Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Valentine's Day is Right Around the Corner!

Valentine's Day is sneaking up on us, and it's not too late to order some romantic holiday treats for that special Valentine in your life!

orenji catering is offering a full-line of Valentine's confections and baked goods this year... and most are available for shipping!

Some of the items you will find on the 2008 Valentine's Day Pricing Guide (follow the link to the left) include:

fruit-scented homemade marshmallows with bittersweet chocolate (select orange or raspberry-scented)

hand-crafted Hawaiian sea salt caramels enrobed in milk chocolate

hand-candied black mission figs filled with milk chocolate port wine truffle enrobed in bittersweet chocolate

bittersweet chocolate “fortune cookies” confections with gianduja (hazelnut milk chocolate) truffle filling

white chocolate “fortune cookies” confections with matcha green tea truffle ganache, milk chocolate, & sesame praline “dust”

peppermint shortbread hearts with bittersweet & white chocolates

milk chocolate shortbread hearts with toasted coconut

bittersweet heart-shaped chocolate truffle brownies

heart-shaped brown sugar caramel, toasted coconut, milk chocolate, macadamia nut brownies

... and many more! Place your order today by emailing us at!

an east coast winter housewarming event: savory foods

Last month, in the cold of December, we were invited by a dear friend, colleague, and client to cater a fabulous housewarming event. She and her husband had recently purchased a beautiful historic home in snow-covered New York state. We were all too happy to make the cross-country trip to help make the housewarming event memorable!
Winter foods present a challenge in many parts of the country-- here at orenji catering, we are definitely "spoiled" by the availability of fresh California produce year-round. We re-invented our fresh fruit and cheese "forest" with dried fruits-- apples, pears, plums, apricots, pineapple, and dates made a striking edible centerpiece to the housewarming buffet!

We also had some lovely floral designs created (by our friend's talented mother, no less!), featuring seasonal greens and cranberries. These pieces-- as well as colorful seasonal linens-- helped create a festive winter holiday feel for the event.
The fruit and cheese trees were accompanied by our popular seasoned flatbread crisps!
The "Mediterranean" section of the buffet featured perfectly grilled vegetables-- both colorful and flavorful! Asparagus, zucchini, yellow squash, balsamic-marinated portabella mushrooms, eggplant, red onions, assorted bell peppers, and endive presented a beautiful melange of vegetable choices. Paired with the vegetables was a Tuscan white bean "hummus" with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, fresh cucumber and dill tsiziki, Greek-marinated and grilled chicken skewers, and cumin-scented toasted pita chips.
Freshly baked savory palmiers were a hit of the party! Salty prosciutto, tangy honey mustard, and rich Parmigiano Reggiano cheese were baked into flaky puff pastry dough. These palmiers are always a crowd pleaser!
A winter delicacy, northern Italian white pizza with roasted garlic bechamel, rosemary roasted sweet potatoes, caramelized pears, and fontina cheese. Baked on a freshly prepared whole wheat pizza crust, the mix of savory rosemary and garlic and sweet pear was a perfect combination!
Tender cheese tortellini were skewered with three pestos-- Genovese classic basil pesto, sun-dried tomato pesto, and kalamata olive pesto. Each skewer contained three explosive tastes, as well as a trio of colors!
A classic caprese-- comprised of buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, and freshly sliced Roma tomatoes offered guests a refreshingly light salad. Drizzled with olive oil, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper, the freshness of the ingredients spoke for themselves!
Fiery Mongolian marinated beef tenderloin was grilled to perfection. The marinade, rich in lemongrass, garlic, sake, and ginger, caramelizes over the fire to give the meat a sweet, rich crust, while sealing in the juices. Perfectly tender and delicious, the tenderloin was accompanies by a Thai red curry, lemongrass, and cabernet reduction-- made smooth and creamy by the addition of coconut milk!
Tender shrimp, marinated in apricot and yellow curry, and grilled to perfection were presented on an eye-catching array of spikes! You can be sure that these sweet and spicy bites didn't last long!
Hand-folded pork and vegetable gyoza, with a tart sesame and rice-wine vinegar dipping sauce completed the Asian-inspired portion of the buffet. Here they are pictured with a savory cheesecake-- comprised of English white Stilton cheese, dried apricots, and a Japanese rice cracker crust. Smooth and creamy, the cheesecake carries a savory taste of Stilton mingled with the sweetness of apricots and the saltiness of the crust.
One of our most requested items, apricots stuffed with blue cheese and bacon, is pictured below. We start with tender dried apricots, gently poached in white wine and infused with rosemary. These delicious gems are filled with Gorgonzola cheese and crispy applewood-smoked bacon-- rich, tangy, and delicious!
A brightly colored basket of crudites is always a great buffet item!
Lastly, a large basked of assorted finger sandwiches provided a delicious variety of choices: roast pork with roasted garlic and apricot preserves on onion rolls; black pepper-roasted turkey with Alloutte cheese, oven-roasted tomatoes in spinach flatbreads; apricot-curry chicken salad on croissants; and sweet whipped cream cheese and caramelized red onions on pumpernickel. Definitely something for everyone!
Check back tomorrow for a recap of the sweets-- cookies, confections, bread pudding, tarts-- that we prepared for the housewarming. A sweet beginning definitely deserves a sweet ending!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

2008 Valentine's Day pricing guide now available!

Valentine's Day is right around the corner! It's that time of year where we let those special people in our lives know how much we love them and appreciate them. We think that the perfect way to do that is by giving a hand-crafted creation from orenji catering!

To assist with your holiday gift-giving for those special people in your lives, the orenji catering 2008 Valentine's Day Pricing Guide is now available by following the link at the left.

We look forward to contributing to your romantic holiday this year, making it even a bit sweeter than in years past!

Friday, January 18, 2008

cheese and fruit creations...

Here at orenji catering, there's nothing we like better than fruit and cheese. It is simple, fresh, and most importantly, easy. Fresh fruit and a selection of cheeses are the perfect food for entertaining-- best enjoyed with a balanced glass of wine!
We recently prepared a simple assortment and three fruit creations. The cheeses we highlighted included a cave-aged English cheddar with caramelized onions, a fresh chevre which we infused with dried cranberries and rolled in fresh toasted pecans, white Stilton with dried apricots, Explorateur (a semi-soft mold ripened cheese), and a sharp domestic cheddar.
Our fruit spreads sampled fall and winter fruits, re-imagining and converting them into the perfect accompaniments for our cheese selections.

The first of three fruit spreads began with fresh delicious black mission figs. The mission fig is a particular strain of the fig fruit, locally grown, that was introduced to California by Franciscan missionaries. We cooked them slowly with some balsamic vinegar-- the perfect contrast to their inherent sugar. Once the figs had been softened, we added bittersweet dutch cocoa, pureeing the fruit into a deep and chocolately, but not overly sweet, smooth fruit spread-- perfect with both the hard and soft cheese!
Our next creation utilized quince-- a devilishly hard fruit that is often left on the tree until frost or the beginning stages of natural decay soften it enough to work with. Fresh quince can be used prior to these softening techniques by poaching slightly in boiling water prior to peeling. Astringent and highly perfumed, these white fleshed fruits turn red as they soften. For our quince, we sliced and poached them in a sweet white wine, loaded with winter spices-- cinnamon, star anise-- peppercorns, citrus peel, and fresh rosemary. The result is a soft, perfumed fruit in a deliciously robust syrup!
The last of our three fruit preparations began with large and succulent Medjool dates, grown locally, as is our preference. We slowly simmered the dates with port wine, cane sugar, and spices until a chunky, sweet, and aromatic "chutney"-like preparation remained. Deep in taste, slightly astringent, and deliciously sweet, these dates are perfect with cheese!
Our cheeses and fruits were enjoyed by all, with a mug of freshly mulled wine-- a perfect feast for a chilly winter night!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

the twelve treats of Christmas: day 12

On the twelfth day of Christmas, orenji catering made for me...

Alas, dear readers, we have come to the end of our "countdown" of the twelve treats of Christmas 2008. Of course, it should come as no surprise that our number one treat prepared this holiday season was cookies... Thirty-six varieties of cookies, each hand-crafted and assembled to create a wonderfully diverse sampling of flavors, colors, and textures.

We highlighted approximately thirty varieties last year on comparing apples and orenji-- cookies with the flavors of lavender, espresso, apricot, maple, hazelnut, orange, peanut, coconut, tropical fruits, key lime, anise, fig... the list goes on and on. And we are happy to report that all of those cookies made an appearance in this year's line-up as well. Of course, there were also a few notable additions.

The "new" cookie we received the most response from this year was a brown sugar and sesame cookie-- flat, crisp, and full of flavor, these delightful discs were coated in toasted white sesame seeds, as well as the deeper flavored Japanese black sesame seeds. They were both striking in appearance and delicious!

Another addition to our cookie selection this year was a butter cookie flavored with eggnog, freshly ground nutmeg, and rum. These eggnog cookies were extruded through the cookie press into fun shapes, sprinkled with yellow and red sanding sugar, and drizzled with fine Belgian white chocolate. Crisp and flavorful, the colors brightened up our trays and boxes of assorted cookies!

Our cappuccino flat cookies got a "make-over" this year, with colorful discs adorning their bittersweet and white chocolate-covered facades.

Our packaging ranged from simple white boxes with red or orange ribbon, to more fanciful gable boxes tied with blue and chocolate-brown satin ribbon, decorated with an antiqued sled and votive candle-- perfect for those long winter nights!

This concludes our coverage of the 2007 holiday season-- and appropriately on the last day of Christmas! We are already planning for the 2008 holidays, and hope that you will be a part of it!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

the twelve treats of Christmas: day 11

On the eleventh day of Christmas, orenji catering made for me...
By now, faithful readers, you know of our love of Belgian chocolate... and one of the best ways to highlight it's deliciously deep and balanced flavors is through hand-crafted truffles.
Here at orenji catering, we prefer to make Swiss truffles-- a smooth combination of fine chocolate, cream, butter, and flavorings. They are the creamiest and densest of the truffle varieties, melting quickly on the tongue and releasing their flavor.

For the holiday season 2007, we prepared four varieties of classic Swiss truffles: bittersweet chocolate with ancho chili rolled in dark cocoa; white chocolate and pumpkin spice covered with graham; milk chocolate and garam masala sprinkled with white chocolate flakes; and bittersweet chocolate and raspberry essence.

Each truffle was a deliciously bite-sized taste of luxury... We look forward to hand-rolling more truffles in 2008, as well as experimenting with flavor combinations. When it comes to truffles, the more the merrier!
Check back tomorrow for our number one treat of Christmas 2007!

Friday, January 04, 2008

the twelve treats of Christmas: day 10

On the tenth day of Christmas, orenji catering made for me...

Something curious happened this winter holiday season... the return of the holiday brunch! Our assorted holiday scones, in three flavors, were one of our most popular sellers. We were delighted, here in our snug and warm orenji kitchen, but somewhat surprised as well. The popularity of the scones secures them a place on day 10 of the twelve treats of Christmas 2007.

This year, we made three delicious varieties of scones-- the popular breakfast and snack treat that originated in Scotland. Dense and moist, leavened with baking powder, these tasty pastries are satisfying, but not overly sweet. The first variety (pictured above) began with delicious Anjou pears, which we caramelized slowly on the stovetop, and then folded them into a scone batter rich with vanilla, cinnamon, and other warm spices. A deliciously sweet maple glaze topped these already delicious scones!

Our second variety of holiday scones (not pictured) were chock full of toasted pistachios, dried cranberries, and bittersweet chocolate chips. Topped with Demerara sugar, these scones packed a flavorful punch!

The third variety of scones we baked up in the orenji kitchens are our most popular breakfast treat-- pumpkin spice scones (pictured below). With a base of oven-roasted sugar pumpkin, accentuated by freshly ground cinnamon and nutmeg, minced fresh ginger, and Tahitian vanilla bean, these scones are the perfect snack for any time.

Alas, faithful readers, we are drawing close to the end of our countdown of the twelve treats of Christmas 2007. But not to fear! That only means we will have more time to recount our 2008 creations... as well as some from the orenji archives. Keep checking back!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

the twelve treats of Christmas: day 9

On the ninth day of Christmas, orenji catering made for me...

We have posted previously about our hand candied and chocolate-dipped fruits... but they were one of the most popular holiday items this year... which means they belong in our "countdown" of the twelve treats of Christmas 2007!

This holiday season, we prepared five kinds of chocolate and fruit confections to be enjoyed. These included hand-candied fresh young ginger slices dipped in bittersweet chocolate, as well as dried Comice pear halves dipped in milk chocolate, toasted coconut, and drizzled with white chocolate.

Additional chocolates included candied Fuji apple slices, dipped in homemade butter and cream caramel, rolled in toasted almonds, and then enrobed in fine milk chocolate.

A favorite of many of our clients are our hand-candied black mission figs, enrobed in Belgian bittersweet chocolate, drizzled with milk chocolate, and sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Lastly (but certainly not leastly), we prepared deliciously moist and plump apricot halves dipped in Belgian white chocolate and sprinkled with hazelnut praline dust.

Taken together, the five fruits create a wonderful and beautiful assortment-- each flavor meant to be enjoyed separately and slowly! Of course, most clients reported that they ate the entire assortment all at once... which we are taking as a compliment!

More treats tomorrow, so check back then!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

the twelve treats of Christmas: day 8

On the eighth day of Christmas, orenji catering made for me...
A few days ago, we posted about the first of our gourmet popcorns prepared during the holiday season-- milk chocolate, toasted coconut, and macadamia nut. This post focuses on the second of our gourmet popcorns: peanut butter and milk chocolate caramel corn.
This is one of our most popular items, with friends and clients requesting it throughout the year. Of course, we're always happy to pop up a batch!
We start with hand-candied caramel corn, which we toss with salted and roasted peanuts. We then coat the mixture in a deliciously sweet peanut-butter glaze, adding holiday decorations as requested.

A gentle drizzle of the finest Belgian milk chocolate completes this decadent snack.. which is nearly impossible to stop eating once you start (at least that's what we are told!)
The twelve treats of Christmas 2008 continues tomorrow... but what tasty treat will tomorrow bring? You will have to check back to find out!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

the twelve treats of Christmas: day 7

On the seventh day of Christmas, orenji catering made for me...
As our faithful readers know, here at orenji catering, we like cookies... but some cookies are more special than others.
Take for example, our duet of biscotti-- the seventh treat of Christmas 2007. The name biscotti comes from the Italian, translated as "twice baked." And both of our pair are true biscotti in that sense-- they are baked as loaves, cooled, sliced, and than baked again to give them their traditional crisp and dry texture-- perfect for dipping in coffee (or mulled wine we are told by one of our clients!) Not too sweet, these are the perfect snack, dessert, or breakfast for the on-the-go foodie.
The first biscotti in our "duet" is a brown-sugar, pine nut, and pistachio biscotti. We have been making these buttery cookies for many years, yet they remain one of our favorites. Loaded with toasted pine nuts and freshly shelled pistachios, flavor bursts from every bite. We accent the deep earthy flavors with the sweetness of fine Belgian white chocolate-- delicious and beautiful!
The second of our biscotti is a double chocolate, dried cherry, and toasted hazelnut biscotti. Crispy and deep in chocolaty flavor, these cookies are sure crowd pleasers. The sweetness of the cherries, and the toasted nuttiness of the hazelnuts make the flavors burst in your mouth. Drizzled with fine milk and bittersweet Belgian chocolate, these cookies both look and taste like a work of art!
This year we offered our biscotti separately (as a "duet"), and also as a component of our thirty-six varieties of holiday cookies. Based upon the feedback we received, we anticipate 2008 being a good year for biscotti!
But let's not rush to 2008 before we've finished the twelve treats of 2007. What could be next? Check back tomorrow to find out!