|BlueSky Business Aviation News|
This is the time of year when I could spend hours sitting outside in awe of the fresh new colors popping up everywhere. First I saw waves of golden pollen covering my white car to a creamy yellow (so glad that's over!), then I started seeing the tulips, pansies, daffodils, crocus and - best of all - a beautiful layer of pink and white dogwood blossoms and clusters of white Bradford pear blossoms floating around my yard.
I must admit I can’t decide whether I like the Fall better or the Spring. Today though, it's Spring hands down - although it looks like it could be Winter, with an inch or so of blossom covering the ground like snow. (That's more than we get here in Atlanta each year!).
Spring brings to mind lamb, salmon, ramps, asparagus and baby greens, so that's where I decided to start the new menu planning. I get inspiration from everywhere, I mix and match something from here, something from there, and update or reinvent things from my Mother's and Grandmother's recipes to fit into the current generation's taste trends.
My mother was Swedish, first generation in the US, so we ate food out of the garden, and off the farm. So much more healthy than I do now. Salmon was one of our favorites and we had a Salmon Wellington for special Sunday meals or when company was coming for dinner. Do you ever crave things from your childhood? Well I did, so I decided I was going to change the old Wellington a bit. I added fresh asparagus mixed with a mousseline custard of pureed scallops to bind the asparagus spear/scallop mixture with jumbo lump crabmeat. I finished it off with crossing ropes of puff pastry and made a lemon béarnaise sauce. They make a great entrée for the aircraft. As they heat the outer crust, they are steaming on the inside to a perfect done-ness of moist flaky salmon. Finish the meal by adding a beautiful side salad.
Healthy? yes, light? yes, flavorful? Ohhhhh yes! Low calorie? well, maybe if you only eat one bundle and skip most of the buttery crust.
The idea of creating small sides to accompany a salad started here. Think about it; everyone wants to eat healthy these days, but many can’t fill up on just a salad, so the salad with a hot side was born. Here are a few other items that you can do this with for a brunch time, a lunch service or a light afternoon snack (just have your catering source create a smaller hot side). Consider flatbread pizza like this mushroom and balsamic flatbread, it could be a mushroom and asparagus tart, wild mushroom quiches, ham shells filled with a mixed vegetable quiche, spinach and egg muffin frittatas - and one of my all-time favorites, crepes covered between layers of fresh garlicky sautéed baby spinach, Gruyere cheese, and tender spring onions and leeks. Just imagine that on a plate with a beautiful green salad.
My love for crepes doesn't stop there. I've been hooked on crepes since my great Aunt on my father’s side taught me her secrets to creating an incredible French crepe and quiche.
Here's a tidbit for you: Next time you want to make a quiche without the filling leaking out the bottom of the pan, My French Aunt Nadau showed me how to sprinkle grated cheese in the bottom of the crust before adding the rest of the egg mixture and baking. Works every time. No leaks.
Here is one of my all-time favorites . . . well second to the Chicken Divan Crepes . . . or maybe the lobster crepes . . . well maybe next to the Florentine crepe cups used as a crust for individual muffin quiches.
Crepes filled with Ricotta, poached chicken and parmesan topped with an asparagus sauce. Don’t you love the idea of an asparagus sauce, made with fresh bias cut asparagus stalks and chicken stock?
(My apologies for jumping around, I really am excited over these ideas).
I am a fan of puff pastry and love what you are able to create with it from desserts to salads to entrees. Below I took a rectangle of puff pastry and placed sautéed mushrooms, asparagus and goat cheese in the center of the pastry, leaving an edge around the outside. Or another version is achieved by spreading goat or other cheese in the center and layering golden or red beets in the middle. Just bake, and in minutes you have an incredible side dish or light lunch. You can create these in any size, any shape. So easy! (Beets aren’t just for Fall and Winter). I love beets, pickled, roasted , boiled, don’t you?
Since I love beets, I created this beet ravioli salad. I guess I have to call it a ravioli since it is made just like a ravioli. I sliced oven roasted beets when they were cooled and peeled, then thinly sliced them. I put a tiny amount of goat cheese (or even Boursin Garlic and Herb Cheese), lightly pressed around the edges to create a round ravioli. For the dish, I placed the ravioli between sectioned oranges and made an orange vinaigrette with the juice that came from the orange as I sectioned them. To top off the salad, I placed a small amount of micro greens in the center and Viola. Just wait to taste this!
To continue the salad theme, I decided the standard Caesar needed a facelift. I sliced a baguette very thin, laid it over a food ring and toasted it so it would hold its curl (I did season this before I laid it over the can). Since shrimp is one of our most popular protein toppings, 1 tossed on 3-10 ct. grilled shrimp leaving the tails on and facing up so they could be picked up to eat. I added half of an almost cooked hardboiled egg, created a dressing with capers, cheese, champagne vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. The nice thing about the croutons made this way is that if they break on their way to you, no one will notice.
One of our old menu salads is called the Duck Napoleon. It too needed a facelift! It was huge and very unstable to stack and hold its shape from the galley to the passenger. The idea all started one day when our driver happened to stop and purchase a Peking Duck to take home for dinner from a Chinese market. He shared a taste with me and I was immediately sold! We had Mexican dishes on our menu. We had Tex-Mex, we had all kinds of salad, but nothing that was made with duck. We had entrees of seared duck breast, appetizers with duck on a sweet potato waffle chip, but no salad.
I couldn’t sleep that night thinking about the taste of that duck. I thought about other duck appetizers using that Peking Duck, I played with stuffing wontons.
Tidbit here; I love wonton shells fried. I threw a few in the fryer to eat - a snack for me - and I scooped up a bit of the duck filling. I instantly decided it was too good to hide inside the shell so I stacked the shredded duck on top of the wonton, added some greens, fresh herbs and some very thin matchstick vegetables. I took the juice off the duck and turned it into the dressing and the salad was born.
This is the modern version: The fried wontons are stacked together instead of between duck filling and greens on top of each layer making it much more stable. The crunch of the wontons will stimulate the taste buds while in flight and the bigger broken pieces can act as a scoop.
Spring has sprung, and I love it! (and the pollen is gone) My work to create and find inspiration now will focus on the rest of the wreath. Summer fruits, berries, desserts (ohhhh Yes!) and new Summer chilled soups and entrees.
Look at what you have been serving your passengers and crews. Does it need a facelift as well? Is it the same old sandwich tray, fruit tray, salads? Change the presentation, change the portion sizes, make a simple change and you will feel as if you reinvented your menu as well.
Let me introduce myself . . .
My name is Paula Kraft and I am founder and President of Tastefully Yours Catering, an aviation specific caterer, located in Atlanta, Georgia for over 35 years.
Currently I am an active member of the NBAA Flight Attendant Committee Advisory Board and the NBAA International Flight Attendant Committee, Women in Corporate Aviation, Women in Aviation International, National Association of Catering Executives, International Flight Catering Association, the International Food Service Association and the International Caterer’s Association.
I have coordinated training programs and clinics for NBAA, EBAA and BA-Meetup conference attendees for over 10 years, created mentoring programs for caterers and flight attendants to broaden their aviation culinary skills, and to assist them in adapting to the unique challenges and constraints found in catering for general aviation. I recognize the need for training and have worked closely with flight departments, flight crews, schedulers and customer service reps at the FBOs to ensure that catering specific training provides information and skills necessary to reduce risk while assisting them in their job duties that include safe food handling, catering security, accurate transmission of food orders, and safe food production, packaging and delivery.
I fell into aviation catering quite by accident. I was the in-house caterer and bakery supplier for Macy’s department stores in Atlanta when catering was ordered for a Macy’s customer which was soon to change my life. After the client enjoyed the catering provided, I was summoned to the client’s corporate office to provide several of the items delivered through Macy’s to the executive dining room. Within a week, I was providing food for the flight department and my first order was for the President of a foreign country (as I was too be told soon after). So, here I am, some 35 years later, still loving every minute of every day in aviation catering.