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Monday, July 28, 2014

Peaches, Wines and Festivals!



YES.. After their winter hibernation, the Valley is releasing one of its most precious bounties… Our peaches and grapes! (yes, we know that we grow a heck of a lot more things than just peaches and grapes, but tis the season!)

People nationwide know of our fabulous Palisade Peaches and our wines are growing in popularity every year and what better way to showcase these than with two of the valley’s premier festivals, The Palisade Peach Festival, August 14th – 17th, with the main festival at Riverbend Park in Palisade on Saturday, August 15th & 16th (and other events throughout the entire extended weekend) and the Colorado Mountain Winefest weekend, Sept 19th through the 21st, with the main festival on Saturday, Sept. 20th, again at Riverbend Park in Palisade.

There are many events for both festivals throughout Palisade and the Grand Valley and for more information, check out their websites.

Now, as many of you know, I spend a lot of time on the road, mostly in Virginia, expanding our cheesecake business and have the opportunity to work some other great events, but I always make my schedule to allow time to make sure than I am back in town for these two Festivals as I am very proud to live here and these truly are two of the Showcase events in Western Colorado.

So, Summers here and the time is right for Cooking in the Yard! (ok, it is supposed to be ‘Dancing in the Street.. took some literacy license with that one, ehh?)

The ‘Website of the Week’ is Recipebridge.com. (http://www.recipebridge.com) Great site, search for over 2,000,000 recipes.. Our ‘Recipe of the Week’, Pork Tenderloin with Fresh Peach Salsa and Wine Scented Rice (nice combination for a recipe with The Palisade Peach Festival and Colorado Mountain Winefest theme, ehh?), is also from that site.


Pork Tenderloin With Fresh Peach Salsa and Wine-Scented Rice
(from Recipebridge.com)

Total Time - 45 minutes (Active Time - 30 minutes)

COOKING SEQUENCE
Preheat oven, prepare rice and begin to cook - 10 minutes
Prepare pork and begin to bake - 10 minutes
Prepare salsa for pork; complete both and serve - 25 minutes

MAKES 4 SERVINGS
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Pork Tenderloin With Fresh Peach Salsa
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Ingredients:
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper
2 peaches (or nectarines)
2 medium tomatoes
3/4 cup fresh pre-diced onions
1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar

Steps

Preheat oven to 400°F. Preheat large sauté pan on medium-high 2–3 minutes. Season pork with salt and pepper (wash hands). Place 1 tablespoon oil in pan, then add pork; cook and turn 4–5 minutes or until well browned. Transfer pork to shallow baking pan; bake 15–22 minutes or until pork is 145°F. (Let pork stand 5–10 minutes before slicing.)

Prepare salsa while pork bakes. Chop cilantro and place in medium bowl. Cut jalapeño pepper in half (remove seeds); chop pepper finely and add to cilantro. Cut peaches into small pieces; add to peppers. Cut tomatoes into small pieces; add to peaches. Add onions; gently stir in vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons oil.
Slice pork; serve with salsa.

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Wine-Scented Rice
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Ingredients:
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups basmati or jasmine rice
3/4 cup fresh pre-diced onions
2 3/4 cups white wine/herb chicken broth

Prep
Chop cilantro; set aside.

Steps
Preheat medium saucepan on medium-high 2–3 minutes. Place oil in pan, then add rice and onions; cook and stir 1–2 minutes or until rice is toasted and onions begin to soften.

Stir in broth; bring to a boil. Cover and cook 1 minute, stirring often. Reduce heat to lowest setting; cook 22 minutes (do not stir or remove lid during cooking).
Fluff rice with fork; stir in cilantro and serve. (Makes 6 servings.)


Sunday, July 13, 2014

What is a Chef?



Over the past few years, I have had people call me ‘Chef’… and I have mixed feelings about that!

Yes, I am a culinary school graduate (with honors), yes, I run a food business and have survived (and grown) even with the supposedly receding recession, yes, I do try to push some boundaries, especially with our cheesecakes  and our ‘En Fuego’ cooking, but I do not consider myself a chef. When people ask, I call myself a ‘Cook from Jersey’!

I have hired culinary students, both here and in Virginia that know way more about ‘fancy’ cooking that I do. I know many chefs and cooks around town (Josh from Bin707, Theo from 626 on Rood, Diana Tarasiewicz, from DMT Catering and now District 51, Jonathan from Craving,  Chef’s Jon, Wayne and Dan Kirby from Colorado Mesa University’s Culinary Program, are just a few that come to mind, who have forgotten more than I will ever know!

While I have always loved cooking, I came into this industry late in life (after the age of 50!) and wonder, how much more would I know (and have learned) if I realized that this should be my profession years ago?

So, am I a chef?  No… a Cheesecake Savant.. maybe? (Come on, Ghost Peppers in a cheesecake?) And you gotta try our Colorado-Style Southern Chow-Chow, which will be unveiled at the Downtown Farmer’s Market in August. (Think Southern Relish meets En Fuego!)

To me, a chef is more than just a great cook. A chef knows how to hire the right people, train them the right way, in the right procedures (miz en place anyone?) and also knows how to give them a little room (not too much, at first!) and then can work with them and is able to get the most out of them, sometimes even more than they know they had in them.

A chef puts out food that makes people think, that makes people go ‘Whoa!’ and one who can do so again, again and again!!

Scary thing, well maybe not so much…. There are many great home ‘chef cooks’ out there! How many of us in the industry learned from their mom (or dad)? How many of their recipes have we adapted over the years and even have brought them into our professional lives?

Ya gotta love cooking and food and what it brings into our lives.. so go out, check out what our area chefs and cooks can do and then go home, and as we say a lot.. Play with your Food!

The ‘Website of the Week’ is Chef2chef.net. This is a great site about the industry and also has some tasty recipes. Our ‘Recipe of the Week’, Hawaiian Chocolate Brownies, is also from that site.

You can now also follow the adventures of Decadence on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Decadence-Gourmet-Cheesecakes/171538834903 ,on Twitter (www.twitter.com/decadenceGJ) and on Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/circ2000/decadence-cheesecakes-cooking-thoughts/).

Recipe of the Week...


Hawaiian Chocolate Brownies Recipe
(from Chef2chef.net)

Servings: 16 large or 24 small brownies
The addition of coconut and macadamias makes these rich brownies even more decadent and delicious.
Ingredients:
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, more for pan and parchment paper
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts
Preparation:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Butter a 9x13 baking pan and line with buttered parchment paper.
  3. Place butter and chocolate in a bowl and place bowl over a pot of barely simmering water.
  4. Cool slightly.
  5. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, salt, sugars, and vanilla.
  6. Whisk in cooled chocolate mixture.
  7. Fold in flour just until combined.
  8. Stir in coconut and macadamias and pour batter into prepared pan.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until shiny and beginning to crack on top.
  10. Cool completely in pan on rack before cutting.