October 2009 archive

Cakery Friday: Halloween Apple Tartlets

Halloween is tomorrow and these adorable jack-o-lantern mini apple tartlets are the perfect dessert for your Halloween party! Not only are they incredibly spooky and cute, but if you pre-make the crust (or cheat and buy pre-made crust) they can be whipped up scarily fast!

For the crust:
Gather all of the ingredients.

In a food processor, fitted with metal blade, blend together 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Pulse a few times to blend together all of the dry ingredients.

Add 1 cup * 2 sticks * chilled unsalted butter cut into small pieces.

Pulse food processor for 8-10 seconds until mixture looks like coarse meal.

With the machine running drizzle 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water through the feed tube on the top. You want the dough to hold together but not be too sticky or wet. If its too wet, add a little more flour. The machine should not run for more than 30 seconds or the dough will become too tough. Wrap dough with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

For the apple filling:
Gather all of the ingredients:

Peel and dice three apples * granny smith or cortland apples work best * I used the apples I picked last weekend!

In a bowl mix together diced apples, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.

To assemble the tarts:
Remove the pie dough from the refrigerator and roll out to 1/8 inch thickness. Using a round cutter that is slightly larger than your mini tartlet pan cut out enough disks to fill all of your tartlet pans. Place the extra dough back into the refrigerator.

Press each disk into the tartlet pan and remove excess dough around top edge.

Fill the tartlet pans to the top with the apple mixture. Mix one egg with a few droplets of water and brush around the edge of your tartlet pans. Place the tartlets in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Remove the remaining pie dough from the refrigerator and roll out once again to 1/8 inch thickness. Using a round cutter approximately 1/4 smaller than the tartlet pan cut out enough rounds to cover all of your tartlets. * I have a set of cutters that come in tons of shapes and sizes from Williams Sonoma * Place the rounds back in refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Remove the chilled rounds from the refrigerator and use a sharp knife to cut out different “jack-o-lantern” patterns in the dough. Brush them with the egg mixture and bake
on a silpat in 350 degree oven for 15-18 minutes until golden brown.

When both the tarts and disks are removed from the oven and cooled slightly, place one disk on top of the apple tart for a trick or treating surprise!


For a printer-friendly version of this recipe click here:

HalloweenAppleTartlets.htm

Happy Baking and a very Happy Halloween!

xoxo,

Ali

Vendor Spotlight: Silver Sac Catering

This week’s vendor spotlight features a Boca Raton company that is very close to my heart. Silver Sac Catering was founded by Karin & Craig Larson in 1987. Their original gourmet lunch locale has morphed into a restaurant and catering empire in South Florida.
Karin & Craig met in college and knew that they wanted to go into business together. They began by opening a small sandwich and salad shop in Boca Raton, “Silver Sac,” which served lunches mostly for local businesses. After one customer requested a dinner party, they launched their catering commissary and haven’t looked back. Today Silver Sac is a premier caterer in South Florida, providing delicious cuisine for social and corporate events both large and small.

These days, Silver Sac Catering works with customers to create the party of their dreams. According to Karin, she stays inspired and cutting edge because of her incredible clients. Silver Sac is able to work with people willing to give them the opportunity to experiment and create new menus. Karin also keeps the company current in the food world by reading lots of blogs and magazines.
I am lucky enough to have attended many Silver Sac events during my lifetime. My family and I have shared endless celebrations with Karin and her Silver Sac crew: baby namings, Bar and Bat Mitzvot, a wedding shower, a rehearsal dinner, and countless NCAA parties. I can personally attest to the quality and attention to detail that Silver Sac pays at each and every event. Most importantly, the food has always been outrageously delicious!
In my opinion, at the heart of every great party is fabulous food. In other words, the way to your guests’ hearts is through their stomachs. Finding the perfect caterer can be challenging, so I asked Karin a few questions that I hope will enlighten you.
Q: What would you say are the latest trends in the world of catering?
A: Customers seem to be getting away from sit-down plated dinners, even buffet style, and have become more inclined towards heavy appetizers and cocktails. Small plates are not a new concept but are increasingly popular. “Dinner by the bite” is more cost effective in the sense that there are not as many rentals, such as dishes, tables and chairs. It also allows for more flexibility with the weather, since this style party does not necessitate large round tables, and can therefore be easily moved inside. Another major trend is the rise of “occasions.” We are seeing more and more birthdays, baby showers, and wedding showers. Customers are finding reasons to celebrate meaningful events.
Q: What is trendy in the realm of drinks?
A: We always try to come up with a specialty cocktail to match the event. These are great for the initial arrival of guests, as they kick off the party at the front door. A few of the past favorites have been” “mistletoe martinis” for a Christmas party, equipped with a green sugared rim; and “blue martinis” at a recent baby shower for a boy, which were served with tiny rubber duckies!
Q: Any tips for cutting expenses without sacrificing quality?
A: My advice would be to try save in the way of rentals, staff and food. The cocktail party idea is really a wonderful way to do just this, because it requires less rentals, staff and food than a seated dinner.
Q: What do you think accounts for your longevity in the catering industry?
A: I love personally being involved in each event, and the fact that our staff goes out and reflects what we want them do at every job. We rely so heavily on our incredible staff. I also believe that we give our customers what they want and ensure the events go smoothly without overextending ourselves. I’m honored that our customers trust us to manage such important events, and create innovative and gourmet menus year after year. Of course there’s always a little bit of luck!
Q: What do you think is important to look for when selecting a caterer?
A: If I were looking for a caterer I would absolutely go on word of mouth, and the reputation of the caterer I was selecting. I would also like to know that I would have the ability to custom design a menu, as opposed to pre-set ideas.
Karin was kind enough to share with us two of Silver Sac’s divine drink recipes.
Bonzai Pipline Martini

1 oz vodka
1 oz amaretto
1 oz grand marnier

Shake with ice, top with pineapple juice, a wedge of pineapple and a cherry.
“Baby Blue” Martini

2 oz vodka
2 oz 7-Up
Splash of blue caracao

Shake and serve in a martini glass. Mini rubber duckies optional.
And now, for my all-time favorite Silver Sac recipe ever… (just trust me, once you taste this you will think you have gone to heaven!)
Spinach & Artichoke Souffle

2 cups Hellman’s Mayonnaise
2 cups
Parmesan Cheese – good quality
2 cups
Artichoke Hearts – squeezed dry and packed
1 cup
Sauteed Fresh Spinach – cooked until dry or 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
8 oz
Cream Cheese – cut into small cubes

In a mixer, blend mayonnaise, parmesan and artichoke hearts until combined well.

By hand, fold in spinach and cream cheese.

Place mixture in an oven-proof baking dish (we use a round, fluted edge crock that is about 2.5 inches deep).

Be sure not to fill too high as the dip rises slightly and is not fun to clean off the bottom of the oven. You may want to put a cookie sheet underneath to be safe.

Bake at 375′ F for about 25 minutes, OR until golden brown.


Enjoy!

To contact Silver Sac for your next event, call them at 561-392-6630.

Thanks for Karin for her insights, inspirations and recipes. Bon appetit!
xoxo,
Niki
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Pumpkins, Apples and Donuts Oh My!


This past weekend my friends and I went on an apple and pumpkin picking adventure. As a Floridian, this was a totally new experience for me and I loved every second. I was so inspired to come home and bake with the “fruits” of my labor! I never quite realized how much fun fall could be.


We went to Riamede Farm. For an entrance fee of $1 you are given a plastic bag and are allowed to pick any apple on the property. You then pay for your apples by the pound.



I wanted a mixture of apples that would be great for both baking and eating. I chose: Cortland’s, which are known for their tart taste and are great for eating as well as making sauces, pies and applesauce; Empire’s are also wonderful for baking; Fuji’s, which are very sweet and are best for eating and putting on salads; and Matsu’s, which have green skin and a sweet and tart flavor.


And of course, the boys just had to get the ones at the very top of the tree!


We also went pumpkin picking. We searched for the perfect pumpkin to carve, roast, and toast for its seeds!


However, every apple and pumpkin picking trip is incomplete without a mug of warm apple cider and apple donuts (the best I’ve ever tasted!)


Apple and pumpkin picking is an adorable idea for a birthday party. Think of all the apple/pumpkin decorations and foods you could serve!

Like this chocolate cake with green apples from Elisa Strauss of Confetti Cakes .

Or apple and peanut butter sandwiches..


Or these fantastic apple seating card/favors available at Papery & Cakery made by Arak Kanofsky.

And of course Appletini’s!
Be on the lookout for a fabulous apple recipe coming up on this Cakery Friday.

Happy Apple and Pumpkin Day!

xoxo,

Ali



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