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The Latest from Big City Chefs

A Salute to Veggies and Fruit

September 29th, 2010

We know, we know — it’s tough getting your five servings a day of fruits and vegetables.  We’re here to help.  Our chefs’ famously delicious and healthy Carrot Soup satisfies your cravings for creamy, savory fall heartiness, while our favorite recipe for Bananas Foster lends a very nice thinly-veiled legitimacy to drowning bananas’ healthfulness with ice cream and warm booze.  Hey, your kitchen, your rules.  We won’t tell.

Big City Chefs’ Carrot Soup

Ingredients
1 lb. Carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup white wine
1 quart chicken stock
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced

Method:

Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add onion and garlic and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add apple and carrots and sauté for 2 minutes. Carefully add the white wine, chicken, stock, and cumin. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the apples and carrots are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and puree with an immersion blender or, in batches, in a blender. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Garnish with chives and serve

Bananas Foster

This impressive flaming dessert from New Orleans is simple but must be prepared at the last minute in small batches; do not attempt it for a large dinner party.

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. Light or dark brown sugar
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
2 small, firm bananas, cut in half lengthwise
¼ cup Drambuie or other liqueur
¼ cup dark rum
2 scoops vanilla bean ice cream

Method:

In a 10-inch omelet or sauté pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg; mix well. Add bananas and sauté until they begin to soften (about 1 minute on each side).
Pour in liqueur and rum. Turn up heat and tilt pan to ignite liquor. Shake pan slightly to prolong flames. When flames burn out, place 2 banana halves on each serving plate. Place a scoop of ice cream between the banana halves and spoon the sauce over all.

Serves 2.

Let’s Get Brunchy

September 27th, 2010

Ahh, lazy weekend mornings spent reading the newspaper (or your iPad), sipping a cup of joe (organic and fair trade, we hope), and catching up with family or friends are the stuff that gets us through the week.  While many of us choose to battle long waits and bad parking to get in line at local breakfast joints, why not spend that time in your PJs, reconnect with your love for cooking, and pamper your loved ones right at home?  Bring your family and friends together with these delicious Sunday moring brunch recipes!

Classic Eggs Benedict with Housemade Hollandaise

Ingredients:
16 Cage-Free Eggs
16 slices Canadian Bacon, 1/4″ thick
5 tablespoons Unsalted Organic Butter
8 English Muffins, split

HOLLANDAISE SAUCE:
3 Cage-Free Egg Yolks
3 Tablespoons Water
Kosher Salt, to taste
3/4 cup Unsalted Organic Butter, clarified
pinch Cayenne Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice, or to taste

Directions:
1. MAKE THE HOLLANDAISE:
In a small, heavy-bottomed nonreactive saucepan, combine egg yolks, the water, and salt; whisk briefly. Cook over low heat, whisking vigorously and constantly, until mixture is creamy and thick enough that whisk leaves a visible trail on bottom of pan. (Be careful not to let mixture overheat or egg yolks will curdle. Remove pan from heat occasionally so that it does not become too hot; sides of pan should be cool enough to touch.) When yolk mixture becomes thick enough, remove it immediately from heat and whisk for another 30 seconds.

2. With saucepan off heat, gradually whisk in clarified butter drop by drop. After sauce has absorbed about 2 or 3 tablespoons butter, add remaining butter in a very thin stream, whisking vigorously and constantly. Stir in cayenne and lemon juice. Taste and add more cayenne and lemon juice if needed.

3. Keep sauce warm over hot (not boiling) water in a double boiler.

4. POACH THE EGGS:
Bring water to a boil in a large, nonreactive saucepan (you may add 2 tablespoons white vinegar per quart of water if desired. Reduce heat to medium-low so that water just simmers. Break an egg into a small cup or ramekin and slide egg into bubble water. Repeat with remaining eggs. Reduce heat to low and poach eggs, uncovered for 3 minutes. Lift each egg carefully with a slotted spoon and touch it; white should be firm and yolk still soft Remove poached eggs from cooking water with a slotted spoon. Refrigerate until ready to reheat.

5. ASSEMBLE THE DISH:
In a large frying pan over moderate heat, cook Canadian bacon in a little of the butter, adding more butter as needed, until meat is lightly browned on both sides. Keep warm.

6. Reheat poached eggs in hot water. Broil split English muffins until crisp and golden brown.

7. For each serving, place 2 muffin halves on a warm plate and cover each with Canadian Bacon, poached egg, and Hollandaise Sauce. Serve immediately.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast

Ingredients:
24 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
4 cups Fresh or Frozen Unsweetened Raspberries, thawed if necessary
3/4 cup Granulated Cane Sugar
12 slices Thick Bread (such as Texas Toast or other white bread)
12 Cage-Free Eggs
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
2 tablespoons Ground Cinnamon

Unsalted Organic Butter or Canola Oil, for frying
Powdered Cane Sugar, for decoration

Directions:
1. Soften cream cheese and add raspberries and sugar. Mix well with mixer.

2. Spread mixture between 2 pieces of white bread. Combine eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon.

3. Heat a griddle or pan over medium high heat with 1 tablespoon of butter or vegetable oil per serving.

4. Dip sandwiches in batter and grill under golden brown on both sides (about 3 minutes per side).

5. Serve warm with powdered sugar and syrup if desired.

Late Summer Afternoon Tea “Al Fresco”

August 12th, 2010

Although those of you in the eastern parts of the country may be longing for the cooler weather of fall, summer’s not over yet!  In fact, after an unseasonably cool summer all along the West Coast, California’s hottest season is still ahead, and we’re looking forward to gettin our summer just a bit late!  Actually, we have a saying out here in California: “Spring comes in summer, summer comes in fall, fall comes in winter, and winter not at all.” 

As we all enjoy the weeks ahead, why not do something different and host an Afternoon Tea outside on the patio?  Brew up a nice pot of Earl Grey, make or buy some miniature scones, get yourself some clotted cream (available at import shops), and make these delectable tea sandwiches, then wow your guests with a chilled blueberry soup, adapted by one of our chefs from a similar recipe by Thomas Keller of The French Laundry.

 

Smoked Salmon and Herb-Buttered Tea Sandwiches on Whole Foods Seven-Grain Bread

Herb Butter
2 1/2 pounds Unsalted Organic Butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 teaspoons Garlic, minced
5 tablespoons Scallions (white and green parts), minced
5 tablespoons Fresh dill, minced
5 tablespoons Fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
5 teaspoons Freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 teaspoons Kosher Salt
1 1/4 teaspoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Sandwiches
5 loaves Whole Foods Seven-Grain Bread
40 slices Smoked salmon

1. For the herb butter, combine all the butter ingredients in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until mixed, but do not whip.

2. For the sandwiches, have the store slice the bread lengthwise on a meat slicer into 1/4-inch-thick slices. (If that isn’t possible, you can slice it crosswise with a very sharp knife.)

3. Lay out 40 slices of bread and spread them all with a thin layer of herb butter. Place smoked salmon on 20 of the slices. Top with the other 20 slices of bread, butter side down. Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet and wrap with plastic. Refrigerate until the butter is very cold. Place the sandwiches on a cutting board. With a very sharp knife, cut off the crusts, cut each large sandwich in half crosswise, and then cut each half diagonally twice to make a total of 40 small triangles. (If the bread was cut crosswise, follow the assembly directions, then cut off the crusts and cut diagonally, twice, to make 20 small triangles.) Serve chilled.

Chilled Blueberry Soup with Creme Fraiche Ice Cream

Ingredients:
1 1/2 quarts Organic Blueberries
1/2 cup Blueberry Preserves
1 cup Water
1/2 cup Dried Blueberries
1 quart Creme Fraiche Ice Cream

Directions:
1. Place the blueberries in a food processor with the preserves and water, then puree until smooth.

2. In the center of a bowl, spoon a generous dollop of creme fraiche ice cream; ladle the blueberry liquid around it.

3. In a spice grinder, grind the dried blueberries until they become a powder.

4. Sift the powder around the side of the bowl for garnish and flavor.

What Would Snookie Eat?

August 2nd, 2010
 

The fist pumping cast of The Jersey Shore

As a second wave of the “Jersey Shore” phenomenon sweeps the nation with its cast’s unique seaside culture, our private chefs have rekindled their interest in classic Italian-American inspired food and drink for a day at the beach — minus the drama.   Our favorite Guidos and Guidettes, along with the Jersey Shore they call home, inspired the recipes for this perfect meal to enjoy on the beach while working on your tan or on the couch with friends watching the newest episode of Season Two.  Wash down our Italian Sausage Sandwich with Peppers and Onions with a glass of our “Snookie Punch,” and you’ll enjoy a responsible taste of the Jersey Shore lifestyle. 

Snookie Punch 

Ingredients:
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
8 cups diced seedless watermelon (1 pound)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 3/4 cups blueberries
3/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves, plus 8 sprigs for garnish
1 1/4 cups silver tequila
Ice 

Directions:
1. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a simmer with the sugar and stir over moderate
 heat until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute; let the sugar syrup cool. 

2.  In a blender, puree the watermelon until smooth. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and
 strain the watermelon juice, pressing gently on the solids to extract as much juice as
 possible. Discard the pulp. 

3.  In a large pitcher, combine the sugar syrup with the lime juice, blueberries and mint
 leaves. Using a wooden spoon, lightly muddle the blueberries and mint. Add the watermelon
 juice and tequila. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours. 

4.  Pour the cocktail into tall ice-filled glasses. Garnish with the mint sprigs and serve. 

Italian Sausage Sandwich with Peppers and Onions*
Serves 6 

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
6 sweet Italian sausages
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
6 thin slices of provolone cheese
6 hoagie or steak sandwich rolls
(See below for Classic Marinara recipe)
 
Directions:
1. Heat up a large skillet until it begins to smoke; add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the sausages. Brown on all sides (3-4 minutes) and remove from the pan; add the peppers and the yellow onions to the same sausage pan. 

2. Cook over medium-high heat for about 6-7 minutes or until the vegetables begin to caramelize. Add the sausage back in, along with the tomato sauce and parmesan cheese; bring to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for about 25-30 minutes. 

3.  Spoon one sausage and a few peppers and onions into a warm hoagie roll. Top with 1 slice of provolone cheese. Place sandwich on a tray and under a broiler until cheese is melted. 

*For a real Jersey Shore treat, add castmate Snookie’s favorite food to your sandwich; slices of crisp dill pickles.   

Classic Marinara
Yield: 4 Cups 

Ingredients:
32 ounces caned Muir Glen or other organic tomatoes
1/2 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon basil
1/4 cup red wine 

Directions:
1. Over medium heat, sweat onions in some olive oil. 

2. Add garlic and parsley, cook until golden. 

3. Deglaze with wine, let simmer for 2 minutes. 

4. Add tomatoes. 

5. Cook for 30 minutes on low heat. 

6. Make sure to stir, as it will burn easily. 

7. Finish with fresh basil. 

8. Season with salt and pepper. 

Soft Italian Cheesecake 

Ingredients:
4 Egg Yolks
¼ C. Sugar
1 t. Vanilla Extract
Zest of 1 Orange
Juice of 1 Orange
12 Ladyfingers
¼ C. Brandy
1 C. Mascarpone Cheese
1 C. Cream Cheese, Softened 

Directions:
1.  Soak Lady Fingers with Brandy and Orange Juice.  Set aside.  

2. Whip egg yolks, sugar, and orange zest over double boiler until thick and pale yellow – not too much  heat or the eggs will scramble.  Place over ice bath and continue to whip until mixture is cool.  

3.  Incorporate cream cheese and mascarpone cheese.  Make sure the mixture is smooth, not lumpy.  

4.  Place ladyfingers on the bottom of dessert cups, top with cheese cake mixture, and cool. Serve with  whipped cream and dust with cinnamon. 

  

Coffee Leaving You Hot or Cold?

July 30th, 2010

Whether our chefs are cooking for high profile executives in New York or for hard-to-please clients on “Private Chefs of Beverly Hill’s,” one thing is constant: when selecting fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables or the perfect wine for a meal, our chefs have discriminating palettes for the best of the best.  With our offices headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the country’s great regions for coffee microroasters, we and our customers also take our coffee as seriously as we do wine and food.

While we love the purity of hot coffee drinks, summertime sometimes screams for something cool and refreshing.  One of our most popular chilled coffee drinks at private events and summer cooking classes is our Cappuccino Smoothie.  Perfect for a weekend brunch, this drink, using high quality, all natural ingredients, blows away mass-produced blended coffee beverages in its richness and depth of flavor.  It blends creamy coffee ice cream with the kick of espresso to give you an extra boost in your day.  Very refreshing and satisfying.

Cappuccino Smoothies
Yield: 5 Servings
NOTES: If you’re lucky enough to find small coffee microroasters in your area, let them advise you on their favorite espresso roast and enjoy the intensity of fresh roasted beans.

Ingredients:
1 cup Espresso, cold (Note: If you don’t have an espresso maker, use triple the amount of coffee you normally use to brew coffee.)
1/2 cup Coffee ice cream (we love organic, small batch locally produced ice cream)
1/4 cup Crushed or cracked ice
1/4 cup Heavy Cream, whipped
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon, or as needed

Directions:
1. Blend the espresso, ice cream, ice, and milk in a blender until smooth.
2. Serve at once in chilled tall glasses garnished with a dollop of whipped cream.
3. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

For coffee purists who eschew blended beverages, we find inspiration in the centuries-old traditions of the Austrian coffee houses, where staggering varieties of coffee drinks mixed and matched different ratios of water, coffee or espresso, milk, foam, or whipped cream. Our favorite Austrian coffee house beverage is the “Maria Theresa.” This drink was named after the old Austrian Empress Maria Theresa herself.

The Maria Theresa

Ingredients
3 tablespoons of Gran Marnier (or other orange liqueur like Triple Sec)
1 tablespoon superfine granulated sugar
4 oz. freshly brewed coffee (Viennese roast)
1 tablespoon sweetened whip cream
Fresh orange zest, for garnish

Directions:
1.Warm coffee cup up by pouring hot water inside.
2.Add liqueur to cup and stir in sugar. Pour hot coffee on top. Then add whip cream and grate orange zest over the top for garnish.

Hosting your own “Rat Pack” Dinner Party

July 15th, 2010

You asked for them — here they are! Since appearing on Fox 5 Morning News in San Diego recently, we’ve been getting quite a few requests for easy-to-print recipes for our very popular “Rat Pack” Dinner Party.

This is one of our favorite dinner party themes, because it appeals to guys and gals alike, has a swanky, cool old-Vegas edge, and hearkens back to a more innocent era. Be sure to watch the clip for tips on table settings!

So bust out those Sinatra albums, set up some casino games, turn down the lights, and make some memories with this simple but wonderful menu.

Signature Cocktail: French 75
Don’t forget to serve your favorite martini, of course, but for something unique and retro-fab, we love this champagne cocktail that’s just the right blend of sweet and tart.
Serving Size: 1 cocktail

Shake up cracked ice, 1-1/2 ounces of dry gin, fresh juice of 1/2 lemon, and 1/2 tsp. powdered sugar. Pour into glass with ice cubes, fill with sparkling wine. Add a twist of lemon peel.

H’ors d’Oeuvre: Truffled Cream of White Cauliflower Soup Shots
Serving this soup in shot glasses adds extra Vegas glam and leaves room for that big classic steak dinner.  White truffle oil is an affordable luxury that you can find at a very reasonable price at Fresh & Easy Markets or at Italian grocers.
Serving size: about 18 shot glasses or 4 full servings

2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1 large Onion, finely chopped
1 pound Cauliflower florets (about 5 cups)
2 14 1/2 ounce cans Vegetable broth
1 teaspoon White Truffle oil
1 tablespoon Chives, thinly sliced

1. Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté
until tender, about 8 minutes. Add cauliflower and sauté 2 minutes. Add
broth. Cover and simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 25 minutes.

2.Working in batches, transfer soup to blender and purée until smooth.
Return soup to pot. (Soup can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool slightly.
Cover and refrigerate.) Bring soup to simmer. Season to taste with salt
and pepper.

3.Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle with truffle oil. Garnish with chives.

Salad: Chef Gina’s Famous Gin and Tonic Martini Salad
Serve this salad in a martini glass, shake up the dressing in a cocktail shaker, and pour it over the salad tableside.  If only all salads could be this cool.
Serving Size : 4

For the Gin and Tonic Dressing:
1/4 cup Gin — top shelf gin for best flavor
1/2 cup Fizzy tonic water
2 tablespoons Juice of a ripe lemon
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup Vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Chopped chives

For the Salad:
8 ounces Baby mixed greens
1 bulb Shaved fennel
1 cup Sliced green olives
Zest from one lemon

For the salad dressing: Whisk the first four ingredients together in a bowl. Slowly add the oil until slightly emulsified (you may not use all the oil). Add chives and set aside.

Toss the salad ingredients with a bit of the dressing, gradually adding to gently
coat the salad. You may or may not use the whole portion on the
dressing. Fill the chilled martini glasses with the salad. Garnish
with a couple blue cheese stuffed olives on a skewer or use your
creativity!

Entree: Grilled Dry-Aged Porterhouse Steak with Roquefort and Chive Butter
Serving Size : 5

2 Porterhouse Steaks
1/2 stick Organic Unsalted Butter — softened
4 ounces Roquefort Cheese — rind removed and softened
1/2 bunch Fresh Chives
zest of ½ lemon
Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper — to taste

In a small food processor, combine the cheese and butter. Blend until
thoroughly mixed. Alternatively, you may blend the ingredients with a
wooden spoon. Add the lemon zest and chives. Mix well, then add
pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Season steaks with Salt and Pepper. Cook the steaks on a grill pan
until medium-rare (145 on an instant-read meat thermometer)

Spoon a dollop of the Roquefort butter onto each steak. —

Side Dish: Hash Brown Potato Cakes
You may also pair the steak with any vegetable side — for something rich, creamed spinach does the trick; for a lighter side, grill fat asparagus spears and season will coarse sea salt and a drizzle of lemon and olive oil.
Serving Size : 5

3 Peeled Idaho Potatoes
1 Yellow Onion
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
1 Cage-Free Egg Yolk
2 tablespoons Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon Organic Butter
1 tablespoon Organic Olive Oil

Grate the potatoes and onion in a food processor.

Mix with the egg yolk and flour, then season the mixture with salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.

Pack the potato-onion mixture tightly into the skillet to make one big cake.

Cook for 5 minutes on medium to medium-high heat

Flip it over and finish in a 400-degree oven for 15-20 minutes.

Cut into wedges and season with kosher salt.

Dessert: Zabaglione with Fresh Berries
An easy Italian classic that transforms fresh summer berries into a wonderful, light dessert.

Serving Size: 4 servings
Ingredients
· 4 large egg yolks
· 1/4 cup sugar
· 1/4 cup dry Marsala wine
· Fresh strawberries and blueberries, washed and dried, stems removed from strawberries

Over medium-low heat, bring a pot of water to a simmer.  Combine the egg yolks and sugar in a heat-resistant bowl and whisk until foamy.  Set the bowl over the simmering water, without letting the bottom touch the water, and continue to whisk constantly.  Gradually pour in the Marsala while continuing to beat.  Be sure to keep the mixture from boiling.  Whisk vigorously for about five minutes, until the custard has doubled in volume and is very thick and yellow.  Spoon the zabaglione into dessert bowls and serve with fresh berries.

Private Chefs’ Top Six Secrets to Healthy Ballpark Eats

July 9th, 2010

by Caroline Gibbs, Big City Chefs Food Writer

Here at Big City Chefs, we know how much you love America’s favorite pastime and all of your favorite ballpark foods that go with it. It’s why “Ballpark Favorites,” with Homemade Cashew Caramel Corn, Apricot Ale Vanilla Ice Cream Floats, and decadent Carne Asada Nachos with hand-cut tortilla chips, is one of the most popular summer cooking classes we offer!  Yum-a-licious!  But it’s no secret that ballpark fare is not usually considered healthy eating, and for the calorie-conscious fan looking to avoid “eater’s remorse,” dining options at the ballpark can be difficult to navigate. Here are some tips on how to have fun at the game without ruining your diet, courtesy of your favorite private chefs.

1) Check out your ballpark’s concession stands before the game. Every major baseball stadium’s website will give you an overview of the concessions they offer and where they are in the ballpark. If you check them out beforehand, you can figure out what options are available near your seats and know the healthiest options to seek out when you get up for your mid-inning meal.

2) Eat before you go. Having a snack or a meal before the game is the best way to ensure that you don’t overeat or give into temptation at the stadium. It’ll also keep you from jumping up from your seat after every inning and missing the game!

3) Consider the park’s vegetarian options. Ballparks have become increasingly aware of meeting all of their fans’ needs. Many stadiums now are offering an increased number of vegetarian options such as veggie burgers and dogs, vegetarian wraps, salads etc. Vegetarian meals will most likely be much lower in saturated fat and calories.

4) Go grilled. Instead of indulging in your favorite fried foods at the ballpark, try out some of their lower in fat grilled options such as a grilled chicken sandwich or grilled fish.

5) Avoid the refined sugars. While cotton candy and churros are ballpark favorites, they aren’t the best way to satisfy your sweet tooth when trying to diet. Instead, try a fruit salad (which many ballparks are now starting to offer) or sharing a bag of kettle corn with your friends. They have less sugar and will still satisfy any sweet craving you find yourself having.

6) Bring your own food. Of course the best way to avoid unhealthy food altogether at the ballpark is to bring your own. Satisfy your urge to pick at French fries by bringing vegetable crudités with a side of low-fat ranch dressing. Bring your own bag of low-fat popcorn or kettle corn to help quell the urge to high fat and sodium-filled popcorn. Having snacks that high-fiber with a little bit of sugar and fat will keep you satiated longer and stop you from jumping up to get that diet-ending chili cheese dog.

(c) Big City Chefs 2010

Summertime… and the Grillin’ is Easy

June 30th, 2010

Truffle and Herb-Butter Burgers

A casual summer interpretation of Daniel Boulud’s famous truffle and foie gras stuffed burger from Cafe Boulud in New York.

Yield: 8 burgers

Ingredients:

3 pounds Ground Beef Chuck or Round
1 Large yellow Onion
1 1/2 tablespoons Heavy Cream
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
Unsalted Butter (or, if you’re avoiding cholesterol, we recommend using a butter substitute like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!® soft spread)
Vegetable Oil, as needed
Kosher Salt, to taste

For Truffle and Herb- Butter:

8 Tbs. butter or butter substitute*
White truffle oil
Parsley, minced
Kosher salt

Directions:

1. Spread the meat out onto a cutting board or casserole dish and grate 2 to 3 tablespoons of onion into it. Use a fairly fine grater so that you get just the juice and very finely grated raw onion. Mix in the heavy cream and some freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Form into small patties, averaging 3 to 4 ounces per miniature burger.

2. Combine the 8 tbs butter with white truffle oil, diced parsley, and kosher salt, to taste. Stuff each of the eight patties with an equal amount of the butter mixture.

3. In a heavy cast iron skillet or pan, cook the hamburgers in the butter and oil over medium-high heat, giving it 3 to 4 minutes a side, depending on how well done you like it. Salt the patties and serve them on toasted rolls with a half lettuce leaf and tomato to start.

Homemade Ketchup

Ingredients:
1 can (28-oz) whole tomatoes in purée
1 medium Yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
2/3 cup Dark Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 cup Cider Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

Directions:
1. Purée tomatoes (with purée from can) in a blender until smooth.

2. Cook onion in oil in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add puréed tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, and salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until very thick, about 1 hour (stir more frequently toward end of cooking to prevent scorching).

3. Purée ketchup in 2 batches in blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids).

4. Chill until flavors are melded (ideally at least 2 hours).

 

Corn with Honey Chipotle Butter

Ingredients:

6 ears corn with husks, silk removed
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted (or butter substitute*)
1 tbsp chipotle in adobo, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp honey
Lime wedges

Directions:

Heat grill to medium/ medium low. Place corn in cold water, and soak for 20 minutes. Combine butter and next 5 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside. Pull husks back from corn Brush butter mixture evenly over corn. Wrap husks around corn. Place on a grill rack, and grill 16 minutes or until done, turning occasionally. Serve with lime wedges.

*Our professional chefs recommend I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!® as the best-tasting butter substitute.  For a lighter butter flavor with fewer calories, we also like their spray

Thanks to our friends at I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!® for their support.

A Buyer’s Guide for Setting Up Your First Kitchen

June 28th, 2010

by Betty Ho, Big City Chefs Food Writer

So you’ve got your degree, and you’ve graduated from college or grad school, and with it you’ve graduated from late night pizza delivery and microwave dinners.   Now what?  You’ve got a new apartment, a new job, and you’re faced with all of the daunting tasks “real life” is going to throw at you.  Outfitting your new kitchen doesn’t need to be one of them. Setting up you’re first kitchen is all about covering the basics – having the right tools in the kitchen makes cooking feel easier and more accessible.  Thanks to our private chefs’ personal recommendations, here is a run down of the tools and gadgets you need to make cooking in your first kitchen easy and enjoyable, along with easy links to find the items online.

Pots and Pans:

Pots and pans are kitchen essentials – they allow for cooking the basics from pot roast to vegetarian stews to pastas. Furthermore, having a good variation of sizes makes cooking and cleanup easier – you want to have a pan for when you’re cooking for one and another for when you’re cooking for a group. Here’s what you’ll need, along with some links to products our private chefs recommend:

· A couple of sauté pans

· A good stock pot

· A few different sized saucepans

· You will usually be pretty well covered by a 10-piece cookware set but don’t be afraid to supplement if you think you’re missing something

Knives:

Knives are perhaps one of the most important tools in a chef’s arsenal. A good sharp knife makes preparing food easier and faster. Of course, knives can be expensive, and if you don’t plan on cooking often, it can be a good place to save some money. When starting out, the best way to cover all your bases is with a knife set:

· 13- Piece Set

· 16- Piece Set

Prep Tools:

It is always important when cooking to maintain an organized and clean workspace. That’s why cutting boards and mixing bowls are essential to a kitchen, as they provide a clean and safe surfaces on which to prepare and mix food. Additionally, mixing and blending tools are very helpful in the kitchen. Having a food processor, blender, and a standing or hand mixer will greatly increase the number of meals you can prepare. You’ll need:

· A trio of mixing bowls

· A couple of cutting boards (different sizes)

· Food processor  (if you do not want a full size one, a small one will still be helpful)

· Blender

· Standing mixer

· Or a hand mixer

Cooking Utensils:

There are thousands of kitchen gadgets designed to do specific tasks but to get yourself started, you can stick with some of the basics. Here are the essentials:

· Can opener

· Metal spatula (for cooking)

· Rubber spatula (for baking)

· Whisk

· Metal tongs

· Medium microplane grater

· Measuring Cups and spoons

· Peeler

· Colander

Pantry Storage:

Pantry storage items are a great way to keep your pantry organized and makes for easy access. It can also be a great way to save space in smaller kitchens. Here are a few possible storage containers:

· Container Set

· Over-the-door storage

· Magnetic spice rack

· 2 ½ quart container

· Glass tupperware

While you don’t need to buy all of these items all at once, make yourself a list and purchase a few items at a time, checking them off as you bring them into your growing kitchen.  If you buy the right tools right off the bat, then your first kitchen will be the building blocks of a lifetime of cooking.

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Many thanks to our private chefs for their suggestions and recommendations.

Planning Your Own Girl’s Night out!

June 10th, 2010

Summer is here, and what better way to celebrate than with a fun night of great food, cool cocktails, and juicy gossip with your closest gal-pals? (Gentlemen, you may wish to retreat to your nearest outdoor grill for a great burger party).

The recent release of “Sex and the City 2” inspired us to create some great ideas to help kick off the summer party season. Whether for a casual “girls’ night out” …at home, spunky bachelorette, or lively bridal shower, Big City Chefs has you covered! So put on that cute new outfit, call your girlfriends, and throw a get-together with simple light bites and a cocktail or two, then catch the movie afterwards, or just be fabulous at home. We’ve put together a few recipes to get you started.

Sugar Cane Skewered Shrimp with Pineapple Glaze
These shrimp are delicious hot off the grill.  To save on calories and saturated fat, use I
Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!®
 instead of butter(0 grams trans fat per serving)

Ingredients:
Sugar cane skewers
1 pound Large shrimp
Kosher Salt, to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
1 8-ounce can Crushed pineapple in juice, drained
1/2 cup Pure maple syrup
1/4 cup Fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Soy sauce
1/4 stick Butter (or trans fat-free butter substitute*)

Directions:
1. Skewer shrimp, season with salt and pepper and grill about 5 minutes, or until just cooked through.

2. Meanwhile, whisk crushed pineapple, maple syrup, lemon juice, mustard, soy sauce, and butter in medium saucepan to combine. Baste shrimp skewers with some of pineapple mixture, and grill again.

3. Serve the leftover pineapple glaze as a dipping sauce.

*We recommend using I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter!® sticks.

Chef Jesse’s* Cotton Candy Martini

You’ve seen Chef Jesse make these on Food Network’s “Private Chefs of Beverly Hills.” Now, make them for your guests! We offer an alcoholic and non-alcoholic version.

Ingredients:
Cotton Candy (in a variety of colors)
Lemonade
Soda Water
Ice
Raspberries and blueberries to garnish

What you do:
1. Take a small bunch of cotton candy and place in a chilled martini glass

2. Mix lemonade and soda water together in a martini shaker with ice.

3. Pour the lemonade over the cotton candy. The cotton candy will instantly dissolve and create a really pretty pink or blue color!

4. Garnish with raspberries, blueberries, or strawberries on a festive tooth pick.

Remember: It’s the “show” that counts here, so wait until you are just about to serve in front of your guest before you pour!

Note: For a “true” cocktail add some vodka to the lemonade mix.

*Recipe Courtesy of Chef Jesse from Private Chefs of Beverly Hills — please visit Chef Jesse’s website at www.jessebrune.com

Many thanks to our friends at I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter!® for their support.

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