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Hello, my name is Tom, and I’m a Souffle addict. (recipe included)

May 12th, 2011

by Tom Stieber, CEO —

It’s hard to believe, but as much as I’ve cooked over the past twenty years, and as long as I’ve managed a team of professional chefs that are basically living, breathing culinary encyclopediae, I had never made a souffle until a week ago.  I can’t really blame any lack of motivation for this egregious oversight, but rather a simple lack of souffle dishes in the cupboard.  It might seem surprising that I never bought them, but in my house, I have to fight for every culinary purchase, and there’s good reason for that.

For years, I’ve been giving my husband, David, small heart attacks.  Every time we walk into a cookware shop, I start piling a shopping cart full of culinary gadgets — tongs, pot holders, sieves, serving ware — you name it, and I must have it.  Only his panicked promises of doing the dishes for a week straight can convince me to forego paying the mortgage in favor of coming home with four Vitamix blenders that I’ll only use once.  So after much coaxing, crying, and physical restraint (maybe I exaggerate), I calmly put everything back on the shelf and leave empty handed, knowing that at least we’ll have a place to live for another month, which I understand is supposed to be some sort of small consolation.

Frighteningly, there are moments that find me all alone in the presence of culinary merchandise, without my better half’s wisdom.  This means I could, in theory, buy out the store, ruin my credit and my marriage, and even stump Suze Orman.  In those moments, tempted by the possibility of giving in to my addicitions, I teeter precariously between ruinous self-indulgence and sanity.  Fortunately, David’s voice lingers in my ears even in his absence, and I limit myself to one purchase that I feel is absolutely necessary to continue living.

So recently, I came home with six nice classic white souffle dishes.  After a fabulously perfected eye roll, David predicted I would never make a souffle in my life, and that these dishes were no different than our old, tiny ramekins.  But I promised him big, beautiful souffles that would take our marriage to the next level, and goshdarnit, I keep my promises.

It was a dinner party last weekend that prompted me to inaugurate the new Souffle Era, and while souffles come in all sorts of flavors, we opted for a classic vanilla recipe that we could dress up with flavored creme anglaise (we opted for two varieties: cardamom and rosehip).  And who could be a better recipe source that the one and only Julia Child?  I found this recipe incredibly simple and quick, and it yields a perfect souffle.  In fact, given souffles’ fickle reputation and restaurant price tags, I was shocked just how little time goes into making a souffle.  Also, compared to many desserts, there is very little sugar in each serving (just a few tablespoons).  Really, it’s mostly egg, which means you could practically call it health food and serve it for breakfast (work with me here).

This souffle came up so perfectly, that in the past week, we’ve made the same recipe again and again.  Dare I say I am becoming addicted to souffle making?  If so, then judging by David’s empty souffle dishes, this is an addictive behavior that he may grow to support.

Please enjoy this recipe and share your own variations with us!

Classic Vanilla Souffle
from Julia Child’s “The Way to Cook”

For a 6-cup dish, serving 4 (or split into 4 individual souffle ramekins)

A little soft butter and granulated sugar for the dish

The bouillie sauce base

3 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons soft butter, optional

5 egg whites, beaten to soft peaks
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar in a fine-meshed sieve

Special Equipment Suggested:
A 6-cup baking dish such as a charlotte mold 3 1/2 inches deep;
aluminum foil; a 2 1/2-quart stainless saucepan; a whisk, a wooden
spoon, and a rubber spatula; egg-white beating equipment

Preliminaries: Butter the baking dish, roll the sugar around in it to cover
the bottom and sides, and pin on an aluminum foil collar (I omit this step and still get a wonderful result). Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and set the rack in the lower third level. Measure out all the ingredients listed.

The bouillie sauce base. Whisk the flour and half of the milk in the sauce-pan to blend; beat in the rest of the milk and the sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon over moderately high heat until the sauce thickens, then whisk as the sauce comes to the boil; continue boiling and whisking for 30 seconds. The sauce will be very thick; let cool for a moment, then beat the egg yolks one by one into the warm sauce. Beat in the optional butter.

The egg whites. In a clean separate bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until foaming; add the salt and beat to soft peaks. Sprinkle in the sugar, and beat to stiff shining peaks.

Finishing the soufflé. Whisk the vanilla into the sauce base, and stir in a quarter of the egg whites to lighten it. Delicately and rapidly fold in the rest of the egg whites and turn the soufflé into the prepared mold.

Ahead-of-time note: The soufflé may be completed to this point 1/2 hour or more ahead; cover loosely with a sheet of foil and set away from drafts.

Baking – After preheating at 400F, set in the lower third of the preheated oven, turn the thermostat down to 375 degrees F, and bake until the soufflé has begun to puff and brown – about 20 minutes. (but the best test is to turn on the oven light and watch it)

The confectioners sugar, and finish. Slide the rack out gently; quickly dust the top of the soufflé with sifted confectioners sugar, and continue baking until the soufflé has puffed 2 to 3 inches over the rim of the
baking dish into the collar, and the top has browned nicely under the sugar coating

Serving. As soon as it is done, bring the soufflé to the table. To keep the puff standing, hold your serving spoon and fork upright and back to back; plunge them into the crust and tear it apart.

Private Chefs' Favorite Souffle Recipes

Private Chef Recipe: Guinness Stout Chocolate Cake

February 25th, 2011

RECIPE: Guinness Stout Chocolate Cake

It’s that time of year again! Yes, we’re talking about St. Patrick’s Day, March’s best excuse to excessively partake of numerous Irish libations such as fine whiskey and stout.  In the private chef business, we’re always looking for creative ways for our clients to enjoy seasonal traditions, and one of our most popular tradition over the years has become the Guinness Stout Chocolate Cake.   In addition to its dangerously persuasive combination of cocoa, dark chocolate, and bittersweet Guinness, this client favorite is also pleasantly recognizable to tastebuds that may already be numbed by heavy stout drinking.  This is our personal chef Gina’s favorite recipe.  Enjoy a slice or three with a good cup of fine coffee, Irish breakfast tea, or a shot of whiskey.

For the cake:

2 oz (50 g) cocoa powder
7 fl oz (200 ml) stout (we recommend Guinness)
4 oz (110 g) very soft butter (Irish butter is extra rich and creamy)
10 oz (275 g) dark soft brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten (any egg farm will do, but Irish hens have more fun)
6 oz (175 g) plain flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the icing:
4 oz (110 g) icing sugar, sifted
2 oz (50 g) very soft butter
2 tablespoons stout
4 oz (110 g) dark chocolate (50-55% cocoa solids)
6 oz toffee pecans (or any candied or plain nuts, for decoration)

Pre-heat the oven to, 350°F (180°C). You will also need two 8 inch (20 cm) sponge tins, 1½ inches (4 cm) deep, lightly greased, and the bases lined with baking parchment, lightly greased. First of all, cream the butter and sugar together, beating thoroughly for 3 or 4 minutes until pale and fluffy. Now gradually beat in the eggs, a little at a time, beating well between each addition. Next, sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda on to a sheet of baking parchment. Then weigh the cocoa and put it in a separate bowl, gradually stirring the stout into it. Now carefully and lightly fold into the egg mixture small quantities of the sifted flour alternately with the cocoa-stout liquid. Then, when both have been added, divide the cake mixture equally between the 2 tins and level it out. Bake the sponges in the center of the oven for 30-35 minutes. The cakes should be flat on top and feel springy and will have shrunk slightly from the side of the tin. Leave them to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool further, carefully stripping off the base papers. To make the icing, beat the icing sugar and butter together until blended, then gradually add the stout, making sure it is thoroughly mixed in after each addition. Now melt the chocolate in a bowl set over hot water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Then, when it’s melted, remove the bowl from the water, and carefully fold the chocolate into the icing mixture. Now remove a third of the icing to a separate bowl and stir in the toffee pecans. After all the icing has cooled to a spreadable consistency, sandwich the cake with the toffee pecan icing. Then spread the remaining two-thirds of the icing on top of the cake, using a palette knife. Next, arrange the toffee pecans on top of the cake.  Enjoy with Irish cheer!

Cheers to cake!

Hold on to your Bottlecaps…American Secret Revealed!

February 18th, 2011

NPR’s radio show “This American Life,” after some stealth research, has reportedly uncovered the mystery of the original Coke recipe. They believe that they found the recipe reprinted in a newspaper article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published in 1979. The original recipe was first concocted by the pharmacist John Pemberton in 1886 and was discovered in his best friend’s pharmaceutical notebook along with other not so delicious recipes for things like cough syrup…bleh. I’ll take the coke please. The original recipe was referred to simply as “Merchandise 7X” …the name sounds a little like a recipe from a Cold War spy movie or maybe like a giant hulk sized energy drink.

I am sure Coca Cola has made its own adjustments over the years and that Coke Zero and all the versions of coke…bottle, canned, diet, cherry etc probably don’t taste like the original soda pop but we’ll leave that to you to decide which you like better.
The recipe:

Fluid extract of Coca: 3 drams USP
Citric acid: 3 oz
Caffeine: 1 oz
Sugar: 30 (unclear quantity)
Water: 2.5 gal
Lime juice: 2 pints, 1 quart
Vanilla: 1 oz
Caramel: 1.5 oz or more for color

The secret 7X flavor (use 2 oz of flavor to 5 gals syrup):
Alcohol: 8 oz
Orange oil: 20 drops
Lemon oil: 30 drops
Nutmeg oil: 10 drops
Coriander: 5 drops
Neroli: 10 drops
Cinnamon: 10 drops

Homemade soda pop is super delicious and an excellent way to impress friends and family. Chef Matthew uses the iSi Soda Siphon which uses CO2 chargers. Your own personal twist on coca cola or root beer would be a fun addition to a 50s theme event or a retro drink party. The possibilities are endless! If you want to be citrus seasonal you could try our private chef Matthew’s recipe for Blood Orange soda! He adds strained juice from blood oranges to the soda pop base he makes from infusing water with CO2 and sweetens it a tad with cane syrup or agave nectar. It would be a refreshing drink for a Sunday brunch, a wedding shower, a b-day dinner party or a casual lunch with friends. Chef Matthew says,” put some in a glass with ice, then top with soda and stir.  When I’m feeling extra special, I might muddle some mint and basil into the sweetened juice.  There’s no exact ratio, all measurements are done to taste.” More and more friends of Big City Chefs are getting creative with their drink menus. Drinks are integral to any meal but try supplementing your typical wine and cocktail menu with a signature bubbly.

Romancing the Wallet: The World’s Best Dates

February 15th, 2011

Romancing the Wallet: The World’s Best Dates

Love is in the air, fellas, but you don’t have to shack up to have the ride of your life

BY: Meaghan Clark | Tue Feb 1, 2011

Big City Chef getting ready to prepare a delicious meal

Los Angeles

For an unforgettable adventure, you’ll have to wow her the moment you pick her up and there’s no better way to take her breath away than with a helicopter ride to Catalina Island.

Hiking boots, sunscreen and bug repellent might not be the first thing than comes to mind when packing for a romantic getaway, but if you’ve got a lady that’s up for almost anything, you’ll enjoy working up an appetite together. Instead of hitting up one of the island favorites after your hike, have dinner come to you – from one of several superior private chefs based in Los Angeles:

• Big City Chefs: http://bigcitychefs.com/ (if you want the chefs from “Private Chefs of Beverly Hills, you might need to drop a bit more)
• Chef Stuart O’Keeffe (of the show “Private Chefs of Beverly Hills,” with a price tag all his own)

After a sunset ride back to where it all got started, ease into the evening with a night cap from some celebrated Los Angeles lounges:
• Bar One Beer & Wine Parlour http://www.bar1noho.com/blog/
• Library Bar at Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel http://www.thompsonhotels.com/hotels/la/hollywood-roosevelt
• Tower Bar http://www.sunsettowerhotel.com/

Paris

For a romantic date that’ll really get her going, it’s got to include the element of surprise, so whipping her off on your private jet for a weekend in Paris features all the right tunes.

You’ve got to laugh on a great date, and finding the dark hidden secrets of a renowned amusement park is a great place to start. In Paris, that’s Jardin d’Acclimatation. Close off the afternoon with a view of the Eiffel Tower and one of the city’s most romantic, and truly Parisian, restaurants:

• L’Astrance
4 Rue Beethoven, Paris
• Taillevent
15 rue Lamennais, 8e, Paris
• Le Grand Vefour
17 rue de Beaujolais, 1er, Paris

New York

Avoid the cliché: few women are impressed these days by a box of chocolates or a dozen roses – whisk her off to New York City for the weekend, and there’s one thing she won’t have packed: a truly glamorous gown. That’s where you come in. Before the exquisite dinner, take your lady to Madison Avenue. Assuming you’ve got The Black Card on hand, the Big Apple offers classics including:

• Chanel
735 Madison Ave; 212-535-5505
• Bergdorf Goodman
5th Avenue at 58th Street; 800-558-1855
• Henri Bendel
712 5th Avenue; 800-HBENDEL

Aside from the shopping and clubbing, dining is this city’s main forte, so take her to one of the most mouth-watering, delectable eateries in the city:
• BLT Market, Ritz-Carlton, Central Park
1430 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019 (212) 521-6125
• Marea
240 Central Park South, (212) 582-5100
• Upstairs at 21
21 West 52nd Street, (212) 582-7200

London

As the home to James Bond, quick romantic getaways made effortless are London’s specialty. A walk through the park isn’t cliché when you’ve got the queen next door – Garden at Buckingham Palace and St. James Parks are two bets to make a great first impression. But, it’s the London Eye that’ll get her high for you. Rent out a gondola for just two, and include a bottle of champagne in the afternoon fee.

The sight-seeing doesn’t end in London proper as the locals use everyplace from the Thames River to the parks to stare off into each others’ eyes:
• Waterloo Bridge
• Atop Primrose Hill
• Regent’s Park canal

Conclude the evening with the best of the best, a gourmet dining sans Gordon Ramsay:
• Fitzrovia of Crazy Bear Group, 26-28 Whitfield Street, London W1T 2RG 0207 6310088
• Le Pont Del La Tour – Butlers Wharf, 36d Shad Thames, London SE1 2YE
• Edmunds Andrew 46 Lexinton St, London

Tuscany

When in the heart of Italy, there is no better time to indulge in the area’s greatest passion and livelihood – the grape vine. Sip in style with a wine tour from any of the favorite traditional wineries:
• Tua rita
• Tenuta Dell’ Ornellaia
• Valdicava

Pleasing the palate with signature grapes from the famous hillsides is a start to this romantic getaway, after which a balloon ride from local favorite Chianti Ballooning is an essential escape. Come down from the height with a meal that defines simple and refined Tuscan living:
• Arezzo’s Le Chiavi d’Oro
• Florence’s: Cantinetta Antinori
• Lucca’s Ristorante La Mora

Do-It-Yourself Dinner Parties: Gourmet Pizzas, Crepes and More!

January 25th, 2011

A Do-It-Yourself Dinner Party
by Daniela Kretchmer, Big City Chefs
(C) 2011

Oolala Strawberry Crepes

Making it Personal
A terrific way to host an easy dinner party is to allow your guests to make their own food. This doesn’t have to be a big production; in fact, just the opposite is true. You do a little bit of prep work for them, and they get to create their own meal A great example is hostinga personal pizza party. You make the pizza dough (we’ve provided a recipe in the right column to get you started) and lay out the sauces, cheeses, and a variety of toppings. Then you and your guests have a blast shaping your own dough and throwing (or delicately placing) toppings onto your individual pizzas. Also, if you and your guests want a little bit more direction, our Hands-On Artisanal Pizza Workshop is a perfect way to learn how to make restaurant style pizzas from the pros. Our professional chefs will teach you and your friends how to make several different types of pizza dough, sauces, and toppings.

Then for dessert, sweet crepes are both decadent and customizable. Begin with a basic crepe recipe (again, we’ve provided you with one in the right column) and simply prep the toppings. Great toppings include chocolate, nutella, whipped cream, fresh fruit (such as strawberries and bananas), powdered sugar, and honey. You can cook the crepes in advance, store them in the refrigerator for up to three days, and reheat them for your guests to choose the fillings they want.

Traditional Pizza Dough

Ingredients:
1 Envelope Active Dry Yeast
1/2 cup Lukewarm Water
4 cups All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting work surface (approximately)
1 cup Cool Water
2 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt

Directions:
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together yeast, lukewarm water, and 1/2 cup of flour. Dust the top lightly with flour, cover bowl with a towel, and leave the dough to rise until the top forms cracks in the flour, about 20 minutes.

2. Add 3 cups of flour, the cup of cool water, olive oil, and salt.

3. Knead at low speed at first, then increase speed to medium as flour is incorporated. Add remaining flour as needed to create a slightly moist, soft dough. Continue to knead dough until it adheres to the dough hook of the mixer.

4. Dust dough with flour and scrape out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly, folding dough over on itself (“crush and roll” technique helps create a great texture). Shape dough into a ball, flatten slightly, dusty with flour, cover with a towel, and allow to rise in a bowl until doubled in size, about 60 minutes.

Chocolate-Ganache Dipped Crepes

Ingredients:
3 large Cage-Free Egg
1 1/3 cups Milk
3/4 cup Unbleached Organic Flour
6 tablespoons Unsalted Organic Butter, and more for pan, melted
2 tablespoons Cocoa powder
pinch Kosher Salt
Various toppings: whipped cream, chocolate sauce, jams, powdered sugar, etc.
Chocolate Ganache (makes 1 cup)
1/2 cup Heavy cream
8 ounces Bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Unsalted Organic Butter

Directions:
1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs. Add remaining ingredients and whisk vigorously until combined, small lumps are ok. Set batter aside to rest for 20 minutes.

2. Heat an 8-inch nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Lightly brush the pan with melted butter. Pour 1/4 cup batter into the hot pan, twirling the pan so the batter spreads out evenly into a very thin layer. Cook about 30 seconds until the crepe comes away from the sides of the pan. Gently flip the crepe over with your fingers or the help of a rubber spatula and continue cooking another few seconds. Transfer to a plate and repeat cooking crepes until all the batter is used.

3. For the ganache, in a small saucepan heat cream to a simmer. In a bowl pour simmering cream over chopped chocolate. Add butter and stir until smooth.

4. Top crepes with the ganache and toppings of choice.

5. Enjoy!

Our Chefs Favorite Christmas Recipes!

December 20th, 2010

Happy Holidays! Be sure to try out some of our chef’s delicious recipes this Christmas!

Rib Roast with Figs and Prosciutto

Serves 8-10

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 (3 to 4-rib) standing rib roast (about 7 pounds)
  • 8 to 12 pieces prosciutto
  • 15 fresh figs, halved
  • 8 shallots, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon  high quality red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and arrange a rack in the lower third.

Combine 1 tablespoon of the oil, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, rosemary, and 2 teaspoons pepper in a bowl and mix. Rub the mixture all over the roast and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.

Overlap the prosciutto on the meaty side of the roast and secure in place with kitchen string, tie the roast by running the string parallel to the bones. Arrange the roast in a large roasting rack, bone side down. Roast until the meat is nicely browned, about 25 minutes.

Put the figs and shallots in a bowl and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, vinegar and honey. Season well with salt and pepper, to taste, and toss to coat. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F,  and roast for another 1 hour and 10 minutes. Baste the vegetables occasionally. Roast until the internal temperature registers 115 to 120 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. (Be sure the thermometer is exactly in the center of the roast.)

Remove the roast from the oven and transfer it to a cutting board. Cover it tightly with aluminum foil and allow the meat to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove kitchen string, carve, and transfer to a serving platter. Serve with the figs and onions on top of the roast.

Decadent Mashed Potatoes

  • 4 pounds golden creamer potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives

Directions

Put the potatoes into a large pot, add the bay leaf, 2 tablespoons salt, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain them well and remove the bay leaf. Meanwhile, heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan. Put the potatoes through a ricer or food mill into a bowl. Add the hot cream and season with salt and pepper. Mix together with a spoon and add the chives.

White Chocolate, Raspberry, and Almond Trifle

  • 3 1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 12 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), chopped
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons almond extract, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 7 ounces Boudoirs or Champagne biscuits (crisp ladyfinger cookies), divided
  • 1 cup raspberry jam, melted, divided
  • 1 1/2 12-ounce packages frozen unsweetened raspberries, partially thawed, divided
  • 2 6-ounce containers fresh raspberries
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Bring 1 cup cream to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add white chocolate; whisk until smooth. Cool to barely lukewarm, about 10 minutes. Beat 2 1/2 cups cream and 1/2 teaspoon extract in large bowl to soft peaks. Fold in white chocolate mixture.

Stir sugar and 1/2 cup water in small saucepan over medium heat until sugar melts. Mix in 3/4 teaspoon extract; remove syrup from heat. Quickly submerge 1 biscuit in syrup; shake excess back into pan. Place dipped biscuit in bottom of 14-cup trifle dish. Repeat with enough biscuits to cover bottom of dish.

Spread 1/3 of melted jam over biscuits in dish. Top with 1/3 of partially thawed berries with juices. Spread 1/3 of whipped chocolate cream over. Repeat layering with dipped biscuits, melted jam, partially thawed berries, and whipped chocolate cream 2 more times. Mound fresh berries in center of trifle. Sprinkle almonds around edge. Cover and chill at least 5 hours and up to 24 hours.

Merry Christmas!

Private Chef H’ors d’Oeuvres Recipes Make Your Holiday Parties Shine

December 7th, 2010

Okay, the holidays are in full swing, you’ll have to host at least a few friends if not an entire party at your place, and you can’t bear the thought of reheating puff pastry appetizers that everyone knows came from a freezer.  Here are a few holiday h’ors d’oeuvres recipes from our private chefs that will make you the star of this season’s parties.

Warm and crispy fried olives are a great addition to any cheese platter!Crispy Fried Olives Stuffed with Maytag Blue Cheese

Ingredients:
1 ounce Maytag blue cheese
24 Spanish olives, pitted and patted dry
Peanut oil (for frying)
Unbleached Organic Flour
1 large Cage-Free Egg, beaten to blend
1/2 cup Breadcrumb, fine dry

Directions:
1. Roll small amount of cheese into log shape narrow enough to stuff into 1 pitted olive; stuff olive with cheese. Repeat with remaining olives and cheese. DO AHEAD. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

2. Pour enough oil into heavy large skillet to measure depth of 1 inch. Heat oil to 350°F. Roll stuffed olives in flour, then in egg, then in breadcrumbs to coat. Fry olives until golden brown, about 30 seconds. Using slotted spoon, transfer olives to paper towels to drain. Serve hot.

Savory Dungeness Crab and Cheese Gougères Puffs

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon Dill seeds
1 1/2 cups Gruyère, coarsely grated
Savory California Dungeness Crab , shredded crab meat

For pâte à chou (Cream-Puff pastry)
1 cup Water
1 stick Unsalted Organic Butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 cup Unbleached Organic Flour
4 to 5 Large Cage-Free Eggs

Directions:
1. Make pâte à chou:
In a heavy saucepan bring water to a boil with butter and salt over high heat and reduce heat to moderate. Add flour all at once and beat with a wooden spoon until mixture pulls away from side of pan.

Transfer mixture to a bowl and with an electric mixer on high speed beat in 4 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Batter should be stiff enough to just hold soft peaks and fall softly from a spoon. If batter is too stiff, in a small bowl beat remaining egg lightly and add to batter, a little at a time, beating on high speed, until batter is desired consistency.

2. Make Gougères
Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line with parchment paper.

In a small heavy skillet dry-roast seeds over moderate heat, shaking skillet, until fragrant and slightly darker, being careful not to burn them, 3 or 4 minutes. Transfer seeds to a small bowl and cool. With a mortar and pestle or in an electric coffee/spice grinder grind seeds coarse.

Stir Gruyère, crab meat, and 1 teaspoon ground seeds into pâte à chou and arrange level tablespoons about 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Sprinkle tops of gougères with remaining ground seeds and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching positions of sheets halfway through baking, 30 minutes, or until puffed, golden and crisp. Gougères keep, chilled in sealable plastic bags, 2 days or frozen 1 week. Reheat gougères, uncovered, in a preheated 350°F. oven 10 minutes if chilled or 15 minutes if unthawed frozen. Serve gougères warm.

Big City Chefs Welcomes Latest Atlanta Personal Chef

December 6th, 2010

Big City Chefs welcomes Chef Christina to our elite team of private chefs in the Atlanta area.  Christina combines many years of professional restaurant experience with impeccable attention to detail.  A graduate of the esteemed Art Institute of Atlanta’s culinary arts program in 2003, Chef Christina worked her way through the kitchens of the elite Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Atlanta, the Dupont Hotel in Washington DC, and Jean George Vongerichten’s J&G Steakhouse.  If you would like to enjoy Chef Christina’s warm, professional demeanor and top-of-the-industry kitchen skills for your next dinner party or private cooking class, please contact us.

San Francisco Personal Chef Matthew’s Tips and Tricks for Stress-Free Holiday Entertaining

November 29th, 2010

Chef Matthew’s Tips and Tricks
for Stress-Free Holiday Entertaining

San Francisco Personal Chef Matthew of Big City Chefs, and formerly of top-rated New York City restaurant Eleven Madison Park, shares some of his favorite restaurant chefs’ tips and tricks to make your holiday entertaining easy and delicious!  For more chefs’ tips and recipes, please join the Big City Chefs mailing list at www.bigcitychefs.com.   Bon Appetit!

  • Make large batches of Christmas cookie dough ahead of time and store them in the freezer.  Cookie dough is one exception to the “Freezer Faux-Pas” and typically benefits from chilling time.  A Cookie Press is also a great tool that speeds up your baking process.
  • Brining your holiday bird adds flavor and keeps it moist, plus it’s super easy!  To make a brine, combine 2 parts water with 3 parts sugar/salt mixture, and generously add raw garlic cloves, fresh bay leaves, black peppercorns and whole herbs (thyme or rosemary).  Bring the water, sugar, and salt to a boil and cool completely.  Add your bird to the cold brine and let sit for 8-24 hours in the fridge, depending on size.  Remove and pat dry before cooking.
  • Even though holiday meals are a lot of work, making them family time turns cooking into a fun activity.  Encourage your family to take an active role in preparing the meal and have some fun in the kitchen at the same time!
  • For additional tips, Big City Chefs can create in-home cooking lessong to show you how to make a memorable holiday meal with our modern takes on the Classic American holiday.

Happy Holidays!
Chef Matthew 
San Francisco Personal Chef
1-866-321-CHEF
Email Me!

Ask The Chef: Q&A with Personal Chef Brian

November 27th, 2010

Los Angeles Private Chef Brian answers your culinary questions!  Have a question of your own?  Please email him!

Dear Chef Brian:

Thanks once again for an awesome cooking class tonight.  The bacon wrapped chicken – OMG – I will ONLY prepare chicken using your direction ever again!

Ok – so I’m embarrassed to ask since EVERYONE I know comes to me for food advice, and I’m rapidly finding being an amateur holds no candles to anything you have expertly demonstrated.  And that’s got to change!  Well, baby steps…  SO for Christmas this year, I want to REPLACE all of my pots/pans/knives.  I cringe as I thought I was so smart last year to replace everything with this huge non-stick set, that, well, I really thought was grand.  That is, until you proved that theory completely untrue!
Without spending GA-TRILLIONS of bucks on stuff, and I like to cook “big”
– what would you recommend for probably brand for the pots/pans, and then secondly knives – good bread knife, good everything else knife and your sharpener thing-a-ma-gig.
Any other “you must have in your kitchen” items you’d recommend?
As always, thank you for your awesome presentations for our group – everyone raves about how easy you make everything to cook.
My takeaway from the FIRST event – how to make carmelized onions.  SO EASY and I’ve been trying to figure this out for way too long and failing miserably. I’ve made them using your direction like 2-3 times and they’ve been brilliant.

Have an awesome rest of your month and Happy Holidays!

Garrett
Irvine, CA

Dear Garrett:

Thanks again for coming to the cooking class. I really appreciate your kind words; that is why I do what I do: io hopefully make everyone love food as much as I do. For very inexpensive pots and pans, I really like this brand from Target, believe it or not. Its call Chefmate, and they are stainless steel with a copper bottom.  Best of all, they are not expensive, like $20 per skillet. They also have a set for $100 or so, and it’s a great set. But, I do suggest buying the larger skillet and pot that is hanging on the racks.
Or, if you’re really serious, I really like any of the All-Clad sets. Thats a bit pricier and would last a few lifetimes. So unless you’re planning on handing your pots and pans over to your grandkids, the Chefmate brand is great.

As for the knifes, which are near and dear to my heart, here is what i suggest any self respecting home cook do.  Purchase four knives and a steel that is of the same brand. One chef’s knife, one paring knife, one long slicer, and a bread knife.  Now if you go with a longer chefs knife, then you eliminate having to buy the slicer. And I would really go to Williams-Sonoma or a really great kitchen store. Have the person helping you take out all the knives and seriously touch them. They all have such a different feel and weight. Once your determine what style of handle and feel you like, then make your purchase.  You can also turn to the Internet and do some bargain hunting. Voila!

All the best,

Chef Brian

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