Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Stock Your Larder

There is no question that having a stocked pantry will make you a better and more creative cook. Just having interesting and flavorful items on hand that you have made will aid in concocting flavor profiles in your head before you even break out the cutting board. Sometimes when I'm a bit stumped for direction with dinner I will pull a selection of sauces, ferments and pickles from the fridge just to give me a visual aid while I prepare raw ingredients. Without tasting every individual item I generally have a good sense of flavor from the jars in front of me. Occasionally I won't use any but more often than not something will click and I may opt for kimchi brine or the rind from preserved lemons for the base of my recipe. Regardless, it makes decision making easier for a quick meal and maybe it will conjure a good food memory from that time that your friend gave you a large bunch of some of the best tasting carrots directly from their garden. Eat as many as you can and brine the rest.
We have been really getting into fermenting and pickling over the past year or so and here are a few of the items that we have been creating: Spiced preserved lemons, sweet cabbage pickle, quick pickled carrots, chili okra, blaukraut, sauerkraut and our most recent and all time favorite: golden beet and pear kimchi. I could eat a whole jar of this kimchi over rice. Soooo good.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Gregor The Grumman

In October of last year we made the decision to get mobile with the business in the form of a food truck or basically a mobile kitchen designed for serving large groups. Purchasing a run down piece of crap food truck was not an option given the outrageous cost ($40-60K) and the fact that we would need to still completely retrofit the truck to suite our needs. So we decided that we would build one from scratch. Easy, right? False!!! We picked up this truck in Grand Forks as our base platform and it had everything that I wanted for the build. It's not overly huge with a 14' box and it has a diesel which is great for torque, which is helpful when hauling around a commercial kitchen on your back. It also has the barn doors in the back instead of the roll-up door which is a plus and being that it is a Grumman Olson step-van it is also all aluminum with the bonus of never being painted which gave me the option to polish the body (still in the works). Start to finish the project took me around nine months with some very long nights in the shop thrashing away, knowing that the truck was already booked for jobs in July. I won't go into every little detail of the build but I will say that it was one of the most challenging and fun vehicles that I have ever worked on and it taught me how to weld aluminum and stainless as well as a bit of plumbing and a crash course in electrical thanks to our pal Graham Jones. The truck is now on the road and we just did our first real gig with it in Castlegar at the Mir Centre for Peace. Here you can see our star employee, Pam, busily assembling appetizer platters. I still need to finish my exterior polishing duties then we will lay on the graphics. This truck is a blast to drive and work out of and I can't believe that I've lived this long without having a vehicle that I can drive with the doors open.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

15 Years!

It's hard to believe that we started this little company a whopping fifteen years ago and are still going strong today, fueled by the love of food and a passion for serving quality meals to the masses. It's been a great journey and I feel like we are still just hitting our stride with the addition of a new catering truck (unveiling very soon) and wedding season about to kick into full swing. This job has never been boring with every gig offering new, interesting, and often challenging dimensions. It keeps us on our toes and I feel like I'm still learning as we go, as we face new challenges every day. It helps to keep us sharp as we trudge forward like culinary warriors. We are not the type of people who could punch the clock and sit behind a desk for 40 hours a week. We need new and exciting prospects in our workplace to keep our minds active; to keep up with changing food styles and peoples ever evolving tastes. So, what I'm not saying here but should really elude to is "Thanks", to everyone who has been with us along the way and helped to make Alligator Pie Catering what it is today. We couldn't have done it without you. Seriously, catering to an empty room would be really weird….

Our first year with our original third member, Tracy.
Possibly one of our first weddings.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Good Morning!

Neither one of us are super motivated breakfast makers, unfortunately. 
Usually one of us excels at something that the other person really can't be bothered with and it will even everything out. For example, I am the smoothie maker and Pat is the cocktail maker. There are certain ways to keep the balance of the universe intact....
For breakfast though, besides smoothies, we are both exceedingly lacking (this possibly translates to lazy).

So enter in overnight oats. This has become a staple in our house recently and with good reason. I can pretty much make breakfast for every day of the week at once. I was doing this every couple of days but I quickly realized that even almost a week later the oats were still really yummy. This is basically a cold oatmeal replacement except that it's not disgusting like cold oatmeal. There are also endless variations with this recipe.

I have been making about 4 jars at a time and that really does tend to last us the whole week since it's so filling.

Here is the recipe I have been working on:

Overnight Oats

-1 1/4 Cup Quick Oats 
-1/3 Cup Shredded Coconut
-1 1/2- 1 3/4 Cup Milk Product (we use a mixture of about 2/3 soy or almond milk and 1/3 coconut milk but you can use whatever you like)
-1/2-1 Cup Dried Fruit (you could use fresh fruit as well but that may not keep as long if you are making a weeks worth of this) we use figs and dates since they are also naturally sweet so you don't need to add sweeteners.
-1/3 Nuts (we have been mostly using almonds but I think any nut will do)
- 1 t Maple Syrup or Honey
*a few variations are:
hemp seeds or chia seeds 

This makes about 2 cups.
*occasionally, if the mixture seems to dense, I add a bit more milk to it and it's good as new.
Mix it all together and put into mason jars or some other vessel and pop into the fridge.

I feel like this is a pretty forgiving recipe so you can really experiment with it. See how your first batch goes and then mix it up for the second batch-add more milk or more fruit or different nuts, etc.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Deep in the heart of winter...

I realize this is a little late for a New Year post but it is our first post for 2015 so that's what it is.

We're enjoying a busier than usual January but we did manage to have a bit of a rest after the absolute craziness of December Christmas parties.

2014 was a great year for us, we catered all over the Kootenay's for both new and repeat customers.

2015 is already shaping up. In April we celebrate 15 years in business. That feels fairly impressive.
Pat is also very hard at work trying to get our new catering truck finished by spring-it's a very exciting project and Pat is doing an amazing job of tackling it. There is only a moderate amount of screams of frustration....

We're also really trying to get some work done on our upcoming cookbook. It's sometimes difficult to fit this in but it is a fun and rewarding project and we're determined to finish at least the majority of it this year. You can follow us on instagram to see some of the food ideas: alligatorpiecatering

We are very close to being booked up with weddings already so it promises to be another busy year.

Thanks to everyone who has supported our business!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Tomatillo Time

There are certain food items that only show up at certain times of year and tomatillos are definitely one of our favourites. I mean, we pretty much jump up and down when Meyer lemons are in season but the arrival of tomatillos can also be exciting.

If you've never used them, they are very easy to assimilate into sauces, salsa and dips. They are a Mexican staple so of course they work well with those flavourings but you can use them in place of tomatoes in a variety of other recipes as well.

Our latest obsession has been roasting them. What doesn't taste better roasted? The thing about tomatillos is that they really develop an incredible flavour as they roast.
 and develop a natural sweetness.

I meant to write down a recipe the last time I made this but, sadly, I didn't. Hopefully this works out just from memory...

Roasted Tomato and Tomatillo Sauce/Salsa:

-8-10 tomatillos husked and rinsed (they have a bit of a sticky film on them under their husks) quartered
-1-2 cups of grape tomatoes-halved
-2 hot peppers-chopped
-1 t sugar
-2T olive oil
-1T cider vinegar
-salt and pepper

You can chop up a piece or two of garlic and throw that in as well.

-Mix all ingredients together and transfer to a pan.
-Cook at 400 degrees for an hour or so (stirring occasionally) depending on how roasted you want everything.

You can use this as a sauce over chicken or fish or beans and rice.
It is an excellent addition to tacos, burritos or anything in that realm.
Perfect on it's own as a salsa but you can also add some lime juice, cilantro and avocado as well.

One other thing we did with it is toss some roasted potatoes in it and serve. Amazing.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Grilled Jalapenos!!!

These little devils are a delightful addition to your Summer menus and will add heat and depth to many dishes. The combination of grilling and steaming allows heat from the seeds to transfer over to the pepper meat while also imparting a subtle smoky flavor. I don't generally cook with so much fire but I couldn't resist the dramatic affect of a blazing grill loaded with chicken, sausage and hot peppers. Besides, my arm hair will grow back eventually. The high heat for the peppers is essential to charring the skin but not cooking the jalapeno flesh too much, otherwise your end result will be a bit mushy.

 So just pre-heat your grill to maximum and toss the peppers directly onto the hot surface. Turn frequently since you don't actually want to burn the peppers. Once they are uniformly blistered they can be transferred to a small bowl and covered tightly with plastic wrap for 40-60 minutes. This step will steam the blistered skin away from the pepper flesh and allow for easy cleaning. Once the peppers have enjoyed their little steam room for the allotted period of time they can be cleaned under running water to remove the skin, seeds, stem and membrane. At this stage they are ready to use, just strain and chop or if you are feeling crafty you cant make a small incision to remove the seeds and stuff them for a bangin' little appy.
These peppers will keep for up to a week in a covered container in your fridge but they generally don't last that long since they are so delicous. Use them as your secret weapon in your Summer cook-outs. We will be featuring them in our next blog post including the items being charred on the grill above.