Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Spotlight on Lauren & Jordan's B'nai Mitzvah!

A few weeks ago, an intimate group of family and friends gathered at the Port Theater in Corona Del Mar to celebrate the stars of the evening, Lauren & Jordan, at their B'nai Mitzvah bash! Here at Chef Molly Culinary Artistry, we were thrilled to help with the occasion by creating a custom designed menu designed to appeal to our guests of honor.

Our client really wanted this event to be centered on the kids, so we aimed for a fun and young menu that 12-13 year olds would love, but would appeal to adults too. The Port Theater with its hip lounge vibe, vintage accents and state of the art entertainment system made a unique and elegant backdrop for the affair. In keeping with the movie star theme, guests were greeted with a custom designed popcorn bar featuring flavors of kettle corn, caramel and ranch.  Each of the cones, 240 of them to be exact, were made by hand (we also used them for the waffle fries!). 

Passed hors d'oeuvre kept the guests smiling with Crispy Chicken Tenders, 'star' shaped Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, and Rainbow 'star' Fruit Kabobs (with watermelon, pineapple and strawberries). A vegetarian/vegan option is simply a 'must' for today's clientele, so Chef Molly's Moroccan Cous Cous was a welcome addition to the menu!

In an effort to please partygoers of all ages, we created a Kid's Buffet featuring Sirloin Sliders with Tillamook Cheddar Cheese served with a house-made ketchup, Waffle fries with assorted dipping sauces, Mini Corn Dogs, and Margarita Pizzas with fire roasted tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. The Adult Buffet included Sliced Herb-crusted Chicken Breast and Poached Salmon served with sautéed red onion and house-made aioli, Roasted Red Potatoes, Green Bean Almondine and assorted Artisan Rolls. The Signature salad was a perennial crowd pleaser: butter lettuce, candied pecans, pears and goat cheese with a pomegranate vinaigrette. Guests dined on Artisanal cheese including creamy Bries, nutty Goat Cheese, sharp Cheddars, and smoked Gouda accompanied with fresh seasonal fruits (grown by local farmers!) served with hazelnuts, honey, chutneys, jams and imported crackers. 

Guests both young and old found common ground with a "Make Your Own Taco and Tostada" Buffet: Grilled Herbed Chicken, lean Ground Beef, house-made Pico de Gallo, Sour Cream, Spanish Rice, Refried Beans, Flour & Corn Tortillas, Crispy Taco & Tostada shells, Salsa and Guacamole.

The celebration ended with a star-studded dessert buffet: Ice Cream Sandwich & Sundae Bar and gourmet Coffee Station! House-made J & L monogrammed cookies, chocolate chip & flourless cookies, house-made ice cream and all the wonderful toppings you can possibly imagine! The coffee bar had to be top notch. "Really good coffee is super important to me" explained Molly, chef de cuisine. "Nothing worse than a crummy cup of coffee after a good meal!" The Coffee Station included chocolate shavings, flavored syrups and raw sugar. 

Photography:  Kristina Lee Photography

Thursday, May 7, 2015

'Elements' with Chef Molly

Chef Molly has been known to spoil her clients, stopping at no lengths to make sure every detail is perfect. Making each client feel pampered is of the highest importance! But wouldn’t it be great if that experience could last beyond the night of the event?  If you could take it home and re-live the culinary artistry all over again? 

When a group of the top wedding planners and professionals met in Newport for a weekend of pampering, Molly presented them with a unique concept and striking presentation tucked inside a logo-branded wooden box.

“I have been cultivating this idea for a long time.  My thought was to create all the major components of an hors d’oeuvre so that they can be created at a whim or for a special gathering. It needed to be fun, versatile and beautifully packaged” explained Molly, chef de cuisine.  


The vessel itself, a beautifully crafted wooden box branded with Chef Molly’s logo, hinted at the ‘Earth’ element and perfectly piqued curiosity as to its contents. What other classical elements could be inside?


Air Element:

Light & fluffy Traditional Scones, Malbec Red Onion & Fig Conserve, Liquid Gold (our signature balsamic reduction) and Cayenne Brown Sugar.  

With these elements provided, Chef Molly made suggestions as to what additions could be added at service:  Bacon, Speck, Seared Chicken Breast, Manchego Cheese.  

Adding personal creativity at home is part of the vision (and fun!) with these boxes; fine dining elements from a classically trained Chef, but the final dish manifests in the hands of the recipient! Scones, Fig Conserve, Liquid Gold and Cayenne Brown Sugar…it’s hard to go wrong! 

The 2nd course blooms with promising possibilities…

Ocean Element:

Air Dried Pineapple Flower Cups, Malay Sweet & Spicy Sambal, Tea Smoked Sesame Seeds

Suggested additions: Broiled Shrimp, Smoked Tofu, Steamed Black Cod, Lump Meat Crab.


 It takes 24 hours to make these pineapple flowers but the time is worth the results.

Photo credit: Studio EMP 

And of course we  crowned this beautiful box with a logo-cookie on top! We share kitchen space with the talented sugar artist at Plumeria Cake Studio…how could we not?!  

In conclusion, we ask you, dear clients and readers…how do you feel about this ‘Elements’ concept? Do you like the idea of a chef-created hors d'oeuvre that can be finished at home and shared with friends and family? We would love to hear from you! 

Read more about the Flavors of Newport event:


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sweetheart's Breakfast: Scotch Eggs on Brioche with Irish Butter and fresh Strawberry Jam

Happy Valentine's Day from 

Chef Molly Culinary Artistry!

Love is in the air! Isn't it extra sweet when Valentine's Day falls on a weekend? Instead of the same old dinner reservations and candy, what about breakfast in bed or even cooking a meal together? Chef Molly has created this unforgettable breakfast menu guaranteed to let your Sweethearts know that they are loved! 

Scotch Eggs on Brioche with Irish Butter and fresh Strawberry Jam.

Ingredients matter! Chef Molly recommends exploring some of the local artisan butchers for the perfect farm eggs and high quality sausage.   A lovely runny middle with a golden, crispy outside...that is a perfect Scotch Egg! 

Scotch Eggs 

4 eggs
1# fine quality sausage
1 egg beaten well
1/4 cup flour
2 cups panko bread crumbs
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
4 slices brioche bread

1. Soft poach 4 eggs for approximately 4 minutes. Remove form boiling water and immediately submerge into ice water bath. This will stop it from cooking any further. Let eggs rest in the ice water for 5 minutes. Remove and carefully peal away shell then set aside.
2. Remove sausage meat from the casing and divide into 4 equal portions. Form a round ball then flatten.
3. Place one soft boiled egg in the middle of each of the flattened portions of sausage and close up around the egg.
4. Set up three bowls with 1/4 cup flour in the first, another with 1 egg beaten well and the last with 2 cups panko bread crumbs. 
5. Roll each sausage covered egg in flour first then roll in the egg batter and lastly roll in the panko bread crumbs.
6. Heat a heavy bottomed saute pan and add your oil. When oil is hot add your sausage rolled eggs and cook until sausage is cooked through and the bread crumbs are golden brown. Remove in to a paper towel 
just before service.

Fresh Strawberry Jam 

Nothing conveys the message of love quite like homemade Strawberry Jam! This can be made up to a week in advance and is so easy even the kids can help out!   
See those little hands squeezing the lemon?  
That would be my daughter Maya :)

1# fresh Strawberries
2/3 cup raw sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest

1. Wash and hull strawberries. Cut strawberries in 1/4 and toss with sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest.Let sit 10 minutes.
2. Place all ingredients into a heavy bottomed sauce pan and cook on low to medium heat for 15-20 minutes. 
3. Remove from pan and place in a jar to refrigerate for use.

Food is the ultimate expression of love! Get things cooking in the kitchen, then get cozy and enjoy this heartfelt meal with the ones you love. 
Happy Valentine's Day from Chef Molly Culinary Artistry! 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

CIA, Hyde Park...20 years later

Friends, I'm celebrating! Twenty years ago today, I walked across the stage at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY shaking hands, accepting diplomas, and stepping out into an uncertain world for a young chef.  Nothing makes you feel old quite like pulling out a graduation picture! There will be no class reunion, but I am feeling a tad sentimental.  Join me for a stroll down memory lane.

I was young and full of excitement, adventure and pure terror. It was decision time. Do I go back to San Francisco where I did my internship and loved? Stay in New York, trying to make it in a city that could easily chew me up and spit me out? Go to Hawaii and be a part of the opening team of Roy’s Maui? 

Where were my friends going? How hard will it be to be a woman in the kitchen? Did I know enough Spanish to know when I was being talked about? My head explodes when I think of the passage of time and all that has happened in and out of the kitchen. There have been a lot of opportunities taken and some missed, and a few squandered. 

The world of food was different in 1994.  The internet was not available to the public! Luckily, we went to the school library with the largest collection of culinary publications.  We sat in little cubicles, watching VHS tapes and taking handwritten notes.  My laptop weighed as much as a PC!  Only a few people had cell phones, and I was not one of them. Our kitchen did not contain such modern devices as induction ovens and anti-griddles! I think of my classmates often and the amazing experiences we shared. I have been in contact with some of them, while others have slipped into obscurity.  I only hope that they have fond memories as I have! 

16 years ago I decided to go it alone with no immediate guidance from a mentor. Wow, was I arrogant to think I was ready! Oh youth! I mustered up all my courage and went for it! In that time I have learned so much from everyone I have come in contact with.  I am grateful to my sous chef of many years, Santos, my front of the house staff that have worked numerous events over the years, my Dad (who is my go to guy when things need to be fixed or built) and my Mom who has tried to retire so many times but I just won’t let her. 

Outside of the kitchen, I have also created a life with my husband of 14 years and our two beautiful girls! My husband is not a cook but has a palate for food that constantly impresses me. My girls? Lets just say that they have taste buds that would put some adults to shame. My 11 year old will eat whatever exotic sushi you put in front of her.  The Sunday mornings that I am home, my 9 year old and I make pancakes from scratch, souring the milk for our buttermilk pancakes. She has now kicked me out of the kitchen to make them herself, while she hums blissfully to herself.

Growing older, I have eased into the comfort of who I am as a cook. I am still very passionate about food; not only the cooking of it, but the toils of picking the perfect vegetable or cut of meat, or how it is going to be presented on a plate or platter. I am always looking for inspiration and seeking inspiring ingredients, but there is no longer that need to reinvent what my “style” is...I have found it.

I love the sounds and smells of the kitchen the dance and rhythm. It can be a hostile environment at times but I have learned how to arm myself. I thrive on the organized chaos, the bity banter that is often inappropriate for the outside world and the marathon work days-weeks-months.
 Is it all worth it? Hell yeah.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Chef Molly creates Edible Art Installation at Jim Kennedy Photography Studio, Costa Mesa

Industry insiders were wowed at the Chef Molly ‘Exposed’ event and Edible Art Installation at the Jim Kennedy Photography Studios in Costa Mesa! Chef Molly Culinary Artistry has been known as an elite caterer in Orange County for over 15 years, impressing clients with her artisanal cuisine and attention to detail, but on this special evening she ventured into performance art with a presentation that provided sensory gratification as well as visual pleasure.  

White Lychee Sangria

 The one-night event was laced with innuendo, from its theme “Chef Molly ‘Exposed’” to a modern day pin-up girl greeting guests with signature cocktails, White Lychee Sangria and Hibiscus Infused Syrup and Vodka as they entered Jim Kennedy’s ultra sexy photography studio. The scene was set replete with boudoir sets, silk covered beds, and white rose petals.  

Guests enjoyed passed hors d’oeuvre including: Boneless Osso Bucco with Risotto and a Poached Quail Egg, Heirloom Tomato Tartlets, Pressed Duck with Okinawan Potatoes and a Raspberry Ginger and Lime Leaf Glaze, Tea Smoked Rock Fish, and a Green Papaya Salad. The crowd, a who’s who list of hospitality industry insiders, was already impressed; but the show was just beginning!

Upon a gleaming stainless steel table, Chef Molly began with the introduction of Gravlax, a Nordic dish consisting of cured salmon.  A skilled teacher, she displayed the steps in the curing process with a side-by-side comparison of the uncured fish and the finished delicacy cured in beets, orange zest, fennel dust and fresh dill.  Working to a soundtrack she personally selected, the Chef worked silently, painting the table with spiced labneh (Lebanese strained yogurt), covering the surface in swirls and arcs with an artist’s flare.  Using a combination of pickled baby sunburst and zucchini squash, fresh radish, candy striped beets and fresh Bunashimeji mushrooms, bulls blood and arugula micro greens, Chef Molly added pops of color and texture to the display.  As she placed the finishing touches, warm triangles of tahini bread, the party goers burst into a rousing round of applause!  

The idea of art as food continued through dessert as guests dined on elegantly displayed Cherry, Chocolate and Almond Biscotti, Forbidden Black Coconut Rice with Grilled Mango, Fig Moscato Chomeur Cake and Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwiches filled with Fresh Mint Ice Cream!

Here at Chef Molly Culinary Artistry, we would like to extend a HUGE thank you to everyone who helped make this evening possible! 
Jim Kenney Photography Studio, Costa Mesa CA - venue
Classic Party Rentals - rentals
Double Cross Vodka - bar service
Sarah Jass - photography
Jason Jass - DJ & lighting
Carina of Flawless Faces - makeup
Lisa of Vintage Hair Salon - hair

 Chef Molly Culinary Artistry continues to innovate and push the boundaries of how delicious food is viewed. She is a founding member of WIPA (Wedding Industry Professionals Association), former President of ISES-OC (International Special Event Society, Orange County), a regular contributor to Food & Event industry magazines, and a mentor to young chefs!