Expand Your Knowledge and Your Palate this National Caviar Day!

by A Fare Extraordinaire

Happy National Caviar Day! Caviar is one of our favorite items to add to your menu to bring an extra touch of elegance to any event. In honor of National Caviar Day, we would love to share some fun facts, recipe tips and secret tricks to our favorite menu item!

When most people think caviar, they think of the traditional caviar display possibly seen at their grandmother’s house on Christmas morning. Caviar on ice, warm blinis, crème fraiche, red onions and hard boiled eggs all presented in silver bowls with small mother-of-pearl spoons. While this always creates a beautifully traditional display, HMNS loves to think outside the box and add our modern take on things for functions, parties and more.

PASSED HORS D’OEUVRES

One way to modernize your caviar experience is to create a fun passed hors d’oeuvres option with your caviar bite. Passed hors d’oeuvres are a great way to get your crowd mingling. We have two takes on our caviar passed hors d’oeuvre:

Caviar Blini

Corn and Caviar Blini: Warm blini topped with caviar and crème fraiche. Garnished with chives.

Ingredients:

1 cup of All-Purpose flour                                           

1 cup of cornmeal

2 teaspoons of salt

1 tablespoon of sugar

2 eggs

1 cup of yogurt

2 cups of creamed corn, pureed

1 cup of butter, melted

Procedure:

Combine all of the ingredients, except for the butter, and blend in the Vitamix.

Emulsify the blend in the butter.

Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

Cook small cakes on a griddle or cast iron pan.

Top cooked blini with lemon crème fraiche, caviar and minced chives.


Caviar Chip

“Fare-ly Sweet” Chips and Caviar: A Fare Extraordinaire brand sweet potato chips topped with lemon crème fraiche and caviar. Garnished with chives.

Ingredients:

A Fare Extraordinaire Signature sweet potato chips

Lemon crème fraiche

Minced chives

Caviar of choice

Procedure:

Assemble as desired. Use photo as serving suggestion.


SWEET TREATS

Chocolate Caviar Tart

Who says caviar is limited to savory bites? Another unique and creative way to incorporate caviar into your menu is through your dessert! Caviar has been trending in the pastry world, and we would love to share one of our new favorite desserts with you. Our Chocolate Caviar Tart will make your mouth water! Our pastry department has been working to perfect the art of chocolate caviar for this fun-filled tart.


CAVIAR FACTS

As simple and small as caviar may seem, there are many origins and differentiations. The more you learn about caviar, the more interesting and enjoyable it becomes to eat. Caviar, in the most basic explanation, is a salt-cured fish egg originating from a sturgeon fish. 

sturgeon

There are four types of caviar: Beluga, Starlet, Ossetra and Sevruga. The rarest of these four is the Beluga. These sturgeons are located in the Caspian Sea between Europe and Asia. At A Fare Extraordinaire, we prefer to use the roe from Ossetra Sturgeon. This caviar is the most prized and expensive next to the Beluga. The Ossetra Sturgeon range from 50 to 400 pounds and live up to 50 years in age. The Ossetra caviar ranges in color from deep brown to golden. The lighter colors are more sought after because they are the richest in flavor.

We hope that these recipe tricks, sweet treats and fun facts have helped broaden your caviar knowledge and helped you in celebrating National Caviar Day!

Editor’s Note: A Fare Extraordinaire is a luxury full-service event and catering company servicing the greater Houston area, and a partner of the Houston Museum of Natural Science Special Events team.

Summer Grilling Museum Style

Summer Grilling party 101 as done by the professionals! Take your summer grilling to the next level, learn what dishes are our exclusive Museum caterer’s favorites, and how they do it!

Skinny Pinchada
Recipe by City Kitchen
“Perfect amount of nuttiness to balance out the sweet!”

pinchada-pin

 

Grilled Watermelon Salad
Café Natalie
“This is our favorite summer dish as grilling the watermelon caramelizes the sugar providing a sweet, yet refreshing snack for any Summer BBQ.”

watermelon-salad

Grilled Caesar Salad
Abuso
“It’s the new summer trend we are really excited about”

grilled ceasar salad
Dressing (Or use your favorite brand Caesar Dressing)

  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (found near the tuna fish in the supermarket)
  •  2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I like the brand Maille)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, anchovy paste, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce.
  2. Add the mayonnaise, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and pepper and whisk until well combined.
  3. Taste and adjust to your preferred flavor. The dressing will keep well in the fridge for a little under a week.

Salad

  • One large head of Romaine, sliced in half
  • 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  •  A liberal pinch of salt and pepper
  •  ½ Cup Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
    Croutons
  • 1 or 2 pieces of your favorite baguette or white sandwich bread
  • Lightly oil, s&p, grill to desired doneness.
  1. Preheat your grill to high heat. The hotter the grill, the better the lettuce will caramelize.
  2. Rub each side of the Romaine with the EVOO and sprinkle with Salt and Pepper
  3. Once your grill is ready, carefully place your romaine on it.
  4. Flip after 45 seconds to a minute. The lettuce should be dark brown with a nice char. Do not burn or wilt.
  5. Chop lettuce and toss with croutons, cheese and dressing.

Croutons

  1. Lightly oil your bread and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Grill bread on both sides to desired doneness
  3. Crumble or cut to desired size

Feel free to customize your salad with some fresh touches, such as diced tomatoes, corn, avocado, or even grilled chicken. Once you’ve grilled your first head of romaine, we guarantee you’ll make this salad again and again!

ribeye

Bone-In Ribeye
A Fare Extraordinaire
“The perfect way to get your family and friends together for a summer soiree”

chef

Executive Chef, Ryan Bouillet

The most important thing to know about grilling your steak is that there are lots of methods to the madness. If you are new to grilling, keep practicing, and eventually you will find your grilling, seasoning and temperature method of preference. Regardless of your experience, a steak grill out is the perfect way to get your family and friends together for a summer soiree.

The Grill: The first step to grilling the perfect ribeye is deciding on your preferred cooking method. We prefer a good old fashioned charcoal grill, but for you new-time grillers it might be easier to start with the gas grill. Both methods will cook your steak perfectly, but there are pros and cons to each method.

 

CHARCOAL GRILL

45 Minute Start Time
More Complicated to Master
Intense Flavoring from Charcoal and Wood Chips Infused into Meat

 

GAS GRILL

20 Minute Start Time
Easier and More User Friendly
Minimal Flavor, For Cooking Purposes Only

 

Seasoning: Set your meat out right as you’re lighting the grill or turning the grill on. If you allow your meat to sit out and come to room temperature, this will help in the cooking your steak faster. Once your grill is ready, season your meat with salt and pepper. We prefer to use Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper on our steaks. Some people also prefer to use olive oil to give their meat extra tenderness and moisture.

Grilling: We prefer diamond grill marks for the perfect grilling effect. Place your steak on the grill at a 45 degree angle for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, rotate your steak to 90 degrees for another 2 minutes. Once you have totaled to 4 minutes on one side, flip your steak over and repeat the 45 degree and 90 degree for another 4 minutes, totaling to 8 full minutes on the grill. There are many ways to tell if your steak is to the correct temperature. The most accurate way is to read the temperature of the meat. Your doneness will increase by 5 degrees.

 

TEMPERATURE DONENESS

125 Degrees: Rare
130 Degrees: Medium Rare
135 Degrees: Medium
140 Degrees: Medium Well

 

Cook Time: Your meat temperature is a personal preference. For most steaks, we prefer a nice medium rare. However, for Ribeyes, we have a personal preference of medium. Bone-In Ribeyes are a much fattier cut of meat. Cooking the ribeye a little longer, to medium, will allow the fat to render and avoids any gristle.

Resting: Once your meat is off the grill, it is very important to let it rest before cutting into it. If you do not allow enough resting time, then most of the juices will run, creating dryness in your steak. We recommend a resting time that equals half the cooking time. If you cook your steak for 8 minutes, then let it rest for 4 minutes.

skewers 1

Grilled Strawberry Shortcake Skewers
Mélange

(Recipe makes 4 skewers)

  • 1/2 pound angel food cake
  • 12 strawberries
  • 1/4 cup strawberry preserves
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp good quality vanilla zest of 1 lemon

These can be made ahead of time and grilled just before dessert.

1. dip
2. strawberries
3. cake
4. grill and serve!

Directions:

  1. Whipped cream dip – Mix together the heavy whipping cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Beat until soft/medium peaks form. Caution – don’t let it go too long or it will turn into butter.
  2. Prepare the strawberries – Remove the hulls. You can do this with a paring knife the traditional way, or you can even use a regular straw. Push the straw up through the bottom of the strawberry.

    Melt some strawberry preserves in a small bowl. Dip the strawberries into the melted strawberry preserves. Use a fork to get them out and “drain” them as you go.

  3. Prepare the angel food cubes – Cut your angel food cake into cubes. You want them to be roughly the same size as the strawberries, and the same size as each other. If some are really large and some small, the smaller ones won’t touch the grill. Size and uniformity does matter in this one.

    Now just put them together. I am using these double skewers. If you are using singles, use two at a time. Hold them slightly apart while threading the food onto them. This will keep the fruit and cake from swiveling around.

  4. Grill and serve – When you are ready to grill them, brush the cake with melted butter on each side. The butter will help to prevent the cake from sticking, and it will also help form that lovely crust. Grill the kabobs on a medium grill or grill pan about 4 minutes per side. You should see some really nice grill marks on the cake. The berries will also get a slight char on them. Serve hot with the lemon scented whipped cream dip.

skewers 2

The Science of Ceviche – A Summer Seafood Favorite

Written by Ashley Zalta, HMNS Special Events Manager

ceviche 1Nothing is more refreshing than the cool delight of eating ceviche on a hot summer’s eve. Here at HMNS, one of our exclusive caterersMélange—are experts on this summertime staple and have a few tips (and recipes!) to share.

Why can we eat ceviche raw?
The fish is actually cooked by whatever acid (lime juice, lemon juice) you use to marinate! In a process called denaturation the structure of the protein unfolds and ceases to function as normal. With food, this is typically achieved through the application of heat, but acids, bases, and salts can also have the effect. Using an acid gives the fish its “cooked” look and feel but moist texture that we desire in food. It is important to cut the pieces in such a way that the acid can thoroughly denature the protein before it is “overcooked”.

How long does it have to sit before we can eat it?
Ideally it should sit between 10-30 minutes depending on your taste. This gives the acid time to start developing the “cooked” look and feel but isn’t so long that the fish begins to get a chalky dry texture.

How long does it stay good for? (ie should a person save left overs)
Ceviche really should be eaten right then and there for the best taste and texture. But I would say if properly cared and stored (on ice the whole time) it should be edible the next day.

What are your (Mélange) ‘must have’ ingredients in a ceviche?
Lime, cilantro, olive oil, thinly sliced red onion, and of course fish! This is ceviche in it’s simplest form, the addition of tomato, jalapeno, green onion, and avocado add a nice vegetable sweetness and balance to the acidic marinade. Corn and green olives(these two ingredients go very well together) are also common additions, of course the star of the show is the fish so be sure that is the focus and that you get a nice cut of fish to use!

If different, what is your one creative specialty touch ingredient?
A good quality Spanish smoked paprika lends a nice aroma and smokiness. Habanero with mango also makes a fine shrimp ceviche, just be sure to de-seed the habanero or you won’t soon forget that experience!

Snapper Ceviche
8 oz Fresh Snapper Filet
2 tbsp Rough Chopped Cilantro Leaves
1 tbsp Small Dice Red Onion (as small as possible)
1/2 cup Lime Juice (plus zest from 1 lime)
1/4 cup Orange Juice (plus zest from 1/2 and orange)
1 each Diced Roma Tomato
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Spanish Smoked Paprika
1 Seeded and Diced Jalapeno
Salt and Pepper to taste
Yucca Chips

Directions:

  • Slice Snapper into 1/8 inch planks. Cut those by 1 inch intervals.
  • Marinate snapper in the lime juice in the fridge for 14 minutes.
  • Drain snapper and toss with the rest of the ingredients, Serve in an ice cold glass bowl.
  • Prepare yucca chips by removing the tough brown outer layer of yucca. Using a mandolin slice yucca into 1/16 of an inch slices.
  • Fry at 350 F until golden brown and crispy, drain on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Serve next to the ceviche for scooping.

ceviche 2

Shrimp Ceviche (with Corn, Olives, and Avocado)
8 oz. Shrimp Peeled and Deveined
1/4 cup Roasted Corn Kernels
1/4 cup Sliced Green Olives
1 tbsp Fine Diced Red Onion
2 tbsp Rough Chopped Cilantro
1/4 cup Diced Avocado
1/8 cup Lime Juice (plus 1 tsp lime zest)
1/8 cup Orange Juice (plus 1 tsp orange zest)
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Jalapeno Fine Diced (only half seeded)
tortilla chips

Directions:

  • Poach shrimp in boiling water for 60 seconds and cool in an ice bath. The shrimp should have cooked almost all the way through.
  • Toss the shrimp with the remaining ingredients and let marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes tossing every 10 minutes or so.
  • Serve in an ice cold glass bowl with your favorite tortilla or yucca chips

 

Leave Unique Meetings to the Experts: HMNS Has Special Events Down to a Science

 

by Ashley Zalta

unconventional6Recent studies have found the current attention span of a human is between eight and nine seconds. That’s the same attention span of a goldfish! To say the least, your typical boardroom meetings aren’t capturing people’s attention anymore, so how do we make more interactive and engaging meetings? Well, the Houston Museum of Natural Science Special Events Department has a few answers for you.

1. Hold a meeting in an unconventional location.

Unconventional locations capture attention from the get-go, as clients’ senses are heightened in unfamiliar spaces. At HMNS, we offer meeting spaces that allow guests to view all of our permanent exhibit halls during their breaks. This gets people up and moving and not in a “meeting-coma” as the day proceeds.

Desmond Dino Tour 22. Seating matters

Nowadays, you have so many more options than typical conference chairs and board tables for meetings. The trends are leaning towards a more fun style of seating. Try using bean bag chairs. This allows guests not only a comfortable place to sit, but also elicits more group conversation.

unconventional2

Also try charging furniture — that is, furniture with outlets. With all guests “plugged in” these days, it’s hard to find enough outlets for everyone without wiring up the room. Well not anymore! Charging furniture now puts live plugs both wall style and usb right into the couches, chairs, and tables where guests are sitting.

unconventional3. DIY food stations

The food served at a meeting can be a great way to get people up and moving and create new conversations during an event. With DIY food stations, people not only create the exact food perfect for their dietary needs, but this type of meal can also be a point of conversation, and for some, even a competition.

Taco station — it’s a festive spin on Tex-Mex that leaves everyone satisfied.

unconventional3

Salad bar — something healthy, something for everyone.

unconventional4

Decorate-your-own gingerbread cookie — perfect for informal competitions!

unconventional5

At HMNS, we’ve got engaging audiences down to a science, so contact us at specialevents@hmns.org to help make your next event truly unique.

Editor’s Note: Ashley is the Assistant Director of Special Events at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.