I am sitting in my recliner next to our Christmas tree and in front of a great fire as I write this blog. It is blizarding out there and I am thankful for the roaring fire.

Since it is nearing the end of 2010 I think it is a good time to look back at this year and say I have a lot of things to be thankful for.

We celebrated our 10th year at our cafe and catering business. It is hard honest work. Not only are we chef’s but professional schleppers. Yes that is a industry technical word! Kathleen Kelly of Kathleen Kelly Photographers spent and recorded a day in the life a caterer with me last winter. It was a solid 14 hour standard day in my life as a caterer. I think she was amazed at how hands on I am in the business and with what stamina I have.

It is good to love what you do and I really do. It is the rush of a good job done at the end of every event. The comments and hugs feed my soul. I am truly living my dream as I explained to Annette Fazio during her interview of me last spring on her radio show “Resilience is Brilliance”. I am really lucky to have Chuck share the same dream.

Chuck and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary and are looking forward to our 27th in March 2011. Even though we live and work together 24/7 we still somehow end the day reflecting and laughing over cocktails and dinner. Some days are easier than others. Just ask our staff!

Speaking of staff, we have the BEST in the world. Although we have a few new staff members many have been with us more than 8 years! Everyone of our members really care about CVC Catering Group. They are true professionals in every way. I am grateful for them and I try to tell them that every chance I get.

I am grateful for returning customers and new customers as well. We added United Way of Greater Portland to our customer list and catered their Grand Finale “Back to the Future” at the awesome Ocean Gateway. We also added Cabelas as a new customer for a cocktail party for 1225 people!

I love customizing anything and this year The Maine Historical Society allowed me to create a signature drink honoring Henry Wadsforth Longfellow that I call the o’Henry! Emeril Lagasse had an idea when I spoke with him and Chuck and I expanded upon it! It was a great hit at their Holiday Celebration a few weeks ago.

We had the pleasure of working with Steve Dimillo and his very talented Chef Melissa Bouchard at Nonesuch Golf Club for a fundraiser and donating our services. It is great to work with other chefs. We had a great time and it was a big success.

I am thankful for my family and friends as well. I am looking forward to 2011 with a great deal of enthusiasm and all of the new experiences and challenges to come. Look out 2011 because here I come!

I am sitting in my recliner next to our Christmas tree and
in front of a great fire as I write this blog. It is blizarding out
there and I am thankful for the roaring fire. Since it is nearing
the end of 2010 I think it is a good time to look back at this year
and say I have a lot of things to be thankful for. We celebrated
our 10th year at our cafe and catering business. It is hard honest
work. Not only are we chef’s but professional schleppers. Yes that
is a industry technical word! Kathleen Kelly of Kathleen Kelly
Photographers spent and recorded a day in the life a caterer with
me last winter. It was a solid 14 hour standard day in my life as a
caterer. I think she was amazed at how hands on I am in the
business and with what stamina I have. It is good to love what you
do and I really do. It is the rush of a good job done at the end of
every event. The comments and hugs feed my soul. I am truly living
my dream as I explained to Annette Fazio during her interview of me
last spring on her radio show “Resilience is Brilliance”. I am
really lucky to have Chuck share the same dream. Chuck and I
celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary and are looking forward to
our 27th in March 2011. Even though we live and work together 24/7
we still somehow end the day reflecting and laughing over cocktails
and dinner. Some days are easier than others. Just ask our staff!
Speaking of staff, we have the BEST in the world. Although we have
a few new staff members many have been with us more than 8 years!
Everyone of our members really care about CVC Catering Group. They
are true professionals in every way. I am grateful for them and I
try to tell them that every chance I get. I am grateful for
returning customers and new customers as well. We added United Way
of Greater Portland to our customer list and catered their Grand
Finale “Back to the Future” at the awesome Ocean Gateway. We also
added Cabelas as a new customer for a cocktail party for 1225
people! I love customizing anything and this year The Maine
Historical Society allowed me to create a signature drink honoring
Henry Wadsforth Longfellow that I call the o’Henry! Emeril Lagasse
had an idea when I spoke with him and Chuck and I expanded upon it!
It was a great hit at their Holiday Celebration a few weeks ago. We
had the pleasure of working with Steve Dimillo and his very
talented Chef Melissa Bouchard at Nonesuch Golf Club for a
fundraiser and donating our services. It is great to work with
other chefs. We had a great time and it was a big success. I am
thankful for my family and friends as well. I am looking forward to
2011 with a great deal of enthusiasm and all of the new experiences
and challenges to come. Look out 2011 because here I come!

EggMay is National Egg Month!

I remember the days that I went to the store and there were 3 choices of eggs: eggs, large eggs and extra large eggs. Not now. Oh my gosh! You actually have to think about what you are buying! I guess an egg is not an egg anymore. Some eggs are natural, some are organic, some have omega added, some are brown and some are white. Some say farm fresh and some say grade “A”, some say free range, some cage free, some say pasteurized.  And some are even all ready hard boiled for you. What’s a girl to do?

Experts say the color of the egg shell does not affect the quality or performance of the egg. So, we can relax about which to choose. Interesting though is that brown eggs are usually larger and the hen requires more food so the brown egg is more expensive!

For years we were told that eggs are not good for you. Now we know that it is not true. Eggs are low in saturated fat with 1.5 grams per egg and they do not have any trans fat all. Eggs provide a lot of protein many essential amino acids, iron and other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. A whole egg is approximately 3 tablespoons of liquid with the yolk containing about 1 tablespoon liquid. There is about 77 calories in 1 egg.

Generally there is a sell date and a best used by date. The sell by date suggests that if the eggs are not cracked and are kept refrigerated that the eggs can be used up to 30 days past that date. The best before date suggests that the eggs should be used within 2 weeks of that date.

Organic generally means that the hens have been raised, housed and fed according to National Organic Program administered by the USDA. They are not exposed to pesticides, antibiotics or hormones.

Cage free means the hens are allowed to roam freely within their house, have access to the out doors and where food and water is provided continuously. They live in their natural order and have nests in which to lay eggs.

Omega 3 eggs are achieved by feeding hens a special date that increases flaxseed. As an example the feed may be a combination of 20% flaxseed and grains.

Pasteurized eggs are required by law. So all eggs are pasteurized! The terms for All Natural are not defined, and therefore anyone can claim that they are raising an ‘all natural’ bird depending on their own interpretation of the word ‘natural’.

Eggs in cartonWhat should you consider when buying eggs? Always buy eggs from a refrigerated case. Choose eggs with clean, un-cracked shells. The USDA grade shield on the carton means that the eggs were graded for quality and checked for weight under the supervision of a trained USDA grader. State agencies monitor compliance for egg packers who do not use the USDA grading service. US Grade (quality) eggs are graded AA, A and B grades. The grade depends on the interior quality of the egg and the appearance and condition of the shell. Grade AA have whites that are thick and firm, yolks that are high and round and practically free from defects and have clean unbroken shells. Grade A have whites that are reasonably firm, yolks that are high and round and practically free from defects and have clean unbroken shells. Grade B have whites that are thinner, yolks that are wider and flatter and the shells will be unbroken but may have stains.

Eggs are used in all forms of baking and cooking and are relatively inexpensive. Most recipes call for large eggs even when not specified.

Did you know that the average American consumes about 250 eggs per year? Also, the average hen produces about 250 per year. That means that we all have a hen laying eggs for us! Do you know where your hen is?

For more information and recipes, please feel free to contact Chef Nancy at CVC Catering Group!

Yes, if you want a beer that meets your personal taste profile. You can make a beer that is natural and organic. You can brew a beer that can enhance the health benefits found in hops.

Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute has found that hops contain a flavonoid called “xanthohumol”. This compound is considered to help in preventing cancer. Thus, when you are drinking beer and eating pizza, you are fighting cancer with the flavnoids found in the beer.

Beer MugSome people will do home brewing as a hobby, others want to produce a beer that they control and is unique. Some home brewers like to experiment and others like to impress their friends with a product they produced.

These are all good reasons to home brew; however, it is the cost savings that can be realized that is the reason for home brewing.

Non –Craft Brewers such as Miller have developed cost controls that allow them to sell their beer at fairly low prices. Home brewing will still provide you with cost savings, but not large ones. However, when compare the costs of imports or Regional Craft Beers, there are significant cost savings. A 6 pack of a good import or craft beer will range between $ 7-9.00 and $1.16 – $ 1.50 per bottle. Home brewing will give you a cost of $ .40 – $ .65 per bottle. That is a significant savings!

To get started, you will need to purchase a starter kit. These kits range in price from basic/beginners for $59.00 to a kit with a barrel for over $300.00. You can buy the kits and supplies on line. However, there are several stores in the Portland area that will sell you the kits, supplies, technology, and the procedures on how to make your own beer.

Once you make your first batch of beer, you can be as creative as you wish and develop unique beers that meet your personality and taste requirements. There is nothing better then to offer your guests your new brew of Organic, Blueberry, Honey, and Malt Beer that has little environmental impacts. Life is sweet!

Here are a few Maine suppliers;

Maine Brewing Supply
The Hop Shop
Kennebec Home Brew Supplies

I recently had the honor of being asked to provide my recipe for Chocolate Pasta with Hazelnut Sauce to a listener from the Morning Living Show on Martha Stewart Radio!

Naturally, I wanted to share this news and this recipe with everyone! So, Enjoy!

Chocolate Pasta

Serves 4 people

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/3 cups semolina flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon chocolate extract
3 large eggs beaten
Ice water if needed

DIRECTIONS:

Sift the flour and cocoa. Beat the eggs and mix in extract. Add flour mixture slowly to the eggs. Knead into a smooth ball adding small amounts of ice water if needed. Roll and cut dough as desired.

 

Hazelnut Pancetta Cream Sauce

Sauce for 4 Servings of Pasta

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup hazelnuts toasted
2 tablespoon butter
3/4 pound pancetta, diced
1 medium shallot, fine diced
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
salt & pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup heavy cream
¼ cup chicken broth
3 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese shavings, for garnish
4 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley and thyme, for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Heat butter and render pancetta until browned
Add hazelnuts
Add shallot and garlic and cook until soft
Add salt and pepper and nutmeg
Add cream and chicken broth and let simmer to reduce to a sauce consistency
Serve with chocolate pasta
Garnish with parmesan and parsley and thyme

Please feel free to share a recipe of your own, or share your experience with this recipe!

And if you need a caterer, please view our website and contact me!