Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Jules provides ingredients for corporate kids’ CookieFest and holiday family fun

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Jules’ ‘Cookie Maestro’ enjoys a day off

When, a few days ago, we crossed paths with Jules Catering’s Assistant Pastry Chef¬†Wilmar Aristizabal¬†outside Jules’ fragrant kitchen, a flurry of questions rushed to mind:

  • Where is your chef’s jacket?
  • Why aren’t you rolling out cookie dough?¬†
  • Why don’t we hear the beep-beep-beep of your oven timer?
  • What in the name of Ebenezer Scrooge are you doing out here?!

We were baffled by this encounter because we knew that during the month of December, alone, Wilmar is charged with preparing thousands of holiday cookies, many requiring elaborate decoration.

“Yes,” Wilmar smiled. “This time of year I’m at least as dedicated to my work as Santa’s most diligent elf.¬†But this morning, I get to take it easy.¬†Sure, I did the baking. But that was yesterday. Today, I’m relieved of my usual decoration-duties, because…

Jules provides the basics: cookies, easy-to-use icing dispensers, M&Ms, and multifarious sprinkles and jimmies

“…the kids are in charge!”¬†

“Cookies without borders” may set a trend!

“Food should be fun”

So declared chef, restaurateur, and cookbook writer¬†Thomas Keller, and Jules couldn’t agree more. Another true believer in ‘the fun factor’ is Joyce¬†Georgakopoulos, Director of HR¬†at Murphy&King, PC,¬†Counsellors at Law, who explained that children’s parties at the firm are a holiday tradition for at least 30 years–and that for the past 10+ years, Jules Catering has provided both the ready-to-eat and decorate-your-own holiday fare.

Fresh-baked cookies from Jules

 

 Jules provides the edible tools, kids create cookie art

Jules’ longtime party chef Alex Restrepo knows a thing or two about the fine art of cookies, so–given that it was Wilmar’s day off–we asked Alex to weigh in on the creative swirl around us.

What follows is a small sample of Alex’s commentary….

While awaiting Santa’s hi-rise arrival, Party Chef Alex Restrepo weighed in on cookie art

 

“I applaud this young artist’s¬†careful approach to the composition of ‘the cookie canvas,’ and how she hearkens back to the Pointillist¬†tradition.”

“Her use of strong diagonals is superb!”

 

¬†“Here we see a work in progress…a wonderfully lush evergreen…perhaps part of a larger landscape. And my guess is that before the ‘paint’ dries, she may work in some sparkly texture.”

 

“Talk about texture! When I admire this masterpiece,¬†Pollock’s¬†early drip paintings¬†come to mind.”

 

“It’s hard to tear myself away, but I’ve got to get back to the kitchen. But before I go I must say that¬†this particular cookie (the artist’s self-portrait), like all of today’s cookie creations,…

¬†“…makes me smile.”

It’s not just about kids

Family fun is of course about parents, too, and Jules likes nothing better than to cater family parties, not only in the workplace, but beyond. Jules’ wide-ranging events involving children include family reunions, anniversary parties, birthdays, and–when warm weather returns–barbecues and picnics.

Photo Credits: Liz Muir

 

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The turkey, “though a little vain and silly…

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

“…is a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards…with a red Coat on.” So wrote Benjamin Franklin, tongue at least partly in cheek, in a 1784 letter to his daughter, noting that “this respectable Bird” and “true original Native of America”¬†would have been superior to the bald eagle as the fledgling republic’s national emblem.

Ben Franklin and Tom Turkey

Ben and Tom

 

Looking ahead to Thanksgiving

Encountering this delicious quotation prompted us to do some gobbler Googling. In particular, we wondered how wild turkeys we’ve seen around town (the handsome fellow, above right, was photographed in Brookline!) compare to domestic turkeys, in particular, the free-range turkeys reared by Misty Knoll Farms¬†of New Haven, VT, purveyed by Kinnealey Quality Meats¬†in nearby Brockton, and prepared and served by Jules.

Wild turkeys

Louise Miller likes wild turkey meat

Louise Miller: "I like anything wild."

Before tapping into search engines, we called our friend Louise Miller, who was born on a small farm in Shaver’s Creek, PA, and married 60-plus years to a hunter of small and large game.

“Some people don’t like wild turkey, because it’s all dark meat and they say it tastes gamey, but I¬†much prefer wild to a supermarket bird. Jack, my husband, liked hunting turkey. He’d just park himself near a tree, where he thought they would be…where he’d seen signs of scratching…and he’d set there and call them. Gobblers will come to find the hen, but they’re sneaky. They can come up right behind you and you never know it. It’s harder–and takes more patience–to get a wild turkey than it does a deer.”

A key distinction between wild and store-bought birds stems from the fact that most commercially raised turkeys are selectively bred to grow faster and develop more breast meat than wild turkeys. Which leads to the question: Where do¬†free-range¬†birds fit in? They’re not wild. They’re not cooped up. Are naturally raised free-range turkeys something ‘in between’?

Why range free?

Up until the 20th century, green feed and sunshine (for the vitamin D) were fundamental to poultry rearing, because these ‘ingredients’ were required to raise healthy birds. But with the discovery of vitamins A and D, in the 1920s, the number of free-range poultry farms began to decline. While some large commercial breeding flocks were reared on pasture into the 1950s, advances in nutritional science led to increased confinement. ¬†Gathering up flocks and putting them all in one place allowed poultry to be raised on a commercial scale.

Monet Wild Turkeys

Foraging turkeys painted by Claude Monet

Of course while confinement yields efficiencies, it also presents problems. Today, the vast majority of the 260 million commercially raised turkeys in the US spend their lives in enclosed, artificially lit and ventilated sheds that house thousands of birds. Overcrowding–often extreme–causes stress hormones to rise, which increases aggression and accounts for a variety of other health problems. And, when disease occurs, it can easily spread.

In contrast, the advantages of a free-range approach are many. According to Compassion for World Farming:

  • Turkeys allowed to exercise and behave naturally have stronger, healthier legs
  • Access to fresh air and daylight means better eye and respiratory health
  • Health problems ¬†associated with a fast growth rate are minimized¬†because free-range farms often raise slower-growing breeds

Free-range turkeys from Misty Knoll Farms

Misty Knoll Farms turkeys in the straw

The free-range turkeys we know and love are those from family-owned and -operated Misty Knoll Farms, in New Haven, VT.¬†When old enough to withstand Vermont‚Äôs cool nights, they are sheltered in open barns and have free access to natural pasture, sunlight, and fresh water.¬†Because the turkeys range free on the farm’s meadows, and¬†because they are fed wholesome grain that is free of antibiotics and animal by-products, their lives–compared to factory-farmed turkeys–are natural and relatively stress-free.

This time of year, as another cold Vermont winter approaches, Misty Knoll turkeys–like any bird in the wild–plumpen up. Allowed to grow naturally to size, they are robust and meatier, and–when roasted–they will be juicy from wholesome feed, rather than from the injected oils and additives applied to factory-farmed birds. ¬†And, because they’re graded and processed on-site and by hand, only the finest birds are offered for sale. While it takes a little longer to rear birds in a free-range environment, Misty Knoll Farms feels good about being able to offer such healthy and nutritious turkeys. And Jules Catering’s Executive Chef Albert Rosada agrees.

Roasted free-range, organic turkeys from Jules

“The turkey breasts we’re roasting today are 22- to 24-pounds–the biggest breasts you can get,” explained Jules Catering’s Executive Chef, Albert Rosado. “Misty Knoll Farms turkeys are wonderful because they’re not full of fat or muscle–and they’re tender. The quality of the meat is grade A”

We asked Albert why he sports a meat thermometer in his pocket. “I need to keep checking. We want to roast white-meat turkey to 160 degrees,” he explained.

Albert halves organic free range turkey breast

Executive Chef Albert Rosado halves a succulent 24-pound turkey breast.

Halved organic free-range turkey breast

"We give our turkeys a lot o' love," Albert says.

Seconds after Albert finishes slicing, he passes breast meat along to Line Cook Jeff Ginyard, who ladles hot gravy. Moments later the turkey is sealed and wrapped, locked up in an insulated cart, and wheeled out the door!

Jeff ladles turkey gravy Jules Catering

When it's time for the holidays Jeff, Albert, and free-range turkeys are a winning team.

 Mmmm, that turkey looks so moist and smells so great. What else is on the menu? we inquired.

“Oh, we’ve got lots of great menu items,” replied Line-Chef Jeff, as he handed me the order sheet. “Today, for example, some of our corporate clients will be enjoying this little preview of a Thanksgiving feast.”

PRE-THANKSGIVING LUNCH MENU
Roast Turkey with Herbed Bread Stuffing
Butternut Squash Ravioli in Basil Cream Sauce (Vegetarian Entrée)
Cranberry Chutney
Mashed Potatoes with Sweet Potato Swirls
Field Greens with Apple and Cheddar
Roasted Fall Vegetables
Dinner Rolls
Warm Apple-and-Pear Crisp with Whipped Cream

 

Photo Credits:
Portrait of Benjamin Franklin circa 1785 by Joseph Duplessis: National Portrait Gallery, Public Domain
Male Wild Turkey, Brookline, MA: Sasha Kopf, Wikimedia Commons
Louise Miller Talks Turkey: Liz Muir
The Turkeys by Claude Monet: WikiPaintings, Public Domain
Misty Knoll Farms Turkeys: Rob Litch
Turkey Prep at Jules Catering (3 photos): Liz Muir 

 

Farm and Chef Partnership

Misty Knoll Farms is an active member of the Vermont Fresh Network (VFN), a state-wide organization dedicated to building innovative partnerships among Vermont farmers, chefs, and consumers to strengthen Vermont’s agriculture.  


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“Oh, somewhere in this favoured land…”

Friday, October 5th, 2012

“…the sun is shining bright.
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in…” Beantown, Boston Red Sox have STRUCK OUT!

Apologies to fellow Bay Stater¬†Ernest Thayer¬†for tweaking the last line of his 1888 poem “Casey At the Bat,” but is it any wonder the final stanza came to mind Wednesday night when our beloved Hometown Team fell yet again to the New York Yankees in what¬†turned out to be the Sox’s eighth straight loss, their 93rd of the season?

Oh, well…

You win some, you lose 93. Baseball can be a heartbreaking game, and this worst-since-1965-record has left some Sox fans with, well, a bad taste in the mouth.

But, hey! It’s not like we haven’t dealt with loss before, and…and…baseball’s not the only game in town. So why dwell on the negatives when the Red Sox can rebuild and we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and find tasty consolation at Jules!

It’s fall cookie season…

…so we checked in with Jules’¬†Assistant Pastry Chef Wilmar Aristizabal,¬†whose whimsically decorated leaves not only leave a great taste in the mouth, they also make us smile. Especially when Wilmar scatters them on a platter with acorns and pumpkins.

Good-bye regular-season baseball, hello autumn leaves!

 

“No rake required!” Wilmar smiled.

 

Acorns and pumpkins and leaves, oh my!

Other sweet, seasonal favorites from Jules include Hermits and Pumpkin Tea Bread, but not Limited Edition Candy Corn Orios.  (Kraft Foods US can take credit for those!)

Instead and as always, Jules will be¬†be offering fresh-baked Halloween fare, quickly followed by treats for Thanksgiving and Hanukkah and Christmas, including–Wilmar reminds us–“cookies galore!”¬†

And then, before you know it…

April Fool’s Day 2013 the Red Sox and Yankees play ball!

We don’t know about you, but by the time the Red Sox’s April 8, 2013 Home Opener against the Orioles arrives¬†we¬†plan to¬†be singing the verse to lyricist¬†Ira Gershwin’s¬†“Fun To Be Fooled,” while simultaneously placing an order for fresh-baked Opening Day Cookies from Jules.

Spring is here,
I’m a fool if I fall again;
And yet, I’m enthralled
By its call again…

The Red Sox resume play April 1, 2013; the home opener will be April 8

Between now and then, we want to wish all current and former members of the Red Sox a restorative off-season, as well as cloudless skies over Fenway and grass that grows greener than ever when play begins anew.

 

Photo Credits:
Candy Corn Oreos: Kraft Foods
Red Sox Opening Day Cookies: Wilmar Aristisabal
All other photos: Liz Muir 

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Jules supports admin support!

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Because April 25 marks the 60th anniversary of Administrative Professionals Day (known prior to 2000 as ‘Professional Secretaries Day’), and because the celebration runs through all of next week,¬†we checked in with Jules’ Executive Chef Albert Rosado, who confirmed that some clients are showing their appreciation by pre-arranging celebratory buffets.

      Jules gears up for Administrative Professionals Week, April 22-28

It was too soon to photograph food being prepared for next week’s celebrations, Albert advised, but he was able to share several of the menu items Jules’ customers have selected for upcoming buffets:

Chicken Brochettes
Poached Jumbo Shrimp
Barbeque Boneless Short Ribs
Diver Scallops with Smoked Paprika Sauce
Saffron Risotto Cake

Administrative Professionals Week, 2012

Celebrated worldwide by millions of people, Administrative Professionals Week represents an opportunity for executives and managers to formally recognize support personnel whose performance of ever-more demanding and technical tasks is absolutely central to smoothly functioning office teams.

According to U.S. Department of Labor statistics cited at¬†the International Association of Administrative Professionals‘ website, more than 4.1 million secretaries and administrative assistants are working in the U.S. today, and 8.9 million people are working in what is termed “various administrative support roles.” So while¬†“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”¬†is a catchy title, it’s the stuff of myth, in no small part because success in business tends to require a¬†lot¬†of administrative support.

‘The Pulse of the Office’ and the ‘Mad Men Effect’

The theme of this year’s week of appreciation is ‘Admins, the Pulse of the Office.’ This was among the noteworthy tidbits we picked up at the¬†IAAP website, where we also learned that over the past several years an ever-growing number of admins are adopting ‚Äúsecretary‚ÄĚ as a job title. This trend has led some to speculate that the popular AMC series Mad Men¬†might be “stoking nostalgia for the¬†1950s-era¬†classic image of the American corporate secretary.” (The IAAP refers to this as the¬†‚ÄúMad Men¬†Effect.‚ÄĚ)

Other items that caught our eye were¬†results of¬†a survey on office technology. For example, when asked which “extinct technology admins would like to bring back,” about 25% identified the electric typewriter.¬†This last finding triggered a musical memory that dates back to a time when manual typewriters held sway. Given that it’s late on a Friday and the music is a fine way to kick off the weekend, we introduce to you, without further ado, percussionist Martin Breinschmid¬†and the Strau√ü Festival Orchestra¬†performing¬†Leroy Anderson‘s “Typewriter”:

A challenging profession

Providing administrative support can be fun and rewarding, but challenges abound.

Post- Great Recession admins are so busy it can be tough to stay afloat!

An enlightening 2011 benchmarking survey conducted by the IAAP collected data on job responsibilities, job satisfaction, and other real-world issues. Among the findings: Admins feel more pressure at work as a result of the economy and significant daily challenges, which include:

  • ‚ÄúJuggling multiple priorities‚ÄĚ
  • ‚ÄúDealing with difficult people and personalities‚ÄĚ
  • ‚ÄúNot having enough time to complete work.‚ÄĚ

Study findings also suggest that the trend toward fewer admins doing more work is likely to continue. According to this survey, respondents report that the most significant issues facing them over the next five to 10 years are:

  1. Keeping up with changing technology
  2. Increased workload
  3. Doing more with fewer resources/cost reductions
  4. Balancing work and family
  5. Corporate downsizing

Give him flowers?

Long used to test typewriter keyboards "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" is an English-language pangram (which means it includes every letter of the alphabet).

Who doesn’t love a spring bouquet?

But while administrative professionals appreciate any demonstration of thanks, they tend to be a pragmatic lot, whose Wish Lists include opportunities to learn and grow.

So says the same IAAP survey, which advises companies aiming to attract and retain highly skilled administration professionals to be aware that growth opportunities are a top priority for admins looking for new positions.

And that’s not all…

Because Administrative Professionals Week runs from April 22 thru April 28, and because we are already tapping out a related post profiling the two talented admins who support Jules Catering’s multifaceted operations, we hope you will stay tuned for more!

This blogger provides her own administrative support

In the meantime, if you’re looking for something to read over the weekend, check out one of the novels briefly described in a recent NPR broadcast,¬†Skirting The Job: 3 Secretaries With Novel Ideas:

  • Loitering with Intent – Muriel Spark
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – Winifred Watson and Twycross Martin-Henrietta
  • Novel on Yellow Paper – Stevie Smith

For whatever it’s worth… While we haven’t yet read anything by Watson and Martin-Henrietta, we think highly of Muriel Spark and Stevie Smith.

 

Photo and YouTube Video Credits:
Jules’ Buffet Setup: Liz Muir
Leroy Anderson’s¬†“The Typewriter”: Martin Breinschmid
“Typing Pool”: Wikimedia Commons, Deutsches Bundesarchiv
Civilian Conservation Corps Typing Class with W.P.A Instructor: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library & Museum
Italian Operatic Soprano Amelita Galli-Curci Typing in Fur Coat circa 1920: Library of Congress  


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“Generous cuts of succulent corned beef”

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

1873: Liebig Meat Co. produced tinned corned beef

Why ‘corned’ beef? For thousands of years people have cured and preserved beef ¬†by covering it with salt the size of kernels of corn, and the name corned beef refers back to a time when the word ‘corn; was applied to anything granular.

The Irish traded for salt as far back as the Middle Ages, writes Mark Kurlanksy¬†in Salt–A World History, and their salted beef was the “meticulously boned and salted forerunner of what today is known as Irish corned beef.” Prized by Europeans because it did not spoil, corned beef from Ireland was also adopted as a food provision by the British navy, which meant it traveled far!

In Ireland,¬†corned beef¬†was a dish originally associated with Easter Sunday–at least for those sufficiently affluent to procure any sort of beef at all. ¬†Killed before winter, the beef would have been salted and then savored after the Lenten fast.¬†Author-Chef¬†Darina Allen, founder of the¬†Ballymaloe Cookery School¬†in¬†Shanagarry, County Cork, and proponent of¬†The Slow Food Movement, notes that¬†corned beef has long been associated with Cork City, which was “the provisioning port for boats before they crossed the Atlantic.” From the late 17th-century to early in the 19th, beef corning was Cork City’s primary industry.

Corned beef helps free King from Demon of Gluttony!

Corned beef in Ireland also has literary-mythical roots. Aislinge Meic Con Glinne (The Vision of MacConglinne) is a late 11th-century parody in which the hero, Anier MacConglinne, wins the patronage of Cathal, King of Munster, by reciting a fabulous food-laden vision that frees the king from a demon of gluttony that has been residing (tapeworm-like!) in his throat. At least for the carnivores among us, corned beef spit-roasted on an open fire is described in mouth-watering detail:

Gluttony as depicted by Hieronymus Bosch

“And he called for juicy old bacon and tender corned-beef and full-fleshed wether, and honey in the comb and English salt on a beautiful polished dish of white silver, along with four perfectly straight white hazel spits to support the joints. The viands which he enumerated were procured for him, and he fixed unspeakable, huge pieces on the spits. Then, putting a linen apron about him below and placing a flat linen cap on the crown of his head, he lighted a…fire of ash-wood, without smoke, without fume, without sparks. He stuck a spit into each of the portions, and as quick was he about the spits and fire as a hind about her first fawn, or as a roe, or a swallow, or a bare spring wind in the flank of March. He rubbed the honey and the salt into one piece after another. And big as the pieces were that were before the fire, there dropped not to the ground out of these four pieces as much as would quench a spark of a candle; but what there was of relish in them went into their very centre.” [Excerpted from an In Parentheses¬†publication¬†translated by Kuno Meyer, ¬©¬†2001]

New York feast vs. Boston feast–Yet another rivalry?

Food maven and former¬†New York Daily News¬†restaurant critic¬†Arthur Schwartz¬†writes in his “opinionated history” of a cookbook,¬†New York City Food,¬†that Irish immigrants in the U.S. were not sufficiently well off to to treat themselves to what he identifies as the precursor to corned beef and cabbage–Irish bacon and greens–until the late 1800s.

“How bacon and greens evolved into Corned Beef and Cabbage is anybody’s guess,” Schwartz writes. “Some surmise that the Irish adopted the meat of their German, Jewish, or even German-Jewish neighbors, or WASP employers and turned it into a dish to help celebrate their Saint Patrick’s Day, an essentially New York City-Irish Holiday that is now part of all Irish-American culture.”

Saint Patrick’s Day essentially a¬†New York City¬†holiday? We’d like to hear you shout that out to commuters riding the Green-Line ‘T’ on March 17, Mr. Schwartz! We’d also like to remind you that¬†another common name for corned beef and cabbage is¬†“New England¬†Boiled Dinner”–with no mention of New York!

 

""Charlie" and "Charlene" of the M(B)TA kindly allowed us to snap this Green Line photo


Saint Patrick’s Day at Jules

Finding ourselves riding the Green Line on Saint Patrick’s Day this year, we were lucky enough to catch a leprechaun counting gold coins under our seat. “Okay, okay,” he grumbled, when we demanded that he magically grant us three wishes in exchange for his release. “What d’you want?”

Because were feeling a little peckish, “Corned Beef and Cabbage from Jules” was our knee-jerk reply. “And if you could throw in a frosted Shamrock Cookie, that would be great!” Alas, we forgot to wish for speedy delivery (which Jules readily supplies), so the leprechaun told us that we’d have to stop by Jules’ kitchen to make our wishes come true. And so we did, arriving–as if by magic–in the nick of time.

First, we checked in with Jules’ Executive Chef Albert Rosado, who has impressive corned-beef credentials. While cooking for Harry and Leona (a.k.a.¬†“The Queen of Mean”) Helmsley at the Helmsley Hotels in the 1980s, Albert would moonlight at¬†McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon¬†at¬†42nd Street and Second Avenue, not far from Times Square.

Executive Chef Albert Rosado

“This was the gathering place for the Grand Marshal and other bigwigs involved in¬†New York City’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade,” Albert reminisced. “Some three- or four-thousand¬†people came in and out of McFadden’s around about St. Patrick’s Day, and over the course of ¬†three days we prepared something like five- to six-hundred pounds of corned beef, as well as many pounds of Irish stew.”

What about green beer? we wondered.

“We didn’t dye the beer ourselves,” Albert laughed, “but McFadden’s¬†did serve¬†green beer for St. Patrick’s Day. Purveyors supplied McFaddon’s with that.”

Longtime Jules Line Cook Jeff Ginyard¬†also¬†knows his corned beef. Because Jules brines its own beef brisket, Saint Patrick’s Day preparations must begin a full day in advance, he explained, adding that two muscles comprise a beef brisket. “We use the leaner ‘first cut’ for corned beef sandwiches. The fattier and more succulent ‘second cut’ is used for boiled dinners.”

We asked why the corned beef was cooking in its own pot, apart from the vegetables. “So the vegetables don’t get mushy we prepare them separately,” Jeff explained. “But we want them to pick up the corned-beef flavor, so we¬†remove some water from the pot where the brisket is cooking, and we boil the cabbage–and the other vegetables–in that. The corned beef stock, by the way, is flavored with mustard seed–and the brine is seasoned with peppercorns, bay leaves, and allspice.”

Corned beef + cabbage + shamrock cookie from Jules…

The leprechaun granted our wishes…our three dreams came true!

Jeff Ginyard with corned beef...

...red bliss potatoes, carrots, and turnips


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This fresh cabbage ready for cooking is naturally green

Photo Credits:
Creative Commons: Liebig Tinned Corned Beef, detail from Bosch’s ‘Allegory of Gluttony and Lust’
EarthShare: Green Beer
Liz Muir: All other photos

 

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