Back in the day when I first joined the San Diego chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier the group had a summer BBQ potluck. I’m not usually a fan of potlucks, mostly because you just never know what kind of food will arrive. But a potluck with dishes by women who are restaurant owners, caterers, cookbook authors, and cooking school teachers? Now, game on.

As it happened, the organizers also enjoy making it just a little competitive, and they had a contest for the best salad. You could also bring an appetizer or dessert, but since I was pressed for time and happened to have the ingredients on hand, I decided to make my version of Mark Bittman’s Israeli couscous salad. This salad really takes advantage of the bounty of summer produce. And, I love the impact of the cinnamon, cumin, and preserved lemon.

Anyway, there were a lot of salads on the table that night, each one different, each delicious. Most, like mine, were simply plated in large bowls, but one member, a cooking teacher and writer, made a potato salad in the shape of a hat, decorated with flowers. It was absolutely charming. Another salad, linguini with shrimp, was arranged in a huge margarita glass. Along with the salads was an array of barbecued chicken thighs, pork ribs, and lamb chops. And, I don’t have to tell you how delicious the half-dozen desserts were.

Okay, so the salad competition. The newbie won. I was pretty surprised and delighted. And my prize? A stunning plastic tiara. Because, of course, every girl should have one.

Israeli Couscous Salad
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Israeli Couscous Salad from “How to Eat Everything Vegetarian”

1 8.8 oz. package of Israeli couscous
1 small chopped white onion
1/4 cup plus 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper
2 cups boiling water
2 T. sherry vinegar
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/8 t. ground cinnamon
1 preserved lemon, skin only, sliced thinly
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup currants or golden raisins
½ cup drained canned chickpeas
2 T. capers
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
½ pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
½ pint roasted cherry or grape tomatoes*
Kernels from 1 ear of fresh white corn
6 shishito peppers, chopped
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Using a large frying pan, saute the white onion and half of the shishito peppers in 2 T. of olive oil until the onions are golden brown Add the Israeli couscous and stir until the couscous begins to brown. Add salt and pepper, then add two cups boiling water. Cover the pan and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes.

Pour the couscous into a large bowl and let cool. Then stir in oil, vinegar, and spices. Add the remaining ingredients. Let the salad stand at room temperature for an hour before serving. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary.

*I used Peggy Knickerbocker’s recipe below for slow-roasted tomatoes:

36 to 48 cherry tomatoes, or more
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
Balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 to ½ cup fresh chopped herbs: any combination of parsley, marjoram, oregano, chervil
Sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, optional

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

  1. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half width-wise. Place the halves in one or two baking dishes cut side up in one layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and a few drops of balsamic vinegar.
  2. Bake for three to four hours or until the tomatoes soften and almost collapse. Fifteen minutes before the baking is completed, combine the garlic and herbs in a small bowl. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and sprinkle the herbs and cheese on top of the tomatoes. Return to the oven for the remaining time.
  3. Serve warm or at room temperature.

My note: These tomatoes freeze well.

What is your favorite or go-to summer salad? Share your favorite dishes!

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

Be Sociable, Share!

Meet (And Read) Shaya

Filed under: Cookbooks,Recipes , Tags: , , — Author: Caron Golden , August 5, 2019

Do you read cookbooks? I don’t mean simply dipping into them for recipes. I mean really reading them. Because if your idea of a perfect evening or weekend is settling in with a cup of tea or glass of wine and a good cookbook–and you’re curious about how Israeli and American Southern food interconnect–then you’ll enjoy “Shaya: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel” by Alon Shaya.

Shaya has won two James Beard awards for his restaurants Shaya, Domenica, and Pizza Domenica in New Orleans. He was born in Tel Aviv to parents originally from Bulgaria (mom) and Romania (dad). But at age four his mother moved his older sister Anit and him to Philadelphia to reunite with his father, who had moved to the U.S. years before. The marriage broke up and Shaya was left to mostly fend for himself.

“Shaya” is a memoir/cookbook that traces his life through food. The sense of family he gained from his maternal grandparents–and the food his safta (grandmother) made for him when they visited from Israel, starting with Lutenitsa (a dish of roasted red peppers and eggplant). The first dish he made (hamantashen). Finding himself in a home ec class with the teacher of every student’s dreams and making Linguine and Clams “Carbonara.” Landing at the CIA, then going out to Vegas to work in a casino, and eventually New Orleans, where he would settle. The recipes in each chapter, including Chilled Yogurt Soup with Crushed Walnuts, Mom’s Leek Patties with Lutenitsa, Pan-Seared Yellowfin Tuna with Harissa, and Malai with Strawberries, are connected to these memories that eventually take us through the trauma of Hurricane Katrina, when he worked for chef John Besh, to Italy and Israel, and then back to New Orleans.

Because, once upon a time, I worked in publishing in New York I have a habit of reading the acknowledgments first in books. And I knew I’d be smitten by this book with the story he tells there in praise of his collaborator Tina Antolini. He initially showed her some stories he’d written and she sent him off to read one of her favorite cookbooks, “Home Cooking” by Laurie Colwin because his writing reminded her of the narrative form Laurie used in her book. Then, he worked with editor Vicky Wilson, a legendary Knopf editor, whose sister I worked with back in the day at The William Morris Agency. And Wilson told Shaya that the only cookbook she’d ever published was “Home Cooking.” That was kismet for him but why would that matter to me? Because back then I was friends with Laurie, who was the godmother to my boss’s daughter. Laurie passed away quite young, but “Home Cooking” and “Home Cooking II” as well as novels and tons of fabulous short stories are some of my favorite reading dating back to my early 20s.

So, there’s that connection. But even if that weren’t there, I’d still encourage you to get this book. Shaya is a terrific storyteller and his story is unusual. So are the recipes, and that’s part of their charm. Are they Jewish? (His Kugel in Crisis features bacon.) Are they Southern? Or Italian? Or Israeli? You’ll have to read the book to learn how he pulls together all these traditions and flavors. All I can say is that I’m looking forward to trying his recipes, especially since I had the great good fortune of interviewing him for an event in San Diego recently.

Do you read cookbooks or dip into them? What’s your favorite go-to or your happiest surprise on the page?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

Be Sociable, Share!

Every couple of months, my friends Erin and Dave Smith can be found at a Chinese market in San Diego filling up a cart with vegetables, eggs, and meat. When I went with them, they launched their expedition with huge bags of carrots and eggplants, sweet potatoes and broccoli, big bunches of leafy bok choy, and ginormous king oyster mushrooms. They eyed amounts, compared notes on what each had bagged, then moved on to the meat and poultry aisle. There they grabbed three dozen eggs, then packages of pork cushion, beef peeled knuckle, tripe; and pork livers, hearts, and spleen. They found chicken livers and gizzards and added them to the cart. Oh, and they picked up a big bag of red cargo rice before checking out. The total came to about $142, including Dave’s can of coconut water.

The shopping was for their two corgis, Ricky and Tanuki. And their Sunday would mostly be dedicated to turning that cart full of food into meals that would last for close to two months.

According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans are estimated to spend $29.69 billion on food for their pets. That could mean your basic kibble or it could extend to organic dehydrated human quality food.

As pet owners have become more aware of what goes into their own food, eschewing processed products for more healthful, seasonal, and organic ingredients they’ve also been eying the labels on their pets’ food—and are not necessarily sanguine about what they read. Pet food recalls haven’t helped. Plus, some owners are addressing specific health issues their pets have with dietary changes. Others are augmenting high-quality foods with home-cooked meals or treats. Still others, at the urging of their pets’ breeders, feed raw diets.

Why mention this? Well, you’re cooking for human clients, but if they have dogs, perhaps you can create a side business of augmenting their diet with healthy meals and treats.

The big challenge in all this is determining how closely home cooked foods adhere to basic nutritional requirements, requirements that change as a puppy or kitten mature, perhaps have litters and lactate, how much they exercise, suffer from health issues, and, eventually, age. The Association of American Feed Control Officials, or AAFCO, establishes nutritional standards for complete and balanced pet foods that pet food companies adhere to. But these standards aren’t easily available for pet owners, change over the years based on new research, and are not easy to follow even if you can figure out how to access them.

Lucy Postins, founder, owner, and Chief Integrity Officer of San Diego-based The Honest Kitchen, explained that the AAFCO standards have guidance on everything from how much fat and protein to include to nutrient profiles—all for every stage of the animal’s life.

“Our biggest challenge is getting recipes to meet AAFCO requirements,” she said. “It’s very difficult to do that across an entire recipe. It’s a $2,500 minimum undertaking to get a recipe evaluated. So, you can imagine that it’s a big challenge for pet owners.”

Erin Smith is a geneticist at UCSD and an avid cook who uses science to coax the best flavors out of food, including caramels that she used to sell locally. She has managed to find older standards and five years ago developed a complex Excel spreadsheet to work the numbers. Based on that, she said she’s pretty comfortable with the ratios she’s come up with to feed Ricky and Tanuki.

No one is saying you should create meals that would strictly feed your clients pets. It’s unlikely that like Smith, you could figure out how to meet AAFCO requirements. But the key to a healthful pet diet is diversity and that’s something you can offer. Bake doggie cookies, make a dish of ground turkey and whole wheat pasta filled with peas, cranberries, and broccoli. Just make sure that the ingredients you use aren’t toxic to dogs (like onions and garlic).

Need some inspiration? Try this meatball recipe from Honest Kitchen’s Lucy Postins:

Turkey and Raspberry Summer Meatballs
From Lucy Postins of The Honest Kitchen
Yield: About 24 small meatballs for humans and their dogs

Just the slightest bit sweet, these meatballs are so fancy and colorful that your guests will think you spent hours slaving away in the kitchen. Little do they know! 

Ingredients
1 pound ground turkey
2 free-range eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh basil
1⁄2 cup fresh raspberries

Instructions

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with olive oil.
  2.  In a large bowl, combine the turkey, eggs, basil, and raspberries. Stir until thoroughly combined (the raspberries will break apart and spread throughout the mixture).
  3.  Using your hands, make marble-size balls of the mixture and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm to the touch. Cool before serving.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Have clients been talking to you about making food or treats for their dogs? Have you considered pitching them about this?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

 

Be Sociable, Share!

Are you feeling the burn yet? If not, it’s coming. It always helps to have a few solid no cook recipes in your back pocket. We all have them. I thought I’d share some of mine in case you could use some inspiration–either for your own family or clients.

Evie’s Chunky Gazpacho
This dish has long been a family go to in the high heat of July and August. It’s the most wonderful combination of flavors and textures. It’s healthy. It’s cold. Add some cooked shrimp or crab, a hank of crusty sourdough bread, and a cold beer and you’ve got a great meal.

Serves 8 – 10

5 – 8 large tomatoes, quartered
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
½ English cucumber, roughly chopped
1 or 2 red peppers, roughly chopped
6 – 8 scallions, roughly chopped
6 – 8 radishes, roughly chopped
½ medium onion, peeled and quartered
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
½ bunch parsley with major stems removed and/or 1 bunch cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
2-6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
A few dashes of your favorite hot sauce
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1 regular-sized can beef broth
1 can low-salt V-8 juice
1 cup corn kernels (fresh, frozen or canned – if fresh is unavailable, I like the frozen roasted corn kernels from Trader Joe’s)
1 pound pre-cooked bay shrimp, lump crab (optional)
Sour cream or Mexican crema

Pull out the food processor and a very large bowl. Process each of the vegetables until the pieces are small — but before they’re pureed — and add to the bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients, except for the proteins and dairy, which I keep on the table separately for guests to add as they wish. Refrigerate until cold and then adjust seasonings to taste. Top when serving with sour cream or Mexican crema. Serve with fresh tortillas or even hearty sourdough bread.

Spicy Kale, Corn, and Mango Salad
I came up with this during a killer heat wave. It was so refreshing. Add cheese or some other protein like roasted chicken from the market to bulk it up a bit, but it’s a great base for some serious eating.

Serves 4

1 ear of corn, shucked with kernels sliced off
1/2 slightly ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 large tomato, diced
1 jalapeño, diced
1/2 medium onion, red or white, diced
4 large kale leaves, spine removed, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons salted capers, rinsed and soaked

1/2 cup of Country French Vinaigrette made from Penzeys’ mix — or your own vinaigrette

Combine vegetables, add dressing. Marinate for about an hour. Serve.

Cucumber and Radish Confetti Soup
For at least 30 years I’ve been making a cucumber soup with yogurt and tomatoes that’s been a go to on hot summer days. But one day I found myself with radishes as well and thought that I’d change things up a bit. This is still a classic for me, but I now also add a bit of low-fat buttermilk to the soup.

Serves 4

1 large English cucumber or 3 good-sized Persian cucumbers (about 6 inches long)
1 dozen radishes
1 1/2 cups unflavored yogurt
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fenugreek (for a different flavor, try dill or mint — they’re all equally good)
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Slice the cucumbers in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and discard. (If you’re using a conventional cucumber first peel the skin; for the other types, leave the thin skin on for color.) Cut into chunks and put in the bowl of a food processor. Trim all the radishes and cut all but one into chunks and add to the food processor. Save the remaining radish for garnish. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and blend thoroughly. Remove to a bowl, cover, and chill at least two hours or overnight. Just before serving, slice the remaining radish very thinly, again with the little mandoline, and use it to top the soup. Feel free to add a little hot sauce when serving.

Stone Fruit Salsa
And now for dessert! Yes, you could use this on a taco or pork tenderloin–but it’s so fabulous over a couple of scoops of ice cream!

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

2 dozen cherries, pitted
2 plums
1 large, firm peach
1/2 serrano or whole jalapeño pepper
1/4 medium red onion, diced
1 1/2 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
juice of 1 lime
pinch of salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

Chop the fruit and the pepper (removing the seeds if you want to reduce the heat intensity). Add to a bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and refrigerate for an hour. Adjust the seasonings. If you want it sweeter, add a little honey to taste.

What are your no cook summer go-to recipes? What are client favorites?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

Be Sociable, Share!

Some of you asked Candy to respond to a recent slew of scam emails that some members have received. Here is her expert advice:

Here we go again!

SCAMS! SCAMS! SCAMS!

We have posted warnings and notified members for years in the APPCA Internet Fraud Forum about the latest internet scams directed at the personal chef industry, and since the scamsters seem to have upped their game recently, this is a good time to sound the alert once again.

The latest version of this classic scam features a pretend geologist who found your business info on the APPCA website: 

He is coming to your town with his family for 6 to 8 weeks and wants to hire you.

What he is NOT telling you is that he has also targeted every other personal chef in that town as well as the car service companies, caterers, event planners, personal shoppers, and any other personal service business he/she can identify.

The goal on his end is to get you to give up your banking info to him so he can send a money transfer to you OR, to send you a money order or check for you to deposit in your account that is significantly larger than the agreed upon amount and have you send a check to him for the overage. His check IS NOT REAL, and your bank account may be drained as a result of this action taking place.

One of our newer members who had never been exposed to this scam before recently responded to it, and it got as far as his receiving the bogus check from the scamster. Fortunately, his bank notified him immediately that the check was bogus and he was saved by their swift action.

I suggested he write the bank a letter of thanks and hand deliver it with a basket of homemade personal chef treats to acknowledge their commitment to their small business owner account holders.

I also suggested he share the incident and the bank’s quick action with the business editor of his local daily newspaper, the local Better Business Bureau, and the Chamber of Commerce so they can warn small personal service businesses how best to protect themselves from this type of criminal activity.

Here are a few ways to protect your business from an “out of town” potential client:

  • Tell the potential client from out of town you do not book service dates for non-local clients who do business exclusively by e-mail.
  • You require the potential client’s banking information, current workplace contact information, workplace contact information he will be associated within your town and two references with contact information.
  • Tell him/her you must meet with them personally when they arrive in your town before you will book cooking service dates.
  • All cook date service dates MUST be paid in full and personal checks or money orders must clear your bank prior to you booking cook dates for service.

Finally, those of you who are APPCA members who do receive what you think may be a scam, please post it to our personal chef forum or our Facebook group page. Not only can you get feedback (many of your colleagues may have gotten the same or similar request), but you’ll help your colleagues avoid falling for one should they receive a request that is too good to be true!

Have you received a scam letter since you’ve been a personal chef? Please share how you addressed it.

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

Be Sociable, Share!

Deconstructed Elote Salad

Filed under: Recipes , Tags: , , , — Author: Caron Golden , July 8, 2019

Now that we’re officially living the summer life, we really need to talk corn. Beautifully grilled corn on the cob is a classic summer treat, but those of us who live near the Mexican border take that a step further with elote, or Mexican Street Corn. With elote you get a corn on the cob that’s beautifully grilled and then sprinkled with salt and chile powder before being slather with mayonnaise or Mexican crema (think sour cream), and topped with a sprinkling of cotija cheese and squeeze of lime juice.

I’ve posted about elote before, but that was off-season, using Brussels sprouts. This week I’ve got yet another version of elote from APPCA member Anne Blankenship, who lives and runs her personal chef business, “Designed Cuisine,” in Dallas. When I posted a link to traditional elote on our Facebook page, Anne immediately came back with her version of a deconstructed elote salad. And, because she’s such a generous chef, was happy to share her recipe.

“I was looking for a Mexican-themed side dish for a client and found this; an alternative to guacamole or Mexican rice,” she said. “I loved the idea. And much as people love guacamole, it looks pretty ugly after it sits awhile. 

Anne pointed out that this can be great for picnics and it’s versatile. You can certainly add additional ingredients, per your clients taste.

“You can serve this dish chilled, at room temperature, or warm,” Anne said. “In all the recipes I read said it was great for picnics and pot luck parties. I read through a LOT of recipes as I wanted to see what each one had to offer and the different variations available.  It’s great because you can add things like the diced red bell pepper or avocado if you want.  It definitely says add the lime, as the dish needs that acid to complete the flavor. I already had a black bean and roasted corn salad in my repertoire but this was more “cool” to me. For that black bean/roasted corn salad I roasted the frozen corn in the oven but who wants to turn on the oven in the summer (especially in Dallas!)  So I loved the idea of the iron skillet on top of the stove for roasting (since neither I nor many of my clients have grills).”

And how’s this for a catering idea:

“I even helped cater an event here one time and they had an “Elote Bar” which was a cool idea,” Anna noted. “They had the charred corn kernels in a chafing dish and then all the toppings in large martini glasses (for effect) so you could add your own toppings.  It was a big hit, and something different than your usual canapes.”

After reading a bunch of different versions of elote salad, Anne pulled this one together. “I had to eliminate the green onions because my client is allergic. I only made it once but it was really good!  I really liked the idea of charring the corn in an iron skillet too.”

Deconstructed Elote Salad
From Anne Blankenship
Yield: 4 servings
Note: You can make it with frozen corn kernels roasted/charred in an iron skillet (which is great if you don’t have a grill).

Ingredients
4 ears of corn, husked OR 24 ounces frozen corn (NOT thawed)
2 stalks green onions, sliced thin
½ teaspoon neutral-flavor vegetable oil
1/3 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
1/4 cup mayonnaise
½ cup finely crumbled cotija or feta cheese (plus more for serving)
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon chili powder (or more to taste)
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped (plus more for garnish)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Options you can add:
½ red bell pepper, diced
½ fresh avocado, diced
1 clove garlic, minced

1 lime, cut into wedges (For serving)

Instructions
Roast ears of corn: Soak corn with husks still attached in water for 1 hour prior to grilling.
Grill corn with husks on until charred–about 5 to 8 minutes. Let cool, then shuck ears and remove corn kernels. Set kernels aside to cool.

If using frozen corn, heat vegetable oil in an iron skillet. Add corn and green onions and roast on stovetop over medium-high heat for approximately five minutes, until charred. Set corn aside to cool.

In medium bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, cheese of choice, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, cilantro, and salt and pepper. If you are including any of the optional ingredients, add them now. Mix well with small spatula. Add cooled corn and mix well. Refrigerate before serving.

May add extra cheese, onions, cilantro, paprika and/or chili powder when serving

NOTE: Salad needs lime juice for the acid when serving; do not leave it out.

Do you have an unforgettable summer recipe you’re just starting make this season? Any you want to share with readers?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

Be Sociable, Share!

 

Enjoying a Garden Burger

You know the drill. You, as a Mom or Dad or in your role as a personal chef, are going out of your way to prepare healthy meals for your kids or your clients’ kids, filled with nutritious vegetables. The kids, however, greet their plate with a scrunched up nose. They don’t care that it’s good for them. They won’t eat it and challenge you or their parents to make them. And who has the energy to sit at a table all night facing down a plate of peas? Or listen to parents complain that the meal you carefully prepared sat uneaten by finicky children?

But with the Centers for Disease Control reporting that childhood obesity rates have more than doubled in children over the past 30 years, adults need to find effective ways to help children eat more healthfully— and that, of course, includes eating more vegetables.

According to the USDA, children should eat one to three cups of vegetables a day, depending on their age, with toddlers from two to three eating one cup and teens eating two-and-a-half to three. But making that happen is a challenge when they reject broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, and squash at home and toss the lunch  made them for school.

As a volunteer for the Olivewood Gardens & Learning City in National City, near San Diego, I taught cooking classes to young, mostly low-income children using organic produce mostly grown on site. That experience taught me that adults tend to go about wooing kids with vegetables all wrong. Bits and pieces of information are good. Lecturing is dull. Making food all about color and flavor wins hearts. And, well, so does a little subterfuge. It’s not so much that you’re tricking them — after all, they may be around while you’re cooking. They certainly are if you’re teaching a kids’ cooking class. It’s more like you’re incorporating vegetables through clever cooking techniques that don’t blast that they’re eating what they’re trying to avoid.

Try these five approaches:

  1. Make pancakes and waffles — using summer squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, cauliflower or other vegetables you can grate.
  2. Turn salsa into soup — if the kids you cook for enjoy salsa, they’ll love gazpacho.
  3. Sauce it up — steam veggies and puree them with a little stock and herbs/spices to turn into a simple sauce. Forget the bottled ranch dressing. Make dips by steaming vegetables and pureeing them with yogurt and light mayo.
  4. Wrap it up — Make healthy burritos and wraps by steaming, sauteeing, or roasting veggies. Create a burrito bar with beans, brown rice, cheese, chunks of chicken or fish and set the kids loose.
  5. Hide in plain sight — Chop and add more vegetables to tomato sauce. Stir fry or mix brown rice, whole grains cooked orzo or other pasta with diced, cooked vegetables. Add vegetables to chili or thick soups.

But the most important way to get kids to eat vegetables — and, in general, eat more healthfully — is to cook with them. Even the youngest kids can help in some way. And if they also help with the marketing, even better. Also, whether you’re a parent or cooking class teacher, create a rule that they have to take one big bite before they turn something down. Chances are they will love what they cook.

Do you cook with kids or teach kids cooking classes? What are some of the lessons you’ve learned help children eat more healthfully?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

Be Sociable, Share!

 

I wish I lived near you. You, exquisitely talented chef, who shows off your equally exquisite photos of mouth-watering dishes you make for your very lucky clients on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You, who have updated favorite family recipes to reflect the way we eat today–more sustainably, healthier, fearless with flavor. You, who studied hard in culinary school to master challenging culinary techniques and takes inspiration from everything from other chefs and cookbooks to the kitchen garden you nurture.

If I did live near you, I’d try to finagle time with you in your kitchen so you could teach me how to make a favorite dish or master a technique that elevates a dish we already love into something even more magical.

If I do (I’m in San Diego), then please invite me to learn from you to share with fellow APPCA members. In the meantime, I’m going to continue to periodically share what local chefs have taught me, hoping it will spark some inspiration for you wherever you happen to cook.

In that spirit, I’m sharing this seared scallop dish that features grilled peaches, candied bacon, and a colorful micro salad. As I write this, we’re marking the summer solstice. It may be gray and dreary outside (yes, it happens in San Diego; we call it June gloom), but already summer produce is appearing in the markets. I’m especially anticipating local peaches, sweet and juicy and perfect for the grill.

Many of you have spread your personal chef business umbrella to include catering. If you create dinner parties for clients, this recipe, taught to me a while back by a very talented chef, Kurt Metzger, is perfect to serve. It’s layered in flavor and texture. It features grilled peaches that have macerated in brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. Plus it’s kind of a riff on surf ‘n turf, with thick slices of bacon oven cooked in brown sugar and maple syrup until crisp, then sliced up and sprinkled over the peaches, scallops and lovely herbal micro salad. Sweet, salty, savory. Who could resist this!

The dish is easy to make but you need to be organized to get it to come together for the final plating. Of course, since you’re chefs, organization’s not an issue. Make the bacon and marinate the peaches ahead of time. Have your salad ready to assemble. Grill the peaches and set aside, then cook the scallops. Then you can pull it all together for your meal without breaking a sweat.

Seared Day Boat Scallops with Grilled Peaches, Candied Bacon, and Micro Salad
From Kurt Metzger
Serves 4

Ingredients
12 scallops
salt
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup chicken stock
5 teaspoons white wine
1 dollop butter, room temperature
red chile flakes
4 white peaches, sliced in half and pitted
4 pieces bacon
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup, plus 2 teaspoons brown sugar for bacon
2 teaspoons maple syrup
2 cups mixed greens like arugula
2 spring onions, whites sliced
4 Padron peppers (can substitute jalapeno or another chile), seeds and ribs removed
Fresh herbs and edible flowers
8 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Truffle oil
Chives, minced
Caviar (optional)
Burrata cheese (optional)

Instructions

Mix equal parts balsamic vinegar and brown sugar together and place in a dish with high sides and large enough to hold eight peach halves. Spread out the vinegar and sugar mixture in the dish and place peach halves in the mixture cut side down. Let sit for at least an hour and up to seven hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and top with a rack. Place the bacon slices in a single layer on the rack. Cook until they’re about 65 percent done (about 6 or 7 minutes). Brush with maple syrup and 2 teaspoons brown sugar. Return to the oven and remove when crisp and brown. Cut roughly into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

Pat scallops with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Heat a large pan and add olive oil. Sprinkle scallops with a pinch of salt and add to pan. Cook 4 minutes. Turn and add chicken stock, white wine, and butter. When golden brown, remove from pan. Sprinkle with a little more salt and red chile flakes.

Heat a stovetop or outdoor grill. While the scallops are cooking, remove the peaches from the maple syrup and brown sugar mixture and add the peaches to the grill, sliced side down for about 7 minutes. Flip and let cook a minute, then remove from the heat and set aside.

Mix together the greens, spring onion, cherry tomatoes, and herbs. Drizzle with truffle oil and gently mix together with your hands.

To plate each dish sprinkle the dishes with the greens mixture, then artfully add slices of peppers and edible flowers. On each plate, place three scallops and two peach slices. Top with bacon. Sprinkle with chives. You can also top with caviar and pieces of burrata.

Do you cook scallops? What’s your favorite way to prepare them for clients?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

Be Sociable, Share!

Tuna-Stuffed Chayote Squash

Filed under: Recipes , Tags: , , — Author: Caron Golden , June 17, 2019

Are there moments in your life when you’re going about your day and out of the blue you have some gustatory memory that you have to re-experience–now? Well, this happens fairly regularly for me but it’s been a while since I’d thought of this dish that my mom used to make our family for dinner when I was growing up. But there I was at the market picking up some garlic and onions and other random items when I was struck by the memory of my mom’s chayote squash stuffed with tuna. And then I realized that the chayote squash were in my peripheral vision, stacked up among the produce aisle where I had been scanning my shopping list.

If you’ve missed chayote squash at the supermarket, head over to a Mexican market or farmers market. They’re a pear-shaped, light green fruit with deep lengthwise folds that meet at the blossom end. They have a firm texture with white flesh that becomes tender with cooking, and a large (edible) seed. And, it’s wonderfully healthy. Chayote squash contains vitamin C, vitamin B-6, folate, dietary fiber, and potassium. When raw, you can shred them and add to salads. You can pickle them. You can dice them and add to soups and stews. And because of their shape, they’re just asking to be stuffed.

At the market that day, I didn’t think twice about grabbing a couple of the squash. Then I had to search my memory for what went into the dish, besides canned tuna (okay, think of this as sort of modestly elevated tuna casserole from someone who grew up in the 60s and 70s). When all else fails, call Mom. So, while I was standing in front of the display, she reminded me of how she had made it and off I went home with my ingredients to make the dish.

My mom also reminded me that this dish actually was something her mother made for her young family when my mom was a girl. Call it a Victory Garden meal. My grandparents had a large enough yard in their East L.A. home during World War II for a sprawling garden that provided most of the produce for the family. Including chayote squash. What else would be affordable for a family of five in the 40s? Canned tuna. So, my Nana came up with this dish and my mom continued it for our family.

If you haven’t been exposed to chayote squash, now’s the time for an introduction. It’s a hard light green pear-shaped fruit with creamy white flesh–like a pear. To be honest, it doesn’t have a lot of flavor; it’s a little sweet in a bland sort of way. But that makes it the perfect receptacle for all sorts of powerful ingredients. While you can dice it and saute it, its shape makes it a wonderful vessel for stuffing–once you remove the flesh. And that requires about 20 minutes of parboiling.

My mom pairs it with the canned tuna–along with sauteed onion and garlic, mixed with bread crumbs. In my version, I add Dijon mustard as well, along with salt and pepper. And, how did it come out? Actually, even better than I had remembered it. The juices from the tuna. The heavenly sauteed onion and garlic. The spiciness of the mustard. They all married beautifully with the squash, with the crispy oniony, garlicky breadcrumbs the cherry on top. Totally a mom–or Nana–kind of economical comfort food.

Tuna-Stuffed Chayote Squash
Serves 4

4 chayote squash, sliced in half lengthwise, remove seeds
1 large yellow onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus another tablespoon
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2, 5-ounce cans wild albacore tuna (I used Wild Planet’s 100% pole and troll caught), drained and flaked
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the squash and boil for 20 minutes or until they’re almost fully cooked. Drain and let cool.

2. While the squash halves are cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet and add the onion and garlic. Saute on medium heat until the onion becomes golden and the garlic fragrant. Then add the breadcrumbs. Stir the mixture over the heat until it just begins to brown. Then remove from the heat and spoon the mixture into a small bowl and set aside.

3. Preheat the oven to 350˚. When the squash halves are cool enough to handle, remove the seed, then use a large spoon to carefully scoop out the flesh. Try not to tear the skin so you have an intact shell. There will probably be water in the remaining shell. Drain it.

4. Chop up the squash flesh and add it to a large bowl. Add the tuna, 3/4 of the onion mixture, the Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Mix well.

5. Gently stuff the squash shells with the mixture. Top with the remainder of the onion mixture and drizzle with a little olive oil. Place the stuffed shells on a baking sheet or in a baking dish.

6. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the top is brown and crisp.

Do you make dishes for clients or your family with chayote squash? How do you use them?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

Be Sociable, Share!

If you’re a personal chef, you are likely running your business on your own. And, yes, it’s exhilarating! You’ve probably been searching for just this opportunity for years and here you are making it happen!

But it can also be a little disconcerting to make all decisions on your own, especially if you’ve been part of an organization where decisions were made as part of a team—or just handed to you from the powers that be.

That, of course, is what APPCA is here for—to help you make your business decisions based on knowledge, not just gut feelings. We have lots of resources for you based on Executive Director Candy Wallace’s decades of expertise and materials she’s developed that reflect the ever-changing landscape of the profession.

And we have our forums—because, of course, we have members who have done it all and seen it all who contribute ideas and advice.

But, I want to remind you that we also have both our Facebook business page and our active Facebook group. We have hundreds of members who participate here, along with our forums. Both are private groups. You must be an APPCA member to participate in our website forums. Our Facebook group doesn’t require membership but we ask those who want to join to respond to these three questions:

  • Are you a chef or interested in being in the culinary field?
  • What is your interest in joining this group?
  • Are you a vendor interested in selling to group members?

We do this because we want this to be a forum targeted to chefs and their specific interests, especially personal chefs. And we want it free from solicitation or gathering names for solicitation.

I encourage you to join this group if you’re not already a member. Here you can post photos of your dishes with links to recipes or your own blog posts or website. But just as important—maybe even more—you can ask pressing questions and get advice, ideas, suggestions, and leads.

Here are just some of the issues that have been brought up recently:

  • Advice on how to charge for recipe development
  • What kinds of fish dishes can be prepped, frozen, thawed, and reheated for pescatarian clients
  • How to figure out costs of “at home pantry” ingredients
  • How to get chef discounts at restaurant supply stores, cooking shops, and web designers
  • How best to transport equipment
  • What to charge for services
  • How do deal with in-kind donation requests
  • How to land celebrity or high-paying clients
  • Air fryer recommendations
  • Good advertising ideas
  • How to budget for marketing

And, we also share info on the latest scam emails that personal chefs tend to get.

Whether you’re an experienced pro, a novice, or somewhere in between, no doubt you can benefit from having a group of supportive peers around to cheer you on with a success, help you figure out a nagging question, or poke around and learn what the pressing topics of the day are that can give you some inspiration. Our forums and Facebook group are support groups for culinary professionals. How cool is that for a sole proprietor!

Are you a member of our Facebook APPCA group? Are you an APPCA member who participates in our forums?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

 

 

Be Sociable, Share!
Older Posts »