Wedding I Do's and I Don'ts
Sage Advice for the Bride on a Budget

Wedding I Do's and I Don'ts Pt1

Wedding I Do's and I Don'ts Pt2

Wedding I Do's and I Don'ts Pt3

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Panicking over a Party?
Caterer Graham Gemoets has advice

Article By Claudia Feldman
Photo By Karen Warren/Staff
Houston Chronicle, December 13, 2013

Panicking over a Party? Caterer Graham Gemoets has advice

Think your guests will want coffee with their dessert?

Nope, he says. "Maybe eight out of 100."

Do you need a tray of vegetables for the health conscious and weight watchers?

No, he says. "Nobody wants broccoli in their teeth."

Gemoets, 44, didn't go to school to learn this stuff; instead, he's been hosting parties, real and imagined, since he was a little boy. Seven years ago, he gave up his day job to become a full-time caterer and confidante to harried hosts and hostesses.

His best advice?

Outsource.

In Gemoets' world, outsourcing means everything from asking your mom to make the salad to buying a cooked, spiral ham from your favorite grocery store to calling in the caterers if there's money in the budget.

Whatever you do, Gemoets says, eat, have fun, enjoy your own party. Once the doorbell rings and the first guests arrive, he says, it's magic.

He was hooked early: "My parents were party givers, entertainers, and as little kids, we used to lean over the banister and listen. But all we could hear was 'mumble, mumble, mumble,' so that's what we thought people said at parties."

The one party he will never forget: "My father died when I was 13, and we were going to sell the house. But I suggested we give one final dinner party - we broke out everything - every dish, every platter. I spent two days polishing silver, and I set up the dinner table and then played waiter. I stood at the front door checking mink coats and getting people drinks, and the house sounded like my father was still alive.

"My mother loved entertaining, and she loved entertaining in that house. I wanted to see her smile."

Before professional catering: "I studied journalism at the University of Houston and worked in corporate America, planning trade shows. Then the company went bust, but the owner called and offered me a job as his assistant. That was like my MBA, my finishing school. I bet I can get anybody on the phone in three days. I bet I could get Obama."

The first big gig: "I got a call one day, and someone started talking about planning a party and asking who should she hire. And I said, 'How much is your budget?' And she told me, and I said, 'Why not hire me?'

"At the time, I still had my day job, and I started doing parties on the side. But after a few months, my boss said, 'Which is it - this job or that job?' I stood up and shook his hand. It was like a divorce."

The right move: "Starting a catering business, Butter & Co., was the best and hardest thing I've ever done. But I wouldn't go back. I get frustrated when I hear people my age talk about what they want to do instead of what they're doing. I can make a resounding statement - I am a caterer - and not just until something better comes along. And, it's the first time that being gay is obviously an asset. When I'm working on weddings, I get calls from the fathers of the brides and the grooms all the time saying, 'Thank you.' I can say to the brides, who deserve all the attention they can get, 'Don't ever go whiter than your teeth on the dress.' And, 'You need a bouquet, or what the hell will you do with your hands coming down the aisle?' And, 'Stop looking at magazines. This is your party.' No one is ever honest with these people."

Mistakes commonly made by hosts: "People have the idea that everyone comes late to a party. But there's a whole subset that comes early. Usually, they're older and super interesting. I sit them down and give them drinks.

"Also, people overstock their bars. A modern full bar should include vodka, wine, very little beer, mixers, tonic, soda and white cranberry juice. You can buy bourbon and gin, but you'll wind up with it.

"And do not try to arrange your own flowers. Most people can't do it. So take your vases to Kroger or Central Market or wherever you buy flowers and ask for help.

"And eat. If you don't eat, your guests won't, either."

If you must cook: "Make your three best dishes. The ones you'd feed the queen of England."

What's different about Houston parties: "People have bigger houses here. And it's a jovial city full of nonnatives."

Jackie Kennedy at a party: "She never took her eyes off the person she was talking to."

More helpful hints: "Scour resale shops for signature serving pieces. If you're not hiring a bartender, set up a self-service bar. You're too busy to get everybody drinks. And elevate some of the platters on the table, using books, sturdy boxes, almost anything. You'll get 60 percent more space. And please, use your dining room."

What he does when there are no parties: "That front door is closed. I'm in bed by 9 p.m."

Panicking over a Party? Caterer Graham Gemoets has advice

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A Recipe from Goodtaste.TV: Red Carpet Red Velvet Cake Truffles

A Recipe from Goodtaste.TV: Red Carpet Red Velvet Cake Truffles

These beautiful bon bons have some real star power! Butter & Company Catering is in the Houston Heights, offering full service catering, event design, decoration and staffing for elegant events from four to 400. They specialize in weddings and buffets in Houston, Galveston and surrounding areas. They'd love to meet and discuss your next stylishly, sumptuous party!

Ingredients

Red Velvet Cake:
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs (Important to use real eggs, egg substitutes don't rise as well, they should also be at room temperature)
  • 1 TBLS cocoa
  • 2 oz red food coloring (or green for St. Patrick's Day!)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla (Mexican is best)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp vinegar (white distilled)
Cream Cheese Frosting:
(These portions are for frosting the cake with layers; only a portion of it, about half, it varies, will be needed for the cake balls)
  • 1 lb cream cheese (softened and at room temperature)
  • 4 cups confectioner's sugar (sifted)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (= 2 sticks, softened and at room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (again, prefer Mexican)

Recipe Info

To Start, Make the Components:

Make your favorite cake recipe, in our case that is my mother's Southern Red Velvet, and let cool on a baking rack

Make your favorite frosting, we recommend one with a classic cream cheese base, you will only need 3/4 of what you would have used for frosting the cake normally

You will need a fine dipping chocolate like Ambrosia Bitter Sweet Chocolate Bark and golden cake sprinkles. We get ours from HEB due to their large selection.

Assemble the Mix:

Once the cake has cooled, separate it into multiple sections with a knife

Gently crumble the cake by rubbing the sections together like erasers over a large bowl

Mix in the frosting by hand, a little at a time and form a mixture the consistency of soft clay (get your hands in there, girl!)

Place in airtight container for up to an hour to set

Assemble the Bon-Bons:

Use an ice cream scoop to form the bon bon's, pressing delicately with your fingers and then rolling in your palms works best

Lay out on baking paper, well separated, and refrigerate for an hour

Temper the chocolate by melting it in the microwave in several short bursts at a very low setting, stirring slowly each time you take it out and adding a bit more chocolate

Using a fork in one hand and a spoon in the other, grab one of the cake balls and drop it into the chocolate, coating it delicately, this will give you control and allow the extra chocolate to drop back

Shake the bon-bon a few times to allow the extra chocolate to go back into the ball and for the chocolate to start to set

Make about five bon-bons then look at the sheen of the chocolate, it should be slightly matt after a few seconds to a minute, but not solid yet

This is when you want to apply the sprinkles, so it rests on top of the chocolate and doesn't settle in

Things to be Careful of:

You want the mix to be very soft, so remove any hard spots along the sides and bottom of the cake once it has cooled

Be careful not to use too much frosting, or the mix will be too sticky to roll into balls

Be careful not to use too little frosting, or the mix won't come together

Don't be too hard when forming the bon-bon's as the mix is already condensed

Practice melting the chocolate, this step takes time to master

Do not add cream to the chocolate, or it won't stay solid at room temperature

Also, do not allow any water, even a little, into the chocolate or it won't solidify

Be sure to use a large enough sprinkle and not a colored sugar for the bon-bons, as the later aren't large enough and will disappear in the cooling chocolate surface

Method for Red Velvet Cake:

Butter and flour to prep the pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the shortening and sugar together.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one, but not overheating the mix. Make a paste of the cocoa and food coloring, then blend into the mix.

Mix the salt, vanilla and buttermilk together in a bowl. Add to the mix, alternating with the flour. Blend the soda and vinegar in a bowl and fold, don't beat, into the mix. Turn into a 9 x 13 pan, which has been greased and floured. (Even non-stick pans should be greased and floured)

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, rotate half-way through the cooking. Test for doneness with a toothpick, which should come out clean.

When using the cake for cake balls, it is better to err on too little cooking then too much, if the edges harden they should be removed. Turn over onto a cooling rack and leave to cool for 15 to 30 minutes.

Method for Cream Cheese Frosting:

Mix the cream cheese, sugar and butter at low speed until they come together, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and blend until the mix becomes light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (stop occasionally to scrape down the bowl.)

Reduce the speed back down to low and add the vanilla so it doesn't splatter. Increase the speed back to high and restore a fluffy consistency. Store in the refrigerator to help it settle.

The frosting will keep for up to three days in the fridge, but I suggest making the cake and frosting on the same day as you will be making the cake balls. It is fresher and easier to work with.

Contact:

Graham Gemoets
Butter & Company
(713) 820-3221
graham@butterandcompany.com
www.butterandcompany.com

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