St. Patrick’s Day is traditionally a day to enjoy a hearty meal in the company of good friends and family. It’s also traditionally a day that’s heavy on rich foods and meats. So what do you do if you’re a proud carnivore but you’ve got a few vegetarians or even…ahem…vegans in your fold?
“No problem,” says Jeanette Maier, owner of New York caterer Fancy Girl Table. “We specialize in bringing people together around the table, no matter what their diets may be.”
In the 1990s, Maier was chef and co-owner of Herban Kitchen, arguably New York City’s first organic restaurant, and certainly one of its most innovative. She based her menus on the idea that everyone should be able to break bread together (even if some of that bread was gluten-free), and that “good for you” food could also be a gourmet dining experience.
“People have preconceived ideas about what they think healthy food tastes like,” says Maier. “But that perception isn’t accurate. I always try to educate people to the idea that eating clean doesn’t have to mean eating plain tofu and bean sprouts.”
Maier’s creative menus earned her consistently high Zagat ratings and led to features in the New York Times and Time Out New York, including one called “Help, I’m Dating a Vegetarian!” which singled out her restaurant as one of the few places in the city where people from all points on the dietary spectrum could share a table without sacrificing the tastes they loved.
After ten years, Maier left the restaurant business to start Fancy Girl Table, a full-service catering and event design company serving everyone from corporate boardrooms to rustic farm dinners to weddings large and small. Fancy Girl embodies the philosophy behind its tagline: “Organic catering, creative menus, beautiful presentation, sustainable practices.”
Maier sources all her ingredients from local farms, and maintains personal relationships with the farmers. Her produce is organic; meats and poultry are grass-fed, antibiotic and hormone-free, and free roaming; seafood is ocean-friendly.
“I love the challenge of creating a healthy and delicious alternative to a traditional dish,” says Maier. “The greatest compliments I get as a chef are when die-hard steak fans tell me that they love one of my vegetarian dishes and they don’t even miss the meat.”
You can check out Jeanette’s special St. Patrick’s Day recipes for beer-braised chicken stew (for the carnivores), upside-down Shepherd’s Pie (for the vegans), and Emerald Salad with Irish Cashel Blue cheese below.
- 4 Large Sweet Potatoes, peeled & cut into 6 pieces
- 4 Large Russet Potatoes, peeled & cut into 6 pieces
- ½ tablespoon each chopped fresh oregano, rosemary & thyme
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1-¼ cup green or red lentils
- 2 bay leaves
- 1-teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground fennel
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1 ¼ cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
- 1 red pepper, chopped small
- 1 cup chopped kale
- 1 ¼ cup bread crumbs. We use Mary’s Gone Crackers: Just The Crumbs. They are gluten-free and have a great texture.
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Make the mashed potatoes: Place all the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until easily pierced with a fork. Strain the potatoes, but save 1 cup of the potato water. Put the potatoes and 1 cup of the reserved water back into the pot with the fresh herbs and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and mash. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Set aside
- Cook the lentils: place lentil in a pot with enough water to cover. Add bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, add spices and partially cover. Add more water if needed during cooking. Cook until soft.
- In a sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil until hot. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the mushrooms and peppers and cook until the mushrooms release their liquid. Add the chopped kale and sauté until just wilted. Add in the cooked lentil, add salt and pepper and mix well. Remove from heat.
- Assemble: In a baking dish (we use a 9 x 13 inch dish) add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 cup of the bread crumbs. Mix together then spread on the bottom of the dish. Next layer ¾ ‘s of the masked potatoes and spread evenly over the breadcrumbs. Next spoon the lentil vegetable mixture over the mashed potatoes and lightly press down to make even. Then with a scoop or spoon, scoop on the remaining potatoes, making about 12 balls. Cover the top with the remaining breadcrumbs. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for approximately 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes more or until browned on top.
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 ½ lbs. skinless boneless chicken thighs
- 1 12-ounce bottle of beer (ale or brown)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup frozen pearl onions
- 1 lb. red fingerling potatoes cut in half lengthwise
- 1 large carrot, sliced
- 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
- 1-cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Mix together the garlic, smoked paprika and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to form a paste. Rub all over the chicken thighs and let marinated at least an hour.
- Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the remaining olive oil and when hot, add the chicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken on both sides.
- Add the beer, bay leaves, onions, potatoes, mustard, thyme and chicken stock. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are fork tender.
- Add the parsley & chives and adjust salt and pepper.
- Note: this dish is best made the day before to allow for the flavors to further develop.
Macaroni & Cheese with Sweet Potato & Farmhouse Bacon
Serves 6 as an entrée, 8 as a side dish
- ½ pound macaroni
- 1 cup thick cut bacon, cut into ¼ inch slices
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup sweet potato, peeled and cut into ¼ inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 1/2 cups half and half
- 2 shallots, minced
- 8 ounces gruyere, grated
- 8 ounces smoked cheddar, grated
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook the pasta al dente in boiling salted. Drain and rinse the pasta in cold water. Set aside.
- Boil the cubed sweet potato until soft. Drain and set aside.
- Sauté the bacon in a small pan until crisp and golden. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 1 tablespoons of the drippings, and return the pan to low heat. Add the breadcrumbs and thyme to the bacon drippings, and toss to coat evenly. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and set the pan aside.
- In a saucepan with a thick bottom, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Sprinkle in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to work the flour into the butter. Continue to cook for 3 minutes, stirring often. Whisk in the half and half in 1-cup increments, making sure to work the mixture smooth each time. Whisk in the shallots, and simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until thickened.
- Turn off the heat and whisk in the smoked cheddar and half of the gruyere. Season the cheese sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the macaroni and bacon, then pour into a greased 2-quart baking dish and top with the remaining cheese. Sprinkle over the breadcrumb mixture and bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until the cheese and breadcrumbs are golden.
- 1 piece of sliced ginger, ½ inch thick
- 8 pink peppercorns
- 3 allspice berries
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- 1 ½ cups red wine vinegar
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1-pint blackberries
- 1-tablespoon butter
- 4 medium red- or pink-skinned lady apples (such as Pink Lady) cut in half and seeds removed
- 1-teaspoon sugar
- 1/2-cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4-teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups dark green arugula
- ¼ cup toasted pecans
- 4 ounces Irish cheese, such as Cashel Blue
- In a saucepan, add the ginger, spices, bay leaf, sugar, salt, vinegar & water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Cool the brine. Pour over the black berries that have been placed in a large jar. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 days, but one week is best.
- Cook the lady apples: in a skillet heat the butter. When hot, add the lady apples and sprinkle with the sugar.
- Cooked the lady apples over medium heat, turning them occasionally. Cook until softened and lightly browned.
- Make the dressing: Place oil, vinegar, shallot, mustard, paprika, salt and pepper in a blender; blend until well combined. You will have dressing leftover for more salads.
- Assemble the salad by tossing the arugula, apples, and pickled berries with ¼ cup of the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more dressing if necessary. Top with crumbled cheese and pecans.
- 1 9-inch loaf chocolate pound cake, cubed into ½ inch pieces (store bought or your favorite recipe)
- 1 12-ounce bottle Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout Beer
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup of sugar
- For the chocolate sauce:
- 6 oz. (1/2 bottle) Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout Beer
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips
- Pinch of sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Whisk together the 12 ounces of beer, 2 eggs, ½ cup milk, 1 cup heavy cream and the ¼ cup sugar until well blended. Add the cubed pound cake and let sit until the cake absorbs some of the liquid.
- Transfer to a greased baking dish or, for individually baked portions, into a muffin tin. Bake for 30 minutes, or until set. If baked in a muffin tin. Bake about 20 minutes
- In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the 6 ounces of beer, heavy cream, and brown sugar, and bring to a slow simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in the dark chocolate chips and a pinch of sea salt, whisking to incorporate thoroughly. Pour over the bread pudding.
About Fancy Girl Table
To see beautiful photos of the full range of Fancy Girl’s varied cuisine along with recipes and tips, be sure to follow Jeanette on social media. For more information please visit www.fgtable.com and find them on Twitter and Facebook.