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How many of you cater brunch parties? How many of you get requests from clients for easy breakfast treats?

My friend, San Diego chef Vivian Hernandez-Jackson, is a first-generation Cuban American, born and raised in Miami, who infuses her Cuban heritage into a variety of pastries and sandwiches, which she sells at her popular Ocean Beach eatery Azúcar. I spent some time with her in her kitchen and learned how to make these crazy delicious scones.

Initially I was confused. Why would scones–traditionally British fare–figure so prominently on her menu? Then I learned that while attending Le Cordon Bleu in London, she worked at Claridges and made hundreds upon hundreds of scones. They became as much a part of her repertoire as the other pastries she learned to make.

Back in the States, Vivian figured out ways to give a tropical, Cuban flair to traditional pastries–adding coconut and macademia nuts to Florentine Bars, and key limes, mojito mint, mango, Cuban rum, and passion fruit to her many other sweets–and to improve the ingredients of the Cuban foods she grew up enjoying. So, no lard or margarine are in her doughs; it’s good butter. And her pastries are baked in real time.

How does she do it? Well, this is why I thought you’d enjoy learning the recipe. She prepares the dough in advance, scoops it into individual scones, and puts them on trays raw in the freezer to be baked first thing the following morning and throughout the day as needed. It alleviates the stress of making and baking early in the morning and reduces waste. Plus, customers get freshly baked treats throughout the day. On major holidays, like Thanksgiving, Vivian sells the frozen scoops of scone dough, with the icing and instructions, to customers the day before so they can bake them off the day of the holiday to have fresh, hot pastries.

How does this relate to you? Well, not only can you make these in advance of cooking for a catering gig, but you can make the dough for clients and leave them with baking instructions. It’s not at all complicated, as you’ll see, and the scones can easily be baked to order in just a toaster oven (as I did with the ones Vivian gave me).

Trust me, you’ll thank me for this!

Key Lime White Chocolate Scones
from Vivian Hernandez-Jackson, Azúcar
Makes 9 large scones

For scones:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter cold diced
3/4 cup buttermilk
zest of 1 lime
2 tablespoons key lime juice (You can find containers of Nelly & Joe’s Key West Lime Juice at major supermarkets.)

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1/2 cup white chocolate chips or chunks
Baking spray
Granulated sugar

For key lime icing:

1/4 cup key lime juice
1 cup powdered sugar

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325˚.
2. With mixer on low speed and using paddle attachment, combine dry ingredients. Add the cold diced butter and blend until the mixture resembles wet sand and no large pieces butter remain.

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3. Pour in the buttermilk, zest, and juice. Mix until all are combined, then gently mix in white chocolate chips/chunks.

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4. Scoop scones onto a sheet pan with parchment paper that has been sprayed with baking spray. Place about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with a bit of sugar before baking.

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At this point you can freeze them and bake off when needed.

If baking fresh: 25-30 minutes
If baking frozen: 30-35 minutes

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When scones come out of the oven, drizzle with key lime icing. If you have leftover scones the following day, reheat them briefly in the microwave just to warm them inside before eating.

Lime and white chocolate scone

What’s your favorite pastry to make for clients? What’s your strategy for preparing them in advance?

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.

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Being a personal chef does not strictly limit you to preparing meals for clients for them to eat throughout the week. Personal chefs can wear a number of other hats, including catering. And while your food may be just as tasty when you store it in a container as when it’s served on at the table, when it comes to creating a dinner party or other event, you need some additional skills in your arsenal.

One of them is the art of plating.

New York City APPCA member Jim Huff of Traveling Culinary Artist prides himself on his plating skills. He’s been a personal chef since 2004 and, as he says, “I still pinch myself now and then to make sure I’m not dreaming that people pay me to pursue my passion for cooking.”

Jim takes great pride in listening to his clients’ wants and needs and responding to them to ensure they are getting what they expect. As he says, “While being a business owner I have parameters and the ability to say no, but I maintain that flexibility is the most important part of the personal in being a personal chef.”

As we all know, there’s not much that motivates us to work harder and with more pride than a compliment from a client. Jim gets these regularly. Most recently, he says that after a dinner party he catered, “The host said that everything was delicious and well-presented and that he was impressed with my creativity and talent as a chef. While I enjoy being paid nothing makes one feel better than hearing compliments like that.”

We want you to get that same buzz of excitement from praise, so Jim has written this piece for us that shares his successful plating philosophy.

Jim Huff with APPCA executive director Candy Wallace

Jim Huff with APPCA executive director Candy Wallace

Recently, I was involved in a discussion about plating for dinner parties, how to balance the needs to make the food look awesome vs. the need to get the food out while it is still hot. In a commercial/restaurant kitchen with a staff this is probably a no brainer. It’s not as easy in a client’s kitchen designed for family convenience. In the beginning stages of my business I fretted over this and finally developed a formula that works for me and has pleased my clients.

In a simplified form my philosophy is to wow them with a great looking appetizer/first course and an interesting appearing dessert. Not that the courses in between should be sloppily served, but frequently the main entrees are a modest serving on the dinner plate atop or alongside the side dish. A sprinkling of a chopped herb, a dusting of paprika, droplets of flavored oil or drizzle of balsamic glaze can provide a decorative as well as a taste-boosting factor to the basic plate.

Based on the hostess’ preference we often plate the Wow First Course and have it on the table when the diners arrive at the table. This provides a great way to bring the conversation to a halt and get people seated and eager to start their meal. Other hostesses prefer everyone to sit and then service to begin. This also provides for switch in the conversation to the food and its appearance. Either way, we eat with our eyes first and this is the ice-breaker for what is to come.

Beet Goat Cheese Napoleon

Beet Goat Cheese Napoleon

The first example, my Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Napoleon is playing up the values of color and elevation. By choosing to alternate red and golden beet slices we have actually enhanced the strength of the brightness of each color. Garnishes such as the puree, the chopped pistachios, microgreens, and pistachio oil take the plate beyond just a vessel to eat from. Obviously white plates are the easiest to show off color.

White Asparagus with Crispy Prosciutto

White Asparagus with Crispy Prosciutto

The second example brings the plate more into the picture, White Asparagus with Crispy Prosciutto. The plate’s leaf shape and color offset the bland color of the white asparagus. Keeping everything flatter, closer to the vessel keeps the plate in focus. The reddish brown of the Crispy Prosciutto draws the eye across the plate making it seem larger than it is. The garnishing elements of baby arugula, chives, and breakfast radishes are there to provide that sharp visual contrast to the blanched asparagus. It is finished with a simple Lemon/Garlic/Chive Vinaigrette to provide a subtle hint of yellow and green with a sprinkling of lemon zest for a flavor boost. Not shown in the picture are antique salt dishes, each filled with Himalayan pink salt for dipping the radishes.

Artichoke with Tomato Salad

Steamed Artichoke with Cherry Tomato & Red Onion Salad

I apologize for the third picture being out of focus but I think the idea is clearly represented with the Steamed Artichoke with Cherry Tomato & Red Onion Salad. This was a way to add pop of color to a food vessel that under the best of circumstances looks tired and/or worn out: the steamed artichoke. This is bumped up by topping it with an Heirloom Cherry Tomato & Red Onion Salad.

The sheer simplicity of the presentation focuses everyone’s attention to a classic table setting. The dish is served on glass plates over the dinner plate and charger and coordinating placemats on a glass table top. The diner eats the artichoke petals, which are marinating in the salad’s vinaigrette, as well the salad. Heartier appetites dig out the heart and enjoy that as well.

Hummus Trio

Hummus Trio

The next picture is of a Hummus Trio hors d’oeuvre. Sometimes the simpler vessel highlights the color contrasts. We have Classic Hummus in the center with basil leaves peeking out, Edamame & Cilantro Hummus on the left with a radicchio leaf, and finally Roasted Beet & Horseradish Hummus with endive petals.

Nutella Raspberry Mini Tarts

Raspberry Nutella Mini Tarts

On the subject of color coordination, a dessert buffet provided a happy accident when we were able to use a glass tray to show off the fabulous tablecloth while highlighting the Raspberry Nutella Tarts. This shows that massive quantities can also have that wow factor in the sheer number of items on a given vessel.

Dessert Plate

Mini Dessert Plate

And finally a busy plate of mini desserts provides an array of sweets that have individual eye appeal. Clockwise from the top are: Key Lime Pie Shooters, Red Velvet Whoopie Pie, Brownie Drowned in Ganache with a Raspberry, and a client-provided chocolate chip cookie.

Truth be told we don’t often have the opportunity to pre-plan all our presentations when working with a new client if we have not seen their choice of dinnerware. In my experience I’ve had to deal with blue Wedgewood prints, gold-encrusted florals, black and white Paisley, purple pebble appetizer plates, even once Dineresque Beige Melamine! That means I have to draw on a good eye and some of the approaches mentioned here to create a visually exciting presentation on the spur of the moment.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is to visually wow them at the beginning of the meal, meet their expectations with hot tasty entrees and sides, and then wow them again at the meal’s end with colorful desserts that don’t promote that end-of-the-meal laden feeling.

How have you honed your plating skills? Have any additional techniques to share?

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.

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We’re very proud of the efforts made by our Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter (MARC) to bring our members in the area together as an additional resource to network and share information. This year, Shelbie Wassel of Shallots Personal Chef Service in Owings Mills, Maryland is the chapter president and she organized and hosted their recent spring meeting. Shelbie has written a wrap up of the meeting and Carol Borchardt of A Thought for Food in Memphis supplied us with photos. Thank you both for your contribution!

Our MARC group celebrated the arrival of spring with a two-day meeting based at my home, but with a number of outings and speakers.

Sipping margaritas

We began with dinner Friday night at a funky little restaurant called Alchemy in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore. The next morning the meeting went into full swing with over 20 attendees from New York down to Virginia. We also had Chef Carol Borchardt visit us from Memphis!

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Judy Harvey's tuna-stuffed eggs

After a breakfast that featured homemade gravlax with bagels ( a special thank you to Judy Harvey for making the tuna stuffed eggs, when I ran out of time) and a beautiful breakfast cake made by Chef Peggy Haser, we held a short business meeting. Laura Knight (A Knight’s Feast) reviewed our bank account and we elected Keith Steury (The Food Sherpa) as our new secretary. We also had the group quite excited when we announced the current planning of a trip to Alsace, France to be hosted by MARC member, Chef Bernard Henry.

Presentation

Our keynote speaker was Joan Norman, owner and operator of One Straw Farm, one of the largest farms in the state. The farm not only services many of the finest restaurants in town, but also runs a huge CSA. Joan shared stories of her 30 years in the farming business and discussed the use of biodegradable mulch film and how that distinguishes her farm from those that claim to be 100 percent organic.

Our next speaker was Dara Bunyon, a local Baltimore food blogger, whose business, Dara Does It, dabbles in all things food. She shared interesting tidbits from her blogs, such as the top items that people steal from restaurants! (Not just salt shakers!)

Our third speaker for the morning, MARC’s very own, Lettie Lavalle (Leave Dinner to Lettie), is also a social media expert. Lettie walked us through the confusing maze of various sites and helped to demystify the ever-growing world of social media and how it relates to personal chefs.

Featured salads

Lunch time provided an opportunity to chat with friends and enjoy an all-salad buffet that featured a duck confit salad over baby greens and spinach with dried cherries and a curried chicken salad with homemade mango chutney as an accompaniment.

After lunch, Mary Stewart and her daughter Katie Enterline of The Grateful Table presented a kitchen demo for us. Mary prepared individual lemon curd soufflés, similar to chocolate lava cakes. Katie demonstrated her whipped cream, using coconut milk in lieu of heavy cream. OMG! I guarantee that this will become my dinner party dessert of choice! Beautiful and delicious!

Lemon Curd Souffle demo

Our next event, included a lovely drive through horse country to reach Bastignati Winery. We sampled five wines…some very nice, some not my thing! However, several of us purchased bottles to go.

Winery

Our evening concluded with a potluck dinner, prepared by the attendees. If you have never attended a potluck prepared by personal chefs, then you are missing a treat! Amazing starters included Jim Huff’s bacon jam, Sharon and Bruce Cohen’s Tuscan tomato bread soup, and Mary Stewart’s risotto cakes. Dinner followed with Ayisha Jones’ fig jam tenderloin and Keith Steury’s Asian pork BBQ. Sides included Laura Knight’s asparagus salad and Marta Mirecki’s  fennel radicchio salad. April Lee generously provided an amazing collection of wine, including a lovely chocolate dessert selection.

crabcakes

Our next meeting is scheduled for October 2 to 3, 2015. MARC meetings are open to members of the APPCA in good standing!

Why do we do this? Well, we’re a group of people who truly enjoy each other’s company. We’re brought together through our membership in APPCA and have much in common. Personal chefs are people who love food and travel, and therefore have a zest for life. I think chefs by nature are passionate, artistic people who have a nurturing desire to please others by feeding them. Put all those qualities together in one room and you are bound to have a good time! The meetings we hold allow us to recharge our professional batteries and share work experiences with those who understand the ins and outs of the profession.

Doesn’t this sound like a great opportunity in your area? If you’re an APPCA member, let us know if you’d like assistance in forming a chapter in your part of the country.

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.

 

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Often on Friday or Monday on Facebook, we’ll ask our members what’s on for the weekend or, afterwards, what they did that can inspire us. When Anne Blankenship of Designed Cuisine in Dallas responded on a Friday that she had a gig at the Dallas flagship Williams-Sonoma store doing a cooking demo, we just had to learn more. The demo went wonderfully and Anne sent us a wrap up of how it came to pass and how it went. More importantly, though, she also talked about why it was so important for her–and other personal chefs–to do this.

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On a recent day off I was wandering around Williams-Sonoma, finally getting around to spending some gift cards I’d been hoarding. I ran into a friend of mine who I thought still worked there. In the process of catching up she asked, “Didn’t you graduate from culinary school recently?” I said yes and she immediately pulled over the assistant manager and said, “You need to talk to her!” So, long story short, they asked me to put in an application to do cooking demos/teach classes on my schedule. I did it because I don’t have a full roster of PC clients and could use the money. Okay, and I was thinking, “STORE DISCOUNT!”

By the way, I didn’t know that Williams-Sonoma has a chef card you can register for online if you’re in the business. It offers a 20 percent discount. My friend told me about it when I went in, so tell everyone about this!

I chatted briefly with the assistant manager about some details and sent a follow-up e-mail a few days later, thanking her for her time. In fact, when I was there, they asked if I could do a demo the next day, but I was already booked to be a “sous chef” with a friend of mine from school who had a dinner party. But at least they were interested. When I didn’t receive a response to my e-mail, I called the assistant manager two days later and she apologized for them not getting back to me. They wanted me to meet the manager, and she had been tied up with reviews, etc. all week. But she made it clear that they were very interested.

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She then called me back, said their guest chef for the weekend had cancelled, and asked if I was available (I had a dinner party that cancelled) so I said YES and went in to chat about details. I then went home and put together a menu which I e-mailed to her.  They sent me home with one of their cool cookbooks, so I figured it would be prudent to try and use some of the recipes from it (“good PR”). So the chicken and the potatoes are from their book.

They left the recipe quantities to my discretion.  They said the store would be packed that day because of their Artisan Market (some local specialty vendors will have tables set up).  And it’s just a taste, so I doubled most of the recipes and quadrupled the asparagus dish, since it’s so cheap right now. They said not to go over $150; think I spent a total of $75, roughly.  And yes, the reimbursed me for the food cost. Here was my menu:

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Chicken & Sugar Snap Pea Stir Fry

Gratineed Asparagus with Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

Roasted New Potatoes with Rosemary & Bay Leaf

“Fragole Al Marsala” (Strawberries in Marsala wine)

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Before the day of the event, I sent out an email to friends and family, inviting them to attend and noting the menu.

It went really well! I posted pictures on my Facebook page that a friend was kind enough to take for me. It got off to kind of a slow start because I’m not familiar with the store, so I had to keep going to the back for equipment and foodstuffs they had told me not to buy. But, I finally got it all together.

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And once I got rolling it was great!  Customers came and went. At one point I even had to reel them in by asking if they wanted something to eat. Once I got on a roll, though, I had them hooked. Everyone said how good the food was and that I was a good “Williams-Sonoma rep” by saying that two of the recipes had come from the book that was on display up front with me. I think I was responsible for selling three cookbooks. Some even bought some stuff in the store, and I made sure to tell the manager that. I did get to meet the actual manager (my contact being one of the assistant managers) and am hoping to hear from her about my application to teach cooking lessons. My contact did come up and say later that afternoon that everyone was noticing what a great job I was doing; that really made me feel good!

I couldn’t wear my chef jacket; it was just too hot and it’s very bulky. And I didn’t have a chance to get my menu printed and laminated; that would have been a great idea. I do that for dinner parties and such, but just ran out of time for this event. Since I wore my chef pants and black T-shirt, with Williams-Sonoma apron, I (luckily) thought at the last minute to paper clip (didn’t have anything else on me!) my business card to the front of my apron. People still thought I worked for W-S, but I was able to tell them no, that I am a personal chef.

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While it was still crowded I was able to pass out my business card to a good handful of people. I didn’t get anyone asking me much about my business so it wasn’t the greatest marketing day, but still, I was out front and chatted to a bunch of folks.

I think any PC who has the opportunity to do cooking demos (even if not paid) at places like Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table, or some other store should jump on it! It is a terrific marketing opportunity. Every opportunity I got, I would tell people that I am a personal chef. Surprisingly (to me) I didn’t get a lot of questions about “what is a personal chef.”  Maybe people were too busy shopping or didn’t want to stop. They were, however, interested in the food!

Any time a PC can be in the public eye like this is a golden opportunity and you can make the most of it. Having completed culinary school, I felt fairly confident in what I could do. Plus, I have done many cooking classes and demonstrations before, so confidence isn’t really an issue. You do have to put yourself out there and be gracious, smile, talk to folks, etc.  So, it’s also a good chance for someone who may be a bit on the shy side to get some experience talking in front of a group. I had to read a “culinary book” in school (not a cookbook) and I chose Paula Deen’s “It Ain’t All About the Cooking.” I think that is what applies here. So you can cook, right? We all can, as personal chefs, but when you run your own business, as we do, you have to be able to do it all– marketing, cooking, taking care of your books, figuring out technology and how it can help you, networking, etc.

I would definitely say that all of us PC’s should at least market themselves at high-end cook stores like W-S. I am SO lucky that all this happened and that I had the time.

I heard back from Williams-Sonoma afterwards and they were very pleased with my gig as guest chef. They said they’ll be in touch about my application to work there part-time as cooking instructor. Woo hoo!

Have you been thinking about different ways to market your business? Have you done demos at retailers like Williams-Sonoma?

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.

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Personal chefs, how many of you have actually created a realist retirement program that you can stick with? We know; it’s something we all intend doing but somehow don’t quite get around to it. But, of course, time courses on and before you know it, you’ll be at retirement age!

No one knows this better than Thomas Gipson. Now a financial adviser at Primerica Financial Services, Thomas has long been a personal and private chef. In fact, he still services a handful of private clients. Candy asked him to offer our members some advice on preparing your finances for the future. He has offered these five quick financial tips for you to act on.

ThomasGipson Pro pic

Like many chefs and other industry professionals, the thrill and rush of working in a highly creative, challenging, and high energy environment is at the forefront of your daily thoughts. Planning, shopping, preparing, organizing, client relations, traveling from place to place, and even putting out a fire here and there are usually the theme of the day. I know. Like you, I’ve been a chef.

With all this going on in your life, when do you have the time to think about your personal financial security and prepare for that time down the road when your best days in the business have passed? Don’t think it will ever happen to you? Well, think again! Being self employed as a personal chef can come with some real financial challenges that must be dealt with now to avoid disaster in your later years, when it will count the most.

  • Approximately 1 in 4 employees are in serious financial distress.
  • On average, 80 percent of these individuals spend time at work worrying with their personal financial problems, wasting anywhere from 12 to 20 hours per month.
  • This loss of productivity is estimated to cost you approximately $7,000 a year, per person.

Check out these five quick financial tips you can implement now to ensure all your hard work will pay off when you really need it to.

#1. Pay Yourself FIRST: We’ve all heard this but the important question is do all of us do it? Paying yourself first means putting yourself and your family before any other demands on your money. Paying yourself first can be established as a form of self-respect.

Allocate and deposit a set amount EVERY MONTH, CONSISTENTLY, into an investment program, no matter what other financial obligations you have. See how amazingly fast your money can grow if you invest even a small amount regularly, at a good rate of return. Understanding the power of compound interest and “The Rule of 72” (dividing your interest rate into 72 equals the number of years it takes for your investment to double) is critical for your investing success.

#2. Adjust Your Priorities and/or Lifestyle: If you’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t have enough right now,” then maybe it’s time to evaluate your spending habits and adjust for more important things like, will you have enough at retirement when you may not be able to work? It’s important to understand the difference between a NEED and a WANT. It’s been said:

Make $20, Spend $19 = Happiness

Make $20, Spend $21 = Misery

Remember: It’s not how much you make; it’s how much you keep!

#3. Realign Your Assets – Two GIANT areas where people are not getting their money’s worth are:

  1. Low interest-bearing “savings accounts” with banks: When’s the last time you checked that good ole savings account at the bank? Try taking the balance of an account giving only 1 percent interest in return and invest it in an area that has higher returns potential.
  2. High-cost life insurance: Cash Value (Whole Life) insurance policies are a thing of the past and have proven to be too expensive. You can replace your cash value insurance policy with term insurance and potentially reap thousands of dollars in premium savings over time!

#4. Avoid the Credit Trap: By now, most of us know, too much credit card debt can become the reason we have to work. Don’t become a full-time employee for the banks by owing unmanageable card balances. They can be good to establish necessary credit and used responsibly but that’s it. Be careful to avoid the pitfalls of “borrowed money.” Try paying your balance in full each month. You’ll not only avoid interest charges but you’ll prevent your balance from escalating out of control. Whenever possible, pay with cash to help keep your charges under control. You’ll probably discover that you spend less when you have to use your own money.

#5. Set Financial Goals/Have A Plan: Don’t forget! Goals are for every area of your life. Your financial goals should be at the top of your list. How do you reach a destination without a road map? Chefs HAVE to be good planners to be successful. This means you can apply those same great planning skills you employ in serving your clients and growing your business into your personal finances so you can rest easy down the road. Developing a financial game plan is your road map to guide you to financial success. Remember: You DO have a choice in your financial future.

Thomas Gipson is a licensed, registered representative and financial planner in the state of Florida. After 20+ years experience in the food and beverage industry as a professional chef, Thomas has turned his work to raising a heightened awareness of proper financial education among industry professionals. To connect with him for additional information or questions please email: tgipson@primerica.com.

 

Have you started developing a retirement plan? If not, what’s holding you back? What questions do you have for Thomas?

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

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sesame soy wrapper roll2

There are some foods that even the best chefs and home cooks prefer to leave to the experts in that genre. My guess is that sushi is one of them. Anyone who has watched the superb documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi knows how arduous the training can be for a sushi chef.

But like anything, even you aren’t going to be a master, you can still hone your skills and create something pretty delicious–and sushi rolls really are both accessible and delicious.

Making the rolls is relatively easy. You need short grain rice (I cooked up three cups with four cups of water) mixed with seasoned rice vinegar. And, you need wrappers. Traditionally, these are nori, thin, dried seaweed sheets. But my friend Mineko Moreno (who is a superb instructor in the art of sushi making) introduced me to colorful soy wrappers. The large package comes five sheets to a pack. As you can see, they also make beautiful hand rolls, but you can also use them to make traditional long rolls.

sushi wrappers

You’ll need fillings, too–these can be anything from shrimp, crab sticks, tuna, salmon, or other seafood, cooked or raw, to vegetables. Cucumbers, carrots, or daikon radishes are just some of the vegetables that, sliced into thin sticks, can work beautifully. Add fish roe, pickles, avocado slices, favorite sauces. The variations are only limited to your imagination.

sushi ingredients

And, you’ll need a sushi mat, which you’ll want to cover with plastic wrap to keep the roll from sticking.

Sushi mat

Now, you’re pretty well set. Of course, you could also add wasabi (the lovely hot green paste served with pickled ginger at your local sushi bar).

Get yourself organized with all your ingredients and then be creative. The wrappers go shiny side down on the mat, then you moisten your fingertips and press the seasoned rice uniformly on the mat, leaving about an inch empty along the top. In the middle of the rice, line up your filling.

Avocado, crab, shredded ginger roll in the making

Then, you’ll lift the bottom of the mat and carefully begin to fold over and roll your filled wrapper, pressing down gently but firmly when you’ve got it in a roll to seal the deal.

sesame soy wrapper roll

Carefully move the roll and place it on the counter or a large plate, sealed side down and let it rest about 10 minutes. Refrigerate the rolls until you’re ready to use them (hopefully soon). When you’re ready to serve, let them come to room temperature and cut them in half and then repeatedly in half until you have eight pieces. (Tip: Run the knife blade through water for each cut to keep the rice from sticking to it.)

Green and yellow rolls

These are only cut in half to give you an idea of what the center looks like. And, you can serve them with a citrus ponzu sauce, a Japanese dipping sauce made with soy, yuzu juice and dashi.

saffron shrimp and ginger roll

See? Easy. Perfect for catering. And, once you master this, you can create a sushi-making party and teach your clients’ guests. Set out a variety of fillings and let your guests create their own rolls under your guidance. It’s a fun departure from same old, same old cheese and crackers platter.

Do you have a favorite dish or area of specialization that you want to share? Leave a comment and we’ll be in touch!

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

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Organics

One of the issues that often comes up for personal chefs is how to get the most bang for the buck on food. And, of course, it’s just as true for clients and cooking class students. As a food writer, I get asked this question all the time, so I thought I’d pull together some ideas that may resound with you and that you can share with clients. Even if you do the lion’s share of cooking for them, it can’t hurt for those who are interested to have some tips for how to spend food money wisely–and reduce waste. While this can entail a healthy dose of frugality, we’re not talking coupon clipping here–and it doesn’t mean there isn’t room to splurge. It’s just a matter of knowing how to make the best decisions based on eating habits, budget, and health concerns. Sometimes a little splurging is actually good for you and not reckless, especially if you’re balancing it with cost-savings in other places.

Some of these ideas are really obvious (especially if you’re a chef) but are things we tend to forget or let slide, so I’ve included them here for you or to share with clients and students. And, if you have suggestions of your own, let’s hear them with a comment below! Share your knowledge so we can all benefit!

Olive oils

Where to Splurge:

  1. Buy good cuts of meat, only in smaller portions. I like to go to Whole Foods and buy a small piece of Wagyu skirt steak to grill. It doesn’t cost much but it’s delicious. When it comes to pork, I enjoy the richness of Berkshire pork, which you can find at a quality butcher.
  2. Buy good quality olive oil for finishing, sauces, and dressings. When heat is involved–sautéing, frying, etc., less expensive vegetable oil is fine–often preferable–but use good quality olive oil for the flavor. Also try avocado oil for flavor finishes, too. Remember to store oil in a dark, cool place to maintain quality, but don’t hoard it since it will go rancid or just lose the intensity of its flavor.
  3. Buy roasted chickens and use them to help you make other meals faster–like tacos or soup. Save the bones and unused meat for making stock.
  4. Buy organic produce, but if you have to prioritize, go with produce without a thick peel you don’t eat – lettuce, berries, etc. as opposed to avocados. Here’s a list of the “dirty dozen”–produce you should spend those organic dollars on.
  5. Buy vanilla beans, but only to use when the vanilla flavor is the star in the dessert. Store the beans in vanilla extract to impart more flavor to the extract, or store the beans in a bowl of sugar.
  6. Buy small pieces of good cheese. Buy chunks of parmesan or cheddar or mozarella, not pre-grated. If you have a food processor you can easily grate the cheese if you need large quantities.
  7. Invest in good basic kitchen tools: knives, graters, peelers, and salad spinners. It makes cooking much easier and may encourage you to do more if you’re not fighting your ingredients. And take care of them. Make sure your knives are well sharpened.

Parmegiano Reggiano

Where to Budget:

  1. Buy whole chickens instead of parts and cut them up yourself. Double wrap and store pieces in freezer. Be sure to mark the package with what the item is and the date so you can use it before it gets freezer burn. Also, dark meat is less expensive and has more flavor. Save parts like the back, wings, drumsticks and use them to make stock.
  2. Don’t buy skinless, boneless chicken packages. If you’re not going to buy a whole chicken, it is cheaper to buy the whole parts and remove the skin and bones yourself. If you see bulk packages of chicken parts (skin and bones intact), buy them and divide into meal-sized portions and freeze.
  3. Buy cheaper cuts of meat, like lamb shoulder instead of loin for chops, or pork butt–basically cuts in which you’re talking about muscle. The meat will be tougher but you can do a nice slow cook or braise to make the meat more tender and flavorful. These cheap cuts are the best for stews and soups as well. And don’t buy pre-cut “stewing meat.” Buy the whole piece and cut it yourself so that you have pieces that are the same size and will cook evenly. You’ll save money and get a better result in your dish.
  4. Eliminate meat from your diet two or three times a week and instead make dishes with beans, rice, lentils, and other grains or legumes. Experiment with quinoa, couscous, farro, wheat berries, polenta and other grains. Try using whole wheat pasta. Use meat to flavor dishes, not as the centerpiece of the meal.
  5. Don’t buy pre-packaged produce. Peel your own carrots, wash and chop your own lettuce. The only exception may be spinach, which is a real pain to clean.
  6. Buy bags of popcorn kernels instead of packaged flavored popcorn and pop it yourself.
  7. Buy produce that’s in season and have a plan for it (i.e., menus) so it doesn’t spoil. Also think of ways to use the whole fruit or vegetable. Beet tops, parsnip tops, and other root vegetable greens are delicious steamed or sautéed. They can also be included in stock. Stick brown bananas in the freezer to use later for banana bread or to make a smoothie.
  8. Jars of dried herbs are pricey and often lose their flavor sitting on the shelf exposed to light. Instead, plant herbs, even in pots. Rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, basil, mint (always plant mint in a pot because it spreads fast) are easy to grow.
  9. If you have room in your freezer, store flour, sugar, beans, etc. in there so you don’t have to toss food because bugs got into the container.
  10. Make your own convenience foods. If you’re cooking, make enough for two meals. Make large pots of soup or stew and freeze it in serving-size containers. You can do the same with chicken or proteins other than fish. Welcome to your new frozen food dinners.
  11. Make your own pizza. Dough is easy to make and can be frozen. Then it’s just a matter of grating cheese and having your own combination of toppings. Instead of tomato sauce, use sliced tomatoes and fresh basil.
pizza before cooking with pesto, tomatoes, black garlic

Pizza with pesto, tomatoes, and black garlic before baking

12. Learn a couple of cooking techniques that can give you flexibility in making quick meals. For instance, you can quickly brown chicken parts in a large Dutch oven on the stove, add layers of sliced onion, garlic, olives, artichoke hearts, garbanzo beans, etc. with herbs, a dash of wine or stock, cover and cook in the oven at 350 for about an hour. Make rice or other grains and you’ve got your meal. Alternately, use diced tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini for a different flavor combo. Make roasted tomato soup and the next night add seafood to the soup with a few slices of lemon. Now you have cioppino. Do you enjoy the flavors from roasting vegetables? You can turn any combination of roasted vegetables into a quick and easy soup. And, that goes for leftovers.The leftovers from the roasted squash you served with chicken one night can be added to stock, simmered and then pureed to make soup the next night.

Roasted peppers

Roasted peppers

Roasted red pepper soup

Roasted red pepper soup

In the Market:

  1. Have a plan. Make a list. Check your calendar to see when you’ll actually be home to eat. A lot of the produce and dairy you buy gets tossed away because you don’t use it before it goes bad. Knowing how you’ll use what you buy and that you’ll be able to eat it will prevent you from wasting money.
  2. Shop the store’s perimeter–that’s where the produce, meat and dairy tend to be. The middle aisles, with the cookies, prepared foods, and snacks are the most dangerous and expensive places in the store. Stick with your list.
  3. Shop ethnic markets. You’ll find interesting, even unusual produce, often for less than the big chain supermarkets. If you don’t know what an item is or how to prepare it, ask someone who works in the store or a fellow customer. I’ve gotten a lot of wonderful recipes that way. And, I’ve found great deals on duck legs, lamb, fish, and other items at ethnic markets.
  4. Again, buy produce that’s in season. If there’s a great deal on a particular vegetable you enjoy, buy in quantity. You can use it to make soup; you can even freeze it. And, it’s less expensive than buying packages of frozen vegetables. If Roma tomatoes are on sale and you like tomatoes, buy several pounds, slice them in half lengthwise, drizzle with olive oil and roast. Romas have a hearty texture but they don’t have great flavor; roasting brings out the sugars. Roasted tomatoes are perfect for soup, pasta sauce and cioppino. And you can freeze them.
  5. If you like to shop farmers markets but find them too pricey, try shopping at the end of the market. Sometimes farmers will give shoppers a deal so they don’t have to schlep inventory back.
  6. If you’re single, go in with friends on deals for bulk purchases when buying at Costco, CSAs, etc.
  7. Become friends with your butcher and your produce guy/gal. They can direct you to good deals, tell you about the product,  and offer suggestions on how to use it. If you feel like making stock from scratch, ask your butcher if he/she can give you beef or lamb bones. Roast the bones, add onion, garlic, root vegetables, salt and pepper and, of course, water, to a big pot. In a couple of hours you’ve got stock for making a lot of different meals. Package them in one-cup and quart containers so you can add a little or add a lot to make soup or a stew. And don’t forget to mark them so you know what the container is and how old.

butchering

What are your favorite strategies for smart food purchases? Where do you splurge? Where do you save?

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

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Pickled veggies

Do you make pickles? If not, you’re missing out on an opportunity to add a terrific snap of flavor to the meals you prepare for clients. Most people who shy away from pickling do it because they’re intimidated by water bath processing. But pickling doesn’t always have to lead to water baths (which isn’t hard to do anyway)–and, with these three recipes, that step isn’t involved–although you could do it if you want. These types of pickles are basically meant to be eaten quickly and within a week.

Now why would you want to make them? First of all, they’re delicious snacks that you can enjoy out of hand. They’re also perfect on a charcuterie or cheese plate. In fact, any dish in which you are serving a fatty protein–pork, salmon, and lamb, pates, and rich cheeses immediately come to mind–can benefit from the acid a pickle provides. It’s that acid that satisfyingly cuts the richness of the fat.

I love a sprinkling of pickled onion in a carnitas taco. I’ve enjoyed them in Asian soups filled with pork or made from a pork stock. Shredded pickled carrots are delightfully crunchy in a salad or sandwich. Pickle pearl onions for cocktails. Consider the menus you plan–whether for weekly clients or catering gigs–and think about what dishes would benefit from a crunchy pickle.

I got the recipes below from my friend Pete Balistreri, who operates a chain of restaurants in San Diego called Tender Greens. Tender Greens is all about slow food done fast with local, seasonal, organic produce. In fact, I’ve been on the farm where they source most of their produce. Here, we used cucumbers, cauliflower, and onions–but you could select other vegetables to great effect. In fact, the cauliflower recipe was originally written for fennel. For the cucumber, you can substitute with Japanese or English cucumbers. For the onions, go for white, yellow, or red onions–or garlic or shallots, or a combination.

Pickled cucumbers

Asian-Style Pickles
from Pete Balistreri

Sliced cucumbers
Rice wine vinegar
Red peppercorns
Sugar

How easy is this. Just mix all the ingredients together. Refrigerate for an hour. Eat. Serve with fish (how about sashimi?) and a salad. Mix the liquid with olive oil and create a vinaigrette. Or heat the liquid and pour over tougher cucumber varieties like lemon cukes, wait till they cool, then eat. (Note: I make these all the time but use red pepper flakes instead of the whole peppercorns. I also add toasted sesame seeds when I’m ready to eat them. They’re my perfect quick and refreshing snack on a hot summer day.)

Pickled onions

Pickled Onions
from Pete Balistreri
Yield: 3 quarts

3 cups red wine vinegar
7 cups water
1 cup red wine (like a Pinot Noir)
1/2 cup sugar
1 bunch thyme
6 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
4 onions (white, yellow or red), julienned

Mix together all the ingredients but the onions in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Pour over the onions. Let cool, then refrigerate. Give them 24 hours to develop their color and then serve. Try these inside a beef taco or to top a salad.

 

Pickled cauliflower

Pickled Cauliflower
from Pete Balistreri
Yield: 2 quarts

3 cups champagne vinegar
8 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 bunch thyme
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 head cauliflower, florets separated

Mix all ingredients but the cauliflower in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Pour over the vegetables. Let cool, then refrigerate and wait 24 hours for the color to develop, then serve. You can save the liquid and reheat for another batch.

Do you make pickles for clients? If so, what are your favorites to make?

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.

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Ed Fluck

Long before the general public really understood the term, Edward Fluck became a private chef. Certainly the wealthy among us have had butlers and cooks, but it was only around 25 years ago that they started bringing private chefs into their households.

Chef Ed Fluck, known to all as “Chef Ed,” a longtime member of APPCA, had been cooking professionally for 15 years when he was recommended for the position of private chef to Rankin Smith, owner of the Atlanta Falcons. More than 42 people were interviewed for the job, but Chef Ed was less concerned about the competition than the actual match.

“You have to make sure the match is perfect because it’s like a marriage. You live on site and are with the family constantly,” he explains.

That meant that he also, delicately, interviewed Charlotte Smith, Rankin Smith’s wife, during their initial meeting, asking her why they wanted to have a chef at that point in their life. He liked her response. First, she said, they wanted to do more entertaining for charities and hosting out-of-town guests. Second, she just didn’t like dealing with the kitchen and wanted to stay away. “I found that very refreshing,” Chef Ed recalls. “She was honest and not playing games.” It turned out she also needed someone to manage the house and staff of six. That intrigued him. It was a new challenge and something he looked forward to.

Appetizer

But he also did his research and, to his satisfaction, found that many of the staff had been there for more than 10 years—so he didn’t see it as a situation in which the client was going through a lot of employees.

Chef Ed worked for them for six years, until Rankin Smith passed away and his widow moved to Florida. During that time, he learned that not only did he and the staff have to conform to Mrs. Smith’s schedule—so did their guests. If lunch was scheduled for 12:30, not even their guests could request lunch an hour later. As she told him, “You’re not a short-order cook.”

“She was very tough but we got along very well. Even so, you always have to remember–even when they take you on vacation—that they’re your employer. You still have to make sure they’re taken care of,” he says.

scallops

As a private chef, Chef Ed explains, you’re dedicated to the client. You’re just working for one family and the tasks in his case not only involved cooking, but all the shopping, managing the household (“I logged in every phone call that came in.”), banking, and car maintenance. No, he didn’t do that himself, but hired and supervised those who did.

Chef Ed points out that the standards for a private chef are exceptionally high. “The people I worked for could eat anywhere in the world, so I had to learn to do everything in the kitchen exceptionally well. As a private chef you’ll have a brief career if you limit what you make.”

He was in his 40s when he worked for the Smiths, and Chef Ed enjoyed living on the property, although “it was kind of like being 16,” he jokes. “I’m not in my own house, but I wanted to be respectful of their privacy, so I’d call when I’d go out and come in. I wanted Mrs. Smith to know everything that was going on in her home.”

After leaving the Smith household, Chef Ed went to work for another couple of prestigious families, as well as taking on personal chef clients—but at, what he calls, “a more high-end level, going into the homes a couple of times a week to create meals that would be served that day, not frozen meals for reheating.”

pork

Even today he still has a private chef client, but no longer lives on the property. He has the household keys, does the cooking for the family a couple of days a week, but also runs a successful weekend event business in Atlanta, sans preset menu.

Chef Ed passes on some advice for those interested in becoming private chefs:

  1. Get as much experience as possible before starting down the road to being a private chef. The deeper your background is in cooking, the better. The question I get asked the most is, ‘What is your specialty?’ You need to be able to do everything well. In the six years I was with Rankin Smith I cooked over 6,000 meals. If you aren’t able to do anything and everything to a very high standard, people will grow tired of your ‘specialty’ cooking. It’s like going to the same restaurant every day for six years.
  2. Research your potential employer. You don’t want to work for ‘a name.’ You’re going to work for and live with people. Knowing about them as people and employers is more important. You could end up working with someone who becomes a great lifelong relationship, or you could end up in a job where you are on call 24/7 and get run into the ground. And when that causes you to leave, you can create a stain on your reputation.
  3.  If you’re working full time in one family’s home 40 to 50 hours a week, the more positive life experience you must demonstrate–i.e., responsibility, trustworthiness, and confidentiality, the better. The earlier in your life you make the decision to hone these skills the more valuable you are to your employer and the better chance you have to create the work you enjoy. Your prospective employers are looking for someone who can handle a great deal of responsibility, evaluate situations with balanced, seasoned judgment, and who has the ability to relate to all the other people in their orbit –- from the highest status to the lowest — in order to build solid relationships of trust and competence. Only in that way can that a household run smoothly every day. I read an article about private chefs/house managers and it said the average age of the chef was 50 years old.

tart

My approach was to get “as much experience as I could as young as possible,” Chef Ed says. “I was captivated and excited about learning everything I could in as many different venues as I was able. During my 30’s, I put in my 10,000 hours of refinement,” he said, referring to Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell, the 2008 book’s “10,000-hour rule”–the number of hours of practice needed to acquire mastery of a skill. “I didn’t think about being a private chef until the opportunity presented itself. Things were different 30 or 40 years ago. The business was not as bright and shiny as it is today.

“I like the world I have created for myself,” he says. “I never thought of it as unique, just a world where I was comfortable and happy and able to do what I loved.”

Are you intrigued about being a private chef? What skills do you need to hone to get there?

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.

Photos courtesy of Edward Fluck

 

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sorghum salad2a

We are enjoying a whole grains revolution. Not only is the public becoming enthralled with whole wheat breads, quinoa salads, and brown rice sushi rolls, but we’re being introduced to a plethora of flavorful ancient grains whose names still mystify a wide swath of consumers. Cookbook after new cookbook is coming out with recipes for grains like spelt, farro, wheat berries, and amaranth, and vendors are showcasing them on market shelves. But it doesn’t take much namedropping to underscore how much education still needs to be done.

For those of you whose focus is on creating healthy, nutritious–and, yes–very flavorful meals, ancient grains can be your best new friends. As the name suggests, ancient grains were cultivated at least a millennium ago–before GMOs and the crazy corporate methodology of removing all nutritional value. They can be cooked as grains or ground into flour. Many are gluten free.

I picked out three that you may not have come across before: freekah, sorghum, and einkorn. But if you want to really delve into ancient grains, check out my friend Maria Speck’s now classic book, Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. Her new book, Simply Ancient Grains, will be published in April.

So, let’s start with freekah. This is less a grain than a process which originated in the Middle East centuries ago in which grains are harvested while still green and then slow roasted in the hull. Some versions are called greenwheat freekah because the freekah is made with young wheat kernels. It’s reminiscent of farro and barley, with a nutty, grassy flavor and hearty, toothy texture.

raw freekah

What I love about it, along with the flavor and the fact that it cooks up in all of 20 minutes, is that it’s so ridiculously healthy. It’s low in fat, low carb with a low-glycemic index, high in fiber (a single serving has seven grams of dietary fiber), and is a prebiotic.

cooked freekah

Freekah is as versatile as rice, even if it’s more earthy, so it’s an easy substitute for many of your favorite rice-based recipes. This time of year, mix it up with winter squash, crispy bacon, sauteed greens, fresh apples and pears, dried fruit, toasted nuts, or mushrooms. In warmer weather, turn it into a salad with fresh herbs, shrimp, berries, or figs.

Then there’s sorghum. When I hear the word sorghum, my head immediately pulls up an image of Gone with the Wind. Isn’t it some kind of Southern molasses?

Dry sorghum grains2

Well, yes and no. One type, sweet sorghum, is a tall cereal grain that has, in fact, served as the source of an inexpensive syrup and as feed in the form of the whole plant for animals. But in the U.S. a second, shorter variety is grown for animal feed. And ethanol. And, get this, fencing, pet food, building material, and floral arrangements. Its great quality is that it’s drought tolerant (anyone growing it in California?) and very hardy. In fact, it requires a third less water to grow than corn. And that’s why, in thirsty parts of the U.S., sorghum is making a comeback. According to United Sorghum Checkoff, in 2013 8.06 million acres of sorghum were planted in the U.S.–primarily in Kansas, Texas, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Colorado on dryland areas.

Originating from northeastern Africa, where it’s been growing for at least 4,000 years, sorghum spread to the rest of Africa, as well as India and China. It’s thought to have been introduced to North America in cargo ships that carried African slaves.

While corn is still king in the U.S., farmers are experiencing greater demand for sorghum and not just because of water scarcity. Because it’s an ancient grain and a gluten-free grain, increasingly people are showing a culinary interest in it. It’s ground into flour for baking but I have been enjoying the whole grains themselves–which look like pale little ballbearings with a black dot in center.

Sorghum is not difficult to find. I found Bob’s Red Mill packages of it at Whole Foods. Like any whole grain it’s endlessly versatile. Boil it like rice and enjoy it as a side dish. Create risotto with it. Make a hot cereal with it. Or, you can even pop it like popcorn.

I kept it simple just to try it out. The water to grain ratio with sorghum is 3 to 1 and it takes close to an hour to cook. The grains plump up, but they still are small and have a chewy consistency.

I first ate the cooked sorghum with a tomato-based chicken stew. Then I turned the leftovers into a sorghum and cherry tomato salad, basically rummaging through my refrigerator to use ingredients like sliced kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, diced red onion, garbanzo beans, parsley from my garden, currants, and toasted pine nuts. I tossed all of it together in a light vinaigrette I made. Day one it was a solid B. The textures were good–some crunch, some chew. The flavors were, too–sweet, herbaceous, briny, salty, garlicky (from the vinaigrette). But day two it all came together. So, make this a day in advance so the flavors can really meld.

sorghum salad

You can also pop sorghum. Use just the slightest amount of oil to a quarter cup of sorghum in a tall, heavy pot over high heat. I found that stirring with a wooden spoon seemed more useful than shaking the pot. The grains won’t all pop but even the orphans can be enjoyed without worry of cracking your teeth. What to do with them? Other than snacking, of course. They make a great garnish. The popped kernels are petite and delicate looking. Use them to top a creamy soup or a platter of roasted vegetables. Add them to a salad. Make little sweet balls (a la popcorn balls) to garnish a dessert. They’re just fun!

Popped sorghum

Finally, there’s einkorn. Einkorn is such a unique name that I figured it was some sort of exotic grain. But, in fact, it was much more familiar than I’d expected. It’s a species of wheat that is truly ancient, in its cultivated state dating back over 10,000 years ago to archeological sites in southern Turkey. In grain form, it is essentially a wheat berry–something I’ve been cooking with for years.

Einkorn

As one of the earliest cultivated forms of wheat–along with emmer–it can survive in the poorest, driest of soils. But it faded from popularity. Now it appears to be coming back, thanks to its health properties, which includes a higher percentage of proteins than modern red grains and higher levels of fat, phosphorus, potassium, and beta-carotine.

It also tastes really good. It has a sweet nutty flavor and a marvelously chewy texture, making it terrific for grain salads/sides, stuffing, and cereal. It can also be ground into a flour for baking.

Einkorn salad

I’ve prepared einkorn in two ways so far. First I made a salad filled with citrus and dried figs, sugar snap peas, toasted walnuts, and garbanzo beans. I had cooked up 1 cup of dry einkorn and used 3/4 of that for the salad.

The rest I saved for breakfast the following day. I added a little more water to the cooked einkorn, stirred it up, then heated it in the microwave for a couple of minutes. I transferred it to a bowl, added a bit of butter, maple syrup, and more toasted walnuts, along with a splash of milk. It was divine. Einkorn just absorbs any flavor you pair it with and serves it back to you in a nutty, chewy mouthful.

Einkorn cereal

You can find many ancient grains at markets like Whole Foods and Sprouts–or online.

Kale and Crimini Mushroom Greenwheat Freekah Pilaf
Makes six servings

Ingredients
1 cup greenwheat freekah
1 3/4 cups water or stock
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch kale, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as sage, oregano, or Mexican tarragon
Juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Bring water or stock to a boil. Stir in the freekah. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes.

2. While the freekah is simmering, heat a large saute pan or wok. Add oil and let warm up. Reduce the heat and add the garlic and onions. Let them cook slowly until almost caramelized. Add mushrooms and cook until softened. Add kale and herbs. Cook until wilted. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

3. Add the cooked freekah and mix thoroughly. Serve.

Kale and crimini mushroom Freekah pilaf2

 

What ancient grains do you cook with 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.

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