Jul 19, 2011

Sweet Chic: Stylish Treats to Dress Up for Any Occasion

Brownies: The Cashmere Sweater

Blog Mistress Mama Mandy here.  This fun little tome is by Rachel Schifter Thebault, founder of Tribeca Treats in NYC. She covers the dessert basics with great base recipes (vanilla cookie, fudge brownie, devil's food cake...) and then tells you how to sass up said recipes depending on the occasion.  The same way you would wear pearls to one event (Mother-In-Law's house for tea), and black thigh-high boots to another (NOT your Mother-In-Law's house), Rachel shows you how to create the perfect cupcake for a child's birthday, and use the same base recipe to create a grown-up cake for New Year's Eve.

This quote from Food & Wine sums it up best:

"Rachel Thebault...has reimagined the humble Oreo as an indulgence that is spectacular as an afternoon snack or as the end to an elegant meal."

You had me at Oreo.

I made the Fudgy Brownies.  Amaze.  I only made a half batch cuz I'm the only sugar eater in the house.  I ate the entire batch in four sittings.  What? I'm still nursing!  Gotta keep my strength up.

16 Tablespoon butter, at room temperature (2 sticks, unsalted)
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or 8 oz finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9-inch square metal baking pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray (Must do this or brownies will stick!).

Heat the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a double boiler.  Stir constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until the butter and chocolate are fully melted and combined.  Remove the bowl from the heat and cool to room temperature.

Whisk eggs in large mixing bowl.  Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt, and continue to whisk until they are all combined.  Add the melted chocolate slowly and whisk until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Once chocolate is incorporated, sift the flour into the bowl and gently stir with a rubber spatula until the flour is combined, about 1 minute.

Pour the batter into the pan.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, rotating the pan once halfway through.  Cool completely before cutting.

Brownie Sundae Parfait. I did this with a Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwich. In a plastic bowl. Yeah, not quite as pretty.

Jul 15, 2011

Latest Huffington Post: Layers Of Wedding Cake

For all those caterers toiling in the hot summer sun...this is for you.

Jul 13, 2011

NEW CLASS! Are You Ready For Prime Time?

You have a brilliant idea for a cookbook or television show. Unfortunately, everyone thinks they have the next best thing. How do you set yourself apart from the crowd? Do you have what it takes to be a branded culinary personality?

Culinary publicist Trina Kaye and culinary producer Denise Vivaldo will take you through evaluating your brand and messaging and determining your viability on the national and regional media markets. This workshop will discuss the realities of today's media and what they are looking for. We will help you determine whether your product or message is viable and desirable.

Saturday, September 10, 2011, 10:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
Zov’s Bistro, 17440 E. 17th St.
Tustin CA 92780
$80.00 per person

Click here to learn more and to register!

Trina Kaye makes connections. As a public relations consultant, she regularly connects the press to her clients to create national news coverage. She also works with brand strategists to connect targeted media with multi-media branding and marketing opportunities. Her client list ranges from Fortune 1000 companies to advertising agencies and marketing companies to entrepreneurs to branded personalities. Her clients have appeared in Time, Better Homes and Gardens, Bon Appetit, the Associated Press and on Today.

Denise Vivaldo is a seasoned food professional with over 25 years of experience. She has been a featured guest on over 50 television segments including Good Day L.A., ABC Morning News, The Food Network, Home & Garden Network, TV Guide Channel, SoapNet, Lifetime TV, and TV Land.  She has served as a culinary producer for TLC, Lifetime, and The Food Network.  As a consultant, Denise assists companies to better their products. Clients include Hamilton Beach, QVC, Hunt-Wesson/ConAgra, Euro Direct, Hy-vee- Homeland Housewares, and Future Kitchen Technologies.

Jul 8, 2011

Home Cook Turned Caterer Shares Thoughts On Our Catering Book

 Hello Denise

I bought your "How To Start a Home-Based Catering Business" book.  I didn't originally buy it because I had ambition of becoming a caterer, for I'm not a chef.  I happen to be an experienced home cook who entertains in my home or is hired to cook or bake for my friend's parties, kids school, etc.  I recently was referred to cater a bridal shower tea for a friend of a friend.   I thought about it first then I pulled out your book and began to browse through it and map out a plan of approach.  I finally decided that I can do this  (or at least I wanted to give it a shot).   Your book is a useful resource that can help a person take their hobby seriously and create a business.

In the earlier stage of the initial call from this client, we communicated by phone and email.  I had not yet met her so your book helped me with the initial cover letter and proposal.  In the planning and organizing of the tea, I found it helpful to know about estimating food cost, equipment list, packing check list,  flow chart, etc.  There's still so much more that I need to learn but with your book I feel confident I will do fine.

The tea was this pass weekend.  Everyone was complimentary and seemed to enjoy the food and the beautiful buffet table that I decorated.  What was nice is that the client seemed so surprised at how beautiful the table was before the food came out.  Actually, I think she was more surprised that I created the floral arrangement for the buffet.

After the tea it was time to clean up, leaving the clients kitchen in the same condition we found it.  The least fun part for me.   The client suggested I  get a website and she would be more than happy to do a referral quote.  Wow, I guess I've found my niche.  If I had to grade myself I would say 7.5 - 8 / out of 10.  My help had different opinions - one  said it was perfect and other said that some adjustments needed to be made.  I like that because there is always room for minor improvements.   I'm sure it was your book that gave me the confidence & courage to do it.

Yes, it was a lot but I learned a lot.  Some things you can only learn by actually doing it.  I forgot some things but it wasn't the end of the world and no one knew except myself and the two ladies working in the kitchen with me.

Before closing, I'd like to share a couple situations that confirmed information from your book.  I noticed that I'd forgot something important and had to send one of the ladies to the store.  At that moment I understood why you hire someone to standby in case you need something.  Then the other lady happened to be clearing soiled plates and heard things that I would not have otherwise known since most of my time was in the kitchen.  At the end, though It was a lot of work and I was awfully tired, I enjoyed the whole experience and am now looking forward to the next tea opportunity.

Thank you for sharing your many years of catering.


Bless you, Annette! It's people like you who follow their passion, and take the time to acknowledge what has helped you along the way that inspire me to continue with my passions!

Jul 6, 2011

Beautiful Centerpieces On A Budget


Denise has shared her stunning-event-on-a-budget expertise for marriage.com.  She's covered both traditional and non-floral centerpieces.  Her tips include how to extend the life of your flowers, using what you already have, and using creative alternatives such as coffee beans or feathers to wow your guests.  Enjoy!



Jul 4, 2011

Kentucky Sweet-Talkin' Barbecued Chicken

2 Tablespoons plus 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onions
1/4 cup minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons dry mustard
2 Tablespoons chile powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
3 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup dark beer
1 cup Kentucky bourbon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons dark molasses
tabasco sauce to taste
12 chicken legs
12 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts

Heat olive oil in large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.

Add onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine.  Cover and let the onions sweat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Turn down the heat if the onions or garlic seem to be browning too fast.

Add the dry mustard, chile powder, and cayenne, stirring well to coat the onions.

Add the tomato sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, beer, bourbon, cumin, brown sugar, and molasses.  Stir well to combine.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 35-40 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened, but can still be poured (if sauce thickens too much, add several drops of water until it reaches desired consistency).

Season with salt, pepper, and tabasco to taste. (The sauce can be made up to a month in advance. Refrigerate until ready to use.)

While sauce is simmering, preheat grill.

Place the chicken legs over direct medium heat, and grill 7-8 minutes per side.

Add the chicken breasts to the grill with the legs.  Grill for 10 minutes per side.

Baste the legs and breasts liberally with sauce, and turn.  Grill another 1 to 2 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through and an instant-read thermometer registers 175 degrees.

Baste again with sauce.  Serve any extra sauce that has not come in contact with the raw chicken in squeeze bottles at the table.

Recipe courtesy of Do It For Less! Parties