Composting - Giving Back to Nature

It is International Compost Awareness Week, which is timely since we just started composting with the best of them here at Gourmet Productions and GP Catering!
Clackamas County approached us two months ago and asked us to participate in the We Compost program.  They sent Ashley Tjaden, an Organics Educator, to our kitchen and she did a comprehensive review of our garbage, recycling and composting procedures, literally digging through our garbage.  It was eye-opening for all the employees, even learning things we can do in our own homes.  The biggest lesson we learned was the difference between biodegradable and compostable.  Did you know it can take as little as a month to break down compostable items, whereas it can take up to a year to breakdown biodegradable items?
Our garbage production has decreased (we even use a smaller bin now) and our composting has increased.  It warms our foodie hearts to know we are giving back to nature and doing our part to make our world green and healthy.  
To find out more information about the We Compost Program, please visit:

Campfire Cuisine - Part I

The first step is to build a good fire pit if you don’t have a camp stove or fireplace to cook on.  Clear an area 3-4 feet in diameter.  In the center, dig a shallow hole about 4” deep and 15” wide.  Place 3-4 rocks or mounds of dirt on opposite ends of the pit.  This will support your grill.  Use paper, bark or dry grass as starter and lay small twigs teepee style over them.  Make sure you allow room for air.  Light the starter and slowly feed the fire with more sticks.  The object is to keep a low and steady source of heat as you build up the coals  never leave a fire unattended and always put it out when you to go to sleep.
Campfire Short Ribs
**Cast iron pans work well if you are making short ribs.
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 dried chili peppers
2 Tbsp of canola or olive oil
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ C of red wine
3 lbs of beef short ribs, in 3” pieces
salt & pepper to taste
In a Dutch oven, brown the short ribs in oil then set aside.  Sauté onions, celery & carrots in same pan until soft.  Stir in tomatoes, wine & garlic over a simmer.  Return ribs to pan and cover.  Cook for about 2 ½ hours over low heat on grate or in hot coals.

Strawberry Fields Forever!

Portland, Oregon has many delights, strawberries being one of them.  Who knew this little gem could be so divine?  According to the Oregon Strawberry website they are “Sweeter, Redder, Simply Better”.  The pride of Oregon, it is one of the oldest and best loved agricultural crop, because of their sweet flavor.  Their secret is a long growing season, which lets the berries ripen on the vine.
Thanks to a warm spring this year, they made an early appearance at the Farmer’s Markets.  Light in fat, carbohydrates and calories, packed with antioxidants, they make a great snack.  One cup of fresh strawberries is a mere 46 calories.  We love to put them on cheese displays, in smoothies, lemonade, desserts, quick breads and salads.  They show up in cocktails with regularity as well.
All month long we are serving a Gourmet Productions salad in conjunction with the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts: a work of edible art consisting of Spinach, Arugula, Strawberries, Feta Cheese, Big Daddies Pecans & White Balsamic Vinaigrette.  
Dressing recipe:
1 ½ TBSP Minced shallots
½ TBSP Dijon mustard
¼ cup of Strawberry white balsamic vinegar
½ cup Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

The Waistline - Eating the Right Way

Spring break has come and gone and summer is just around the corner.  If you’re anything like us that means you’re already strategizing how to get swimsuit ready to cruise the lake while looking great! 

Lucky for all of us foodies out there, healthy eats are becoming increasingly influential in kitchens across America.  Chefs, diners and market shelves are incorporating a slew of smarter, healthier options that you can devour and feel great about. 
So what’s hot this year on the healthy foods isle? Some of the favorites we are seeing on menus include: Quinoa, Gluten-Free (check out our blog post from last week), organic veggies and local foods , goat cheese, and the notorious super foods, such as berries, eggs, kale, beans, nuts, oranges, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and spinach.
Stop by today to try one of our healthy favorites, our Flank Steak Salad.  Lean red meat in moderation is quite good for you.  A 3oz serving provides half of your daily need for protein, and is also an excellent source of iron, zinc and vitamin B.  Bell peppers are super delicious and super healthy.  Did you know one small red, orange or yellow pepper provides three times your daily need of vitamin C?  Red peppers also have healthy doses of lycopene, beta carotene, fiber, B6 and folic acid.  Delish!
Flank Steak Salad
1 to 1.5lbs Flank Steak
1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, sliced
½ bunch Cilantro, chopped
1 small Fennel, sliced
½ bunch Green Onions, sliced
Salt & Pepper to taste
Grill or sear-off flank steak then cook it to desired temperature (we recommend medium rare).  After steak is cooked, let is cool for 30-40 minutes then thinly slice.  Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Dress with ½ cup of dressing (see recipe below) and salt and pepper to taste.
1 t Garlic, minced
1 t Shallots, minced
1/3c Soy Sauce
1 c White Balsamic Vinegar
1 ½ T Sesame Oil
2 c Olive Oil
Place all ingredients, except olive oil, in a bowl and gently whisk to mix.  Slowly add oil, whisking until blended.

Gluten Free

As our global awareness grows so does the need to accommodate all types of diets.  Whether you choose a diet for trend, socio-economic reasons, or health, specialty diets are becoming increasingly more popular. A growing trend in our world today is the Gluten Free Diet. More and more Americans are finding that they are gluten intolerant.  In fact, did you know that on average, 1 in every 133 Americans is diagnosed with celiac disease and must avoid foods containing barley, rye, triticale and wheat. 

As a result, food establishments have to become more accommodating to the requests of their customers. Fortunately, it is possible to find tasty dishes and knowledgeable personnel to navigate menus and still keep kosher.  At Gourmet Productions we like to have food options for everyone.  For those wondering if it’s possible to have your pie and eat it to?  The answer is YES! It sure is.


Gluten Free Apple Almond Cream Tart


Gluten Free Flour Blend

2C Rice Flour

2/3C Potato Starch

1/3C Tapioca Flour

¼ t Xantham Gum


Mix all ingredients thoroughly. 


Pastry Crust

2 ¼ C Gluten Free Flour Blend

1t Salt

¼ t Baking Powder

¾ C Butter

1T Cider Vinegar

7T Cold Water


Pulse flour, salt, baking powder & butter in a food processor until the consistency resembles cornmeal.  Mix vinegar and water together and then blend into flour mixture.  Press into a tart pan and place in freezer for 15 minutes.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  (The crust will only partially be baked)


Almond Cream

1C Ground Almond

½ C Sugar

2T GF Flour Blend

7T Butter

2 Eggs

1t Vanilla


Blend ground almond, sugar and flour in food processor until fine.  Add butter and cream together.  Add eggs, one at a time and vanilla.  Mix until well blended then spoon into partially baked tart shell.


Slice two apples and toss with 1t lemon juice.  Arrange apple slices atop the almond cream, making a pattern of your choice.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until a light golden color forms on the almond cream.


Cool to room temperature.  Drizzle with caramel and top with toasted sliced almonds.

Inspiration From Around the Globe

Cultural and ethnic flavors are more admired in kitchens across America this year.  The shift in our population reflects our craving for diversity in cuisines.  Chefs are subtly, as well as boldly, expanding their menus and skills, to incorporate ingredients and products from allover the globe. 

So many of the traditional favorites are now being made locally, right here at home!  Not only have we seen a rise in Asian fusion, but dishes from Brazil, Argentina and Peru are also beginning to mainstream.  Watch for farmstead cheeses, Asian comfort foods such ramen noodles & dumplings, as well as Latino flavors and Scandinavian twists.


One of our favorite ethnically inspired dish is the Thai Lemongrass Chicken Skewers.  Stop in to Gourmet Products this week and grab a few for dinner, or if you are feeling really adventures, see our recipe below to re-create them yourself! 

Thai Lemongrass Chicken Skewers


2 ½ lbs Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thigh Meat, cut into ½ in cubes

2 T Finely chopped Lemongrass (only use the bottom third of stalk)

1 t Chopped Shallot

1 t Ground Turmeric

¼ C Lime Juice

¼ C Soy Sauce

¼ C Mirin (sweet rice wine)

1 T Fish Sauce

2 T Olive Oil 

2 T Brown Sugar

2 T Cilantro

Soak 10, 10-inch bamboo skewers in water for an hour.

Marinate chicken in the lemongrass, shallot, turmeric, lime juice, soy sauce, mirin, fish sauce and olive oil for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Skewer the chicken on the skewers, reserving the marinade as you go.

Place reserved marinade in a saucepan, add the brown sugar and bring to a boil.  Lower temperature to a simmer and reduce marinade until thickened into a loose syrup.

Grill chicken and finish in the oven until done.  Brush the chicken with the reduced marinade.  Allow to cool slightly, top with the chopped cilantro and serve!

Serves:  8-10 Skewers

Pucker Up!

Lemons just might be the most commonly used flavoring ingredient (after salt and pepper) in all cooking. You find lemons in salads, main courses and desserts. They are used in baking, drink making, and barbequing.  Ultimately, their light fresh tart flavor and bright aroma enliven just about everything.

Lemons are also highly acidic.  For this reason, they are used in marinades to help tenderize meat, and squeezed on fruit salads or starchy vegetables to help brighten and maintain their color. 
They are not just a tasty and functional fruit, they also provide an array of health benefits.  Lemons help to maintain healthy digestion and a clean liver as well as produce antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-boosting powers.  In fact, did you know that Ancient Egyptians believed that eating lemons and drinking lemon juice was an effective protection against a variety of poisons?
Research has also show that lemon oil has a calming effect that helps to remove fatigue, exhaustion, dizziness, anxiety, nervousness, and tension.  Think of that lovely bowl of lemons as a room fresher at home and in the office to increase efficiency and calm moods.
Lemons are good for the body, great for your mind and even better for that palate – therefore, we always say - when life gives you lemons, make these tasty lemon treats!
Lemon Curd
3 Eggs
½ C Lemon Juice
2 t Lemon Zest
½ t Vanilla
Pinch of Salt
¼ C Butter
Mix all ingredients except butter in a saucepan and heat to 160?, stirring constantly.  
Once temperature is reached, remove from heat and strain into a glass bowl.  
Let cool for 10 minutes. 
Whisk in butter, one tablespoon at a time.  Once all butter is melted, cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for up to four days.
Easy Lemon Curd Buttercream 
1/3 C Lemon Curd
1 C Butter
Beat lemon curd and butter on high until fluffy.

Smaller Portions

Snacks as meals and smaller portions seem to be gracing menus and grocery stores everywhere.  With more companies introducing pre-portioned foods in appropriate sizes and restaurants offering smaller plate options, this rising trend is a little like grazing on the foods you love, but with the emphasis on individual portion sizes.  

It’s no surprise that this trend is on the upswing. As more people are living their busy lives on the go and eating out, smaller and healthier options are a must.  Portioned eats serve those looking to shed a few pounds or live a healthier lifestyle by encouraging mindful eating, better ingredients and limits on food consumption. 
Gourmet Productions is proud to be serving a variety of dishes this spring that fit within this trend.  With the option to specify potion sizes of all our salads, including the popular Mediterranean Quinoa with tomato, cucumber and feta, or selecting a sandwich that can be shared or split for half later, (one of our favorites is the Reuben!) you will surly enjoy enough protein and carbs for energy to last you throughout the whole day.  
Bigger isn’t always better. Sometimes the best choices are the ones that come in a small box!
Reuben Sandwich
2 Slices Como Bread
1 T Dijon Mustard
3oz Sliced Pastrami
2 T Sauerkraut (drained)
2 Slices Swiss Cheese
Butter, melted (for toasting)
Put half a tablespoon of mustard on each slice of bread.  Top one slice of bread with the pastrami, sauerkraut and cheese and then cover with the other bread slice.  Brush outside of bread and grill to a golden brown. Cut sandwiches to desired sizes pieces.

Out With The New, In With Theā€¦Old?


That’s right folks, Gourmet Productions is celebrating this week with our latest 2013 food trend – we’re talking all-things retro.  Over the past several years we have seen the infamous macaroni & cheese dish take on new twists and flavors, not to mention modern versions of mashed potatoes, jello and the Waldorf salad, but now, more than ever, there are new spins on classic favorites. Who says new is better?  Old-fashioned diner & deli favorites are back and better than ever, inspiring chefs to explore new tastes among all the classic foods of the past.
Ranging anywhere from appetizer menu, to main course, to dessert, these fun favorites seem to be catching fire on menus all across the US.  Some of our latest favorites taking flight include: Fondue, Deviled Eggs, savory soufflés, tripe, Swedish meatballs, chicken pot pie, S’mores, chiffon pie, and last but not least the Whoopie Pie! 
Our stellar Dessert Diva and pastry chef, Mandy has put a new spin on this beloved retro treat, incorporating flavor favorite – Red Velvet. Red Velvet cake is no longer just a wedding or cupcake staple; we are seeing this flavor incorporated into cookies, pancakes, scones, ice cream, truffles, brownies, and even batter for fried chicken!  
Check out Mandy’s amazing Red Velvet Whoopie Pie recipe below or pop in to Gourmet Productions on Valentine’s Day and pick up a few to enjoy (with no clean up needed.) 
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
1oz Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
6 T Butter
¼ C Sour Cream
2 Eggs
1 ½ t Vinegar
1 T Vanilla
1 T Red Food Coloring
¾ C Oil
½ C Buttermilk
2 ½ C + 2 T Flour
1 ¼ C Sugar
3 T Cocoa Powder
1 ½ t Baking Soda
1 t Salt
1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
½ C butter, softened
2 ½ C Powdered Sugar
2 t Clear Vanilla
Melt chocolate chips and butter in microwave, approximately one minute.  
Mix all wet ingredients together in a bowl, then stir in melted chocolate.
Sift all dry ingredients into a large bowl.  Fold the wet mixture in, making sure not to over mix.
With a large spoon or scooper, scoop out 1 tablespoon circles onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.
When cooled, spread filling on bottom sides of half the cookies.  Top with the remaining cookies.
Yield:  2 dozen whoopie pies

It's All About Veggies

Whether fried, roasted, boiled, steamed, or served raw with the perfect dip, veggies stay strong in the ring this year, helping us maintain our weight and keeping our bodies happy and healthy. 

Last year’s favorite, kale (who doesn’t love those easy –to-make kale chips), loaded with fiber and antioxidants is still sitting high on its throne as king of the greens.  However, other veggies like varied rabes, mini bok choy, beets, leeks, and cauliflower are climbing their way to the top. 
Our chefs here at Gourmet Productions are most excited to incorporate cauliflower into new menus for spring, summer and fall seasons – it’s so versatile!  Actually we have been using cauliflower in dishes for years, I guess you could say we have been ahead of the trend!  Loaded with nutrients, one cup of cauliflower has nearly 90-percent of your recommended daily value of vitamin C.  We love it because it can be mashed, curried, roasted, boiled, and even caramelized!
Roasted Cauliflower with Petite Croutons, Parmesan & Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette 
1 Large Head of Cauliflower 
1/3 C Olive Oil
1 C Rustic Day-Old Bread, diced ¼ to ½ inch
2 T Olive Oil
½ C Grated Parmesan
1 T Meyer Lemon Juice
1 T Olive Oil
1 t Minced Garlic
Salt & Pepper to taste
Chives to Garnish

Break cauliflower head into florets.  Toss in 1/3 cups olive oil, place on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until cauliflower is lightly brown and cooked through.

Toss croutons with 2 tablespoons olive oil and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.

Add lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Whisk in 1 tablespoon olive oil slowly to prepare your vinaigrette. 

Place roasted cauliflower, toasted croutons and parmesan in a large bowl.  Pour vinaigrette over and toss.  Garnish with chives.

Yield:  6 to 8 servings

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