Archive of ‘Entertaining’ category

Dēmos Board Dinner

Last month, we catered a dinner for the Board of Directors of the nonprofit organization, Dēmos.  The TomCookery team was honored to serve such a forward-thinking organization by doing what we do best – dinner!  This event was even more special as fellow Milton Academy alumna, Heather McGhee presided as President for her first board meeting.  We adore Heather.

We partnered with Marisa Flores of House of Flores Event Planning + Design, who did a brilliant job (per usual) developing an “urban rooftop” décor for the event.  Plug: Rooftops are kind of becoming our specialty.  Book yours today.  Our friends at Noirstyle Invites provided TomCookery’s mango colored menu cards designed especially for the occasion.  Who says corporate branding has to be boring?

When coming up with the menu for this event, we had a few dietary restrictions to work around.  Some catering companies dread dietary restrictions…we say bring ‘em on.  We love being challenged to come up with creative approaches to comfort food that our gluten free/lactose intolerant/vegetarian friends can enjoy.  Check out our entirely gluten free menu below.  Yes, we even had a gluten free version of our White Peach and Raspberry Crisp.

DĒMOS BOARD DINNER MENU

Salad

Roasted Corn and Avocado Salad with Queso Fresco and Chili Oil

Entrée

Your choice of:

Jerk Mahi Mahi with Caribbean Sweet Potato Purée

or

Southern Shrimp and Grits with Andouille Sausage

or

Roasted Wild Mushrooms served over Stone Ground Grits

Dessert

White Peach and Raspberry Crisp á la Mode

The first course, secretly my favorite course, was the Corn and Avocado Salad with Queso Fresco (yum!) and Chili Oil.

Some of our guests chose the Jerk Mahi Mahi with Caribbean Sweat Potato Purée.  This purée is a crowd favorite.  It provides such great balance to a huge variety of proteins and we made this awesome coconut saffron pan sauce to tie it all together.

Some of our guests chose the Shrimp and Grits.  Seriously, what is comfort food without shrimp and grits?  This dish is very flexible and sits comfortably on summer and winter menus.  We just adjusted our shrimp sauce to be “roux-less” and served it over stone ground, cheesy grits.

Always save room for dessert when TomCookery is in the kitchen.  For the final course we served a White Peach and Raspberry Crisp á la Mode.  Our gluten free version relied on crushed walnuts and almond meal for the “crisp” topping.   We thought this dessert was a casual finale to our breezy rooftop dinner of New Comfort Cuisine.

We’re wishing you a pleasant week filled with a surplus of summer friendly, light and satisfying comfort food.  And leave comments below.  As always, we love hearing from you and most of all, we love food!

-The TomCookery Team

Photo Credit: Yanqi Chang Photography 

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4th of July “Cook-In”

Nothing says Fourth of July like some TomCookery ribs and potato salad, but this weekend we will be checking out some Bon Appétit recipes from the July 2014-Grilling issue.  Its not often that we brazenly lift recipes from magazines but the food in this issue just jumped off the pages and asked to be in our mouths.  We’ll be entertaining in Queens for a “TomCookery Cook-In.”  That’s right, folks.  The grand ole cookout tradition in the comforts of an apartment, because when are we not redefining comfort food at TomCookery?

Did we mention that everything looks amazing in this grilling issue?  Because it does.  But we had to pick a few so here’s a run down of our menu for the Cook-In.  First, we’ll be attempting to cooking the cover, the Mint and Cumin-Spiced Lamb Chops.

Photo Credit: Bon Appetit

Photo Credit: Bon Appetit

The recipe is as follows:

INGREDIENTS

2 medium onions, peeled, quartered

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems

1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves with tender stems

1 cup fresh mint leaves

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon paprika

2 teaspoons allspice

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon ras-el-hanout or garam masala

Kosher salt

24 untrimmed lamb rib chops (about 5 lb.)

Vegetable oil (for grilling)

Pulse onions, cilantro, parsley, mint, cumin, paprika, allspice, red pepper flakes, and ras-el-hanout in a food processor until very finely chopped; season with salt. Place lamb in a large dish and rub with spice mixture. Cover and chill at least 2 hours.

Prepare grill for medium-high heat and oil grate. Grill lamb to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest at least 5 minutes before serving.

If these savory lamb chops could talk, they would love to be served alongside the Bon Appétit recipe for Grilled Bread Salad with Sweet Peppers and Onions.  Looking for an awesome summer side dish?  Then, look no further… the TomCookery staff is sold on this one. Bon Appétit’s panzanella seems like it will have an aromatic acidity, which should compliment the richness of the Mint and Cumin-Spiced Lamb Chops.  We can’t resist this smoky twist on the classic.

Photo Credit: Bon Appetit

Photo Credit: Bon Appetit

The recipe is as follows:

INGREDIENTS

¼ small loaf country-style bread (about 6 oz.), crust removed, bread torn into large pieces

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large red bell peppers, halved, ribs and seeds removed

2 small red onions, peeled, quartered, with some root attached

3 tablespoons Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon paprika, preferably smoked

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh chives, plus more for serving

Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Toss bread with 2 Tbsp. oil in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Toss bell peppers and onions with 2 Tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper.

Grill bread, turning occasionally, until golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Grill vegetables, turning often, until very tender and charred in spots, 8–10 minutes for peppers and 10–12 minutes for onions; transfer to a cutting board.

Trim root end from onions and separate layers. Transfer to a large bowl, add vinegar and paprika, and toss to coat. Remove as much skin as possible from peppers; discard. Cut into 1½” strips.

Add peppers, grilled bread, 2 Tbsp. chives, and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil to bowl with onions and toss to combine; season with salt, pepper, and more vinegar, if desired. Serve topped with more chives.

Don’t you dare skip out on dessert!  After a long day of grilling, we want a quick and easy dessert to satisfy our sweet tooth without slaving over a hot oven.  For those of us who are no-dessert-intolerant, a buttery puff pastry will do just the trick.  Puff pastry can take the place of cake any day if you ask me.  Just make sure you get a good one.  We’re partial to Dufour.

To finish the day we’ll making a variation of Bon Appétit’s Plum Tarts with honey and black pepper pictured below.  Stay tuned for pictures of the TomCookery one.  We’re thinking pistachios.  We’re thinking baklava.

Photo Credit: Bon Appetit

Photo Credit: Bon Appetit

The recipe is as follows:

INGREDIENTS

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (one 14-oz. package or half of 17.3-oz. package), thawed according to package directions

1 pound red plums, apricots, or peaches, pitted, cut into ½” wedges

¼ cup sugar

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon honey

Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Preheat oven to 425°. Cut pastry into six 4” squares, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and prick all over with a fork. Top with plums, leaving a ½” border. Sprinkle with sugar; season with a few grinds of pepper.

Bake tarts, rotating pan halfway through, until edges of pastry are puffed and golden brown, 25–30 minutes. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with salt just before serving.

Ya’ll come back soon to see how the Cook-In turned out.

Oh yes,  and Happy Independence Day, America!

–Alana

 

Hey Mama! TomCookery’s Mother’s Day Brunch Cooking Class Recap

This Mother’s Day, my ever expanding hair and I hosted a brunch cooking class.  Mother’s Day and Brunch are a natural pairing but why just eat when we can cook comfort food classics?  The families that joined us were up to the task this Sunday.  With bellinis in hand, these women (and man) boldly went where no class has gone before.  They proved what I always sensed, that moms are just the best at everything.  Say hi to my mom and sister in the TomCookery jackets!  Check out our pics below.

Menu

Specialty Cocktail – Rosemary Peach Bellinis

Salad

Strawberry and Gorgonzola Salad with Basil-White Balsamic Vinaigrette

Entrées

Eggs Benedict Two Ways with Brown Butter Hollandaise

Shrimp and Grits with Andouille Sausage

Dessert

Creole Bread Pudding with Chocolate Sauce and Bourbon Whipped Cream

Special thanks to our friends at Makini Regal Designs for generously providing the florals and table design.  All of our mothers took home one of Makini’s beautiful arrangements.  Also thank you for the gorgeous photos taken by Yanqi Chang Photography.

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Impromptu Tea Parties

If you have been following me for a while, or even a short time, you probably already know that I love tea.  Half my family is from Barbados and I grew up drinking quite a bit of tea.  I also had the most impressive variety of tea sandwiches at every single one of my birthday parties as a child. #caribbeanchildhood

We all know tea parties can get pretty fancy.  At TomCookery, we pull out all the stops.  But one thousand obnoxiously small sandwiches and and more scones than you can shake a stick at have lead me to really appreciate the casually thrown together affair.

Nowadays, I think the best tea parties are loosely planned, made up of last weekend’s brown butter pound cake, your friend’s brownies expiriment, some leftover eggplant lasagna and chicken biscuits for the win.  I just got invited for another casual tea this week at a friend’s house so I can safely say this is becoming a thing.  Just remember you heard it first on the TomCookery blog.

I’d like to present the most unpretentious of posts on tea: Impromptu Tea Parties.

What you will need:

Tea

-Some Tea, looseleaf or a solid bagged tea like Mightyleaf Organic Breakfast or Vanilla Bean.  I threw my Fairway “Victorian Early Gray” into my handbag before I left the house because its the hostess’ favorite.

-A good, ceramic tea pot with a strainer

-Milk

-Sugar-I like Demerara because it has a bit more depth than white sugar

Nibbles

Sweet is great, but if you are trying to be held over until dinner, I think you need some savories as well.  At our party yesterday we took the sweet route and had:

Caramel Sea Salt Brownies

Banoffee Pie- Amari’s version was bananas, whipped cream, dulce de leche in a homemade graham cracker crust.

Biscuits (not cookies, real country biscuits) with Honey Butter

If I could go back in time, I probably would have made a fancy egg salad sandwich with some stuff the hostess already had in her fridge.  Below is TomCookery’s new version of a comfort food classic, the egg salad sandwich.

TomCookery’s Not Your Grandmother’s Egg Salad Sandwich

Ingredients

6 hard boiled eggs

1/8 cup of mayo (or more if you like mayo)

1 teaspoon grain mustard

1/2 cup of minced white onion

Salt/Freshly ground black pepper to Taste

Shaved Parmesan

6 slices of your favorite bread.  I like a toasted sourdough for this.

Directions

1.  Peel your hard boiled eggs and give them a really fine chop.  My idol Ina Garten puts her eggs through a few pulses in a food processor, which makes them super delicate and fluffy.      Your call.  2.  Add the mayo, mustard, salt, pepper and onions.  3.  Mix it up good.  Taste it.  Adjust seasonings to your liking, and then put it onto your bread with the shaved parmesan layered on top.  4.  You got yourself a egg salad sandwich.  5.  Cut off the crusts, and cut into triangles to up the fancy meter but if you are keeping it impromptu, skip this step and just make it shareable.

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Happy sipping,

Tom

We Didn’t Start the Fire- Cook Eat Love VDay Weekend Cooking Class Recap

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When Valentine’s Day falls on a long weekend, a Sunday night cooking class for lovers and friends is the obvious next step.  Right?

So that’s exactly what we did.  This VDay, TomCookery hosted “Cook Eat Love-Valentine’s Weekend Cooking Class.”  I can’t speak for everyone else, but my Assistant Instructor Sara and I had a blast with this group of foodies.  I was definitely a proud mama watching this dream team drink, dance and bang out a four course meal in about an hour and a half.

Menu

Roasted Shrimp, Corn and Avocado Salad with a Lemon Shallot Vinaigrette

Squid Ink Linguine with Jerk Salmon in Vodka Sauce

Grilled Lamb Chops with Caramelized Onions and Herb Butter

Coconut Basmati Rice & Peas

Chocolate Soufflé with Whipped Cream and Berries

Highlights

-The fire at Rob’s lamb lollipop grilling station and my uncharacteristic lack of concern.  “It will take care of itself.”- said nobody about any fire, ever.  Except me.

-Mustard-herb butter.  And the group vote that it be elevated to a main course.

-My resident Jamaicans making the jerk salmon.  No pressure, TomCookery.

-That salad that stole the show.  Tails-on shrimp…a must!

-So. Much. Souffle.  Hats off to the couple who kept track of all 24, yes, 24 egg whites.  And the stand mixer that whipped them into shape.

-Kenny asking for, and being awarded an internship at TomCookery LLC.

-The pasta and vodka sauce group not so secretly declaring themselves to have the best dish.  Pass the parmesan please!

-My old-lady recipe interpretations (pinch of this, dash of that) for rice and peas and the ever patient student.

Thanks to Marisa, event planner extrodinaire at House of Flores for her clutch tablescaping and flower arranging.

If you are interested in a cooking class or cooking party, contact us at events@tom-cookery.com.

Until next time,

Tom

 

An apron, a side towel and a recipe booklet are the keys to success in this class.

An apron, a side towel and a recipe booklet are the keys to success in this class.

I love this couple AND these aprons!

I love this couple AND these aprons!

Poster child for cooking class wholesomeness.

Poster child for cooking class wholesomeness.

 

Great to have some old friends in the kitchen.

Great to have some old friends in the kitchen.

I know.  I'm also sad we're on the last course :(

I know. I’m also sad we’re on the last course :(

Salad? Don't mind if I do!

Salad? Don’t mind if I do!

Painstakingly prepared this salad with more elements than you can shake a stick at!

Painstakingly prepared this salad with more elements than you can shake a stick at!

If you can't stand the heat...just stay in the kitchen and keep cooking. -Tom

If you can’t stand the heat…just stay in the kitchen and keep cooking. -Tom

There are few things that make me happier than seeing people happily eating ;)

There are few things that make me happier than seeing people happily eating ;)

Hey girl, hey!  The inspiration for the class sitting right here.

Hey girl, hey! The inspiration for the class sitting right here.

Snapshot of what all we made.

Snapshot of what all we made.

 

Tom, Pimp My Party – Super Bowl Edition

You may or may not have read my post from last week, Super Bowl Party Blunders.  Per usual, I was on my soap box about how to throw a well-appointed party.  This week, I decided to get my hands dirty and actually do something.  I know, I’m soooo generous.  Welcome to our newest segment on The TomCookery Blog…

Tom, Pimp My Party – Super Bowl Edition

Enter, Tyriel.  Urban professional, rice and peas addict and an unapologetic party-thrower.  Enter, Tom.  Caterer, friend of Tyriel and a card holding Restaurant Depot member.

Highlights

Outsourcing.  Tyriel has a lot of friends, all of whom are ready to chip in.  But instead of getting 25 bags of Tostitos, I encouraged Tyriel to be really specific with his asks (i.e. “John, pls bring 30lbs of ice.”)

Hors D’oeuvres.  Tyriel’s guests come hongry.  This year we got some frozen hors d’oeuvres (no judgment here), baked or fried them off with minimal effort and served them to his guests before the real food came out.  These bites, along with a $10 veggie plate from Costco held people over.

Sliders with Chipotle Aioli.  Tyriel didn’t realize flavored mayo was so easy to make.  The chipotle peppers in adobo literally came right off the shelves of his corner bodega.  We threw 3 peppers, 3 cloves of garlic and 2 cups of mayo into the food processor and viola, a fancy sports bar quality slider in no time at all.

The Cobb Salad.  This year, Tyriel wanted to be a little kinder to people who wanted to eat light.  So I suggested a cobb salad.  Sure, its technically a salad but its really like a bacon egg and cheese on lettuce.  Gourmet dressings were non-existent in his Harlem Pathmark so we got some regular old spicy brown mustard, two lemons and some canola and made our own dressing.  And it was delicious.

All in all, I’d say our mission was accomplished.  The food was great, people seemed super excited about the food and Tyriel got to reign supreme as the king of all Super Bowl Party hosts.

If you want me to come pimp your next party (for free) email us at info@tom-cookery.com.

Meet Tyriel.

Meet Tyriel.

Tyriel doesn't eat beef.  Tom doesn't care.

Tyriel doesn’t eat beef. Tom doesn’t care.

 

Check out his serving skills.  I'd use him at my next event.

Check out his serving skills. I’d use him at my next event.

Making Burger Patties

Making Burger Patties

The Sliders with Chipotle Aioli

The Sliders with Chipotle Aioli

The Cobb Salad

The Cobb Salad

Festive fan enjoys cobb salad

Festive fan enjoys cobb salad

Good thing we got that veggie plate.  It went to great use.

Good thing we got that veggie plate. It went to great use.

With friends like Tom, who needs slavedrivers?

With friends like Tom, who needs slavedrivers?

 

TomCookery’s Valentine’s Weekend Cooking Class

Tired of the same old V-Day Plans?  Nothing says bonding like watching your soufflé rise with your boo, bestie or new friend that you just met an hour ago!  TomCookery’s COOK – EAT – LOVE Valentine’s weekend class is perfect for people who want to learn some serious kitchen skills in a laid-back environment.  Part class, part dinner party, come ready to cook, sip, boogie, and chow down.

Email us today at Events@tom-cookery.com or register on Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.com/e/valentines-weekend-cooking-class-tickets-10452272027.  The class is intimate and its filling up fast!


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Super Bowl (Party) Blunders

Much to my chagrin, I don’t go to Super Bowl Parties to watch football.  While everyone else is, what I call, ”watching the game,” I am usually eating and drinking and trying to find someone else who isn’t really “watching the game” to be my friend for the night.  This has provided me with years of data to form the following observation:

Super Bowl Sunday can really be renamed Entertaining for Those Who Don’t Entertain Sunday

If you find yourself throwing a Super Bowl party and you fall in the non-entertaining camp, below are the are areas where you don’t get a pass.  Hopefully this advice will prevent you from fumbling your host duties.  Puns stop here, I promise.

Hot Food 

If its supposed to be hot, try to serve it hot.  Cold meatballs in cold sauce are not appetizing.  Honestly, you don’t have to get #fancy for this.  Pick up a cheap warmer set at any dollar store for about $15 bucks or you can order it on Amazon and it will come straight to your door.

 Enough Food

This is one department where you don’t get an “A” for effort.  Sure you had an impressive spread, but it was only enough for 15/30 of your guests.  Nobody said you had to feed an army but invite less people OR ask for some kind of financial contribution.  If the amount of people you need to cook for seems daunting, see my earlier post on When to Hire a Caterer.

Appropriate Food

Now is not the time to serve duck confit.  Unless its in a taco.  I see in your eyes that you want to break out of the same ole boring wings and nachos Super Bowl party fare.  But refrain.  Reinvent the classics but remember, finger foods are popular because you aren’t really sitting down at a table.  Not to mention the food replicates the feeling of being at a game.  When was the last time you sat down with a fork and a knife at a sporting event?

Enough Seats

I’m just putting this out there.  You should probably have enough seats for your guests.  People milling about is a recipe for disaster.  Guests will be all up in your kitchen, your bedroom and dark corners of your apartment.  Chaos ensues.

Something to Drink (That isn’t Coors Light)

This last point is really for the hosts AND the attendees.  I’ve noticed that people tend to prioritize quantity over quality when they bring drinks to a Super Bowl Party.  Maybe thats okay with you but the rest of us graduated from college years ago.  Hosts, if you are going to do this party, do it right and provide a variety of drinks.  Guests, if someone is gracious enough to host a party, say thank you by bringing good quality beer or cider.  This way you don’t have to feel guilty when you conveniently exit before folks start cleaning up.

Feel free to keep running menu planning and entertaining questions by me at info@tom-cookery.com.  I’ll be sure to post the amusing ones.

Happy planning,

Tom

When life gives you salmon scraps–

Make salmon cakes!  Have you ever been portioning salmon filets for a party and you want all the pieces to be identical so you end up with all these little scraps of salmon that are perfectly good?  No?  You haven’t?  Because that probably isn’t your typical Saturday night.  But it was mine.

So I woke up this morning and looked at the scraps and viola.  Salmon cakes for brunch.  Even if you don’t have the scraps, you can still make this recipe.  Just buy a regular piece of salmon and bake or boil it or just purchase the canned variety.  No judgement here.  As a matter of fact, I kind of like those stray crunchy bones that always sneak their way into the canned salmon cakes.

Personally, I like to eat my salmon cakes with grits and eggs.  That’s just plain and natural to me.  They also go nicely with a salad or even on a sandwich with a fun spicy mayo.  Below is my go-to recipe but everyone has their own way.  Hopefully you can experiment at home and come up with your own variations with this easy and impressive brunch.

Ingredients

Yield: 4 good-sized salmon cakes.

1 Cup of cooked flaked salmon

1 whole onion chopped

1 scallion (green and white part) chopped finely

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp cayenne (more if you like spice)

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup of milk

1 egg beaten

3/4 cup Italian seasoned panko

Directions

Mix flaked salmon, onion, scallion and spices in a bowl.  Make sure everything is evenly distributed.  Next add your milk and your egg.  Then add your binder, either panko or breadcrumbs.  Incorporate the binder in slowly.  You don’t want to over mix because then your cakes will be on the bread-y (not a word) side.  Form your batter into cakes about 1/2”- 3/4” thick and 3” wide.  Heat up a frying pan with oil and butter.  Non-stick will make your life easier but its not a necessity.  When your pan is heated, fry your patties 1-2 at a time being careful not to overcrowd the pan.  They only need 2-3 minutes per side.  This should result in golden brown salmon cakes with a nice crusty edge.

Happy brunching,

Tomica

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Salmon Cakes

 

Holiday Party BYOB Questions Solved

The holiday party invites are streaming in and if you are young and frugal like the rest of us, many of the hosts encourage BYOB.  Sure, you can go with your regular go to bottle but we encourage you to push the envelope here at TomCookery.  Below are our top pics for brown baggers at this season’s holiday parties.  Good luck in actually letting go of these gems!

Hangar 1 Vodka- Unbelievably smooth vodka which is apparently made from viognier grapes.  Go figure!  You may never try another vodka again.

Hendricks (Gin)-I lean towards gin in the summer.  This summer was a scorcher in NYC and I pretty much gave up all other alcohol for the cucumber and rose cooling effect of Hendricks.  I do think that gin makes a fine winter drink as well.  A French 75 screams holiday party cocktail to me.

Don Julio Reposado (Tequila)- Many a boozy night at the tequila bar has started (and ended) with Don Julio Reposado.  I definitely prefer this to some of the more popular (ahem) varieties that frequent hip hop stations.

Knob Creek (Bourbon)- Sometimes, I like my liquor to drink like a meal.  On nights like that, I opt for bourbon.  I’ve tried a few but Knobb Creek always rises to the top.

Bruichladdich 10 Year Old -The Laddie Ten (Scotch)- We had a party this summer where this scotch was on the menu.  One of our bartenders made me a drink at the end of the night and I was shocked that it was scotch.  Even more shocked that I liked it.  I’d always associated scotch with old men but the Laddie made me a believer.

Domaine de Canton- This french ginger liqueur has the potential to elevate some of the most mundane cocktails.  If you are a ginger lover like me you will have a ball with this. Peruse the website for drink ideas or rely on your imagination.  The possibilities are endless.

Cheers,

Tom