Sometimes you just need someone else to throw the party for you. Having cooked and catered so often for others, and also having a strong aversion to partying all night only to face mounds of dishes before bed, I have to admit that hiring a cater has some merit, even if you are a perfect host.
This week I wrote about Anna Chaney, owner of Herrington on the Bay in southern Anne Arundel County. 80% of Herrington’s business is on site parties, and there is a reason why: the property is beautiful.
Anna not only fixed up the dilapidated main building, but also turned a former dredge soil site into a beautiful waterfront venue.
You have to admire that much gumption and smarts. I’ll take a mover and shaker over a couch potato any day, mostly because that means their brain is truly moving and that usually means they are pretty interesting.
Anyway, Anna and Herrington have a few things that set them apart from the average caterer (chief among them Anna’s dogmatic energy), but also an authentic focus on supporting local farmers and artisans, and a thoughtful nod to good health.
Several years ago Anna and her executive culinary staff partnered with The Weston A. Price Foundation to identify where the Herrington menu could be made healthier. The team ended up making a huge decision to go all scratch.
That’s a big deal because scratch cooking made from fresh ingredients is more expensive: handcrafted bases, broths, soups, breads, etc. etc. take longer to make, don’t preserve–since the kitchen doesn’t use additives or chemicals–, and the ingredients used to make the foods can perish faster than standard processed foods. It was a bold move but Anna says people visit Herrington specifically because the company offers things like healthy, fresh and oh-by-the-way grown in Herrington’s own neighborhood foods.
The team also made a decision to embrace accommodating guests with food allergies. Tom McReynolds is the company’s Executive Pastry Chef. He’s been with them for 23 years. Anna says he is a true perfectionist who spends hours and hours working out the tiniest details like air pockets in his baguettes and just the right amount of sugar topping in his crumb cake. He came up with his own gluten free flour mix, which he was generous to share with me (although I really wanted to ask for that crumb cake recipe, which is insanely delicious).
Herrington on the Bay Gluten Free Flour Mix by Pastry Chef Tom McReynolds
- 1 qt rice flour
- 1 qt potato starch
- 12 oz. tapioca flour
- 1 qt corn starch
Combine all ingredients
Gluten Free Biscuits by Herrington on the Bay and Pastry Chef Tom McReynolds
- 12 oz Tom McReynold’s Gluten Free Flour Blend
- 1/4 tsp. xantham gum
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 TBL baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 2 oz. shortening
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
- 2 TBL buttermilk
- Place flour, xantham gum, salt, baking powder and soda in a bowl.
- Cut in shortening and butter and then add both amounts of buttermilk (Mixture should be very gummy).
- Place on a G.F. floured board and fold 2-3 times.
- Pat or roll into a 1″ high disk. sing the 4″ biscuit cutter, place the close together on a parchment lined and oiled pan.
- Bake in a 400 degree oven for 12 mins. Brush with butter when they are done.
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