Back in the day, when I lived in New York, my friends and I used to joke that February was the longest month and we would throw “thank God February is over” parties.

Well, we’re right in the middle of February and I have to admit I have no standing for complaining about the horrors of icy winter since I now live in balmy San Diego–but I still love a good soup on those chilly 65-degree days. (Yes, I appreciate the absurdity of this but we take our cool weather when we can.)

One soup I’ve come to love that I think your clients will enjoy as well is Delicata and Carrot Soup. While you could substitute other hard squashes, oblong delicata is one of my favorites. First, they’re just so cute, with their stripes of colors. I love their sweet flavor and the fact that they don’t require peeling. The skin is thin and perfectly edible. And, I love the seeds. My dad taught me how to prep and roast pumpkin seeds when I was a little girl and I do it on almost every winter squash I buy. It’s such a waste not to!

If I have a complaint about winter squash it’s that it can be kind of challenging to bring flavors to it that won’t be overshadowed by its own flavor. But winter squash pairs beautifully with the sweetness of carrots, so that was a natural go to. And from there I came up with four ingredients that I thought could pull it off–even if they didn’t seem to go together: mirin (rice wine), white miso, fresh lemongrass, and shichimi togarashi spice seasoning. This is a spicy multi-ingredient Japanese mix that contains chili pepper, black sesame, white sesame, orange peel, basil, and szechuan pepper. You can find it easily at Asian markets. And I had onions and garlic.

Since soup is one of those wonderful dishes that don’t require precision, I figured I’d just go for it. I sliced up the carrots and roughly cut the onion. I minced the garlic and peeled off the tougher layers of the lemongrass and then chopped that. Pretty soon, ingredients were going into the medium-size blue Le Creuset pot my mom gave me when she moved out of her house. I added a little water to the sauteeing onion, garlic, and carrots to keep them from burning while I dismembered the squash and pulled out the nest of seeds.

Once I added the squash and the rest of the ingredients, along with water (I didn’t have any stock on hand but you could use chicken or vegetable stock to make it even richer) I brought the pot ingredients to the boil, then reduced the heat to simmer for about an hour until the squash softened. And, oh, the aroma. It turns out combining mirin, miso, and lemongrass is, well, inspired. Sweet and salty and full of umami.

Now your clients can enjoy the soup as a loose vegetable soup. But I prefer creamy soups so I pulled out my stick blender and puréed it to a silky consistency. I had some pumpkin seed oil I had been waiting to use, so I drizzled that on my soup once I poured a serving into a bowl. And sighed after the first bite. Lucky me. I had plenty to enjoy with a hank of warm sourdough bread for a few more meals!

Delicata and Carrot Soup
Serves 2 to 4

Ingredients
Olive oil for sautéing
½ large onion
5 cloves garlic, minced
5 carrots, sliced
1 large Delicata squash, cut into cubes
¼ cup fresh lemongrass, roughly chopped
1 cup mirin
2 tablespoons white miso
1 tablespoon shichimi togarashi spice mix
Water or chicken or vegetable stock
Pumpkin seed oil (optional)

Directions

1. In a medium size pot, sauté half an onion and five cloves minced garlic. Add carrot slices. Add a little water to prevent burning while cutting up the squash (save seeds for roasting).
2. Add squash pieces, chopped lemongrass, mirin, white miso, togarashi, and water to cover.
3. Bring to the boil then simmer for about an hour until squash is soft.
4. Use an immersion blender to purée. Drizzle with pumpkin seed oil from Vom Fass. Serve with crusty sourdough bread.

What are your or your clients’ favorite winter soups? Let us know if you’d like to share a recipe here.

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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How to Adapt Recipes: Chile Verde

Filed under: Recipes , Tags: , , , — Author: Caron Golden , January 29, 2018

How many of you are big fans of Hatch chiles? I am and for years would wait eagerly for them to appear in produce departments of San Diego grocery stores in the fall. Few had them. But that made my quest ever more diligent and I had some reliable haunts. When were in season I’d buy about five pounds, roast them, and them freeze them to use in the winter for cold-weather dishes.

But this past fall it slipped my mind. I was caring for a new puppy who broke one of his legs just two weeks after joining my household. By the time I was thinking about life outside my little world it was too late. And then came New Year’s. It was cold (for San Diego) and I wanted to make my annual Green Chile Stew, a dish my friend Laura Levy had shared with me years ago.

What to do? Hatch chiles have a distinctive smoky, earthy flavor that similar chilies, like Anaheim, don’t have. But I was craving this chile and so I started down the Google path to see what the experts would suggest as a substitute. I came across a piece written by the brilliant Tasting Table Food Lab writer J. Kenji López-Alt. It asked that very same question: Can you make a great chile verde without Hatch chilies? His answer was yes–and contends that while authenticity is nice, he’ll settle for delicious.

Once I read the piece, which also addresses technique, I decided to experiment and play with some of his suggestions, while still keeping what I love about Laura’s recipe, like adding potatoes and dredging the meat in masa. This is the kind of thing I’m sure all of you do as well. We adapt to circumstances and, in doing so, adapt favorite recipes to those circumstances. So…

1. I’m using poblano and Anaheim peppers. López-Alt suggested cubanelle peppers, but they’re not in season now and hard to find in San Diego anyway. He also brings in jalapeños and since I like some heat, in they went, too.

2. López-Alt also includes tomatillos–both for flavor and their pectin to thicken the stew. I love tomatillos and a thick stew so in they went.

3. I took up the suggestion for roasting not just the peppers, but also the tomatillos, garlic, and jalapeños. You purée them together with cilantro and add to the stew. Essentially (although López-Alt doesn’t say this), you create a stunning salsa verde. So you could take the first three pieces of instruction in the recipe alone and have yourself a winning salsa verde. By the way, I have long broiled peppers (no gas stove) and then let them steam in a paper bag. I like his method of steaming them in a bowl topped by a plate.

4. I did not follow his directions for the pork, beyond salting it. I really enjoy the texture and flavor of masa-tossed and browned pork. And, to extract more smoky New Mexican flavor from the chile, I added some Chimayo chile powder I have stored in the freezer.

5. I did end up braising the stew for three hours in a low-heat oven with the lid askew to let a little steam out instead of much more quickly on the stove. And loved it–the stew cooks evenly, benefitting by being surrounded by gentle heat, and the pork becomes truly tender.

Now, that three-hour braise time ended up not working for me for New Year’s Eve because I got too late a start. So, I broke it up over two days, prepping the salsa verde first that afternoon and refrigerating it overnight. The next morning while watching the Rose Parade I trimmed the pork shoulder and salted it. An hour later I was in full cooking mode. By noon I had the chile in the oven and by 3 p.m. I enjoyed my first bowl, the house filled with its spicy, earthy aroma. The pork and theYukon Gold potatoes were as tender as you’d desire after a good braising. The chile was far spicier than I’d imagine it would be but still very enjoyable. Because it was looser than I wanted, I cooked it a little longer on the stove and added a little more masa to thicken it–but later as I was letting it cool to refrigerate it thickened on its own, so don’t worry that much if it’s soupier than you think you want.

I still love Laura’s version of her stew, but this is a wonderful variation and the science behind the changes makes sense to me.

Chile Verde
Adapted from recipes by Laura Levy and J. Kenji López-Alt
Serves up to 10

Ingredients

3 cups chopped roasted New Mexico or Hatch chilies – skins and seeds removed
OR, if not available:
5 poblano peppers
5 Anaheim peppers

2 pounds tomatillos, husks removed
2 jalapeño peppers, stems removed and sliced in half lengthwise
8 whole garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Kosher salt
2 cups loosely packed cilantro leaves
Salt and pepper
2.5 to 3 pounds cubed pork shoulder
3 tablespoons masa flour
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground Chimayo pepper
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
32 ounces chicken stock
Salt/Pepper
2 additional tablespoons masa (if needed to thicken)

Directions

1. Roast poblano and Anaheim peppers by placing them directly over the flame of a gas stove until deeply charred on all surfaces, about 10 minutes total. If you don’t have a gas burner, broil them or char on an outdoor grill. Place peppers in a bowl and cover with a large plate. Let steam for 5 minutes, then peel. Dry chilies, discard seeds and stems, and roughly chop. Transfer to bowl of food processor.

2. Preheat broiler to high if you didn’t broil the peppers. Toss tomatillos, garlic, and jalapeños with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Pour onto to rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Broil until charred, blistered, and just softened, turning once halfway through cooking, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to the food processor along with any exuded liquid.

3. Add half of cilantro to the food processor and pulse mixture until it is roughly pureed but not smooth, about 8 to 10 one-second pulses. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve (can make this the day before).

4. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 225˚ F.

5. Dredge pork cubes in masa flour in plastic bag until all pieces are coated. Brown in oil in large Dutch oven or pot. Add onions and lightly cook until slightly colored (not browned). Stir frequently and scrap up brown bits from bottom of pot. Add cumin and Chimayo pepper. Stir till fragrant.

6. Add potatoes, chicken stock and pureed chili mixture to pot and stir well to combine. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Cook for about three hours.

7. Remove from oven and skim excess fat. Check consistency; if it needs to be thicker slowly add a small amount (no more than two tablespoons) of masa at a time and stir until thick. You can also heat it up on the stove to a good simmer and let reduce. Too thick? Add some water. When it’s reached the right consistency for you, stir in remaining cilantro and season to taste with more salt.

8. Garnish with sour cream, diced onions, cilantro, cheese, and lime wedges. Serve with corn bread or homemade tortillas.

Note: The chile can be chilled and stored in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen. The flavors will deepen over time.

Is there a favorite recipe you’ve enjoyed making for years but recently adapted to suit a client’s diet or health goals? Or because ingredients weren’t seasonally available?

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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If you’re a personal chef who is starting to get requests from clients for vegan meals, chances are you freaking out just a little. Because while there are plenty of meat- and dairy-free dishes out there in the world that would be considered vegan—salads, sautéed or roasted vegetables, pasta and tomato sauce just for starters—that’s not the stuff of a well-rounded diet. People need protein, for starters, and they want complex flavors that are so easy to come by when you add in animal-based proteins.

So, where do you start?

A brief survey of some of our members yielded some favorite websites. And I’ve also included some I’ve found.

  • You might want to start at the Academy of Culinary Nutrition, which has a list of the Top 50 Began blogs. This directs you to blogs that will teach you how to make vegan yogurt to nut-based “cheeses.” Their top pick? Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows. Their favorite recipe? Sundried Tomato, Mushroom and Spinach Tofu Quiche.

  • Member Jennifer Zirkle of The Ginger Chef in Michigan likes Forks Over Knives. This plant-based diet website evolved from the documentary of the same name. The site offers a meal planner, cooking course, articles, and, of course, recipes—435 of them. They also have an app you can download. So, you can be inspired by Smoky, Saucy Black-Eyed Peas; Pesto Penne; Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese; or a Festive Vegetable Pot Pie.

  • Member Suzy Dannette Hegglin-Brown of The Brown Bag Nutrition & Chef Services in Northern California is a fan of the blog Vegan Richa. Richa Hingle is its author. She’s been featured on Oprah.com, Huffington Post, Glamour, VegNews.com, The Kitchn, and many others. She’s also the author of Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen. On the day I visited her site it featured Peanut Butter Cauliflower Bowl with Roasted Carrots. She includes Instant Pot cooking, as well. And check out her Indian Butter Tofu Paneer. It looks divine.
  • The Vegan Society is committed to making veganism easily adopted. They publish a magazine, The Vegan—and if you subscribe, you also get access to a website that addresses nutrition and health, food and drink, recipes, shopping, travel, and more.
  • Cooking for vegan kids? Check out the list on Hummasapien. They include a range of kid-friendly recipes like Zucchini Tater Tots, Vegan Carrot Dogs, Vegan Broccoli Cheeze Chickpea Burgers, and Summer Vegetable Lasagna Rolls.

  • Chickpea Magazine is a vegan food and writing quarterly. Love the idea of Cauliflower Wings? Get the recipe here!
  • Chefs like Jamie Oliver have developed vegan recipes. Oliver has well over 100, from Whole Wheat Maple Cinnamon Buns and Sweet Potato & White Bean Chili to Homemade Mustard and Spiced Plum Chutney. He also has videos that will teach you how to make vegan gravy, chocolate pots, and raw “spaghetti Bolognese.”

Because vegan eating has gone so mainstream, you’ll also find plenty of resources on conventional food websites, like Food Network, Serious Eats, Food and Wine, and even Good Housekeeping.

Finally, we have a lovely recipe for you to try from member Carol Borchardt’s blog From a Chef’s Kitchen. This Thai Red Curry Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup will surely make your clients warm and cozy in these chilly winter months. (Note that Carol offers a choice of chicken broth or vegetable broth. Use the latter, of course, to make this dish vegan.)

Thai Red Curry Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup
from Carol Borchardt
Serves 6

Ingredients

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons red curry paste (or to taste)
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (1/2-inch cubes)
1 can (15-ounce) petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups red lentils, picked over
1 can (14.5-ounce) coconut milk, light or regular
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro plus more for garnish if desired

Instructions

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy pot such as a Dutch oven. Add the onion, reduce heat to medium and cook 5 to 7 minutes or until onion begins to soften.

Add the garlic and red curry paste, give it a quick stir, then add the broth, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and lentils. Bring to a boil, cover slightly and simmer until potatoes and lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and heat through.

Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Stir in cilantro.

MAKE AHEAD: Can be made up to 2 days ahead. Cool thoroughly. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave for individual servings. FREEZER-FRIENDLY: Cool thoroughly and package as desired. Freeze up to 2 months.

 

Do you have vegan clients you cook for? What dishes are in your repertoire? What were your biggest challenges?

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 month the National Restaurant Association released its 2018 Annual Chef Predictions of food and beverage trends. The survey of 700 professional chefs–members of the American Culinary Federation–predicts “what’s hot,” what they expect the food and beverage trends at restaurants to be in the coming year.

According to the survey, menu trends that will be heating up in 2018 include doughnuts with non-traditional filling, ethnic-inspired kids’ dishes, farm/estate-branded items, and heritage-breed meats. Trends that are cooling down include artisan cheeses, heirloom fruits and vegetables, and house-made charcuterie.

At number 11 on the list of top 20 food trends is Peruvian food.

Peru is a culinary melting pot–a mix of Spanish, Italian, Cantonese, and Japanese styles and techniques that reflect the country’s unique history. Lomo Saltado–an intriguing stir fry beef tenderloin that melds Peruvian flavors with Cantonese influences–is a popular traditional Peruvian dish served with French fries or potato wedges on rice. I learned how to make it recently from a San Diego chef, Emmanuel Piquera, who grew up and learned to cook in Peru. In fact, I shared his ceviches with you last October. Loma Saltado is the dish of his I’ll be making during winter now that temperatures have dropped.

This dish features soy sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar, ginger, and garlic to form the sauce that is its base. That’s made in the blender and reserved. Using canola oil, you stir fry seasoned tenderloin pieces, then add red onion, tomatoes (have you ever stir fried tomatoes?), and a jalapeño. All this is blended with that salty, sour traditional sauce and topped with scallions and perhaps a fried egg. It’s easy to prepare and the brightness of the stir fried vegetables really set off the richness of the tenderloin.

Lomo Saltado
From Emmanuel Piquera of Pisco Rotisserie & Cevicheria in San Diego
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients
Canola oil for frying potatoes
8 ounces of potato wedges1 ounce of canola oil
1.5 pounds beef tenderloin cut into 1/2 inch thick
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1 large red onion, cut into strips
3 Roma tomatoes, cut into strips
1 jalapeño chili, seeded and julianned
6 ounces of lomo saltado sauce*
Scallions cut into strips for garnish
Optional: fried egg

*Lomo saltado sauce:
In a blender mix 2 ounces of low sodium soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of oyster sauce, 1 ounce of white wine vinegar, 2 ounces of water, 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger, and one clove of garlic.

Directions

Fill a large pot with oil or use a fryer and bring oil to 375 degree F. Carefully add potato wedges in small batches and fry for 5 to 7 minutes until golden brown. Remove and let drain on paper towels.

Season the tenderloin pieces with kosher salt and black pepper.

In a wok with canola oil stir fry the tenderloin pieces and cook until golden over high  heat, add the red onion strips stir fry for two minutes, add the tomato strips cook for one minute, add the chilies, then add the lomo saltado sauce and mix everything together in high heat for one more minute.

Serve in a shallow plate, add the fried potato wedges and garnish with the scallions strips and fried egg if you like. For a traditional Peruvian experience, serve with white rice.

What new food trends are you embracing as you plan menus in 2018?

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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Are you a movie buff? I am. But one of the downsides is that no matter the topic, there always seems to be a scene from a movie that provides just the illustrative image you don’t want to have. For caviar, there are two and both involve Tom Hanks. The first is the holiday party scene in Big, when Tom the boy/man digs into some caviar not knowing what it is and when he finds out, he pushes it out of his mouth in the way only a grossed out kid can. The other is in the romcom You’ve Got Mail when he and Meg Ryan’s character–also at a party–get into an argument after she discovers he’s the Fox of Fox Books trying to take her down and he starts scooping up all the pricey caviar garnish to eat just to irritate her.

Tom Hanks aside, caviar usually gets much more lofty treatment. In fact, it’s one of those foods that is considered elite and unreachable for the masses. And, sure, the good stuff… the really luxurious good stuff is. I can’t get enough of it when given the chance, but my budget prevents me from wildly indulging. And I’m sure that if you’re catering New Year’s parties or brunches you’re dealing with the same issue. But  I’ve come across a wide variety of caviars that are very tasty and pretty budget friendly. And I’m not talking about the questionable über salty jars of fish roe you’ll find on shelves at places like CostPlus. A visit to Whole Foods or specialty stores or shopping online should offer a variety of options that you can put on the menu without breaking the bank. And, honestly, is there any food more celebratory or that says Happy New Year more than caviar, especially when accompanied by a flute of champagne?

Here are some options:

California Caviar sells a lovely white sturgeon caviar called the Royal. It’s a sustainably farm-raised product from Northern California. The white sturgeon has a taste similar to Osetra. The roe is medium sized, dark, and with a sweet buttery texture. I can’t stop eating it with a spoon, but it’s delicious on a blini with crème fraîche and a little smoked salmon or tossed with butter in fettuccine. Buy some for a client cocktail party for guests to enjoy with sparkling wine or buy a package to give as a client gift.

Salmon roe, which you might recognize from Japanese menus as ikura, is easily found at Japanese markets. I can’t get enough of this roe. These big, juicy beads create a wonderful salty, tangy explosion when you bite into them. I’ve enjoyed these on scrambled eggs, on blini, on a bagel with cream cheese (best brunch dish ever), and as a topping on stuffed mushrooms. Those stuffed mushrooms also incorporated capelin roe, sometimes known as smelt roe–or masago on sushi menus–and  tobiko, or flying fish roe, which glistens like black diamonds in light. I blend the masago with sour cream and crème fraîche and chopped mushroom stems, which I used to stuff the mushrooms. Then I top the mixture with the salmon roe and a dab of tobikko.

You can also use the capelin roe to make taramosalata, a terrific Greek dip. Or use it for sushi or as a garnish. Both the capelin roe and tobiko are quite sweet and flavored with soy sauce.


Whole Foods carries several varieties of the Caviar Russe brand. Yes, you can get a pricey ounce of imported Caspian Osetra Russian sturgeon, but if that isn’t feasible, try the whitefish caviar from the Great Lakes region, salmon caviar or ikura, tobiko, or–what I took home and enjoyed–hardwood smoked caviar. Get your splurge back on with imported Siberian Russian sturgeon. You can buy online also.

And, if you have a vegetarian client, you can create dishes with Seaweed Caviar, sold by Fine Caviar.

Need blinis? You can also pick up a package of Caviar Russe’s cocktail blinis. They are easy to heat up quickly and, while not quite as good as homemade, they are just fine and make life a whole lot easier for a busy holiday party caterer.

Or, chefs, you can make your own. This recipe for buckwheat blinis comes from San Diego chef Ryan Studebaker.

Buckwheat Blinis
From Ryan Studebaker
Yield: About 12 blinis

Ingredients

2 tablespoons buckwheat flour
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup whole milk
1 egg, separated
1/4 cup butter, melted but not hot

Directions

Whisk together dry ingredients. Add milk and egg yolk and whisk until smooth. Whisk egg whites to soft peaks and folk into the batter along with 2 tablespoons of the butter.

Brush a nonstick pan with butter and heat over medium heat until hot. Drop five to seven level tablespoons of the batter at a time onto the pan and cook until bubbles form (about 45 to 60 seconds). Flip the pancakes and cook an additional 45 to 60 seconds.

Serve immediately if you can. Otherwise, hold them at room temperate and reheat in the oven briefly later if needed.

Enjoy–and everyone at APPCA wishes you a happy, healthy, and fulfilling 2018! Happy New Year!

Is caviar on the menu for your New Year’s catering or personal celebration? How do you like to enjoy it?

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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We all like to know what’s trending, whether it’s fashion or film, streaming media or music. And, of course, food.

Google recently released its 2017 list of most searched items in a variety of categories–from people and global news to actors, elections, and songs/lyrics. It’s really fascinating. In fact, the number one search among all categories was Hurricane Irma. The top “how to”? How to make slime. Go figure.

One of the categories is recipes. Here you’ll have not only the top 10 recipes searched but also their links. Since we figure you like to be on trend, here’s a look at what people globally wanted to learn how to make:

1) Chicken breast recipe
2) Ground beef recipe
3) Poğaça tarifi (Turkish bread recipe)
4) French toast recipe
5) Kek tarifi (cake recipe)
6) Pork chop recipe
7) Spaghetti squash recipe
8) Coleslaw recipe
9) Pesto recipe
10) 餃子 レシピ (Dumpling recipe)

Let’s look at a couple of the recipes to get some insight into what was going on. For the chicken breast recipe, the greatest interest came from Canadians. That was followed by the United Arab Emirates and Singapore. The U.S. only came in at the fourth position, followed by New Zealand. Related to searching for your basic chicken breast recipe was searching for air fryer chicken breast recipes, followed by–of course–recipes for instant pot chicken breast recipes, then (surprisingly) airline chicken breast recipes, and finally in the top five, sous vide chicken breast recipes (four and five were the same, just worded slightly differently).

Canadians must be great recipe searchers because they were the top searchers for ground beef recipes, followed by the U.S. For Turkish bread, don’t get cocky–it wasn’t Turks; it was us! Jamaicans were the most interested in French toast. Filipinos were all over pork chops. Canadians, again, were most interested in spaghetti squash. Americans (!) were most curious about coleslaw recipes, but get this, Malta has the most interest in pesto recipes. American’s didn’t even make the top five. There wasn’t any info given for the cake or dumpling recipe searches.

Now what can you do with this knowledge? Well, it’s something to keep in mind as you’re menu planning, of course. Chicken breasts and ground beef are food items that are versatile and relatively inexpensive. Spaghetti squash is obviously a great substitute for pasta. Coleslaw is fast and easy to make and pretty inexpensive, too.

And pork chops… oh, pork chops. Pork chops are the only food that’s on Google’s list of most searched-for recipes in the world and list of most-searched for recipes in the U.S. Pork chops also made the list in 2016.

Pork Porterhouse Pork Chop with Garlic Sage Compound Butter

With that in mind, here’s my favorite way of making pork chops. This is a one-pound Pork Porterhouse Pork Chop with Garlic Sage Compound Butter that serves two. I buy these from a butcher because supermarkets generally wouldn’t carry these thickly marbled chops. The process is extremely easy. All I do is grill it on my stove top.

It begins with a 24-hour brining. I used a simple brine inspired by Chef Anne Burrell that includes kosher salt, fresh sage leaves, crushed garlic, sugar, and a bay leaf mixed in a quart of water. Stir it up, add the chop, cover, and refrigerate.

At some point between brining and cooking you can make a simple compound butter to add even more richness to the dish. Because my brine includes sage leaves from my garden, I stick with the flavor profile and make a compound butter with minced sage leaves, diced red onion, garlic, and sea salt. All you need to do is leave a stick of butter out until it’s room temperature, slice off about a tablespoon and melt that in a small saucepan.

Add the sage, red onion, garlic, and sea salt, and sauté gently until it’s just cooked through, about five minutes. Remove from the heat and place the mixture in a small bowl. Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Then slice the rest of the butter, add the slices to the bowl, and thoroughly mix all the ingredients with a fork. Pull out a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap and place the butter mixture on it. Shape into a small log about an inch thick. Then fold the paper or wrap over the log and roll it a bit until it’s evenly shaped. Then fold up the rest around the log and refrigerate it at least an hour so that it’s firm (you can also make it a couple of days before). Remove it from the refrigerator before you begin cooking the chop.

When you plan to cook the chop, remove it from the brine and pat it down to remove the excess moisture. I also trim off much of the fat cap. Slather the chop in olive oil and, as Burrell suggests, sprinkle the meat with crushed red pepper flakes. Heat a cast iron skillet and when it’s good and hot, place the chop in the skillet and cover with a splatter guard.

Cook for four to five minutes on each side until the internal temperature is about 145° and then hold the chop vertically with a pair of tongs to grill the edge of fat. That’ll take about a minute. Remove from the skillet and let it rest. You should have a chop cooked medium rare.

Cut the meat off the bone and slice it. (Save the bone to gnaw on secretly later.) Place the slices on the cooked mustard and top with a couple of slices of the compound butter.

Are any of these among your top recipe searches? What is your favorite item on this list?

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 don’t know food writer, recipe developer, and owner of Nourish Evolution, a subscription-based real food community and online menu planner, you really should. And here’s the perfect opportunity; she just published a memoir called Nourished: A Memoir of Food, Faith & Enduring Love. I can’t recall recommending a book in this space, but I think as chefs you’ll enjoy and appreciate her journey and certainly be taken by both her writing and her recipes.

Yes, recipes. Nourished, while not a cookbook, ends every chapter with an irresistible recipe–from Crab Ravioli in Saffron Lemon-Butter Sauce and Grilled Pork en Adobada with Cebollitas to a simple Zucchini Frittata and Gnocchi with Mushrooms, Lobster, and Caramelized Corn. What it is is a memoir of a woman who took the long road to find happiness and her place in the world, much of which has revolved around food and cooking. Traveling with her (and there is a lot of travel) through 20 years of her life journey was mouth watering, yes, but also an immersion into a life perhaps more adventurous than any of ours, but filled with the same sorrows and joys, discoveries of the spirit and heart, and ultimately a coming to as much peace and solace as anyone can be rewarded with in a life well lived.

Raised in Connecticut, Huber launches the book in 1991 in Corfu, Greece, where as a college student on break she falls in love with Alexi, whom she describes as a “tall, dark Greek man with mischievous eyes.” Huber digs into Corfu with loving descriptions of the food she discovered–the smokey fish roe dip, luscious lemony scented chicken, and the fluffy mass of boiled potatoes with smashed cloves of garlic and green-yellow olive oil that is skordalia (recipe included). She fully intends to marry Alexi but returns to the States for a cousin’s wedding and to finish school. The ambitious American college student, winning awards for her writing, ultimately breaks off the engagement and so begins a new chapter in her life, what she calls a “voraciousness for experience” that sent her to live in Manhattan–and then to Christianity. Not long after she meets Christopher, who would become the love of her life and partner in her travels and soul searching.

Nourished wends its way through Huber’s adventures and travails. She suffers from unresolved health issues, challenges in her marriage, challenges in the travels she and Christopher (and their Rhodesian Ridgeback Talisker–yeah, there’s that we also have in common) take trying to find their place in the world. It takes them from New York to San Francisco, where she launches her food writing and recipe testing career, to Costa Rica, making the 8,000-mile journey in their “gringo mobile” Rex, their Ford Explorer. They spend time in Italy and ultimately, they make their way to California’s wine country, where they endure a long, torturous process of foreign adoption and then the joys and angst of parenthood.

Throughout Huber’s travels, both geographical and emotional, is always food. She and Christopher cook their way through Anne Willan’s Look and Cook: Asian Cooking. They discover a rich, tangy asado de boda stew in Zacatecas, a dried beef machaca in a Chihuahua truck stop, and in Cuernavaca she learns how to make sautéed zucchini flowers stuffed into poblano chiles that are then wrapped in puff pastry topped by a creamy cilantro sauce and pomegranate seeds.

While many readers may find her struggle with and solace in God and Christianity just as rewarding as her culinary evolution, that part was not as resonant with me since I’m a non-religious Jewish woman. But I could feel her pain and appreciate her quest for answers and hope. She’s that good a writer.

In fact, I loved her vivid descriptions of her cooking experiences. I could see in my mind’s eye what she saw. In Italy, taking a pasta-making lesson, Huber describes her instructor Francesca as “nearly as round as the ball of pasta dough sitting in front of her…” She goes on to describe making pasta sheets:

“She cut the giant ball into several smaller pieces and covered them with a dish towel. She dusted the worktable with the flour as if she were feeding pigeons, and picked up a giant rolling pin longer than a baseball bat. ‘Matarello,’ Francesca said.”

Nourished takes us with Huber over a 20-year span and ultimately it’s a joyful, yes, nourishing ride. Read the memoir for its grace and honest reflections of a life filled with bumps, questions, and ultimately love. Keep the book for the recipes that provide delicious markers for each period of her life.

Frijoles de Lia
from Lia Huber

Frijoles de olla are a traditional dish of brothy beans cooked in an earthenware pot (an olla) that are hearty enough to be a meal in and of themselves. The recipes I followed in Costa Rica—from Diana Kennedy and Rick Bayless—followed a simple equation of beans, lard, an onion or garlic, and epazote. I’ve taken the liberty of adding a few more goodies that I’ve appended on over the years. 

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large poblano chiles, seeded and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander 2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons ground ancho chile
11/2 cups dried black beans, rinsed and soaked overnight (or fast  soaked in a pressure cooker)
Sea salt

In a large, heavy  bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium  high heat. Add the onion, poblano chiles, and garlic and sauté for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is golden brown. Add the cumin, coriander, oregano, and ancho chile and sauté for 1 minute, until fra grant. Add the beans, a generous pinch of salt, and 6 cups cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 11/2 to 2 hours, until the beans are tender. Using a potato masher, mash the beans until there’s a mix of whole beans and creamy mashed beans.

Serves 10 to 12


Reprinted from NOURISHED: A Memoir of Food, Faith & Enduring Love (with Recipes) COPYRIGHT © 2017 by Lia Huber. Published by Convergent, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Do you have a favorite food or chef memoir? Is there a food-related book you think the rest of us should take to our heart? Perhaps you’d like to share it on this blog.

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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We hope that you APPCA members were able to take advantage of the special 50 percent off deal we arranged with Fagor. Up until October 24, members in good standing could order Fagor portable induction cook tops and electric multi-use cookers (pressure cooker/rice cooker/slow cooker all in one) at half price. (Thanks for organizing this, April Lee!)

Like the hugely popular Instant Pots, these electric multicookers can be a little intimidating until you get used to how they work. And while you may initially limit yourself to the obvious–stock, soup, beans, yogurt, you’ll want to broaden your mindset and learn about the many additional ways you can use these machines.

So, for all of us novice multicooker owners, I thought I’d offer up some essential resources to get you started. Bookmark them and return again and again because invariably yet another cool way to use these machines will come up. And perhaps you’ll think of some yourself. If so, please share!

  • Hip Pressure Cooking: Founder Laura Pazzaglia has written two books on pressure cooking and her site is filled with all sorts of great information. Beyond the many recipes, she writes pieces on nutritional information, best cuts of meats, machine reviews, even tips for how to open the machine effectively (it makes a difference). There are videos, forums, filling guidelines, and time charts.
  • Facebook Instant Pot Community Public Group: If you’re on Facebook, this is an invaluable group to join. Check out recipes, get cookbook recommendations, ask questions. You’ll be totally surprised by the dishes people make in the electric multicookers. Something go wrong? Troubleshoot it with members. While you’re on Facebook, also check out Instant Pot Recipes.
  • Pressure Cooking Today: Need to figure out how to get started with your multicooker or, specifically, Instant Pot? Here’s a great site to help. You can also get help with how to convert a recipe to pressure cook, which buttons to press, learn the difference between quick pressure and natural pressure release, and get a boatload of indexed recipes from breakfast to sides to dessert.
  • How to Use an Instant Pot: The New York Times has created this indispensable page, written by Melissa Clark (who has a new book out, Dinner in an Instant). Consider this your ABC primer. Clark breaks down every component of the multicooker and how you’d want to use it, as well as how to experiment with it. Just as important, she tells you what not to cook in this machine and why. Plus Clark offers some recipes from her new book.

  • Instant Pot Videos: Love a good YouTube cooking video? Then subscribe to Instant Pot on YouTube. You’ll find a wealth of recipes as well as equipment instruction that will get you up to speed. Learn how to make chicken stock, pork roast, unsoaked beans and grains, and chicken and pancetta risotto.
  • Instant Pot Recipes on Pinterest: Finally, the circus that is Pinterest can lead you to some interesting resources for using your multicooker. There are plenty of links to recipes, cheat sheets, cooking time lists, and mistakes to avoid.

While we’re at it, check out Fagor’s site for recipes to create using their (and perhaps your) multicooker.

Are you an Instant Pot or Fagor Multicooker user? Do you have a blog with recipes? Please share it here! And let us know if you have other great online resources we should know about.

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 starting to plan holiday dinner parties for clients, consider the Peruvian ceviche. These are distinctively different from Mexican ceviches in terms of the ingredients. Chef Emmanuel Piqueras, who runs the kitchen of Pisco Rotisserie & Cevicheria in San Diego and was born and raised in Lima, explained to me that Peru is a true melting pot of cultures–from Chinese to Japanese to Italian. And the ceviches certainly reflect that, as do many other dishes he makes, like the stir fry “Lomo Saltado,” a stir fried tenderloin with tomatoes, green onions, and red onions, melded in a sauce made with soy sauce, oyster sauce, ginger, and garlic, reflecting Peru’s Cantonese influence.

Piqueras has spent his life in kitchens–first under the tutelage of his grandfather’s cook, Jesus, who he says taught him to touch ingredients and make rice. “She was my mentor,” he said. “I always watched her.”

His other grandfather, an ex-Marine, took Piqueras fishing as a child and by age eight he was making ceviche. A career cooking, however, was not what his successful parents had in mind for him. (His mom was the first female mayor of Lima.) Trying to live up to their high expectations, he went to university and studied marketing, but his heart wasn’t in it. At age 22, he went to work as an apprentice to chef Don Cucho La Rosa at his Lima restaurant, Pantagruel before attending Le Cordon Bleu and moving to Spain to train with Chef Juan Mari Arzak in San Sebastian. Piqueras returned to Lima but the bad economy sent him off to the U.S., where he opened Andina in Portland, Mixtura in Seattle, Limon in San Francisco, and Panca in New York City’s West Village. In that time, he also became the host and co-producer of Sabor y Fusion, a popular Peruvian cooking show.

Fascinating career trajectory, huh?

Piqueras’ ceviches are very simple to make, with basic prep of the seafood and vegetables taking up the time in the kitchen, followed by mixing the sauces and then tossing the prepped ingredients together and plating. These are wonderful dishes to enjoy year-round, and pack a visual punch that’s perfect for holiday dinner parties for clients.

Ceviche Nikkei
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients
1.5 pounds of ahi tuna yellow fin, cut into 1/2 inch squares
1/2 cup of fresh squeeze lime juice
4 ounces of Nikkei sauce*
1 ounce of Persian cucumber sliced
1 avocado cut into squares
4 ounces shredded Daikon root for garnish
Kosher salt

Method
In a cold bowl mix the ahi tuna squares, the Persian cucumber, pinch of salt, the Nikkei sauce and the lime juice. Mix carefully.
In a white china bowl serve the ceviche mix, garnish with avocado squares and topped with the shredded daikon root.

*Nikkei sauce: In a blender mix 6 ounces of tamarind purée, 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger, 1 clove of garlic, 1 table spoon of organic brown sugar, 2 ounces of low sodium soy sauce and 2 teaspoons of Rocoto purée (available online).

Martini De Tigre Ceviche
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients
12 ounces of California Halibut, diced
6 ounces of Portuguese octopus, cooked and diced
4 ounces of calamari rings, cooked
12 each shrimp, cooked and peeled
12 half sea scallops
1/2 cup of Ají amarillo sauce*
3/4 cup of fresh squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons of cilantro, chiffonade
1 small chopped onion
1 habanero, seeded and chopped
Cilantro micro greens for garnish
Kosher salt

Method
In a cold bowl mix the fresh fish, the octopus, the calamari, the half scallops and the shrimp.

Add the salt to taste, the Ají Amarillo sauce, the chopped onion, habanero to taste and the cilantro. Mix well.


To finish the Ceviche add the lime juice, mix well and add the ice cubes, mix well again and serve in a cold Martini Glass, garnish with cilantro micro greens.

*Ají Amarillo Sauce: In a blender mix 6 ounces of ají amarillo paste with 1 stick of celery and  1 clove of garlic with 2 ounces of canola oil for salad.

Are you starting to prepare holiday dinner party menus for clients? What on your menu?

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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APPCA’s MidAtlantic Regional Chapter, or MARC, held their annual fall meeting September 24 at the Olney, Maryland, home of Iva Barrerra-Oro. The nine attendees had a packed day, starting with a light breakfast and meet and greet, followed by basic old and new business issues to address.

Then came the meat of the gathering: first a Fagor Pressure Cooker Demo, conducted by April Lee. As you know from an earlier blog post, APPCA members are able to get a 50 percent discount on selected Fagor equipment until Oct. 24. So April did a demo on Fagor’s electric 8-quart multi-cooker.

She likes the model because it frees up a burner and at high pressure is more than adequate to quick cook a variety of foods. According to April, she uses the multi-cooker all the time for stews, stock, long braises, corned beef, and more. As she pointed out, using the pressure cooker allows her to start a dish and let it cook unattended while she takes care of other tasks. As part of her demo, April prepared a Thai Chicken Green Curry with Kobucha Squash and Eggplant. She shared the recipe, which follows below.

Following April’s demo, the group held a business round table that allowed the participants to discuss how they’ve faced business challenges or grown their business and get help on a major challenge they need to resolve. That was supposed to be followed by a SCORE presentation from this year’s chapter president Keith Steury that described the nonprofit agency that helps small business and explained its various offerings–from mentors to a library filled with business templates, articles and e-guides, and videos and podcasts. Due to time constraints, Keith is sending the information from the presentation to the participants to review on their own.

Following a potluck lunch, Bernard Henry gave a knife sharpening demo, during which he demonstrated using a wet stone, which he noted, is time consuming but gets the best result because it’s more gentle on the knife. He also explained how to use a manual sharpening machine and gave an overview of the best types of knives to buy.

Following Bernard’s demo, Keith did a wrap up of the day and the group came up with proposed dates and locations for a spring 2018 meeting before the event concluded at 3 p.m.

 

THAI GREEN CURRY CHICKEN w/KABOCHA SQUASH & EGGPLANT

(adapted by April Lee from Daniel Gritzer, Serious Eats)

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 medium cloves garlic, crushed
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons Thai green curry paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
One (14-ounce) can coconut milk
6 cups cubed skin-on kabocha squash (about half of a small 4-pound squash, washed skin)
1 medium (12-ounce) eggplant, cubed (about 4 cups)
4 pounds chicken (I prefer boneless chicken thighs)
Kosher salt for seasoning chicken and veggies
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh Thai basil leaves, chopped or chiffonade
Freshly ground black pepper
Lime wedges, for serving

Directions:
1. Cut chicken into large chunks and season with salt. Also season cubed eggplant and squash.

2. Heat oil in a pressure cooker over medium-high heat (“brown” setting on Fagor multicooker) until shimmering. Add garlic, ginger, coriander, and cumin and cook, stirring, until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add curry paste and cook, stirring another 2 minutes. NOTE: You can actually just put all the ingredients in the pot and pressure cook on high for 13 minutes without browning first. Browning brings out a deeper flavor in the spices, but it’s not nec-essary.

3. Stir in coconut milk and fish sauce. Add half the squash and eggplant. Add chicken and top with the remaining squash and eggplant. Seal pressure cooker and cook on high pressure for 13 minutes.

4. Release pressure, remove lid, and stir in chopped cilantro and Thai basil. Softened vegetables will thicken stew upon stirring. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the stew into serving bowls and garnish with a few whole Thai basil leaves. Serve with rice and lime wedges on side.

Do you live in a part of the country that has several APPCA members? Contact us if you’d like to start up a chapter!

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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