Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Asher Foods Catering

Well, as I have mentioned already I am starting a catering business.  Things have been slow going as to now to become an "official" business.  With the time that goes in to work, and to working at home watching Annabel, or just trying to help Lynsey (she may not know what I am talking about when I say that), finding time to form a new business is not easy.  Plus, I had the privilege of going to a Bible college (my choice) and not getting any business classes to even give me a clue as to what it takes to really start a business.  "Thanks Bible college!"  Anyways I have been reading and researching what I need to do and it is finally all coming to a point.  I now have an accountant, and am getting ready to finally incorporate!  So that being said, now I am just looking for business.  

I am excited about the prospects of catering.  For one I feel that I can bring something that a lot of caterers that I have had the experience of dealing with do not seem to have a lot of.  That is quality.  Now without going into specifics and actually bashing other caterers I will just say that in all of the food that I cook, I do just that cook it.  Meaning I take a raw product and apply heat to it to get a desired outcome.  I refuse to use ready made food and try to pass it off like I made it.  A monkey can heat up a frozen lasagna but it takes time and talent to make a good one from scratch.  Any sap can buy frozen, already pulled pork and heat it up, but it takes time to cook it and it takes a few burns on your hands to pull it when its done.  

I guess what I am saying is that quality is my number one goal.  I look at the food and the presentation, and if I would not be happy eating it, you are not going to eat it.  I am never going to ask you to put applesauce, and over cooked green beans on the same plate.  THEY RUN TOGETHER and the flavors aren't really designed to be mixed like that.  Now that being said, if you hire me and you want applesauce and green beans served at the same meal, fine.  However, I will refuse to overcook the green beans, and I will give you the applesauce in a separate bowl.  I hope that is okay.  

Anyways, I really am excited about food.  If you read through this blog I hope that you can see that in my writing.  I hope to be able to cook for you and give you a meal that not only you, but your guests will talk about for a long time.

And one final thing.  Chuck and Becka, who have commented on here a few times (thanks guys) and who I also made the dinner for (see previous post:  Dinner party for 10).  Are making up the logo for the company as I type, and are also making up pamphlets for me to hand out.  I want to say thank you to them, and I hope that if you are reading this right now that maybe it is because you picked up one of the pamphlets and are hungry for some good food. 

Good eating, 


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's Time for a Rant

Ok, I like to consider myself a pretty easy going guy.  Yeah some things can get me going, and when something gets me going I tend to be pretty passionate with my opinions.  I am sure many of you that know me know exactly what I am talking about.  Well, if I am going to go on a rant on this blog I guess that I should relate it to food, and lucky for us it is related.

As I have said before, I feed people.  Everyday when I am at work I make lunch.  Sometimes it is just lunch for two or so people, sometimes it is for a larger group.  Of course I encounter a wide range of palates.  Some people will eat just about anything.  (I think I am one of those), others will only eat the same thing that they have been eating since early childhood.  It is the palate, though, that falls somewhere in between these two extremes that drives me nuts.  

Of course, the person that refuses to eat any food besides what they have been eating their whole life, such as peanut butter, cheese, crackers and soda, does drive me nuts, you learn to dismiss them and know that you will never satisfy their hunger.  I am ok with that, I know it is their fault and they wouldn't know good food if it smacked them in the mouth.  It is the people that will eat a food, love it, and then find out that there is one particular ingredient in it (common ingredient at that) and then decide that it is disgusting.  One such ingredient is sour cream.  As I have talked about before, I will add cream to tomato sauce for a different creamier taste.  If I don't have heavy cream I will use sour cream.  Now let me tell you I make this meal all the time.  IT IS GOOD!!!  However, when one of the guys that has eaten the meal several times and liked it, notices that I put sour cream in it, he is all of a sudden disgusted and wont eat it.  Also, he hates Mayo.  Fine, lots of people do.  But the guy eats more ranch dressing than I drink water.  RANCH IS HALF MAYO!!!!!  He refuses to believe it.  It is the palate that thinks they can taste what they cannot taste and therefore refuse to eat something.

Does this make sense?  Another example maybe.  One of my favorite doughnuts is a sour cream doughnut.  If you have had one you would know that you cannot taste any sour cream at all.  If it wasn't called a sour cream doughnut you wouldn't know it had sour cream in it at all.  It just enhances the taste and makes it more moist.  Now, I could give this particular palate a sour cream doughnut and call it something like "Cheesecake" though it wouldn't taste like cheesecake (more on that in a minute) and he would LOVE it.  Though if he heard that it was called a sour cream doughnut, then all of a sudden it would be disgusting.  

All that to say that picky palates that don't really know what they are being picky about really annoy me.  Just eat the food, its good, there isn't anything that is going to kill you, its not like I am putting something like rattlesnake poison into a dish just to make it taste more....well whatever rattlesnake poison would taste like.

A final note.  I make cheesecakes every Christmas.  I try to sell some just to make some extra money during the holidays.  I have a friend that loves these cakes.  Last year he bought 3 from me and gave some as gifts.  If I told him that there was a little bit of sour cream in the cheesecakes I would never sell another one to him.  I hope he isn't reading this now....

Also, I hope that I have not offended anyone, if I have though, maybe you will take that offense and use it to grow a backbone and try some food that you may not usually try because you think it is "weird."  And when you find said food that you thought that you would hate and realize that you love it, call me and let me make it for you and some friends again.  I cater you know ;)


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dinner Party for 10

I was just thinking about some past meals that I have had the opportunity to do for different people. One of those meals was a dinner party for two friends and the board of directors that oversee their ministry. I have pictures which is the big reason that I want to tell you a little bit about it, but it really was a fun meal to pull off and gave me a great first test to pull of a plated multi course meal.

To start the meal I served everyone a few appetizers. Each plate had three individual items on them for each person to sample. One of the items was clams casino, the other a piece of shrimp on a rosemary skewer with a mint pesto sauce, and the third item was a date stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped with basil and prosciutto. Unfortunately the ugly plates that I had to present them on kind of took away from the dish itself but it was pretty cool plating them all and serving them.

The second course was a "Caprese Salad." It is a salad made up of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, fresh basil, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. It is every simple but very delicious. For this particular salad I used different heirloom style tomatoes and also some Roma tomatoes.

The third course was the main course. It consisted of a duck breast with a port wine reduction, bacon wrapped asparagus, and a homemade rice pilaf. I was a little disappointed in my reduction as I just didn't get it to the consistency that I really wanted to, but they loved it anyways.

And the final course was of course the dessert. For this dessert I took fresh peaches and grilled them and then served them with a big scoop of ice cream and drizzled it all with a raspberry puree.

It was really cool getting to do this meal and seeing the different reactions that each person had to what was set in front of them. The favorite thing that I heard was from the couple that at the beginning of the meal was upset that they were not going "out" to eat. They had dressed up and expected a different style of meal, and were frankly disappointed that they were going to have to eat dinner where they had been meeting all day long. By the end of the meal though, I had completely won them over, and I am still holding out hope that they will someday fly me out to Las Vegas where they live to do a dinner party for them. How cool would that be.

Well that is it, I hope it looks as good in the pictures as it was in my mouth.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pulled Pork

So, it has been awhile since my last post...sorry for all of my faithful readers.  I have been doing a lot in the kitchen though.  A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of catering a rehearsal dinner for Lynsey's cousin Nathan.  Nathan's mom was originally going to make the meal herself, but much to my benefit, the father of the groom convinced Nathan's mom that she should not have to stress about that meal, that she would have enough things to worry about.  Which is where I come in.  They asked me to make a meal consisting of pulled pork, green beans, corn, roasted potatoes, apple crisp, and pumpkin bars.  So this particular entry is devoted to the pulled pork.  It is something that I make a lot of at work, and it is great for the family as well.  Everyone seems to love pulled pork and it is easier to do than you might think.  The hardest part is the waiting.

First let me say before going on, that the best way to do this is with a smoker.  However, not everyone has a smoker, or in my case a smoker big enough to do a case of butts.  "Butts?"  ( I will get to that later).  Do not worry if you don't have a smoker.  While smoking is an art form and a skill that all backyard bbq'rs long to have, in this case it might not be as important as you think.  Allow me to let you in on a little secret.  9.9 out of 10 people wont know if the pork was smoked or not.  Sad isn't it, but probably true.  So if you like most other people can't tell if it was smoked or you just don't have a smoker to do the quantity that you need (like me) you can do them in the oven.  

Ok first, start with a pork butt.  It isn't actually the butt of a pig.  It is the butt end of the shoulder.  Sometimes you will here them referred to as Boston Butts, this is the same thing.  I prefer bone-in butts as opposed to bone-out.  The down side to this is that you have to pay money for a bone that you won't eat, but it acts like a perfect thermometer to let you know when the pork is done, and I am sure that it adds some flavor....maybe not but I still like it.

Ok so you have your butt on the counter (sounds funny huh) and you are ready to cook it.  First let me tell you that if you are wanting it for dinner you may want to start about 6-8 hours before dinner time.  But time aside this is how I prep my butt before cooking it.  

First, rub the butt (ha ha, I am like a little kid when I say that).  I like to use a rub of season salt, coriander, garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper and onion.  I will leave the ratios a secret.  Put a generous amount all over the meat, when you are done rubbing it will look something like this.

Place the butts in a roasting pan, cover and bake in an oven at 350 for about 6 to 8 hours.  Honestly when I am cooking these, I am usually cooking a whole ovens worth so it might take less time if you only have one butt in the oven.  At 6 hours pull out the meat, and tongs or with something to protect your hand grab the bone a
nd try to pull it out.  If it pulls out easily it is done.  If it doesn't want to come loose, give it some more time.  But when the bone comes out, it is done.  At this point, cover it loosely and let it sit for about another hour.  The butts will look something like this after they come out of the oven.

After they have set for awhile, it is time to pull it.  The best thing to use for this process, your hands.  Just dig in, separate out the fat, be careful, because it will still be pretty hot.  When you are done pulling you are ready to eat.  Sit down with your favorite bbq sauce and some friends and enjoy some good pork.