Fruits and vegetables – how to store them

Here is a list from today’s Farmers Market newsletter:


– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:San Rafael, CA

Using kitchen technology, today’s menu

My Burlingame clients love a good kitchen gadget even more then I, and I get to play with their gadgets on a regular basis.

Besides the Tec super grill that I use in summer to prepare whole menus, they have a bread machine and a VitaMix blender. And of course they have a microwave oven, that most people use just to reheat food, but in fact it’s an excellent tool for steaming small amounts of vegetables too.

Today’s menu was prepared with extensive use of their kitchen technology.

The menu:

Soup
Borscht; whole wheat piroshki with mushrooms

Main
Garlic shrimps
Quinoa pasta with chicken, mushrooms, and vegetables
Pork tenderloin roast
Beef stir-fry with spring vegetables

Sides
Roasted beets
Sautéed greens
Broccoli salad with cranberries and hazelnuts
Brown rice with garlic and herbs

Borscht is a delicious, but very labor-intensive soup, and using VitaMix to prep the ingredients cuts the manual work by 50 %.

The bread machine kneads and raises the whole-wheat dough for the piroshkis, while the blender chops the mushrooms, garlic, and onions for the filling.

I blanch broccoli, green beans, asparagus, and other green vegetables in the microwave to make them soft without losing their vibrant green color before adding them to the stir-fry, pasta sauce, etc.

Recipes to follow.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Burlingame, CA

Cooking in the 1970-ies: vintage appliances

One interesting thing about cooking for other people is that you work in a different kitchen every day, and people’s kitchens are as different as people themselves. Most personal chef clients have decent to super-fancy kitchens, but there are always some interesting fluctuations from the standard.

One of my clients just got rid of an old free-standing Franklin Chef electric oven, that wouldn’t open or close, didn’t heat up on any of it’s multiple regimes except on “cook” (it also had “bake” that wouldn’t bake, “broil” that didn’t broil, and a few others). Last week she had it replaced with a modern built-in oven that I’m dying to try. I’ve been struggling with the old Franklin for several months…

Today’s clients, when they bought their house in the 1970-ies and remodeled the kitchen themselves, installed a super-cool glass-ceramic Corning cooktop that just hit the market. They still have it, and love it. I was surprised at how well this first flat cooktop works. You have to use only Corning cookware with very flat bottoms; and it does take about 1-1/2 hours to boil a large pot of water on the fastest, top-right burner, so cooking pasta is for special occasions only, and a soup is a whole day project; and the lady insisted that I don’t clean the stove after use, since she has a special cleaning technique for it; but otherwise it browned (!), sweated, and simmered my dishes just fine. Well, I was nervous about the exotic cooktop, so I had designed the menu that uses the (regular) oven a lot.

Today’s menu:

Menu March 6, 2012

Wild mushroom soup
Salmon with parsley and lemon gremolata
Roasted asparagus
Braised duck legs with oranges
Baked sweet potatoes
Pork chops, mustard cream sauce
Quinoa pasta
Lamb chops, red wine sauce
Glazed carrots
Goulash
Polenta (with Parmesan and with shiitake mushrooms)

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:San Carlos, CA

Three top-rated personal chefs on Thumbtack.com

Caliblini Personal Chef Service is #3 top-rated San Francisco area personal chef at Thumbtack.com!
The #1 is Chef Lisa, a San Rafael chef too – I’m proud that Marin County is such a foodie place.
Chefs, San Francisco

Chefs – San Francisco

What I love about being a personal chef #10: I get to play with client’s kitchen gadgets

This is my Santa Clara client’s brand new Panasonic electric meat grinder/sausage stuffer that I took out of the box today, and used to grind beef round for traditional Russian beef patties, cotleti. Works like magic, and so easy to use (after spending hours with my temperamental manual grinder at home).
Russian beef patties - cotleti

Powerful VitaMix blenders, food processors, infrared grills – I get to use them all.


I cannot wait for the day when someone tells me “We bought this Bradley smoker two month ago, and we never use it. May be you can use it sometime, smoke salmon or something…”

Inexpensive organic food storage solution

My Foster City clients are serious about purity of their food. As their personal chef, besides strictly following their special diet requirements, I make sure that all the ingredients that I use, including spices and wine, are organic; I use only stainless steel cookware – no non-stick coating that is suspected to release harmful chemicals into food – their stainless KitchenAid set is beautiful to look at and a pleasure to use; the food is stored in Pyrex tempered glass containers, with a square of non-treated parchment paper between the food and the lid, so the plastic doesn’t touch the food. However, a set of one-serving Pyrex dishes can be very expensive, and they take a lot of space. This client’ solution: solid foods go into Pyrex, soups and stews, this season’s much requested comfort foods, are stored in wide-mouth Mason jars. Put a piece of parchment between the jar and the lid, and you have a perfect, compact, reusable, organic food storage, at about $2 a piece.


In the picture:
Chicken cacciatore
Black bean chili
Chicken stew
Dairy-free cream of broccoli and asparagus soup
Beet and beans soup
Roasted yams

iPad for personal chefs

I am one of the lucky few thousands (or is it millions?) who got an iPad for Christmas last year. Since then, I let it out of my hands only briefly, to charge overnight. The rest of the time, I’ve been using it to read old English mystery novels by the fireplace, browse the web on a sunny day in the park, get directions when lost, check the weather, play Edith Piaf songs for an old man I met on Tiburon boardwalk, play a game of Mahjong whenever I needed to concentrate, make friends with my friend’s new cat Loki on Facebook… The little pad has many uses.

Mostly, however, I’ve been using the pad for business, and my business is cooking for clients.

So here are the ways that I found how a personal chef can use this neat piece of technology:

  • Calendar – I’ve been using Google calendar to schedule my cook dates, networking events, and client interviews. When I started using iPad, I was delighted to discover that its calendar synchronizes with Google perfectly. The calendar application does not allow you to do very complex scheduling, like schedule a cook date every three weeks on a particular day – you have to use the browser interface for this – but for simple scheduling it’s perfect.
  • Contacts – I like to have clients address linked to the map to their place
  • Pages – create menus and invoices, and mail them in either Word or PDF format, or copy and paste into the email message itself
  • Tap Forms HD – the most useful application for a personal chef, or anyone who has to keep clients profiles!I used to interview my new clients about their food likes, dislikes, and allergies, armed with a six-page printed form and a pen, and hated every minute of it! A couple of times I forgot to print out the form before going to an interview, so I had to remember all the questions, write down their answers on a scrap of paper, then rush home to file them.After discovering Tap Forms, I spent a couple of hours configuring my questionnaire form, and now I interview them and tap their answers into my iPad, and I always have their information in my purse! And look cool in the process.

    Contact field links to the client’s contact info and the map. File attachment field allows to add external info, like the approved food list from the personal trainer of my bodybuilder client, or a favorite family recipe. The application is password protected, and allows export to Dropbox or other cloud for backup.

    I love this application, and highly recommend it to other personal chefs. I’ll be happy to share my food questionnaire form with anyone who wants to use it, as is or customized to their business needs.

  • Recipe databases:

    Whole Foods recipes application – I’m very satisfied both with the easy interface, and with the quality of recipes, well suited to our health-conscious clients, and easy to adapt to their individual requirements. Most recipes have nutritional information. I’ve been using it extensively to plan menus for my calorie count client.

    Epicurious – lots of recipes; unfortunately, many of them are too “all-American”, and not suitable for modern Californians. Anything containing “a can of cream-of-something soup”, vegetable shortening, or a bouillon cube is out, and that’s 50% of them

    AllRecipes and Food and Wine applications – both great for inspiration, too difficult to navigate for actual menu planning

    BigOven – I’m just starting with it. Looks promising

  • Grocery Gadget – I’ve been using the web interface on my iPad or PC to create shopping lists, and an iPhone application while shopping. Very convenient. The only complaint is that it has to connect to the Internet every time you turn the phone on, and in some grocery stores it takes forever.
    Go for the paid version. The free demo restricts the shopping list to 20 items, and allows you one list only; my lists usually run to 30 items or more, and, of course, there are 4-5 lists at a time
  • WordPress – the application used to create this post. Usable. Glitchy. Very restricted formatting capabilities, especially for the images. The visual editor doesn’t work. I am comfortable with editing HTML, most personal chefs are not. Let’s wait for the next version.Update: adding links is next to impossible. I’ll add them when I get to my PC. Upd. 4/4/2011: I’ve added links to applications. It’s so much easier with the WP web interface!
  • Update 4/4/2011: invoice2go – the free Lite version is sufficient for most personal chef’s purposes. Set up your company info and logo, add service options and rates in the product section, create and email invoices to clients in your iPad or iPhone contact list. It adds up the items automatically, and allows you to specify per cent discounts, subtract deposits, and calculate taxes, if any. For example, I can add “4×4 meal service, $325” from my list of products, select 15% discount (my “welcome” discount for new clients), manually add groceries, $154.97, enter $150 groceries deposit in the “Paid” column, and the app creates a PDF invoice with all the data and attaches it to an email message to the client. Works both on iPad and iPhone. Requires Internet connection.

Caliblini Personal Chef is now on twitter

I suddenly feel very young again:

I tweet Follow caliblini on Twitter.