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Awesome Crab Feed !!! too little too late…

Hi all…    I can’t thank you enough for your interest …    Believe it or not, I just spent the last entire week (evenings) preparing for the Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County’s annual Crab Feed…   We served about 170 members and guests to a great party night last night (Saturday)      the “too little too late” is about timing…     There was a great band for dancing, plenty of fresh Dungeness (San Francisco) crab, Aldent’e pasta with home-made vodka-tomato sauce, mesquite-grilled fresh garlic-butter-and-herbed-bread, mixed green salad,  and anti-pasti…       at least 400 pounds of totally fresh local Dungeness crab was available…   everybody had a great time !!!

The thing is… (too little too late)  I didn’t have time to take pictures…  Busy…  Busy…  Busy…            Except for these pics…  My great friend (brother-from-another-mother {and father}) Michael Van Piccolotti and I took the early route and made up the anti-pasti platters the night before…   here’s a look…

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Ok…    there’s no heat applied here…  Sooooooo  easy for 100 plus though…  figure an 1/8 lbs PP…  or in this case, each anti-pasti tray was built for 8 folks…  Can you guess or better, dictate what should be placed on the 3rd?

Tip of the day?     Trust your friends…   and their “grown-up” kids…    We had kids of members ranging in age from 12 to 19, who served all of our guests…   They helped in the kitchen as well…   Thanks to all of you girls, and Ryan the baseball king…

20150306_170129…   and to you, Mike P., for keeping me sane throughout…     Here’s a pic or two  of the platters for perspective…

Yep…  we did it again…

Happy Heating !!!

Occasional restaurant review… VINO SANTO BISTRO

FYI…   I love food, travel, community service, and good folks…      Life.

So my lovely wife of 20+ years and I had this gift certificate that we won at a fund-raiser raffle…   $50. bucks for Vino Santo Bistro in the heart of Redwood City, Ca.   2030 Broadway St….    We held it for over a year…

From the outside, the place looks small, and maybe blah-ish…  right next door is a trendy pizza place that has lines out the door….   For What?   Folks like it I guess…  never been there …  no lines at Vino Santo, but it’s always full…

Anyway…    Vino Santo Bistro is right there…    looking crowded, small, maybe even under-rated…       PLEASE DON’T LET THAT LOOK FOOL YOU !!!

GO THERE !!!

When we finally did, after, we were so excited to tell our friends about it…   Turns out that a lot of our friends already knew about this hidden gem…

Check it out…

There’s a bar in the back…  you can’t see it from the store front…   Great little “European”, Nook, I’d swear-I-was-in-Tuscany-flair… Mama’s or Grand-Mama’s kinda joint…

Our first experience almost didn’t happen… we had the gift cert…  but forgot to bring it…   Almost bailed and went for Chinese…      Thought better and spent the cash (not that much, considering)

Do’s…

Start with a good Cocktail…  preferably in a stemmed glass…   then taste a bite or two of their classic bruschetta…  another sip…   Maybe some Carpaccio…  with toast…   and a sip…    then for the AMAZING !!!     Finish your cocktail already and request a glass of Chianti…

The Parppadelle…    I Have never tasted such a perfect house-made pasta…  forget the sauce for a minute…   this stuff is fresh…  about 3/4 inches wide…  fat pasta perfection…  then add their take on a bolognaise…  pancetta, prosccuto,(sp) fresh tomato, and who knows what…   delicious…

Our first experience here was augmented by the manner of our server (waiter)… things just clicked that night…    when dinner was over, we decided to sit at the bar for a night-cap…   really didn’t want to leave…    think: grappa and espresso, or frangelico…  (and uber)

Anyway,  we planned to definitely go back for another romantic-date-night-experience…    so we did…         last night…       what a conflict !!!

ok..  the parpadelle was excellent again…   we also had their simple mixta verde salad, which was delicious…    house-made bread too…     but here’s “What’s Up!”

DON”T ORDER THE CALAMARI !!!!!

Frozen “meat-sweat” deep-fried-manufactured-bread-coated rubber-bands…   Shoulda known from the menu…   “Calamari rings”…    Can’t compute in my head…      A+ Pasta, Classics, (looking at the vongole and fettucine plates as we left) A+ Ambiance…   A+ Tiramisu…   Why put C- Calamari on the menu?

PLEASE REMOVE THIS SH*&^T or Make it right !!!     they have fresh clams, fresh pasta, fresh seafood entree’ of the day…

Whatever…

When our server took up the salad plate, I said you can take this too… (the calamari)  he said…  “is there a problem, Sir?”…   I said, way out of my personal character, “It’s frozen…  there are 100 joints within 25 miles that cook fresh Calamari…   Its Frozen… ”       in good stride, our waiter took the plate, tossed the food into the trash, (wife saw it) removed the cost from the tab, comp’t a tiramisu dessert and continued to wear a smile…      Very professional…

WE LOVE this place…  It’s like taking a 2 hour vacation !!!   Just don’t order the calamari…  (until they get the picture…)

If you are looking for perfect Itallian Pasta-Soul-Food…

VINO SANTO BISTRO…  2030 Broadway…  RWC…

Until Next time …  Happy Heating !!!

Ok… White Bean and Bacon Soup Shots… gotta try…

So it’s been a while, but I’m back…    this party, which was actually last year (December), still has some humph in the memory menu…  As promised…

White Bean and Bacon Soup Shots..  ala  Ted Allen, but hiked up by Apply Heat and Eat… Mark Musante…facebookpic1

Please check out Ted Allen’s Recipe…  the thing is, I had to figure out how to make it for a party of 120, instead of 8 or so…

I like bacon…   so I did a whole pound and a half of lardons ( 1/4 inch bits)… instead of just one slice…

I used the bits partially for the soup, (dropped them in) and partially for the garnish…  a tasty tid bit that Ted missed…  when the shot glasses were full, I decided to drop in a few bacon bits along with the goat-cheese croutons…   It worked…   GOOD…

Bottom line…   this app was the best seller at the party that night…  PERIOD.smcha6singleshot

Ok…  I did more bacon so I could have the garnish, but more importantly, so I could have enough fat to saute the rest of the ingredients…

Making soup  101…   cook it, splash it…  boil it…  season it… eat it…

Cook and splash means  –  saute your onion, mushroom, celery, carrot, or what ever other veggie you might want to have star in your concoction…  Basically start with the veggies…

Make sure that when the time comes to add the Stock, that it’s trustworthy…  (make your own)  [see make your own stock]

So, if you went to the link, you saw the recipe…  I added more bacon, used rye for the croutons, I think I added a bit more cumin, and a little tabasco…  Blend, strain, pour into shot glasses, drop a bit of bacon and the cheesy crouton…  OH  MY  GOD !!!

The point…  please don’t be worried about shifting or changing or altering someone elses vibe…   it’s your party…   they (I) are putting this out there for you…  Have Fun…   Relax…  Heat it up and eat it up !!!    Simply Apply Heat… and Eat…   SWEET

Until next time,…                            Happy Heating !!!

Ginger-Peanut Chicken/Pineapple Skewers Passed at the Party

Hi again…   Thanks for checking this out !!

These bites were a huge hit among the SMCHA guests at their Annual Installation Event held at the Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County clubhouse in Woodside, California.

 

First: Marinate the chicken.  Here’s how I created the sauce/marinade:  add OJ to Peanut Butter, mix for a thick liquidy smooth consistency…  add soy sauce, fresh minced ginger, orange zest, mae ploy (Asian sweet chili sauce), brown sugar, a bit of Siracha and then taste…  add what ever suits you at this point to find the flavor you like (5-spice, more heat, sesame oil, curry spice, rice wine vinegar ?)…

Marinate boneless chicken thighs in 2/3 of the mix in a zip-lock baggy for at least 2 hours up to 24…  reserve the remaining mix for the glaze.

Quarter a whole pineapple into 1/8 wedges  (here’s how…)

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Cut off the top and bottom of the fruit,  slice in half, then quarter as above…

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Remove the “core” by cutting off the tip of the wedge about an inch in,  run your knife down the center of the wedge, but don’t cut through the skin; then run your knife at an angle to separate the fruit from the skin on the first side, then again on the other side…

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Now you have a skin and core to toss, and 2 pcs that are 1/8 wedges  each of the fruit…  Repeat three more times… (top is skin, left is fruit, right is core)

Next, place 1/8 wedges on the grill to mark all sides with dark grill marks.  This process makes the pineapple look great, but it even tastes better…  the heat develops the sweetness of the fruit and makes it POP…   Now split the pinapple 1/8 wedges into 1/16 strips and chop up 3/4 – 1″ chunks…

Grill the chicken thighs whole until cooked through.  The sugars will char a bit, so the heat shouldn’t be too hot, but a little char flavor is good…  remove from grill and cool just enough to handle…   Cut thighs into 3/4 -1″ strips then cubes…

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Create the individual skewers by alternating chicken/pineapple/chicken bits, in that order, and arrange on a garnished platter. Swirl some more peanut sauce on top, sprinkle chopped peanuts and fresh cilantro leaves on top, and serve while still just a bit warm…

Oh Man…    I hope you’ll experiment with this one…  Soo000o  Good !!    All of the passed plates came back empty !!

Next time I’ll show you the White Bean and Bacon Soup Shots…            Until then…       Happy Heating !!!

Here’s an Idea… Break the Menu Down…

So my original plan was to post the entire menu from the SMCHA (San Mateo County Horseman’s Association) party last weekend in one post…    But I’ve decided to take you all through the experience one menu item at a time…  Here’s a re-cap of the evening’s fare…

Stationed Apps:  Smoked Salmon with hard-boiled-egg, capers, onion, and olive, International Cheeses, with Cali-Pinot-Grapes, Dried Stone Fruit and Truffle pate’, Vegetable Crudite…

Passed Apps:  Grilled Ginger and Cilantro Chicken and Pineapple Skewers with Garlic/Peanut sauce, Creamy White Bean and Bacon Soup-Shots with Goat-Cheese-Infused Rye Crouton, Molten Artichoke/Jalapeno Stuffed Phyllo Cups, and Grilled Watermelon and Pineapple Skewers with Wasabi Aioli…

Buffet:  Mediterranean Garden Greens Salad with Lemon Vinegarette and Feta, Carved Whole Roasted Filet MignonMaître d’, Prawns Scampi, Herbed Penne Alfredo, Fresh Roasted Golden Fingerlings Potatoes, Sauteed Local Harvest Green Beans with Shallot and Rainbow Bell Pepper Beurre Blanc, Chocolate Cake from the Woodside Bakery

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First Up?  Smoked Salmon with Sides…      This appetizer for 100 plus guests is so easy, but also brings a huge punch for party enjoyment…   I have to admit that I didn’t catch and prepare this fish myself…   Costco has many varieties of smoked salmon to choose from…  great catering resource…   I picked up about a pound and a half of wild Alaskan delightfulness at Costco…    smcha6salmonsidesThen its all about the presentation…  make a bed of fresh red chard leaves (or any other backdrop of nature that catches your eye) on your favorite platter…  then break up the smoked salmon pieces for easy self-serve delivery and lay them out for your guests…

Next to this platter should be two friends…  the sliced baguette basket with a variety of crackers added, plus the smoked salmon enhancers brigade…   I like to give options for folks to add to their salmon bite experience…  Chopped hard-boiled egg for creaminess…  Mini-capers for a bit of salt and spice… finely diced red onion for that cutting aroma and tingle between the ears, and a bit of finely chopped black olive to enhance the briny sea salt and velvety texture of God’s food…

When your guests build their own bite with these choices…  You’re sure to satisfy them all…    Next Up?     Cheese…

Keep an eye out !!

Happy Heating!!

Chief Cook (and bottle washer)

Hey All !!

Yep…  that’s me in the Cowboy Hat…  the Chef…   Doing Dishes…   I do it all !!!   Yee Haah!!!

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything…    Caught the nasty winter bug this past Monday after the great “sin-dig” (shin-dig) catering gig last weekend for 115 folks at the SMCHA Officer Installation and Horse-women of the year gala at the Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County Clubhouse…   I pulled together a great group of kitchen help, and front-of-house servers to provide what turned out to be a great success (based on feedback from guests and the President of the organization)…   Gotta say that my wife and I, along with our friends, had a blast puttin’ it on !!  Good Food, A Little Pazzaz, Live Music, Libations, and most important, a GREAT GROUP OF PEOPLE, can make any night like this a fixed memory in one’s mind…

Menu:

Stationed Apps:  Smoked Salmon with hard-boiled-egg, capers, onion, and olive, International Cheeses, with Cali-Pinot-Grapes, Dried Stone Fruit and Truffle pate’, Vegetable Crudate’…

Passed Apps:  Grilled Ginger and Cilantro Chicken and Pineapple Skewers with Garlic/Peanut sauce, Creamy White Bean and Bacon Soup-Shots with Goat-Cheese-Infused Rye Crouton, Molten Artichoke/Jalapeno Stuffed Phylo Cups, and Grilled Watermelon and Pineapple Skewers with Wasabi Aioli…

Buffet:  Mediterranean Garden Greens Salad with Lemon Vinegarette and Feta, Carved Whole Roasted Filet Mignon Matre’d, Prawns Scampi, Herbed Penne Alfredo, Fresh Roasted Golden Fingerlings Potatoes, Saute’d Local Harvest Green Beans with Shallot and Rainbow Bell Pepper Burre Blanc, Chocolate Cake from the Woodside Bakery

Whoa….   How could it go wrong?

Heres a pic of the mess we left in the kitchen…  Thank you, God, for the cleaning elves !! (this is only about 10%)

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(nice shot of the MPSMC kitchen, or otherwise known as my second home)…

More pics to come showing the prep, service, apps, entrees, and the over-all-party-vibe that followed this mess…    coming up later this weekend !!

Remember…  Apply Heat and Eat…  It really can be that simple…   All I want is to help you see how simple it really is…   Let me show you what kind of heat to apply, where, when, how, and why…  Will you try?     Hey…  I’m just a guy…   Apply Heat and Eat…  Like ham & swiss on rye…

(did I just do that?)

Please let me know what you’d like to know that would break the kitchen barrier for you…  I’ll do my best to open the doors wide…

Until next time…  Happy Heating !!

Last Shopping Delivery for the Big Catering Night Tonight

A quick note for those interested…  I finally got all of the shopping done for the 110 guest catering gig tomorrow (later today)…                         Here’s a sneak preview of one of the special hors ‘devours…

No big pics of all of the stuff (much more than the Beef Burguignon for 100 post a while back), but if you want to see what ingredients for 100+ look like, check out the prior post)…

So while my wife and I shopped tonight, or when we were pretty much done, we took a moment to go to Harry’s Hofbrau,  a locally famous eatery with a bar and great micro-brews, to have a bite and a little spirit !     Then I got the notion to cook…   I planned to have soup shots in sleek tall shot glasses as a passed hors ‘devour, among others…  but hey, we all know that home-made soup always tastes better the next day…   So at about 10pm, I dropped my lovely lady off at home, and with a kiss and hug, I was off to drop off the last bunch of ingredients for the big shin-dig at the MPSMC, and to make the base for the  Cumin Infused White Bean with Bacon Soup…

I have to admit, that I searched “Food Network” recipes for the idea, and Tim Allen, from “Chopped”, had a great recipe idea for a party soup-shot-glass…  so I stole it…   You can look it up, probably, at food network/tim allen/white bean soup shots…

So I had to 8x the recipe…   his was for a small gathering…  mine is for a passed hors ‘devour for a party of 110…   can’t do “dollar for dollar” in this case… x 8…  too much bacon fat, too much garlic, too little white beans…  so interpretative judgments were made…

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I made more bacon lardons…  Reserved 3/4 for garnish and texture in the shot…

20150123_224753 I used beef broth instead of chicken…   and I flashed the shallots with sherry…    but everything else is about the same…

I’m tellin’ ya…   Great Flavor !!     Added about 1/2 tsp of powdered cumin to richen it up… one of my favorite spices…     It’s all ready for tomorrow…

20150123_232851  blend it, strain it,  mill it,  then add the whole cream and cayenne to taste…  It’s gonna be like silk…  Oh yea…  Then when you serve it in the shot glasses…  you top it with a goat cheese crouton (I’m gonna use dark rye for the crouton), and in my case, I’ll also add a bacon bit or two, since I cooked a whole chopped up pound)…

 

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Now it’s just soakin’ in all the goodness…  Waiting for the finishing touches…

 

Yum…  Yum…   YYyyuuuuummmmm !!

 

 

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Oh…  Here are the cleaned shot glasses I rented for the soup-shot hors ‘devours tonight !

 

I promise to share pics of the serving trays from tomorrow, probably next week soon…   along with all the other fun food!

Until then  Happy Heating !!!

 

Keepin’ in touch…

Wow…  I can’t believe it’s been a week since I last posted here…   I’ve been really busy doing my contractor gig…  Lots of bath remodels…  but I have also been focused on planning for a big catering gig this weekend !!   I am preparing a 5-course dinner for 110 folks who are celebrating their 75th annual installation dinner and horse-person of the year award…  It’s this Saturday at the Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County Clubhouse in Woodside, Ca.  The organization throwing the shin-dig is the San Mateo County Horseman’s Association, (SMCHA).  I can’t wait to start cooking for this event !!  First day of shopping this evening… More tomorrow, and probably a bit left for Saturday morning…  Then its time to prep at noon Saturday…   I’ve got 4 servers on-board, 2 friends helping in the kitchen, and of course my wife will support however she can…  She’s pretty handy with a knife, a platter, and a camera…

There’s live music, dancing, a great Carved Filet Mignon Roast, Prawns Scampi, Penne Alfredo, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Fresh Saute’d Veggies…   Passed Hor’s devours…  Ginger-peanut chicken skewers, Pineapple/Watermelon Skewers with Wasabi Aioli, Phyllo Cups stuffed with Jalapeno/Artichoke/Parmesian mix, White Bean and Cumin Soup Shots… …It’s the real deal !!

Keep an eye out for pics and recipes from this great event !!    Will be in touch soon…

Until next time…   Happy Heating !!

A Bit About Me – Re-Post

This is a post from a few months ago that might back-fill some answers…  I hope you all keep liking my “stuff”…

So, you might ask…  “Why is this guy writing a blog about taking the fear out of tackling the kitchen?”  I’ll do my best to answer this question…

I mentioned that I moved out of my parents house at the age of 19, and that I started to miss my mom’s cooking.  It was then that I realized I had very little experience or knowledge about how to use an oven, stove, and other tools one finds in a kitchen, even though I had grown up loving to watch Julia Child, Graham Kerr, Martin Yan, and Jacques Pepin.

I have always loved food, but I realized that I hadn’t really practiced any of the methods or techniques I was learning from these master chefs on TV.  I’d watched those shows for the entertainment value.  I was amazed at what they could do in the kitchen and laughed at some of their antics, but I hadn’t really paid attention to the tips and teachings they offered.

In any case, I had been fortunate to experience fine dining as a child growing up.  My mother had a flair for cooking and actually did use the techniques she learned from Julia and Jacques. So I knew about well-prepared food, and I liked it a lot.

But there I was, 19, and living with room mates in a house with a kitchen that was rarely used.  It was the fear of the unknown that kept me out of the kitchen.  This is why I started the APPLY HEAT AND EAT blog.  I have since learned that cooking is truly as simple as applying heat.  The challenge is in understanding the different types of heat one can apply, and learning about and practicing techniques that can help boost one’s confidence in the kitchen.

Here’s how I gained my cooking experience…

About 2 years after moving out on my own  I decided to get a “real” job, rather than just playing in my rock & roll band and restoring antiques for a few antique dealers, so I attended the Bartender’s School of America and earned  a “master-mixologist” certificate.  This helped me land my first restaurant job as bar manager at the Stagecoach Restaurant in Woodside, California (which has since turned in to Buck’s of Woodside – a very popular place for Silicon Valley execs breakfast meetings, a local’s place for lunch, and a big family place for dinner). While on the job, I became intriqued with the workings of the kitchen.  This is where I first learned knife skills, what sauté-ing is about, par-cooking and how to really grill a steak or chop…  And I learned  many other tricks of the restaurant trade that I’ll share in future blog posts.

Once I had these tools in my pocket, I was able to use my kitchen at home…  (now this is the fun part).  What’s really fun to me is trying to match the flavor of something great that I ate at a restaurant and recreate it home – with my own touches.  The best way to do this is to purchase lots of dried herbs and spices, taste them all individually, then start to blend them… use them in soups and sauces, in dry rubs, heck, you can use them in your egg salad to give it a kick…  just become familiar with all sorts of flavors.  This will be your “Painters Palate.”  After a while, you’ll be able to tell what you’re tasting while you’re still at the restaurant and begin to plan your attack for your own kitchen…   you may even try to tweak the recipe to your own favor and create something better.    By the time I was about 30, I had a pretty good handle on flavors and some techniques, but I really hadn’t taken things in the kitchen to the next step…

As it happens, I became involved with an organization called The Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County.  We have a clubhouse where we hold dinner meetings twice a month.  We usually feed around 60 people at each meeting.  The cooking is done by members who volunteer.  I volunteered and have since cooked over 200 dinners there; feeding close to 20,000 folks over the years.  The challenge is in knowing what to shop for, how much to buy, how to prepare large quantities of food, etc…   I’ve really earned a great reputation as a master cook in my wide circle of friends.  Follow my lead and you can too…

About 8 years ago, I partnered up with a friend who lives In Hawaii on Maui, and we opened up a restaurant called WokStar International Noodle Cafe. She and I collaborated on our recipes, created our menu and opened up to a very welcoming and supportive community in Kihei, Hawaii…  We were fortunate to be recognized as the area’s best new restaurant by two separate organizations, were voted “Favorite Noodles”, “Best Late Night,” and we won many other accolades while we operated the place, however, creating profits in Hawaii is very challenging.  We were open for 4 and a half years, but closed when our lease came to term.  I may try to start up again here in the Bay Area.  We’ll see.

So, I hope this story of how I learned to remove the fear from cooking can be helpful to others…  to YOU…

In future blog posts, I will simply explain how to apply heat by using a sauté pan, grill, braising pot, dutch oven, broiler, flame torch, solar heat, cooking over a camp fire and other interesting methods and techniques…

You’ll learn about making delicious soups, sauces, reducing, sweating, caramelizing…  I’ll focus on techniques for applying heat while sharing favorite recipes and would also like to hear from you….

Talk to ya soon !

Mark

Special Thanks To You All…

Just a note to let you know that I really appreciate your interest in this blog post.   I realized a few months ago that I had a vault full of life experience that was just that…   stuff in a vault…  I hope that by opening this vault, on this applyheatandeat.com blog, and sharing on Facebook, Apply Heat and Eat, that all of this can add some value to your life…

If you think I should keep it going…  Like the page and the post…   Gimme a comment…   heck, go to applyheatandeat.com and follow the WordPress blog…

I just got a gig for a dinner dance, serving over 100 guests to a 7 coarse meal next weekend…  keep an eye out for pics and videos…  Filet Mignon Roasts, carved at a station, Prawns Scampi, Penne Alfredo, And on and on…

Again…  Thanks for your interest…   I think I might re-post some of my earlier stuff so our new friends can catch up…

Until next time…  Happy Heating !!

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