Monday, May 28, 2012

Grilled Steak Sticks with Vegetables and Chimichurri

My nephew Jake decided to have an international food taste testing for his 11th birthday.  Being a chef I knew he expected something amazing from me (my sister also gave me the heads up).  Our whole family enjoys beef so I brought Argentinian beef kabobs.  I also brought french pastries because Jake requested them.

The french pastries are not exactly made with pure foods but they don't really turn out with whole wheat flour and sucanat.  I love to eat real foods but I also believe in living my life 80/20.  80% of the time we eat really good and are very active but the other 20% (vacations and special occasions) I just roll with the punches.

I have a lot of friends that bring all of their food on vacation so that they never eat anything processed and I admire that but for me that would be stressful. I always try to use the good, better and best method for vacations, eating out and special occasions.  I make the the best choice from what is available instead of stressing myself  out about not eating the right foods.  Sometimes the best choice might even mean bringing french pastries to your nephew's birthday party because he asked you to and you want to make his day special. Of course I had to try them to make sure they were up to par!!!  His party may have been a more 50/50 day food wise but it was 110% fun and yummy!

Grilled Steak Sticks with Vegetables and Chimichurri
This thick herb sauce, common in Argentina as ketchup is in the United States. Chimichurri is a melange of olive oil, vinegar and finely chopped parsley, oregano, onion and garlic, all seasoned with salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Served as a condiment, with grilled meat and vegetables.
1 ½ cup olive oil
¾ cup red wine
¾ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons oregano, chopped
9 cloves garlic minced
1 ½  teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper
1 flank steak cut into ½ inch strips
2 small summer squash cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
2 small zucchini cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
1 pint mushroom
1 pint grape tomatoes
3 heads of garlic broken into cloves and peeled
16 bamboo skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes

  • Whisk together oil vinegar, parsley, oregano, garlic and salt and pepper to taste (about 1 tsp of each)
  • Place beef strips in a zip lock bag with a ½ cup of sauce.  Turn to coat.
  • Place vegetables in a zip lock bag with a ½ cup of sauce.  Turn to coat.
  • Marinate beef and vegetables for 15-30 minutes.
  • Thread beef on skewers.
  • Thread vegetables on skewers leaving ¼ inch space between vegetables.
  • Grill kabobs over and open grill for 6-8 minutes for beef and 8-10 minutes for vegetables turning once.
  • Arrange kabobs on platter serve with remaining sauce.
Chef tips
Leave space between vegetables so they will cook evenly.
This marinade taste great on pork and chicken too!
I prefer making it with basil rather than oregano but for the party I made it the traditional way.

French Pastries:Cream Puffs and Fruit Strips

Meringue Update
In my post Mother's Day and Carson's Cookies I said I would try to make meringue with palm sugar and let you know if it worked.  The answer is...I didn't.  They cookies never became crispy and I did not like the flavor.  Next I will try to make them with honey and let you know how that goes.

Have a great great week!! 
Take it one prep at a time,
Chef Jackie

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cooking Class at Schoolcraft, Livonia Mi

I still have spaces available for  Beat the Heat Light Summer Meals class at Schoolcraft College, Livonia, Mi.  Click here to register.  The class is May 31st from 6-9  The lead instructor is Chef Kelli Lewton from Pure Food.  I am her sous chef.  Please register ASAP if you plan to attend.

PLC BBQ Sauce and Rub, Grilling Tips

I just love summer and cooking on the BBQ; besides the great flavor it also means a lot less dishes!!  I make everything on the grill; vegetables, pizza and even dessert!

My homemade BBQ sauce is made with pure ingredients; no high fructose corn syrup.  My BBQ rub doesn't contain non-caking agents like the rubs found in stores.  Keeping it pure and simple gives the meat great flavor without of the unwanted extras of store brands.  This BBQ sauce will keep for a month in the refrigerator and the rub is good for a year in your pantry in an air tight jar.  The rub will stick together after some time and may need to put in a blender. 

A Perfect Pair: For larger cuts of meat such as a pork tenderloin I will generously cover it in the rub and refrigerate it overnight; near the end of cooking time I will baste it with BBQ sauce.  Always have extra BBQ sauce to serve on the side.  This sauce taste great on beef, pork, chicken, shrimp and salmon.  Tweak the recipe to your liking by adding more or less of an ingredient to change the flavor and spiciness.

As always take it one prep at a time,
Chef Jackie

Following the recipes there will be a few grilling tips.

sucanat, palm sugar, maple syrup, honey or brown sugar
wheat-free organic soy sauce
cider vinegar
cayenne pepper
garlic powder
mustard powder
Celtic sea salt
fresh ground pepper
 In a small sauce pan over medium heat stir together all ingredients.
 Bring to a simmer and cook 2-3 minutes.
 Let cool slightly before use or cool and refrigerate before use.
Yield: ½ Cup
Cooking Times
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to one month.
Great corn syrup-free alternative.
Store in glass jar with tight fitting lid under refrigeration.
Recipe can be doubled or tripled.

sucanat, brown sugar or palm sugar
oregano, dried
ground coffee (optional)
1 ½
Celtic sea salt
pepper, freshly ground
olive oil
Combine above plus 1 Tablespoon olive oil and rub on meat.
Yield: Enough rub for 2 pounds meat
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Best served with bone-in-chicken, strip steak and baby back ribs.
Make a a large batch and store in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.
Makes a great gift for house warming's and Father's Day.

Grilling Tips:
  1. Work clean: Clean grill grate before heating and brush with oil.
  2. Make sure all meat or other foods are at room temperature; this will allow the meat to cook more easily without burning or becoming dried out. 
  3. Season meats with salt and pepper, rubs, herbs and spices or marinades before cooking.
  4. Heat grate to high before adding meat or veggies (hold your hand over the grate if you can't keep it there longer than a few seconds it is ready).  Reduce heat during cooking or cook uncovered.
  5. Reduce flare ups: Remove excess marinade from meat before placing on the grill.
  6. When turning food move to a part of the grill the has not had food on it.  If you do this you will get a better sear and juicier meats.  Plus you will have grill marks on both sides.  If you do not have enough room don't worry about it.  Everything on the grill still taste better no matter how you get there.
  7. It has been said that adding marinade can reduce charring which will in turn reduces the amount of carcinogens.
  8. Even thickness of meats and veggies will cook better (no dry spots while other spots are under cooked).
  9. Bone-in meats will be juicier.
  10. Food safety: Do not serve  marinade or sauce on the side that has touched raw food while grilling.  You can either throw it out or bring it to a boil for a minute or so then serve it.  It is better to be safe!!
  11. Allow meat to rest 5 minutes before serving. If you cut into it to early it will loose its juiciness and become dry. 
  12. To add flavor to you grilling experience add some wood chips (found in the grilling section of your favorite store)  to your coals or for a gas grill dampen wood chips and place in foil tin under the grate.  Close the grill while cooking to infuse the flavor of the wood.  I love cherry wood!
  13. Keep a water spray bottle near by for flame flare ups.
  14. Grill clean up:  Remove all food from the grill.  While meat is resting close lid to the grill and cook off and excess food left on grill for at least five minutes at the highest temperature possible.  Open lid and with a wire brush clean grill grate; turn off gas grills.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day and Carson Cookies and Cookie Tips

Today I want thank my mother for all of the gifts she has given me and continues to give me every day of my life.  I can remember as a child a teacher asking me “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  My quick answer was “a mother”.  My mom gave me the greatest childhood and I wanted to grow up and do the same for my family.  Once I became a mother people would ask me “don’t you want to use your degree?” “Don’t you want more out of life?”  I thought to myself this is the most challenging and rewarding job I have ever had and I am living my dream!! 

More out of life?  What could be better than spending time with my family?  Don’t get me wrong there were days before I worked outside the home that I longed for my own identity.  Lucky my Mom also has taught me to be true to myself. She always did activities for herself, spent time with her friends, took classes and still managed to raise four happy children.  She would have never judged me if I decided to work when my son was young.  She would have encouraged me to turn my dreams into my reality; because she knew true happiness comes from within and if I am happy I will share that happiness with the people I love.    Always remember to share your gifts, your time and your dreams with the ones you love.  True happiness is infectious!  

Time is something I don’t have enough of and I can’t make more of it. Daily I have to tell myself there will always be more laundry, more dishes and more work but there will never be more time.  This helps me spend my time wisely with the people I love and reap the rewards of time well spent!   

Thank you Mom for the countless hours you have given me to make me the person I am today!  I love you and I am proud to say you are not only my mother but a great friend and someone who inspires me every day to be the best person I can be! 

Cooking together is a great way to share an activity with your family.  Today’s media and society tells us that we need to go somewhere or spend money to have a good time but that is simply not true.  When my family works in the yard together or makes a meal together we are making memories and strengthening our family bond.  Sure, when we make a meal we spend money but that is money we would have spent anyway. As a family we are making a conscious effort to enjoy the simple things and to live life on our own terms! 

The recipe below is great to make with the whole family and will give your family endless snacks.  It makes a huge batch so once the dough is made it can be divided up and everyone can add their own favorite garnish.  If someone doesn’t like chocolate chips (my nephew doesn’t; honestly this makes me question whether or not we are really related!) just omit the chocolate chips and add your own garnish; dried cranberries, raisins or butterscotch chips are just a few ideas.

I developed these cookie to get my son to eat a whole grain cookie instead of one made with white flour.  These cookies have 1/3 the amount of sugar a normal cookie and has protein from the peanut butter and the eggs.  It is healthier than most granola bars and contains no preservatives.  It can be made gluten free by using Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oats.  I buy them at Kroger on the organic pantry section.

I love these cookies and find myself eating them sometimes after a workout when I don't have time to prepare breakfast.  I get the benefit of the protein from the eggs and peanut butter, whole grain from the oats, trace minerals from the palm sugar or sucanat and magnesium from the dark chocolate. 
Shredded apple, carrots, dried fruit, chopped nuts or coconut can be added to change the flavor and to boost the nutrition.

This recipe makes a huge batch so if your not sure if you will like them make a half batch the first time. 

Happy Mother's Day!
Chef Jackie

Carson Cookies-yield 7 dozen 
6 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 sticks butter, softened or 1 cup softened coconut oil
1-12 ounce package dark organic chocolate chips
3 cups brown sugar, palm sugar or sucanat
½ tablespoon honey or maple syrup
1 ½ pounds of peanut butter or almond butter (3 cups)
4 teaspoons baking soda
9 cups of organic oatmeal or gluten free oats
1 teaspoon salt or Celtic sea salt
  1. Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls then combine together by hand or with an electric mixer.
  2. Chill dough 4 hours or overnight and scoop dough to desired size.  Bake from cold dough on parchment lined cookie sheets.
  3. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes
  • These are a healthier alternative to chocolate chip cookies and store bought granola bars.
  • Dough balls and baked cookies may be frozen.
  • If you do not like the rough texture of oatmeal use ground oats instead of whole oats.
  • Peanut butter thickness varies so if your cookies spread to much; bake the dough from frozen dough balls.
  • If using cocnut oil bake from frozen.
Peanut Allergies-Sunflower butter can be substituted for the peanut butter. The cookies will look greenish after baking and will turn more green every day you store them.  When I make them that way I call them Monster Cookies.  Someone also suggested to me to replace the peanut butter with ricotta cheese.  They said it work when they made them but I haven't personally tried it.  Make them at your own risk.

Reducing sugar in cookies recipes-When I want to reduce the sugar in a cookie recipe I half the sugar then add 1/2 tablespoon to 1 tablespoon of honey or maple syrup; this allows the cookie to still be soft after baking.  It doesn't always work but most times it does and nobody even knows there is less sugar in the cookie.

Using palm or coconut sugar will reduce the glycemic index to 35; table sugar is about 65.  What does this mean?  In a nut shell it is a lot healthier for you. 
Palm sugar is found in the supplement section of most health food stores.  It taste like brown sugar. It can also be bought online but I found it to be less expensive to buy in the store.

The lower glycemic index, the great taste and the fact that it is an exact substitute for regular sugar (1 cup palm sugar equals 1 cup regular sugar or brown sugar) has made this my favorite sugar to use.  I am going to try to make meringue and frosting with it.  I will let you know how it turns out!  The draw back to this sugar is it is expensive! It is worth it to me because we do not use very much sugar and it is a much healthier alternative.  It's even been featured on Dr. OZ

Using sucanat adds minerals to the cookie.  Sucanat can be found in the sugar section of health food stores and also goes by the name Rapadura. To learn more about sucanat click here.  It is more expensive than white or brown sugar but is less expensive than palm sugar.  It is a good choice for budget and health conscious bakers.

Cookie Tips
  • Sliced or refrigerator-Dough can be formed in a mold or rolled in to a log then refrigerated.  Cookies are sliced off of log after several hours of refrigeration then baked. 
  • Bar-This cookie is baked in a jellyroll pan (cookie sheet with sides) lined with parchment and cut into a finger, diamond or other shape after being cooled or slightly frozen.
  • Rolled Cut Outs-Dough is chilled then rolled to desired thickness and cut with cookie cutters.
  • Drop-Dough is dropped from a teaspoon, scooped or rolled into a 1 inch ball.
  • Pressed or Piped Cookies-Soft dough’s are extruded from a cookie press or piping bag.
  • Dough’s may be frozen in logs, balls or in containers until time to bake.  Frozen dough breaks less than baked cookies.
  • Baked Cookies should be frozen by cookies type in square or rectangular containers.  Wrap containers in plastic wrap then foil to maintain freshness.
Packaging for gifts
  • Smaller cookies reduce breakage.
  • Distribute heavier cookies on the bottom of container and more delicate cookies on the top.
  • Use muffin liners to separate varieties in tin or boxes. 
  • Muffin Liners cushion cookies and help prevent breakage. Cookies in muffin liners can be stacked 4 high.
  • When using paper or cardboard boxes make sure they are wax lined or grease proof.  
Baking Tips
  • Eggs and butter should be at room temperature unless otherwise noted.
  • Make dough’s on one day on bake on another day.
  • Always use parchment paper or sil-pat mats
  • Bake at 350 degrees unless otherwise noted.
  • Prepare a shopping list ahead of time and have all ingredients on hand on dough making day.
  • Double recipes so you will always have cookies on hand for a snack.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

How to Make Chicken Stock; Uses and Tips

My recipe post from last week contained chicken stock so I wanted to give you a recipe to make your own instead of using the store bought chicken stock that often contains MSG and is high in sodium.  Chicken stock is an amazingly nutritious and simple to make.   I make it from fresh chickens and bones or from bones "planned over"  from a chicken that I roasted previously. Both make wonderful stock.  Below you will find some tips and uses for chicken stock and the recipe to make it.

If you like my recipes please check out my e-cookbooks available for purchase at NourishMD.

Take it One Prep at a Time!
Chef Jackie

The Wisdom of Stock, Broths, Soups and Stews  
By Chef Jackie White and Chef Kelli Lewton from Pure Food 2u and Two Unique Caterers

Meat and fish stocks are used extensively in most traditional cuisines worldwide.  Properly prepared meat stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the nutrient dense extractions in the form of minerals from; bone, cartilage marrow and aromatic vegetables as electrolytes, that is easy for the body to assimilate.  Folk wisdom has been handed down generation to generation touting the medicinal benefits of mineral rich stock/broths from treating the common cold to fighting the ravages of asthma and infectious diseases.   
The secret of good soup and stew cookery is having a good foundation of broth/stock.  In a nut shell the making of broth/stock is the extraction of flavor, water soluble minerals and vitamins from whatever bones, meats and vegetable you choose.  Once you have achieved the fortified base the sky is the limit!

One would be hard pressed to find another finished food commodity that is so sensitive to today’s diverse and demanding lifestyles.  Soup can be the perfect food to accommodate many of our daily life challenges including; budget, health, utilization of leftovers and even the fussiest eaters.  It is the literal “One Pot Meal”  

Soup and Stew Glossary of Terms

Aromatics: Any of various plants, herbs and spices that impart lively fragrance and flavor to food and drink.
Arrowroot: The starchy product of a tropical tuber of the same name.  The root stalks are dried and ground into a fine powder.  Arrowroot is used for a thickening agent for puddings, sauces and other cooked foods and is more easily digested than wheat flour.  Arrowroot is tasteless and becomes clear when cooked.  It should be mixed with cool water or liquid before being added to thicken hot liquids. Arrowroot is gluten free.

Base:  Store bought flavor enhancer (usually in a paste form) you reconstitute with water to produce stock for the purpose of sauces, soups and stews as well as other hot food applications.  (Often laced with MSG and other dangerous chemicals) 
Broth:  A liquid resulting from simmering meat and vegetables in water.
Bisque: A thick rich soup usually consisting of pureed seafood (sometimes fowl or vegetables) and cream.
Bouquet Garni: A sachet bag that contains such ingredients as peppercorns, other spices and herbs tied up in a cheese clothe bag/sachet (I use a coffee filter) that is used to infuse flavor into liquid much like what a tea bag does.
Stock: The strained liquid that is the result of cooking meat or fish bones, vegetables and              other seasonings ingredients in water.
Consomme: A clarified meat of fish stock/broth.
Cream Soup: Usually refers to the addition of a dairy product.
Puree:  Refers to the consistency of soup achieved by grinding, mashing or pureeing your vegetables that were simmered in the stock.  This can be achieved by using a blender, emerson blender or hand wand, food processor or mashing through a sieve or food mill.
Chowder: A thick chunky seafood soup of which clam chowder is best known.  The term is also used to describe any thick rich soup that may contain chunky style foods.
Gelatin:  A protein based substance found in animal bone and connective tissue.  When dissolved in hot liquid and then cooled, it can be used as a thickener or stabilizer. 
Mirepoix:  is the French name for the combination of celery, carrots and onions often referred to as aromatics.  You may also find garlic; parsnip, leek, peppers, ginger, tomatoes, shallot, diced ham and chilies refer to in the aromatic family.  They may be used in various combinations by the cuisine of the dish itself.

Roux:  With its deep culinary roots was once the thickening agent for most liquids.  It is equal part fat and flour cooked to remove the flour taste and to it help keep the starch in the flour from producing long strands or clumps when roux is combined with hot liquid.
Liaison: The mixture of egg yolks and cream that is used to enrich flavor and slightly thicken sauces and soups.    
Stock Tips
  • Rinse all bones, fresh or frozen well, before placing them in stock pot, to remove blood and other impurities that can compromise stock.
  • Pots used for stocks are normally taller than they are wide.  This style of pot creates a smaller surface area so evaporation rate is minimized during simmering.
  • Veggie purees are a great way to thicken soups.
  • Always skim impurities from your stocks.
  • Make a big pot of stock/broth and freeze extra in quart containers or heavy zip lock bags for another days soup/stew adventure.  If space is an issue, reduce your stock by half and freeze as a concentrate adding additional water or liquid at future date of use.
  • Stock is meant to be the sub structure for soup, never use dominating spices.
  • Always simmer stock, never boil as it will cloud your stock.
  • Always date stocks and soups before storage.
  • Always start stock with cold water.
  • Add a splash of vinegar before simmer stock.  This will aid in extracting calcium for the bones and make a thicker stock.
  • Freeze small amounts of stock in ice cube trays.  These can be added to meats and vegetables when sauteing.
  • Never add salt or pepper to stock until it is done.
Uses for Chicken Stock
  • Soups and stews preparation.
  • Saute vegetables and meats in stock.
  • When preparing rice or quinoa replace all or some of the water to make a more nutritious side dish.
  • Pouch eggs in stock to add flavor and nutrition.
  • Boil potatoes and pasta in stock to add nutrition and flavor.
  • As a base for gravies and sauces. 

Chicken Stock
organic chickens, cut into pieces (10-12 pounds) or soup bones, rinsed
chicken feet (if available), rinsed
filtered water
carrots, diced
celery, diced
onions, diced
cider vinegar
bunch parsley stems
sachet bag- ½ tsp fresh thyme, 6 peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, 1 garlic clove (optional)
 Place rinsed poultry, including feet if using, into a large stock pot with filtered water (water should be at least two inches over chickens)
Over medium heat gently bring stock to a simmer (the surface should never break a boil/bubbles), reduce heat to low and simmer for 4 hours skimming surface as necessary to remove the gray “scum”.
Add remaining ingredients and sachet bag; simmer an additional 4 hours.
Strain stock, use immediately or rapidly cool and refrigerate or freeze.
After cooled remove solid fat that may be on top of stock and discard or use for another sauteing vegetables or meat.

Prep ahead:
Cut up chicken and rinse.
Rough chop vegetables.
Make sachet bag- Place ingredients for sachet bag in a clean coffee filter and tie with string. Tie the bag to the pot handle and drop into the pot.
Yield: 1 gallon
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Cooking Times
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Inactive Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours and 15 minutes
 Author: Chef Jackie White
Allergen Info:
  • Turkey may be substituted.
  • Turkey and chicken bones from carved cooked poultry may be used in place of fresh chicken. Use 4 chicken carcasses or 2 turkey carcasses.
  • Recipe can be frozen.
  • Ingredients amounts may vary so no need to run to the store if you only have 1 onion.