We’re About to Get all up in Your Pasta

Today I want to brag about my new favorite kitchen gadget – the KitchenAid Stand Mixer Pasta Press. If you thought making pasta at home was too laborious, made too much of a mess, and, frankly, you didn’t have the time or the energy for all of that – I’m about to Rock. Your. World. To our engaged girls who are getting ready to register, get that scan gun ready!

A food scale is so handy - no guessing games when measurements are critical!

A food scale is so handy – no guessing games when measurements are critical!

There are many KitchenAid attachments to be had, but this one {next to my meat grinder} is my favorite – here’s why. I’m a home cook, I like to entertain and {obviously} I like to eat well. If you’re like me, you’re always looking for ways to step up your game in your culinary repertoire. I prefer to work smarter, not harder. Don’t you? Pasta from scratch is not just for your beloved Nonna… skip the pasta roller {for now} and step into the world of extrusion. Warning, if you prefer to hand pull noodles, this may not be for you. The press comes with six interchangeable noodle plates – spaghetti, bucatini, rigatoni, fusilli, and both thick and large macaroni.

Since I know you’re wondering, the whole process takes about 30 minutes from dough to noodle. You can spare a half hour or so for fresh pasta, can’t you?

A simple egg dough comes together in the stand mixer bowl within five minutes after combining a whopping (4) ingredients {of which you have total quality control}.

Then comes the “labor intensive” part, rolling the dough into walnut sized balls so that they easily fit into the hopper.  I did this with a glass of wine nearby and breezed through it relatively quickly. Roll, sip, repeat. Fun times.

IMG_5460Now it’s time to make your noodles. Attach, turn on, and increase your speed to the appropriate level {each plate has a different speed}. Start feeding the little dough balls into the hopper. It’s like magic!

IMG_5469The press comes with a built-in wire cutter so when the noodles reach the desired length, you simply swing it across the plate. Easy as that. My only feedback here is not to overfill the hopper, just two at a time is enough. Have a parchment-lined sheet pan nearby to start laying your noodles out in a single layer.

When you’ve gone through all of your dough, you can either dry it or cook it up fresh. I chose the latter, yummy bolognese sauce with some grassfed beef!

Your last burning question – how’s cleanup? I’m a mind reader but I won’t quit my day job… The auger, ring and pasta pusher can go right in the dishwasher. The plate can sit overnight to allow any residual dough to dry, then just grab a toothpick,  pop those few bits out and brush with the included dry brush.

You can thank your girls at GG for your next stellar dinner party!

Shop the attachment here. I scored mine at their outlet and saved a few dollars – such a savvy shopper 😉

Cheers,

Kristen

 

 

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am ending this series with a trip down tradition lane with none other than our infamous Private Event Specialist, Kristen. This is a good one…

 

 Kristen Says  

 

“Thanksgiving is a very special holiday for my family. When I was a child, this blessed day was hosted at my Grammie and Pa’s in Waterford. 

Cousins and relatives would gather from near and sometimes far for what was my grandfather’s favorite holiday. He and my Gram made it a big deal, always. 

To show how special the day was for him, Pa loved to break out his fancy plaid pants {I wish I had a picture handy}, and of course his electric knife to carve the turkey!

We always arrived just before noon for snacks, or what my grandmother called “the relish trays.” There were black olives, celery stuffed with cream cheese, and pickled veggies. We would also have the standard cheese and crackers with pepperoni, as well as deviled eggs.

I still do this!!The kids would find their way to the relish trays immediately to put one olive on each finger – it was so much fun!Then we would eat the cream cheese right out of the celery, and the filling out of the eggs, and leave the empty vessels for my dad to devour – he will eat anything you leave behind!

We ate dinner around 1:00 to appease the great grandparents, who would surely scoff if dinner was late! Pa, with his aforementioned electric knife, would carve and eat, carve and eat. My Gram always planned ahead with a huge turkey to offset Pa’s snacking, and the turkey sandwiches that would come later in the early evening.

After a long-winded, heartfelt, and sometimes teary blessing from Pa, delivered while holding hands as one big happy family, we would dig in!

The meal has always been the same – the bird, mashed potatoes, mashed turnips, creamed onions, green bean casserole, stuffing with gizzards {and some without for me}, gravy, sweet potato casserole with the little marshmallows, cranberry sauce – both jellied and whole – and Parker House rolls with REAL BUTTER {we were a margarine family way back then, so real butter was lavish!}.

The kids washed it all down with Sunkist orange soda, which was also a huge treat!! 

For dessert… homemade pumpkin, apple and mincemeat pies with whipped cream straight from the can – weren’t we lucky?!?

Some would nap – Pa in his Tryptophan coma, and with some help from his Old Milwaukee beer of course – some would clean up – and the kids… we would slide down the long curving staircase on Gram’s plush carpeting to get all the Sunkist sugar worked out!! 

The day was always leisurely and fun, with lots to eat and lots of storytelling and family time. 

Today, my Gram is still with us, but her beloved Harry, my Pa, is unfortunately not. 

Old MilwaukeeIn his honor, each Thanksgiving morning, no matter what our plans for the day, we gather as a family in the cemetery with our coffees, champagne, bloody marys or preferred beverage. We pour a beer {Old Milwaukee if we can find it, but it’s rare these days} on Pa’s grave while we GIVE THANKS… to the man that made Thanksgiving a holiday we will always cherish.”

Welp, now that I’m a little teary eyed over that last part, I think it’s time to peace out of the GG office for a little turkey day preparation of my own (and by that, I mean it’s time to drink my share of wine!).

Cheers to olive-puppet fingers and family traditions. Happy Thanksgiving to all from the Gourmet Galley family!
xo Kristen

Jen G – Pie Maker by Night

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetJen’s Thanksgiving is very traditional! Read on for the scoop…

“Blake makes the green bean casserole…he is very particular.  

I am making the bird this year…my first time – yikes.
I love candied yam souffle – corn flakes and pecans – it’s like dessert.  
My brother will bring a venison creation.  😐
Pies!! Who is going to make what and how many…it’s a discussion every year. 

I refuse to use store bought crust.  My grandmother has the best, easiest recipe for a delicious crust..there are about 5 different versions of it.  Every time she wrote the recipe out on little 3×5 cards, it was always different.  Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetSo I add my own spin on it too and it is always an amazing crust.  I pull my filling recipes from “Jenny” Crocker or whatever new one I’ve heard about.  Always different.  My family favorites, the basics- apple, pumpkin, and blueberry for my Dad.  It becomes his birthday “cake” because his birthday is the 28th and he LOVES his blueberry pie.  It is all he asks me to make for him for his birthday or Christmas or anything for him.  I have become the pie maker and don’t mind because I use Gram’s old pie tins and her rolling pin.   YUM!”

I adore this pie tin. How many years of doughy, flour-covered hands have lovingly pressed pie dough into its fluted edging? How many smiles has it brought? It’s worn, it’s perfectly-imperfect. Thank you for sharing, Jen!!

 

XO Kristen

 

Talking Turkey Continued

It’s T-3 days until turkey time,  crunch time baby! I don’t mean the abdominal kind… Save those for January 1st! Unless of course you’re French-Canadian, then  you’ll be eating and enjoying Tourtiere {meat pie} like our family. Mmmm Pie! Ok, next up we hear from our girl Marissa and Executive Chef Jeffrey Crawford.

 

 Marissa Says  

Thanksgiving is seriously my FAVORITE holiday… it’s all about the food and family. My family all bundle up and gather in Madison to do the Turkey Trot in the morning.  The race kicks off with some guy dressed in a Turkey suit and “Alice’s Restaurant” blaring through the park… and we are off. After the trot we head to either my house or down to my parent’s for the day. Sometimes we do a fresh Gozzi’s bird and sometimes we do the good old fashioned butter ball bird… but it’s always big enough to feed at least 6-8 more people than are coming to dinner… we love the left overs. My dad builds a big fire and the girls cook. My mom makes creamed onions that are to die for and we always have to have at least 2 types of cranberry relish… a fresh homemade orange and ginger and you guessed it…. “cannedberry”.

This looks promising!  http://food52.com/blog/4912-canal-house-s-cranberry-port-gelee

This looks promising!
http://food52.com/blog/4912-canal-house-s-cranberry-port-gelee

My dad and son insist… and don’t get all fancy and cut it up… it must appear in its natural state… a ribbed can shape. My southern grandmother always insisted we have a tray of “relishes”… which is really just carrots, celery, fresh scallions and black olives. I’m always expecting my sister to put on the finger olive puppet show that she used to do as a kid…  For me it’s all about the turkey skin…the stuffing and the gravy… pure heaven.

After dinner we typically play poker… we have Native American roots and its part of our tradition… everyone plays… dollar ante and then believe it or not exchange Christmas wish lists. Dessert we do a traditional pumpkin pie and always a cherry pie to celebrate my dad’s birthday which falls right around Thanksgiving. Left overs… The next day for me requires a cold turkey sandwich with lettuce and mayo on that really thin Pepperidge Farm White bread and classic Lays potato chips… and dinner we do an “instant replay” of the actual feast… we do warm turkey, cranberry and stuffing sandwiches for days, followed by soups and casseroles. Bring on the food coma!  Happy Thanksgiving!

 

  Chef Says  
Thanksgiving is always a large family gathering that rotated between my parents, my brother’s and my home. Usually 16 to 18 people depending on significant others attendance etc.
My favorite memories of the holiday were at my parents farmhouse in the mountains, where we would wake up at 5 am, eat a large bacon and egg breakfast and deer hunt for the early part of the day. Returning to a house warm and redolent with the aromas of pumpkin pies baking, turkey and venison or hams roasting and of course, fires burning in the fireplaces. Roast leg of venison draped in bacon, with black currant rosemary sauce, wild turkey (In successful years, store-bought most of the time.) with BOTH oyster and classic stuffing. The stuffing and turkey were accompanied (of course) with pan gravy and only homemade cranberry tangerine sauce from fresh cranberries. Huge pots of creamy mashed potatoes swimming in lightly salted butter. My Aunt would bring her 7 onion casserole and her celery salad. The table would have stuffed celery, olives, silver bowls of grapes, walnuts and Brazil nuts, whole pecans. Maple honey sweet potatoes Anna, green beans Almondine and pureed butternut squash with allspice and nutmeg (and butter). Desserts would be the ever present pumpkin pie, apple pie, my aunt’s apple cake with hard sauce, Mom’s lemon cheese tartlets and after eight mints with coffee.
 Always two to three days of dinner afterwards from the leftovers, Venison steak with eggs was the hunter’s breakfast the following morning, then the warm turkey sandwich with cranberry, stuffing and gravy on home-baked white bread was lunch. Usually by Saturday the turkey would be picked, then simmered with vegetables and herbs to make turkey soup.
One thing I don’t do on thanksgiving or the Friday after, is SHOP! I love Thanksgiving.

Cheers to keeping Thanksgiving sacred!!

 

Xo Kristen

Talking Turkey {Take II}

IMG_4587It’s Friday, and it’s FREEZING out there!! This puts me in the mood for stews and braises, better yet, anything out of a cast iron dutch oven. Speaking of, after my husband ran the Hartford Marathon in the pouring down rain (and icy cold temperatures), I made sure he came home to something belly warming.  The equivalent of a cozy blanket and a warm fire, in a bowl.  Here is the recipe that I grabbed from Bon Appetit for those who might be in search of slow cooker inspiration! I used traditionally cut short ribs from  my local butcher, low sodium organic tamari instead of standard soy sauce, and served them over a pillowy pile of mashed potatoes. He earned it!

This recipe is a winner and I think I might just make it again over the weekend! Yum! Ok, back to Talking Turkey! This week and next week, I’m sharing a little insight into each of our Thanksgiving traditions. We heard from our Owner Anna and our office mama, Peggy. Now we’ll hear from Keri and Kelly!

 

 Keri Says 

 

The Bells actually have 2 Thanksgivings every year – lucky us!!! Since my family is in NJ and Brandon’s family is in RI, we have to split holidays. We spend Thanksgiving day in RI, then make the trek to NJ that night or first thing the next morning, and celebrate turkey day all over again with my family on Friday. The two dinners couldn’t be any more different.

Brandon’s entire family – siblings, nieces, nephews, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and cousins’ kids – all attend Thanksgiving dinner at Brandon’s sister’s house, and we have so many people we have to eat in the garage! All together, it’s something like 50+ people!!! Everyone brings a dish – a mix of traditional: turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, potatoes, etc. and some specialties that have stuck: monkey bread, banana cream pie, buckeyes, scallops wrapped in bacon. We set up all of the food buffet style in the house, but before we eat, we make a giant circle to hold hands and give thanks (my favorite part – because you get to see everyone and realize how amazing it is to have so many family members in one place at one time!). Then we sit together in the garage to eat (it’s the nicest garage you’ll ever see, by the way! Heated floors… 4 doors… I’d eat off the floors, too!). The food is always amazing and always different.

My family is much smaller, and we keep things pretty intimate – our immediate family and spouses, my uncle and cousin and our family friends – usually about 12-13 people. We are also very traditional – we pretty much have the same menu every year: shrimp cocktail and a variety of other appetizers, turkey, stuffing, roasted potatoes, sweet potato pie – a recipe my grandmother passed down, some turnip dish I have never eaten, pearled onions (yuck), green beans, cranberry sauce, biscuits, and a ton of desserts – pies, tarts, cookies, etc. We all sit together at one long table and serve everything family style. My mom doesn’t let anyone help with dinner – I have tried to bring dishes over the years, help prepare something, etc. but she loves to do it all herself. The only thing we all do is set the table. The first year Brandon came to Thanksgiving dinner, he couldn’t believe that we don’t have mashed potatoes, so he made these, but that was the only exception that has been made.

My mom prepares our turkey and does so pretty simply – olive oil, butter, herbs. Nothing too fancy, but always DELICIOUS! And we LOVE leftovers….my mom always prepares extra food with the intention of having leftovers through the weekend. Usually the day after Thanksgiving is a casserole of turkey, stuffing and potatoes – my favorite!

I love everything about Thanksgiving dinner… except the turnips and pearled onions. I don’t think anyone likes them actually, but it was something my grandmother always made so I think my mom feels like she needs to carry on the tradition. :) We used to have grapefruit sprinkled with sugar and a maraschino cherry as a starter course – again, a tradition from my grandmother. Only about half the family would eat this, so my mom stopped making it. Every year, we expect someone to ask for the grapefruit. It has become an ongoing joke! And it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if my father didn’t use half a container of bottled whipped cream to top his pumpkin pie. So gross, but he has to do it!

Oh Keri, maybe if your grandmother had served the grapefruit broiled, more people would have eaten it! That’s the only way I can happily get through one without my face turning inside out. Although, I might just be speaking for myself?!
 Kelly Says  

          I couldn’t survive without carbs and potatoes, so my favorite parts of Thanksgiving are actually the stuffing and mashed potatoes. There have been times when I have eaten nothing but stuffing for breakfast for days after Thanksgiving. I like to mix some cranberry sauce in. Mmmmm. I also like to make sandwiches with the leftovers. Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce on a roll or bread (or a croissant, if I’m lucky and there are any left over!).This year, I am having Thanksgiving in Spain!

I’m with you Kelly, I’ve always said that I thought I was a lumberjack in a previous life. Refer to above picture 😉 As for your (Kelly) turkey day abroad, we hope you take lots and lots of pictures of all the wonderful things we imagine you’ll be eating and sipping!

To our readers who plan to hit the grocery stores this weekend – stay strong and warrior on!

 

xo Kristen

Our {Guide} to a Beautiful Holiday Display Table

Ready or not, the holiday season is right around the corner! Personally, I adore each one so you won’t catch me complaining. It seems that summer was a bit of a blur, a wonderfully delicious frenzy of events for our staff. So as our wedding season slows down, we turn our attention to holiday cheer!

Over the years, Gourmet Galley has been welcomed into private homes throughout Connecticut and Rhode Island. Because of the intimate atmosphere, we have had the privilege to get to know some of our clients on a deeper level. We love returning for special meals, celebrations and of course, holidays. As the newest member of the Gourmet Galley family, I thought it might be fun to gather up some of our best tips, suggestions and examples of how you can build a beautiful display table in true Gourmet Galley fashion right in your own home! Below are some photos from a tablescape I staged in our living room.

{An Autumn inspired table}

IMG_4934Helpful tips to keep in mind:

{height}

*Varying height adds visual interest

*Use glass cylinders, stumps, bricks/pavers, upside down     glassware or wine crates for example

Suggestion ~ Save those vases from the florist! We filled ours with colorful decorative gourds, shown.

{props}

  •  Groupings of seasonal fruits, produce or objects in your color palate
  • Votives with enclosed flame (we don’t want to see anyone’s sleeves catching on fire!)
  • Florals ~ don’t be afraid to step outside for some seasonal snippings or foraging

Suggestion ~ a few pieces of chopped wood adds a sense of warmth and texture. Just be sure there are no passengers! Votives sit snugly in fragrant coffee beans and mason jars scattered around the table, shown.

IMG_4930

IMG_4932{color}

  • fabrics
  • serving ware
  • garnish
  • props

{repurpose}

  • Scraps of fabric can be tucked under to accentuate or over to hide.
  • Fold a tablecloth over and over into a runner.
  • Use a piece of natural or stained lumber to do the same.
  • Try using a cake stand to showcase your hors d’oeuvres or display a trio of candles.

IMG_4940            {final thoughts}

  • It’s all in the details, tell your guests what they are enjoying with a paper sign mounted to a  propped up plate or inside a picture frame. You might instead roughly tear a paper bag and hand write your menu or use a chalk board for a more rustic look.

We would love to see your creativity this holiday season, share your photos to our Facebook wall and show us what you came up with!

Happy Friday guys and remember, your next holiday party is just a phone call away!

Here are a few more photos to enjoy…

Staged Holiday Tablescape

 

IMG_4925

Staged Tablescape

xo Kristen

 

 

 

The Simplest of Appetizers

If you aren’t already in love with radishes like we are, buckle up! I’ll be the first to share that I grew up pulling these babies right out of the ground, barely brushing off the soil before popping them in my mouth with a healthy dose of salt. Not the fancy kind, we didn’t have that in my house back then. Maybe some of you were lucky enough to grow up with a garden like I did?  There were many days where I would march outside, salt shaker in hand and eat my way around it. That was the good stuff and the thought of it still makes me smile.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetFast forward to a very recent experience, one I won’t soon forget. I found myself happily situated in front of a Harvest Table at a gathering of sorts with friends. It was beautifully presented, abundant and ripe with color. There were various cured meats and cheeses, tempting pate’s and warm aromatic Cafe Nuts. Amongst the mix, I found myself intrigued by one of the most simple of offerings, radishes with butter and salt. At first glance, I wondered if the butter were there by some mistake. How strange I thought. But friends, it only took one bite to understand the arrangement. I won’t lie, I felt like I was enjoying something incredibly luxurious which made me love it just a little bit more. The pop and crunch of the salt between my teeth, the velvety soft butter, it was stunningly good.

Move over Paula Deen, there’s a “new” vehicle for butter in town! Now in all honesty, this isn’t new at all. The French have been enjoying this little snack for years as I understand it. Lucky them, I’ve got some catching up to do. My suggestion, give it a try and see for yourself! Remember, the fewer the ingredients involved, the more crucial the quality of them is! Splurge on good unsalted grass-fed dairy butter and a box of flake salt such as Maldon or fleur de sel. If you don’t have a garden, visit your local farmer’s market and sample a few variety’s.

If you are one to entertain or looking for something new and exciting to bring to that next holiday party, we’ve got you covered!

All you need is:

  • a bunch of radishes, rinsed, dried and sliced
  • unsalted grass-fed dairy butter, softened
  • good flake salt

*Bring it to the next level by cutting up some warm crusty French bread for your guests to layer up with all of the goodness!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Craft Cocktail Elixir: The Shrub

photo 1

Arriving in America from the UK during Colonial times, the Shrub, or drinkable-vinegar, has a lengthy history. Don’t tell me you aren’t intrigued about that vinegar part… I’m sure your imagination is bouncing from the woody plant to salad dressing, ours certainly was! That is unless of course you’re from the South or perhaps the Pacific Northwest, then maybe you stopped reading already and are headed to your trendy neighborhood watering hole.

photo 5

While modern “shrubs” aren’t common New England bar mixers (yet), they graced the palates of ancient Romans, Greeks,  & Samurai Warriors before skipping across the pond. A fun, and perhaps useless tid-bit, Colonial-era sailors brought bottles of it with them on their ships to avoid scurvy. How’s that for a throw-back to grade-school history?

On a more serious note, way back when, these drinkable vinegars started out as a way to preserve fruit and were eventually combined with sugar or honey for their own cocktails.

So what is a “shrub” exactly? To break it down, a “shrub” is a syrup of either fruit or vegetable (or both), steeped in vinegar, combined with cane sugar, and sometimes herbs or spices. Simply put, a tangy-sweet infusion that adds depth of flavor to a variety of cocktails and mocktails. The acidity of the vinegar balances any sweetness and sounds the gun for a healthy appetite while still quenching thirst. Interesting, right?!

Shrub & Co Grapefruit Shrub

Shrub & Co Grapefruit Shrub

I’m thinking these would be the perfect addition to any cocktail hour bar. The best part, they’re versatile.  You can mix them into sparkling wine, spirits, beer and even bubbly water appealing to both drinkers and non-drinkers.

Grapefruit Shrub and Voss sparkling water, lavender and grapefruit garnish.

Grapefruit Shrub and Voss sparkling water, lavender and grapefruit garnish.

Move over Italian Soda! The combinations are endless and these “shrubs” can be made right at home using local produce. Think peach & basil, blackberry & thyme, clementine & tarragon, raspberry and rosemary, and on and on.

For our clients who want to offer a unique signature drink at their next event, this might be your new go-to. Go ahead, break the rules!

 

 

Fun in the Kitchen with Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

With Easter just a few days away, we decided to hop on into the Gourmet Galley kitchen to try our hand at naturally dyed Easter eggs. We couldn’t help but be inspired by some of the images floating around on Pinterest. Oh, and how could we not want to jump at the opportunity to try a new technique involving food?!

Here is how we did it ~

We started with some super basic ingredients that you just might have in your own pantry.

 

photo

  • Turmeric for yellow
  • beets for hues of pink
  • blueberries for lovely shades of blue & purple
  • and parsley for green

 

Now, while the parsley didn’t come out quite as well as we anticipated, the other’s sure did!

 

 

photo (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  For the turmeric ~ 1/2 cup ground turmeric mixed with 3 cups water and 1/4 cup white vinegar. Strain through a cheese cloth when it develops to the level of color you desire.

For the beets ~ 1 pint pureed with 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup vinegar. Strain through a cheese cloth.

For the blueberries ~ 1 pint pureed with 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup vinegar. Strain through a cheese cloth.

~Soak hard cooked white eggs until they reach the level of color you’d like~

photo 2

The kits we all grew up with will always be a sweet memory, but if you’re feeling crafty and if you embrace a little rustic elegance like we do, then this is the project for you.

 

photo 1

 

We hope you’ve been “egg-spired” and consider adding them to your Easter family table-scape this year!

These make for lovely centerpieces or interesting additions to a food table.

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo 4

Happy early Easter from all of us at Gourmet Galley Catering.

Lunch Time!

We are spoiled over here at Gourmet Galley as our chefs like to make us lunch :) Recently, we have been thinking about our friends who bring lunch to work every day and wondering what they might eat. Maybe if I bring my lunch to work I won’t splurge on the delicious (although not necessarily low-calorie) food prepared by our fabulous chefs … Are you looking for something tasty, easy, and fun to bring for lunch? Someone out there has to be sticking to their New Year’s Resolution, right? Maybe starting to think about the warm weather clothes that are just around the corner (hopefully!) … I found some wonderful suggestions that I am dying to try:

Quinoa Salad with Cherries and Feta

Quick and Easy Lunch Options

Healthy and Delicious Lunches

Don’t forget, back in January, Jen had found some great make ahead Salads in Mason Jars! {Click here to see!}

KT-5675

I hope you are able to find some new, fun lunches and take time out of your busy day to refuel!

~Trish