Chef Tools and Products I Can’t Live Without!

Chef Tools and Products I Can’t Live Without!

Last week, my beloved ricer broke in the middle of making 30lbs of mashed potatoes and it almost broke your Chef!  My creamless mashed potatoes are one of my signature dishes.  So after having a complete melt down and calling everyone I know, I found one and the crisis was averted. If you haven’t used a ricer to make mashed potatoes, you are missing out!

Also check out this link for other creative ways to use it-  4 Ways to Use a Ricer

Another tool that is essential to my cooking is a zester. I use it to infuse citrus into my breadcrumbs and dressings. I also grate onions, garlic and whole spices like nutmeg, it’s super handy.

But probably the most amazing tool I own is this nifty julienne peeler.   There are so many different types out there but none that have the precision and technique to make vegetables like carrots, zucchini, potatoes and squash look so beautiful.

Lastly, I am addicted to lemon infused olive oil.  Just a few lovely drops take all my recipes to the next level.

Chef Products You Want to Find plus Lemon Parmesan Herb Breadcrumbs Recipe

Chef Products You Want to Find plus Lemon Parmesan Herb Breadcrumbs Recipe

Part of my service is to create a total experience for my clients. In doing so I am constantly on the lookout for ingredients that have loads of flavor and pair up with what I am featuring!  These items may be store bought, semi-homemade or homemade. I spend lots of time purchasing and tasting several versions to come up with what I think are the best! Many of you ask me where I purchase some of these items so here is the information.

Organic Cracker Bites actually come in 3 Flavors:
https://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Partners-Naturals-Organic-Artisan/dp/B0156G1A3S/ref=pd_lpo_vtph_tr_img_2

Rosemary Crackers can be purchased on line but if you haven’t checked out the Gourmet Food Section at World Market it is a must!
https://www.worldmarket.com/product/la+panzanella+rosemary+croccantini+crackers.do

Nut Crumbs. It seems like the entire world is Gluten Free but finding items that taste like the real thing is really a challenge! Finally, a product that just tastes so delicious you don’t even know it’s Gluten Free. The Italian are my favorite:
https://nutcrumbs.com

Whenever I make a Casserole I always add a Crunchy topping so here is my Recipe….

 

Lemon Parmesan Herb Breadcrumbs

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2cups Panko breadcrumbs * Also available in Gluten Free
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/2cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • 2tablespoons parsley finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme finely chopped
  • 1teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoonlemon zest
  • 4tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4cup fresh lemon juice

PREPARATION: 

  1. Melt butter in microwave.
  2. Combine rest of ingredients
  3. Sprinkle on top of casseroles or pan fry to top salads and vegetables

Cooks Note: Gluten Free Option replace Panko with Italian Nut Crumbs. These breadcrumbs Freeze beautifully make a big batch and keep them in the Freezer. Use them in your meatballs or breading for chicken and fish.

Chef Tips for a Perfect Holiday Celebration

Chef Tips for a Perfect Holiday Celebration

Food Tips for the Perfect Holiday Celebration

holidayparty

With a little planning this just might be your best holiday yet!

Tip #1: For a successful celebration – “Keep it Simple.”

Here is a formula that works: 2-2-2. It works this way, I like to offer six items: two that are store bought, two that are semi-homemade and two homemade. That lets you take time to focus on your special recipes while keeping the other prep easy. Next you want to make sure you have something for everyone in the mix. These days that can be challenging. So many people are gluten-free, vegan, aren’t eating dairy and such so make sure you have that information when crafting the menu. In a perfect world offer vegetarian, seafood and meat options so it feels like a meal. People are moving more towards tapas so the basic crudité, meat and cheese board doesn’t cut it anymore. There is no shortage for ideas on the internet so menu planning is just a click away! If you find yourself stumped just take a look at my catering options and I am happy to help.

Tip #2: Focus on the Platters and Decorations and keep the dishes in the cupboard! Select nice napkins, small paper plates, if needed, and plastic cups rather than creating extra work that comes with lots of dishes.They are perfectly fine for these holiday gatherings. You can then put some thought and design into your selection of platters and decorations to create a lovely setting. I have yet to hear anyone complain, especially when the food is tasty.

Tip #3: A Simple Self-Serve Bar – Provide a selection of beverages that includes sparkling water, craft beer, red wine and maybe a signature cocktail like an Aperol spritzer.

Tip #4: Bites per Person – People always ask me this and its the larger groups that can be challenging. The rule of thumb is 4-6 bites if a meal is being served and 8-10 bites without a meal. Having gourmet nuts, chips and olives and maybe a dip like pimento cheese with crackers staged in several areas will always help to fill people up!

Tip #5: Deserts- This is the time of year when people splurge! Either make your favorite holiday deserts or save yourself time and go to the local bakery and pick up a few unusual items. Consider placing a special order ahead of time to make sure you are covered. Actually, this is where fruit and cheese can also work well. A beautiful platter of warm brie drizzled with honey surrounded by dried and fresh fruit and chocolate covered almonds it’s just enough to finish off the evening!

Tip #5: One Bunch of Flowers Will Do – There is no need to spend lots on elaborate flower arrangements. You can save a bundle by picking up a loose bunch of flowers from the grocery or florist and add to it with simple greens and berries from the yard or local garden center. With this inexpensive combination you can create stunning and memorable decorations without breaking the bank.

Tip #6: Cooks Tip: No need to feel overwhelmed this holiday season. Look to your closest grocery store, like Ingles. They can make stunning holiday platters with just 24-hours notice. By delegating those labor intensive items like tea sandwiches and deviled eggs you will have more time to do the holiday prep that you find the most fun.

 

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June ’18 – Fridge Tips

June ’18 – Fridge Tips

Summer is a great time to really clean out your refrigerator. With the farmers markets and fruit stands in full swing eating fresh is a breeze but it can seem like a lot of work. Here are a few tips to make your food prep really work for you!

  1. Throw out any old produce and try to plan a menu for the week ahead. If you are a person who would rather decide what to cook as you are shopping you still need to keep your purchases to what is achievable not only for time sake but for cutting down on waste. Most people throw out 15- 20 % of fresh items weekly because they just don’t get to it or it goes bad before they do.
  2. When you return from the grocery or farmers market wash and store everything that day. By prepping all your vegetables that day you set yourself up to enjoy fresh salads and vegetables all week with only minutes to plate a salad or sauté whatever you like.
  3. Fresh Herb Storage: Basil should be kept at room temperature in a glass container filled with a few inches of water with a plastic bag covering it. This will keep it fresh all week. Other herbs like cilantro, dill and mint can either be kept the same way as basil but in the fridge or wrapped in damp paper towel and placed in plastic storage bag in the vegetable drawer.
  4. Summer dressings are so simple; with the abundance of fresh herbs you can simply add a few pantry staples and have the perfect dressings. It can be as simple as fresh lemons and limes whisked with good extra virgin olive oil and if you like, some Dijon mustard or a little white wine vinegar or a vinegar of your choice.

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Recipe: Mustard and Herb Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped mixed herbs, such as tarragon, chives, parsley, dill, basil and cilantro
  • Salt and pepper

Directions: Combine mustard, garlic, and vinegar. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Mix in herbs. Season with salt and pepper.

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May ’18 – Tips on Chef Products and Tools

May ’18 – Tips on Chef Products and Tools

May 2018 Newsletter

tips on chef tools and products

Last month’s Newsletter featured Pantry and Fridge Staples. As a continuation in helping to make cooking more fun I wanted to share ideas and products you should know about! I would also encourage you to visit the Food Blog to check out previous posts you may have forgotten about, lots of great stuff!

Flavor Boosters:

  • Herbamare Sea Salt adds such a subtle undertone to my cooking, I use it to finish off Soups and Sauces and it is a great replacement for table salt https://www.avogelusa.com/herbamare/
  • Calabria Chili Paste is something all cooks should have in the kitchen. Add as much or as little as you like to give layers of savory flavor to Pasta Sauces, Eggs, Sandwich Spreads, Vegetables and Meats. I blended it into a Meatloaf mix and wow it really punched up the flavor. https://www.amazon.com/Hot-Chili-Peppers-Crushed-jar

Food Trends:

  • Pickling, this fun process is the hottest trend going and Spring is the perfect time of year to get started. Whether it is a quick pickle or the stove top version, you can create any texture or flavor profile you want. It’s really the new “Condiment of Choice” top your favorite Salad, Taco or Sandwich and it makes a great Marinade for Meats. I like to change the Flavors by adding a Mexican Twist using Fresh Cilantro, Jalapeños, Coriander and Cumin. Check out this easy recipe https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/quick-pickled-vegetables
  • Power Bowls are so popular now that even Cracker Barrel is using the idea as a Marketing tool! Look for these Fresh and Healthy options on my Menus this Summer. https://www.simplemost.com/power-bowl-recipes-make-lunch-dinner/

Kitchen Tools:

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April ’18 – Kitchen Staples

April ’18 – Kitchen Staples

Be Prepared With a Well Stocked Pantry

With Spring here and the warmer temperatures approaching we will have an abundance of amazing produce to work with, but don’t forget to have your Pantry and Fridge stocked with the the basics to elevate whatever you are cooking. The beauty of these items is that you can create a meal even without the benefit of a
protein or vegetable. The below is my list of items that I can’t live without!

Pantry

  • Kosher Salt
  • Extra Virgin Oil
  • Boxed Stock and Broth
  • Pastas all shapes and sizes
  • Jasmine Rice, Quinoa, Barley, Farro, Couscous
  • Artichokes, Roasted Red Peppers
  • Canned and Dried Beans all varieties
  • San Marzano Tomatoes, Tomato Paste in a tube
  • Coconut Milk
  • Nuts
  • Italian Tuna
  • Dried Bread Crumbs
  • Spices of your choice

Fridge

  • Lemons and Limes
  • Parmesan, Asiago, Pecorino, Cheddar, Gruyere or whatever you like
  • Olives, Capers
  • Pickled Jalapenos, Banana Peppers, Relish
  • Eggs/Butter
  • Hot Sauces, Soy Sauce, Rice Wine Vinegar
  • Mustards, Mayonnaise

 

Learn More About Chef Patricia’s Services

Learn how to Give the Gift of Food via a gift certificate

What is a Personal Chef? 

Learn about Event Catering in Tryon NC and the surrounding area