01.05.2013

After the glistening of holiday décor dims and the trumpets of New Year quiet, here at A Thyme to Cook we are welcoming in 2013 with our projections for upcoming wedding trends.

Like many, Pantone is the first place we check for Color of the Year. Their 2013 winner is emerald, in bold opposition from last year’s Tangerine Tango. That said, everywhere you look, Pinterest and many blogs project mint as the hottest color of the year which carries the vintage vibe nicely.

Brides can expect innovative, fresh, farm to table restaurant quality food. Local ingredients and artisan beverages are more important than ever as brides put the culinary spotlight on their own heritage.

Pork is the meat of the year, with highlighted entrees such as Braised Pork Shoulders, Pork Porterhouse and Pork Short Ribs.  Food Trucks are one of the hottest trends this year – you will see them pop up all over serving burgers, ice cream or cupcake – such as our friends at  Nora Cupcake Company .

Local cheeses have never been more popular. Cheese makers like the Mystic Cheese Company, Beltane Farm and Cato Corner not only bring immense flavor to our local farmer’s markets, but also consistently spice up menus and deliver abundant unique flavor to our events.

The Mystic Cheese Company, Melville

Emerald is not just for bridesmaids dresses.  2013 brings greens of all kinds: kale, beet, chard, and mustard into the spotlight. Go greens!

Homemade desserts will be heating up the kitchen this wedding season. Pies, cupcakes and other rustic home baked goodness will be on dessert tables everywhere.

Martinis and Manhattans take a back seat to Champagne and Tequila Bars while traditional sodas are overshadowed by colorful hand crafted Italian sodas and fresh juices.

Vintage and Fresh is Hot!!  One of our new 2013 signature cocktails is the Shrub, a fruit-vinegar-inspired refresher – an antique drinking form re-born with contemporary ingredients. We are excited to collaborate with RIPE from Wallingford on a custom beverage menu using their 100% natural hand crafted fruit juices and mixers.

Overall, 2013 is all about quality and luxury juxtaposed with earthy and homespun details. Brides and grooms are making it personal and local without compromising magnificence!

 

12.21.2012

We are proud to be the first Certified “Green” caterer in Connecticut. So, this year in lieu of giving holiday gifts, we are making monthly food donations to St. Vincent De Paul Place of Norwich. St Vincent De Paul serves breakfast and lunch six days a week and has a food pantry which distributes food three days a week. In addition they offer showers and laundry facilities and have a small staff of 2 full-time and 5 part-time employees which is supported by a group of over 100 active volunteers.

St Vincent De Paul’s food pantry provides food to over 320 families and 900 individuals every month. Everyone is allowed to come once a week. 50% come only once a month for an average of 1,900 total served monthly. Of this nineteen hundred approximately 780 are children.

Here’s our plan of giving throughout 2013:

January, 200 lbs of white rice

February, 110lbs of macaroni

March, 126 lbs of baked beans

April, 120 lbs of veggie medley

May, 8.5 gallons of soup

June, 50 lbs of peanut butter

July, 156 lbs canned tomatoes

August, 37lbs of canned tuna

September, 34 containers of orange juice

October, 94 lbs of instant oatmeal

November, 126 lbs mashed poatoes

December, 150 lbs granulated sugar

Thinking about donating this holiday season or year around? Consider starting by donating items they are in critical nees of such as tuna fish, pasta, pasta sauce, peanut butter, paper plates, oat meal, butter, napkins, toilet paper, paper towels and garbage bags. Or visit the website for more information.

 

12.14.2012

Looking for some dazzling holiday cookie recipes? Our staff, a cookie loving bunch, has offered up some personal favorites, headlining at our annual A Thyme to Cookie Swap this weekend. Happy cookie…ahem…cooking!

Cream Wafer Cookies

Wafer Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 cup butter

1/3 cup heavy cream or whipping cream

Frosting:

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup soft butter

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla

food coloring optional

Preparation Instructions

Combine ingredients, chill for 1 hour. Roll out on lightly sugared surface. Yes, that’s right, sprinkle your counter with granulated sugar just as you would with flour normally. Roll about 1/8” thick. Cut out 1/2” rounds and place on ungreased baking sheet. Prick all the way through with a fork – I like to use one with tines that are close together and do 3 rows. Bake at 375º for 5-9 minutes. Remove and allow to cool a few minutes on the tray, then remove to a cooling rack until completely cooled.

Combine your frosting ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Tint pink or blue if you want. Put frosting into a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe a little dab of frosting on half of the cookies, top with the other half.

Chai Spice Snicker Doodle

Cookie Ingredients

1/2 cup canola oil

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

3 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Topping:

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch cloves

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix the topping ingredients together on a dinner plate. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, use a fork to vigorously mix together oil, sugar, syrup, and milk. Mix for at least a minute, until it resembles applesauce. Then mix in vanilla.

Sift in remaining ingredients, stirring as you add them. Once all ingredients are added mix until you’ve got a pliable dough. Get in there with your hands to mix, it’s the easiest way to get the dough to come together.

With clean, moist hands, roll dough into walnut sized balls. Pat into the sugar topping to flatten into roughly 2 inch discs. Transfer to baking sheet, sugar side up, at least 2 inches apart (they do spread a little). This should be easy as the bottom of the cookies should just stick to your fingers so you can just flip them over onto the baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, they should be a bit browned on the bottoms. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

12.07.2012

New England holidays are the best! You know that fresh veil of glistening snow (fingers crossed), a decorated town tree in a quaint in rustic town green with the backdrop of a mossy stream and footbridge?  That’s our town…North Stonington.

Every year, our local community gathers around the town tree for the lighting to sing carols and catch up with neighbors we’ve missed over the year. North Stonington has a community of dedicated people eager to weave creative ideas throughout this unique and magical evening.

This year, A Thyme to Cook’s Events Manager, Gina Barber and Event Coordinator, Juli Mancini joined North Stonington resident and Life Coach Andrea Willets to make the tree glisten with some creative, budget friendly DIY decor. Last year’s tree, festooned in white lights and 600 frosty Tyvek hand cut snowflakes, was a bright white confection. This year’s theme keeps it natural, colorful and earth friendly with a dash of sparkle.

A few highlights include: garlands of burgundy painted grapevines, glittered burlap stars filled with recycled bags, slivers of maple log rounds with glittered centers and sprays of bittersweet with crimson berries.

The festivities begin at Wheeler Library from 4 to 6 with the Tanglewood Marionettes show followed by the Carol Sing at 6:15 in the town green. Bring a flashlight and we’ve been told to keep an eye out for Santa, word on the street is he’s arriving by fire brigade!

 

11.30.2012

Our pastry chef Angela Clark, savors making an intricate and delectable gingerbread house every year. Although in years past she’s created her amazing confections independently, this year she’s channeling her creative talents through A Thyme to Cook for a worthy cause.

Annually, Hartford area Habitat for Humanity throws a festive fundraiser: Gingerbread Show and Competition. This year’s event, held at Blue Back Square December 6-9th in West Hartford, plans to use the proceeds from the competition for Women Build, a week in May when 10 women join forces to build a home for a family in need.

Habitat calls out to all gingerbread lovers for the most inspired creations which are on public display starting December 9th. The winners are then auctioned off at the Gingerbread Show Party Sunday, December 9th 3 to 6.

Angela’s edible version of our cookery complete with copper cupola and evergreen landscaping on a rolling winter scene is kicking off our holiday season in the sweetest way possible. We are heart warmed watching a gingerbread house transform into a family dream.

Interested in unleashing your own seasonal creations? Here’s Angela’s secret gingerbread recipe, delicate sweetness, minimal rise, perfect for making your own custom gingerbread house:

1/3 cup molasses

1 stick of butter

3/4 cups sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 ¼ cups flour

2 teaspoons salt

1/2  teaspoons vanilla

1/2  teaspoons ginger

1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoons nutmeg

1/4 teaspoons cloves

DIrections:

Sift together dry ingredients and set aside. Cream sugar and butter then add molasses, egg and vanilla. Stir dry ingredients into butter mixture until just combined. Chill for 4 hours. Roll into desired shapes and bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Look for gingerbread house templates online to download or design your own!

06.15.2012

Our next staff interview is with ATTC’s Senior Event Coordinator, Gina!

In addition to having her own clients, Gina is the point person for the other event coordinators (and everyone else in the office!) for questions on logistics of any event. Find out more below:

Name:  Gina Barber

How long have you been working with ATTC?   Since 1999.  This is my 14th season.

In one sentence, what do you do all day at your job?  Organize Organize Organize. 

Most memorable experience since working at ATTC?  In 14 years, there have been many, but one that tops the list is winning our first CATIE Award for Most Innovative Food Trend in 2006.  Accepting the award on stage with Linda was one of my career highlights.   

Food you can’t live without?  Cheese – any kind, anytime, anywhere.

What is your drink of choice?  Outside of coffee, when I do indulge, it is a Reisling Wine Spritzer or Sangria.  Refreshing Summer Drink!

Favorite Restaurant?  Via Della Pace in New York City…..I have not been able to get there for a few years, but I have dreams about their house made mozzarella!

What would you be doing if you weren’t working here?  I would like to be a 911 dispatcher.  Several years ago, I volunteered at a police department in Colorado, part of which was with the dispatch unit.  I was impressed with their ability to stay calm in any circumstance and have taken a lot from that experience and applied it to what I do today! 

What do you like best about working at ATTC?   I enjoy being able to help our clients create a memorable event……taking what they have envisioned and making it happen.  My favorite moment of any wedding is seeing the bride in her dress for the first time!

06.01.2012

One of our favorite spring vegetables- asparagus is wonderful steamed, grilled or roasted- just don’t overcook them! EcoCentric blog posted an interesting article on the veggie. It has a very long history; ancient Egyptians ate them more than 20,000 years ago! Whether they knew the health benefits or just liked the taste- they were getting folate, Vitamin C, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. Below are tips when purchasing your asparagus:

  1. The thinnest stalks possible – these are the most tender. Steer clear of the limp and the wilted.
  2. Closed tips – no offshoots.
  3. A fresh scent – give it a sniff and if it smells musty, give it a pass.
  4. If it’s bunched, try to find a bunch that is uniform in width, so that the spears will cook uniformly.

Our chefs are prepping lots of fresh asparagus to be enjoyed at our events this weekend!

05.23.2012

 

This month, we became the FIRST caterer in Connecticut to be Certified Green by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA)!

Before awarding the distinction, the GRA performed a comprehensive Environmental Assessment of seven categories; water efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, sustainable furnishings and building materials, sustainable food, energy, disposables, chemical and pollution reduction. They examined everything- light bulbs and recycled copy paper in our office, equipment and cleaners in the kitchen, linens and staff uniforms, the local flowers and herbs in the garden.

The green certification enhances our philosophy of using local, sustainable products and commitment to respecting the environment. The GRA helped us go above and beyond the minimum requirements to be classified as environmentally sustainable. We will continue to uphold these standards and seek new ways to save energy and lessen waste. Click here to view more detail on A Thyme to Cook’s green certification!

04.30.2012

1. Pantone’s hot color trend for 2012 = Tangerine Tango

2. Candy bar is out – popcorn bar is in!

3. Pairing is no longer just for wine and cheese, pairing beer or prosecco with food is unexpected. Non-alcoholic drinks like soda can also be used to compliment an hors d’oeuvres.

4. What’s ALWAYS in style? Champagne at the door.

5. Staff with (fake) tattoos of the food they are serving painted on their arms; or the menu is printed on the service staff’s t-shirts. The front of the shirt might say “Seared Seabass” and the back describes the dish in more detail or explains how it was created.

6. Using stick blenders to make muddled drinks live at stations- interactive and fresh!

7. Place mini drinks that pair with a menu at the end of buffet lines as a surprise. The guests reach the end of the line and receive a mini cocktail as an added WOW! For example- mini black and tans paired with a station serving an upscale shepards pie.

8. His and Hers cocktail stations during hors d’oeuvres. He likes whiskey and she drinks vodka- why not serve a signature drink each inspired by the bride and groom’s favorites?!

9. Greet guests with flavored lemonades before your event. Basil, blueberry, mint, kiwi, lavender- the possibilities are endless…

10. Stations featuring one ingredient prepared different ways (salmon, corn, tomato). This is a great way to use an abundant ingredient that is at its peak without seeming redundant. Call it a “trio”or “taste of” station.

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