Lifestyle

Great food catered to your tastes

There are many times that a catered meal is the answer to entertaining. It's accomplished by someone who knows how to make those great appetizers, entrees and desserts.

Well, there's a ``find'' right in our own back yard. It's called The French Market, located at Island Corporate Center. Inside is a large display cooler that has gourmet meats, wines and cheeses and fully prepared take-home entrees, salads and hors d'oeuvres and pastries. Under the direction of owner Mary Ann Millican, The French Market offers Cathedral Catering, a full-service catering and event planning program for individual and corporate accounts.

Millican is a self-taught cook and baker. She adheres to the philosophy of ``cooking familiar foods that taste better than you remember.'' And she is a scratch baker who chooses rich European butters, imported chocolates and fresh cream in her many selections of breakfast pastries, breads and cakes.

Kevin Gribble is the on-site chef. His menu features contemporary American cuisine with a classic French influence. Gribble previously worked as head chef at Microsoft in Redmond and also spent time in the kitchens of Chandler's and Ray's Boathouse. When I asked about his philosophy in the kitchen, Gribble says, ``it's simple because I select only the best seafood, meats and produce, then prepare them so as to pay homage to the taste, texture and visual appeal of each ingredient.''

Catering menus contain not only comfort food but elegant party fare. The French Market's on-site wedding and event coordinator is kept busy planning events for six to 600. ``It's a one-stop shop for parties and weddings,'' says Millican. ``We do it all!'' This June, The French Market plans to add weekend breakfast service.

Millican shared some great entertaining recipes. You, too, can either come in or take out at the French Market.

SALADE NICOISE a la THE FRENCH MARKET

Makes 4 entrée salads

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp. salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tbs. chopped chives

2 tbs. finely chopped parsley

6 red potatoes

1 1/2 lbs. green beans

2 large ripe tomatoes, wedged

3 hard cooked eggs, quartered

1/2 cup ripe Nicoise olives with pits

1 tbs. capers

6 oz. Albacore tuna

10 anchovy filets

assorted salad greens

Using a whisk, blend vinegar, oil, salt and pepper, chives and parsley. Set aside.

Boil the potatoes in saltwater for 20 minutes, drain. Cool completely. Quarter the cooked potatoes and place in a small bowl; pour four tablespoons of the vinaigrette over the potatoes to coat. Mix gently, cover and refrigerate two hours or overnight.

Cook beans in boiling salt water for seven to 10 minutes. Drain and plunge into an ice water bath. Drain again.

On a rimmed dinner plate, place the assorted salad greens in the center of the plate. Arrange the potatoes, beans, tomatoes, and eggs decoratively around the perimeter. Garnish with olives, anchovies and capers.

Invert tuna into center of plate atop the greens. Pour a quarter of the remaining balsamic vinaigrette over the salad. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve immediately.

THE FRENCH MARKET'S PAT^mj de FOIES de VOLAILLE

A true French paté!

1/4 lb. butter, preferably French or Danish

1 lb. chicken livers, cut in half

1/4 lb. mushrooms, chopped

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1/4 cup shallots, chopped

1/2 tsp. each fresh thyme and salt

3 tbs. brandy

1/2 cup dry red wine

1/2 lb. butter cut into small pieces

1 oz. black truffles, thinly sliced

Over medium heat, melt the quarter pound of butter. Add livers, mushrooms, parsley, shallots, thyme and salt. Cook until the livers are just slightly pink in the center, stirring often.

Warm the brandy over low heat and set aflame. Pour the brandy over the livers and shake the pan until the flame extinguishes. Add the wine, and heat to simmering. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.

Puree the livers in a blender or food processor along with the remaining liquid. Add the half pound of butter and blend until very smooth. Stir in the truffles.

Pour the paté into a deep five-cup rectangular pan. Cover and refrigerate until firm. To serve, slice and remove portions with a thin spatula; place on a small serving tray surrounded by crostini and fresh vegetables, olives and crusty breads.

CARAMELIZED ONION TART

A favorite and delicious appetizer that doesn't take too many ingredients. Wonderful for a small dinner party treat! Makes two tarts

2 3 /4 pounds of thinly sliced sweet onions

3 tbs. olive oil

2 tbs. unsalted butter

4 tbs. sugar

salt and pepper to taste

One package (17.3 ounce size) Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pasty (found in the freezer section)

Use a whole box, two sheets side by side and keep it in the freezer until about 20 to 30 minutes before needed. Leave it out on the counter until it reaches room temperature.

In a very large frying pan add olive oil and butter and heat until melted. Add in thinly sliced onions, sugar, salt and pepper. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes until caramelized (brown and sweetened).

Unfold defrosted puff pastry and lay out on two cookie sheets. Divide the cooked onion mixture in half. Brush each square puff sheet with an egg wash of one egg lightly mixed with water. Poke holes in the puff pastry with a sharp fork. Put half of the onion mixture on each sheet.

Bake at 425 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes. Watch carefully as you don't want to burn the puff pastry. Cool down and then cut into small appetizers.

SPINACH/FETA TRIANGLES

The best recipe I own is this one given to me by a friend who said it was worth the trouble. She was right! You will never want to buy the packaged version again. Makes around 50 plus. Wrap well and freeze leftovers.

1/3 cup olive oil

1 bunch scallions, chopped

2 1/2 pounds baby spinach, washed and dried

1 bunch parsley

1 bunch fresh dill

1/2 pound feta, drained and crumbled

3 eggs, slightly beaten

salt and pepper

1 pound phyllo (found in frozen food section). Defrost and keep in refrigerator until needed

Filling: Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium heat and sauté scallions until soft. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, stirring frequently. Put the mixture in a colander over a bowl and press out liquid. Boil down (reduce) remaining liquid until it measures two tablespoons. Mix the spinach, spinach liquid and remaining ingredients until well blended. Cool and add seasonings.

Melt three cubes of butter and keep ready. Have phyllo laid out between two large tea towels. Keep covered until ready to use.

Assemble: Place one sheet of phyllo on a flat surface and brush with butter. Top with two more sheets and butter each one. Cut sheets into half lengthwise, then cut each in half again, crosswise, into six equal parts. Spoon a teaspoon of filling onto each strip and fold up like a flag (right hand corner to opposite side). Continue folding until all the strips are used up. Continue until you use up all the filling and at least half of the phyllo dough.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Put on parchment paper covered cookie sheet and brush each triangle with melted butter. Bake about 10 minutes until golden brown.

BRUCE ROSCOE'S SMOKED SALMON SPREAD

KCTS-TV is turning 2, and to celebrate the station is having a Viewers' Cook Appetizer Show on Saturday, May 14, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday, May 15, at 2 p.m. There will be lots of great recipes from wonderful fans of this PBS station. Here is an easy one for parties.

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup heavy cream or whipping cream

3 to 4 green onions, chopped (scallions)

2 dashes Tabasco

1 tsp. lemon juice

4 ounces smoked salmon, gently shredded

2 tbs. red caviar

Mix the cream cheese and whipping cream together. Add scallions, Tabasco and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly. Gently fold in salmon and either mix in caviar or top it with caviar. Serve as a spread on small rounds of thinly sliced black bread or bagels.

SANTA FE CORN & BLACK BEAN SALAD DIP

Double for a large group and triple for a crowd.

3/4 cup fire-roasted salsa (use your favorite brand)

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tsp. jalapeno chilies, minced

1 small garlic clove, minced

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1 can (15oz) corn, drained

1 can (15oz) black beans, rinsed

1/2 cup diced green or red pepper

Toss together. Add salt and pepper if desired. Let stand to meld flavors before serving.

KASPAR'S SMOKED SALMON STARS

Catering expert and chef extraordinaire Kaspar Donier teaches many cooking classes. This came from his collection of perfect entertaining recipes. Makes 18 pieces.

1 sheet puff pastry (15"x10")

1 egg yolk

4 ounces whipped cream cheese

1 tbs. chopped dill

1 tbs. small capers

6 to 8 ounces cold smoked salmon, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush top of pastry sheet with egg yolk. Cut out about 18 stars with a three-inch diameter star cookie cutter. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place stars on it. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until stars are golden brown and cooked through. Cool on baking rack.

When pastry is cool, cut the stars in half horizontally. Set aside the tops of the stars. Spread a dollop of softened cream cheese on the bottom half of the stars. Sprinkle the dill and capers on top of each cream cheese star. Next lay a thin slice of cold smoked salmon on top of the cream cheese mixture. Gently place the top half of the star on the smoked salmon.

NOTE: Pastry stars can be made the day before and stored in an airtight container. The assembly should be done the same day you serve them.

SALTY'S COCONUT PRAWNS WITH THAI CHILI SAUCE

This recipe is a most requested one from Salty's Seafood grills. Perfect for entertaining with seafood in mind. I don't eat prawns but have heard raves about this recipe. Serves four.

24 each, 21-25 count prawns, peeled and deveined

2 ounces all-purpose flour

1 cup tempura batter made with beer

2 cups coconut flakes (Baker's Tender Fresh)

Butterfly the prawns so that they lay flat when open. Toss with flour until completely coated. Add tempura batter and coat with coconut flakes, pressing the prawns flat. (Hint: let them rest for two hours before cooking). Heat canola oil to 375 degrees and fry prawns until light golden brown.

THAI CHILI SAUCE

1 cup chili sauce (your favorite)

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

1 tbs. garlic, minced

1 tbs. chili flakes

1 tbs. tomato paste

4 ounces sugar

Combine all ingredients and store in the refrigerator. Serve with Salty's Coconut Prawns.

FRANGO COOKIES

I picked this recipe up from my friend who manages Macy's food demonstration kitchen.

They have to taste wonderful with a box of Frangos in them!

Makes 45 cookies.

1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt (optional)

1/2 cup shortening (Crisco)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1 box of Frangos (any flavor) cut into 4 or 5 pieces each

Cream sugar and shortening. Add egg, baking soda, salt, vanilla and flour. Mix well. Hand mix in Frango pieces. Drop by teaspoon-size balls on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.

THE FRENCH MARKET'S BRIOCHE A TETE

This is an ambitious undertaking!

1 tbs. active dry yeast

1/2 cup water at 110 degrees

2 tbs. sugar

1 1/4 tsp. salt

3 eggs

1/2 cup butter, softened

3 plus cups of all-purpose flour

Blend the yeast with warm water and allow to stand until frothy. Stir in the sugar, salt and eggs. Cut butter into small pieces and add to yeast mixture along with three cups flour.

Stir the mixture with a heavy wooden spoon until the flour is integrated and the dough holds together. Shape dough into a ball and place on a floured marble pastry board. Knead for about five minutes or until smooth and velvety. Add more flour to the board if needed to prevent sticking. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover with plastic and allow to rise until doubled.

Knead dough on a lightly floured board to expel any air that may have entered while resting. Return to the greased bowl and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

Once again knead the dough on a floured board to expel the air. Pinch off one-sixth of the brioche dough and set aside. Shape the large portion into a smooth ball by pulling the surface to the underside of the ball. Set the ball smooth side up in a well-buttered nine-inch brioche pan. Press lightly to fill the bottom of the pan. Shape the small piece of dough into a teardrop shape. Poke a hole in the center of the large dough ball. Nest the small piece into the hole. Cover with plastic and let stand in a warm place until doubled. Beat one egg yolk and with one tablespoon of milk paint over the surface of the brioche. Bake at 350 degrees. for an hour until skewer inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to rest for five minutes; invert and remove gently. Serve warm.

Eileen Mintz can be reached by e-mail at eileenmintz@comcast.net or by calling 232.1984.

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