sauce baked with feta cheese and ouzo are glorious, as are little grilled lamb chops marinated in mint, garlic and olive oil.

Try, for a change, roasting Cornish game hen quarters instead of chicken with sweet peppers and onions. All these dishes just need a pretty dish that can go from oven to table or a platter for grilled things.

Dessert is always easy; I love to ask a friend. There is usually one who is a good baker or shopper. If not, go to a great chocolate maker and get a really cool variety of chocolate truffles and purchase some fresh in-season fruit. Again, make it look great by placing one type of fruit in a wonderful bowl or interesting vessel.

Keep on hand to pour throughout dinner, Proscecco, white and red wines. For after dinner, a good Grappa is always welcome.

Eat well, cook easily,

Until next blog,

Joanna

P.S. Check in with thoughts, ideas and questions at jsable@thebumpercrop.com

---

My name is Joanna Sable and I am a Cordon Bleu-trained chef. For many years I owned my own catering company. I also worked for my mother, Myra Sable’s company, Sable and Rosenfeld foods. I now own The Bumper Crop, www.thebumpercrop.com, a gourmet food company that packs the bounty of small Ontario farmers’ fruits and vegetables into funky jams and pickled products. I love to teach and write about food and take the fear out of it. Join me on my adventure. I can be reached at jsable@thebumpercrop.com. Check in with questions and viewpoint.

FOOD - Joanna Sable helps you create a perfect dinner party – just like a caterer

Blog Post Apr 22, 2014

By Joanna Sable

When I was 17, I started working for a gourmet food shop and caterer. This chef owner eventually became my mentor. I thought that working in a food store and for a caterer sounded pretty good. Free food, lots of people to chat with, all good, right?

By and large this was true. I learned how to tell when brie was ripe, cut paper-thin slices of prosciutto and dole out lovely containers of salad. All this changed one day when Chef, ya that’s what we called the screaming maniac who came into the front where the shop was located and dragged me back to the kitchen.

I entered the domain, not as a sale staff asking questions or needing more pate, but as the newest kitchen slave. I was instructed to make chocolate mousse. I was 17 and I had never made mousse before; really, I didn’t know what exactly mousse was. I learned. How? I made it five times until it was light and fluffy and it met the chef’s expectations. I never looked back.

I went on to attend Cordon Bleu in London and work in hotels, such as The Windsor Arms and also restaurants, but I never was truly happy until I was back in catering.

Catering offers a release in the food world from redundancy. Every party, event is a new one and often many are running all at the same time. You really have to be a great planner and multi-tasker. When I was in the restaurant world, I found a certain sameness that just didn’t appeal. Catering meant, to a greater extent, that I knew the amount of guests and could plan accordingly. Being a complete control freak, this has its happy spot for me.

How does this benefit me in dinner parties? Same thing. I know my number of guests ahead of time; I can plan a theme or surround the meal by the season. However I choose, I am in control.

I love to spend time with my guests, as we all do, and I rarely do much that requires last-minute touches once my guests have arrived. On top of this there is a mantra in the food world, which goes: Clean As You Go. Live by this and you will never be stuck with a messy kitchen or a nightmare in the morning.

With casual dining and small bites all the rage, I like to plan tapas dinners. I begin the meal with a fun cocktail, probably gin-based ’cause that is how I roll. I will try to add citrus and a bit of simple syrup for good balance. An herb like basil or cilantro adds a little note of something cool.

The meal starts with a bunch of cold things ready to greet guests. Olives that I poach in orange slices and garlic, nuts fried in chili and coarse sea salt, a good cheese and salami board. I like to make some easy do-ahead salads such as Pickled Assorted Mushrooms – buy a few pounds of assorted mushrooms, clean well and place in a non-reactive bowl, which means no aluminum. In a saucepan, same non-reactive, add 1 cup of cider vinegar, 3 cups of water, a quarter cup of sugar, lemon slices, a few bay leaves, peppercorns and 2 teaspoons of sea salt. Bring to a boil and pour over the mushrooms. Leave standing for the better part of the day, strain just before dinner and place in a pretty bowl.

Another quick salad that is a friend and family favourite is Honey Tomatoes.

In a saucepan, place 2 pints of washed and dried cherry tomatoes. Add enough olive oil just to cover, 2 tablespoons of good quality honey, a sprig of fresh rosemary, 1 teaspoon of dried chili and a teaspoon of sea salt. Place on very low heat and simmer until the tomatoes are soft. Try not to burst them. Cool and add to the table with loads of assorted crusty breads.

Try a crunchy cucumber salad and then move on to warm dishes. All these dishes so far can be on the table.

Warm dishes can also be made ahead of time and if they are meat, fish or poultry kept in the fridge ready prepped until heating time. Shrimp in tomato sauce baked with feta cheese and ouzo are glorious, as are little grilled lamb chops marinated in mint, garlic and olive oil.

Try, for a change, roasting Cornish game hen quarters instead of chicken with sweet peppers and onions. All these dishes just need a pretty dish that can go from oven to table or a platter for grilled things.

Dessert is always easy; I love to ask a friend. There is usually one who is a good baker or shopper. If not, go to a great chocolate maker and get a really cool variety of chocolate truffles and purchase some fresh in-season fruit. Again, make it look great by placing one type of fruit in a wonderful bowl or interesting vessel.

Keep on hand to pour throughout dinner, Proscecco, white and red wines. For after dinner, a good Grappa is always welcome.

Eat well, cook easily,

Until next blog,

Joanna

P.S. Check in with thoughts, ideas and questions at jsable@thebumpercrop.com

---

My name is Joanna Sable and I am a Cordon Bleu-trained chef. For many years I owned my own catering company. I also worked for my mother, Myra Sable’s company, Sable and Rosenfeld foods. I now own The Bumper Crop, www.thebumpercrop.com, a gourmet food company that packs the bounty of small Ontario farmers’ fruits and vegetables into funky jams and pickled products. I love to teach and write about food and take the fear out of it. Join me on my adventure. I can be reached at jsable@thebumpercrop.com. Check in with questions and viewpoint.