This time of year I wish I lived in New Mexico–and for one very specific reason. It’s Hatch chile season. This year Labor Day barely passed when I came across them at my local Sprouts. I also see them at farmers markets and more conventional supermarkets. I assume that across the country they make a play as well. Don’t ignore them. Scoop up a couple of pounds of these long, firm green chiles and head back to your kitchen or your client’s kitchen to roast them.

I wish I could tell you I had some fantastic hand-cranked fire-roasting contraption that you see at the farmers markets. Nope. It’s just the chiles, heavy cookie sheets, and the oven broiler. There’s no special trick to it. Just line them up in a single layer and fire them up. Let your nose tell you when they’re ready to be turned–once–and then removed from the oven. You’ll get the distinctive aroma of burning chiles and, indeed, they should be well charred.

Then it’s time to gather them into plastic or paper bags, close the opening, and let them steam for about 10 to 15 minutes. This helps loosen the thick skin from the flesh. Then peel off the skin, remove the stem and seeds, and chop or slice them. I bag what I don’t use immediately and put them in the freezer, so I have them to use the rest of the year. Which means I’ll be heading back out to Sprouts again soon to stock up.

You could rightly ask at this point, “What’s the big deal about Hatch chiles?” Clearly, there’s some superb marketing going on. The chiles, known as Big Jims, are grown in one region, the Hatch Valley, along the Rio Grande in New Mexico, although it’s also an umbrella term for the green chiles grown throughout New Mexico. Maybe it’s the elevation that makes them so distinctive; maybe it’s the volcanic soil. Or the hot days and cool evenings. Or the combination of all three, plus its short August/September season. Anaheim chiles are descendants of the Hatch chiles, but Anaheims don’t have nearly the allure or the uniquely sweet, smoky, earthy scent and flavor. You can learn more about Hatch chiles in this Bon Appetit article.

Traditionally, your prepped Hatch chile can go into posoles and enchiladas. I have long used them in a pork stew, corn bread, and tomato sauces. They can run from mild to hot, so gauge your accompanying ingredients accordingly, whether its for a savory dish or even desserts like ice cream, cookies, and brownies (you’ll want to use a puree for those to create a uniform flavor).

No time to fuss over a big recipe? Then how about a Hatch Chile Frittata? That’s what I did with a couple of the chiles I had after packaging the rest. There’s no recipe here, just some suggestions.

Take a look in the fridge and see what’s in need of being used. I had a quarter of an onion, a couple of boiled red potatoes, and a wedge of Pondhopper farmstead gouda. It’s a goat milk that’s slightly yeasty thanks to being steeped in beer. It would easily match the flavors of the chiles.

You’ll need a well-seasoned cast iron pan. I have several but my favorite is an eight-inch Lodge pan I bought about 30 years ago at a hardware store on Broadway on the upper west side of Manhattan, where I lived once upon a time. It’s in perfect, shiny condition from years of use.

Heat up the broiler. Slice the onions, chop the chiles and potatoes, and break the eggs. Beat them with a little milk till frothy. Heat the pan on the stove and add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Then add the onions and sauté until they start to brown. Then add the potatoes and do the same, adding some salt and pepper. While they’re cooking, dice up some cheese. Once the potatoes and onions are browned to your liking, reduce the heat and add the beaten eggs. Let them just start to cook, then sprinkle the chile pieces over the forming omelet. Let it cook for a minute or so, then top with the cheese. Use a thick towel or oven mitt and carefully move the pan to the broiler. It’ll just take a minute or two to finish it off.

The result will be a puffy, almost souffle-like egg dish. For me, two eggs and an egg white made a complete solo dinner. More eggs, more servings. Add a salad, a glass or wine or beer and you’ve got an easy meal after a long day of cooking for someone else.

Are you enchanted with Hatch chiles? How do you cook with them?

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What’s in this apple pie that makes it so indefinably good? See below!

Are your flavor profiles in need of a refresh? Do you have a recipe or two that you and your clients enjoy but could be elevated? Brightened? Recharged?

If so, here are some suggestions we hope you’ll consider inspiration. All are easy to find, whether in your local market–if not the traditional supermarket, then an Asian or Latinx market–or online.

Let’s start with sumac. It’s a deep red powder that you’ve probably enjoyed in Middle Eastern food. It comes from the sumac flower, which is a relative of cashews of all things. Sumac has a fruity tart, lemony flavor–just a bit astringent, which makes it wonderful in vinaigrettes, sprinkled over roasted vegetables, or to season meat or fish. Incorporate it in a dip you want to have a lemony flavor. You could even include it in a dessert. Importantly, it’s a key ingredient in the spice mixture, zatar. Look for it in Middle Eastern markets and Whole Foods, or online on Amazon, The Spice House, Williams-Sonoma, and Penzys.

Next up is merquén. A friend of mine who was a buyer for years at Dean & DeLuca introduced me to this Chilean smoked chile condiment long ago. I add it to everything savory–from meats to whole grains to tomato sauce. Merquén’s base is the cacho de cabra, a pepper that is first dried naturally in the sun, then smoked over a wood fire before being ground. The merquén I buy and have used since that long-ago introduction is a brand called Etnia. It mixes this smoked chile with salt, dehydrated cilantro seeds, and cumin. Use it as a dry rub for lamb, beef, or poultry. Sprinkle it over sauteed vegetables or an omelet. Add it to stews or soups, to ceviche, tacos, or a bowl of lentils or beans. This is your go-to for a touch of smoky heat. I found it at My Panier, Walmart, and The Gourmet Import Shop.Nigella seeds are a fascinating spice. If you taste these tiny black seeds on their own with your eyes closed you would swear you were munching on oregano. They’re native to the Mediterranean but found wild across Egypt and India, as well as North Africa. Leave them whole or grind them. I leave them whole and use them as a substitute for sesame seeds. Add them at the end of cooking a dish like sauteed or steamed potatoes to add a crunchy texture. Mix them into a whipped feta and yogurt dip for crudites. Add them to whole grains. If you bake crackers, top the crackers with the seeds before baking. You should be able to get them at your local Middle Eastern market or online at Amazon, Spice Jungle, World Spice Merchants, and The Spice House.Oh, how I adore Shichimi Togarashi! It’s a much-loved Japanese seven-spice mixture that offers citrus and just a bit of heat. It can vary but typically, the blend includes red chili peppers, sanshō or sichuan peppercorns, dried orange peel, black sesame seeds, white sesame seeds, ground ginger, poppy seeds and nori (seaweed). Add this to eggs, steamed or sauteed vegetables, ramen, soups, sauces, edamame, chicken, lamb, salmon, shrimp, or tofu dishes. Whisk it into a marinade or dressing. Sprinkle it on skewered, grilled dishes to finish. You can easily find it at an Asian market or any online store that sells spices.Yuzu Koshio is quite unusual. It’s a spice mix, but in the form of a fermented paste made from chilies, salt, and citrus fruit. The traditional name is actually yuzu kosho but the version I bought comes from a Seattle-based company called Umami Kushi and they added an “i” to the second word. It is truly an umami flavor bomb for fish, steak, noodles, soups, and desserts. If you have a dish for which you want to cut the fat flavor, this is the antidote. It’s also perfect to add to a dressing to pour over sturdy vegetables like eggplant or winter squash. You can find it on Amazon, but I discovered it and bought it on My Panier.

 

Finally, there’s fennel pollen. Fennel pollen is collected from wild fennel, with an anise flavor melded with  a musky sweet, floral taste. You can use it alone to elevate pasta dishes, sauces, grains, roasted pork or chicken, and sausages. But I’m actually a sucker for “Divine Desserts,” which is a blend of fennel pollen, orange peel, lemon grass, cayenne pepper, sour plum powder, star anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, vanilla powder, clove, coriander. If you’re a baker coming on fall dessert season–think apple pie–add a touch of this mixture to your apples. It’s now part of my apple pie recipe and I always get questions about what’s in the pie that makes it so different and good. You can also add it to banana bread, carrot cake, or muffins or scones, or spice cookies. Not into baking? Sprinkle it over fresh fruit. I get mine from Pollen Ranch but you can also find it on Amazon.

What new magical spices or spice mixes are you now enchanted by? How do you use them?

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How are your clients feeling? A little achy around the joints with arthritis? Perhaps they’ve got diabetes or cancer or are concerned about developing Alzheimer’s. According to Harvard Women’s Health Watch, our immune systems become activated when our bodies recognize something foreign—be it an invading microbe, pollen, or chemical. What follows can be a process called inflammation and while intermittent bouts of inflammation directed at truly threatening invaders can protect our health, if the inflammation persists when we’re not threatened, it can take us down. And so many diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s, have been linked to inflammation.

If you’re looking for a do-it-yourself way to address inflammation, you can find it in the kitchen via farmers markets and grocery stores. Instead of eating refined carbohydrates, soda, and fried foods, for instance—all foods that cause inflammation—you should prepare more anti-inflammatory foods for clients using ingredients like olive oil, green leafy vegetables, fatty fish, nuts, and fruits, in your diet.

And spices, like turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon. Let’s focus on turmeric.

Turmeric, which is related to ginger, and its most active compound curcumin, is grown throughout India, other parts of Asia, and Central America. The National Institutes of Health reports that turmeric has been shown in preliminary studies to reduce the number of heart attacks bypass patients had after surgery, control knee pain from osteoarthritis, and reduce skin irritation that can occur after radiation treatments for breast cancer.

One simple thing you can make for clients to add to their coffee or tea is a spice compound that my friend Su-Mei Yu, a San Diego expert in Thai cooking and former owner of Saffron Thai restaurant in San Diego, taught me. It’s something she spoons into her morning coffee daily to help her address the inevitable aches and pains of aging.

Su-Mei Yu grinding spices

She combines one-part organic turmeric powder with half a part ground black pepper, and one-quarter part each of ground ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom. She adds a teaspoon of this compound, along with a dash of olive oil, which she explained boosts the spices’ effectiveness, to her coffee. The flavor is comforting, yet potent—kind of like chai on steroids. If your clients are coffee or tea drinkers, they should find it compellingly delicious. I add it to my coffee every morning now, too, and love it.

Turmeric root can be found in some specialty ethnic grocery stores, but, of course, you’re more likely to find the ground form in the spice section of grocery stores. You can find turmeric supplements in capsule form at various health stores.

Turmeric can be included in fresh root or powder (or both) forms in curry paste or marinades. You can also encourage clients to make a Turmeric Tea. Here’s a recipe from DLife:

Ingredients:

  1.  Water
  2. Turmeric powder
  3. Honey

Directions:

  1. Boil 2 cups of water
  2. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of powdered turmeric.
  3. Let the turmeric seep for 5-10 minutes depending on how strong you want the tea.
  4. Strain the tea, add honey if desired and sip.

And here is Su-Mei Yu’s recipe for her Yellow Curry Paste.

Yellow Curry Paste
 
5 cloves garlic
2 shallots
2 teaspoons rice bran oil
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 dried de arbol chilies, soaked, dried, roasted and break into small pieces
1 lemongrass, outer tough layer and green parts removed, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced galangal
1 teaspoon minced kaffir lime peel (substitute with lime)
1 tablespoon minced fresh turmeric
1 teaspoon red miso
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, roasted and ground
1 teaspoon cumin, roasted and ground
1 teaspoon white peppercorns, roasted and ground
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ to 1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon dried ginger powder
1 tablespoon turmeric powder

  1. Wrap the garlic and shallots in separate aluminum sheet, coat with oil and bake at 400 for at least 20 minutes, cool. Remove from the foil and peel. Set aside.
  2. In a mortar with a pestle, pound the salt and dried chilies together until combined into a coarse paste.
  3. Add the lemongrass and pound to puree.
  4. Add the fresh ginger, galangal, kaffir lime peel and turmeric. When the paste becomes pureed, add the roasted garlic cloves and shallots. Pound to combine and puree. Add the red miso and pound to puree and combine.
  5. Add the ground coriander seeds, cumin, white peppercorns, cinnamon, chili powder, ginger powder and turmeric. Mix and combine with the puree.
  6. The paste can be stored in a glass jar in the refrigerator for several weeks

Be sure when you use this past to add it to coconut oil in a large saucepan over low heat to keep the ingredients from burning. Once it darkens, add a bit of coconut cream to render the paste to release its flavor. Then you can add ingredients like bite-sized pieces of room-temperature chicken or very firm tofu, cut-up potatoes, onions, and other vegetables, along with chilies, bay leaves, salt, and brown sugar–and then more coconut cream. If the chilies make the dish a little too spicy, add some more brown sugar to balance the flavors. Su-Mei likes to finish the dish off with a little fish sauce at the end. And, if you can find chewy red rice from Thailand, clients should really enjoy it with your curry.

Do you cook with turmeric for clients? What dishes do you use it in?

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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Enjoying a Garden Burger

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

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

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

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

Try these five approaches:

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

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

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

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

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

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Miso Butter Turkey

Filed under: Cooking Tips,Recipes , Tags: , , — Author: Caron Golden , May 20, 2019

 

Compound butters are truly a gift to cooks looking to create something memorable with vegetables, or poultry, pork, beef, or seafood–and odds and ends of ingredients. Because they’re so versatile and can be made out what might seem like strange flavor partners, I thought I’d share this with you to try with your clients. This combination features miso on a roasted turkey thigh. My usual go to with miso is to make a marinade or glaze for an oily fish like salmon or black cod. But I thought miso could work with turkey and decided to pair it with butter.

And several other ingredients.

I riffled around my pantry and pulled out honey and rice vinegar. Back in the fridge I got out soy sauce. Garlic and ginger made sense–and I remembered my ginger garlic bombs in the freezer (a great hack from Bon Appétit) and got one out to defrost.

After I let the butter soften and the ginger garlic bomb defrost, I mashed the butter and miso and started adding the rest: a teaspoon each of honey and rice vinegar, half a teaspoon of soy sauce, and the ginger garlic bomb. It was divine: salty and sweet with a kick from the vinegar and a little spice from the garlic and ginger.

I smeared it over the large turkey thigh, but once I did that I still had some left over. I pulled out an eggplant from the refrigerator and cut some slices, then smeared the slices with the miso butter. They all went into the oven to roast and within about 10 minutes my entire house already smelled dreamy. (Imagine how much your clients will enjoy the aroma in their homes.)

Within 45 minutes I had a beautifully browned turkey thigh and perhaps the most delicious slices of eggplant I’d ever eaten. The miso butter had infused the eggplant with all those flavors and each slice melted  in my mouth.

This is one of those concoctions I’d make again in a heartbeat not just for the turkey and the eggplant, but to smear on fish or chicken or winter squash slices. I’d toss it in pasta or hot whole grains.


Miso Butter Turkey Thigh
Serves 1 or 2, depending on the size of the turkey thigh

Ingredients
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons miso
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon plain rice vinegar
1 ginger garlic bomb
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 large turkey thigh

Directions
Mash together all the ingredients except the turkey to make the compound butter.

Spread as much of the compound butter as you need all over the turkey thigh. If you have any left over, refrigerate it or spread over vegetables.

Preheat oven to 375°. Place the turkey thigh and any vegetables you plan to roast in a roasting pan and cook for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 170° and 175°. Remove from oven. Let rest about 10 minutes, then slice the turkey.

Do you make compound butters? What are your favorite go tos? 

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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Moroccan Meatball Sandwich

Filed under: Cooking Tips,Recipes , Tags: , , — Author: Caron Golden , April 22, 2019

When you have friends who are chefs you–okay, I–get the benefit of an astounding variety of interesting recipes. And as far as I’m concerned, the more components the better because then you can mix and match them with other dishes.

Take, for instance, this Moroccan Meatball Sandwich. It’s the signature dish of Moto Deli, an ambitious motorcycle-themed sandwich shop/deli in San Diego’s North County community of Leucadia. Chef Andy Halvorsen made me his meatball sandwich. I loved the play on the concept, which takes it from Italian American to Moroccan in a heartbeat. The meatball is made with ground lamb and veal, panko crumbs, and spices that include cumin, coriander, and smoked paprika. An extra bite of spice comes from chopped pickled chiles. They nestle into a toasted hoagie roll, surrounded by a unique harissa marinara, then topped with a couple of slices of melted muenster cheese and–get this–sprinkled with pieces of preserved lemon. It’s a marvelous mouthful, rich and spicy-and accompanied by their fab house-made potato chips (they’re lucky I didn’t walk off with the tall container filled with them) and spicy sweet house-made pickles.

I thought I’d share it with you because it’s a perfect dish for those of you who cater lunches around sports events or casual holidays like Memorial Day, the 4th of July, or Labor Day. And perhaps you can riff on it to create your own unusual sandwich.

Halvorson emphasized that the cornerstone of a good sandwich is the bread. Got a big juicy sandwich like this in mind? Be sure, he said, to toast the bread so that it won’t fall apart once you add sauce.

“What’s fun about sandwiches is that you can do what you want,” he said. “You can sneak all sorts of good things in them that may be unexpected or unconventional but really work.”

Moto Deli Moroccan Meatball Sandwich
Recipe from Andrew Halvorsen of Moto Deli
Yield: 5 sandwiches
For each sandwich:
1 6- to 8-inch French or hoagie roll
3 meatballs
1/4 cup harissa marina sauce (can vary amount depending on your preference)
2 slices muenster cheese
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped preserved lemon (optional)

Moroccan Lamb Meatballs
From Andrew Halvorsen of Moto Deli
Yield: 16 meatballs

Ingredients
1 pound ground lamb
1 pound Ground Veal
¾ cup  panko bread crumbs
¾ cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon toasted, ground cumin
1 tablespoon toasted, ground coriander
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne
¼ cup chopped, pickled chilies

Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Soak bread crumbs with milk for at least 20 minutes. Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Form 2-inch meatballs and place on a well-oiled baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until browned and cooked through.

Harissa Marinara 
From Andrew Halvorsen of Moto Deli
Yield: 6 cups

Ingredients
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
About 5 medium red peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded (or 1, 16-ounce jar)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup garlic, minced
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon coriander, ground
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon caraway seed, ground
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon Salt
¼ cup parsley, chopped

Directions
Place roasted peppers in a blender and puree. Add ¼ cup of water if necessary to help blending. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, over medium/high heat, add oil and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently for about 2 minutes or until garlic is aromatic and just begins to brown.

Add dry spices and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant.

Add tomatoes, peppers and parsley. Mix well and ensure that there aren’t any spices or garlic stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Lower heat and simmer on low for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

To make sandwich:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Halve the meatballs and warm them in the sauce.

Lightly toast a sliced roll. Fill the roll with warmed meatballs and sauce. Top with the muenster cheese. Place in oven until cheese is melted. Sprinkle the top of the sandwich with chopped parsley and chopped preserved lemon.

Chefs, do you have a special, sandwich–unique to you–that you make 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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Getting ready for Easter catering gigs? Need some inspiration? Who better to call on for a delicious recipe and stunning photos than our Carol Borchardt? She’s given us her twist on Deviled Eggs + a primer for successfully hard-boiling the eggs. Your clients will swoon and you’ll have a foolproof method for a technique many struggle with. 

Deviled eggs are essential for any Easter brunch.  However, this Easter favorite has a downside—peeling lots of hard-boiled eggs.

Peeling hard-boiled eggs used to be a real chore and I tried every tip and trick.  Nothing worked well until I began using a method from Cook’s Illustrated and now it’s my go-to method:

  • Get a saucepan full of water to a good, gentle boil over medium-high heat.
  • Prepare an ice bath.
  • Carefully lower cold eggs just out of the refrigerator into the water with a slotted spoon. Cook 10 minutes maintaining the gentle boil.
  • Transfer the eggs to the ice bath and let cool 5 minutes. Do not let the eggs sit in the water or they’ll become hard to peel.
  • Gently crack the eggs all over. Peel the eggs starting at the wide end where there’s an air pocket.  Refrigerate if not using right away.

Cook’s Illustrated explains that when the cold eggs hit the boiling water, the thin membrane between the white and the shell separates from the white and adheres to the shell.

Once you have perfectly peeled hard-cooked eggs, there are myriad ways to fill them.  These Southern-style Jalapeno Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs are my new favorite and will be on my Easter table!

Before moving to the South from Wisconsin almost 24 years ago, I had not experienced Southern food at all.  Where I lived, food was about brats, fish fries and cheese curds.

One of the first Southern specialties I experienced was pimento cheese.  The combination of cheddar cheese, mayonnaise and diced pimentos is a Southern staple and every Southern cook worth their grits has their own version.

To make the jalapeno pimento cheese, start with a good prepared pimento cheese then simply kick it up with fresh jalapeno.  If you want to make your own pimento cheese, here’s my basic recipe:

BASIC PIMENTO CHEESE

1 ½ cups mayonnaise
1 jar (4-ounce) diced pimentos, drained
1 tablespoon finely grated yellow onion
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 block (8-ounce) yellow extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, finely shredded
1 block (8-ounce) yellow sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

Combine mayonnaise, pimentos, onion, Worcestershire and cayenne in a bowl.  Stir in cheese.  Store up to one week in refrigerator.

JALAPEÑO PIMENTO CHEESE DEVILED EGGS
24 servings

1 dozen eggs, cooked, peeled and halved
3/4 cup prepared pimento cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon or yellow mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded if desired, finely chopped
Jalapeno slices, for garnish

Remove yolks to a bowl and mash.  Add pimento cheese, mayonnaise, mustard and salt and black pepper and stir until well blended.  Alternately, combine in a food processor and process until smooth.

Stir in chopped jalapeno.

Refill eggs with pimento cheese combination.  Garnish with jalapeno slices.

SERVING SUGGESTION:  Because every guest may not like the intense heat of fresh jalapeno slices, garnish every other egg and leave some slices off to the side.

Chefs, what are your favorite (or your clients’) Easter dishes? How do you make deviled eggs?

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!

Photos by Carol Borchardt

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Chefs, how do you transport recipes to your cook dates? Do you bring a cookbook/notebook with your recipes? Do you keep them on a digital device or in the cloud to download to a device and bring that with you? Or are they all in your head (to which I say you are amazing)?

I asked our members on our Facebook APPCA group page about this. Here’s what I posted: How many of you use paper/book recipes at client cook dates? How many of you use a laptop/pad/cell phone? If the latter, how do you protect the device and more specifically the screens? How do you feel about hearing voice directions via Alexa or Siri?

I got some interesting responses I thought you’d find helpful:

Christina Hamilton Snow: “I make a binder to keep at my clients house and one at mine. If it’s a new recipe I’m trying I’m usually getting it on my phone. If the client likes the recipe I add it to each binder. That way my clients can review recipes and decide what they want me to cook.”

Javier Fuertes: “When I first started I had a binder I would carry with me. Each printed sheet was laminated.
That was 16 years ago. Today….. I cook from the top of my head. I know the recipes or basically….the ingredients, and just cook with passion PER customer. Remember, we customize. Whenever its a new recipe or so…. I literally will just print out for the day and bring it with me. I’m ok with it getting dirty. I’ll just toss out when I’m done. If its on digital form, I make sure to have the links on my phone ready to go. Basically…. I don’t fret over this anymore like I used to.”

Carol Borchardt: “I’ve tried techie ways of doing it but stick with Mastercook and print out the recipes for each cookdate on paper. 9 times out of 10 I never even look at the recipe and just cook on the fly. However, if I want to make a change to the recipe, all I need to do is jot it down and make the change in Mastercook. I like to keep my recipes up-to-date in the event I want to put it on my blog. Also, with Mastercook, they have an app now where you can sync recipes on all your devices so you always have them. If you do use a tablet and want to protect it, a big Ziploc bag will work.”

Suzy Dannette Hegglin-Brown: “I do both but mainly now I switched to That Clean Life. I just log on and it’s there you go.”

For those of you who would like to bring a tablet or laptop but need a connection to get online (and don’t want to ask your client for their WiFi password), a couple of people noted that you can use your cell phone as a hotspot. As Carol Borchardt helpfully explained, “If you have an iPhone, click on Settings and look for “Personal Hotspot.” You’ll need to enter that password on your tablet just like you would a wifi password. Doing that, however, will drain the battery on your phone very quickly.”

Chefs, how do you transport recipes to a cook date? Paper? Device? Something else?

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve been air fryer curious for awhile. What’s prevented me from buying one when I scoped them out at Target awhile back was their sheer size. They’re huge and can take up a lot of counter real estate.

But I came across this article in The Kitchn and both it revived my desire and helped me focus on some options. Now there was no way I was going to spend $350 on one so I’d have to go for second best for about $100. This was the NuWave Brio 6-Quart Healthy Digital Air Fryer.

I always go big since even though I live alone, I want to have the flexibility to cook for a crowd. But my fears panned out. I couldn’t put it on my counter. It had to go on my glass-top stove. And I didn’t like it at all. It was hard for me to figure out how to use it, took way too long for the food–sweet potato fries (of course) and a chicken thigh–to cook separately. But I’d have put in more time to figure it out had my entire house not reeked of burning plastic.

I returned it.

But I couldn’t let go and a month or so later I went back to The Kitchn article and thought I’d scale down and give this much smaller Dash air fryer a try. Dash has the fryers in multiple cool coolers with a small compact footprint, and both manual and digital displays.

Here’s mine (and no, I don’t get any payment from either Dash or Amazon):

I used it for the first time on, what else, the shishito peppers. Normally, I would toss them in a little oil and let them blister in a hot cast iron skillet. It’s not a big undertaking, unless the temperature is soaring in the summer. But cooking them up in the air fryer–essentially using convection heat–was even better because I didn’t have to hover over the skillet and deal with peppers so twisted they wouldn’t stay where you turned them.

With the air fryer all I had to do was toss them in a little vegetable oil and place them in a single layer in the crisper  basket, which rests in the crisper drawer. The downside? Because it’s a small unit I had to do two batches, but it wasn’t a big deal since the cooking time is a mere five minutes. This particular air fryer is very intuitive so you press the power button and it immediately shows the temperature, which I turned up from its default 360° to 390° with the + button.

Then you press the timer/temperature button, which displays the default time of 10 minutes and move it to 5 minutes using the – button. Press the start arrow button and it takes care of the rest. In fact, the temperature and timer alternate on the display so you know exactly what is going on as it counts down. And once it hits the one-minute mark, it counts down in seconds.

Midway, pull out the basket and shake, then put it back into the machine. When the timer beeper goes off, check and make sure your shishitos are sufficiently blistered. If so, pull out the basket and use tongs to pull out the shishitos (excess oil may have collected in the bottom of the crisper drawer below the basket so you don’t want to risk burning yourself by flipping it over).

Now how do you season your shishitos? If you’re like most people you salt the shishitos, then squeeze lemon juice over them. And that’s perfectly wonderful. I’m fond of ponzu sauce on them as well. But with this batch I sprinkled coarse sea salt and shichimi togarashi, which is a traditional Japanese seasoning mix.

It has a bite, thanks to chili pepper and szechuan pepper. But it also contains black and white sesame seeds, orange peel, and dried basil. So it offers plenty of zesty flavor, too, and pairs beautifully with the blistered shishitos.

Now do I think you’ll use an air fryer for clients? I don’t know. But if you can think of it as a mobile convection oven you might think of some uses for it when cooking for clients who only have a conventional oven. I’ve made chicken thighs with this little one and they cook up nicely and faster than if I put them in the oven. You can create “fried” foods for clients who can’t have all that oil. In other words, it’s another tool to add to your cooking arsenal. And, hey, it’s something to have at home to get a meal for yourself made with less hassle.

Have you tried using an air fryer yet? What do you think?

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Shirataki Noodles

Filed under: Cooking Tips , Tags: , , , , , — Author: Caron Golden , January 21, 2019

Chefs, if you have clients who have issues with carbs–perhaps they have diabetes or weight issues—or they have wheat allergies, there’s another option for pasta that you may not be aware of and that can complement vegetable noodles: shirataki noodles.

Shirataki noodles originate in Japan. Slick and slippery, packaged in bulging plastic bags of water, they’re not what you expect in pasta. According to Serious Eats, they are made with glucomannan starch extracted from devil’s tongue yams. Essentially, it’s an indigestible dietary fiber so it goes in and out barely leaving a trace, so you end up with no net calories or carbs. For those who are gluten free, they’re perfect for those clients, too. They’re also keto friendly.


The best place to find shirataki noodles is at your local Japanese market, although some American markets carry them (look near where the tofu is stocked). Not only are there several brands with several choices of shirataki noodles, but there’s a whole other choice you can make–tofu shirataki, made with tofu and water with a little yam flour. And these, made by a company called House Foods, are going the extra distance with varieties in shapes like spaghetti, angel hair, macaroni, and fettuccine. Crazy! They also have no cholesterol, 0.5 grams of fat per serving, are extremely low in sodium, and are all of 20 calories per serving. And additional good news–if you don’t have a Japanese market in your community they’re available on Amazon.com.

Now are either version truly like wheat noodles in terms of flavor and texture? No. Let’s not make them into something they’re not. But if your clients have been craving traditional pasta and simply can’t have it this is not a bad substitute. In fact, your clients can enjoy them on their own terms. Because they have no flavor they are the perfect delivery system for any sauce you create. And their slick, jelly-like texture is kind of fun to chew. You can add them to soup (don’t cook them in the soup); mix them up with vegetables, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese; make mac and cheese; or, as I have with a package of “macaroni,” add them to turkey chile. Or create a chilled salad.

The noodles do have a distinct odor to them, acknowledged in the package’s preparation directions. But all you need to do is rinse them under water, put them in a bowl, and heat them in the microwave for–get this–a minute. The smell goes away and you have warm noodles with a bit of chew to them and a neutral flavor. Ready for pretty much anything for which you’d use regular pasta.

What options do you create for a “pasta” treat for clients? 

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