Mark Kramer

Mark Kramer, Executive Chef, Creative Director & Proprietor of Susan Lawrence, brings to his work an extensive knowledge of food and a keen sense of design drawn from the visual arts and cultural history. His food designs have appeared in many major publications such as Victoria Magazine, Early American Life, and W Magazine. Recently honored as "Best Caterer" by Westchester Magazine, he has created menus and coordinated events for many prestigious clients including; the New York Zoological Society, the Rockefeller family, President & Senator Clinton, the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., Brooke Astor, Lady Bird Johnson, Glenn Close, Eileen Fisher, Vanessa Williams, Historic Hudson Valley, the Jewish Museum, The New York Times, the Hudson River Museum and Hermes of Paris. Mr. Kramer's cooking classes, particularly his "Perfect Dinner Party" series, have been extremely well received and have developed a large following.

A passionate collector of antique copper, Mr. Kramer brings his love for hand- hammered copper platters and furnishings to his design work. They figure significantly in his catering concepts where they are combined with estate urns, English ivy topiaries and verdigris baskets to create a distinctive 19th-century garden aesthetic. The Mark Kramer Vintage Collection, a line of handmade copper housewares, is currently in production and will soon appear in retail stores. Mr. Kramer, has recently redesigned and expanded Susan Lawrence in Chappaqua making it one of the nation's finest purveyors of gourmet food.

Mr. Kramer began his culinary career in Chicago as the pastry chef for Foodstuffs (a division of Crate and Barrel) where he designed and created an entire retail pastry product line. It was in Chicago, mentored by such culinary visionaries as Carol Siegel, Abby Mandel and Leslie Reis that he perfected his craft. Mr. Kramer also studied the violoncello and early music at Northwestern University where he received a Master of Music Degree. While earning a doctorate degree in music history, he specialized in the symbolism of music in Dutch paintings of the seventeenth century. He remains today a respected expert in that field and has received critical acclaim as artistic director of the period instrument ensemble, Ars Antiqua. He resides in Putnam County where he has created a formal English herb garden and perennial gardens that have supplied Susan Lawrence with culinary herbs and flowers for many years.

Mark's Journal
THE ART OF ENTERTAINING: EAT WELL, LIVE SAFELY, NEW RULES Posted on Thursday, September 24, 2020

I first began "pandemic" entertaining at home in the late spring, when our gardens were just too beautiful not to share with friends and family. So I started small and kept it very simple. Just one other couple for an afternoon garden tour and some simple refreshments. After months of social isolation it was such a joy to spend time with friends. It quickly began to feel almost "normal." But there were strict rules to be followed. Guests were required to arrive wearing a mask, no hugs and no one was allowed inside the house. At the garden gate entrance was always a "welcome table" with sanitizer and wipes.

I followed a strict protocol that insured my guest's safety as well as my own. Everything was carefully choreographed. Comfortable and safely distanced seating was arranged in the garden and once people were settled in their places, the masks could come off. At first I only served dessert and coffee -  a Meyer Lemon Tart or a fresh Blueberry Galette. Then, as I became more confident that social distancing could be maintained, the menus got more ambitious, evolving into a wonderful succession small plates served Tapas style. Fried Deviled Eggs and Andalusian Style Gazpacho Soup Sips were served between tours of the garden. Then on to  Crispy Coconut Shrimp & Fresh Pineapple Soft Tacos and Crabmeat Stuffed Shishito Peppers - all served on plates garnished with herbs and flowers from the garden. 

On a chilly afternoon we gathered around a blazing antique fire cauldron sipping hot cups of Truffle & Saffron Butternut Squash Soup. A Schwartzwalder Kirsch Torte (Black Forest Cake) for a visiting German friend, Crispy Duck Taquitos with Mole Sauce, Miniature Hot Dogs on Brioche Buns with Fried Green Tomatoes, Pimento Cheese & Caramelized Bourbon Onions.  All wonderful opportunities for connecting with people and sharing really fun food.  Proof that in these challenging times we can ALL still celebrate life together. It just takes a little extra care...

FRIED DEVILED EGGS: A Secret Recipe Revealed... Posted on Sunday, August 2, 2020

From the Chef’s Kitchen: 

After thousands of requests, here at last is the recipe for my latest creation: Fried Deviled Eggs for you to enjoy. With Susan Lawrence closed on Sundays I thought it would be a really fun idea to share recipes from my own kitchen where many of the ideas for the store originate. It is our “test” kitchen and I hope you enjoy this and create some deliciousness of your very own!  You can see this recipe with step by step pictures on our Facebook page @susanlawrencecatering

HOW TO MAKE FRIED DEVILED EGGS
I have often thought about elevating the much revered classic deviled egg to a culinary WOW - and inspiration came last week when I created Fried Deviled Eggs for a group of very special food-loving guests. The combination of a crispy fried exterior and a cool smooth creamy filling, with just a touch of piquant spiciness, makes them a truly extraordinary deviled egg experience. Of course, use the very best farm raised eggs with those rich deep colored yolks. The result is impressive, but these are actually easy to make once you master the various steps involved. Truly a bite of heaven and devilishly good...
Makes 16 halves. 

INGREDIENTS 

8 large farm raised eggs, chilled. (these are available daily at Susan Lawrence from a farm upstate) 
2-3 additional large eggs, beaten 
1/3 c mayonnaise  
1 T Dijon mustard  
1 t lemon juice  
1/2 t Worcestershire sauce  
1/4 t salt  
1/8 t ground black pepper  
1/2 t sriracha or tabasco 
1/4 t paprika 
3/4 c all purpose flour  
1 c panko bread crumbs
3/4 c garlic & herb seasoned bread crumbs
5 c canola oil 
Pastry Bag & Star Piping Tip 

DIRECTIONS
To Make Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs
Fill a 4-quart pot with 2 quarts of water. Bring to a full boil. With a slotted spoon or mesh strainer carefully add the 8 cold eggs to the boiling water. Reduce to simmer and cook for 12 minutes. Remove eggs and immediately shock in a large bowl of ice water. When the eggs are cold, crack and peel using the cold water to facilitate shell removal. Dry the eggs thoroughly with paper towels and set aside. 

To Make the Egg Filling
Trim off a thin piece off the end of each egg. Then cut each egg in half at the center (not lengthwise as normally done). They will stand like little egg cups. Carefully remove the yolks from each egg half. In bowl of food processor, add the yolks and all the little egg white end-trimmings. Add the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, sriracha and paprika. Blend until smooth being sure to scrape down the sides with a spatula to make sure everything is well blended. Adjust seasoning to taste. Place all the filling in a pastry bag fitted with a star piping tip and set aside. 

To Make Crumb Mixture & Coating the Eggs
Whisk the three eggs. Mix together the seasoned bread crumbs and panko bread crumbs. Set up three plates or bowls, one each for the flour, eggs and seasoned bread crumbs. Carefully dredge the egg cups in the flour, then the egg mixture and then the seasoned bread crumbs. Make sure the egg cups are thoroughly coated, inside and out, with each of the ingredients. Set aside.

To Fry & Finish the Deviled Eggs  
Pour 5 cups of canola oil into an 8” diameter 4-quart pot. Heat the oil to 350-375 degrees. Fry in batches until golden brown (just a minute or two) using a mesh strainer to carefully lower and remove the eggs from the frying oil. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and immediately sprinkle while still warm with Maldon sea salt. When just cool enough to handle (luke warm but still crispy) pipe the egg yolk mixture into the center of each egg cup. Sprinkle lightly with paprika and a little more Maldon sea salt. Serve immediately. I use whatever fresh herbs I have in the garden to garnish the eggs or the platter: fresh chives, nasturtiums, flowering thyme, rose petals, etc. 

Do Ahead Tips:
Much of this can be done and cleaned up ahead of time - so if you are serving guests it can be set up in a simple and organized fashion. The eggs can be cooked and peeled the day before - just keep them tightly covered in the refrigerator. The filling can be made several hours before serving. Just place the filled pastry bag in the refrigerator and it will be ready when you need it. You can coat the egg cups in the bread crumb mixture up to an hour before - just leave at room temperature. But it is essential that the egg cups are fried just before serving so your guests get the full effect of the crunchy warm exterior and the creamy deviled egg filling. It’s best if the filling is not ice cold when you pipe it into the warm egg cups.


The Rules Posted on Friday, January 3, 2020

After years of entertaining in my own home and creating all sorts of parties for my clients, I have had a rare opportunity to observe the very best and worst of people’s party behavior. So I have created ‘The Rules.’ A list of the important things every guest should know before they reach the front door of their host’s home. 

These do’s and don’ts (mostly don’ts!) are meant to act as a gentle reminder that being a guest at a party is a special privilege. And with that privilege comes a responsibility to be courteous, polite and gracious. 

The Rules: How to be a Guest. Don’ts: 

Do not bring flowers. EVER. Finding vases at the last minute are a hassle for a host that is busy with last minute details. And your host has already thought about flowers and a color scheme that will probably conflict with the bright orange roses you bought at the convenience store. A potted plant or orchid is fine. Wine & Champagne - Not the best gift. Unless it really reflects who you are or is a particularly special wine. But you must tell your host it is for them to enjoy at another time. They have already planned what wine will be served and you don’t want a host to feel obligated to use yours that evening.

Do not bring food. Not even cookies. You are a guest at a dinner party where there is food being served. Do I need to explain any further?? 

Food Allergies & Diet Restrictions. Keep them to yourself. You will not starve - enjoy what you CAN eat without making a scene or making it all about you. 

Bar Etiquette. After you are served a drink, step away from the bar. There are many people waiting while you stand and chat with your friends. And for goodness sake - if you see someone cleaning up and carrying plates and glassware - try to stay out of their path. Do not ever ask for a drink that is not offered. No one should have to find you sugar free cranberry juice or Pinot Grigio even if it is YOUR signature drink. 

Buffet Etiquette: Move quickly through a buffet line, knowing that there are people waiting. Move as far away from the buffet as possible after being served to allow others to circulate near the table. Never eat food while standing at or near the buffet. Do not return to the buffet for more food until all guests have been served. 

Bathroom Etiquette: Don't make a mess. Always flush the toilet and put the the entire seat-cover down. Leave the bathroom spotless. If paper or soap needs replenishing - replace it if you can. If waste basket is overflowing - take the initiative to empty it or inform your host quietly that the bathroom needs attention. Never flush anything but bathroom tissue - most homes have sensitive septic tanks that can not accommodate paper hand towels or sanitary napkins. 

Do not talk on your cell phone or check your messages in front of anyone. If there is an emergency or situation that requires you to check in - do it privately in a bedroom or outside. 

Do not, EVER, bring an unexpected guest, child or pet. Do not even ASK to bring your pet! Never arrive early. NEVER!

 Do’s:

 RSVP as early as possible. Don’t assume your host knows you are coming just because you are their best friend. Always put your name on a gift. Always offer to help. Pass hors d’oeuvres, pick things up etc. Offer to introduce guests to one another. Offer to help wash glasses or serve. 

Hostess Gifts. 

It is always nice to arrive with something for your host. But what are the options if wine, flowers and food are against the ‘rules’? Here are some suggestions: Artisanal candles or soaps. Chocolates (but always tell your host it is for them AFTER the guests leave and not meant to be shared). An orchid or small potted herb or plant, homemade or artisanal jam, a jar of French Sea Salt, Local Honey or Maple Syrup, an interesting tea. A dozen local farm eggs in a basket. A box of beautiful note cards. A wonderful bottle of olive oil. Please remember, gifts that have a personal connection - that mean something special to either you or your host, are always the best! Always send a handwritten thank you note to your host, even if it is someone you speak with all the time.

View more entries