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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuna-Stuffed Chayote Squash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuna-Stuffed Chayote Squash
Serves 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Last weekend, I took my dog Casper over to Candy and Dennis’ house to hang out for a little while. As you’d expect, Candy had something tempting for me to enjoy–her new Rosemary Vanilla Bean Olive Oil Cake. Well, I swooned. My experience with olive oil cakes has mostly focused on citrus. This was a completely different animal that as she says below can be enjoyed as a sweet or savory treat. Actually, I’m rambling on too long. Let’s hear Candy’s take on her cake:

I do not personally care for overly sweet desserts but do occasionally like a bit of sweet to linger over and enjoy after a meal.

Summer fruit and herbs mean lazy brunches and conversation and music in the back yard or garden, so I am always on the lookout for ways to incorporate ingredients from my garden onto the table for guests and family.

I love baking with olive oil and have used my trusty Escoffier-based recipes for decades of baking, using blood oranges and fresh thyme, or my default summer ingredient, lemons.

I ran across this clever twist from Janelle Maoicco of Talk of Tomatoes that features fresh rosemary, vanilla bean, and the astringency of a cup of white wine, which introduces a way to skew the cake into a savory option. Now it may be offered either as a sweet cake dusted simply with confectionary sugar and accompanied by fresh berries or fruit curd, or it can go savory with salty touches like bacon, a charcuterie platter, sensual cheeses, and spiced nuts. Have fun with this one. This simple, refreshing cake option now had my full attention and I have enjoyed serving it to sometimes surprised and always delighted guests, family, and clients.

It is now yours to enjoy and share.

Thank you, Janelle Maoicco! (Always credit the Source of your inspiration.  Change the way the world eats!)

This cake is simple and straight forward. It takes just minutes to assemble, and is visually stunning with fresh herbs on a plate. Serve in small pieces.  It keeps well for days. Welcome to Summer!

Candy’s Rosemary Vanilla Bean Olive Oil Cake
Adapted from Janelle Maiocca’s Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

Ingredients
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup olive oil
1 cup white wine
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray inside of 9-inch cake pan with oil or non-stick baking spray. Line bottom with parchment, then spray again. Note: this fills a 9-inch cake pan plus a small loaf pan so plan on filling a 9- inch cake pan or 3 to 4 small loaf pans or make some overflow muffins. (Next time I will make small loaves, plus a few muffins. Just fill containers leaving an inch for cake pans and loaves, and 1/2 inch headspace for muffins.)

Beat sugar and eggs, then add oil, wine, flour, salt, baking powder, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds,  plus rosemary. Beat for one minute. Pour into pan.

Bake 30 minutes until cake begins to pull away from sides (it may take a little longer, but keep an eye on it, making sure it doesn’t jiggle in the middle and passes the ‘toothpick’ test). Remove from oven and let cool.

This cake is scrumptious. I was thinking it would be savory or subdued (Italians have a penchant for subdued cakes and snacks, leaving the overtly sweet tones to treats like cookies, limoncello, and Vin Santo, but in fact, it has a slightly sweet note. You could pair this cake with a creamy cheese, lemon curd, marmalade, fig relish, or even salty bacon. It would be perfect for breakfast or to end a rich meal.

Do you make olive oil cakes? How do you flavor them?

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

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

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