Catering and Private Chef

Caprese Salad

I’ve been catering regularly August 2019. I specialize in cocktail nosh for small parties. I have done Korean, Puerto Rican, Indian, Italian, Mediterranean and other cuisines. I write all the menus and design all the recipes myself.

tailgate catering spread
Cocktail Party catering

I am looking to add a couple more catering or food prep or even private chef clients to my roster, so if you or someone you know is looking for help, keep me in mind!

I’ve set up a section of the IndigoDragon site with my chef info and pix of my food – hop over there and check it out!

Caprese Salad
Caprese Salad

You can get ahold of me via email (misangelaspam at gmail dot com), FB or IG. I can’t put my phone number here, but if you have it you can call or text me! Thanks!!

Looking for VSG/Bariatric info?

Hi there! If you’d like to see ONLY my extensive research on Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, bariatric diet and managing GERD (reflux), you can filter out all my other posts and see just those by clicking HERE. You can see my vlogs about my VSG journey here.

To see any category (recipes, for instance), use the drop down menu to the right labeled “View Posts by Category” and select the category you’d like. Thanks for stopping by!

VGER

Voyager 2 Probe courtesy NASA JPL

Most of the people who are my acquaintances will know what that means. VGER.

Voyager 2 Probe courtesy NASA JPL
“Now voyager sail thou forth to seek and find.”


Yesterday, February 7, 2020, the Voyager 2 probe that has been inactive for a few weeks, was reactivated. Something happened in January and it shut down and NASA’s JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab) was unsure it would ever reactivate. Fortunately the geniuses at the JPL did get it going and it is sending telemetry once again. Brilliant! Here is the story on Inverse.

I get very emotional when I talk about space exploration. I cried when we got telemetry from Saturn’s rings. I cried today when Voyager 2 was reactivated. It is stunning that in my lifetime space exploration was begun by going to the moon and now we have a probe 11.6B miles from earth sending us info. It’s even more stunning that we can watch live telemetry IN OUR HANDS on a phone. I watched the SpaceX capsule test the other day, LIVE. If you aren’t moved by these things, I don’t know what to tell you. This is mankind’s entry into space. The final frontier.

All this brings me to my reason for this post, which is: VGER. I am a huge Star Trek nerd. I have Vulcan tattoos on my forearms. I was angry about the idiotic Klingons in Discovery and their mangling of the Klingon language. I can talk to you about ship design. I believe that we are not the only sentient beings. There is simply too many galaxies out there for this to be true. Even if EACH galaxy only has one habitable planet, that is still myriad possible species.

I was not a Trek nerd until my 20s. However, around 1980 or 81, I saw Star Trek: The Motion Picture late at night on Home Box Office, as it was called when it was new. (My family are luddites, but by the gods, they’ve always been cutting edge when it comes to TV. The cable company had to run a line to the house when they wanted to get cable!)

This movie was my entré into sci-fi. Yeah, it’s not a great movie, but that didn’t matter. It caught my imagination. It made me think: WHAT IF? What IF the Voyager probe gained sentience? I was fascinated with this and I’ve watched that movie so many times over the years, still pondering the WHAT IF? I saw a few of the Trek films in the theatre during the 80s/90s, but I didn’t fully realise my nerdom until I was introduced to TNG (ST The Next Generation series). I never cared for TOS (original series Trek), but I liked the movies. THEN I found TNG and fell in love all over again. I’m currently entranced with the movie Passengers and the notion of long term space travel that takes 100 years. I think this will be how it’s done before we figure out how to bend space time and/or create warp drive. (YES I think this is possible.)

Over the years, I have become a huge Trek and space exploration nerd. Which brings me back to the emotions I have for SpaceX, the Voyager probes and all the NASA/JPL projects. I hate that the United States has fallen so far into disarray that we can’t even run a proper space program any more, but I’m grateful that Elon Musk has taken the task himself. He realised that the US simply did not have the will to bother with space any longer (because building a racist wall is FAR more important!), and he has the money to finance himself. Boom! There we go: space exploration once again. Thank you Mr Musk, humanity owes you a lot.

I believe that space IS the final frontier. And I believe we’ll get out there one day. And I believe we’ll meet our distant neighbors. I just hope we are not assholes to them. LOL

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before

I’m sad that I won’t live to see all this, but I can dream, I can watch Trek and I can follow what little space news there is to follow. I hope future generations will get their heads out their asses and go forth into the universe. Live long and prosper.

Italian White Bean and Shrimp Soup

Italian White Bean and Shrimp Soup
Italian White Bean and Shrimp Soup
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Italian White Bean and Shrimp Soup

This is a delightful white bean soup. It's light and very flavorful, not to mention full of greens and fiber rich white beans. It's also really easy! I do recommend using shrimp stock if you can; directions on how to make it in the notes.
Course Soup
Cuisine Italian
Keyword cannelini, shrimp, white bean
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 8
Author misangela

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Shrimp Med to Large, peeled & deveined, cut in half crosswise if large
  • 1 med White onion small dice
  • 3 cloves Garlic minced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp Dried marjoram optional, or use dry basil
  • 2 cans Cannelini, Navy or Great Northern white beans 14 oz, mostly drained
  • 1 can Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes 14 oz, plain is fine, mostly drained
  • 1-2 Quarts Shrimp Stock use +/- to get the thickness you want
  • 2 Cups Lightly packed baby arugula rough chopped
  • 8-10 leaves Fresh Basil chiffonade, then cross chopped
  • 12 leaves Fresh Oregano chopped (optional)
  • 1 med Lemon zest and juice
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instructions

  • Start the shrimp stock first, if you're making your own. I highly recommend this!
  • In a large pot, add in about 1 Tbl olive oil and put over med heat.
  • Add in onion, garlic red pepper and dried herb. Cook until translucent, do not brown, about 5 minutes.
  • Add beans, tomatoes and lemon zest. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add shrimp stock and bring to a simmer. Adjust seasoning. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, then turn off heat.
  • Add shrimp, arugula, basil, oregano and lemon juice. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving.
  • Serve with a turn of extra virgin olive oil on top and toasted baguette.

Notes

Make your own shrimp stock!  Just save the shells from shrimp and simmer for about an hour with some salt in a 2 quart stock pot. SO GOOD! Really makes a difference in this soup. 
As you use shrimp, put the shells in a freezer bag and when you have a bagful, make stock by adding 1 qt of water for every quart bag of shells. Simply simmer for about an hour and add some salt. I make stock and store in the freezer, but if you don't have space, just keep the shells and use for stock as you need it. 

Angela’s Lamb Merguez Croissants

Angela's Merguez
Croissants with Merguez Lamb
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Angela's Lamb Merguez Croissants

I have a hard time finding premade merguez sausage, so I decided to make some myself. This is not really a sausage, but ground lamb is pretty fatty, so it tastes like a true sausage. It is bursting with Moroccan flavour and just the right amount of spice. This recipe calls for MANY spices, but they all bring something to the party, so do try to use them all. Wrap a dollop of this into a canned croissant and bake it up for GREAT party appetizers! That is exactly what I used this for. This recipe will make about 40 croissants (5 cans of 8 ea).
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American, Moroccan
Keyword lamb, merguez, merguez sausage recipe
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 40 croissants
Author misangela

Ingredients

  • 5 cans Canned Croissants
  • 1 pound Ground Lamb
  • 2 tsp salt Dixie Crystal Kosher
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp sumac adds a citrusy note
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika you can sub sweet, but the smoked gives depth
  • 1 Tbl Harissa the dry kind or you can sub paste here
  • 2 Tbl Garlic Paste an Indian ingredient that I use often; you can sub 4-6 cloves garlic, smashed into paste
  • 2 tsp Chile Paste Amore brand, you can sub tom paste + 1 tsp cayenne here
  • 1 Tbl fresh Cilantro minced; sub 2 tsp dried but fresh is better
  • 2 Tbl fresh Mint minced; sub 2 tsp dried but fresh is better

Instructions

  • Put ground lamb into a bowl and break up a bit. Add all the spices and mix thoroughly.
  • Cook lamb in a skillet over med hi heat until 3/4 done. Drain with a sieve if it's very greasy. Let cool for a few minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F (whatever is indicated on the canned croissants).
  • Open up the croissants and separate.
  • Put about a tsp +/- on the large end of each croissant and roll up. Pinch closed so they don't leak.
  • Cook as instructed on the can - until golden brown. Serve warm or room temperature.

Notes

This lamb merguez is one of my favourite recipes. The lamb tastes incredible! It is actually better than the merguez I've purchased before. 
It would be great as a ragout over rice or rolled into grape leaves. 

hillbilly Review

We watched this documentary last night, on purpose, because I knew I’d have a LOT to say about it. And I do. Here is the IMDB for hillbilly, which is currently on Hulu.

First, for those who don’t know, I am from Knoxville, TN. This small town is located in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. My mother’s side of the family have been there for several generations, my father’s side were from Northern South Carolina and Florida. My mother’s side were hillbillies, my father’s side were white trash. (Yup, there’s a difference.) I lived in E TN until I was about 23, when I came to Atlanta to attend The Art Institute for Music Business. I never returned to E TN. Thank the gods. For the record: I do not identify as E TN, I identify as an Atlantan.

This documentary is centered on KY, where the filmmaker’s family lives, so it’s a very small slice of representation, but I can confirm that the overall attitude is the same in the whole region. And that ACCENT. Oof. The Tennessee version is a bit twangier, but similar. I do not regret losing that mess one little bit. TERRIBLE.

There is a section where they are discussing “code switching”, which is changing the way you talk to certain people, and it was hysterical! This chick was illustrating how she “talked to academics” and she did not change a thing. She *thought* she was cleaning up that nasty accent, but it was 100% the same before and after she supposedly changed it. THIS is pretty much how a hillbilly thinks in a nutshell. They *think* they are “trying” to get above the ignorance, but they are not. They do the same things generation after generation and expect different outcomes.

I grew up in E TN, I can tell you FOR A FACT that the festering resentment for EVERYONE who is not from a hillbilly’s little 10 mile radius is 100% true. Anyone from outside the community is considered OTHER and suspect. My parents opened a steak house in St Joseph MO and my mother would SEETHE in rage when they’d point out her accent. I once asked her if she thought she didn’t HAVE an accent and she sputtered and didn’t answer me. Again, this is pretty normal in that region.

Nick is from Detroit and I have a fairly neutral accent. He got TONS of shit when he moved down here, being a Yankee and all. I still have people ask me where I’m from. In the doc, the hillbillies complained vociferously about being treated as “other” by the rest of the US, but I’m here to tell you that they are EXACTLY the same way. They harass anyone who is not EXACTLY like them with the same accents and the same prejudices. They are mean, rude and nasty to “outsiders”. They tolerate NOTHING.

The documentary is attempting to establish that the media portrayal of the Appalachian people is inaccurate and is partly to blame for the continuing ignorance and poverty in the region. Well, let me tell you something: they are not “portrayed” as dirt poor and ignorant, THEY ARE. The media hasn’t “portrayed” them as anything other than what they are: racist, homophobic, misogynistic, ignorant assholes who hate everyone, but expect the government and all of the US to be nice to them and take care of them. They also excoriate the people who get the fuck OUT and/or promote getting the fuck out of there.

This is a class of people who live in a state of cognitive dissonance. They hate everyone who is not them, they hate the government, they hate the notion that others have it better, YET, YET, YET, they expect everyone to be exceptionally nice to them, to honour their idiocy and to be taken care of by the very government they hate. They voted for T**** because of their deep ignorance of how the world works. They believe what they are told because they want to believe it. They don’t want to hear that what they believe is wrong, no matter WHAT the facts are. They voted for T**** because they are dazzled by people with money who are promising them that they’ll get their share. Regardless if it’s a lie or not. And once they’ve gone down a road, it’s FACT. These people are militantly ignorant. If what they believe doesn’t line up with reality, well, they just doggedly hold on to their beliefs rather than change. These are people who’ve lived in the same shack for eight generations. They are not going to change, because that goes against the grain of who they are. It doesn’t matter if getting away from that shack would be an enlightening experience. They consider it a betrayal of all that they are – which is 100% true. And why it is 100% necessary to break the chain of HILLBILLY culture.

I sent a tweet to the woman that did the film and told her this exact thing and that I have ZERO pity for any of them.

She clearly wanted this documentary to elicit guilt from non-hillbillies, the notion that everyone has gotten it all wrong and hillbillies are not the way they are.

She is wrong, hillbillies are EXACTLY the way everyone thinks they are.

She sits with her MAGAt family during the 2016 election and cowtows to them when the Cheeto won. She goes on to say that it doesn’t mean she can’t relate to the family. (She left at 18, became a progressive and has not looked back, I might add. And clearly does NOT relate to her family.) And her family was saying, oh, it’s OK, we love you anyway, even though we think you are stupid. Her Granny went on to say that she is sorry she didn’t burp her (filmmaker) better as a baby, because she (filmmaker) is clearly DUMB. This is what you get if you dare bust out of their asinine bubble.

This is EXACTLY what my family thinks of me and how I am treated when I visit – which is why I don’t visit. I am the stupid one, because I dared to leave and I dared to question the load of bullshit I was taught growing up. That is the core of all hillbilly thought processes: everyone else is SO DUMB. Why won’t they be like WE are? And THAT, my friends, is why they are still impoverished and ignorant. Because they WANT TO BE. My family are technophobes and refuse to use any tech other than cable TV and cell phones – but ONLY flip phones, because smart phones are for dummies. And computers are for dummies, too. My mother once said to me “You are such an idiot because you use computers. You are so stupid.” And she meant every word.

So, yes, I’ve been up close and personal with hillbilly culture. And I’m here to tell you that it will not change. And they’ll vote for T**** again, because they’ve decided that he’s doing a great job and he’s rich, so OF COURSE he’s qualified to run the country. There’s no changing them and there’s no talking to them. THEY WILL NOT LISTEN.

The woman that did this documentary meant well, I’m sure, but all she did was illustrate the intransigent nature of the Appalachian culture and point out that it’s there to stay. If you want out, you MUST leave the area. Period. And when you do, you will be “other” to them, family or not. I don’t think the filmmaker really understands that. I think she gives them far more leeway and far more credit than they deserve. And she needs to lose that nasty accent, too. There is no reason to sound like that. I am a lover of accents, but I think really strong ones are counterproductive. I can turn mine on and off as it suits me. Children should be taught in school with a neutral accent, IMO, so they can truly code switch and relate to ANYONE, not just the people of their small community. But that’s just me, I have much distaste for all things hillbilly and the accent is a trigger. If you don’t want to be seen as a hillbilly, then DON’T SOUND LIKE ONE. Duh.

I encourage everyone to watch this documentary, especially if you do NOT live in the South. It will open your eyes to the deep rooted bullshit that is Appalachia. And even those who DO live here, you might learn a bit about the region that you didn’t know before. Just know that the tone is overly conciliatory to the hillbillies and it really shouldn’t be. They deserve all the bad press they get. These people are VERY MUCH average people of Appalachia. Such as it is. Take it as a cautionary tale. ;)

How to Stock a Pantry

Along with certain methods and doing your mise en place, having a stocked pantry will help you VERY MUCH in your day to day cooking. All these meal kits you’re buying for $50 a pop? They are simply giving you pantry ingredients and mise en place so you can get to cooking. BUT you can do these things yourself, easily, and save a bunch of money.

My pantry and fridge is full to the brim with herbs, spices and tons of condiments. It’s taken me a long time to gather up the things I have, but I can pretty much cook what I want, when I want with what I’ve got on hand. But this is for someone who is just learning to cook and just getting started amassing their arsenal of things to cook with. Ok, here we go!

Dry Goods
All Purpose Flour (I prefer White Lily; use for making roux)
Cornstarch (thickener for sauces)
Rice (I prefer Basmati)
Dry Pasta (penne is a good all purpose shape)
Any beans or legumes that you use regularly
You can include boxed items in here, but the point is to use fewer pre-boxed foods, right?

Canned Goods
Canned beans
Jarred pasta sauce (a marinara, not one with meat)
Canned tomatoes, diced and whole
Tomato Sauce
Canned soups
2 boxes chicken broth (or cans if you want to use less at a time)
You’ll notice there’s no canned veg here. Frozen veg is better all round than canned.

Condiments (R=refrigerate)
PAM food release spray (any brand/style is fine)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Vegetable Oil (for higher heat cooking)
Salted Butter R (some ppl use unsalted, ALL my recipes use salted butter)
Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar
Red Wine vinegar
Soy Sauce
L&P Worcestershire Sauce
Frank’s Hot Sauce (or whatever you like)
Lemon Juice R
Ketchup R
Dijon Mustard R
Whole grain Mustard R
Tomato paste R (get the kind in a tube!)
Garlic Paste R (if you can find it, OR minced garlic in a jar.)

Herbs and Spices
Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt (the standard and used in all my recipes!)
Ground black pepper
Red Pepper Flakes
Dried Basil
Dried Thyme
Dried Parsley
Dried Oregano
Dried Paprika (I like both sweet and smoked)
Old Bay seasoning

Fresh Herbs and Veg
Garlic (do not refrigerate)
Onions (do not refrigerate)
Parsley (Or any herbs you’re using in a recipe. Put leftovers in salad!)
Lemons (do not refrigerate)
Buy only the veg you have a recipe for THAT WEEK. I make our salads once a week and hold it in a bag in the fridge. It is a fraction of the cost of bagged salad. A FRACTION.

Frozen Veg
Onion + Peppers, diced (great for SO many recipes!)
Spinach (buying it frozen is more economical than fresh if you are cooking with it)
Any veg you like and use often. The mixed veg bags are handy for all sorts of things from sides to soup. I also like the veg + grains sides you can get, too. They are steam in bag and very nutritious!

As for meats and all your proteins, buy what you’ll use in a week OR if you have the freezer room, buy proteins on sale and freeze. I’d recommend getting a vacuum sealer for this, however, or your frozen protein will have freezer burn. We bought a chest freezer long ago and it has earned its keep a dozen times over in my savings on proteins. Having all kinds of things to choose from at any given time is VERY helpful when cooking at home. At the very least, have chicken thighs, tenders or breasts handy. You can buy big bags of these pre-frozen, they are very economical.

I also advocate taking lunch to work. Prep salads and snacks on your day off for easy grabbing as you run out the door. Same for leftovers. After dinner, put leftovers in single serving containers so you can grab for lunch. THIS WORKS!! (Also: do NOT put meats and oils in plastic! It will break down the plastic when heated and that is toxic. Use glass for your reheatable lunches!)

To get started with cooking regularly, I suggest gathering up a couple of recipes per week and setting aside time to shop for and prep for the recipes. Do this on your day off, then when you want to cook, VOILÀ! All your ingredients are ready to go. At the very least shop for your recipes and have everything you need on hand.

I think many new cooks get frustrated when they attempt to make something and discover they don’t have an ingredient when they are halfway through the cook. This is why USING RECIPES and buying for what you’re making is so helpful. It’s what we chefs do, because it works.

You’ll find that as you buy things for recipes, your pantry will grow on its own. Suddenly you’ll have a fridge full of sauces and condiments that you can use for MORE recipes. You’ll have spices in the cabinet that you can use for furthering your repertoire. That’s how chefs like me end up with literally hundreds of spices and condiments at our disposal. :)

BTW, there are tons of easy recipes here on my site. I’m in the process of inputting them into an actual recipe template, but they are all printable even if they have not been reformatted. Go to View Posts By Category dropdown menu at the top right and choose Angela’s Recipes to see all of them together. Or CLICK HERE. ;)

I feel that I should also mention a couple of cooking VESSELS that will get you through most cooking:
2-3 Qt saucepan (nonstick is fine)
small saucepan (nonstick is fine)
9-10″ skillet (nonstick is fine)
9×9 casserole dish
one good knife (Henckels is my go-to, a decent 8-10″ chef or santoku knife should cost you around $50-75.)

Never put nonstick pans or knives in the dishwasher. I never wash my knives, I just rinse in hot water and dry. Never put a knife in the water with hand wash dishes – cuts SUCK. Always keep your knives SHARP. Take it to a pro for sharpening once a year (the steel is NOT a sharpener, it just hones a little).

Hope you guys find this helpful!