Ever wonder how those food trend predictors come to their conclusions? CBS News interviewed culinary director Kara Nielsen of Sterling-Rice Group, a brand development company which recently released its trends predictions. She tells CBS that their research evaluates culinary shifts and the evolution of consumer behavior. She also looks at societal forces shaping the future of the country, “including aging baby boomers who are increasingly focused on their health; entrepreneurial millennials looking for opportunities to start new types of food businesses; as well as the growth of Asian and Latino communities with their own strong culinary traditions.” And, she notes, that food trends are also influenced by core values, including the desire for joy, adventure, and community.
So, according to SRG, what will be in the markets and on restaurant menus next year? They fall into 10 broad groupings:
1. Advanced Asian: Forget “Chinese” or “Japanese.” Instead, we’ll be seeing more complex and true-to-region Asian foods. It’s spicier and funkier, appealing to the “advanced” Asian food lover. Diners will be discovering Northern Thai cuisine, Japanese okonomiyaki pancakes, and the tangy flavors of Filipino foods.
2. Matcha Madness: The quest for vitality will lead to Japanese matcha, a nutrient powerhouse green tea that’s hitting the market in convenient formats. Made from crushed green tea leaves, matcha is full of antioxidants, L-theanine and beta carotenes. Next year’s go-to energy and wellness beverage offers a calming energy with less caffeine than green tea, but with more nutritional benefits. These include sparkling match tea, sweets, baked goods with matcha, matcha-based sauces.
3. Cannabis Cuisine: Being in Boulder, says SRG, gives them unique insight into the, uh, budding edible marijuana trend. Forget pot brownies, today’s edible come in many forms, including confections, bars, simple syrups, and even bottled cold-brewed coffee. Cookbooks, cooking classes, and online reviewers legitimize the burgeoning industry, which already has a food truck.
4. Hop-Free Suds: Countering the surge of IPAs, brewers are taking a cue from their medieval predecessors and using herbs, spices, and other bitter plans to provide flavor balance and aroma to beer instead of hops. These seasonings, or gruits, include mushrooms, sassafras, rosemary, tea, hemp, and even reindeer lichen, yielding intriguing flavors instead of hoppy bitterness.
5. Incendiary Charcoal: With more grilled Asian foods, like yakatori, more chefs are turning to ancient styles of charcoal. Japanese charcoal, or bonchotan, is kilned oak that burns at 1,652 degrees to 2,92 degrees in a clean, odorless, and smokeless way that allows food to cook fast and retain natural flavors. Thai charcoal can do the same. Beyond the grill, charcoal is also coloring breads, crackers, lemonades, and even beauty products.
6. Local Grain Network: Regional grain economies are growing with farmers raising small-scale alternative grain varieties and selling them to local bakers, brewers, chefs, and consumers, who are in turn using mills to grind fresh flour for bread, pizza, and pastries. With more farmers’ markets selling locally grown grains, expect a bigger demand for countertop mills, grain-milling appliances like the Vitamix Dry-Grain Container and Wolfgan Grain Mill, and products made from fresh-milled flour in 2015.
7. Coconut Sugar Sweetness: Sugar, says SRG, is in the doghouse these days and has many gravitating toward less processed sweeteners like coconut sugar. Made from coconut blossom nectar, it has a lower glycemic index than white sugar and more nutrients, making it perfect for granolas, confections, and spreads in the natural channel. Coconut sugar also appeals to sweet-loving Paleos and home cooks making Southeast Asian recipes. You’ll find it in Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Granola, Kika’s Treats Salted Caramels, and Hope Foods Chocolate Spreads.
8. Farm-to-Table Kosher: Milennial Jews, seeking to eat in a more sustainable, conscious, and cultural way, are starting to keep kosher, supported by a rise in small businesses offering better tasting, better sourced, and more varied kosher far. These include artisan Jewish delis, handrafted bagel shops, and restaurants that also appeal to non-Jews attracted to food that seems cleaner and purer.
9. Hunger Games: Restaurant Edition: What combines communal dining, pop-up restaurant novelty, chef competitions, and crowd-sourced creation? It’s incubators that support aspiring chefs with kitchens, dining spaces, and marketing power.
10. Ugly Fruit and Vegetable Movement: In line with growing concerns over food waste, this French-born trend gives misshapen and funny-looking produce a place at the table and in recipes where looks don’t matter. According to Nielsen, “People around the globe are uniting to find new ways to reduce food waste. Efforts are already underway here to raise awareness to this issue and to find resourceful ways to manage our food supply and feed the hungry at the same time.”
Not feeling moved by these trends? Then check out Andrew Freeman & Co.’s annual trends list for restaurant menus. You’ll find scrambled eggs, more spice, more flavor through less fat, meat spreads, Spanish flavors, and more.
What trends do you see occurring in your food community? How might you take advantage of some of the trends SRG forecasts?
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.
It seems every time we turn around there’s a new social media platform we’re told we must be active on. Facebook. Twitter. Linkedin. Instagram. Tumblr. For many of us, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything. After all, we’re working chefs. Time is not on our side, especially if we also have a family or just want to have a life. So, it’s important to be strategic about where you spend your time and energy.
Recently, a discussion began on one of our forums about Pinterest. How does it work? Should I be on it? How will it help me? So, we thought it would be a good idea to offer some pointers so that if you decide you want to take it up, you can get started fairly painlessly.
Pinterest launched back in 2011 as a platform where users could upload, save, organize, and share images (and now other media, like videos and gifs) to unique pinboards (think of them as pages). These pinboards could be uniquely named by users to reflect a theme (great kitchen utensils, gluten-free food, cool teapots). The images can come from other users that you follow (you would repin them to a your own pinboard), from photos you upload from your computer or device, or websites you enjoy or manage yourself. Once they’re uploaded onto a pin, they’re shared with the rest of the Pinterest community, and in particular, people who follow your pins. In turn, you’ll see the images of those you follow.
Initially, this was thought of as a great way to organize personal projects. You want to renovate your kitchen? Then you could grab ideas for new lighting or counter tops, fabrics or dishware and have them in one place to get inspiration. People you knew or respected would pin something cool and you’d get great ideas that you might not otherwise have come across. The same applies to great vacation ideas, clothing and accessories, pets. You name it. But, as with everything these days, it’s also morphed into a way to promote brands.
So that’s where you can come in. As a personal chef you have a brand that you want to promote. Like Facebook and Twitter and other social media, this shouldn’t be all about you. But, along with creating boards that reflect your interests, you can also create boards that reflect your personal chef business. Are you a terrific food photographer? You can create a pinboard that features your food photography. Do you have a food blog? You can pin photos of your dishes that link back to the recipe on your blog (and generate more traffic). Do you cater parties? Take pictures and pin them to your catering pinboard.
You can also use Pinterest as a place to collect interesting recipes you want to try. Follow people/pinboards that reflect your interests and create a pinboard for repinning them. Perhaps a pinboard you call Paleo Treats. Or Everything About Grains. It’s limited only by your imagination.
Our social media colleague Caron Golden has a blog called San Diego Foodstuff. So, of course, she has a pinboard called San Diego Foodstuff Recipes. Every week that she posts a new recipe she links it to that Pinterest board. How does she do it? Pinterest offers a “pin-it” button you can put on your browser.
When you’re on a page that has an image you want to pin (including a photo of your recipe), simply click on the button and it will load a page with all the images on that page. Click on the image you want to pin. Then a new little window will open from Pinterest. You’ll select the pinboard you want to pin the image to from the pinboards you’ve created and then add a description. The link will already be included. That’s it. And, if you want, you can automatically connect that to Twitter so that your new pin appears on your Twitter feed.
Caron also has boards that reflect the variety of her food writing interests: SD Chefs and Their Dishes, San Diego Food Vendors, What I Want–And Can–Eat, Edible Reading, Curious and Compelling Food. And some non-food pinboards, like I Have a Purse Problem and Books to Curl Up With.
Don’t want everything to be public? Perhaps you have a project you’re working on that’s not for public consumption. No problem. You can choose to keep your board private.
You can also share pinboards on Facebook or Twitter or with individuals. You can like pins you find by clicking on the heart. You can repin images you like to your own boards by clicking on the red Pin It button that pops up when you hover your cursor over the image.
How will people find you? When you sign up, Pinterest can draw from your Facebook connections and enable you to connect with people who already know you. As you get more active, your pins will be repinned and others will see them. There can be a viral effect that’s very cool. You’ll also be informed via email of new people following you and have the opportunity to reciprocate.
Pinterest is evolving, but fortunately they do have tutorials you can click on that are helpful. Just click on your username on the upper right part of your homepage on Pinterest and then click on Visit Help Center. And, if you have any questions, you can post them here or on our forums.
If you’re watching Food Network Star, you know we’re rooting for our own Nicole Gaffney. And, she cruised through again! Well, perhaps cruising isn’t the best word. In this special Cut Throat Kitchen challenge, she and her fellow contestants were directed to make spaghetti and meatballs. Unfortunately, Nicole completely spaced on picking up a package of spaghetti during the shelf raiding, but she cleverly made up for that by making pan-fried breadcrumb gnocchi. Along the way, she got nabbed by fellow contestants who made her grind her meat with a spice grinder and then had her stomp grapes (don’t ask). But she did it and the judges passed her through to next week.
Speaking of next week, we’ll have a profile of Nicole in this space. Stay tuned!
Are you on Pinterest? If not, what’s keeping you from joining?
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.
Periodically, we invite our members or friends to guest post in this space. I marvel at what member Beth Volpe of Savory Eats in Southern California does with her Thanksgiving turkey. The way she bones and butterflies–it is a marvel of technique and her timing is the perfect example of exquisite planning that allows her to enjoy the day with family and friends. So, I asked her to explain to us how she makes it. And she surprised me with an additional recipe, which I think you’ll love. So, here is Beth:
Savory Eats by Beth opened for business in January 2014. I had the fortune to take my classes in the warmth of Candy Wallace’s home and kitchen in San Diego. I am currently enrolled in Escoffier Online International Culinary Academy and have one year left towards becoming a Professional Culinarian. I have been cooking as long as I remember. I do it because I love it and it is who I am. I have three regular clients I cook for weekly and they are wonderful! I cater small dinner parties frequently and I teach cooking classes. Like all of us, I have done the work to get here and it has paid off.
Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday. I love the way the house smells when everything is cooking. When I was working in the corporate world I did not have time to prepare a full Thanksgiving dinner without being totally exhausted Thanksgiving Day. So for the past 10 years I have figured out a way to make my Thanksgiving meal two days before so that I would have the holiday to enjoy with my family. I make a brined, butterflied turkey, the gravy, the dressing, and the cranberry sauce the day before. Come Thanksgiving Day, all I do is slide my turkey in the oven and pour myself a glass of wine. One thing to note, in order for the turkey to fit in your oven and on a rack or the slotted top of your broiler pan, the turkey can be no larger than 14 lbs. Here is how I do it.
Over the years I have tried every variety of turkey out there (aside from hunting one down). In the end, they all taste the same after my process. So nowadays I generally purchase a nice frozen turkey. My process starts on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I butterfly the turkey. That requires cutting out the backbone and the tail. I reserve these parts to be used later in the making of my gravy. Reserve the gizzard, heart and neck. Once the backbone is removed I remove the tiny breast bones on each breast. This makes carving easier. Turn the bird over, stand on a stool so that your weight is above the turkey and press hard on the center of the breast. The breastbone must be broken in order for the turkey to lay flat. You will hear it crack. It’s at that point that I take the bird to the sink. It will be very floppy.
Once I butterflied my first turkey and actually saw what was left inside the cavity, I was convinced that I would never again stuff a turkey. Sure we clean the inside well; however, there are the liver, kidney parts, and other “things” inside that cavity that just don’t wash away unless you open the bird up. Once cleaned I put the entire turkey into a brine (recipe to follow). It sits overnight or about eight hours. On Wednesday, I remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well in cold running water for five minutes. Dry the turkey with paper towels. It’s important to get as much of the moisture possible off of the bird. Place the bird on a cooling rack set in a rimmed cookie sheet, uncovered, in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. This is an important step because the chill dries the skin and creates a nice crispiness when roasting. I also make my gravy and my dressing on Wednesday. Come Thursday all that is left is to pop the turkey into the oven. I actually place the rack with the turkey over one of the large foil square pans full of my dressing. When the turkey cooks, the juices from the turkey drip into the dressing. So you get the great turkey flavor stuffing the turkey provides without the risk.
So, here we go:
Tuesday – Butterfly the turkey, reserving all of the parts that you remove (minus the liver). Those parts get tossed into a roasting pan along with garlic, celery, and carrots to caramelize for the gravy.
2 gallons water
1 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons black peppercorn – whole
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
6 to 8 fresh sage leaves
Add all ingredients to the brining bag and seal. Massage the mixture to dissolve the salt and sugar. Once dissolved, place your cleaned, butterflied turkey in the brine. Remove as much air as possible. Seal the bag and into the fridge it goes. There it will stay overnight for 8 hours.
Wednesday – Remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine and bag. Rinse the turkey well for 5 minutes to remove the brine.
These instructions are without the dressing.
Cover a large jelly roll pan with foil (if you don’t like cleaning the pan) and place a cooling rack or the slotted top of your broiler pan on top of the foil. Place your turkey breast up on top of the cooling rack. Make sure all parts of the turkey fit on the cooling rack. You may need to tie the leg joints together to keep the thighs and legs in place. See Photo. Back into the fridge this goes for up to 24 hours. Do not cover.
Thursday – Pull out your bird. Be careful because there will be fluid in the pan and you don’t want to spill. Take the tray to the sink and pour off any accumulated fluid. Brush the turkey with turkey fat, duck fat or butter. Season with salt and pepper.
This turkey will literally take around 80 to 90 minutes to cook. I cook it hot at 450°F. I turn my turkey front to back after 40 minutes. Continue to cook until your instant read thermometer reads 175° in the thickest part of the thigh. Let rest. Carving this turkey is a breeze.
Chef Beth’s Thanksgiving Roulade
(Boneless Turkey Breast stuffed with Cranberry and Bourbon Compote, Turkey Leg and Thigh Confit, and a simple dressing wrapped in Puff Pastry)
Serves 5 to 6
I have been wanting to create a recipe for an elegant turkey dinner with all the flavors of Thanksgiving minus the carcass. This recipe was created in about a week. It took me two tries to get the outcome I was hoping for. I knew it the minute I tasted it. I hope you enjoy it!
The following items must be prepared before your start rolling.
TURKEY LEG AND THIGH CONFIT
6 peeled fresh garlic cloves
¼ cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon juniper berries
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Zest of one large lemon
8-9 cups duck fat
2 turkey legs, 2 turkey thighs, skin on
Fresh sage leaves
4 peeled fresh garlic cloves
In a food processor grind the first 6 ingredients. This will be your rub.
Massage the rub into your turkey legs and thighs. Place in a bag and let sit (preferably) overnight; however for this recipe I only let them marinate about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 250°F.
Heat the duck fat on the stove until melted.
Transfer the legs and thighs to a deep Dutch oven. Add a couple springs of fresh sage and 4 whole peeled garlic cloves. Pour melted duck fat over the turkey. Make sure all of the legs and thighs are submerged. Cook this for 3-4 hours uncovered. You want to make sure the turkey is very tender and cooked through.
Remove from oven. Let sit at room temperature for about 2 hours. Keep in the Dutch oven and transfer to fridge when cool and cover. The confit is complete at this point and ready for use. It can stay in the fridge for a few days.
To prepare the confit for the roulade, gently reheat the confit in its fat on the stove and only when warm, carefully lift out the legs and thighs. Remove the meat from the bones and process in your food processor (pulse so that you have control) until coarsely ground.
Add enough gravy from the roasted turkey to give it a spreading consistency. You will have leftover confit to enjoy.
4 cups fresh cranberries (should be equal to one bag at the grocery store)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cinnamon stick
¼ cup bourbon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
Toss everything into a small saucepan and cook at medium-low heat, stirring periodically. Reduce until you get to a compote consistency. Remove cinnamon stick and process the mixture in a food processor until smooth. Refrigerate
I used a very simple recipe that I found on Epicurious. I needed something relatively plain but with all of the traditional ingredients…parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, all from my garden.
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
1 pound good-quality, day-old white bread, torn into 1″ pieces (about 10 cups)
2 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 1/2 cups celery, sliced in 1/4″ pieces
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 250°F. Butter a 13x9x2-inch baking dish and set aside. Scatter bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until dried out, about 1 hour. Let cool; transfer to a very large bowl.
Meanwhile, melt 3/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add onions and celery. Stir often until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add to bowl with bread; stir in herbs, salt, and pepper. Drizzle in 1 1/4 cups broth and toss gently. Let cool.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk 1 1/4 cups broth and eggs in a small bowl. Add to bread mixture; fold gently until thoroughly combined. Transfer to prepared dish, cover with foil, and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of dressing registers 160°F, about 40 minutes. DO AHEAD: Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Uncover; let cool. Cover; chill.
Bake dressing, uncovered, until set and top is browned and crisp, 40-45 minutes longer (if chilled, add 10-15 minutes).
PREPPING THE ROULADE
I use a ½ skinned, boned turkey breast (Reserve bones and skin for another use.) and 1 sheet of puff pastry dough.
Lay turkey breast skin side down (sans skin) on a long sheet of plastic wrap to aid in rolling the roulade later.
It’s important to make sure that the turkey breast half is uniform before pounding. So, it may be necessary for you to butterfly a portion of the breast that is thicker. Place in plastic bag and pound to ½-3/4 inch thick. Turkey breast halves are not symmetrical. You may need to do some trimming. Use the turkey tenderloin to fill in open spots.
Spread an even coat of the cranberry compote all over the breast.
Spread the confit in an even layer over the compote. Press down.
Spread an even layer of the dressing over the confit. Press down.
Do your best to maintain the integrity of the layers.
Use the plastic wrap to roll the turkey breast. Parts may fall out the sides but don’t worry. You will stuff them back in and use the plastic wrap to form the roulade. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 to 12 hours.
It is now time to wrap the roulade with puff pastry dough. You will need only one sheet per half breast. Roll it out very thin (1/16 to 1/8 inch). Make sure your roulade will fit on the pastry sheet and be fully covered front to back. You will need a couple of inches on each side. Remove the plastic wrap from the rolled breast and cover the breast with the pastry sheet. On the sides, cut away extra dough (it won’t cook through) and seal the ends by tucking them underneath the roulade. Place on a jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Remove and make fine cuts into the pastry diagonally across the top. Brush with an egg wash and bake in a 350° preheated oven for 1 hour or until crust is golden brown and turkey registers 165°.
If there are fluids around the roast, carefully discard them. Allow roulade to rest 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully slice and serve with gravy and the remaining Cranberry Bourbon Compote.
Elegant, the whole dinner in one roulade! Mission accomplished!
What’s your favorite way to prepare your Thanksgiving turkey? Please leave a comment for Beth and let her know your thoughts or ask her a question.
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.
Anyone can make a Halloween party festive–but how about the next day when the neighborhood is taking down the decorations? Well, our little street in central San Diego is Halloween crazy! We love to go overboard for our trick or treaters. It takes a lot of effort to make sure every possible realistic creepy crawly bug, warty witch’s nose, and fake bloody appendage is artfully displayed. It’s a ghoulish feast for the eyes. That’s the fun part. But, as everyone knows, the clean up is always a drag.
So, I thought it would be fun on that chilly weekend to make a pot of soup that I could share with my friends on the block who were wearily packing up random pumpkins and spider webs, talking skulls, and tired ghosts. And what better soup than a creamy butternut squash soup? It’s easy to make, irresistibly tasty, and very healthy. I especially enjoy the nice touch of acid from the Granny Smith apples I add to balance the sweetness of the squash. And the squash itself, with its smooth skin, is much easier to work with (as in peel) than ribbed pumpkins.
This a great soup for families, of course. Perfect for the personal chef who has soup-loving clients. You can make it vegetarian by substituting vegetable stock for the chicken stock. And, here’s a quick tip for you to expedite the vegetables softening: chop them into small, 1/2-inch pieces.
Simple Soup for a Group
Serves 10 to 12
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, fine chopped
2 celery ribs, fine chopped
2 carrots, fine chopped
2 butternut squash, peeled, chopped, and seeded
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, chopped
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup minced chives for garnish
Smoked paprika for garnish
Heat a large soup pot to medium high. Melt the butter and add the mirepoix (the onions, celery, and carrots). Stir and saute for five to seven minutes or until the vegetables are softened and the onions opaque. Do not allow them to brown.
Stir in the squash, apples, chicken stock, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes until all the vegetables are soft.
Puree the soup in a blender or Vitamix (let cool first) or immediately with an immersion blender until smooth.
Stir in seasonings. Taste and adjust seasonings.
To serve, stir in a dollop of sour cream or heavy whipping cream, and garnish with minced chives and a sprinkling of smoked paprika for an added dash of flavor.
Serve with a tossed salad, cheese and fruit board, and a crisp Chardonnay.
What’s your favorite cold weather soup to make for clients (or yourself)?
On Oct. 19 one of the most prestigious moments of my culinary career took place when–with the smack of a spatula–I was inducted into the Disciples of Escoffier. At a magnificent gala at the InterContinental The Clement on Cannery Row in Monterey (which I actually also co-emceed along with Disciple and Les Dames d’Escoffier’s Mary Chamberlin), nine of us were brought into this premier international gastronomic society, established in France, which honors the memory of Auguste Escoffier, the father of modern French cuisine. The society’s mission is to promote and preserve his work, and promote culinary education and apprenticeships encouraging young people to discover the desire and motivation to work as professional chefs.
Proceeds from the gala, hosted by The American Institute of Wine & Food and Les Dames d’Escoffier Monterey chapter are slated to provide a full culinary scholarship to a Northern California student to the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. My friend Michel Escoffier, Auguste Escoffier’s great-grandson, oversaw the induction.
And, in fact, I received my Red Disciples of Escoffier chef sash from him, as Mary looked on.
So, what kind of company was I in? The other inductees included:
- Executive chef Thomas Keller of the French Laundry and Per Se
- Chief Pierre Bain of Fandangos
- Executive Chef Nathan Beriau of the Ritz Carlton, San Francisco
- Wine Producer and Owner Bill Stahl of River Ranch Vineyards
- Chef Tene Shake, President of the American Culinary Federation
- Executive Chef Robert Mancuso of the Bohemian Club
- Chef John Pisto, Restaurateur and host of “Monterey’s Cookin’ Pisto Style”
- Executive Chef Ben Diaz of Rosa Mexicano
Additionally, Chef Cal Stamenov of Bernardus Lodge & Spa, and a Disciple of Escoffier, was honored. And, Mary presented a donation to chef Paul Lee from the Drummond Culinary Academy at Rancho Cielo Youth Campus, a Salinas nonprofit that works with at-risk youth, teaching them the skills to work in our local culinary and hospitality industry. Dennis and I donated a full live seminar experience, a year’s personal mentoring, and a full year membership in APPCA to a graduate of the Drummond Culinary Academy.
As wonderful as the event was–and it was special–my take aways from being inducted into such a high-profile and exclusive culinary society are two-fold. Personally, it was a humbling, enlivening, and deeply meaningful experience. Only the cream of the culinary industry is ever considered or invited to participate in this society that protects and practices the legacy, philosophy, and culinary skill of Auguste Escoffier. I simply didn’t see it coming, especially since traditionally they haven’t inducted women. So, it was enlivening from the standpoint that I am one of the few women–and the only one in this group–inducted into the society to date. And, of course, it was meaningful as a public recognition of a lifelong career that has focused on establishing a different kind of career for chefs.
That, in turn, makes this an honor that reflects on the worthiness of our organization and the success of our members. It’s a clear validation of the personal chef career path. It’s validation that the level of skill and commitment to professionalism held by personal and private chefs is as real as it is for executive chefs in the commercial kitchens of the finest restaurants and hotels and private clubs throughout the world. The Disciples of Escoffier recognize this–and recognize the value of our organization as a means of building, promoting, and protecting this career path. In being honored with this induction into this great society, APPCA and its members have also been honored.
Now I can’t duplicate the breathtaking champagne toast by saber from that evening, but I raise a virtual glass to all of you, our APPCA members, who have also dedicated your lives to a career that seeks to bring joy, health, and well-being to clients through the food we create for them. Whenever you have a moment when life is just too crazy or you’re feeling frustrated–and we all have them–you can fend off that negativity by telling yourself that you are doing good work and that your path has been acknowledged by the best in your industry as being special and worthy of the highest honor.
I swear I’m seeing winter squash everywhere these days–not just at the market, but even at random places like Target. Everyone’s selling them–and not just the traditional Charlie Brown Halloween pumpkin but all sorts of interesting varieties like big Fairytale and Cinderellas, Sweet Dumplings and Tiger Stripes, L’il Tigers, and Blues. I’m sure you have your favorites in your region, but if there’s an opportunity to experiment with varieties you haven’t tried, give it a go.
Winter squash are a marvelously deceptive vegetable. They look so hard and tough and impenetrable, but cook up to some of the sweetest and tenderest of edibles. I love the variety of clothing they wear–soothing cream, sexy blue, bright orange, rocking stripes, dappled sprays of color. But it’s only skin deep. Peel any of these hard squash and you get a glorious orange flesh that surrounds what may be the best part of all–the seeds.
The flavors of a freshly cooked pumpkin are so beyond what you get with the canned version that it’s worth the effort to peel and clean them for everything from pies and muffins to stews and soups. I love roasting pumpkin with other vegetables for a thick mellow soup. And, I enjoy chopping them up and adding the pieces to sweet and savory ingredients for a one-dish baked meal.
No doubt most of you use a traditional casserole dish or perhaps a high-quality enameled cast-iron pot to make a large one-dish meal. I love those, too, but I’m going to invite you to try something very traditional but perhaps new to you: cooking in clay pots.
If you are a cookbook junkie you’re probably familiar with longtime food writer and teacher Paula Wolfert. Her expertise is Mediterranean cooking and she wrote a book a few years ago called Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking that won over many fans, including our friend Caron Golden, who has since been collecting clay pots of all kinds and experimenting.
Winter squash is the perfect ingredient for this style of cooking. All you need is a stoneware pot. Caron used this gorgeous silky brown 2 1/2-quart casserole made by San Diego potter Roberta Klein to make the dish below. Don’t worry about it cracking. As long as you don’t preheat the oven, but instead let the pot warm with the rising temperature, it should be fine. And, of course, make sure that the glaze is lead free.
Caron came up with a recipe for a one-pot winter squash dish based on ingredients she happened to have in her kitchen, other than the squash. You can find frozen giant Cuzco corn at Latin markets. Native to Peru, they’re filled with protein, and have a dense chewy texture, making them perfect for stews and soups because they keep their shape. But if you can’t find them, just add something else like garbanzo beans. Same with the sausage. In her one-dish meal she added a couple of spicy and sweet apricot chipotle pork sausages she bought from a local rancher. While its juices and meat added a lot of flavor and some nice heat, this dish would work just as well without meat for a vegetarian meal–or with other protein selections.
Serve this with a hearty grain like quinoa, wild rice, barley, farro, or kasha (buckwheat groats).
Clay Pot Winter Squash
2 pounds winter squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1-inch pieces (save the squash seeds)
1/2 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups giant Cuzco corn (you can find frozen in Hispanic markets)
1 cup golden raisins or other dried fruit
2 large fresh sausages, sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup olive oil or 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup pumpkin or butternut squash oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar, plus more to sprinkle on toward end of baking
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground pepper to taste
1. Combine all the ingredients except the squash seeds and extra brown sugar and mix well. Add to 2 1/2-quart or larger stoneware pot and cover. Place the pot in the middle rack of the oven. Heat oven to 375. Bake.
2. Put squash seeds in a colander and rinse, separating the seeds from one another and the squash fibers. Let dry. Then toss with olive oil and salt. Spread on a baking sheet or aluminum foil. Toast in the oven with the squash for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
3. Check the squash at about an hour and 15 minutes. If the squash isn’t completely cooked through, cover and cook another 15 minutes. When it is cooked through, sprinkle the mixture with brown sugar and let cook another 15 minutes uncovered. Remove from the oven and serve, sprinkling with toasted squash seeds to garnish.
Do you cook with clay pots? What’s your favorite, most unusual recipe?
One of San Diego’s most talented chefs is Amy DiBiase, now executive chef at Tidal, the beautifully renovated restaurant overlooking the San Diego Bay at Paradise Point Resort & Spa. Our friend and food writer Caron Golden often spends time in the kitchen with San Diego chefs and she recently had kitchen time with Amy, who shared with her the technique for making ricotta gnudi. While this is a year-round dish, somehow it seems especially delightful as the weather takes on a chill, so we thought we’d share this recipe with you.
The gnudi are easy to make and pair with a variety of sauces. Here we’ll show you Amy’s pairing with lamb, eggplant, and zucchini, but really, you can top it with any sauce you’d use with pasta. We love that this dish is also low carb, meaning this could be a special treat for clients dealing with type 2 diabetes. Amy uses durum wheat flour to coat the gnudi, but if you have clients with gluten issues, you could probably substitute wheat flour with a gf flour without it suffering.
So, here are the basics. While gnudi feels like pasta it’s really is cheese coated in flour. Essentially you beat together the cheeses with a sparkle of fresh lime zest and salt and pepper, pipe it into a bed of ground durum and cover it up with more of the durum.
Let it rest, refrigerated, for 36 hours so it forms a shell that encases the cheeses. Rub off the excess durum and pop the gnudi into boiling water for about four minutes.
Then serve with your sauce. Bite into a gnudi and what bursts from the durum skin is a warm, creamy texture with a mild flavor from the trio of cheeses. You could easily add fresh herbs like chives, thyme, or a touch of rosemary or spices like nutmeg, cardamom, or sumac to create your own flavor profile.
On this day, Amy showed Caron her current menu sauce–roasted eggplant puree with zucchini, tomato, braised lamb, and black olives. While making the sauce, she warmed the already-prepared puree in a shallow bowl in the oven.
In a skillet, she sauteed the zucchini in olive oil. Then she added the shredded braised lamb shank and a hank of butter. Once the liquid had reduced and the gnudi were cooked she dropped them into the pan briefly with the halved tomatoes. Out came the bowl with the eggplant puree and over that went the gnudi with the sauce. Then she added fresh basil before garnishing the dish with the Moroccan black olive puree.
Ricotta gnudi is also the perfect dinner party dish. Make it ahead of time up to the point where you boil the gnudi. Then serve family style on a platter with a salad and perhaps big bowl of steamed clams or mussels, and a fresh loaf of sourdough bread.
From Amy DiBiase
1 pound ricotta
8 ounces marscapone
4 ounces grated parmesan
zest of one lime
salt and pepper to taste
1 bag fine ground durum wheat flour (you can substitute all purpose flour)
*Note, the proportions of the cheeses are 1 part ricotta to 1/2 part marscapone to 1/4 part parmesan cheese. Amy says the easiest way to measure is to buy a 1 pound container of ricotta. Empty that into a bowl, then use the container to measure the marscapone and parmesan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the ingredients but the durum wheat flour until they just come together.
Spread a one-inch deep layer of flour into a casserole dish. Using a piping bag, pipe the gnudi straight onto the flour in the shape of a large Hershey’s kiss (don’t swirl like a Dairy Queen ice cream cone). You’ll probably need to use a clean finger to push the dough off the tip of the bag with each gnudi. Keep them about an inch apart.
When you’ve filled the dish with the gnudi, cover them completely with more durum flour. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 36 hours.
When you’re ready to serve them, put a pot of water on to boil. Add salt to the water. Uncover the gnudi and remove them from the durum flour. Gently brush off excess flour. When the water comes to the boil, add the gnudi. They should boil no longer than 4 minutes (cook too long and they’ll fall apart). The key is that they’ll begin to rise to the top of the pot.
Drain the gnudi and add to your sauce. Garnish and serve.
What’s your favorite fall dish to prepare for clients?
And don’t forget to tune in to Lifetime TV’s The Balancing Act this Wednesday and Oct. 22 from 7:30 to 8 a.m. EST/PST. I’ll be on the show to talk about women in the culinary industry and how they can achieve an industry-recognized culinary certificate online through our partner Escoffier Online International Culinary Academy.
Well, this is a treat! I’ll be appearing on Lifetime TV’s award-winning show The Balancing Act on Oct. 15 and 22. The segment I’m on will be geared toward educating women on the culinary industry and pastry arts, as well as inform them as to how they can achieve an industry-recognized culinary certificate online from APPCA’s partner Escoffier Online International Culinary Academy. In fact, I’ll be joined by an Escoffier graduate and new APPCA member Christa Ruvolo. She’ll discuss her journey through the program and how it gave her the opportunity to manage the dining facility at a large Marriott property in Orlando. And, she’ll prepare a couple of dishes on the show.
So, how did this come about? Well, as a member of the August Escoffier Schools’ International Advisory Committee, I’ve been a proponent of online education for years. I truly believe that affordable education should be available to all who are interested and committed to learning. I support the efforts of and programs developed by the Auguste Escoffier Schools to deliver realistic, affordable culinary training. When students successfully complete the program, they receive an industry-accepted professional certificate that enables them to pursue a career in the culinary industry.
This meshes perfectly with The Balancing Act, which is geared toward bringing busy, on-the-go women positive solutions and cutting-edge ideas to help balance their busy lives. On the show, host Julie Moran interviewed Christa and me about how woman who are seeking realistic, attainable careers that will afford them the opportunity to support themselves and their families–as well as fulfill their spiritual and emotional goals–can go into the culinary industry. Let’s face it, traditional culinary education can be both time consuming and expensive. We explain how the Escoffier online training is not just affordable, but allows students to complete the program on their personal time schedule so that they can move forward in months, not years.
Christa personifies this track. This is a second career for her. She’ll tell you herself how well the online training program worked for her–and she’s going to prepare some delicious dishes that showcase her culinary skill set. And we both were charmed by the very gracious Julie Moran, who was warm and encouraging on set. She and the production staff and crew made both Christa and me very comfortable and ready to share our information and anecdotes. It was wonderful to see Christa, who was a bit nervous about the interview, light up once the cameras were on. Now I understand the term ‘broadcast charisma!’ Christa has it and I got to watch her star shine!
Be sure to watch–and pass it on to your friends. The show airs from 7:30 to 8 a.m. on Oct. 15 and 22 on Lifetime.
Look up professional organizations in the Encyclopedia of Associations and you’ll have to go through quite a long list–some 23,000 national and international organizations. If you have a job or a business, it’s likely there’s a professional society or trade association you can join.
But why? You pay an annual membership fee and what does it give you? Most experts agree on six basics:
- Industry information and professional development opportunities
- Networking opportunities
- Professional credibility
- Job listings
- Industry best practices
Not all organizations offer everything, of course. You have to read up on the organization you’re considering and learn what they offer and if that’s meaningful for your goals. And, you should try to talk to those who are already members to learn about their experience with the group.
At the risk of sounding self-serving, as one of those groups, we’ve worked with thousands of members over the years. As the profession of personal chef has grown and evolved, we like to think our perspective has evolved with it (not to mention what we offer). And while it feels like everything you need to know about your profession is available to track down online–that joining a professional association is irrelevant these days–in fact, we feel that it’s more important than ever. All of us are searching for community, whether it’s via Facebook or what we used to call chat rooms (remember AOL?). All of us are looking for critical business information–how to deal with clients, how to add a new service, what are the latest trends. Having a group of people to call on who are part of a community, who are familiar with the issues you’re going through, and who can help you grow in your profession is invaluable. So is access to information. The question is, though, is the group you’re considering going to be the right fit?
We thought we’d help you figure out this path with some questions for you to ask yourself that should help you decide.
1. What do you wish to accomplish by joining a professional association?
We know that membership in a national or international trade association can give stability and credibility to a new business and elevate the professional impression of that business through the strength and reputation of the association. There’s also strength in numbers. A solid membership base means more opportunities to locate and interact with peers who can contribute to your success. At a basic level it shows you have a certain level of expertise. At a deeper level it also gives you connections to tap into.
2. What type of benefits and support are you looking for?
Some people join an organization just to put it on their resume or website. It gives that immediate credibility we’ve already cited. But others appreciate a specific list of benefits. These could be access to an online knowledge base, materials like business forms that help with better managing the business, the opportunity to attend continuing education conferences or webinars, support groups via online forums, business visibility through a website or mobile app, professional coaching, access to professional insurance, software systems, website construction, links to industry information sites… The list can go on and on. You need to evaluate what’s most important to you.
3. What are your expectations of the group?
You have to dig deep for this one–especially since this is one of those things that tends to depend on how much you’re willing to participate. Most association members will say that the more they put into a group by using its resources, participating in events, and interacting with other members the deep their level of satisfaction and the more positive the impact on their businesses and careers.
4. What are you willing to give back to increase the value of the organization?
Initially, your expectations will probably run to “what can they do for me?” But in all honesty, much of those benefits comes from other members who feel such a close connection with the organization and fellow members that they’re doing a lot of the giving. Do you need advice to clarify how to respond to an uncomfortable situation with a client? Certainly whoever is running the organization can respond, but it’s just as likely if you’re asking this on a forum that a fellow member will help–or two or three or more. Perhaps members in your community are teaching classes or mentoring colleagues. In time, one of those members could be you–if that’s important to you. And you know the old saying, the more you give, the more you receive.
We’ve had this experience with many of our members. Our forums are filled with people who are eager to ask questions and eager to offer help and advice. Our conferences are populated with members who offer to teach colleagues in their area of expertise. Many of these members have bonded over the years.
One business is A Fresh Endeavor Personal Chef, whose chef/owners are Dennis Nosko and Christine Robinson. The Lexington, Mass.-based duo is one of the longest-running personal chef businesses in the greater Boston area. They joined in May 1999 and, as Christine says, “Fifteen years later, when you look forward to renewing membership, that speaks volumes. We are home.”
Christine believes that even though she and Dennis aren’t “joiners” their APPCA membership has given them a wealth of support. “We’ve gotten business guidance in the form of education and support, peer support, access to special benefits like liability insurance, leaders who understand what we do and how it works.”
Christine and Dennis also have thrived on the opportunity APPCA has given them to share experiences so that “we can learn from each other. They’ve built a community to support its members–giving longtime members recognition and allowing them to help guide newer members. From minute one we were invited in to ask questions, compare notes, build the business, receive educational materials, get continuing education, keep up on business and food trends, and get to know colleagues.”
As an organization member, Christine advises people who are newly joining a professional group to make their presence known on forums, ask questions, and keep asking until you get the answer you need. “Get to know the people who do what you do! We’re an eclectic bunch but we really understand each other. Solitary business owners can be lonely. This is our office!”
Indeed, the pros call it networking–but with the right group, what you’re nurturing are long and warm friendships that are both professional and personal.
So, what is it you’re looking for? If by answering these questions you locate a professional trade association that meets your needs–and you join–you could be embarking on a life- and career-changing journey that gives you the opportunity constantly learn about your industry and how to improve your business. Even more, it will provide the means to meet, interact, support, and enjoy a whole new world of people who appreciate what you’re trying to accomplish and are looking for the same from you.
What are you looking for in a professional association? How can we best meet your needs?
This week marks the beginning of the Jewish High Holidays. On Wednesday evening at sundown, Jewish communities around the world will welcome Rosh Hashanah–the New Year (the Hebrew year 5775). Ten days later comes Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is also a day of fasting. That day ends with a celebratory meal that breaks the fast.
There’s hardly a Jewish holiday that doesn’t involve food–and foods specific to the holiday. Come Rosh Hashanah, celebrants will be sharing slices of apples to dip into bowls of honey to harken a sweet new year. Challahs, usually braided into a straight loaf for each Shabbat Friday night are still braided but shaped into a circle for the High Holidays. Most traditional Rosh Hashanah meals will include dishes like gefilte fish served with horseradish, chicken soup with matzo balls, roasted chicken or brisket, and perhaps an apple or honey cake for dessert. To break the fast at sundown of Yom Kippur, many Jewish families choose a buffet of light fare–usually dairy oriented–with noodle kugel or cheese blintzes; salads; bagels, lox, and cream cheese (as well as white fish and smoked cod) on a platter with sliced tomatoes, red onions, and capers; maybe some chopped liver, pickled herring, egg salad, and lots of mini rye and pumpernickel breads.
Personal chefs with Jewish clients may find themselves asked to prepare holidays meals for them and their families. So, for those who haven’t much experience with this type of food we thought we’d give you some resources for planning a meal and finding recipes–including your own APPCA colleagues–along with discussions here on our forums that offer recipes.
APPCA member Shelbie Wassel of Shallots Personal Chef Service in Maryland grew up with traditional holiday fare. “We had matzoh ball soup, chopped liver (made with mayonnaise, not schmaltz–chicken fat–I come from a family of bad stomachs), and brisket in Lipton’s onion soup,” she says. “I’ve long given up on the powdered onion soup–too much salt!–and now make a brisket with coffee.”
Mrs. Ribakow’s Brisket
Courtesy of Shelbie Wassel
3 1/2 to 4 pounds brisket, first cut
2 medium onions cut into chunks
1 bunch celery, leafy tops only, sliced
1 large bay leaf
1/3 cup ketchup
1/2 cup black coffee
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the bottom of a roasting pan. Place brisket in the pan and sprinkle the top of the brisket lightly with more salt and pepper. Arrange onions and celery around and on top of the brisket. Drizzle with the ketchup. Roast meat, uncovered for 15 minutes to sear.
Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Add bay leaf and coffee, then cover tightly with foil. Continue cooking for approximately 2 1/2 hours longer. The meat should feel tender when fork is inserted in the thickest part.
Remove from oven and let cool before slicing. Refrigerate gravy and vegetables. Skim off fat.
To serve: Puree gravy and vegetables in a blender. Pour over sliced brisket. Cover with foil and heat through in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Add some kick to the dish by offering freshly grated horseradish on the side.
So, what would you serve with the brisket? Well, tzimis is a really traditional dish focused on roasted carrots and dried fruit. Do it right and each ingredient sparkles. Mess it up and you got a mushy mess. So, epicurious.com to the rescue with a contemporary tzimis recipe here. But you don’t have to go completely traditional. A great salad, a side of grains of some kind, and veggies all work great.
And remember, you’re probably also serving matzoh ball soup and gefilte fish even before you hit the main event. Let’s talk matzoh balls first. These are Eastern European Jewish dumplings made with matzoh meal, eggs, water, and a little fat. The goal is for them to be light (floaters) as opposed to dense (sinkers)–although there are some who prefer sinkers.
APPCA member Linda Berns of CustomKosher,LLC. in Maryland has been making her gramma’s recipe for matzoh balls all her adult life. It’s oh so simple. And, as Linda explains, according to Jewish lore, matzoh balls are eaten at Rosh Hashanah because they remind us of the cycle of life and change of season ushered in by the new year.
Linda Berns’ Matzoh Balls
Yield: About 8 to 9 matzoh balls
1 cup Streits matzoh meal (be sure to use the Streits brand)
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Bring a large pot of water to the boil with a liberal 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt. While the water is coming to the boil, set a bowl filled with water next to the stove. You’ll use the water to moisten your hands while forming the balls.
When the water come to the boil, crack the eggs into a large bowl and beat vigorously. Add approximately 1/8 teaspoon salt to eggs and continue to beat. When the eggs are well beaten, add the matzoh meal and continue to stir to combine with the eggs. Your mixture should be sticky to the touch and not shiny.
Dip a hand into the bowl of water to wet it, then scoop out enough matzoh mixture to form into a dumpling the size of a large golf ball. Drop gently into the boiling water. Repeat until you’ve used all of the matzoh mixture. If your batter becomes too dry, stir in another egg and a little more matzoh meal to avoid having hard matzoh balls.
Bring the water back up to the boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and let the matzoh balls simmer for approximately 30 to 40 minutes. You’ll see your matzoh balls float and puff to approximately twice their size. Take care to not let the water boil out of the pot or your matzoh balls will stick together and stick to the bottom of the pot.
Once the matzoh balls are done cooking, you can add them to the chicken soup. You can also make them in advance and keep them refrigerated, covered so they don’t dry out. Add them to the soup pot as you heat it up on the stove. When serving, place the matzoh ball(s) in the bowl first, then ladle out the soup.
Here are some websites where you can get more recipes for both matzoh balls and the chicken soup. Be sure to cook them first, then add to your chicken soup. P.S., You’ll see Passover mentioned a lot in recipe notes–matzoh balls and chicken soup are multi-holiday dishes.
As for the gefilte fish (also served on Passover), this is a dish filled with tradition. Like many Eastern European Jewish dishes it was a way to create a nutritious dish on a very limited budget. Back in the day, this dish was handmade with inexpensive white fish (often carp, mullet, or pike), ground and then mixed with onion, eggs, and matzoh meal–or other ingredients–and shaped into individual ovals. Then they’re poached, cooled, and served chilled with a side of ground horseradish. These days, most people simply buy jars of it and perhaps doctor it a bit by adding cooked, sliced carrots and onions. But our Shelbie makes her own and you can find her recipe here.
Can’t forget the challah (egg bread)! Here we send you off to one of the best teachers of classic Jewish cooking–Joan Nathan. Our Caron Golden has been making challahs since she was a child, but when she saw this video of Joan Nathan making this challah, she converted. Try it; you’ll like it.
In fact, for any of these dishes, simply Google the dish and Joan Nathan and you’ll get something splendid. Like her apple honey cake, which Caron made last year. You’ve got to try this!
Now for Yom Kippur. You don’t really need to do a lot of major cooking since you want a gentle meal to follow a day-long fast. Salads are good–including a good tuna and/or egg salad. Pick up some rye and pumpernickel breads at a Jewish bakery, along with some challah, to put out. If you want to make chopped liver to create a real old-timey table, here’s a terrific recipe from Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa), which is more modern than what your client’s bubbe (grandma) probably made. For chopped liver, you’ll want crackers or broken pieces of matzoh to serve with it.
A classic treat for Yom Kippur (although you can serve this anytime of the year–except Passover) is noodle kugel. This is a sweet, rich casserole made with wide egg noodles, sour cream, cream cheese, eggs, and sugar. Some people like to add fruit–fresh, canned, or dried–to it and top it with everything from bread crumbs to ground up Corn Flakes. Caron recently published her family recipe on her blog San Diego Foodstuff, which is as traditional as it is simple to make–pure comfort food.
Another favorite is blintzes–crepes usually filled with a soft cheese like farmer cheese or ricotta, but also fruit–commonly cooked blueberries or apples. We send you back to Smitten Kitchen for these.
These dishes should get you started and will certainly make your clients happy as they ring in the new year!
What dishes do you make for the High Holidays? What is a client favorite?