OUR MESSY SEXY PUMPKIN, PROSCIUTTO and RED PEPPER LASAGNA!!
Our food is delicious and yummy… and sometimes a little messy sexy! We could spend time sculpting the perfectly artistic plate, but by the time you took your first bite, it would lose some of its glory and a little bit of its warmth. Instead, we pride ourselves on food that tastes good and flows onto the plate with one amazing bite of flavor after another. Our Executive Chef and Owner, Lynette La Mere, has been writing articles and submitting recipes for Food & Home Magazine for 20 years! Here is a sneak peak at the next one!
Pumpkin, Prosciutto and Red Pepper Lasagna
Serves 12 This is a party dish, it’s delicious, unusual and can be assembled ahead and baked an hour before serving. To make this lighter and quicker, 4 cups of prepared marinara sauce, mixed with a cup of light cream could be a substitute for the creamy cheese sauce in this recipe. Serve with crusty Italian bread, heated for five minutes at 350 degrees and then sliced, and a crisp salad.
Filling; 4 Tbl. unsalted butter 2 yellow onions, diced 6 cups peeled, diced cookingpumpkin or butternut squash 3 red peppers, seeded, cut into 1 inch squares 3 Tbl. olive oil salt and pepper
Sauce; 8 Tbl. unsalted butter 1/2 cup unbleached flour 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock 2 cups light cream 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese 1/4 tsp. nutmeg salt and pepper to taste
Assembly; 1 1/4 lbs. lasagna noodles, cooked al dente and drained 1/2 lb diced Prosciutto (another smoky ham would be fine) 1/4 cup fresh sage leaves 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter a 10 X 15 inch pan.
Prepare the filling: Toss the squash and pepper with olive oil and roast on a sheet pan for about 30 minutes. Set aside.
Sauté onion in butter over medium heat until very tender, stirring as necessary to keep from burning, about 15 minutes. Toss with squash, season with salt and pepper.
Reset the oven to 350 degrees
Prepare the sauce: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly add stock, 1/2 cup at a time, whisking and cooking as you add it. Add the cream and cook until thick and smooth. Stir in parmesan, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
Assemble; Line the bottom of the pan with noodles. Sprinkle with half the diced Prosciutto and 1/3 of the sauce. Scatter with mozzarella cheese and sage leaves. Cover with more noodles, then all the vegetable filling, more cheese, and a cup of parmesan. Make another layer of noodles and top with the remaining ham, another 1/3 sauce and the remaining sage. The final layer has noodles, sauce and all the remaining cheeses.
Bake the lasagna 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before cutting.
Lynette La Mere is the proprietor of Pure Joy Catering and a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara.
Shopping hints: All ingredients appear in bold-faced type and can be found at Farmer’s Market (for info call 805-962-5354), Lazy Acres, Tri County Produce
What a super fun adventure! We drove about 3 hours from Florence to Norcia, a ancient walled picturesque village in the province of Perugia in Southeastern Umbria with history dating back 500 years before Rome! We stayed at a perfect hotel called Palazzo Seneca. They were kind enough to arrange a truffle hunting expedition for us with Nicola. He had adorable truffle hounds, the female has been at it for many years and is now teaching the young black spaniel, at this day he was 9 months old and already being considered for special status. He explained to us that any type of dog can learn to gather truffles and these two do remarkably well. They are given a command and off they go, scurrying around then suddenly digging and voila! they ran back like children at an Easter egg hunt with truffles in their mouths and were rewarded with dog treats. Nicola tries to intervene and assist with the digging so the truffles are not damaged. Fresh found & refrigerated they only last three days.
The cooking class was simple; make great food then shave or grate the fresh truffles on top. LOL well, I said, that’s my kind of cooking class. That evening we were treated to a seven course meal by Chef Flavio Faedi at Vspasia where everything is locally sourced and just outstanding and, of course, covered in truffles!
Whoever said vegetarians can’t get enough protein was just plain wrong. With beans and lentils, nuts, eggs, and protein-packed whole grains like quinoa all as options, there’s no reason that a vegetarian — or vegan — diet has tobe protein deficient.
Start experimenting with tofu, which is made by coagulating soy milk, and you’ll open up a whole culinary world of tofu burgers, tofu chocolate mousse, and tofu stir-fries. I love pureeing silkened tofu to make a creamy raw vegan pesto or sauce.
Sometimes, though, we need that extra boost — and that’s where these vegetarian proteins come in. Edamame, tempeh, and textured soy protein are all high protein soy bean-based foods, while seitan is a chewy meat-like product made from wheat protein.
With such a wide array of culinary properties, these proteins are ready to be used in whatever way you want. Maybe you’ll start adding edamame to salads or adding crumbled tempeh to your burritos and you’ll leave textured soy protein for others to experiment with. It’s up to you.
Here’s how the vegetarian proteins compare in terms of protein content per 100 grams:
What is it? This is the least processed form of soy protein around. The shiny, green edamame are soy beans that have been harvested at 80% of their growth. They’re available fresh or frozen, in their pods or already shucked.
What it’s good for? Edamame are plump, sweet, and buttery with a high protein content to boot.
What should you do with it? In pod, edamame makethe perfect finger-food appetizer, as you’ve probably noticed at every sushi restaurant. Boil in salted water for about a minute, then drain, or steam in a microwave. Substitute edamame beans in any recipe.Roast the beans in the ovenuntil they’re crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. Add edamame to salads or go wild andprocess it into hummus.
What is it? Tempeh is a fermented soy product that originated in Indonesia several hundred years ago. It’s made through a culture and fermentation process that binds whole soybeans into a thin cake of beans.
What’s it good for? Tempeh has a strong umami flavor, a firm texture, and is high in protein (about 19% protein by weight). It is a whole soybean food, which means it’s also rich in fiber, B vitamins, and many amino acids.
What should you do with it? Unlike tofu, tempeh has a distinctly nutty flavor. Prepare tempeh bymarinating it in soy sauce, ginger, and vinegar and baking or pan-fryinguntil crispy. Chop up cubes and add them to stir fries. Throw tempeh on the grill. Crumble tempeh into hot oil and cook it until golden, then use it as a topping on salads and pizzas or add it to soups and chili.
Textured Soy Protein (a.k.a. TSP or TVP)
What is it? After soybean oil has been extracted from soy flour (the flour’s been “defatted”), the flour is cooked under pressure, extruded, and dried to make TSP, otherwise known as soy protein isolate. TSP comes in granules, flakes, and chunks.
What’s it good for? High in protein and fiber, TSP is often used as a meat substitute, mostly in commercial food products like frozen entrées, energy bars, and protein drinks.
What should you do with it? Before it can be eaten, TSP needs to be reconstituted in hot water for about 10 minutes or during the cooking process. Soak in water or vegetable stock until soft, then add it to casseroles, soups, and chili as a replacement for ground meat
What is it? You may have heard seitan (pronounced like say-tan, notsatan) also called wheat meat or gluten meat. Whatever you call it, seitan is basically a dough made from gluten, the main wheat protein. When vital gluten flour is washed with water, the starches dissolve and what’s left behind is a mass of insoluble gluten with a meaty texture.
What’s it good for? If you’ve ever had mock duck or mock chicken, you’ve had seitan. It’s chewy, flavor-absorbent, and can be grilled, broiled, roasted, pan-fried, or breaded. When cooked, seitan takes on the look and texture of meat, which makes it a common meat substitute.
What should you do with it? The first thing you should know is that you can make your own seitan at home; homemade seitan is cheaper and can be seasoned however you want. Once you’ve got seitan (homemade or store-bought), give it a nice crisp by pan-searing, grilling, roasting, or broiling. Try using it as a substitute for tofu in stir-fries and braises.
This was a pre wedding day rehearsal celebration photographed exquisitely by Natalie Thomson Photography. Guests were welcomed with our Champagne & Caviar Station serving a variety of iced Champagnes to try and delicious Russian Blinis with Lemon Crème Fraiche, Smoked Salmon and American Wild Caviar made at the station and presented Silver Service.
Chef Gabriela Perez was at the Pure Joy Ceviche Station, a great interactive station where the chef prepares fresh local, seafood ceviche with your event day’s fresh catch deliciously tossed together and presented in cosmo glasses. That table also had our Guacamole and Salsas.
The Aw Shucks Station offered shots of Minted Fresh Pea Soup, Farmer’s Market Individual Crudités Bouquets with Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Dip, Icy Vodka Spiked Gazpacho with Prawns and Fresh Shucked Oysters on Crushed Ice with Ginger Mignonette, Sesame Chili Sauce and Sake Lime Sauces.
Meanwhile our adorable waitstaff passed an endless array of little bites. Tiny Pans of Southern Belles; Juicy Slow Roasted Shredded BBQ Pork on Fresh Baked Mini Corn Muffins with Napa Slaw, our Cocktail Hamburgers, Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese are just a few shown here.
Mojitos, Moscow Mules and Fresh Squeezed Margaritas by Pure Joy Bar Master Jash Hamada rounded out the evening very successfully.
We got this note from the Photographer; “Your catering company did such a beautiful job of displaying all the delicious food and your staff was extremely friendly and courteous! Sometimes that’s not always the case with other companies I have seen, but everyone was extremely pleasant and very nice. So therefore I wanted to show you some of the photos from that night!” How kind! Her photography is outstanding too! Thank you Natalie Thomson!
A beautiful wedding, down to earth and fun for all; captured beautifully by Brooke Aliceon at Heart Stone Ranch. For more venue ideas check out Santa Barbara Venues. There’s zero mark up & over a hundred locations to chose from, pretty sweet.
Both of my boys are accomplished Chefs with excellent creative multicultural tastes, both studying at Stanford, Luc in particular is always cooking and tinkering and brewing, hes also an outstanding photographer and took many of these shots. Now they often teach me about the newest information on food and nutrition. I raised them traveling together every year for the holidays, exploring cultures and local flavors, cooking, tasting, learning. I know the hands on cultural diversity has opened them up to the whole world and filled them with endless curiosity and a thirst for exploration because they have continued to travel, explore and stretch the boundaries of their lives. Not only with cooking but with that bigger picture of life itself that only comes from traveling. I didn’t expect to fall in love with Thailand, yet it ended up one of our favorite places on earth. These pictures were taken throughout Chiang Mai, Phuket, Phi Phi Island and Railay Beach. The Rayavadee Hotel in particular was a place we had a very hard time leaving. The cooking classes there were outstanding, the ocean was crystal blue and bath tub warm. But the best part about Thailand - besides the passionate intensity of the food - is the people, they are so lovely; so gracious and kind.
(from an article I wrote for Food & Home Magazine)
Some years ago in the fall I came across a sign up against a well used wooden fruit crate on a rickety table at the Saturday Farmer’s Market written by the farmer that read “Were you traumatized as a child by eating an unripe persimmon? Fear not! Fuyu persimmons are always yummy! Regain your happy childhood!” I felt for the guy! Persimmons do have an awful reputation and he’s fighting an uphill battle just getting people to even try one. I have learned to love the taller acorn-shaped, Hachiya persimmons once they’re ripe, but before they turn into little water balloons of yummy pudding they have a way too high level of tannin and can be horrible. I couldn’t believe he expected me to eat a hard persimmon. Persimmons are plentiful and so beautiful; they do happen to be my favorite color; we use them a great deal as décor but I admit I hadn’t even considered eating one because I thought they weren’t ripe; the little flat bottomed pumpkin shaped ones never seemed to get soft; or in my mind, ripe…The farmer held out the little taste he’d cut for me with such conviction, he wasn’t backing down, I couldn’t say no and gave the little hard fuyu persimmon chunk he offered me a try. I was so impressed!! They are delicious, it was love at first bite, I had no idea there was such a dramatic difference in the two kinds of persimmons.
Outside of being a unique snack item the hachiya persimmons have limited culinary use. The squat, rounder fuyu however has proven to be a fantastic addition to our fall menus and I’ve had such fun finding ways to incorporate them into my cooking and sharing my discovery of this bright, cheerful little representative of the fall season. Crisp like an apple, sweet like a pear the fuyu persimmon has taken over about 80% of the persimmon market so apparently the word is spreading, however, the crops are primarily funneled into ethnic markets where the demand is higher.
There is no need to peel a fuyu (pronounced ‘FOO-you’) persimmon and there is no core, seeds or pit. With very little fussing required they are a cinch to add to salads, make gorgeous fruit salsas for grilled fish and cook beautifully into cobblers. The ones grown locally here are incredibly sweet and pair well with cheeses; they almost have a nutty flavor which is offset by soft hints of honey and apricot so they’re a natural combination with nuts too.
Tossed Baby Greens with Fuyu Persimmons, Goat Cheese and Toasted Pecans
Striking, yummy & easy; this salad is a great introduction to persimmons.
8 loosely packed cups salad greens, triple rinsed and dry
½ cup toasted pecan (recipe follows)
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
3 fuyu persimmons, wedge sliced; like tomatoes
½ cup balsamic vinaigrette (recipe follows)
This will yield more than you need for one salad, they make great cocktail munchies and store well for the next salad.
1 egg white
¼ cup sugar
pinch of salt
4 ½ cups whole shelled pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a large sheet pan with vegetable oil. Whisk the egg white until foamy add the rest of the ingredients and toss to coat. Spread evenly on the sheet pan and bake 6 minutes. Pull out and flip them around with a spatula, bake again until fragrant and toasted. I prefer them whole in the salad. Store left over toasted nuts in an air tight jar or bag.
1 small shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup great balsamic vinegar
1 heaping Tb. Country style Dijon mustard
juice of half a lemon
¾ cup olive oil
Whisk, shake or whirl all the ingredients in the blender, as you choose.
Warm Bay Scallops and Persimmon Salad
Pure heaven, a really clean and refreshing, delectable meal; the scallops are rich and sweet and the Orange Dressing lights up the flavor of the persimmons.
Plate the spinach and top with the diced persimmons & diced red onion. Heat a sauté pan over high heat until nearly smoking. Add the olive oil and the bay scallops, season with a bit of salt & fresh ground pepper and toss till no longer opaque. Spoon hot scallops over the salad plates and finish with the fresh orange dressing and a sprinkle of pine nuts.
Fresh Orange Dressing
Yield 1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 Tb. frozen orange juice concentrate
2 Tb. honey
1Tb. Dijon mustard
½ t. allspice
½ t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
5 oz vegetable oil
1t. orange zest (optional)
If you are squeezing the orange yourself it is easier to take off the zest with a micro plain zester first before cutting and squeezing the orange. Put all the ingredients in a jar and shake, rattle & roll.
Fuyu Persimmon Salsa
Delicious and colorful; perfect for grilled salmon
4 fuyu persimmons, diced
¼ cup red onion, chopped
1 jalapeño grilled, seeded, minced
1 Anaheim chili, grilled, seeded, minced
2 Tb. fresh chopped basil
3 Tb. fresh cilantro
2 Tb. lemon juice
½ Tb. olive oi
To grill the chilies, just use tongs and the open flame on your stove, when charred on all sides put them in a plastic bag to steam a bit. Once cool to the touch you can push off the charred skin, seed and chop them. Toss together the rest of the ingredients and salt & pepper to taste.
Lynette La Mere is the Proprietor / Executive Chef of Pure Joy Catering Inc. PureJoyCatering.com and a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara.
wedSB: Please tell us about yourself and how you began Pure Joy Catering.
Lynette: I began my life in the culinary arts at my grandfather’s side; he raised me and was a wonderful chef. At his insistence I studied restaurant management and professional cooking in Glendale, although I did not graduate High School, I continue to self educate voraciously even today. I started Pure Joy Catering in 2001 as a single mom with full time custody; my boys are now both studying at Stanford and they cook too!
At Pure Joy we share my grandpa’s passion for all things edible, his endless curiosity and pride in creating and serving spectacular special event meals with about 20,000 wedding and special event guests each year. It’s funny how the conservative, naturally green concepts and the focus on local produce he taught me are still such core values today. Our community service efforts are primarily for children, animals and the environment.
I’ve always wanted to own commercial real estate & house my own business and have finally reached that goal with the purchase of 111 East Haley Street. We’ve built a spectacular event production facility for Pure Joy Catering with comfortable offices, a beautiful commercial kitchen, three giant walk ins, a warehouse full of goodies and a sunny conference room. The guest bathroom is wall papered with thank you notes from our clients. But best part of all is the warm friendly environment we all get to work in every day; the Pure Joy Team is a really exceptional group of long time event pros that work so well together.
wedSB: What can a wedding couple expect when planning their wedding with Pure Joy?
Lynette: Pure Joy Catering is a genuinely full service catering company with event planners here full time to help. Our services include full event planning, schematics, outstanding event staff, catering chefs, bartenders and full liability and workman’s coverage, as well as the insurance to serve alcohol, custom menus with delicious farmer’s market produce, fun appetizers and cocktails, setup, teardown, all of the rentals and linens needed, non alcoholic beverages, coffee stations, décor and presentation to go with your plan -.
wedSB: You have helped plan thousands of events, are there any that stand out as being extremely creative or different?
Lynette: Its always the last one we did that we’re excited about! Last Sunday we did a large Rastafarian Party with delicious Caribbean flavors & beautiful tropical florals and a steel drum band – great cocktails. Everyone was so happy.
wedSB: What kind of trends are you currently seeing in wedding catering & themes? Anything new & exciting?
Lynette: I’ll tell you; our clients have taught me so much over the years! They are a very sophisticated bunch – always on trend and challenging us to fuse different ethnicities and styles while pleasing large numbers of guests. Gluten free and vegan choices are getting more mainstream. What I love is that we can do whole weddings for 200 guests that are gluten free & vegan and DELICIOUS!
wedSB: In your opinion, what makes utilizing Pure Joy for wedding catering unique & special?
Lynette: Off premise full service catering is all this company does.
We don’t do anything else.
All hands are on this deck
So we get it right
wedSB: Congratulations on all of the awards you & Pure joy Catering continually receive! Can you tell us the most current titles awarded?
Lynette: For 2013 the readers of the SB Independent just awarded us Best Caterer in Santa Barbara again which is such an honor because so many of our clients are from out of town, we’re very lucky to have so many happy event hosts & guests that are locals too!
wedSB: Do you have any favorite wedding venues in Santa Barbara?
Lynette: You have to see my website santabarbaravenues.com! This site is hosted free of cost to both the clients & the venues; there’s no mark up. This is my personal way of saying thank you to the visitors and venues of Santa Barbara that make my business here possible.
In honor of getting our Farm Friendly Dining Certification I’m sharing a few of my favorite things to do with our local citrus. Blood Oranges are Santa Barbara’s sweetheart at the market, you really can’t buy too many! I juice and freeze them, I candy them and I serve them like crazy in a frantic race before the end of their season. Blood Orange Margaritas, cupcakes, tarts, belinis, salad dressings, chicken glazes and spicy martinis.
Diced preserved Lemons are the perfect twist to a gremolata with minced fresh parsley and garlic - awesome on grilled local seafood & poultry. Such a simple fun task for an afternoon with friends, preserved lemons can then be a part of many dinner parties to come, I encourage you to try it!