Recipes

The Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey & Spotlight on Actress Kelly Le Brock’s, Kelly’s Kitchen

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Hi everyone and welcome to this frigid Thanksgiving edition of Chop Talk.

Roast TurkeyWe just want to thank everyone who came out to the Fabulous Food Show in Cleveland. We had a great show and our Ergo Products were a big hit! In this edition of  Chop Talk we are all about Thanksgiving! First up is tips on making the perfect holiday turkey from the Gourmet Guy, Louis Luzzo, who gives us a delicious cranberry sauce recipe. Next, we have a special Chef’s Spotlight on actress Kelly Le Brock, who also graces us with a simple green bean side dish recipe. Last but not least we have our Gourmet Store Spotlight Kitchen Gadgets and Beyond with two stores in Connecticut. Take advantage of savings with our Black Friday Sale and Cyber Monday Sales SAVE 20% on all product when you purchase from our website here online, Friday, November 28, 2014 and Monday, December 1st, 2014.

Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips

Making the Perfect Holiday Turkey
by Louis S Luzzo, Sr.
Roasting a turkey during the Holidays can either make or break a successful meal. Like many at home cooks, I have a few horror stories of the days before I became the self proclaimed, “Gourmet Guy.” I am going to give you some fool proof rules-of-thumb and methods to insure that your Thanksgiving meal comes off as a complete success that will wow your guests. From the Menu Planning, to Proper Seasoning , to how to pick the right turkey, we’ll take a look at all the basics.~ Lou

How big of a turkey should I roast? 
Most importantly, we need to count the amount of guests we will be serving. A good rule of thumb to go by would be:
~One (1) pound of raw turkey per person which includes a moderate amount for leftovers.
~1 1/2 pounds per person, if you have hearty eaters or want ample leftovers.
~3/4 pound of whole turkey per person for no leftovers.

To properly thaw the turkey (if frozen), we recommend leaving it in the refrigerator for 4-5 days to slow thaw under a cool temperature. If you are pressed for time, you may place it in a sink or a container in the sink and run cold water over it for a few hours. Once the bird is thawed, you are ready to prepare it for cooking.

 Brining (optional)
Not every home cook will go the extra mile at home, but I found that brining your turkey can incorporate a great level of flavor and make your turkey extremely moist. I typically brine most poultry and pork before cooking, and have made several different types of flavored brines. A brine by definition is; a strong solution of water and salt used for pickling or preserving foods. A sweetener such as sugar or molasses is sometimes added. I really enjoy molasses and brown sugar and balance it out with some savory herbs, bay leaves, peppercorns and garlic. Depending on the size of the bird, you can brine a turkey for a few hours, or even let it go overnight. But, it is very important to remember that the brining solution is high in salt and you must adjust and lessen the amount of salt you use in your seasoning when you prepare your turkey for roasting.

Seasoning & Prepping the Bird
The next step can be a lot of fun, as you get to be very creative with seasoning and preparing your turkey. Seasonings offer a great deal of flavor and can be as simple as salt and black pepper, or as elaborate as Cajun spice or a rub consisting of garlic, chilies and dried herbs. Be sure to rub the entire cavity with your seasoning blend of choice, and always lubricate the outside of the skin with oil or butter so the seasonings will adhere and cook into the bird.

*Tip For Crispier Skin
Crisp skin and a moist center is what we all desire when roasting the perfect turkey and I have learned a little trick to enhance the outer skin. Carefully lift the skin up around the bird and slide a few pats of softened butter underneath. Generously rub the outer skin with butter and your seasonings, and let them sink in for about an hour before roasting. Many family recipes include stuffing the bird with all kinds of aromatics or even a traditional bread stuffing. It is totally up to you to decide which way you want to go, but stuffing a turkey’s cavity can really enhance the flavor of the meat. It’s important to have a good carving set and Ergo has you covered. just click the link to see more  about Ergo’s Carving Set

Stuffing & Dressing
There are two schools of thought when it comes to stuffing; In the Bird (stuffing) and & Out of the Bird (dressing). In my house we make both, or sometimes do a Cornbread Oyster dressing as well. In some households, the turkey is stuffed with other birds; a boned chicken is stuffed into a boned duck, which is then stuffed into the turkey.

Roasting Your Turkey
So, now that we are ready to roast, how do I know how long it should cook for, and how high the temperature should be? USDA says that a turkey should not roast under 325 degrees Fahrenheit, so that’s a fair starting point. Approximate cooking times for an unstuffed turkey are as follows: (it is around 20 to 30 minutes per pound)

~10 – 18 lb bird 3 to 3 ½ hrs
~19 – 22 lb bird 3 ½ to 4 hrs
~22 – 24 lb bird 4 to 4 ½ hrs
~24 – 29 lb bird 4 ½ to 5 hrs

One helpful hint to achieving a nice golden skin, is to start the “searing” process by cooking it in a 400 – 425 degree oven for 10-15 minutes (depending on the size) to start the browning process (sugars begin to caramelize), then lower the temperature to 325 degrees and slow roast for the appropriate time. Basting is another way to impart even browning and to distribute some of those great flavorful juices. You may baste with the juices found in the bottom of the pan, or use some type of fat.

Also popular, is to baste with another flavorful liquid, for example a brown stock fortified with apple cider vinegar and herbs. If the bird begins to brown too much, you may cover it with aluminum foil until it has reached doneness, and then finish for the last few minutes uncovered. Be careful not to cover the bird entirely, as you don’t want to steam the turkey.

How do I know if my bird is done? The USDA recommends that the turkey be cooked to a temperature of 165 degrees as measured in the innermost part of the thigh. If the thigh is 165 degrees, the breast meat is likely to be 10 degrees hotter. Many cooks would tell you that a turkey roasted to those temperatures is overdone and would taste unacceptably dry. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness, try not to rely on those “pop up timers” that come with most turkeys. You can also prick the leg joint with a fork, and if the juices run just slightly pink or clear, the turkey is done.

To test the accuracy of your instant read thermometer, insert the tip about 2 inches deep into boiling water. At sea level it should register 212 degrees F. If it does not, replace it; or if it has a calibration device, reset it for accuracy. Nobody wants an overcooked bird, so start checking your bird about 3/4’s of the way through the total recommended cooking time.

Gravy
Time to make the gravy!  On the stove top, use the same pan that you roasted this delicious turkey in. The drippings and leftover fat and liquid are going to make this gravy a very tasty one. I like to use a ratio of 1 Tablespoon of fat to 1 Tablespoon of flour to create a “roux” that will thicken my gravy. You can use chicken or turkey stock, or even just deglaze with sherry or white wine and add water. Just be sure to cook out the flour so it doesn’t leave a raw taste to the gravy. Season to taste.

Turkey is done, gravy is ready and now it’s time to roll out all the fix-ins. Cranberry sauce, sweet potato pie, cornbread stuffing, yams, green beans, creamed onions, apple and pecan pie are just some of my favorites! Try something new this year and let me know how it comes out! We all have a lot to be thankful for and I am very blessed with such wonderful family and friends. God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving.

Chef’s Spotlight

10590572_849163398435648_4765779657361956619_nOur Chef’s Spotlight this edition is actress Kelly Le Brock and her new food platform, “Kelly’s Kitchen.”

Interview excerpt courtesy of the blog Kitchen Rap with Louis S. Luzzo, Sr. Click the link to read the full interview. 
“With Kelly’s Kitchen, Kelly is all about healthy eating and good healthcare, starting in the kitchen, at the table. “It came about within the last four years,” she offered. “I am just horrified at the way people are eating and I really want to get out there and show people how to make a delicious meal out of a bag of beans or a bag of brown rice. It doesn’t have to be expensive to eat well. Yes it is expensive in time, but that is something that people have come to confuse with eating healthy being expensive in dollars. Seems that people don’t have time anymore,” she lamented, “but you can make a decent meal in 30 minutes. Families should have to drop their phones in a little basket when they come through the door and sit down every night at the dinner table and look at each other. Really talk to each other.”

She has lent her voice and become an ambassador for a cause she believes in, foodtweeks™ and has re-emerged from a self imposed cocoon with a new-found, vibrant voice. “It’s time to give back,”she declared. “We don’t need to leave our country to help people, they are right here in our face. I know what it’s like to struggle for food or not have enough to eat. There are people in this country a paycheck away from hunger. I am the ambassador for this great new app that is affiliated with 50 food banks across the country. The beauty of it is that there are people who are always trying to get healthy cutting calories, they take those calories and put them into foodtweeks™ and those calories go into the food bank and translate to available food.” For every calorie users “tweek” from their food, foodtweeks™ makes a donation to a local food bank so they can distribute the same number of nutritious calories to feed a hungry child and their family. There’s no cost of any kind to the foodtweeks™ user and it’s easy for food banks to participate. You remove calories. They give them away!” Find Kelly on Social Media; twitter: @KellyLeBrock@AtKellysKitchen

Recipe 1

Sauteed Green Beans Courtesy of Kelly Le Brock
Ingredients
20 oz bag of  french green beans(if using fresh beans us a good handful per person)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 tbsp butter
Salt to taste

Method
If using fresh beans, remove the ends and julienne. Place beans in a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove immediately and place in an ice bath to stop cooking keep color. On the stove top, heat a cast iron skillet. Place butter and garlic and sauté until garlic is translucent. Add green beans and sauté for another minute until beans are heated through.  Remove,place in a bowl, drizzle olive oil, sprinkle salt to taste and serve.

Recipe 2

Old Fashioned Cranberry Sauce Courtesy of Louis S. Luzzo, Sr.

Homestyle_Cranberry_Sauce.ashx Ingredients
12 oz Cranberries, Fresh Frozen
1 3/4 Cups Water
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
2 Cup Orange Juice
1 Tbl Orange Zest, Chopped
1 tsp Ground Ginger
1/2 Cinnamon Stick

Method
Place all ingredients in a sauce-pot, except for the cranberries and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, add the cranberries to the liquid. reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5 minutes until all of the cranberries have “popped”. Remove the cinnamon stick, and cool. The liquid will be loose and will thicken once it cools.

Gourmet Store Spotlight

slide1Founded in 2001, Kitchen Gadgets and Beyond, formally Chefs Equipment Emporium of Wallingford, opened its doors to the public as a kitchenware specialty showroom retailer that prides itself on quality, affordability and accountability.  At Kitchen Gadgets and Beyond, they are passionate about cooking and understand your need for reliable, long-lasting and high quality kitchenware.

With an additional expanding of products offering to meet all your kitchen needs, Kitchen Gadgets and Beyond also offers commercial and residential cookware, cutlery, bakeware, small kitchen electrics, gourmet food and ingredients and Kitchen Tools, Utensils, gadgets and more gadgets.  Their wide selection along with their friendly, well-trained staff ensures that they are your authority for cooking, dining and entertaining.

They are a customer focused, family owned company serving the Connecticut area and beyond! Their friendly and knowledgeable staff is always on-hand to help you navigate your way through the thousands of unique items they offer in order to make your next culinary adventure the greatest yet!

If you have questions that their website does not address or items that you cannot find, you can call them at 860-828-9601 or email them at info@Kitchengadgetsandbeyond.com. Visit their two locations:717 Berlin Turnpike, Berlin, CT 06037 (860) 828-9601 ~ 920 South Colony Rd, Wallingford, CT 06492 203-269-3971 and follow them on facebook here.

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale

Save 20% on all Ergo products on our Black Friday Sale, November 28, 2014  and Cyber Monday Sale, December 1, 2014 when you purchase online at www.ErgoChef.com.

From all of us at Ergo Chef, we wish you and yours a wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving.

Till next time,

Ergo

Mike StaibThe Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey & Spotlight on Actress Kelly Le Brock’s, Kelly’s Kitchen
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A Fabulous Food Show time of year.

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Brrr!!! Welcome to a brisk, chilly November. We are getting excited as this month, we will be traveling to Cleveland for one of the best food shows in the country, The Fabulous Food Show, at the I-X Center, Nov. 14- 16th. If you are in Cleveland and attending, stop by the Ergo booth and say hi to Scott, Mike and Chef Randy and check out all the great Ergo products available. This time of year, one great way to feed your family is simple one pot meals so in this edition of Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips we are covering Cooking with Woks. Our Chef’s Spotlight is the Jersey General Chef Frank Benowitz. We have a deliciously healthy Chili recipe from Kimberly Winder. Our Gourmet Store Spotlight this edition is Bowery Kitchen, located in NYC’s Chelsea Market. And lastly, we have an awesome Spotlight and coupon code discount on our Crimson Series Knives.

Food Tricks and Kitchen Tips: Cooking with Woks

wok1The Wok
One of  our favorite methods of cooking is in a wok. They are simple, yet very versatile, require little oil, making them an economical way to cook. A woks unique shape allows it to distribute heat evenly through the pan and get very hot, making them perfect for stir-fry cooking. While they may not be necessary for every kitchen, for true food enthusiasts eager to recreate their favorite Asian recipes and flavors in their own kitchens, a wok and steamer are musts in their kitchens.

Thousands of years ago, Chinese cooks figured out how to prepare healthy food quickly using a simple piece of equipment – the Chinese wok. Once you’ve decided to add a wok to your supply of kitchen equipment, you’ll want to shop around to choose the best model. Originally, all woks were round bottomed and made of iron – designed to be used with the traditional Chinese wood stove. Gradually, the iron was replaced with carbon steel. Today, there are all types of woks on the market: aluminum, copper, stainless steel.Traditionally, the wok came with two metal handles, making it easy to lift in and out of the stove. I prefer the modern woks that have one long wooden handle, like a skillet, they are easier to handle in my opinion.

wok2The wok’s most distinguishing feature is its shape. Classic woks have a rounded bottom. Hand-hammered woks are sometimes flipped inside out after being shaped, giving the wok a gentle flare to the edge that makes it easier to push food up onto the sides of the wok. Woks sold in western countries are sometimes found with flat bottoms — this makes them more similar to a deep frying pan. The flat bottom allows the wok to be used on an electric stove, where a rounded wok would not be able to fully contact the stove’s heating element. A round bottom wok enables the traditional round spatula or ladle to pick all the food up at the bottom of the wok and toss it around easily; this is difficult with a flat bottom. With a gas hob, or traditional pit stove, the bottom of a round wok can get hotter than a flat wok and so is better for stir frying.

Seasoning Your Wok:
wok3You may have heard that it is very important to season(carbonize) the cooking surface your wok before trying it out for the first time. This is a the most important step, if you are to get years of fabulous food from your wok. This only applies to carbon-steel or cast-iron woks. If you have purchased an electric or non-stick coated wok, be very careful as the pan can get to hot ans catch fire. See your instruction manual for specifics on seasoning if you have one of these types. Seasoning removes the preservative oil manufacturers place on the wok to prevent it from rusting, replacing it with a light coating of cooking oil. It is also important to properly clean your wok after each use. 

~Wash the wok in hot water with a small amount of liquid detergent and a scrubber (such as a stainless steel sponge or pad).
~If needed, scrub the exterior of the wok with the scrubber and an abrasive cleanser. Do not use the abrasive cleanser on the inside of the wok.
~Rinse the wok and dry thoroughly.
~Place the wok on high heat.
wok4~Move the wok, turning it and tilting it up to the rim and back, until the metal turns a blueish-yellowish color.
~Remove the wok from the stove element. Turn the heat down to medium-low
~Add a thin film of oil (about 1½ teaspoons) over the entire inside surface of the wok. There are several ways to do this. One is to use a paper towel to rub the oil over the surface. You may want to use tongs to hold the paper towels. Another way is to use a basting brush for barbecues or any other heat-proof brush to brush on the oil.
~Heat the wok on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes
~Wipe off the oil with another paper towel. There will be black residue on the towel.
~Repeat steps 7 through 9 until no black residue comes up on the paper (about 3 times). The wok is now ready to use.

wok5If your wok becomes gunky and sticky or gets rusted you can clean the wok with salt. Simply put half a cup of salt in the wok and heat on high, reduce the heat if it gets too hot. Using your spatula send the salt up to the edges very carefully. Hot salt is dangerous. Do this for 5 minutes and turn off the heat. Allow the salt to cool to warm. Using a cloth rub the spots where the salt has stuck to in order to get rid of the gunk or rust. Discard the salt and wash the wok in hot water with a soft sponge. Re-season the wok.

Cooking With Your Wok:

wok6Cooking in a wok is very simple. Many things can be cooked in a wok. Remember that woks are meant to cook very quickly so it will be necessary to have everything prepared. When preparing food to be cooked, remember that small uniform pieces will cook the most evenly. After adding a tablespoon or so of oil, heat your wok on medium to high heat. Cook meat first and when it all seems done on the outside, add any vegetables and sauces. In only a few minutes, the meat will be completely done and the vegetables will be tender yet crisp. You may also fry, braise, or poach in a wok. Gauging the temperature for each of these cooking techniques is very important. Keep in mind that oil and water do not mix, so if you decide to poach in a wok, be sure to dry and season the pan thoroughly after you’ve finished.

Wok-WhiskRecognized as the cleaning whisk or the bamboo wok cleaning brush, this small broom-like brush is made of bamboo bristles. Bundled jointly and tied at the top with strings, this easy device is the answer to removing stubborn food remains while not damaging the wok. Just use the bamboo wok cleaning brush in a swirling motion below running water. The bamboo whisk is tough and functional and it can be used for mainly stainless steel cookware. This bamboo wok cleaning brush may be ordinary in appearance but it is a well-organized and simple way to clean your wok. After using the brush to remove the food bits, scrub your wok with dish detergent and hot water. Dry the wok and rub a bit of oil around the inside of the pan. This will make sure your wok lasts a long time and that it gives your food a great flavor.

Chefs Spotlight
images (3)Chef Frank Benowitz
Since 2003, Chef Instructor Frank Benowitz has been employed by Mercer County Community College (MCCC) in West Windsor, NJ as a professional staff member in the Hotel, Restaurant Institutional Management (HRIM) & Culinary Department and teaches a multitude of HRIM, Culinary and Business courses. Chef Benowitz is a MCCC graduate and went on to earn his Bachelor’s Degree through Thomas Edison College and his Master’s Degree through Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Spending only a few years working in hotels and restaurants, much of his culinary knowledge was a result of culinary book study/classes and then working with dozens of extremely talented Chefs and absorbing information/culinary techniques to build a sound foundation to teach his students. His love of food and cooking is apparent in each demonstration and each class in which he teaches. He truly feels that you must continuously learn and improve your knowledge/skill base to be successful in the culinary world. As such, he serves as Hospitality Club Advisor (winning the prestigious Advisor of the Year Award twice already) – creating/serving menus for catering efforts typically between 50 – 300 guests. Also, he has served as a Judge for a variety of savory and sweet culinary competitions throughout the Tri-state area.

In 2006, he became co-host and co-producer of Dish It Out with Chef Doug Fee (originally airing only locally in Mercer County, NJ and now available in multiple counties in NJ along with upstate New York, Maine, Connecticut, South Carolina and soon in to appear in additional states via their local television channel markets). Dish It Out, will enter its 9th season in Fall 2014, and has won multiple awards, including a 2014 Silver Telly. Several episodes are now available on the internet via You Tube shown in many culinary schools throughout North America.

salsajar Speaking of awards, he has earned the 1st Place People’s Choice Salsa Award, many years in a row, at the annual NJ State Chili and Salsa Championship. Also, in 2013, Chef Benowitz won 2nd Place in the NJ State Seafood Challenge held at the Governor’s Mansion. By popular demand, following numerous awards, his famous mango salsa is now available for purchase via The Jersey General.

In recent years, Chef Benowitz has had the pleasure of working with/for several celebrities along with some well-known Chefs such as: Robert Irvine, Walter Scheib, Ellie Krieger, Michael Voltaggio, Fabio Vivani, Mike Isabella, Aaron McCargo, Jr., Jose Garces, Cat Cora, Sara Moulton, Bobby Flay, Rick Bayless and Emeril Lagasse.

Recipe  
Here is a Healthy Fall Recipe where good knives come in very handy to prep. From Kimberly Winder– who will be a regular monthly contributor. Here is a recipe for Vegetarian Chili that is really delicious and requires a lot of chopping. I make it frequently in the winter and fall.  It is a perfect football recipe, too.  Even carnivores like it.

Vegetarian Chili
by Kimberly Winder
Prep time: 15 minutes
Prep notes: Cooking time: 30 minutes Yields: 8 servings

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, diced, (or one can organic diced tomatoes)
1 carrot, cut into quarter moons
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups cooked or canned red, black or kidney beans
1 cup water
2 tablespoons organic tomato paste
1 teaspoon sea salt

Method
Heat oil in a large heavy pan and sauté onions and garlic for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, carrots, chili powder and cumin and sauté for 5 minutes. Slowly add beans, water, tomato paste and salt. Cook on low to medium heat for 20 minutes.
Notes
Add as many veggies as you like such as bell peppers, zucchini and corn kernels.

Gourmet Store Spotlight

Shop with the top Restaurant chefs and professionals as well as Food Network Stars at Bowery Kitchen Supplies. Opened for business on the famous Bowery Street Restaurant Supply Street in 1975, supplying New York’s finest Restaurants, Bars, Lounges, Deli’s, Bakery, Pizzerias & Caterers! they opened a second store in the The Chelsea Market Home, also home to The Food Network Studios and numerous other well known food related establishments.

On a daily basis the on-stage personalities and talented chefs in hundreds of kitchens in New York use their cool gadgets and traditional chef tools to create feasts for the stomach as well as the eyes. Visit them and experience the market yourself.

Bowery Kitchen  located in the New York City’s Chelsea Market, with entrances at 75 Ninth Avenue and 88 Tenth Avenue. Chelsea Market is an indoor arcade-style market (one whole NYC avenue-to-avenue block) with the finest raw and prepared food shops in downtown Manhattan. Mailing Address is: 460 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011 USA Telephone: 212-376-4982 Fax: 212-242-7360 Or you can email them at: Info@Bowerykitchens.com

Chop Talk Product Spotlight

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Ergo Chef Cutlery’s Crimson Series Chop Talk discount coupon code for 15% OFF.

Coupon Code: VIPfall15

Till next time:

Ergo Chef

Mike StaibA Fabulous Food Show time of year.
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A Mixed Harvest of Fall Goodness and Flavor….

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Wow, fall has come on like gangbusters and we are full on into a great season of cooking and events. In this edition, we have a mixed harvest of goodness and flavor. We have a great new Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips, we are ‘Cooking with Umami…the Fifth Flavor. In our Chef’s Spotlight we have Chef/Owner Peter Sinapi and his restaurant Sinapi’s Restaurant. We decided to get you healthy this month with a delicious smoothie recipe from Kimberly Winder of Wellness Solutions and last but not least we are introducing a new feature, Gourmet Store Spotlight and first up is Charles Department Store in Katona, NY, celebrating their 90th Anniversary.

Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips: Cooking with Umami…The Fifth Flavor

flavorwheelsmToday is all about taste and what’s known as “The Fifth Flavor,” Umami. Huh, you say? You’ve heard of Sweet, Salty, Sour, Bitter, but….Umami? While many of you may not be familiar with the phrase, but accomplished chefs around the world, more and more, make Umami the focus of their cuisine. Many specialists now understand that taste is actually more complicated, with the taste buds being helped along by sense of smell, by the feel of substances in the mouth and even by the noise that food makes when we chew it. This newly found taste for a while was almost unexplainable and a bit of a mystery.

Dr. Kikunae IkedaBut in the early 1900s, Dr. Kikunae Ikeda of the Tokyo. Imperial University, identified this taste when studying the flavors in seaweed broth. Ikeda isolated monosodium glutamate as the chemical responsible and with the help of the Ajinomoto company, began commercial distribution of MSG products.

So what is it, and how do you cook with it? It is actually not a physical ingredient, but more of a natural occurring amino acid that gives off a pleasant savory taste. They are found in many meats, vegetables, seafood and dairy. The word Umami is a Japanese word which means tasty, delicious, or yummy. It has also been associated with other words including meaty, brothy and savory. Not everyone can differentiate the taste from the common four, but its popularity has become more widespread in recent years. For example, there is now a Umami Food and Art Festival in NY that is dedicated to educating culinary professionals and artists about this mysterious taste. Kikkoman’s Soy Sauce began an advertising campaign some time ago with top chefs from around the world using Umami as part of their slogan, to raise awareness of the uses of their soy sauce products to enhance the Umami experience.

tongueTaste and flavor are commonly associated as one in the same, but there is a definite distinction between the two. It is said that taste is the sensation caused in the mouth by contact with a substance, while flavor is the mixed sensation of both smell and taste. To simplify this research, it would be safe to say that the formula of taste + smell = flavor. Umami as an ingredient, becomes a flavor enhancer, bringing depth to your food without covering any flavors or subtle tastes. It is found in more mature foods such as an older Parmesan cheese, aged wine, or soy sauce.

Umami rich foods are very satisfying and can actually be a healthier way to cook as well. They tend to make salt taste saltier, which means we can lower the amount of sodium in a dish when using Umami rich ingredients. It also creates a sensation that most chefs call “mouth feel,” which is normally associated with the mouth sensation we get when we eat foods high in fat. Thus, we may lower the amount of fat in a dish, and let the richness of the Umami do the trick.

Here is a starter list of a few ingredients that are very Umami rich, and would lend a great deal of taste and flavor to any home cooked meal.

umami montageSeafood: fish sauce, anchovies, kombu, nori, dried bonito flakes, makeral, seabream, tuna, cod, prawns, squid, oysters, shellfish.
Meat: beef, pork and chicken.
Vegetables: dried and fresh shiitake mushrooms, corn, truffles, soy beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, Chinese cabbage, carrots and tomatoes.
Other Foods: Parmesan cheese and Green Tea.

Even though we were all taught otherwise, since the time when we were children, it is time to put aside your mom’s admonitions. The only way to become a better cook and be more aware is to play with your food, so get to the store, buy some Umami rich ingredients and start playing and cooking for yourselves!

 Chef’s Spotlight

IMG_0178This edition is not so much a Chef Spot light at it is a Chef/Restaurant Spotlight of Sinapi’s Restaurant in Danbury, CT. and Chef Owner Owner Peter Sinapi.

When Pietro Sinapi came home over 28 years ago and told his family that he was going to open up his first pizza place, his family was taken aback. What does an auto body mechanic know about running and operating his own restaurant? But with will and determination, he took the risk that would change his life forever. Coming into any Sinapi’s Restaurant is like joining their family at the dinner table.

IMG_0168IMAG3311Every fresh ingredient is used to ensure the best tasting meals possible. Soups are made fresh daily, peppers are roasted to perfection and meatballs taste just like Nonna’s! Their pizza made us famous, but are dinners keep them coming back for more. Also available is the unbelievably tasting home-style desserts – from true Italian cheesecake, to biscotti & their famous, fresh made Italian Ices. Check out our Dinner for Two! Pietro decided to start offering his great Marinara sauce to the public and locals can now find it in Select Grocers & direct from Sinap1’s Restaurant. What started out as a small mom & pop pizza shop has slowly evolved into a full restaurant & catering experience with customer satisfaction their #1 goal. So come in and join their family for what will be an unforgettable and delicious dining experience!

Recipe

IMG_1085Our recipe today comes from Kimberly Winder of Wellness Solutions

Says Kimberly, “Stress is a part of our everyday lives – we can’t escape it. It is all around us – at home, at work and in our cars. There are always things pulling us in a million directions and distracting us from our sense of peace and harmony in the world. Have no fear.  There is good news! We can actually do things to help manage and keep the stress from getting too out of control and hijacking our lives. One very huge way we can mange stress is by eating healthful, whole foods that nourish our bodies and keep our energy levels high. But, how do we manage this when we are so busy and stressed out to begin with? Simple. Mix up a smoothie in your blender and drink your stress away! Follow my simple system for creating a stress relieving, healthful and delicious smoothie.”

STEP 1:  Choose half a serving of fruit (ie. 1/2 banana, 1/2 apple, 1/2 cup of berries).  Fruit gives sweetness and provides the body with the right kind of energy and fiber.
STEP 2:  Choose one vegetable (ie. celery stalk, carrot, 1/2 cucumber, 1/2 cup of broccoli, etc.).  Veggies provide the body with additional fiber and phytonutrients to nourish your body with the vital nutrients it needs.
STEP 3:  Choose one cup of dark leafy greens (ie. kale, spinach, parsley, chard, etc.).  Green leafy veggies are the powerhouse of the plant family and supply a super boost of phytonutrients to fight disease and build up the digestive system for greater immune function.
STEP 4:  Choose a cup of liquid such as water, almond milk or herbal tea.  Add more or less to desired consistency.
STEP 5:  Add a handful of nuts or seeds for added protein and healthful fats to keep you feeling full and reducing inflammation.  Try chia, sunflower, almonds or any other nut/seed that you like.
STEP 6:  Blend on high for 30 seconds.  I recommend using a high strength blender like a Vitamix or a Nutribullet. Otherwise, it may be kind of chunky.  In that case, you may need to strain before drinking. Enjoy!

Gourmet Store Spotlight

logo (1)In today’s world of over-sized, impersonal shopping malls, Charles Department Store is distinguished by a long tradition of personal service and good value. In fact, Westchester County’s only family-owned specialty department store is celebrating 90 years of being one of those great American “Main Street” stores where “everybody knows your name.”

With Victorian-style clapboard walls, original tin ceilings and creaky wooden floors, Charles takes shoppers back to a time when retailers cared about community and built their business one satisfied customer at a time. Present owners David and Jim Raneri of Katonah point with pride to photos of their grandparents, Charles and Isabelle Raneri, who founded the original Charles Dry Goods store in 1924.

Charles Raneri emigrated to the United States from Sicily when he was 14 years old. Settling in Mt. Kisco, he worked as a peddler along the railroad. It wasn’t long before Raneri opened his own store in Mt. Kisco, moving later to a larger premises in Bedford Hills. In 1939, he moved his establishment again, this time to its present prime location on Katonah Avenue, directly across from the old train depot.

In the 1940s, Charles Raneri’s son, Phillip, joined the family business, bringing his background in radio engineering and electronics to the growing store. In 1950, Phillip married Claire Schroeder and a family of five followed — four boys and one girl. While the entire Raneri family worked in the store from time to time, David and Jim chose to follow in their father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and run the family business. Today, David and Jim Raneri co-own the store, and have stayed true to their grandfather’s vision of incomparable personal service, combined with top quality products.

In the good old days, the success of Charles Department Store arose out of the shop’s ability to supply the folks of the quiet rural area surrounding Mt. Kisco, Bedford Hills and Katonah with all their needs, from pot-bellied stoves to Sunday bonnets. Charles continues to offer the best quality merchandise available, changing with the times to offer the high-quality products that people want. Dave and Jim Raneri carefully select all items, providing their customers with the best possible choices, answers to questions and service with a genuine smile. Grandfather Raneri might be surprised by some of the modern-day products for sale in his store, but he would have no trouble recognizing his families’ unwavering commitment to customer service and value. Some things never change, even after 90 years. We are please to be included in their October Top 5 Products!

Till next time,

Ergo Chef

Mike StaibA Mixed Harvest of Fall Goodness and Flavor….
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Barbecue Styles of America: A Guide to Regional Barbecue Flavors

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Hi and welcome to another edition of Chop Talk. As you all know we are all about BBQ here at Ergo and October is no different. Summer is over but we still spend many waking moments thinking about grilled meats. After all what better excuse to ‘test our knives’ than with a nice brisket hot and juicy off the grill. To that end, we have a guest blogger this edition who has been here before, Robyn Medlin Lindars. and this time she brings us on a trip around the country with her Guide to Regional Barbecue. This month also brings our own Chef Randall Smith competing with Doug Keiles and Adam Feinberg on the Ribs Within BBQ team for Ergo Chef in the 4th Annual High Point BBQ Battle in Clarksburg, MD October 10 – 11, 2014. And this month’s Chef Spotlight is David Letterman who provides us with a great Fall recipe, Apple PepperJack~Pumpkin Cheese Cake.

Guide to Regional Barbecue Written by Robyn Medlin Lindars

Barbecue is personal. Ask anyone what makes for good ’cue and the answer varies, probably based on where they’re from. To understand barbecue styles is to understand what barbecue is. Barbecue is a method of cooking meat, traditionally tough, less expensive cuts, in a wood-burning pit over a low temperature for a long period of time to create tender, moist, flavorful results. Regional flavors are based on the type of seasoning used. The seasoning may date back to the first settlers in the area. For example, Germans settled in South Carolina and brought a strong mustard-based influence to barbecue. Here is a historical breakdown of barbecue by region: the history of each regional flavor, its differences, and restaurants that serve it. Who knew barbecue was so diverse?

Kansas City

Barbecue Styles of America – Kansas City Style BarbecueKansas-City-style barbecue includes a wide variety of meats, and is perhaps the most popular style in the U.S. Kansas-City-style sauce, a tangy and sweet, tomato-and-molasses-based sauce, is what many think of when they think of barbecue sauce. Memphis native Henry Perry, known as “The Father of Kansas City Barbecue” opened up the first commercial barbecue restaurant in 1907. His disciple Arthur Bryant opened up shop in 1930. Today, Arthur Bryant’s is one of the most famous barbecue restaurants in the country. Kansas City is home to the American Royal, known as the World Series of barbecue. The Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) has over 15,000 members and is the largest sanctioning body of barbecue competitions, at more than 400 per year. KCBS contestants enter four main categories: chicken, ribs, pork, and brisket, judged on taste, appearance, and texture.

Signature Style: Tangy, Sweet; Tomato-and-Molasses-Based Sauce Meat Specialties: Burnt Ends from a Beef Brisket Where to Taste: Arthur Bryant’s in Kansas City, MO

Memphis

Barbecue Styles of America – Memphis Style BarbecueMemphis-style barbecue is primarily pork, notably ribs, often served dry versus the wet western style of other regions. “Dry” means chefs use only a dry rub for flavoring, while wet style uses a sauce applied during the entire cooking process. A “mop” sauce is often mopped on during the cooking process to keep the meat moist. Traditional Memphis-style dry rub consists of salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, sugar, and a variety of other spices. Many restaurants serve their ribs dry with sauce on the table for those who want it. Memphis is home to the legendary Memphis in May or “Superbowl of Swine:” the largest pork barbecue competition in the world. Notable restaurants include Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous (named to the list of top five best ribs and mail-order meat byEsquire), Interstate, Neely’s, Corky’s (known for their presence in national grocery stores and mail-order service), and Memphis Barbecue Company.

Signature Style: Salt, Pepper, Paprika, Cayenne, and Sugar Dry Rub Meat Specialties: Pork Ribs Where to Taste: Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous in Memphis, TN

Texas

Barbecue Styles of America – Texas Style BarbecueTexas-style barbecue is all about the beef, especially the brisket. Texas has four distinct styles of barbecue: East Texas, Central Texas, West Texas, and South Texas. The emphasis in Texas falls on the meat, not the sauce. Texas-style sauce is usually thin and tomato-based, mixed with beef drippings, chili pepper, and spices. The Germans and Czechs brought meat-market-style barbecue to the central part of the state; it originated in the butcher shops and can be found at places such as Mueller’s or Kreuz Market near Lockhart. “Hot Guts” is the old-school terminology for the German-inspired local sausage of the nearby Elgin area, known as the sausage capital of Texas. Every spring, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo hosts the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest. The contest is one of the largest in the state and typically hosts over 300 teams. Austin is home to Franklin Barbecue, named by Bon Appétit as the best barbecue restaurant in the country.

Signature Style: Thin, Tomato-Based Sauce with Beef Drippings, Chili Pepper,  Meat Specialties: Beef Brisket Where to Taste: Franklin Barbecue in Austin, TX

North-Carolina

Barbecue Styles of America – North Carolina Style BarbecueNorth-Carolina-style barbecue has two distinct styles: Piedmont (also referred to as Lexington style) and Eastern style. Lexington, North Carolina, refers to itself as The Barbecue Capital of the World. Lexington style uses pork shoulder; the sauce is a vinegar-and-tomato-based red sauce that is often used in place of mayo as the base for coleslaw. Go to Lexington Barbecue Restaurant for authentic Lexington-style ’cue; don’t forget to order a Cheer Wine, the state’s local cherry-flavored soda, to go with your sandwich. Eastern style, found in the eastern and coastal parts of the state, focuses on the whole hog; the sauce is only vinegar and pepper, which is often used as a mop sauce during cooking. There is much debate within the state as to which style of barbecue is most popular. North Carolinians show off their barbecue chops at the Lexington Barbecue Festival, which was named the Official Food Festival of the Piedmont Triad Region of the State of North Carolina.

Signature Style: Vinegar-and-Tomato-Based Red Sauce, and Vinegar-and-Pepper Sauce Meat Specialties: Pork (Whole Hog) Where to Taste: Lexington Barbecue in Lexington, NC

South-Carolina

Barbecue Styles of America – South Carolina Style BarbecueSouth-Carolina-style barbecue can be divided into three different styles, one of which is the only one that uses a mustard-based sauce. The state’s western section features a peppery, tomato-based sauce. The central area focuses on a German influence with that notable mustard sauce, referred to as Carolina Gold. The third style hails from the coastal Pee Dee region and uses a thin, spicy, vinegary, peppery sauce. The South Carolina Barbecue Association holds more than 10 different barbecue competitions through out the year. Based on their competition results, the association names an overall state champion each year.

Signature Style: Mustard-Based Sauce Meat Specialties: Pork (The Whole Hog) Where to Taste: Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Hemingway, SC

Kentucky

Barbecue Styles of America – Kentucky Style BarbecueKentucky-style barbecue has two separate barbecue regions: the western region and south-central region. The western part of the state, home to the most popular style, is known for its mutton-based barbecue, which comes from the wool production that began in the 1800s. The mutton from a mature sheep is typically served with a vinegar-based sauce called mutton dip. This popular combination can be found at the Old Hickory Restaurant in Owensboro. Owensboro hosts the International Bar-B-Q Festival, which features a Mutton Glutton party, followed by a 5k that helps burn off some of those calories.The south-central part of Kentucky is known for its use of thin-sliced pork shoulder dressed with a pepper-and-vinegar sauce.

Signature Style: Mutton Dip, a Vinegar-Based Sauce Meat Specialties: Mutton, Mature Sheep Where to Taste: Old Hickory in Owensboro, KY

Alabama

Barbecue Styles of America – Alabama Style BarbecueAlabama-style barbecue is all about the pork. You will find smoked pork shoulder, butt, or ribs. Various parts of Alabama embrace bordering regions, including the styles of nearby Tennessee and the Carolinas. Their influence can be seen in the sauces: one sauce is distinctively Alabama and called Alabama White Sauce. This characteristic mayonnaise-based barbecue sauce also includes cider vinegar, lemon juice, horseradish, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Big Bob Gibson’s of Decatur, Alabama, lays claim to the creation of Alabama White Sauce, which was originally used for “baptizing” chickens; however, it is now used as a sauce for pork as well. Alabama’s finest barbecue chefs compete each year for the Alabama Governor’s Cup, which is presented to the barbecue teams who complete the Alabama Barbecue Trail with the most points.

Signature Style: White Sauce (Mayonnaise-Based, With Cider Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Horseradish, Salt, Pepper, and Hot Sauce) Meat Specialties: Pork (Shoulder, Butt, Ribs) Where to Taste: “Big Bob” Gibson Bar-B-Q of Decatur, AL

Chef’s Spotlight

DaveOur Chef’s Spotlight is David Letterman (and no relation to the comedian/talk show host) David grew up in the family food business, Bonafatto’s Fruit & Grocery, started in 1919, transforming to a take home meal shop in the 1970’s,  gradually adding a small restaurant. In January 1990, David became the third generation of Bonfatto to enter the business, and within a year he successfully established a second location.

 

neon_logoIt wasn’t long before catering services were added, and then, in July 1999, David and his wife, Sherri, became full owners. The hard-working couple’s first order of business: the launching of Bonfatto’s Restaurant and Lounge, which opened in November 2000 on Bishop Street in Bellefonte and featured everything from American-Italian dishes to Bonanza Subs.

wing_logoComing from the Bonfatto family, of course David had to make his own new innovation to the family business; a new line of award-winning Bonfatto’s Wing Sauce and Marinade! They searched the world, gathering exotic spices, peppers, and yes, even fruits that make Bonfatto’s hand-crafted Magnificent 9 sauces truly magnificent.

content_SpiceCreamLogo

 

Sweet with a kiss of heat! Dessert with a dash of daring! Each of the uniquely original Bonfatto’s Spice Cream creations is a savory dessert treat—a gourmet take on premium vanilla ice cream that’s sure to keep tongues wagging! The secret is in the sauce—Bonfatto’s Wing Sauces—lightly infused throughout French vanilla ice cream with all-natural ingredients. It’s ice cream that’s a little bonkers—a sweet with a tickle of heat. And it’s everything Mom told you not to do.

Recipe

Apple PepperJack~Pumpkin Cheese Cake
courtesy of David Letterman

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

For the crust
3/4 cup gram cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Filling
4-8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup (plus or minus)
Bonfatto’s Apple Pepper Jack Wing Sauce & Marinade

Method
Mix the ingredients for the crust in a bowl. Put into a greased spring-form pan, pressing in place to create a uniform crust. Bake in oven for 10 minutes, remove and cool. Put the cream cheese, sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend the ingredients on low speed. Once they have come together, increase the speed of your mixer to medium high and mix until very smooth and creamy. In a separate bowl mix the pumpkin, cream, vanilla, and the spices. Put this into the cream cheese mixture and mix until completely incorporated. Drizzle some of the Apple Pepper Jack onto the crust (may need to put the jar into the microwave for 30 seconds or so to make it pour easier-take the lid off first).

Spread the cream cheese mixture into the spring-form pan. Drizzle the remaining marinade across the top.  Using the back of a butter knife, swirl the cheesecake batter and marinade creating a marbling effect.  Be careful not to over blend or cut through the crust. Bake for 50 minutes. The cheesecake will be done when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool on rack then release the springform.

Events

maryland bbq

 

randyhighpoint

Our own Chef Randall Smith will be competing with Doug Keiles and Adam Feinberg on the Ribs within BBQ team for Ergo Chef in the 4th Annual High Point BBQ Battle STATE CHAMPIONSHIP in Clarksburg, MD October 10 – 11, 2014.

Held annually, is a The Kansas City Barbeque Society -sanctioned event, operating under KCBS rules. It is locally operated as a fundraising event on behalf of the Muscular Dystrophy Association by High Point Events, the Montgomery County Career Fire. Fighters Association and the Montgomery County Career Officers Association. Come spend a beautiful fall day at Montgomery County’s premier event facility, High Point Farm, while watching some of barbecue’s finest grill teams compete for top marks in four gastronomic categories: Beef Brisket, Pork Ribs, Chicken and Pork. Competition has never tasted (nor smelled) so good…nor happened for such a great cause!

Mike StaibBarbecue Styles of America: A Guide to Regional Barbecue Flavors
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Autumn Ingredients & Spotlight on Chef Doug Keiles

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fallAutumn has long been associated with the transition from warm to cold weather, the primary harvest has dominated its themes and popular images throughout the world. For many of us, especially here in the States, the smell of freshly made donuts, watching through the window while cider is being fresh pressed, and folks starting to get that wistful look in their eyes as they start to glimpse the hint of Thanksgiving and Christmas just over the horizon, is a childhood memory that brings warm thoughts of family and friends. We’re sure many of you can remember returning home from the farmers market with arms full of fresh produce, apples, cider, fresh donuts, placing our pumpkins on the front stoop to await their fateful appointment with the carving knife that would soon transform them into the Jack-o-Lanterns for Halloween night. The cooling of the nights, the touch of color in the leaves and the anticipation of the coming holiday season always gives the air clarity, as if shaking off the haze of summer.

In keeping with the fact that everyone loves a good list, we thought we’d give you a great rundown of the some of the abundance of autumn produce and ingredients that are available, or coming available, in this coming autumn season.

Autumn Produce

Apples 

ApplesThere are thousands (7500) of varieties of apples, ranging from tender to crisp to sweet to tart. Apples are available year-round, but they’re best from September to November. Apples contain phytonutrients which can help you regulate your blood sugar. Eaten raw, or used as a great addition to any cheese board, baked alone, or used in a pie, they are healthy and delicious. Apples were brought to North America by colonists in the 17th century, and the first apple orchard on the North American continent was planted in Boston by Reverend William Blaxton in 1625. The only apples native to North America are crab apples, which were once called “common apples.” All other varieties were brought here from Europe.

Celery Root (Celeriac) 

celery-rootCelery root, also known as celeriac, is the root of the celery plant. It is often available year-round, especially in temperate climates, but is at its best in the cooler months of fall, winter, and early spring (except in cold climates, where you’ll find it during the summer and early fall). Freshly harvested celery root is sometimes sold with the stalks and leaves still attached, as pictured here. It is edible raw or cooked, and tastes similar to celery stalks. It can be roasted, stewed, blanched, or mashed. Sliced celeriac occurs as an ingredient in soups, casseroles, and other savory dishes.

Chestnuts 

ChestnutIn Europe, Asia and Africa, chestnuts are often used as an everyday potato substitute. Although they are wonderful straight from the oven or fireplace, you can make use of the winter chestnut crop in many ways, both sweet and savory. Before trying one of the many chestnut recipes, learn about chestnut history and how to store them. Probably one of the first foods eaten by man, the chestnut dates back to prehistoric times.  The majority of the chestnut trees currently found in America are of native European stock, but Native Americans feasted on America’s own variety, Castanea dentata, long before European immigrants introduced their stock to America.  Today, most of the chestnut food crop is imported from Japan, China, Spain, and Italy. Legend has it that the Greek army survived on their stores of chestnuts during their retreat from Asia Minor in 401-399 B.C. Chestnuts contain twice as much starch as potatoes. It is no wonder they are still an important food crop in China, Japan, and southern Europe, where they are often ground into a meal for bread-making, thus giving rise to the nickname of “bread tree.”

Cranberries 

Cranberries95%  of all cranberries are used as to make juice. The remaining 5% is used to make sauce, compotes and jellies. They are a a major commercial crop in the U.S. with Wisconsin the leading producer of cranberries, with over half of U.S. production. Massachusetts is the second largest U.S. producer. Cranberries are harvested in the fall when the fruit takes on its distinctive deep red color. This is usually in September through the first part of November. To harvest cranberries, the beds are flooded as we’ve all seen from the TV commercials, with six to eight inches of water above the vines. A harvester is the driven through the beds to remove the fruit from the vines. Although most cranberries are wet-picked, 5–10% of the US crop is still dry-picked. Labor costs are higher and yield is much less, but dry-picked berries are less bruised and are usually the ones sold at your favorite farmers market or fresh fruit stand.

Dates 

datesDates are the fruit of the date palm tree, which grow in the desert. Harvested between September and March In the US they are grown in Arizona and California. They have a sweet, caramel-like taste and soft texture. Farmers markets may have fresh dates in season, but they are also available mail order from some growers and can usually be found at Middle Eastern markets.

 

Fennel 

fennelFennel has a light anise, or licorice, flavor. Crisp and refreshing when raw, but melts into a savory sweetness when slowly cooked. The tall green stalks look like celery with wispy dill-like leaves at the top. The stalks grow from a white onion-like bulb. All parts are edible, although the mild, tender bulb is most commonly used and served and is most associated with Italian cooking. It is often available year-round, but is at its best during its natural season from fall through early spring.

Hazelnuts 

hazelnutsHazelnuts are used in confectionery to make some pralines, in chocolate for some chocolate truffles, and in hazelnut paste products. They are rich in protein and unsaturated fat and contain significant amounts of thiamine and vitamin B6, as well as smaller amounts of other B vitamins. In season primarily in October, the majority if not all the hazelnuts available in the US come from Oregon. In Austria, hazelnut paste is an ingredient in the making of tortes(such as Viennese hazelnut torte). In Kiev cake, hazelnut flour is used to flavor its meringue body, and crushed hazelnuts are sprinkled over its sides. Dacquoise, is a French dessert cake, and often contains a layer of hazelnut meringue and is also a primary ingredient of the vodka-based liqueur frangelico. Over 2,000 tons are imported annually into Australia, mostly to supply the demand from the Cadbury-Schweppes company. Hazelnut oil pressed from hazelnuts is strongly flavored and used as a cooking oil.

Mushrooms 

mushroomsThere are over two thousand types of mushrooms, but only 2 ½ – 5 % are edible. Though you can usually get mushrooms all year round they are at their peak in fall and winter. Always look for mushrooms that are firm, not broken and avoid those that seem damp or smell of mildew. There are many varieties available, from Shitake to Crimini, to Portabello and more exotic varieties like the Black Chanterelle.

 

Pears 

pearsThe pear is native to coastal and mildly temperate regions of the Old World, from western Europe and north Africa east right across Asia. Most of North American pears are grown in Oregon and Washington, and the harvest months listed here reflect that. Pears have no cholesterol, sodium, or saturated fat. They offer a natural, quick source of energy, due largely to high amounts of fructose and glucose, plus Levulose, the sweetest of known natural sugars, found to a greater extent in fresh pears than in any other fruit. Great raw, on cheeseboards, and poached.

Peas 

peasFreshly frozen garden peas and petits pois are frozen within just two and a half-hours of being picked. Peas are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, thiamine (B1), iron and phosphorus. They are rich in protein, carbohydrate and fibre and low in fat which is mostly of the unsaturated kind. The less water you use when cooking peas, the less vitamin C is lost. Steaming helps to conserve this vitamin.

 

Pumpkin 

pumpkinsAs one of the most popular crops in the United States, 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins are produced each year. The top pumpkin producing states in the U.S. include Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California. Pumpkins are a warm weather crop that are usually planted in early July. When ripe, the pumpkin can be boiled, baked, steamed, or roasted. Often, it is made into various kinds of pie which is a traditional staple of the Canadian and American Thanksgiving holiday. Pumpkins that are still small and green may be eaten in the same way as the vegetable marrow/zucchini. Pumpkins can also be eaten mashed or incorporated into soup.

Quince 

QuinceA quince is a hard, round or pear-shaped fruit. It looks and tastes like a cross between an apple and pear. Unlike apples and pears though, quinces are inedible raw. When cooked, quinces develop a slightly grainy texture similar to a firm pear and develop a rosy amber color. Their season is very brief, from October to December, so be sure to get them when you see them. Quince is a great side for duck and other game meats. You can use it as a paste on cheese boards, compote, poach it and also tarte tatin.

Sage 

sageOnce prized for its medicinal value, the most popular use of sage these days is in stuffing for the Thanksgiving turkey. In ancient Rome, it was considered to have substantial healing properties, particularly helpful in the digestion of the ubiquitous fatty meats of the time, and was deemed a part of the official Roman pharmacopeia. Sage has been used effectively for throat infections, dental abscesses, infected gums and mouth ulcers. Great when used with game meats.

Squash 

The term “summer” and “winter” for squash are only based on current usage, not on actuality. “Summer” types are on the market all winter; and “winter” types are on the markets in the late summer and fall, as well as winter.

Acorn

BakedAcornSquash1_optThis winter squash is shaped like an acorn. Great for baking. A small acorn squash weighs from 1 to 3 pounds, and has sweet, slightly fibrous flesh. In addition to the dark green acorn, there are now golden and multi-colored varieties.

 

Butternut 

ButternutSquashBeige colored and shaped like a vase, this is a more watery squash and tastes somewhat similar to sweet potatoes. It has a bulbous end and pale, creamy skin, with a choice, fine-textured, deep-orange flesh with a sweet, nutty flavor. It weighs from 2 to 5 pounds. The more orange the color, the riper, drier and sweeter the squash.

 

Spaghetti

Spaghetti-squashA small, watermelon-shaped variety, ranges in size from 2 to 5 pounds or more. It has a golden-yellow, oval rind and a mild, nut-like flavor. When cooked, the flesh separates in strands that resemble spaghetti. The most yellow squash will be the ripest and best to eat. Those that are nearly white are not very ripe. Spaghetti squash also freezes well.

Think outside the box when setting up your weekly menus and try different ingredients and techniques. You’ll be glad you did and it’s always great to get the family to try new things and expand their palette.

Chef’s Spotlight

DK_Grill_MasterDoug Keiles is the self-proclaimed Bacon Guru and all natural seasonings purveyor extraordinaire. He is Pit Master of the Grand Champion winning competition BBQ Team Ribs Within, TV cooking personality and a featured writer on BBQ/Grilling. Doug’s love of competition cooking is only equal to his love of his family and crafting his own bacon. Doug started as a backyard cooker making ribs that friends would clammer for day and night.  His gutsy confrontation of bringing ribs to a local operation of Famous Dave’s Barbeque in 2002 introduced him to the competitive BBQ cooking circuit. 

DK_rabbitFrom his first contest in July 2003, he learned from those around him and he was instantly addicted. He wanted to stand out from the other competitors and started mixing commercial rubs to hone his distinct flavor.  In 2006 RUB-4-All his signature seasoning was born. Over the last 11 seasons, Doug hand crafted, field tested and brought 9 more seasonings and salts to the public. These seasonings have brought Doug # Grand Championships in Grilling and # in KCBS Sanctioned BBQ contests.

He was known has the “Hippie Chef” on Twitter during his National TV Appearance as one of the top 16 Grillers on Chopped Grill Masters in August 2012, losing in the dessert round to the eventual Champion of the Event. He proudly sponsors and mentors BBQ teams across the country via his seasonings, inspiring them with “You got to rub it to win it”. This intense and favorable TV experience reinforced Doug’s passion and commitment to his grilling and BBQ. 

In August 2013 his First Place Bacon entry at Hudson Valley Grilling & BBQ Contest earned him entry to the World Food Championships – Bacon division where he placed 2nd in the World. Inspired by this event, Doug was encouraged to seek USDA Approval for his own line of bacon. Effective May 2014 his RIBS WITHIN Uncured Slab Bacon was approved for commercial sale. You can purchase it at Tender Lovin’ Grill in Hillsborough, NJ or online at www.ribswithin.com.

IMG_230215135347801 “There is nothing better than presenting straight forward, in your face, all natural and flavorful food”, Doug states as he was interviewed as a Featured Alumni of Rutgers University in their June Alumni quarterly bulletin. You can find Doug sharing his recipes and love of cooking as one of the featured writers in recently published, nationally available Barbecue America magazine. For more information on Doug’s line of Ribs Within Seasonings and to see him live at events go to www.bacon.guru or www.ribswithin.com, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter @RibsWithinBBQ and Instagram #Dougie_Bacon.

 

Recipe

Courtesy of Doug Keiles

10705268_10202740082687650_1129144360_nBBQ Bok Choy

“BBQ, even done perfectly, can still have a lot of fat. It calls out for sweet and savory side. This dish is my twist on southern greens. Bok Choy is lighter and really stands up to the vinegar. I usually make a lot at once, since it boils down and can last a while in the fridge.”

 

Ingredients:  Makes about 10 servings

3-4 lbs  Baby Bok Choy

3-4 cups  Vinegar

1 cup Apple juice or cider

1 cup Water

2 tablespoon BBQ Rub (I use Ribs Within Rubs)

2+ tablespoon Hot Salt (I use Ribs Within HOT SALT but to make yourself combine 1 tsp hot chili powder and 1 tsp table salt.)

Method:

10695427_10202740090727851_1785596848_nWash Bok Choy really well. Then starting at the white end, chop in ½” to ¾” slices until you get to the leaves. Separate the stalks and the leaves into 2 piles. (Easier to do while chopping). Chop leaves in ½” strips. In a large pot, put 1 cup of water and turn to medium high. When the water is hot, add the stalk (white) parts of the bok choy into the water. Add 1 cup of vinegar and a teaspoon of hot salt. Stir to mix around the liquid. After 5 minutes (or the stalks are starting to soften), add bbq rub. Add in all of the leaves, then the apple juice, Hot Salt and 1 cup of vinegar and stir. Cook for 10 min and taste the liquid – it should be tangy and sweetish, add more vinegar for more tang). More rub or salt or vinegar can be added to taste. Cook an additional 20-30 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the leaves breakdown. Let stand 15-20 minutes to continue to breakdown and absorb the liquid. Serve in a large bowl. With tongs. Can be served cold, room temp, or warm

 

Chop Talk Product Spotlight

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TL7007-img-1-LNow available from the talented Tony Luke Jr. known for his Philly Cheese Steaks and winning appearance on Bobby Flay’s Throw Down… The amazing Tony Luke 7″ serrated Multi-Purpose sandwich knife; perfect for easily slicing bread & meat for your favorite sandwiches & meals. The knife is a multi-purpose tool made with stain free Japanese 420J2 carbon stainless steel ground and honed with perfect serrations that wont tear food.  This can be used for slicing sandwiches, meat, chicken, bread, vegetables and fruit.
The comfort handle has a non-slip ergonomic grip with solid core for durability & control. Once your food is sliced, get cooking and use the handy new green 9″ DUO Tongs to easily saute, or pan fry your food and remove from pan to plate or pan to a fresh sliced roll. Available NOW in a special 2pc. set.

Watch the talented Tony Luke Jr. on the new Spike tv Hit Series Frankenfood with host Chef Josh Capon.  Description of show From Spike Website “Competition-reality series “Frankenfood” follows New York executive chef and restaurateur Josh Capon on his quest to discover new and unique flavor combinations by pairing existing dishes together. Without this sort of adventurous spirit, beloved dishes like the Reuben, chicken and waffles, and chocolate covered bacon would cease to exist. Now, Capon and his culinary posse are traveling across America to find the next great “Frankenfood.””

Get yours today: https://www.ergochef.com/TonyLukeKnives.asp

Ergo Chef

Mike StaibAutumn Ingredients & Spotlight on Chef Doug Keiles
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Molecular Gastronomy, The Science of Food & Chef Adrian Cruz

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Hello and welcome to another edition of Chop Talk. In this edition we are covering ‘art on a plate.’ First up is a complete explanation of Molecular Gastronomy, or The Science of Food. Many of us have heard the term, but few of us, except for you educated foodies out there, actually know the origins of the term. We’ll cover it’s history, highlight some of the great chefs who employ this science in the kitchens of their restaurants and describe the various techniques that make up this cooking method. Our Chef’s Spotlight in this edition is Chef Adrian Cruz, who exemplifies the moniker of  ‘culinary artist’ with his take on art on a plate and who graciously give us a beautiful recipe and presentation for our Recipes section. Lastly we have a great announcement for all you California readers, as we have partnered with a new culinary gourmet store in Los Angeles, Van Dorn Gourmets. We hope you enjoy.

Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips: Molecular Gastronomy

moleculargastronomy1Though seemingly new, molecular gastronomy has been around since the time of Escoffier and the term was first introduced into the lexicon in 1988 by Hungarian physicist Nicholas Kurti and French physical chemist Hervé This. It became the title for a set of workshops they held in Erice, Italy that brought together scientists and professional cooks for discussions on the science behind traditional cooking preparations. “Molecular Gastronomy,” first based on exploring the science behind traditional cooking methods, is also known now as the scientific discipline co-created by Kurti and This.

AchatzIf you are a fan of this discipline, then you are familiar with those chefs, such as Ferran Adrià, Grant AchatzWylie Dufresne, Jose Andres, Thomas Keller and Heston Blumenthal, as well as a handful of others that push the limits of creativity by breaking the boundaries between the lab and the table. If you are not familiar with it, you should be, if for no other reason than to have experienced the genre at least once. 

What is it exactly?
There are many branches of food science, all of which study different aspects of food such as safety, microbiology, preservation, chemistry, engineering, physics and the like. Until the advent of molecular gastronomy, there was no formal scientific discipline dedicated to studying the processes in regular cooking as done in the home or in a restaurant. The afore-mentioned (perhaps with the exception of food safety) have mostly been concerned with industrial food production and while the disciplines may overlap with each other to varying degrees, they are considered separate areas of investigation.

ChefHestonBlumenthalThe discipline covers some of these areas:
~How ingredients are changed by different cooking methods.
~How all the senses play their own roles in our appreciation of food.
~The mechanisms of aroma release and the perception of taste and flavor.
~How and why we evolved our particular taste and flavor sense organs and our general food likes and dislikes.
~How cooking methods affect the eventual flavor and texture of food ingredients.
~How new cooking methods might produce improved results of texture and flavor.
~How our brains interpret the signals from all our senses to tell us the “flavor” of food.
~How our enjoyment of food is affected by other influences, our environment, our mood, how it is presented, who prepares it, etc..

Though many disparate examples of the scientific investigation of cooking exist throughout history, the creation of the discipline of Molecular Gastronomy was intended to bring together the chemical and physical processes of cooking. It broke it into an organized discipline within food science; A. To address what the other disciplines within food science do not cover and, B. Cover it in a manner intended for scientists rather than cooks.

cheesesouffleHere’s a perfect example of new knowledge brought about by Molecular Gastronomy: A soufflé is based on a viscous preparation, for example a Bechamel sauce made of butter, flour and milk, to which is added cheese, egg yolks and whisked egg whites. It used to be thought that soufflés rose as the air bubbles in the egg whites grew bigger as they became warmer. However, Hervé This has measured the temperature and pressure inside a soufflé and calculated that the bubbles can swell by 20 per cent at the most, whereas soufflés can double in volume.

In fact, the soufflé rises as water from the milk and yolks evaporates, and rises to the top of the soufflé, pushing the layers of mixture upwards. This means that heating the container from the bottom produces the best results. He has also found that the stiffer the egg whites, the more the soufflé rises. The firmer egg whites have a greater volume to begin with, but the firmness of the foam also prevents the bubbles from passing quickly through the soufflé and escaping; slowly rising bubbles are better at pushing up the layers of mixture.

foiegrasganacheThe presentations that Molecular Gastronomy represents are very much in the forefront of moving food into areas never before explored. Creations such as Blood Orange Foam, or Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s ‘Foie Gras Ganache,’ are true genius applications of time honored traditional ingredients and dishes, presented with new imagination and flair. But, it’s also about what arrives at your table as well. What do diners see? How do they interact with the food? How is their experience changed by the surrealistic plating and surprising presentation, or ingredients that look like other food, or scented air released from air pillows while you dine.

Examples of Molecular Gastronomy

flashfreezing(1)Flash-freezing
Related back to my first query about flash freezing to make ice cream, El Bulli was the first restaurant to experiment with quickly freezing the outside of various foods, sometimes leaving a liquid center, using a volatile set-up involving a bowl of liquid nitrogen dubbed the TeppanNitro. Later, Alinea’s Achatz began using an appliance called the Anti-Griddle, whose metal surface freezes rather than cooks.

spheres(1)Spherification
Also known as ravioli (not the kind you eat with marinara sauce), spheres are what you get when you mix liquid food with sodium alginate, then dunk it in a bath of calcium chloride. A sphere looks and feels like caviar, with a thin membrane that pops in your mouth, expunging a liquid center. Popular experiments from the chefs above have included ravioli made from purées of things like mangoes and peas.

meatglueMeat glue
One of the greatest hits of the movement has been Wylie Dufresne’s “shrimp noodles,” which, as the name states, are noodles made of shrimp meat. They were created using transglutaminase, or meat glue, as it’s known in wd-50’s kitchen, a substance that binds different proteins together and is more familiarly used in mass-produced foods like chicken nuggets.

Foamsfatduck_pigeon
You probably know about foams, which are sauces that have been turned into froth using a whipped cream canister and sometimes lecithin as a stabilizer. They were invented at El Bulli, along with similar “airs” made with an immersion blender.

 

Dusts & DehydrationMushroompowder
The dehydration of certain well known ingredients into a dust which changes the way one might use these ingredients, an example would be Black Chanterell or Black Trumpet mushrooms. We have had this dust added to dishes as wide ranging as soups, steaks and foie gras.

Prologue
While Molecular Gastronomy may not be for you, we highly suggest that you experience this dining genre at least once. The creativity of chefs and restaurants embracing the nuances of breaking down food to the molecular level is moving food, dining and presentation to even higher levels than ever before, and frankly, we like where it is going and am excited to see who will push the boundaries of the culinary envelope even further. As the ‘dining public’ we are the beneficiaries of these talented chefs and the masterpieces and art they create on a plate. To that end, let’s move on to our Chef’s Spotlight.

Chef’s Spotlight

chefworks chef of the monthChef Adrian Cruz is an aspiring self taught chef.  At a young age, he moved from Washington State to Texas with his family. His mother’s home-cooked meals inspired him to enjoy working with food and being in the kitchen. Although he learned some techniques from his mother, Adrian’s penchant for gastronomy manifested itself by the time he was 12 years old. He was able to work and train at various restaurants in the Rio Grande Valley. He’s also had the pleasure of working side by side with his brothers. Says Cruz, “I want people to know nostalgic memories and to understand the science behind my work. I want to achieve truly unique works of art on the plate and see what creations come to my mind. I love food and creating art..”

10341744_866279300053318_7862400480523022681_nThe Cruz Brothers are known locally for their natural talent and eagerness to create innovative signature dishes – their passion for food is generational and everlasting. Chef Cruz incorporates culinary traditions from around the world into his own work, adding seasonings and techniques drawn from Asia, Mexico, Europe and the Mediterranean. He infuses precise technique with creative flair and adventuresome spirit to create a cuisine, both casual comfort food and fine dining, of great finesse and balanced flavors. His reputation has given him the opportunity to host various cooking shows for local television, participate in community fundraisers and participate in culinary contests. He joined Chefs Roll  in January of 2014 and has been travelling for events and competing around the Sates with Chefs Roll. He was chosen to be Chef Works Apparel  International Chef of the Month in 2014 and joined Chefs Life Apparel, designing his own Latin Passion Line. Chef Cruz formed a group of chefs, called Cartel Kitchen, paired with chefs who share the same creativity love for cooking where they share ideas and cater events all over United States.

Adrian wants people to know nostalgic memories and to understand the science behind His work. He strives to achieve truly unique works of art on the plate and see what creations come to his mind. Adrian loves food and creates beautiful dishes with a lot of fusion and passion for art. Cruz went from the underdog to a noticed chef with great skills. His Latin passion comes form when he started as a kid working as a migrant in Washington state with his family. He is working on new projects for his career and maybe some day own his own restaurant. If you love his food and his art on a plate follow him on facebook and at www.chefsroll.com/chefadriancruz and www.chefslifeapparel.com

 Recipe

image001Ancho Rubbed Spicy Tuna with Pickled Ginger Oranges~Apples~Asian Pears~Honey Siracha~Wasabi Avocado~Sweet Thai Chili Sauce~Fried Nori & Bacon Bits.

Courtesy of Chef Adrian Cruz

Ingredients 
6 oz Ahi tuna
1 tsp of Ancho chili
1 tsp soy
1 tsp of garlic
1 tsp of ginger
3 tbsp of bacon
3 slices of pickled Asian pears
3 diced apples
3 slices of fresh pickled oranges
3 sheets of fried Nori
1 tbsp of bacon fat

Method
Season tuna in a ancho chilli rub with soy sauce, ginger, ancho, garlic, then rubbed in sesame seeds get a none stick skillet and put in medium heat till nice and hot add bacon fat and gently sear the tuna in all sides 7 seconds each side take out and set aside after that get the nori and fry till it gets crispy take out and set to to the side next get the oranges Asian pears and apples and let them sock in vinegar with honey salt ginger sugar and citrus.

10481459_877548622259719_2812215440426453899_nPlating
Grab your honey Siracha, the Wasabi avocado, the bacon and sweet Thai chili. Add drops to your plate sprinkle the bacon bits add the pickled fruit set to the side. Now take the tuna and slice 2 inch slices add to your plate.  After that add the fried Nori and sweet Thai chili. Serve.

 

Product Spotlight

vandorn1Check it out! Ergo is proud to announce our affiliation with a new gourmet store in Los Angeles, California, Van Dorn Gourmets in Magnolia Park. They will be carrying Ergo Chef CRIMSON Cutlery, our popular Multi-Function Shears and our world famous DUO Tongs! We are pleased and excited to serve the chefs and home cooks of Los Angeles via. Van Dorn Gourmets.

Van Dorn Gourmets’ are proudly made by their own family owned and operated business dedicated to customer service, fast delivery, and of course, awesome flavor! All of their spice blends including seasoning blends, spice rubs, dip mixes, and salt blends, were developed by Brian in his own stone mortar & pestle using the finest ingredients. Brian has been blending spices, and creating unique flavor compounds for his family and friends for years and they are proud to share these wonderful blends with you. Their products also focus toward the health conscious consumer. Some of their herbs are organic, many are salt and/or sugar free, and none of their blends contain MSG.

Till next time,

Ergo

Mike StaibMolecular Gastronomy, The Science of Food & Chef Adrian Cruz
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The Art of Braising & a Chef’s Spotlight on Chef Barry Sexton….

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Hi and welcome to a special edition of Chop Talk. We would like to congratulate Adam Petramala who has been selected as the winner of our Gourmet Kitchen Store Sweepstakes and will be receiving our Crimson 6″ Santuko Knife. In this edition’s Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips,  as we approach fall, we are covering braising, teaching you how to produce those falling off the bone dishes that we all love. In our Chef’s Spotlight, we bring you Chef Barry Sexton, who gives us not one, but two great recipes. Thanks for being here and we hope you enjoy!

Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips: The Art of Braising

ShortribcloseupTender, falling off the bone, full of meaty flavors with rich yet balanced aromas of red wine and hearty vegetables. Ahhh, the art of braising! Not an easy technique by any means, but when prepared properly, a braised item can be a very memorable dining experience. Cooking, by simple definition, is the application of heat to food. But all heat is not created equal. In the kitchen, there’s a big difference between moist heat and dry heat. Whenever you add a liquid to the pot or pan, for instance, when you simmer, boil, steam, or braise, you’re cooking with moist heat. If you don’t add a liquid when you sear, sauté, fry, roast, or grill, you’re cooking with dry heat. Braising is a very unique cooking method where you are actually cooking with dry and moist heat.

In order to achieve a great flavor profile of your braised item, it is important to sear the protein in a hot pan (dry heat) in order to develop caramelization – browning flavor profiles– and seal in the juices. Then by adding a liquid (moist heat) and cooking at a low temperature for a longer period of time, the braised dish will be very tender and moist. This is definitely the best of both worlds as you benefit from all spectrums of the cooking world!

SearingSteak4Once you have decided to experiment with braising, it is important to decide which cut of meat you wish to braise. Typically, braising is a very economical way to feed the family, as cheaper, underutilized and less tender cuts of meat are used. The slow and long cooking method allows the connective tissue and fat to break down much more, leaving those tougher cuts of meat melting in your mouth! Popular cuts of meat to braise include: shanks, brisket, flank, baby back ribs, short ribs, most cuts from the shoulder, arm and leg. These parts of the animal are exercised much more than others, which builds up and toughens the muscle, therefore it is necessary to break that muscle down during the cooking process. The very popular Filet Mignon, is a much more tender cut of meat coming from the tenderloin and it is not necessary to braise it in order to tenderize, but of course it can be done. Don’t just stop with beef though, it is very common to braise poultry, pork, lamb, fish, and many vegetables a well.

coq-au-vinblork.orgNow that we’ve chosen the cut of meat, its time to develop those delicious flavors! Many popular braised dishes include Pot Roast, Beef Stew, Swiss steak, Coq au Vin, Chicken Cacciatore, Goulash, Braised Tilapia, Beef Bourguignon and Moroccan Tagine dishes.(we’ll be covering cooking in a Tagine in an upcoming installment) All of these popular dishes begin with important ingredients; the item to be braised, vegetables, (in most cases, Mirepoix; carrots, onions, celery), normally an alcohol such as a red or white wine, a flavorful liquid or stock (water can be used), and aromatics. Once the item is seared and removed from the pot, flavor development begins with the caramelization of vegetables and with the addition of a tomato product. From here, you can deglaze with an alcohol and return the meat to the pot. Cover the item with the stock, about two thirds of the way up. Bring to a quick boil, then lower it to a simmer. Cover the pot with aluminum foil and place it in an oven for a few hours. Depending on the size and cut of the item, it can sometimes go for up to 8 hours.

aromaticsAromatics play a very important role in braising. Fresh and dried herbs, spices, vegetables, and seasonings are all ways to enhance a braised item. They can be added all at once in the pot, or bunched up in a Sachet: a small cheesecloth bag, containing various herbs and spices, used to infuse flavor into stocks. These can typically include; bay leaf, thyme, parsley stems and black peppercorns.

How do we know when it’s done? The terms “falling off the bone” or “fork tender” are great gauges of doneness. Remove the cover and test the product with a fork. If it is moist enough to fully pierce through with a fork, it is probably ready.

Now it’s time to serve! We can ladle the braise or stew over mashed potatoes, rice, or vegetables, or choose to remove the meat and create a sauce with the left over braising liquid. All of those pronounced flavors will only get better when reduced down in a 2007_02_27-PotRoastpot further to fully develop and concentrate.

There’s really nothing to be afraid of and this is really not as hard as it sounds. Just take your time and like we’ve learned in prior installments of The At Home Cook Series, just follow the steps. It’s almost like a one pot meal, where presentation and knife skills are not nearly as important as the infusion of flavor from the cooking method. If you follow these easy steps to success, you are bound to create a very flavorful and palate appealing masterpiece!

Chefs Spotlight

Chef Barry SextonChef Barry E. Sexton is an accomplished chef, food stylist, food consultant and a motivational speaker with his creative talents and training, Also a culinary dynamo who is making waves.

Philadelphia native, Chef Barry E. Sexton has successfully acquired over 30 years experience in the culinary arts. The Philadelphia Art Institute graduate always believed that great food is a combination of bold tastes, textures and color. Like fine art, crucial ingredients waiting to be blended on a canvas. Chef Sexton was classically trained for more than a decade under the tutelage of Master Chef Jean Pierre Tardy, who was the Executive Chef of Le Bec-Fin for seven years.  Chef Barry worked closely with him keeping the creative process alive by using his imagination with the best and freshest ingredients available to create signature dishes at Jean Pierre’s French Restaurant in Newtown, Pa. He contributes his success to having great mentors and a vast amount of passion for food, wine and art. Throughout his career, he has practiced his culinary artistry at some notable Philadelphia restaurants and hotels also located in Bucks County.

This award-winning chef is well known for his keen sense of creativity, gourmet catering, and private cooking classes that showcase his style of cooking.  His cuisine integrates the sophisticated flavors of African, Caribbean, Italian and Asian all infused with a cultural blend from around the world.  In 1995, he was voted the Top Chef to watch, while working at Striped Bass, a well-known restaurant that specialized only in seafood flown in from around the world. Chef Sexton created dishes that reflected his proven track record among those with discerning taste. He also helped launch Zanzibar Blue, a popular upscale jazz/blues restaurant located in the Philadelphia Hyatt Hotel. Chef Sexton’s menus have been well received by notable personalities such as Rosa Parks, mother of the Civil Rights Movement, actor Denzel Washington and former congressman Bill Gray. His artful plating and delicious food attracted admirers of his unique cuisine.

Chef Sexton has also been employed as Executive Chef of the Buck Hotel & Conference Center in Feasterville as well as abroad at the five star Round Hill Hotel & Resort, Jamaica, W.I. During his stay at Round Hill, Chef Sexton was invited to prepare exquisite dinners for several Ambassadors and Prime Minister’s of the Caribbean Council.

logo_opinionated-palateA classically trained Chef, innovatively creative cuisine and a commitment to service. That’s how clients characterize the Opinionated Palate catering service. Chef Sexton’s vast culinary knowledge, great reputation for the love of food and impressive presentations, has contributed to the company’s popularity. As a caterer the Opinionated Palate won’t settle for less than the best and will exceed your expectation. They offer a full package of catering menus that can fit almost every need with many options for any type of event. The Opinionated Palate has cuisine that’s tailored to your palate. They will also collaborate a menu based upon personal tastes and budget to make the artistic vision of your event a reality. Check out the website here: https://www.opinionatedpalate.com/

Recipe
Mushroom & White Bean Soup
Courtesy of Chef Barry Sexton

089

Ingredients
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb mushrooms, chopped
1c white onion, chopped
c celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium carrots, grated
2 Tbsp flour
3 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
2 cups heavy cream
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp rosemary leaves, minced
1/8 tsp red chili flakes
1 can small white beans
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
salt, to taste

Method
Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add in garlic, cook until lightly brown.  Add in the onions, and cook for 2 minutes until softened. Add carrots and continue to cook stirring occasionally. Turn up the heat, add in the mushrooms. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently until the mushrooms sweat and release water. Stir in flour, add the water, stock, cream and remaining ingredients except the beans. Bring soup to a boil, lower heat to a simmer allowing the flavors to combine. Add beans and continue to cook for 12 minutes. Salt to taste. Serve & enjoy!

Crispy Mushrooms & Goat Cheese Purse
Courtesy of Chef Barry Sexton

Ingredients
24 wonton small square wonton wrappers
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2cup onion, minced
3 clove garlic, finely minced
1 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
6oz. goat cheese, softened
2 tablespoons parsley, finely minced
salt and pepper to taste

Method
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 tablespoon of butter in a large pan. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes then stir in minced garlic and cook until golden. Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, until mushrooms are soft. In a food processor, add cooked mushrooms mixture, bread crumbs, goat cheese and parsley. Pulse until combined.

To assemble
Place 4 wonton skins on a dry work surface. Fill center of each with 1 teaspoon of mushroom goat cheese mixture. Moisten remaining corners with egg; around the edge and fold the wonton in half diagonally. Press with your finger to seal the edges of the dough. Bring the two outer corners up with a pinch and a twist to seal them tightly. They can also be shaped as a flat triangle. Repeat process until all the mixture is gone. Heat 2-3 inches of oil in a large saucepan or medium skillet to just under 350 degrees (you don’t want the oil too hot or it will burn the wontons! Experiment with a spare sheet of wonton wrappers to check. Add the purses, 3 or 4 at a time, in the hot oil and let fry for about a minute to a minute and a half, just until they are golden and crispy. Flip them halfway through. Remove from oil and drain onto a paper towel. Season with a sprinkle of salt.

Raspberry Lavender Honey Mustard
Ingredients
1 lemon (zested and juiced)
1 tsp Olive Oil
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
4 tsp honey
1/2 fresh raspberry
1/8 tsp crushed lavender
Salt & pepper to taste

Method
Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Strain and set aside until ready to use.

Till next time,
Ergo Chef

Mike StaibThe Art of Braising & a Chef’s Spotlight on Chef Barry Sexton….
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Summer Soups, Plank Grilling, Kitch N’ Kaffe and Discounted Factory Seconds, OH MY!!!

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This edition of Chop Talk we have a guest writer for Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips, Robyn Medlin Lindars who get’s us up to speed on grilling with planks. Our Chef’s Spotlight is a bit different this edition, as we highlight our good friend, John Porter of Kitch N’ Kaffe in Mahopac NY. Next, there’s nothing better in the summer than a delicious chilled soup and we have a tasty tropical version for you in our Recipe section with a Mango & Pineapple Soup. Last but not least, we have a great discounted value for you in our Chop Talk Special Deal, Factory Seconds. These are perfectly good products that came out just a bit imperfect, with minor cosmectic belmishes, that don’t allow us to send them out to stores or put on our ‘firsts’ line. Check out the discounted prices and some reviews of our Crimson G10 Series knives.

Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips

Plank Grilling Pointers:
By 

Adding Flavor the Time-Honored Way

Planking is a great way to add smoky flavor to anything you put on the grill. Cooking on a plank transfers flavor from the wood as the food cooks. Salmon on cedar is one of the more common types of planked food. However, nearly any food can be cooked over a plank to add subtle smoke and make a creative presentation. Planking probably began with Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest. They tied fish and game to Western Red Cedar and alder planks, then placed them around an open fire to cook over the indirect heat. Over the centuries, the practice of planking has moved from necessity to art, and now meats, poultry, vegetables, cheese, fruits, and even pizza can be cooked on a plank. The smoky flavor is what makes planking so popular. As a plank warms up, the natural oils and moisture from the wood become absorbed by the food. That transfer creates the flavor; different types of woods have their own distinct flavors.

Pick a Plank: The type of food and the type of flavor influences the best wood choice for the plank. However, all planks should be untreated wood. Also, avoid planks made from trees that have sap; the resulting taste will be bitter.

The six most popular wood types used for planks include:

Alder is best used with seafood. It produces a light sweet flavor that doesn’t overpower. Alder is similar to cedar.
Cedar is the most well known type of plank. Commonly used with salmon, cedar pairs well with almost all seafood.
Cherry has a mild, fruitlike flavor. It can be used with a variety of meat, including beef, pork, and poultry. Fruits and vegetables are also a good match for cherry.
Hickory produces one of the strongest smoky flavors. Poultry and beef are excellent choices to pair with hickory.
Maple has a sweet and subtle smoky flavor that’s not as powerful as hickory or oak. Pork and poultry are the best selections for a maple plank. A maple plank also enhances fruits such as peaches and cheese such as Brie.
Oak produces a medium, nutty, smoky flavor stronger than maple but not as powerful as hickory. Beef, pork, and poultry all benefit from oak planks.

Different Wood Types

After wood type, plank thickness is the second key factor in a successful plank-grilled meal. The shorter the time an item needs to be cooked, the thinner the plank.

Thick Meats
Pork Roasts, Prime Ribs & Whole Fish
Cooking Time – 1 to 2 hours
Plank Thickness – 1″+

Medium–Thick Meats
Pork Roasts, Prime Ribs & Whole Fish
Chicken, Pork Chops, Steaks, Salmon & Tuna
Plank Thickness – 3/4″

Side Dishes
Desserts, Fruits & Vegetables
Cooking Time – 20 to 30 minutes
Plank Thickness – 1/4″ to 1/2″

Plank Thickness

Prepare the Plank: Before cooking with planks, you must soak them in water for at least 30 minutes. Soaking the planks eliminates the fire risk from using wood on the grill.

Prepare a grill for medium heat, with both direct and indirect cooking zones. Create cooking zones on a charcoal grill by moving the charcoal to one side: the side with no charcoal is the indirect cooking side. On a gas grill, simply leave two burners off. The planks are placed on the “indirect” side of the grill; the food roasts on the planks while absorbing the smoky flavor from the wood. Grilling time varies, based on the food.
Preparing to Grill

Planking Practice Recipes: For the recipes below, prepare planks and grill as instructed above, then serve the finished food still on the plank.

Smoked Cheese: Place Brie or Camembert on a cedar plank and smoke for up to 20 minutes until the cheese begins to brown and melt. Add fresh herbs, nuts, dates, craisins, balsamic glaze, or other toppings as desired.

Cedar-Planked Salmon: Melt butter, mix in fresh dill, salt, and pepper, and brush over salmon. Grill at 350 degrees Fahrenheit on indirect heat until an internal-read thermometer reads 140 degrees. Grill lemons on direct heat until char marks form; serve with the salmon.
Alder-Smoked Shrimp: Drizzle shrimp with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a dash of cumin. Smoke for five minutes or until shrimp turns pink. Finish with fresh-squeezed lemon.
Maple-Planked Chicken: Make a seasoning paste of orange zest, oregano, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Rub this on chicken thighs. Cook on a plank until an internal-read thermometer reads 170 degrees.
Planked Flatbread Pizzas: Generously spray the plank with nonstick cooking spray and then dust with cornmeal so the dough does not stick. Use store-bought or homemade dough; roll out on plank. Grill the planked pizza dough until it begins to rise–about 5 minutes or so–and then add cheese and other toppings, perhaps including precooked meat. Grill pizza for another five minutes or until the cheese begins to melt and gets bubbly.
Planked Dessert Fruit: Drizzle stone fruit such as peaches with honey and cinnamon and grill until the fruit begins to caramelize. Serve with ice cream, if desired.
Reusing Planks: Planks can be reused two to four times. Since the flavor of the food may transfer to the plank, reuse planks with the same type of food. Do not use soap; scrub the planks with a brush and water, then let them air dry to prevent mold. Store them in an airtight container until the next use.

Store Spotlight

579152_10151212835934699_1879930754_nWe’d like to introduce you to our good friend, John Porter of Kitch N’ Kaffe in Mahopac NY. He is a friend, customer and supporter of ours who has a great store filled with culinary delights for the kitchen. He has graced Mahopac for years and works with the community there and we felt he deserved a shout out! Please like his page here, and check out his website here: Kitch N’ Kaffe

About Kitch n’ Kaffe:
From the store: “The store was established in 1998 by John B. Porter as a One-Stop-Shop for all your kitchen needs. Our store’s product selection has evolved into a selection of over 10,000 products that have been requested by chefs and culinary artists such as you. We pride ourselves in sourcing most any kitchen tool and specialty food ingredient used in the preparation of recipes at the lowest possible price.” Kitch n’ Kaffe, 985 US Route 6, Mahopac, New York 10541, (845) 276-0072   Unfortunately the slowing economy and bad winter has effected many businesses including Kitch N’ Kaffe, but we are doing everything we can to continue to be apart of our local business & economy.  Our Friend John Porter has worked with Ergo Chef to expand the US market with Harold Import Co. Inc. and recently decided to open an account with Go Fund Me to help during the tough times.  To read his full story & all the great community support he has given click here: https://www.gofundme.com/Kitch-n-Kaffe  Any small donation is greatly appreciated.

Please “Help Support Kitch n’ Kaffe in Mahopac, NY”
Thank you!

Recipe

Mango & Pineapple Soup

by Louis S. Luzzo, Sr.

An absolutely refreshing recipe, fantastic for summer. Lite and full of flavor, this recipe takes your fruit course outside the box and to the next level. Best yet, you can simply use this recipe as a guide, substituting fruit or adding it and many other ingredient combinations, such as coconut, or cloves. Be as creative as your palate desires and don’t be afraid to experiment. A favorite with party guests, you can serve it in a wine glass, using the cinnamon stick as a swizzle stick. Makes for an classy and unique presentation. Enjoy

Mango & Pineapple Soup

Ingredients
Soup
1 fresh mango peeled and cubed
1 c simple syrup*
*Simple syrup
1 cup of sugar
1 ½ cup of water
Add sugar to water and bring it to boil and you have simple syrup.

Method for soup

Place mango into a blender and gradually add syrup, making sure to test for sweetness. Once you achieve the desired sweetness, set aside and prepare the curd.

Mango and Pineapple Curd
Ingredients
1 ½ cup mango
1 ½ cups pineapple juice
8 oz sugar
6 eggs
3 oz egg yolks
1/2 oz or 6 sheets of gelatin
12 oz butter

Method
Note: You must continue to whip the mixture from the start to finish. Whip until smooth and all the air bubbles have been removed. Continue to whip for two minutes more. Mixture should be creamy and smooth. 
In the top of a double boiler, dissolve the gelatin in the mango & pineapple juice. Once the water is boiling, add the sugar, eggs, yolks and butter and stir until melted. Pour into molds and freeze.

Cinnamon sticks

Ingredients
1 sheet of puff pastry
cinnamon sugar

Method
Preheat to 375 F
Brush some water on the puff pastry sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon, then cut into a sticks. Bake 10-15 minutes.

To Plate
Using a bowl or a plate with some depth to it, pour some of the soup mix into the bowl or plate. Un-mold the mango and pineapple curd and place in the center. Slice some strawberries and place around the mango and pineapple curd to give it some color. If you choose to, you can add some other fruit to the soup as well. Garnish with the sticks and serve.

 

Chop Talk Special Deal 

Now you can get Ergo’s Crimson Series Knives at a discounted price by buying our Factory Seconds. These are knives that may have had a small cosmetic blemish, but are perfect in every other way with performance not affected at all. Below are some awesome reviews of our Crimson Knife Series knives from customeers who purchased them.

erg047_19.5x19.5_DISPLAYheaders

Check out these great reviews:

5.0 out of 5 stars Best knife I have ever used, January 7, 2014
By Warren Rockmacher (CT, USA)
This review is from: Ego Chef Crimson Series Nakiri Knife, 7-Inch (Kitchen)
I just received this knife and I am amazed by it. It is by far the very best knife I have ever used. The craftsmanship is amazing and the knife is perfectly balanced and beautiful to look at. This is a true piece of art that every chef should have in their kitchen. I am going to get the rest of the set just as soon as I can.

5.0 out of 5 stars VERY COOL DESIGN and GREAT QUALITY, January 21, 2014
By Elizabeth (Washington, DC, US)
This review is from: Ego Chef Crimson Series Nakiri Knife, 7-Inch (Kitchen)
This Nakiri knife is amazing to use – the blade is super sharp and cuts everything with ease. The blade is the perfect size for my daily dinner prep and the ergonomic handle design makes it super comfortable to hold and use. So far, I’ve used it on several thick heads of cabbage, greens, celery, carrots and other salad ingredients, a ton of onions (for my famous French onion soup), sweet potatoes, eggplants, fennel, garlic, tomatoes, spring onions and proteins. I love the quality and design of this knife and highly recommend it. I also got a plastic “edge guard” from the company to protect the blade and recommend that, as well.

5.0 out of 5 stars perfect, July 30, 2014
By rawtimes
This review is from: Ego Chef Crimson Series Paring Knife. 3.5-Inch (Kitchen)
I sometimes feel that I could get by with just two knives: a cleaver and a paring knife. This could be the paring knife. Passes the apple test: it can core, peel and slice the apple. I am surprised how many paring knives fail that test. Nice steel. I put it through the ringer and cut plastic ties with it. The edge held up well. Then I honed it on a whetstones in a few minutes. The handle is the best. great feel, shape and look. the seams are perfect with the blade. I have never seen such a perfect seal. Great shape for a paring knife, with point and not too wide. good stainless steel that holds a sharp edge and is easy to sharpen. Pleasure to hold and use. great for eating fruit. I love the handle. Too bad they don’t make a matching cleaver [in powdered steel]. This one is sharp enough to pass the apple test. I went to the manufacturer site and got a few more items that were seconds. Their seconds are better than Shun’s firsts.

So what are you waiting for, order yours today!!!! Click for our  Our Factory 2nd Crimson Knives and our premium line Crimson G10 Series

Till next time,

Ergo Chef

Mike StaibSummer Soups, Plank Grilling, Kitch N’ Kaffe and Discounted Factory Seconds, OH MY!!!
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Get the most from your recipes…

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Hi and welcome to another edition of Chop Talk.

This month’s #FTKT is all about how to tackle more challenging recipes, with great tips that will make you a baking superstar to your family and friends. In Chef’s Spotlight, we have good friend, culinary personality and Iron Chef America Judge, Mario Rizzotti who also brings us a great Italian classic dessert, Panna Cotta. Check out our new Chop Talk Blog Deal, where each blog will have a special promotion and product highlight. This week’s highlight is our new Crimson Series. So without further ado, let’s get right to it.

Food Tricks and Kitchen Tips

Interpreting Savory & Baking Recipes,  l.luzzo

Recipes. Does this word excite you, making your taste buds salivate with anticipation at the promise of a delectable feast created from a list of fresh, quality ingredients? Or does it terrify you? Do you have trouble interpreting complicated recipes? If the former, you are probably one of the few who does not view tackling a new or difficult recipe as a daunting task. It also means you need to look at the fact of why the word recipe excites you. There are the latter however, who would like to take on more challenging recipes but sometimes get overwhelmed, especially if they require the use of more advanced techniques. They stick to easier recipes and miss out on enjoying some great dishes or favorites at home, sure that those more difficult methods and techniques will end in disaster. If this sometimes describes you, know two things; A. You are not alone and B. Practice makes perfect and you can learn.

How can you insure a successful outcome of a special meal your family and friends will all enjoy, instead of a trash can filled with wasted ingredients and an unexpected dinner out on the town? Only learning the proper techniques and the methods to gain them, can you truly guarantee success. so, we’re going to give you some pointers on how to more successfully navigate and decipher a recipe.

Step one is to gather your “mise en place.” This should include your tools (i.e. measuring spoons, pans, etc.) as well as your ingredients and perhaps, most importantly, your understanding of the steps required in order to complete the recipe. By making “mise en place”step one for every recipe you may choose to tackle, you will answer and overcome most of your recipe difficulties before you begin.

Start one recipe at a time and find the terms and Items you need to make that particular dish. What is your best partner in this investigative endeavor? Well, you could go out and invest in a kitchen companion book, probably a worthwhile investment for you serious cooks. For you once a month warriors or novice cooks, Twitter and the myriad of food sites out there, like this one, give great recipes and techniques to help with honing your culinary skills. Sites like mine usually have articles or video links to the more clinical sites that cater to the more advanced chef. Sites like these often define unfamiliar terms and offer you solutions for equipment you may not have, while also offering tools like converters, which allow you to convert measurements from, or to, metric.

Now, that we have our mise en place in place, how closely do we need to follow the recipe? This is an issue that can be argued from both sides. With savory recipes, the interchange and exchange of ingredients is much more forgiving than it is with baking. We view most recipes as a guide more than a stamped in stone method, especially for the more adventurous chef. With savory recipes, proteins can often be substituted for one another, within reason of course. For instance, you wouldn’t replace talapia with lamb, but you could introduce a skinless chicken breast and still achieve the same basic dish and flavor profile. Not so with baking.

When it comes to baking, it is of paramount importance to follow the recipe to the letter. Recently at a demo done by renown pastry chef, he explained why his book has its recipes in grams, rather than ounces, tablespoons or say, a cup. He stated, “With measurements, I can ask all of you to produce a cup of flour. If 5 of us did this, I would bet that each of us would actually come up with a different amount. Grams allows you to make the recipe come out exactly as intended, whether the first time making it, or the 100th.” Now most of us are not going to produce a 100th version of a recipe, especially a dessert, unless we are a professional chef working in a commercial kitchen. But baking is as much a science, as a creative endeavor. You have ingredients that must work in concert with each other, in order to have a desired end result. For instance; any recipe where you forget the required leavening: baking powder or soda, yeast, eggs will not turn out. With other cooking, you often have a bit of wiggle room for errors or missteps and some amazing dishes have been created by someone inadvertently messing up on a recipe.

Do keep in mind that when this happens, it is usually pure luck. If you stray too far from the original recipe, when baking, your end result may be an inedible mess. Does this mean you can never delete a single ingredient? Not at all! If you dislike onions, or can’t eat nuts, it is perfectly okay to omit or replace them, as they are optional items that won’t effect the integrity of the recipe or method. Optional items are often listed as just that,“optional.” But for the intermediate chef, it is not always clear which ingredients would cause a disastrous result if they are excluded, so delete or substitute with caution.

Finally don’t be afraid to seek out advice and pointers from seasoned cooks and chefs. Most people are very flattered when people seek out their advice, ask for a cooking tips or even a recipe. You can produce a great meal in the comfort of your own home, please friends and family with a special treat, all at a fraction of what it costs to eat out. It can be great fun to get the whole family involved and teach your children some valuable skills, along with the importance of following directions. In many cultures, eating good food is a ritual and a way of passing down the family traditions and flavors of your heritage. So dust off those cookbooks and jump in to your own culinary adventure.

Chef’s Spotlight 

photo-10Brand Spokesman and Iron Chef America Judge, Mario Rizzotti

Mario Rizzotti is a judge on Iron Chef America on the Food Network . He is often called to judge Iron Chefs like Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Marc Forgione, Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto and more.

You’ve seen Mario alongside Art Smith (former Oprah Winfrey chef & launched a restaurant with Lady GaGa); as well as Food Network TV star Ted Allen; TV host/producer David Rocco; Vogue food critic Jeffrey Steingarten; Biggest Loser host and NBC’s Days of our Lives star, Alison Sweeney; Martin Yan and more.

photo-8 (1)Mario lives by one simple motto; a meal is not the consumption of food, but rather a celebration of Dolce Vita. For years now, with his quick wit, natural charm, and deep knowledge of the culinary world, Mario has been leading the rest of us to the “festa a tavola.”

TV audiences know him best as the seasoned yet approachable judge on The Food Network’s popular “Iron Chef America.” His Italian culinary background combined with his familiarity with worldwide cuisines and a gift for expressing just what works and what doesn’t in the most entertaining of ways makes him a standout.

Mario grew up in Rome, Italy, where his Mamma, Nives, taught him not only the fine art of cooking, but also the art of experiencing food. From there, his passion for food and cuisine evolved. At the young age of 19, Mario moved to the United States to learn how Americans use Italian ingredients. After working in the restaurant industry for several years, Mario decided to spend his time educating Americans about Italian ingredients, helping them understand what makes them authentic and how they are used in their homeland. People leave his seminars with both a better understanding of Italian ingredients and a smile on their faces from Mario’s engaging style. Mario’s website, www.mariorizzotti.com is now a go-to destination where food lovers of all backgrounds can experience the culinary knowledge and discoveries Mario loves to share.

home3In 2002, Mario joined Academia Barilla as an Italian Culinary Specialist. In this role, Mario travels throughout the U.S. educating consumers on the differences in olive oils, balsamic vinegars, Italian cheeses and cured meats, and how to distinguish real Italian products from the many fake ones in our markets. Today Mario is with Get Fresh Produce and he is the director of specialty food division, and he sources the products of Europe directly for them, choosing the good quality directly from the mother land. Yes, Mario knows a meal is not a consumption of food but a celebration of Dolce Vita. He also knows how to make all of us from all backgrounds welcome to pull up a chair at the table. He has been called the Marcello Mastroianni of authentic Italian products and the Johnny Appleseed of Italian cuisine in USA. Find Mario on Social Media: Facebook, Twitter.

Recipe

recipes4Panna Cotta
Mario Rizzotti
Time: 35 Minutes
Difficulty: Medium
Course: Desserts & Fruit
Servings: 4
Region: Piedmont (Italy)

 

Ingredients:
Panna Cotta
2 cups whipping cream*
4 oz sugar
4 gelatin sheets
1/2 stick vanilla
Caramel
4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp water

Method
Prep. 25 Minutes~Cooking time – 10 Minutes
Soak the gelatin in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes. Butterfly the vanilla bean using a sharp pairing knife. Use the blade of your knife to remove the seeds. Place the cream, sugar and vanilla seeds in a saucepan and bring to a boil while stirring with a whisk.
After the cream has come to a boil, leave it on the heat for 2 or 3 seconds, then remove from the heat and add the gelatin sheets, drained and squeezed. Stir to allow the gelatin to melt into the cream. Pour the mixture into small panna cotta molds. If you prefer, you can first transfer the mixture into a pitcher to make the process easier. Then, place the molds in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Just before serving, prepare the caramel:
Pour the sugar and 1 tbsp water in a saucepan and place it over medium heat. Bring to a boil, but do not stir. Once the caramel has browned to the desired color, add the remaining tbsp of water. Let boil for a minute, shaking the saucepan so that the caramel mixes together well and takes on a nice, creamy consistency. Remove the panna cotta from the fridge and demold it by placing the molds in a pot of hot water for a second. Remove the panna cotta from the mold and place on a plate. Garnish the panna cotta with the caramel and serve immediately.
*Chef’s Tip
If you want to make a low-fat panna cotta, try substituting half of the cream with an equal amount of milk, baring in mind that the consistency and flavor of the dessert will be slightly different.

Chop Talk  Special Deal

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Til Next Time,

Ergo Chef

Mike StaibGet the most from your recipes…
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Some BBQ, maybe a nice piece of cake, chefs, recipes…Happy Birthday America!

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Hello and welcome to Summer and America’s birthday month. July 4th is here and grills everywhere are being fired up and the tradition of barbecue is in full swing. In this edition of Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips we are covering the the different styles of BBQ across America from region to region. Many of you cater your 4th of July parties and picnics, and we have a great caterer for you in our Chef’s Spotlight, Chef Joseph Yorio, Owner of, Event Caterers, Connecticut’s Premier Gourmet Caterer. From one-of-a-kind weddings to fully customized dinner parties, Chef Joe creates unique dining events, with personalized service that goes above and beyond. We also have a delicious recipe from Iron Chef Judge Mario Rizzotti.

Styles of American Barbecue

From Carolina pig-pickin’s to Kentucky mutton, the idea is the same everywhere; an outdoor party with friends, food, and beer. The meat is generally marinated before being put on the grill, where it’s brushed with whatever kind of sauce is available or popular. More than anywhere else, American barbecue makes use of specific kinds of wood to impart flavor in the meat: in Texas, mesquite brush is common, but hickory and oak are more readily available elsewhere. Outside the South, culinary specifics often take a back seat to the social aspect. You’re more likely to find burgers, hot dogs and vegetable skewers than pulled pork at a BBQ, but the soul of the barbecue is alive and well.

Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis is probably best known for its dry barbecue. Most frequently used on ribs, the dry style is highly flavorful and is less messy to eat than wet. In the dry process, the ribs are coated with a rub made from ingredients such as garlic, paprika, onions, cumin, and other spices. They are then cooked in a smoker until they are fall-off-the-bone tender. Typically, dry ribs are served with a sauce on the side.

Memphis barbecue sauce has its own distinctive flavor, as well. Though the specific ingredients will vary from cook to cook, Memphis sauce is usually made with tomatoes, vinegar, and any countless combination of spices. It is generally thin, tangy, and somewhat sweet. Memphis sauce is poured over pulled pork or served along side of dry ribs. Nicknamed the “Pork Barbecue Capital of the World,” Memphis considers itself a leader in the world of barbecue. In his book, The Grand Barbecue, Doug Worgul credits the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, which started in 1978, as the country’s oldest barbecue competition.

Meat: Smoked pork ribs on the slab, and pulled or chopped pork for sandwiches.
Sauce and Flavoring: Ribs are served with a dry rub made with ingredients like garlic, paprika, onions and cumin. The sauce, made with tomatoes, vinegar, and spices, is served on the side.
Cooking Method: Slow-cooked over indirect heat.
Side Dishes: Coleslaw and baked beans.

Kansas City, Missouri
This style barbecue is characterized by its use of different types of meat (including pulled pork, pork ribs, burnt ends, smoked sausage, beef brisket, beef ribs, smoked/grilled chicken, smoked turkey, and sometimes fish) along with its sweet and tangy sauces which are generally intended for liberal use.

Kansas City has more than 100 barbecue restaurants and is known in Missouri as “world’s barbecue capital.” Ribs are mostly pork, but also come in beef varieties and can come in a number of different cuts. Burnt ends, the flavorful pieces of meat cut from the ends of a smoked beef or pork brisket, are a popular dish in many Kansas City area barbecue restaurants. Kansas City barbecue is also known for its many side dishes, including a unique style of baked beans, french fries, coleslaw, and other soul food staples.

Henry Perry is known as the “Father of K.C. Barbecue.” Perry is famous for the slow-cooked ribs he served for .25 cents a slab out of a trolley barn in the early 1900’s. His legacy thrives with the city’s countless barbecue restaurants and The Kansas City Barbecue Society, which has more than 8,000 members worldwide.

Meat: Beef and pork.
Sauce and Flavoring: The sauce is tomato-based and sweetened with molasses or brown sugar.
Cooking Method: Slow-cooked over hickory wood for as long as 18 hours.

North Carolina

Two styles, western (aka Lexington) and eastern, dominate North Carolina barbecue. The annual Barbecue Festival has been held in Lexington, N.C. every October since 1984. According to the festival’s official website, the event attracts more than 100,000 people each year.

Meat: Pork shoulder (western) and whole hog (eastern) chopped or pulled.
Sauce and Flavoring: The western style sauce is called “dip” and is a thin tomato-based sauce mixed with brown sugar and spices. In the east, the sauce is a blend of vinegar, sugar, water and pepper.
Cooking Method: Both styles are slow cooked over indirect heat with oak or hickory wood. To preserve the pork and smoke flavors the meat is never basted.
Side Dishes: BBQ slaw, hush puppies (western), mayonnaise-based coleslaw and corn bread sticks (eastern) complement the barbecue. Sweet tea for a beverage and banana pudding or peach cobbler for dessert is served in both the western and eastern parts of the state. The town of Lexington alone, with a population of about 20,000 people, boasts more than 20 barbecue restaurants.

Texas 
According to the Travel Channel show “Food Paradise,” the state legislature declared Lockhart the BBQ capital of Texas. The Office of Texas Tourism marks the so-called “Texas Barbecue Trail” as starting just north of Austin and continuing further south to Luling.

Meat: Beef, particularly untrimmed brisket.
Cooking Method: Slow-cooked over coals or wood in above ground smokers.
Sauce and Flavoring: No sauce is used before or during cooking. Pepper and salt are the most common seasonings. A thick tomato-based sauce with a sweet and spicy taste is served on the side of the barbecue meal.
Side Dishes: In Texas the focus is on the meat, but occasionally beans, potato salad and thick toasted white bread called Texas Toast are added to the meal. Traditional desserts include pecan or lemon chess pies.

We’re pretty sure we’ve covered the topic thoroughly. Now, all that remains for us and barbecue is the eating. Our grill has been heating up for the last 15 minutes, the ribs and shrimp marinating for the last 24 hours and veggies are all prepped and ready for grill marks. Enjoy yourselves! Experiment. have fun. Oh, and for you ladies especially; the next time your man is standing at the grill staring at an overdone hockey puck of what used to be a meat patty, feel a little pride. He’s also standing with a long line of men who, throughout history, have regularly asked, “Honey, can I get another piece of meat, this one’s had it…”

Chef’s Spotlight

JoeChef Joseph Yorio has more than 20 years of culinary expertise, catering and cooking from Rhode Island to Manhattan. A Culinary Arts graduate from Johnson & Wales, Joe has created one of the most talked about caterers in the region. He’s also one of the nicest guys you’ll meet, and has hired an outstanding staff of professionals. His exquisite, creative cuisine paired with a unique approach to event planning and design are a recipe for success whatever your occasion calls for. His two companes, Event Caterers and Picnic Caterers can take care of all your personal and corporate party and picnic needs.

WEDDINGS, CELEBRATIONS & BBQ’s

eclogoAll Wedding and Gala Event clients enjoy the full service treatment:

A Complimentary Tasting at the  Gourmet Kitchen with Chef Joseph, where they’ll create your menus together. Fully Customized Menus and Table Arrangements to make your event just as you envision it, with food that looks as amazing as it tastes. Ask about their trusted Partners, including Florists, Bartenders, Musicians, Event Venues, Limousines and More. 

313503_253522441364475_1268838894_nHost a party in your home, from a festive dinner to showers and once-in-a-lifetime celebrations, create a menu to fit your needs. Ask about their Personal Chef Service. For more about Joe and Event Caterers, visit his website here.

Event Caterers~45 Padanaram Rd~Danbury CT~ 06810    To Contact Joe: info@eventcaterersct.com~203.207.4669

pclogo

 

Picnic Caterers is Connecticut’s Most Tasteful Outdoor Catering Company. From Backyard Picnics to Corporate Events, We Do it All in Style.

Sister company of Event Caterers, Picnic Caterers of Connecticut specializes in Outdoor Event Catering. They take our gourmet kitchen on the road, and can set up wherever you need them, supplying portable fire pits, ovens and refrigeration, and customizing menus to fit your specific needs. If needed, they Picnic Catererscan even help you find the perfect venue for your event. Ask about their full range of catering options and all−inclusive event planning services.

Check them out on Facebook as well.

Recipe

Veal with Tuna Sauce
Servings 6
photo-10Our Recipe this installment comes from Iron Chef America Judge, Mario Rizzotti, This is a light, fresh recipe of Piedmont. The delicate flavor of the veal is paired with the more aggressive flavors of the sauce, making for a completely Italian dish. Look for a Chef’s Spotlight on Mario in our next Chop Talk post later in July.

Time:1 hour and 20 minutes
Difficulty: 
Medium

Ingredients
1 ¼  lb  veal tenderloin
1  oz  stale bread
1 ¾  oz  vinegar
½  lb  drained tuna
⅛  oz  capers
3 ½  oz  extra virgin olive oil
½  cup  white wine
2  anchovies
3  hard-boiled eggs
rosemary to taste
sage to taste
meat broth to taste
salt to taste

Vitello-Tonnato-P1000612Method
40 minutes preparation + 40 minutes cooking
Salt the veal top round and brown in a frying pan using olive oil. Add the garlic and herbs to the veal and cook in a 180-200oC (350-390oF) oven, until the veal is slightly pink.
When the veal is cooked, remove from the frying pan. Using white wine, deglaze the meat drippings in the bottom of the frying pan to achieve a thin gravy. In the meantime, rinse the capers and anchovies of the salt and soak the stale bread in wine vinegar.
Allow most of the wine to evaporate from the frying pan. Then, add the capers, anchovies, bread, and tuna, removing the oil from the tuna. Stir well and cook for a few minutes.
Add in the egg yolks and stir all the ingredients. Using the beef broth, thin the tuna mixture until a desired consistency is achieved for the sauce.
Slice the veal roast and serve with the tuna sauce.

Food History
Capers can be found in most of the Mediterranean countries. They were known and sought after since Ancient times and were even mentioned in the Bible as an aphrodisiac. One of the most famous caper varieties is that of Salina, a small volcanic island located off the coast of Sicily in the Aeolian archipelago. Salina is known for its beautiful landscape and its name derived from the large quantities of salt that was produced on the island in the past. It is also famous for the variety of plants that grow on the island. The most famous is the caper bush. It has unique characteristics including the strong flavor and its olive and magma-like aroma.

Til Next Time,

Ergo

Mike StaibSome BBQ, maybe a nice piece of cake, chefs, recipes…Happy Birthday America!
read more