Chives Innovative Catering is an off-premise catering business serving St. Pete, Tampa, & the surrounding gulf coast of Florida. We provide gourmet food for casual to elaborate weddings, rehearsal dinners, corporate events, mitzvahs, hors d'oeuvre parties, bridal/baby showers or any other social event. We pride ourselves on our expertise in creative menus, delectable cuisine, stylish presentation & gracious service. A Chives event will meet & surpass all your expectations.

Friday, November 18, 2016

What kind of a Turkey are you .... buying?

Perhaps some of you have not bought your turkey yet and if you’re still undecided on what type to get, below are some helpful hints:

Free-range: This is a legal definition that requires that the birds be raised having access to the outdoors. There's a bit of wiggle room. They don't necessarily need to have access to pasture or grass, just the outdoors, which can mean dirt or gravel.
Fresh: Legally, it means that a turkey has not been chilled below 26 degrees. Practically speaking, though, a 26-degree turkey is still about as soft as a bowling ball.
Frozen: This means that the turkey has been chilled to 0 degrees. It should be noted that this doesn't necessarily mean an inferior bird. Properly frozen, stored and defrosted, it can be excellent. Keep in mind that a 12- to 14-pound turkey will take three to four days to thaw. Thaw the bird in its wrapping in the refrigerator, placing it on a tray or pan to contain any liquid that may drip from the bird. To thaw more quickly, submerge the bird in cold water and soak 6 to 8 hours, changing the water every 30 minutes.
Hard- or deep-chilled: An intermediate step that means the turkey has been chilled to between 0 and 26 degrees.
Hen: This is a female bird and they usually come in at less than 16 pounds.
Heritage: This is probably the hottest category among food lovers, but it is not legally regulated. Basically, it means anything but the standard turkey breed, which is the Broad-Breasted White. Heritage birds tend to be leaner, with less meat, which means they won't feed as many people and will dry out if not cooked carefully. They also have a gamier flavor, which is appreciated by some but not everyone.
Kosher: Turkeys that have been slaughtered and cleaned in accordance with kosher law. Note that while they have been briefly salted to draw out any remaining blood, this is not the same as brining. There is lots of confusion about this, but koshering requires salting for only one hour before rinsing, which is not at all the same as brining for several days.
Natural: Basically no added ingredients and only minimal processing — no injecting flavors or brining.
Organic: Turkeys that have been raised without hormones and steroids and have been processed without preservatives. In addition, they have been fed only organic feed and have ready access to the outdoors.
Pastured: This is a nonregulated definition that is kind of like free-range-plus, as the birds have had access to grass.
Self-basting: These are the familiar supermarket turkeys that have been injected with flavor solution or brine to keep them from drying out.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Are you using? Well you should be …

Using Kosher salt that is!  Kosher salt has been the “gourmet” choice for generations bringing out the true flavor of fresh food.  I more often use Morton Kosher salt, a coarse salt renowned for its exceptional texture, bendability, stickability and pure flavor.  Generally, savvy cooks prefer kosher salt when cooking, since its coarse texture is easier to take a pinch of when seasoning savory dishes.  Be careful on the amount that you use; it’s not like table salt. Start using today and give me your thoughts.  – KJ    

“Where would we be without salt?” – James Beard

Friday, January 18, 2013


Vegetable & Barley Soup
Soup is always a favorite of mine especially this time of year and yes, my New England friends, even here in Florida it gets a little chilly for my liking.  Dinner at my house can be a challenge.  My wife recently lost a lot of weight and wants to keep it off (the potatoes she’ll remove) and my daughter well, she’s 8, and I always like to feed her something other than her usual choice of chicken fingers.  This is a great fast meal for everyone to enjoy!  KJ

Serves 6 to 8
  • 1/8 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 8 sprigs fresh parsley plus 3 tablespoons chopped
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds leeks, white and light green parts sliced 1/2 inch thick and washed thoroughly
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine (preferably a sauvignon blanc)
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 turnip, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped green cabbage
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Grind porcini with spice grinder until they resemble fine meal, 10 to 30 seconds. Measure out 2 teaspoons porcini powder; reserve remainder for other use. Using kitchen twine, tie together parsley sprigs, thyme, and bay leaf.
2. Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Add leeks, carrots, celery, wine, soy sauce, and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and celery is softened, about 10 minutes.
3. Add water, broth, barley, porcini powder, herb bundle, and garlic; increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes.
4. Add potatoes, turnip, and cabbage; return to simmer and cook until barley, potatoes, turnip, and cabbage are tender, 18 to 20 minutes.
5. Remove pot from heat and remove herb bundle. Stir in peas, lemon juice, and chopped parsley; season with salt and pepper to taste.

The soup can also be garnished with crisp bacon, crumbled cheddar cheese, or croutons.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Not just for chips!


Makes: 6 to 8 servings

Time: 10 minutes
At its core a combination of mashed avocado with a couple of crunchy, strong-tasting ingredients and some acidity, guacamole takes well to all sorts of variations and is justifiably popular today as a sandwich ingredient.  I serve a dab of it with so many different foods especially on fish.  It's obviously a natural in tacos and burritos. Add 1/2 cup peeled, seeded, and diced tomato if you like.
2 large or 3 medium avocados
1/4 cup minced onion or shallot
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, or to taste
1 serrano or jalapeño chile (optional), seeded and minced or cayenne, to taste
1 teaspoon chili powder or any mild pure chile powder, or to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, or to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
1. Cut the avocados in half. Peel, then mash the pulp in a bowl with a fork or potato masher, along with the onion, garlic (if you are using it), chile, chili powder, some salt and pepper, and lime juice. Keep mashing until it's as smooth or as chunky as you like. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
2. Garnish and serve; or, cover with plastic wrap, pressing down on the dip so there is no air trapped between the guacamole and the wrap, and refrigerate for up to 4 hours before garnishing and serving.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pizza-Sweet Potato, Balsamic Onion & Soppressata

One of my family's favorites ...

·       1 tablespoon unsalted butter
·       1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
·       1 large white onion, thinly sliced
·       1 oregano sprig, plus 1 tablespoon leaves
·       1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
·       Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
·       1 cup prepared mashed sweet potatoes
·       1 12-inch prebaked pizza crust or make your own
·       1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella (7 ounces)
·       4 ounces thinly sliced soppressata cut into ribbons

·       Preheat the oven to 450°. Use a pizza stone or the pizza can be baked directly on the oven rack. In a large skillet, melt the butter in the olive oil.  Add the onion and oregano sprig, cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add 2 tablespoons of water to the skillet and cook over moderate heat until the onion is carmelized, about 10 minutes; add a few tablespoons of water to the skillet if necessary. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until it has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Discard the oregano sprig and season the onion with salt and pepper.
·       Spread the sweet potatoes over the pizza crust. Top with the mozzarella, onion and soppressata.  Scatter the oregano leaves on top. Slide the pizza into the ove and bake for about 10 minutes, until bubbling and golden in spots. Cut into wedges and serve.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Easy to make for your Super Bowl Party!!! Chile-Bean Quesadillas

Chile-Bean Quesadillas

Makes: 6 main-dish or 12 appetizer or side-dish servings
Time: 15 minutes

To me, quesadillas are more like grilled cheese sandwiches than tacos or burritos. The secret is to resist overstuffing them. Too much cheese, for example, and they ooze all over the place; too many extra ingredients, and the cheese never melds the two tortillas together.

2 tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, plus more as needed
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 or 4 poblano or other mild fresh chiles, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 cup cooked or well-drained canned pinto beans
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Twelve 6-inch corn tortillas or eight 8-inch flour tortillas
1 cup grated Mexican melting cheese, like cotija or queso blanco, or mild cheddar or Monterey Jack, or a combination
1/4 cup salsa, guacamole, or sour cream or yogurt (optional)

1. Put the oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron, over medium heat. When hot, add the garlic and chiles and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. If the mixture begins to brown, add a little water to the skillet. Stir in the beans and cook them just long enough to warm (it's okay if they get a little mashed). Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro. Transfer to a bowl and wipe out the skillet.

2. Set the skillet over medium-low heat. Add just enough oil to coat the bottom lightly. Build your quesadilla: Put a tortilla on the skillet, spread on an even layer of cheese and the chile-bean mixture, then top with another tortilla. When the cheese begins to melt, after about 2 minutes, use a spatula to flip the quesadilla over. Cook just until the bottom tortilla is warm and lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

3. Cut the quesadillas into wedges and serve immediately with salsa, guacamole, or sour cream. (Or you can keep the quesadillas warm in a 200°F oven for a few minutes if you like before garnishing.)


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Apple Crisp - a wonderful Fall dessert

Makes: 6 to 8 servings
Time: About 1 hour

6 cups peeled, cored, and sliced apples or other fruit
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2/3 cup brown sugar, or to taste
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits, plus some for the pan
1/2 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional)
1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Dash salt

1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Toss the fruit with half the cinnamon, the lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar and spread it in a lightly buttered 8-inch square or 9-inch round baking pan.
2. Combine all the other ingredients—including the remaining cinnamon and brown sugar—in a food processor and pulse a few times, then process a few seconds more, until everything is well incorporated but not uniform. (To mix the ingredients by hand, soften the butter slightly, toss together the dry ingredients, then work in the butter with your fingertips, a pastry blender, or a fork.)
3. Crumble the topping over the apples and bake until the topping is browned and the apples are tender and bubbling, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.