Grilled Peach Parfait

Filed under: Catering,Desserts,Vegetarian , Tags: , , , — Author: Caron Golden , August 26, 2019

Ah, stone fruit. It’s truly the sweetness of summer, especially when you take a bite out of a ripe peach or nectarine and the juices dribble down your chin like when you were a child. It’s the perfect peach pie or apricot crumble. A scented nectarine skinned and gently bathed in a syrup of lemon verbena. A tart plum upside down cake. There are endless ways to prepare stone fruit. Poach them. Grill them, cut into pieces and turn into a dessert kabob with pound cake. Cook them into preserves.

With all these options, how do you pick one or two dishes? I had some ideas, but then I went to a local farmers market and got to talking with a cheese monger, who mentioned a dish created by a friend: Grilled Peach Parfait. Brilliant!

Basically, you grill peaches, chop them up and mix in agave syrup or honey and toasted nuts — maybe some dried fruit, too. Then layer the mixture in a parfait dish with slices of burrata cheese, all topped with a sprig of mint.

Burrata Cheese

That sounded delicious and different. So, off I went back home with peaches and burrata to play with this idea. And, while I love the burrata, I could also see replacing it with homemade vanilla ice cream, mascarpone, or vanilla- or honey-flavored Greek yogurt. And why not add berries to the layers for flavor, texture, and color?

Chefs, doesn’t this sound perfect for client dinner parties?

Grilled Peach Parfait
Serves 4

Ingredients
4 peaches (preferably freestone so the flesh will separate easily from the pit)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup toasted pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons agave syrup or honey
1 teaspoon Cointreau
1 teaspoon Sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 pint blueberries or combination of berries
6 ounces burrata, cut in thick slices
Mint or edible flowers for garnish

1. Wash and dry the peaches, then slice in half along the ridge and remove the pits.
2. Heat grill to medium, brush the peaches with butter on the cut side and place cut-side down on the grill. Close the grill cover and let cook for 4 to 5 minutes. When the peaches show grill marks, brush the skin side with butter and turn the peaches over to cook. Close the cover and cook for another 4 minutes.
3. Carefully cut the hot peaches into bite-sized pieces and place in a medium-size bowl. Add the pecans, agave syrup, vinegar, and rosemary. Mix well.
4. Layer the peach mixture, berries, and cheese. Top with garnish and serve.

Chefs, what is your favorite way to use this summer’s stone fruit? 

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Ask a personal chef for his or her pet peeve and the answer may just be the irritation of people calling them caterers.

“It’s over 20 years in and people still refer to me as a caterer,” said longtime APPCA member Phyllis Segura. “For 20 years I’ve been correcting them. A personal chef, a private chef, is not a caterer.”

“Happens to me too,” said Jodi Giroux. “Same person over and over, ‘How’s your catering business?’ My same response, ‘My personal chef business is going well, thanks!’ I may/may not give another explanation of the difference. Also, people refer me as a caterer on the local Advice site pages. STOP…I’m a personal chef! I’ll just add my website.”

If you’re a personal chef and this aggravates you, too, maybe we should have some definitions at the ready. You, as a personal chef, prepare custom meals for clients in their homes or in a rental kitchen for them to reheat and enjoy throughout the week or whatever your arrangement is. You often create menus tailored for specific needs–from cancer diets, anti-inflammatory diets, low fat or gluten free diets to cardio, paleo, vegan or vegetarian diets. Some of you are trained dietitians or nutritionists. Others of you have developed an area of specialization. But the word “personal” is there for a reason.

Catering may be a service under your personal chef umbrella but it’s altogether different. It’s preparing food and drink for a one-time event.

As chef Renee DuBose explained, “Catering is a whole other beast that requires offsite kitchens, special licenses, permits, and a crew of many talents. Plus, you get into the rental arena for tables, dinnerware, etc. You need multiple contracts…..who’s liable for specific situations, set up, break down, clean up, trash hauling, the list goes on. It is a much more intense job, but you also get volume which can balance costs.

“My mind gets all tangled up thinking about it all,” she added. “I don’t think people, in general, really take into consideration all the things needed to make a large party gig happen. I have much respect for caterers, but personally am not equipped to handle it as a solo chef.”

Of course, not all catered events are massive. Perhaps you have a personal chef client who wants you to cater a special anniversary dinner party or a holiday brunch. We have members who include that kind of service, along with others, such as teaching cooking classes.

APPCA members Christine Robinson and Dennis Nosko of A Fresh Endeavor Personal Chef Service have actually come up with a way to clarify the distinctions between their personal cheffing and in-home catering.

“Most view caterers as those who service parties or dinners rather than those who prepare off-site and finish when they arrive so we say we cater small parties,” said Nosko. “I tell them we are not full-service caterers and explain. We also send out IHC How it Works.”

He explained that the IHC is a word document they send out to people along with their menus. “We have one document designed for our personal chef side and another for our In Home Catering. The IHC How it Works document will let them know about a deposit… what part of the process that we do and what is the responsibility of the client. After this, we will direct clients to rental companies and waiter/bartender service providers if necessary.”

Dennis Nosko and Christine Robinson Accept Chef of the Year Award from Candy Wallace

Of course, Robinson often has to address a very different irritating issue: sexist assumptions.

“Dennis and I are partners in life and in business ….there are still those who hire us who assume I am the assistant and I have heard many people say in 20 years, ‘Thank you Chef Dennis….and Christine….,'” she said.

She’s not the only one. “happens to me ALL the time!,” said Carol Crikelair Taradyna of The Occasional Chefs. “My new husband and I just laugh now. I started the business 12 years ago down here in Forida. He joined me a few years back when we first met. I could be at a job for hours. He walks in and they swarm all over him saying, ‘Hello, Chef!'”

But, that’s an issue for another post…

Shelbie Wassel

As member Shelbie Hafter Wassel of Shallots Personal Chef Service joked about the personal chef versus caterer confusion, “I get it! But, hey… we could be called worse!”

Chefs, have people referred to you as a caterer? What’s your response?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

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

My note: These tomatoes freeze well.

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

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

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

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Meet (And Read) Shaya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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