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February 4, 2014

Valentine’s Day Dinner for Two

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Skip the crowded restaurant this year, and make your own luxurious and intimate dinner for two, from indulgent steamed lobster tails to a twist on risotto, these portioned-for-two dinners are ready in a hurry.  And who could forget the flourless chocolate cake, the perfect dessert for this deliciously romantic dinner.

So get ready for some fun and romantic V-Day inspiration below. You’ll also get advice on how to set the mood from our Creative Director Arpi Torosyan, followed by our next blog post of our Valentine’s Day photo contest  on details on HOW TO WIN A FREE DINNER FOR TWO cooked by award-winning Executive Chef Ashley Santo Domingo!

Now grab a bottle of your favorite wine, a feel good romantic movie, cozy up and enjoy!

My Heart Beets for You Salad

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Jen O’Sullivan Photography

Ingredients

Roasted Beets 2 each, sliced ¼” cut out with heart cookie cutter

** (to roast beets: lather with salt, pepper and oil, then roast off in the oven at 325 until tender, leave whole ( : cool completely, once cool use a paper towel to remove the skin of the beet)

Shaved hearts of palm 2 oz

Grilled artichokes 2 oz

Arugula 2 big handfuls

Your favorite vinaigrette 3 oz

Goat cheese 2 oz

Fresh herbs, chopped 1 oz

Instructions

In a mixing bowl, mix everything but the goat cheese together, evenly distribute salad on a small salad plate or share out of a bow, top with goat cheese and enjoy!

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Jen O’Sullivan Photography

The Perfect Lobster Tail Preparation

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Jen O’Sullivan Photography

Ingredients

2 8-oz Lobster Tails

2 sticks butter; melted, (up to 3)

Instructions

1.Thaw out tails. Do this at refrigerator temperature. Do not Use water. Take out of Freezer at least 36 hours before expected meal.

2.Boil enough water to cover 2 tails, This is for 2 8-10oz. tails When it is at a rolling boil add tails. Leave tails in for exactly 3 minutes. Water need not boil again. Take out as soon as the time is up. Pre-heat oven to 450.

3.Take the tails out of water right away. Let them rest for a few minutes to cool off. Use a pair of good scissors to slit top of shell to ½ inch from end of tail. Not all the way or you will have 2 tails.

4.Pull the meat out of shell but leave the very end attached, that would be the end in the ½ inch you didn’t cut at the shell. Push the shell together and drape meat over top of shell carefully. ½ in and ½ out is best but if shell is not stiff enough just drape over shell best you can. Just push it together the best you can.

5.Score the meat from end to end about ½ inch on the top if this wasn’t accomplished with the shell cut. This will cause the lobster to puff up nicely when cooked.

6. Put the tails on a rack over a pan in your preheated oven. Make sure and put about 1 cup of water in the pan below the rack. Put on middle rack of the oven.

7. Cook for about 12 minutes. Add an extra 5 minutes for the bigger tails.

8. Turn oven to broil. Baste tails with melted butter.…Cook time should be about 10 minutes after the broiler is heated up. Use spoon to baste butter on tails to make them crispy and lovely on the top. The tail will turn opaque white from translucent white. When the tails are done, the meat should feel firm when you press it.

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Jen O’Sullivan Photography

Sweet Corn Risotto

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Jen O’Sullivan Photography

Ingredients

3 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

1/2 cup sweet corn cut off the cob

5 ounces roasted butternut squash, ¼ inch diced

1/2 shallots, diced

1/2 cup Arborio rice

2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons dry white wine

sea salt to taste

freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon finely chopped chives

1 tablespoon butter

 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil.  Keep the stock warm over very low heat.

2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the shallots and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring until opaque, about 3 minutes. Add the white wine and cook, stirring, until completely absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the warm stock and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding the stock and stirring until it is absorbed between additions.  After about half of the stock has been added, stir in the corn and roasted butternut squash, then add the remaining stock. The rice is done when it’s al dente and creamy, about 25 minutes total. Stir in the cheese and butter; season with chives, salt and pepper.  We used a cookie cutter to cut out a shape of a heart!

Flourless Chocolate Cake

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Jen O’Sullivan Photography

Ingredients
1/4 cup unsalted butter,  plus 1 tablespoon, softened

1/8 cup sugar

1/4 pound semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1.5 tablespoons amaretto

2 eggs

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

pinch kosher salt

Raspberry Coulis, recipe follows

Confectioners’ sugar, for decorating

1/4 cup fresh raspberries

1/4 cup toasted almond slivers

Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish

Raspberry Coulis:

1 cups raspberries (about 6 ounces), rinsed

0.375 cup Simple Syrup, recipe follows

3/4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 tablespoon cornstarch

Simple Syrup:

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

 Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Using 1 tablespoon of the softened butter, grease 3 ramekins (hey… we had to make one more for late night!). Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar into each ramekin and shake to coat the bottom and sides of each, evenly. Place the ramekins in a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and set aside. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a simmer.

3. Combine the chocolate, remaining butter and amaretto in a metal bowl set over simmering water or in the top of a double boiler. Melt the chocolate, stirring constantly, until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes; reserve.

4. Meanwhile, combine the eggs, remaining sugar, the vanilla and salt in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until frothy and almost doubled in volume, about 5 minutes. Fold 1/3 of the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula. Repeat this process 2 more times-until all of the egg mixture has been folded into the chocolate.

5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared ramekins and add enough water to the baking dish to come halfway up the sides of each ramekin. Bake until the cakes have risen slightly and the edges are just beginning to set, about 20 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the baking dish and cool slightly. Use a dull knife or butter knife to gently loosen the cakes from the edges of the ramekin. Invert each cake onto a plate and invert the cakes again (so that the tops face upwards) onto a baking sheet or serving tray. Cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

6. Remove the ramekins from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving. Spoon Raspberry Coulis onto individual dessert plates and carefully transfer the cakes to each plate.  Garnish with confectioners’ sugar, fresh raspberries, toasted almonds and fresh mint (if desired).

Raspberry Coulis:

1. Bring the raspberries, syrup, and lemon juice to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan over low heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the berries are very soft, about 10 minutes.

2. Sprinkle the cornstarch over 1 teaspoons cold water and stir to dissolve. Pour into the simmering raspberry mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes.

3. Strain through a fine-mesh wire sieve into a medium bowl; discard the seeds. Cool completely, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (Freeze any leftover coulis in a plastic container for up to 1 month.)

Simple Syrup:

1. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Pour the syrup into a container and refrigerate until completely cold, about 45 minutes. (The syrup can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.)

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Jen O’Sullivan Photography 

 

A Note From our Creative Director Arpi:

I had so much fun decorating this Dinner for Two. Valentine’s Day is the one holiday where you can go as “cheesy” as your heart desires – put hearts on everything!  I wanted to share a few tips to help set a fun and beautiful table for your loved one(s)!

Placemats – step away from the traditional once in a while.  I love using the sheets of paper from Paper Source for anything and everything. They have the most amazing patterns and colors, so you’ll be sure to find something you love! In this case, they made for perfect disposable placemats.  One sheet was perfect for two placemats.

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Flowers – Stop by your local florist, Farmer’s Market, or grocery store and pick up a bunch of cut flowers.  I love sticking to one color and type of flower. I chose beautiful red ranunculus for the table centerpiece.

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Vinyl – At 24 carrots, it’s safe to say we’re obsessed with vinyl-ing.  We have the Silhouette Cameo, but if you’re doing something simple, you can pick up sticker letters from any craft store.  I vinyl-ed “XOXO” on the plates, but also love having each person’s name on their plate.

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Hanging Garland – For special occasions, it’s always fun to hang something special. Our light fixture was perfect for this, so if yours is too, take advantage! It’s worth it!

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Greeting card from Carolyn Suzuki

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December 6, 2013

24 carrots Brings Exciting Culinary Presence to Orange County Through Addition of Top Chef Star

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Irvine-based 24 carrots catering and events adds globally inspired, award-winning culinary extraordinaire Ashley Santo Domingo as Executive Chef.

24 carrots is excited to introduce Ashley Santo Domingo to Orange County’s growing foodie community. Santo Domingo, brings a diverse range of culinary experience to 24 carrots, having previously worked alongside nationally renowned master chefs and competing on season 9 of Bravo’s Top Chef.  Beyond all of her accolades, Chef Ashley is young, vibrant and happy-go-lucky. Her fresh approach, competitive nature, and ability to master unique cultural fusions gives 24 carrots an exciting edge guaranteed to surprise and delight.

Ashley’s diverse experience and quick rise to prominence has marked her as a top young talent. In her native Seattle, she experienced humble beginnings at Ray’s Boathouse Catering, rising from intern to sous chef in only 3 years. Afterwards, she worked for a variety of top restaurants and caterers alongside notable mentors who helped diversify her skills. This includes Michelin Award-winning master chef and restaurateur Terrance Brennan – driving force behind the famed Artisanal Fromagerie Bistro and Wine Bar. Ashley has also worked with Iron Chef contestant and Thomas Keller protégé Rachel Yang at award-winning Korean-French fusion restaurant Joulé.

Together, these valuable experiences have armed Ashley with excitingly fresh abilities and earned her a James Beard Foundation Rising Star Northwest nomination.

“Chef Ashley propels 24 carrots into the next stratum of culinary exploration. Her credentials as a Top Chef contestant and media personality create the perfect pairing with the 24 carrots family,” said 24 carrots co-owner Jon Brown.

The trendsetting catering company is preparing to connect Chef Ashley with the public through exciting culinary demos, appearances and even online classes. “I could not be more excited to join 24 carrots! My goals are to continue to grow 24 carrots’ culinary team, creatively improve our amazing menus, and expand our client relationships. We can do this with private interactive culinary classes, ‘how-to’ blogs… the possibilities are endless!” said Santo Domingo. “Most importantly, I’m here to cook and create. I plan to take 24 carrots to the next level by adding style and flare. The sky’s the limit!” she says. Be sure to follow Ashley’s involvement in the OC culinary community on the 24 carrots blog and at your next event!

24C Thanksgiving (Web)-5Photo credit: Mike Villa Visuals