The Chowgirls offer their own time-tested party recipes in a new cookbook
Chowgirls Killer Catering founders Heidi Andermack and Amy Brown have catered countless parties across the Twin Cities, and now they’re looking to help would-be caterers entertain at home.
In “Chowgirls Killer Party Food: Righteous Bites & Cocktails for Every Season” the Northeast Minneapolis-based duo share 85 recipes of small plates, drinks and more. A majority of the cookbook’s recipes have been time-tested in weddings and events across Chowgirls’ nearly 13-year history.
“Part of our mission with Chowgirls is to make really good food approachable,” Andermack said. “Everything in the cookbook is accessible.”
The two have been writing the book — out now from Arsenal Pulp Press — for the past couple years. Though they’ve wanted to write a book since Chowgirls’ inception, Andermack and Brown said they’ve only found the time now to get down to writing thanks to new staff. Since 2004 the two-person operation has flourished into a 130-person staff (35 are full time) with $4 million in projected revenue this year.
In “Chowgirls Killer Party Food,” Andermack and Brown reveal how to make some of their catering staples, from their Tapenade Trio dips and antipasto rolls to a versatile recipe for roasted fall vegetables. They also add a few new “on-trend” items with unique ingredients, like a coconut quinoa salad with turmeric, ginger and apples and a grilled sirloin served over farro and roasted tomatoes.
More than just a recipe collection, the book also allows readers insight into the work of a caterer with extra tips and tricks on entertaining and preparing most of the dishes. It’s also divided into seasons, which readers can use to pair dishes together for a complete party, the two added, though some dishes — deviled eggs, for example — can be made year round.
Brown and Andermack recommend five to eight appetizers for a party, as well as a cocktail or two. Like their regular catering menu, the Chowgirls offer a variety of vegetarian and vegan options to mix into a menu.
The two found inspiration in moments with food stardom, even if they were unplanned. Years ago, Andermack was on a cooking trip in Italy when she found out The Splendid Table’s Lynne Rossetto Kasper was staying in the flat underneath hers, she said, which led to a chance meeting and a private dinner that would later lead to a few recipes of her own. Brown, who came to Chowgirls after a career in publishing, worked on one of Ina Garten’s first cookbooks and then met the “Barefoot Contessa” at a conference.
The duo also credit Mollie Katzen, who wrote the seminal “Moosewood Cookbook,” and Martha Stewart — for her recipes and entrepreneurial spirit — as inspirations.
Now with a book, the Chowgirls are embarking on a national tour outside their typical arena in Minnesota and Wisconsin. “Chowgirls Killer Party Food,” also gives them a moment to reflect on their influence on the local industry, chiefly in sustainability and sourcing ingredients.
“When we started there was no one doing local and organic catering in the Twin Cities — restaurants, but no caterers. Since then there have been a lot of other caters,” Brown said.
The Chowgirls kicked off their book tour at Magers & Quinn on Oct. 24, but they’ll be back for additional events on Nov. 26 at Patina, 2305 18th Ave. NE, in Northeast Minneapolis and on Dec. 13 at Nordic Ware, 4925 Highway 7, in St. Louis Park.
Brown and Andermack offer two recipes for winter holiday and dinner parties: a pork tenderloin enhanced with a rosemary and dried cherries and an equally herbaceous gin cocktail with lemon, maple syrup and sage.
Pork Tenderloin with Cherry-Rosemary Marmalade
Dairy-free (DF), gluten-free (GF)
One of our most original and perennially popular combinations, this pork and cherry pairing looks great as a small plate — or sliced on a wooden carving board with the marmalade on the side, garnished with fresh rosemary sprigs.
Makes 8–12 appetizer servings, depending on how ravenous your guests are
1 pork tenderloin (about 2 lb/900 g)
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup (60 mL) finely chopped fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
3 small shallots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup (125 mL) white wine
1 cup (250 mL) dried cherries, coarsely chopped
1 cup (250 mL) chicken or vegetable broth
2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary salt and pepper, to taste
Heat a gas or charcoal grill to about 375°F (190°C). If using a broiler, preheat to 525oF (275oC) and preheat a baking sheet or broiler pan.
Rinse pork tenderloin and pat dry. In a small bowl, stir together salt, pepper, parsley, and garlic. Rub spice mixture on pork tenderloin, covering it completely, and set aside.
When grill is ready, place tenderloin in the center and close lid. Roast for 12–15 minutes, turning about every 3 minutes, until tenderloin is nicely browned and reaches an internal temperature of 160° F (70°C). If broiling, place tenderloin on preheated baking sheet, 3–4 in (8–10 cm) from flame, and roast for 10 minutes per side.
Allow pork to rest for 10 minutes, then carve and serve with Cherry-Rosemary Marmalade.
In a large frying pan on medium, heat olive oil until sizzling, then add shallots and garlic. Sauté for 2–3 minutes, until slightly softened. Increase heat to high and add wine, stirring well, until reduced by half. Stir in cherries and broth, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until cherries have softened and mixture takes on a glossy appearance. Stir in chopped rosemary, salt, and pepper. Let cool slightly before serving. Can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Makes 1 cup (250 mL).
Leftover Cherry-Rosemary Marmalade is a great addition to any cheese plate, too. We especially like it with triple-cream Brie!
Sage Woodstock (cocktail)
The bright juice of Meyer lemons contrasts nicely with the woodsy tones of maple syrup and botanical fragrances of juniper and sage, like the sun bursting through the stark branches of a maple tree in the bright white snow. A crisp sip with a smooth finish, this is the cocktail that converted Heidi into a gin drinker.
Makes 8 cocktails
3 cups (700 mL) water
10 whole leaves fresh sage
1 ½ cups (375 mL) maple syrup
9 Meyer lemons
1 26-oz (750-mL) bottle gin
In a medium pot on high heat, bring water to a boil. Add sage leaves and maintain a rolling boil for 10–15 minutes, until liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat and strain out sage leaves. Immediately stir maple syrup into liquid until completely combined. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, use a paring knife to slice thin oval pieces of lemon peel, about the size of a bottle cap. Set aside in a small bowl for garnish. Cut lemons in half and extract juice. Strain pulp and pour 3 cups (700 mL) lemon juice into blender. When syrup is cool, add to lemon juice and blend to create a mixer. Just before serving, shake equal amounts mixer and gin over ice. Strain and pour into martini glasses. Twist lemon peel over each cocktail to extract essential oil, then drop in to float in drinks.
Just as the craft brewery boom peaked, our neighborhood was claimed as turf by another liquid vice pusher — the local distillery. Consider this a great excuse to try a gin that’s made close to home.