October 3, 2023
October 2023: Rooting for Our Favorites
October 2023: Rooting for Our Favorites
Good Play

As the Official Caterer at the Under Armour Performance Center, The Classic Catering People is proud to provide culinary support to the Baltimore Ravens, ensuring the players are fueled for peak performance. Our commitment to nutrition encompasses breakfast to dinner, with snacks in between. Director of Food Service, Tenille Moore shared a typical day of what feeding a Raven looks like: Our day begins with a hearty breakfast, a crucial foundation for the players. Morning meals often feature breakfast sandwiches or burritos, giving them a boost of energy to start the day. Before a strenuous practice, we serve performance drinks like pickle shots to help keep them hydrated. When their time on the field is complete, we provide over 100 smoothies customized to meet each player’s individual preference and nutritional needs (that’s over 80 pounds  of fruit!).Menus are diverse, created by the team’s nutritionist, Sarah Snyder. We offer a set selection featuring 3 proteins, 2-3 carbs and 2 vegetables but if they prefer something else, they can grab a meal from our action stations or the grill. We’ve taken the time to learn and understand players’ favorite foods and dietary restrictions, ensuring they not only love but benefit from what they eat. We often incorporate cuisines from around the country and around the world to give the players a taste of home, wherever that might be.

We source our food locally whenever possible, continuing to support local vendors and farms with the added benefit of utilizing the freshest and highest quality ingredients. Comfort foods are still loved by players, but we try and give them a healthy spin. For example, for our sausage gravy, we revamped the recipe with lower-fat biscuits and turkey sausage gravy made with 2% milk. For our always-on-the-go players, our fueling wall is a lifesaver, offering quick access to healthy snacks and drinks to keep them energized between meetings, practices, and training sessions. Keeping a team of elite athletes ready for game time is a multi-faceted job, but we’ve got their backs so they can keep their game faces on. After all, even champions need a snack break!

Roasting by an Open Fire

Fall evokes culinary memories sparked by year-end harvests and the gentle transition to cooler night air and warm apple cider.  On top of my list of delicious recollections are chestnuts, including late afternoons peeling almost too-hot-to-eat chestnuts with my father at our kitchen table. Little did I know that this treat I enjoyed with my family was imported, even though it was an American staple only a few generations before I was born.
Prior to the mid-twentieth century, the American chestnut tree was one of the most common trees in many parts of the states, especially the East Coast. The majestic tree could grow as tall as 100 feet and produce as many as 6,000 nuts.  Its strong rot resistant wood was used for log cabin construction, furniture and railroad ties.  The delicious and bountiful nut was a valuable food source for people, livestock and forest animals. The nuts were incorporated into stews, breads, ground into (gluten free) flour, and even used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes.
Tragically, the American chestnut tree was decimated by a blight that was first identified in 1904 in a New York zoological garden.  By mid-century an estimated 4 billion trees were wiped out. The economic, caloric and environmental loss was tragic.  Miraculously, although the American chestnut is functionally extinct, the underground root system survives and new sprouts continue to shoot up. Most of the intrepid stump sprouts will not grow long enough to flower but occasionally some do survive. In fact, 20 trees were found in Rock Creek Park and 98 trees in Catoctin Mountain Park, including 4 which flowered.  Many people are rooting for its resurgence including the American Chestnut Foundation which is focused on developing a blight-resistant American chestnut tree and restoring it throughout the eastern United States. Michael Twitty, a culinary historian sums up the revival effort: “Bringing back the chestnut,” he says, “gives us back a little piece of the narrative of the sheer wonder of the North American continent”.  We are rooting for its revival.  Pun intended!

Food Finds
Pasolivo Olive Oil

Pasolivo olive oil is a multi-award winning olive oil produced in Paso Robles wine country in central California.  I particularly enjoy the California Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the Tuscan Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

The California blend is grassy and made with all California olives which are picked and then pressed onsite within hours of harvesting them.  The Tuscan blend is a bit bolder and is noted for its peppery finish.  I love having a bottle handy in our kitchen for finishing dishes or just bread dipping.  Even more, I enjoy gifting bottles of olive oil to dinner hosts providing them more long-lasting pleasure than the oft-proffered bottles of wine.
Burlap & Barrel Kashmiri Chili Powder
Burlap & Barrel is a stellar source for single source sustainably grown spices.  Kashmiri Chili Powder is a new favorite addition in our household.  Grown in Pampore Kashmir, the pepper has medium heat and is a staple in Indian cuisine. It is prized for the vibrant red color that it adds to dishes like Tandoori chicken and blends well with other spices.  It works well in any recipe calling for cayenne or paprika. 
Becky Blanca Hominy
Here are the words that sold me, “Mohawk chef, Dave Smoke McCluskey crafts hardwood ash washed hominy from heirloom corn in small batches to create his Becky Blanca hominy.  It’s hard not to instantly think of the best Pazole you’ve ever had when you open the bag.  The aroma is simply incredible. Chef Dave uses the techniques of his ancestors and the instincts of a chef in his unique Nixtamalization process which makes the hominy not only more nutritious, it creates an intense corn flavor with a whisper of smoke. “All of the products form the Corn Mafia are equally appealing including their masa, grits and cornbread, and they intend to expand their offerings to include wild foraged teas and maybe even miso.
From Our Library, Harriet’s Pick: Portico Cooking and Feasting in Rome’s Jewish Kitchen by Leah Koenig 
Portico Cooking and Feasting in Rome’s Jewish Kitchen is the first of Leah Koenig’s seven cookbooks that I have read.  And now, not only do I want to revisit Rome with new eyes, I look forward to exploring her previous books.  Koenig credits Rome with her path as a Jewish cookbook author.  During her Roman honeymoon, the couple was invited to a Sabbath dinner at a kosher caterer’s home.  She deeply connected to the meal with its surprisingly unfamiliar foods (she knew only Ashkenazi Jewish food) and the people, and desired to give something back to this vibrant resilient community by writing this “love letter”.
The book’s title Portico refers to the Via del Portico d’Ottavia the main street of Rome’s centuries old Jewish enclave and an entrance into a unique cuisine which includes three vastly different groups of Jewish communities. The Italkim date back to the second century BCE, the Sephardim escaped from the Iberian peninsula during the Spanish Inquisition and the Libyans arrived in the 1960s.  The resulting cuisine blended traditional food ways with the available seasonal ingredients, and many of the recipes were a product of cucina povera.  Discriminated and poor, the community created recipes based on the small fish like anchovies that they were allowed to purchase and the fifth quarter, the offal or throwaway parts of cows and lambs which would become iconic Roman dishes.  Likewise, Carciofi alla Giudia, Jewish-Style Fried Artichokes which visitors to Rome consider essential on their culinary agendas.
Portico has more than 100 recipes, almost all of them easy for a home cook.  The most intricate might be the above-mentioned fried artichokes.  The Roman pantry includes a few ingredients that may gently stretch the average shopping list like Bottarga (dried fish roe), carne secca (cured meats using beef instead of pork) and metuccia Romana, a Mediterranean herb for which oregano can substitute.  There is a whole chapter devoted to fried foods since many homes did not have ovens and olive oil was abundant. Vignettes on the engaging community members include Hamos Guetta, a Libyan YouTube star, Italia Tagliacozzo the glamourous grandmother of Jewish cooking and Dal 1180 and Oggi, an extraordinary handwritten 1980’s cookbook with cut paper illustrations of kitchen scenes written by Donatella Limentani Pavoncello.  Portico is an inviting guide for the home cook and for those who want to dive deeper into the streets of Rome.From our Kitchen: Shrimp BisqueChef Vitas Pilius

I came up with this recipe about eight years ago when I was preparing a bouillabaisse at a downtown Baltimore restaurant. We only used shrimp shells and the taste was so amazing that I wanted to add cream and a few other tastes to create shrimp bisque. It was one of the courses I created for my tasting at The Classic Catering People and was hands down a fan favorite! 
  2-3 lbs boiled U-10 shrimp, diced into large pieces, save shrimp shells for bisque
1.5 – 2 quarts heavy whipping cream
1 cup white wine
½ can tomato paste
64 oz. vegetable broth
2-3 bay leaves
Fresh thyme sprigs
1 large onion, diced small
2 large shallots, minced
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
Fresh chive
Crème fraiche
Paprika oil (see below for recipe)Sweat onions, garlic, and shallots then add shrimp shells, stirring occasionally until onions become translucent. Add tomato paste and mix together.
Once tomato paste is cooked in, pour in white wine and deglaze.
Cook down the white wine until almost completely reduced. Combine herbs, heavy cream and vegetable stock. Allow liquid to boil and then turn to medium-low heat for about 30 minutes or until liquid has thickened. Season to taste.
Once consistency is right, use a blender to blend in batches.
Strain soup through a chinois (fine strainer) and ladle to push down remaining liquid from the blended shells. Discard shells.
Garnish soup with cut shrimp, crème fraiche, chives and paprika oil.

Paprika Oil:
Heat 1 cup of canola oil to 350 degrees in skillet. While still hot, transfer to a blender, add 4-5 tablespoons of smoked paprika into oil and blend for 4-5 minutes or until color turns red.

  Click here to print the recipe.