Thursday, January 22, 2015

Apple-Cranberry Upside Down Cake, Our Favorite Recipe of 2014

Apple-Cranberry Upside Down Cake took the, well, the cake!  It is especially great topped with whipped cream and even more decadent with a drizzle of some bourbon sauce.  Happy baking!

Cake for hundreds at the 2014 KS Wild fundraising dinner.

Apple-Cranberry Upside Down Cake
Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated - now an AZ Catering Original Recipe © 2014

Will make 12 large portions (cut 3 x 4) or 15 smaller portions (cut 3 x 5). 

12 Tbs. Butter
2 c Brown sugar
3 lb Granny Smith apples
2 Tbs. Lemon juice
1 lb Cranberries

3 c Flour
1 Tbs. Baking powder                                                  
1/2 Tbs. Table salt

2 c Sugar
1 c Brown sugar
6 Eggs
18 Tbs. Butter, melted
1 ½ c Sour cream
1 Tbs. Vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Spray 9 x 13 pan extremely well
  3. Prep fruit: 
    1. Halve apples from pole to pole.  Remove cores and stems etc.  Cut ½ the apples into ¼” thick slices; set aside.  Cut remaining apples into ½” thick slices.
    2. Heat butter in skillet.
    3. Add ½” thick apples and cook, stirring 2 or 3 times, until apples begin to caramelize, 4-6 minutes.  Do NOT fully cook apples.
    4. Add ¼” slices, brown sugar and lemon juice; continue cooking, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves and apples are coated, about 1 minute longer.
    5. Transfer apple mixture into prepared pan.  Press lightly into an even layer along with cranberries.
  4. Mix dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt); set aside.
  5. Whisk white and brown sugars together.  Add eggs and whisk well, until thick and homogeneous.  Slowly whisk in melted butter until combined.  Add sour cream and vanilla; whisk until combined.
  6. Add flour mixture to wet and whisk until just combined.
  7. Pour batter evenly over fruit in pan.  This insures the fruit will stay in a layer on the bottom of the pan and not mix into the batter.
  8. Bake until golden brown, about 30-45 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, or with very few crumbs.
  9. Cool pan on rack for 20 min.  Run paring knife to loosen sides.  Invert cake.  Let cool 20 min.
  10. Cut into pieces and serve.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

2014 Recap

2014 was another fabulously successful year for AZ Catering & Event Planning- we finally figured out how to balance work and play!  After spending 2013 so busy there was not time to stop and smell the pulled pork, we felt it was time for an adjustment.  We wanted to find an equilibrium between working with AMAZING clients, creating delicious food and finding the time to search out creative inspiration.  Mission accomplished!  Our amazing crew had much to do with achieving that balance - laughter and joking is always much appreciated when working 15-hour days (especially after working on millions of Lamb Kebabs long into the night…).

This year brought us back together with a huge roster of wonderful repeat clients:  Ashland Rowing Club, Ashland Outdoor Store, Ashland Independent Film Festival, the American Band College, the Rogue Valley Symphony, the Rogue Creamery, Jefferson Public Radio, Oregon Nonprofit Leadership Conference, and KS Wild to name a few.  It is a pleasure to work with such a wide array of remarkable people year after year. 

2014 also introduced us to some incredible new clients.  We catered an amazing five-course meal for the Rotary Club at the lovely Willow Witt Ranch.  Talk about lucky- it isn’t every day we get to cater with beautiful woodland meadows all around us!  Later in the year we had the opportunity to cater for the crew of the Food Network television show “Restaurant Impossible” as they filmed at the Ashland restaurant Mystics Treats.  And of course AZ Catering & Event Planning would like to wish all of the lovely couples from this past year’s weddings all the best.

In addition to all our events, Chef Awna found time to spend a vacation in Italy on her bicycle for a month!  She had a wonderful time and brought back with her all sorts of innovation for the recipe book including creative new ways to cook with farro.  (Recipe below.)

All in all, it was an amazing year, and we are all very excited to see what 2015 brings.  

Marvelous Jalapeno-Corn Fritters with Honey Butter.

"Thank you so much for making our day DELICIOUS!  
Everyone loved it and we'll be recommending you!" 
~Tarri and Justin, at Wisteria Gardens, 09/06/14.

Oh-so-yummy Feta Parsley Pate with Radishes on Crostini.

Crew member Brandt makes MANY frittatas 
for breakfast served at the 
2014 Oregon Nonprofit Leadership Conference.

Mouthwatering fresh, Grilled Peaches.

Our portable kitchen means we can cook anywhere, anytime!

Tender, juicy, juicy Chicken Kebabs.

Tables set for the Rotary Club at Willow Witt Ranch.

Crew member Tori prepares pasta for American Band College.

Awna and Ana are So. Excited. For. Cheese. Festival!!!

Decadent Meyer Lemon Tartlets with Whipped Cream and fresh Lemon Zest.

Beet-Pickled Deviled Eggs.  
Incredibly colorful.  Incredibly delicious.

Chef AZ and crewmember James grill up a storm 
on a beautiful summer evening!

Farmer’s Farro Salad
An AZ Catering original recipe copyright 2015

*Yield: 10-12 servings depending on size OR 5 cups finished product.


2 c     Uncooked farro
2 ¾ c  Water
½ tsp. Salt

Veggies mixed in:
2 tsp.  Kalamata olives, minced
1 c      Red onion, minced
1 c      Cucumber, minced
1 pint  Grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 Tbs. Basil, minced

¼ c     Extra virgin olive oil 
1 tsp.  Balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs. Red wine vinegar
1 Tbs. Honey
½ tsp. Red chili flakes
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard

½        Bunch parsley, chopped


  • Mix farrowater and salt in large pot.  Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce to simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.  Turn off burner, and let sit, covered, for 5-10 minutes more.  Spread out on a rimmed sheet pan and let cool completely (do not skip this step).
  • Make sure all veggies are minced.
  • Make dressing:  Whisk together vinegarshoneyred chili flakes and Dijon mustard.  Emulsify in olive oil.  
  • Toss cooked/cooled farro with vegetables and dressing.  Stir well.  Adjust flavorings, adding salt and pepper as necessary.
  • Garnish w/ parsley directly before service.


The salad is ready to serve, but can also be made and store in the fridge, covered, one day ahead.  If stored over night, more dressing will have to be added.