All posts tagged: culinary

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 G10 CRIMSON Cutlery is crafted from high carbon German Steel with precision sharp edges. The handles are made with the world’s strongest G10 (Fiberglass Resin Material) in a redish brown wood grain look finished with 3 rivets & a polished end cap for perfect balance. No maintenance is needed on the handles. Polished blades are stain resistant and easy to clean and maintain. Includes the following precision sharp polished knives & tools: 8″ Chef, 8″ Carver, 8″ Serrated Bread, 7″ Nakiri, 6″ Santoku, 6″ Utility, 3.5″ Paring, qty. 8 – 4.75″ Steak knives, an 8″ Honing Rod and Heavy Duty Poultry Shears. All fit nicely in the beautiful Bamboo storage block. Order this ultimate kitchen set today and never buy another set of knives again. Lifetime Warranty!

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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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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Ergo Chef, Gourmet Kitchen Store Sweepstakes

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 “IT’S THE ERGO CHEF ‘GOURMET KITCHEN STORE SWEEPSTAKES!!!!”

Ergo Chef would like to know “What’s your favorite ‘Gourmet’ Kitchen Store?”

Just tell us the name and address of your favorite local kitchenware store, your full name and email address in the comments of this post and we’ll enter your name into our Gourmet Kitchen Store* Sweepstakes!!!

*store must have an actual physical location and address.

PromoGood luck and thank you for participating.

Ergo Chef

Official Gourmet Kitchen Store Giveaway Rules 2014

No Purchase Necessary To Enter Or Win. A Purchase Of Any Kind Will Not Increase Your Chances Of Winning. Void Where Prohibited.

1. Sweepstakes Period: Ergo Chef, Gourmet Kitchen Store Sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes”) begins at 9:00:00 am Eastern Time (“ET”) on 07/21/14 and ends at 7:59:59 pm ET on 08/11/14 (the “Sweepstakes Period”). One (1) Random Drawing will be held on 8/17/14  at 5:00PM from among all eligible entries received during the applicable Entry Period, in order to award one (1) Grand Prize per the Entry Period. Winner will be notified by email.

2. Eligibility: The Sweepstakes is open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia (excluding Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other United States territories), who are twenty-one (21) years of age or older as of the date of their entry and who have access to the internet and Ergo prior to learning of this Sweepstakes. Employees of Ergo Chef, LLC (“Sponsor”), and any of Sponsor’s respective affiliates, parents, subsidiary companies, and advertising and promotion agencies (collectively the “Sweepstakes Entities”) and members of their immediate families (spouses, parents, children, and siblings and their respective spouses, regardless of where they reside), and/or those living in the same household of each (whether or not related thereto) are not eligible to enter or win the Sweepstakes. Void everywhere else outside the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia, or where otherwise prohibited or restricted by law. Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws. By entering the Sweepstakes, participants are bound by and agree to these Official Rules, and the decisions of Sponsor and Administrator, which are final and binding.

3. How to Enter: During the applicable Entry Period, eligible entrants must log onto ErgoChef.com and leave a comment that to include name address website of their favorite gourmet kitchen store as well as their name , address, email number on this posting. There is a limit of one (1) Entry, per person, regardless of email address used, per Entry Period. Entries will NOT be carried forward into subsequent Entry Periods’ Random Drawings, if any. Normal Internet access and usage charges imposed by your on-line service provider may apply. Entries received from any person, regardless of email address used, in excess of the stated limitation will be void. All Entries must be received during an applicable Entry Period to be eligible for that Entry Period’s Grand Prize. The computer clock of the webmaster hosting the Sweepstakes is the official timekeeping device for the Sweepstakes. All Entries become the property of Sponsor and Sponsor will not verify receipt of entries.

4. Grand Prizes and Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”): One (1) Grand Prize is available to be awarded throughout the entire Sweepstakes Period (one (1) per Entry Period) (each, a “Grand Prize”). The Grand Prize winner, once confirmed, as detailed below, will receive one (1) Crimson Series G10 6″ Santoku Knife valued at $120.00. There is a limit of one (1) Grand Prize per person/household, throughout the Sweepstakes Period.

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In such an event, Sponsor will select the potential Grand Prize winners in random drawing(s) from among all valid, non-suspect, eligible Entries received prior to termination, if any, or as otherwise may be deemed fair and equitable by Sponsor. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WILL ANY ENTRANT BE PERMITTED TO OBTAIN AWARDS FOR, AND ENTRANTS HEREBY WAIVE ALL RIGHTS TO CLAIM, PUNITIVE, INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, OR ANY OTHER DAMAGES WHATSOEVER. IN NO EVENT SHALL SPONSOR BE LIABLE TO ANY ENTRANT OR WINNER FOR DAMAGES THAT EXCEED THE VALUE OF THE PRIZE TO BE AWARDED TO THE INDIVIDUAL ENTRANT IN THIS SWEEPSTAKES. IN NO EVENT WILL MORE PRIZES THAN THOSE DETAILED IN THESE OFFICIAL RULES BE AWARDED. SPONSOR’S FAILURE TO ENFORCE ANY PROVISION IN THESE OFFICIAL RULES WILL NOT BE DEEMED A WAIVER OF SUCH. 9. 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Mike StaibErgo Chef, Gourmet Kitchen Store Sweepstakes
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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!
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The Backyard BBQ, Chef Rocky Fino & Pesto Stuffed Pork Loin.

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Hi and welcome to the the Fathers Day installment of Chop Talk. In this edition we are going to look at the origins of the backyard barbecue. For the most part, the barbecue is an ‘American’ tradition, but we think you’ll be surprised at its origins and those who were its biggest fans. We’re sure most of you can recall some of these great times and hopefully, you have carried on these traditions. Then we’re pleased to introduce to our good friend Chef Rocky Fino in this edition of Chef’s Spotlight and we have a delicious recipe for Pesto Stuffed Pork Loin.

Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips

The most plausible theory claims that the origin of the word “barbecue” is a derivative of the West Indian phrase “barbacoa,” which describes a method of slow-cooking meat over hot coals. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the word back to Haiti, and others claim that “barbecue” might actually come from the French phrase “barbe a queue,” meaning “from head to tail.”

In America, barbecue can be traced back to colonial times, with a Virginia law written in the 1600s providing that, “discharging of firearms at a barbecue was prohibited.” In George Washington’s diaries, one entry, dated May 27, 1769, describes him traveling to Virginia for a barbecue. What we find most fascinating about his subsequent entries over the next few years, is that it reveals George to be the very antithesis of what we have come to believe with regard to his personality and demeanor. To most of us, the ‘Father of Our Country‘ is portrayed a stoic and serious individual, yet most of his entries concerning barbecue, are usually followed by entries about his ‘laying low for a few days and doing nothing of note.‘ Seems ol’ George was a partier at heart and we might very well have documentation of the first Presidential Hangovers! You Go George, Party like it’s 1799!”

In 1820, in a letter to her grandfather, Thomas Jefferson, Ellen Randolph wrote him of  ‘a great barbecue’ held on the Fourth of July in Charlottesville. By that time, Independence Day barbecues had become the norm. It is even recorded that upon the marriage of Abraham Lincoln’s parents, on June 12, 1806, the ‘reception‘ was a barbecue. From the book, “Lincoln: The Prairie Years, 1927,” written by Carl Sandburg, a guest at the wedding, Christopher Grahm wrote, “We had bear meat, venison, wild turkey and duck eggs, both wild and tame, maple sugar lumps tied to a string to bite off with coffee or whiskey, syrup in gourds, peaches and honey, a whole sheep roasted in a pit over coals of burned wood and covered with green boughs to keep the juices in.”

So as you can see, the tradition of gathering with your friends to cook some sort of meat over wood or coal outdoors seems to have been around for centuries.  Now if only the cool DUO tongs were available then, they may have made BBQ easier.

Chef’s Spotlight
rocky
In this edition of Chef’s Spotlight we are featuring good friend Chef Rocky Fino, author of  Will Cook for Sex: A Guy’s Guide to CookingWill Mix for Sex: 21 Classic Cocktails to Set the Mood and Will Cook for Sex Again, Again and Again. He earned himself the affectionate designation of “the show’s giggle” at a 2005 literary trade show. But when it comes down to showing men that cooking for a woman doesn’t have to be intimidating, the culinary writer and presenter takes his mission very seriously. “As men — single or married — we are challenged with enamoring our significant others,” he says. “There is no better chance to show her your affection than in the kitchen.”

In his books, meal demonstrations, and speaking engagements, Fino breaks cooking down into simple steps and complements his recipes with visual aids and amusing anecdotes about his own trials and errors – thereby reassuring men (and, often, women) that they, too, can impress a date by developing some basic confidence and creativity in the kitchen. With a playful and approachable self-depreciating style, Fino guides would-be seductors through specific topics like essential equipment, salmon vs. steak, and meals the morning after. As a pioneer in the field of pairing and cooking with craft beer, the California-based chef also challenges readers and viewers to break with tradition by serving elegant beers instead of wine to score points in the crucial categories of innovation, forethought and attention to detail.

Fino, who spent many a childhood night cooking for the family with his father, received a B.A. in Radio, TV and Film from Temple University and an M.B.A. from California State University. The skills he learned in school combine with a natural sense of humor to make him a sought-after broadcast media commentator and featured chef at food, drink and relationship expos and events across the country. To wit, Fino is the resident cooking expert for TV8 in Vail, Colorado, and appears frequently on TV news and cooking shows in Philadelphia, Manhattan and St. Louis. He’s also the featured guest chef for the Atlantic City Beerfest.

Fino’s first book, Will Cook for Sex, published by Stephen’s Press in 2005, won ForeWord Magazine’s “Cookbook of the Year” award and has received praise from publications such as Men’s Health Magazine, Maxim, Hooters Magazine, Philadelphia Inquirer and St. Petersburg Times. “He provides a guy’s insight into the crazy abyss of dating and relationships,” reviewed Tracy Spicer in Pasadena Weekly. “Think of Fino as your best friend, giving you advice before the big date. Only these friendly pointers are not cheesy pickup lines or suave moves … and they most likely will work!”

As a California native, Fino has long taken advantage of the fresh ingredients and progressive culinary ideas that informed his father as he methodically prepared thousands of gourmet meals with his son. “He admitted that since I didn’t get Paul Newman looks from him, he needed to give me something else to help with the ladies,” the younger Fino remembers. “After many years of defeat suffered while trying to go toe-to-toe in the ring of the pick-up scene, I finally realized the value of that skill.” Since picking up an iron and a skillet, then and a pen and a microphone, Fino’s succeeded in picking up many a pleased woman and several books’ worth of pointers. And if any readers or viewers require proof that Fino’s techniques really work, they’re welcome to ask his very appreciative wife. You can follow Rocky on his facebook page: Will Cook for Sex and on twitter: @willcookforsex and you can find out more about Rocky on his website, www.willcookforsex.com.

Recipe
Our recipe is courtesy of @GourmetGuyMag, Louis S. Luzzo, Sr.

2008_1224Gatewayfarm0013Pesto Stuffed Pork Loin
“This recipe combines two of my favorite ingredients, Pork & Pesto and includes a special cheese called Brie Stuffed With Cheese; a combination of Brie, Stilton or Bleu and Triple cream. (I agree. we could just enjoy the cheese and leave it at that, but trust me this recipe will make you happy.)” ~Lou

Ingredients
1 3-5 lb. pork loin
1/2 cup pesto stuffing
Spice rub

The Pesto
Ingredients
3/4 cup arugula leaves
3/4 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup ‘Brie stuffed with cheese.’ (see NOTE)
1/4 cup pine nuts, whole
4 large cloves garlic, minced (reserve 1 tbls)
Olive Oil

Method
Place arugula and basil leaves into a food processor. Add the pine nuts and garlic. Slowly add olive oil until paste begins to form. Next take the ‘cheese’ and crumble into the mixture. Pulse until thoroughly mixed. Set aside.

The Spice Rub
Ingredients
1 tbls minced garlic – Use a Chef knife
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground – Use a good Spice Grinder
3/4 tsp red pepper flakes, less if you don’t like heat
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp celery seeds
1/2 tsp thyme, freshly ground
1/4 tsp cumin, freshly ground
Salt to taste
Method
Place all ingredients into a spice grinder (I use whole fresh thyme, cumin pods, & peppercorns) and blend until all spices are powder. Set aside.

Method
Preheat oven to 375 degrees unless you are grilling, then preheat grill to medium-high heat.
Butterfly pork loin until ¾ of an inch thick. A 6″ Utility knife works great for this. Next, using the flat side of a kitchen mallet, pound until ½ inch thick. Using a spatula, spread the pesto mixture over the pork loin. Roll up the loin and use a skewer or chef’s twine to keep tightly closed. Take the spice mixture and rub the entire loin, making sure to coat the ends as well. (Reserve the extra rub for the sauce.)

Add 2 tbls olive oil to a large saute pan and place on medium-high heat. Sear the loin on all sides till golden brown. Once all sides are nicely seared, place the roast on a rack inside a roasting pan with sides. Set aside saute pan without removing fond. Place roast on center rack of the oven and cook for 45 minutes, making sure to periodically check for doneness after 30 minutes. While loin is cooking, add 2 tbls of balsamic vinegar and the extra rub mixture into the saute pan, making sure to scrape up all the fond. Thin with vegetable or chicken broth and cook on medium-high heat until it reduces to a roux-like consistency. Remove from heat and set aside until pork is done.

2008_1224Gatewayfarm0012Plating
Place the loin on a cutting board and let rest. Using a serrated knife, cut a few ½ inch medallions leaving the rest of the loin whole. Place on plate with medallions fanned out in front. Quickly reheat sauce. Fan out arugula and or basil leaves putting a small spoonful of sauce at their base. Serve.
NOTE: The cheese used in this recipe is called ‘Brie stuffed with cheese.’ If you cannot find this at the local store where you buy your cheese, it’s easy to make your own. Simply combine Brie, any blued veined cheese and a triple cream. WOW, you will not be disappointed. You can probably find a blue veined Brie more easily, so just add the triple cream. Enjoy!

Til next time,
Ergo

Mike StaibThe Backyard BBQ, Chef Rocky Fino & Pesto Stuffed Pork Loin.
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Spring Has Sprung!!!

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Mike, Scott & Randy with Debra Wold, Chicago #IHHS2014

Mike, Scott, Randy & Debra Wold, Chicago 2014

Welcome to the first Chop Talk post of Spring! We had a great time out in Chicago and want to thank all of you that stopped by and supported us at the International Home & Housewares Show. It was great seeing you and hearing how much you love our knives, tongs and other products. In this installment, we’re offering another installment of  “Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips,” a highlight of  Chef Peter Silvano in “Chef’s Spotlight,” a hearty Peruvian Stew recipe and we can’t forget “Where’s Randy?,” the ongoing Costco Road Show adventures of our beloved Chef Randall Smith.

Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips: How to Properly Season Your Food.

One of the most important yet overlooked skills the at home chef needs to master is seasoning! Now, not all foods need to have additional seasonings added, but the intricacies of cooking rely on a well seasoned palate and an ability to know how much or how little to use.

ID-10077877Seasonings can be broken down into a few different categories including herbs, spices and condiments. The most popular seasoning known to the world of cooking is salt. Many professional and home cooks mis-use salt in everyday applications, not knowing how much to really use. In today’s culinary world, there are also so many varieties of salt, each one having many unique characteristics and flavor profiles, that it can get a bit overwhelming for the at home chef. but fear not friends, Chop Talk is here to help.

On this subject, an Exec Chef friend of Ergo told an interesting story about when he was a student at CIA. One day, the chef had students line up in front of a pot of butternut squash soup, everyone taking turns tasting a spoonful of the soup. After each of the students tasted, the chef added a teaspoon of salt and they all tasted again. He explained that it was amazing to see the subtle changes in flavor and viscosity (mouth feel) of the soup. The Chef Instructor lined them up and did it again and again, about 6 or 7 times, comparing the finished product to the original unseasoned soup. The addition of salt had changed the soup so immensely, that it almost tasted like a completely different batch of soup.’ Learning about the ingredients you choose to cook with will make a big impact on how much seasoning you must add during the cooking process.

flavorwheelsmSo how do we find the proper balance of seasoning? The tongue has 5 known tastes; sweet, salty, sour, bitter and Umami. True balance is all about the marriage of those tastes on the plate and ultimately on the palate. When cooking with unfamiliar flavors or ingredients, taste them first! Try using classic flavor combinations that our culinary forefathers successfully paired. Practice makes perfect and as we learn the basics of taste and flavor, our ability to season will be much more successful.

There are many basic guidelines you may follow with regard to using herbs and spices, but remember, there are NO RULES to cooking savory dishes. You can change the flavor profile to what best suits your tastes. Some seasonings are much stronger than others, so begin using small amounts, and then add more as you feel fit. Heartier dishes such as stews and braises can be seasoned well with woody herbs like rosemary or thyme. Lighter dishes like sliced heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella cheese may only need a little parsley or basil to bring the palate to absolute harmony.

grillingsteaks4Other popular seasonings include vinegars, soy sauce, wines, spices such as; pepper, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, saffron and turmeric, even anchovies, chilies, and garlic. Using herbs can really make a huge difference as well, so try and find a reputable supermarket for your herb selection, or even better, grow your own. Some favorites include basil, tarragon, parsley, chives, dill, mint, oregano, lavender, thyme, and rosemary.

A great way to incorporate flavors into foods like chicken, steak and seafood, is to combine some spices and or herbs, then add them to an olive oil, creating a marinade. Submerge the protein in the flavorful marinade and let all those seasonings permeate through the food. Be sure to brush most of the marinade off before cooking, as it may burn. Other ways to use spices include ID-10045736making dry rubs, which can enhance flavor, color, and texture. This is an important step when preparing BBQ ribs as without the rub, most ribs may seem lackluster.

Armed with some knowledge, support and practice, you’ll be making some pretty tasty food in no time! Try some of these ideas out at home, and don’t be disheartened if your first attempts, or two, are unsuccessful. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Don’t give up too easily; persistence pays off in the end.”

Chefs Spotlight

petersilvanoChef Pete Silvano grew up in two industries. Food & apparel. Growing up, his father was either involved in a food concept or slinging thousands of shirts, hats, and anything else you could print something on. One thing is for certain he always ate good and had the newest and coolest clothes in the neighborhood. Once the cooking bug bit him there was no turning back. Technically he has been in the food industry all his life, but professionally, for 26 years. He has worked up and down the East Coast as well as out west in Arizona. He has worked under high caliber chefs from 6 different nationalities. With their training and guidance he has learned to cook several different cuisines and has excelled at them all.

Chef Pete has won numerous awards such as Rising Star Chef in 1994, and in 2010 he was rated as one of the top 25 Chef’s in the city in Jacksonville Magazine. He has done local radio and TV appearances in the past as well in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale. In 2012 he decided to follow in his dad’s footsteps and start an apparel company specializing in what he knows best: Being a Chef and having a passion for food and everything culinary. His company is called Chefs Life Apparel. The site has been viewed in over 800 cities worldwide to date. Chefs from all over the world have been ordering his one of a kind designs and comical slogan type shirts. Chef’s Life Apparel is now striving to be involved with foundations to give back and other culinary type companies for cross promotions. As of this year CLA has connected with Ergo Chef Knives and Chefs Roll, as well as doing a campaign this April for Cruz’s Crusade, to help a little boy with a bone marrow transplant. Check them out at www.chefslifeapparel.com and on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Recipe courtesy of Chef  Pete Silvano 

Machu Piccu Peruvian Stew (Seco)

Ingredients

2# Stew beef tips or tri tip (cut into bite size pieces)

3 cloves of garlic (chopped)

3 bunches of cilantro

2 red onions (sliced half moons)

1 bag frozen peas

 3 tbsp Aji Amarillo paste (Amigofoods.com) or 1 de-seeded jalapeno

1 cup water

3 tbsp olive oil

Juice of 2 limes

Salt and pepper to taste

machu-picchu-peruvianIn a deep sauce pan add olive oil and heat over high heat. When oil is very hot add your beef tips and sear til brown on all sides. Take the beef out and reserve. Next add the red onions and garlic. Saute til translucent and caramelized slightly. While that cooks take the cilantro, Aji Amarillo paste(jalapeno) and water and add to a blender or food processor and puree till liquefied. Now add that to your pot with the onions and garlic. Turn the heat down to medium low. Add your beef to the pot and simmer for 1-2 hours or until beef in fork tender. Add peas at the end and warm through. Season with salt and pepper and lime juice. Serve over steamed white rice. Classically it is served with Peruvian Canary beans and Criolla (red onion salad).

Where’s Randy? 

10722_102660343078702_7921471_nAnd last up, but certainly not least, are the ongoing adventures of Chef Randy, who will be appearing with the Ergo/Costco Road Show these next two weeks at the following locations, so mark your calendar and come out and say hello…you never know, you may even see your picture here in one of our next installments!

March 27th-30th 2014
Costco Special Event – In Store
Milford, CT

April 3rd-6th 2014
Costco Special Event – In Store
Norwalk, CT

 

Till Next Time,

Ergo Chef

Mike StaibSpring Has Sprung!!!
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Soups, Stocks & Family Traditions…

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Hello and welcome to a cold, snowy February. The Super Bowl is over and we send out congratulations to the Seahawks on their dominating win.

We thought we would warm you up with some soups and stocks talk, spotlight one of our favorite chefs, and give you a great recipe to make for your Valentine, a delicious Blood Orange Chocolate Mouse.

Family tradition is one of the most beautiful aspects of cooking. Sharing recipes and methods of preparation down through generations, has become one of the most creative ways for home cooks to create a niche for themselves in the kitchen. Talk to most chefs, both acclaimed and not, and they will readily admit somewhere in their r’epertoire is most likely a recipe or number of recipes, derived or adapted from childhood memory or recipes handed down through the family over the years. Some chefs have even made TV careers & businesses from these love filled, time tested recipes. More often than not, one of the staple recipes handed down in most families are soups and stocks.

Stock

To begin, let’s take the simple definition. Most soups start with some type of broth or stock which is defined as; a liquid (usually water) that is fortified with a definite flavor. Different types of stocks include, vegetable, chicken, beef, duck, fish, lobster, corn, asparagus, etc The list is endless depending on what flavor you are looking for and, of course the ingredients that you are going to use it in. The final flavor you are trying to achieve determines how you are going to treat the ingredients going in. As an example were you to be making corn stock, your flavors would take on a completely different profile if you were using raw corn vs. roasted corn. Developing a base flavor is an important part, if not the most important part, of a successful soup and that can be achieved in many ways. If the home cook wants to make a meaty and rich soup for instance, it is important to caramelize the meat and vegetables first, then deglaze the pan with a liquid (sometimes red or white wine) to remove the flavorful pieces from the bottom of the pan (called fond) and add those flavors to the soup resulting in a richness of flavor called Umami.

A French term called ‘Mirepoix,’ is the foundation of most soups and stocks. This is a mixture of 2 parts onion, 1 part carrot, and 1 part celery. Make sure you have a good sharp Chef knife to break them down. Make sure your  Aromatics are flavor enhancers that are added to your stock to bloom or boost flavors. Aromatics include: peppercorns, bay leaves, juniper berries, any herbs, any onions, or garlic. Most importantly, we need to determine what type of stock we want to create, and then decide what the future of our beautiful stock will be. After you have added all your ingredients, you are now ready to let your stock simmer. A simmer is a temperature between 190-200 degrees and different stocks have different simmering times in order to reach their fullness of flavor:

Vegetable stocks~45 minutes Fish stocks~1 hour 30 minutes, Chicken (Poultry) stocks~2 hours, Beef stocks~6 hours ( pre-roast the bones)

Once your stock is completely simmered to it’s full richness, the final step is straining it properly. What we are looking for is a pure, smooth and beautiful liquid so at this point we need to pass it through a strainer or “cheesecloth” to remove all impurities and vegetables, or large ingredients. Your stock can now be used immediately, or can be frozen in smaller batches to be thawed and used the next time you decide to make a soup or sauce.

Soup

fallsoupSoup is a food that is made by combining ingredients such as meat and vegetables in stock or hot/boiling water, until the flavor is extracted, forming a broth. Traditionally, soups are classified into two broad groups: clear soups and thick soups. The established French classifications of clear soups are bouillon and consommé. Thick soups are classified depending upon the type of thickening agent used: purées are vegetable soups thickened with starch; bisques are made from puréed shellfish thickened with cream; cream soups are thickened with béchamel sauce; veloutes are thickened with eggs, butter and cream.

Other ingredients commonly used to thicken soups and broths include rice, flour, and grains and beans. The word soup originates from “sop,” a dish originally consisting of a soup or thick stew which was soaked up with pieces of bread. The modern meaning of sop has been limited to just the bread intended to be dipped.

Cooking with the seasons can be a lot of fun, so when thinking soups and stocks, consider ingredients available at that time of year and enjoy gathering ingredients that are at their peek of freshness. Winter is a great season for soups, so be creative and enjoy!

 

Chef’s Spotlight

Michael McDearmanIn this addition of Chef’s spotlight we’d like to introduce you to Chef & Grillmaster Michael McDearman. Michael is a World Champion GrillMaster and “Live Fire” cooking specialist with numerous publications, TV appearances and host of a new TV show for PBS.

Eager and an entrepreneur since an early age, Michael wanted a motorcycle.  Asking his parents for one proved to be a lesson in being goal oriented.  They taught him to earn the money to pay for his own desires.  So Michael became the youngest paperboy in his hometown.  Why is this important?  It’s the beginning of his “smoke ring or his BBQ beginning.”

While on his route, Michael found himself consistently slowing down and breathing deeper at one particular house.  Being a curious kid, he approached the neighbor and asked “Whatcha doin’?” The man took the time to share with Michael what he was doing:  he was a competition BBQ cook.  And so it began.  By the time Michael was eight years old, he was finishing meals for his parents when they came home from work.

After 35 years of cooking experience and pre-Internet mentoring under his Grandmother (who has been published more times in Southern Living than she has fingers or toes), as well as many other influences (USA and International), Michael has received rave reviews and bold testimonials about his cooking from the salt of the earth red, white and blue Americans to Blue-Blood British Lords.  He has performed his live fire cooking on some of the largest cooking stages in BBQ and Grilling: The World Food Championships in Las Vegas, The “Jack” Jack Daniels Invitational BBQ Championships, The Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour, and the Academy of Country Music Awards BBQ Throwdown.   Michael represents many companies in BBQ, such as “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.,” Heinz, McCormick Spices, Coke, Bull Outdoor Products, E-Z Hook, FoodEnquirer.com, and  MojoBricks to spread the word about the benefits of  using their products while cooking over a live fire.

Watch his audition tape for BBQ Pitmasters & learn more interesting facts about Grillmaster Michael McDearman.

Here he is using his Ergo Chef Chef’s Knife

You can find Michael on twitter at @GetFiredUpFoods and visit his website here:

getfireduplogo

If you love to grill check out these Ergo Chef must have 15″ DUO Tongs that grip anything and can pick up to 20lbs of product without bending. See coupon code below to save.

Valentines Recipe

mousseLast but not least, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we have a great recipe for you to make for your sweetie. Decadent Chocolate Mousse infused with Blood Orange and a touch of orange liquor, designed to tantalize your taste buds and get you and your Valentine in the mood for some romance.

Dark Chocolate Blood Orange Mousse

Enjoy,

Ergo Chef

Special Deal: SAVE 15% on your next Purchase from ErgoChef.com with Coupon Code: Feb15

Mike StaibSoups, Stocks & Family Traditions…
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