Lifestyle

Gourmondo: Entertaining with style — time to party

Alissa Leinonen-Gallagher, co-owner of Gourmondo, prepares Tenderloin Sliders in a kitchen on Mercer Island, July 1. - Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter
Alissa Leinonen-Gallagher, co-owner of Gourmondo, prepares Tenderloin Sliders in a kitchen on Mercer Island, July 1.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter

When it comes to catering, who is the talk of the town? I found the company, and its name is Gourmondo. Alissa Leinonen Gallagher is the co-owner and business manager with a 20-year restaurant career as her background. In February of 1996, Gallagher left Sostanza in Madison Park and partnered with Ron Johnson to launch a European-style bistro and catering company that was then located in the Pike Place Market. Under her leadership, Gourmondo has grown into a successful business with more than 50 employees and top corporate and private accounts.

With a passion for food and cooking and a background in business, Gallagher works closely with co-owner and executive chef Ronald Johnson. He brings 27 years of experience in the culinary industry, during which he has developed a keen palate for flavor combinations that have a remarkable impact. He was also sous chef at Sostanza under Executive Chef Erin Rosella.

“Ron possesses advanced knowledge of the artistic and technical aspects of various European and Mediterranean cuisines, creatively adapting them to Northwest ingredients at his fingertips,” said Gallagher. “He believes in the simple preparation of quality seasoning and cooks foods that he wants to eat.”

Gallagher and Johnson’s emphasis is on both the food and operations side, searching for quality products.

“We partner with many small vendors to assure the highest level of prime product and variety,” said Gallagher. “We take pride in using the finest breads, meats and produce available for Gourmondo’s clients.”

Along with catering chef Todd Fregin, this $2.5 million company is excited to be catering for large and small parties alike. Its box lunches for business meetings are sought after, and its catered events are sublime. I just overheard that it is catering again for Sen. Barack Obama. If you want to contact Gourmondo, just call (206) 587-0190 or check out its Web site at www.gourmandocatering.com.

Some entertaining tips from Alissa Leinonen Gallagher include:

1. Keep garnishes clean and simple. One mistake that many people often make is overdoing the garnishes on a platter of hors d’oeuvres, and once a few people have served themselves, the dish falls apart and begins to look sloppy.

Decorate platters with one seasonal flower along with a fresh fruit, keeping it separate from the dish.

2. Keep flower arrangements simple and elegant by choosing one variety and color, and arranging them in different styles of vases around the house. Keeping it monochromatic also helps with the budget.

3. In the fall, Alissa uses accent dishes with a pomegranate and champagne grapes. I love her summer idea, too, of orchids with Meyer key limes that are cut in half and attached to a swizzle stick. She also uses polished rocks in the bottom of small glass vases, and rosemary and sage mixed with the orchids. Find Meyer limes at QFC and Albertsons on the Island.

5. Unusual or very event-specific stemware can say a lot about a party and set the tone. You can rent half martini glasses or colorful stemware to coincide with any theme or menu.

6. Keep trays clean and edges clean. A good hint to follow.

7. Think of designing a cheese platter atop a large piece of burrow wood. Alissa found one at City Kitchens.

GOURMONDO’S BEEF TENDERLOIN SLIDERS

I had a chance to taste these sliders, and they are delicious. Use top-grade tenderloin — well worth it.

5 lb. cleaned beef tenderloin (sliced into 3 equal sections)

1 cup Svaneti salt rub (purchased at World Spice Merchants)

1/2 cup total of fresh rosemary, thyme and sage

2 TBS. olive oil

4 TBS. butter

24 mini brioche

1 cup horseradish crème (1/2 cup horseradish to 1/2 cup sour cream)

1 bunch Arugula lettuce

4 roma tomatoes

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Rub the Svaneti salt and fresh herbs all over the tenderloin. Place the tenderloin in a sauté pan with olive oil and butter on medium-high heat and sear all sides.

Transfer tenderloin to sheet pan and cook in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Let tenderloin cool and slice into 1/4” thickness.

Slice mini brioche in half and spread horseradish crème on one side. Place one slice of roma tomato and a couple of arugula leaves on brioche.

Place 1-2 pieces of tenderloin on brioche. Can brush tops with olive oil. Serve.

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GOURMONDO’S SMOKED SALMON CIGARS

This is truly a unique presentation. A show stopper!

24 slices of smoked salmon, approx. 2”x2” pieces (we recommend Gerard and Dominique’s European Style Smoked Salmon)

1/2 cup whipped cream cheese

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 bunch dill

10 springs Italian parsley

Zest of 1/2 lemon

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Julienne strips of fresh cucumber (2” long)

Black tobiko caviar

Fresh chives, chopped

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Mix cream cheese, sour cream, dill, Italian parsley, lemon and lemon zest in a bowl until smooth. Lay out smoked salmon and spread cream cheese mix on top.

Place one strip of cucumber on edge of smoked salmon. Roll the salmon from the cucumber side until completely rolled. Dab a touch of sour cream at the end of one side of the rolled salmon and dip it into the tobiko caviar. Place on a small saucer with a pinch of chopped fresh chives. Optional: Can make up a ginger aioli and put on drops onto the dish.

GOURMONDO’S CHILLED GAZPACHO SOUP

This is perfect for summer entertaining.

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3 cucumber, peeled and chopped

1 pablano

1 jalapeno

10 roma tomato

1/2 peeled red onion

3 cloves of garlic

3 16-ounce jars of fresh tomato juice (can substitute V-8 juice)

1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Yellow pear tomatoes and baby orange tomatoes for garnish

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Grill pablano, jalapeno, tomato and onion until nicely charred. Peel and seed the pablano. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until desired consistency is reached (can add water if too thick). Pour Gazpacho in small shot glasses and garnish with skewered yellow and orange baby tomatoes and fresh cilantro. Optional: Can add a shot of vodka for a Spanish-style Bloody Mary!

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GOURMONDO’S ROASTED NEW POTATOES WITH CARAMELIZED ONION AND BACON

If this is made without the bacon, I bet it will still be a crowd pleaser. I have discovered Bacon salt, imitation flavor, which is the rage of new seasonings.

24 baby new potatoes

1 yellow onion

1 pack thick cut bacon, chopped and cooked to desired crispness

2 TBS. olive oil

2 TBS. butter

1/4 cup sugar

1/4-1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup crème friache or sour cream

1 bunch fresh chives

Salt and pepper to taste

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Slice onions and place in sauté pan with olive oil and butter on high heat. Sauté onions until golden and translucent. Turn heat down to low and sauté for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Turn heat back up to high and add sugar and balsamic vinegar — stir vigorously until the onions begin to become dark amber in color and caramelized. Place into a bowl with chopped cooked bacon and mix.

Cut the top and bottom off of the new potatoes. Use a small spoon/melon baller to scoop out each potato. Lightly toss the cored-out new potatoes with olive oil and salt. Place new potatoes on sheet pan and roast in the oven at 400 degrees until golden brown (approx. 20-30 minutes). Fill each new potato with caramelized onion and bacon mixture. Top with crème friache (or sour cream) and fresh chopped chives.

This next set of recipes, from The Santa Fe Sunrise Breakfast and “Breakfast in Bed” by Connie McCole, focuses on entertaining your overnight guests with a wonderful breakfast. Why not give it try?

CONNIE McCOLE’S CHILI RELLENO SOUFFLE

Serves 2. Double and enjoy with your company.

3 ounces Monterey Jack or Havarti cheese, cut into 1/2-by-3 inch strips

1 4-ounce can whole fire roasted green chilies, drained

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Scant 1/4 tsp. salt

Dash of nutmeg

1 tomato, peeled, seeded and diced for garnish

Sprigs of fresh cilantro for garnish

2 large eggs, separated, plus 1 egg white

1 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Separate the eggs. Put the 3 egg whites in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Add the egg yolks and milk to the dry mixture in the blender or food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth.

Beat the egg whites until they hold firm peaks. Gently fold the yolk mixture into the whites until no traces of white remain. Spoon the mixture evenly over the chilies in their individual baking dishes and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the egg mixture comes out clean. Remove the dishes from the oven and sprinkle diced tomato down the center of each soufflé. Scatter sprigs of fresh cilantro over the top.

The night before: For the Chili Relleno Soufflé, lightly butter 2 individual baking dishes. Slip a strip of cheese into each chili and divide the stuffed chilies equally between the baking dishes. Cover and refrigerate.

Combine the flour, salt and nutmeg in a blender or food processor. Process to blend and let sit covered, overnight.

Dice the tomato. Wash and separate the cilantro. Wrap and refrigerate.

Prepare the Breakfast Trays: Decorate each breakfast tray with a boldly striped place mat (use fabric, towels, gift wrap, construction paper or small scrapes). Add a tiny potted cactus to each tray.

Serve: Suggestion, Tequila Sunrise. Pour one-half ounce grenadine into each of 2 tall glasses. Add ice. Pour 1 ounce tequila and then 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice over the ice in each glass. Stir once, gently, to create a colorful “sunrise” effect.

Night-before preparation times: 20 minutes.

Wake-up call: 30 minutes.

WHOLE-WHEAT TORTILLAS WITH AVOCADO PESTO

Warm 4 foil-wrapped whole-wheat tortillas in the oven for 5 minutes. Peel, pit and coarsely mash 1 ripe avocado. Squeeze a small clove of garlic through a garlic press and stir into the avocado. Add a pinch of salt and lime juice to taste. Spread the Avocado Pesto on the warm tortillas and roll them into cylinders.

ICED WATERMELON SLICES WITH LIME

Arrange 2 thick half-moon slices of ice-cold watermelon on chilled dessert plates. Cut 1 lime into quarters. Squeeze 1/4 lime over each slice of watermelon and discard the skins. Place the remaining lime quarters on top of the watermelon slices.

Serving breakfast Santa Fe style. Arrange 2 rolled tortillas each and a fresh-from-the-oven soufflé on 2 large, colorful plates. Surround with the chilled dishes of watermelon and Tequila Sunrises. Add a little acoustic guitar music or mariachi music and you are set!

CONNIE McCOLE’S TOASTED COCONUT-ORANGE MUFFINS

This recipe is from “Breakfast in Bed, Morning Menus for Sensational Beginnings” by Connie McCole. Serve to company anytime.

1 navel orange

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 large egg

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1 cup shredded coconut, lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a zester or potato peeler, remove zest from the orange and set aside. Remove and discard the pith from the orange, quarter it and then remove any seeds. Process the orange zest in the food processor until it is finely chopped. Add the orange and process until coarsely chopped. Add the butter and process to combine. Add the egg and orange juice and process to combine. Don’t worry if the butter looks curdled at this point.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the orange mixture and toasted coconut, and stir to combine. Spoon the batter into lightly greased muffin cups, filling each one three-quarters full, making approximately 15 muffins using 2 muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let the muffins cool on a rack. HINT: If using the next day, loosely wrap muffins in foil and reheat them in a 325-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Freeze leftover muffins.

CHERRY MUSTARD CHICKEN

Cherry season in Washington State is happening now, so take advantage of this chicken and cherries recipe. Serves 4.

1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken

Salt and black pepper

Flour

3 TBS. butter or margarine

3 TBS. olive oil

1 cup white wine

1 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

2 TBS. cornstarch

2 TBS. balsamic vinegar

1 TBS. water

2 cups pitted sweet cherries

1/4 cup sliced green onion

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper, then lightly toss in flour; shake off excess. Heat half the butter or margarine and oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add half the chicken. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally until chicken is golden and cooked through. Remove to platter and keep warm. Repeat with remaining margarine or butter, oil and chicken. Stir wine, chicken broth and mustard into skillet, scraping up the browned bits.

In a small bowl, mix cornstarch, vinegar and water; stir into skillet. Add cherries and boil mixture, stirring until sauce thickens; 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in green onion. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

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