Food Safety Tips to Keep You Healthy This Summer

The hot days of summer can be a petri dish for food contamination. From transporting food in a hot vehicle to leaving goods out too long on the countertop, items can quickly go bad. As we near the start of the season, I think it prudent to share some useful food safety tips to keep you healthy this summer.

Keep in mind that:

When shopping use a cooler or insulated bag to store products until you arrive home. Goods such as dairy, meat, poultry and seafood can see a quick drop in temperature during the time it takes to shop, check out, and make the trip home. Additionally, unless items are being ‘held’ properly, do not stop for other errands, further delaying the time it takes to get food items into the appropriate storage unit.

It’s best to store meat in the lower section of the refrigerator. This minimizes the risk of ‘wet’ items dripping or spilling down and onto other foods, especially foods that are ready-to-eat and therefore do not require cooking or rinsing.

Wash foods properly where needed and as recommended.

When it comes to food safety, the old rule for thawing frozen foods still apply. Thaw items in the refrigerator. Just plan ahead and allow plenty of time.

I recommend that you cook ground meats within two days of purchase. If you do not plan on cooking it right away freeze it immediately.

Cross contamination can easily occur but can just as easily be avoided. Some simple things to remember here is prep dry good first, then fruits and vegetables, and leave meats, fish, and things of that sort for last. Use a separate knife and cutting board for each item. And be sure to disinfect surface area in between. Being diligent here can prevent contamination from salmonella and other bacteria.

Foods should not be kept too close to a hot grill for an extended period as the heat of the grill can induce early spoilage. Instead, place creamy and cheese-based foods like dressings, potato salad and the like on a separate surface and away from grilling area. Similarly, keep hot things hot and cold things cold.

It’s best to cook meats and fish all the way through. I know for some, foods done rare are simply divine. That’s just how you like it. However, undercooking can cause foodborne illness from parasites, etc. To prevent this, cook foods to an acceptable temperature. Invest in a food thermometer. And use it!

Again, the warm weather brings its own set of risks and hazards. Get cooking with these recommended food safety tips to keep you healthy this summer so you can eat your heart out worry free. Click on the link below for specific temperature guidelines and other useful resources.

Useful Links

USDA

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Food Temperature Guideline

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Spinach & Salmon Pastry Recipe

Looking for a flavorful yet light brunch idea? Try this Spinach & Salmon Pastry recipe. I made it recently at a cooking demonstration class at Bloomingdale’s. It’s easy to make and delightfully delicious!

SPINACH & SALMON PASTRY

Ingredients

Spinach & Salmon Pastry

1-17.3oz Pkg Puff Pastry Sheets

½ lb Smoked Salmon

10oz Pkg Baby Spinach

1/3 Tsp Roasted Garlic Powder

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

3oz Feta Cheese

Pinch Sea Salt

Pinch Ground Black Pepper

Dill leaves

Method

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

Remove smoked salmon from refrigerator and let sit for 30 minutes

Thaw Pastry Sheets (on a floured cutting board for about 20 minutes)

Chop Spinach (rough chop)

Combine olive oil, feta, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl mixing together using a fork

Add spinach and toss. Set aside.

Using a paring knife, cut each pastry sheet lengthwise along folded crease (yields 6 cuts total)

Then, cut each strip in two along the width (yields 12 cuts total)

Using a fork, prick each pastry cutout about 4 or 5 times

Using a pastry bush, brush each strip with cold water

Place pastry cuts on a non-stick sheet pan

Using a fork or gloved hand, spread spinach mix on pastry sheets, leaving space at the edges

Place sheet pan in the oven and bake approximately 20 minutes.

Using a knife, gently break apart salmon (brush with a bit of olive oil if desired)

Remove sheet pan from oven.

Using a small tong, place a good wedge of salmon atop each puff pastry.

Dress each puff pastry with dill leaves and serve

 

Servings: 6

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Coconut Set to Sale Higher in 2017

There’s no shortage of predictions for 2017. From cool tech and funky fashion to moody color palettes, forecasters have weighed in on what we can all look forward to in the new year. On the culinary side, researchers and retailers are anticipating a rise for Coconut.

Given the coconut water craze of the last few years, one would think this hard-shelled fruit would have lost her luster by now. Not so. When it comes to food, apparently, there’s always room to grow, even in a seemingly saturated marketplace. The verdict: coconut set to sale higher in 2017!

Coconut

Consumers have had their eye on healthy, organic, cholesterol-free coconut for some time. But how familiar are most with edible coconut – that is, beyond the bars, water and infused products? Here’s a look at some that have been on store shelves for ever, some newer to the marketplace, and what’s projected to give foodies a run for their money.

Coconut Milk

Coconut Milk is a staple in Caribbean cooking. Made from the ‘meat’ of the coconut, the milk is creamy and rich in texture. In Jamaica for example, coconut has never been reserved just for drinking. Coconut milk is used in dishes like Rice & Peas, and in other savory delights of fish, stews, and more. Coconut milk is also a gem in Asian cuisine and is part and parcel in curry and other dishes.

Coconut Cream

Coconut Cream as the name suggests is a creamier, more concentrated version of coconut milk and is used for similar purposes. Both the milk and cream form of coconut has been around for a very long time.

Coconut Sugar

Although Coconut Sugar has been popular in other cultures, its rise in the United States is relatively recent. Also referred to as Coconut Palm Sugar, it is mild in taste, has slightly fewer calories than refined sugar, and is regarded as an alternative sweetener. Coconut Sugar is a good source of potassium, zinc and other vitamins and minerals, and goes great in tea, coffee and other beverages that require sweetening. It also serves as a sugar substitute in baking.

Coconut Flour

Although it doesn’t fully replace wheat and grain-based flours, coconut flour is a great partial substitute in baking. Made from the ‘dried’ coconut (oil and fat removed), the flour is high in fiber and protein. Best of all, it is naturally gluten-free.

Coconut Butter

Coconut butter – not to be confused with coco butter, is the smooth, creamy and spreadable finish of the flesh of the coconut. It can be used in place of butter, cream cheese and other spreads. It is decadent, adding amazing taste and texture to smoothies, shakes, and sauces.

What’s on tap for next year? Whole foods and exotic foods! Organic, raw, plant-based fruits and veggies like coconut!

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From Start to Finish

It’s been said it’s not how you start but how you finish. It was last Sunday, October 9th at about 11:30am when I began loading my truck to head to Short Hills, New Jersey. I was on my way to Williams-Sonoma to teach a cooking demonstration.

The rain fell steadily as my son Robert and I packed up to leave. It wasn’t long before we were on our way. As we entered the New Jersey Turnpike, the rain began to pour. It did so the entire ride. Right up until the moment we exited the highway. What was a continuous shower for over an hour, subsided into a light mist.

The parking lots around the mall were fuller than expected. We entered Williams-Sonoma to tens of busy shoppers.

Cabbage Confetti

Cabbage Confetti

I began staging the countertop near the stove. My theme was Falsetto Cooking Demo: Fall Flavors that Make Your Mouth Sing. The menu featured Cabbage Confetti, a flavorful dish made with green cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, fresh thyme, a few spices, oil and water. Also on the menu was Sesame Chicken, an easy-to-make savory, Asian-style dish. I also brought along a couple dozen of my Rum Cupcakes. I hardly ever leave home without them.

The ingredients were laid out, so too were serving platters, pots and pans, and everything necessary for a successful demo event.

The class got underway with much chopping, slicing, shredding and seasoning. As the flame kicked underneath the frying pans, the fragrant flavor of freshly prepared food found its way out and into the mall. Within a few toss of the cabbage the demo area was littered with onlookers.

I cooked and served cabbage, chicken and cupcakes to an uber-satisfied crowd.

A dreary and damp day had turned sunny side up. We walked out of Williams-Sonoma and into a blindingly bright Sunday afternoon. It was a remarkable day from start to finish.

For recipes, entertaining ideas and more, visit www.jadegrill.com or email flavors@jadegrill.com.

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Salivating Over Sea Salt

With the official start of summer all I’ve been thinking about is the ocean breeze, soft shell crabs and other tasty treats from the sea. Hard to believe perhaps but I’m especially salivating over Sea Salt.

Unrefined, natural and nutrient rich, sea salt offers more than a salty bite. As someone who serves up heaps of flavor, the right sea salt adds color, texture and grain too, taking a dish over the top. Here’s a sprinkling of salts and salt blends that are sure to melt in your mouth:

Edible-Himalayan-Pink-Salt-Coarse

Fleur de Sel

Fleur de Sel or ‘Flower of Salt’ is fine, fluffy salt crystals hand-harvested from France’s Atlantic Coast. This moist French salt has a delicate flavor, distinct taste and refined quality, making it one of the best finishing salts. It is beloved by cooks all over. Use it to prepare dishes or sprinkle on just before serving.

Himalayan Pink Salt    

Himalayan Pink Salt is another gem in the kitchen. Known for its taste and rich trace minerals, this rock salt ranges in size from small crystals to large stones. Because of this, it offers a multitude of uses – mills and grinders to large stones for grating table side, to chunks that are best for brining. Himalayan pink salt range in color from white to deep pink – even red, and makes for a vibrant finish. It is said to be the purest of all sea salts.

Smoked Salt

Smoked sea salts add an extra layer of flavor to foods. Smoked on a variety of woods including apple, hickory and oak, these salts offer more to savor. Lightly smoked salts are great on veggies, while the more robust work wonders atop grilled meats. Boost your backyard BBQ to a new level this grilling season with smoked sea salt.

Flavored Sea Salt

Whatever your creative culinary mind can conceive it probably exists as a salt blend. Among my favorites are Habanero Salt, Black Truffle Salt and Lime Salt, but there are literally dozens on the market. Sriracha Salt, Rosemary Salt and Merlot Salt are a few others.

With so much to choose from it can be difficult to make that choice. Hawaiian-style Red Sea Salt and Mediterranean Black Sea Salt are eye-catching with their deep, bold color. Talk about making an entrance! Whatever you fancy you can just about find it. Not sure what you fancy? No worries. Ideas and inspiration abound at SaltWorks and Williams-Sonoma.

To be balanced, research is crystal clear that too much sodium is not good for you. But cooking without any salt whatsoever is just plain blah. You can take that with a grain of salt or you can find your perfect pinch.

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Crafty Cooking with Beer

There’s a distinct taste that comes from cooking with beer. The depth of flavor is unlike any other; a robust and sharp finish.

Adding beer can add an extra twist to an otherwise OK dish. Dark beer especially smacks full of flavor; a nuanced punch that lingers long after the first bite. Personally, I’m partial to Guinness Extra Stout. But any dark beer will get the job done. Here are four satisfying ways for crafty cooking with beer:

Baked in Beer

Roasting chicken or pork in the oven? Dress in spices and herbs per usual, then replace the water you would normally add with a cup of beer. Baste with the juices about every 20 minutes. Not only will the roast be palatable but you’ll enjoy a nice browning to the skin or exterior of the meat from the constant wetting.

These Ginger Beer Short Ribs were seasoned with sea salt and ground pepper and slow-baked with Guinness Extra Stout and fresh sliced gingerroot for a savory and saucy rib dish.

Ginger_Beer_Short_Ribs

Stews with Brews

Cooking a stew using beer boils down to a heavenly one-pot wonder. If you own a slow cooker a bottle of beer is a great ally to have in the kitchen. Chicken, beef, pork and veal come alive when simmered with beer. Add an entire bottle and let slow cook for hours.

Beer-battered

Perhaps one of the more traditional ways of cooking with beer is to marinate in or dip in a beer batter. It’s still a great way to extract that awesome beer taste. Try it on not just chicken, but on any fried or deep fried dish.

Crafty Sauces & Spreads

Dips made with beer are some of the most appetizing. And it doesn’t require much to get it there. A cup of dark beer, simmered with tomato puree, mustard, and select spices makes for a delicious dipping sauce. Or a couple teaspoons added to a vanilla or chocolate frosting is a deep and decadent way to top off dessert.

Are you a crafty cook? Share your beer infused cooking techniques here.

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Peppy Seasoning Blend

‘Tis the season! No, not holiday cheer and deck the halls. I’m talking sugar and spice and everything nice!

This Peppy Seasoning Blend combines sweet, savory and a little heat for just the right amount of pep. Here’s what you’ll need:

 1/4 cup light brown sugar

 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

1/2 tsp. dried parsley flakes

1/4 tsp. sea salt

  1. Using a mortar and pestle, grind red pepper into smaller flakes.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, stir together red pepper, parsley, sea salt and brown suagr.

Peppy_Seasoning_Blend

 

Tips for Enjoying

Perfect on sweet potato fries.

Great dry rub for a rack of ribs.

Sprinkle on fresh-baked savory pastries for added flavor.

Make larger quantity, store in airtight container, and use as needed.

 

Comment & Share

Questions or comments post them here. But don’t be a Grinch! Share this season with friends and family!

Want more food and flavor this season? Visit JADE and learn how we can add the merry to your holiday events!

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Thanksgiving Made Over Easy

Decisions, decisions, decisions! What to do with all the leftovers after Thanksgiving?

A few years ago I received a call from my friends at FOX Philadelphia. They were doing a Thanksgiving Leftover Extravaganza and were asking a handful of area chefs to come up with creative ways to enjoy the remains of the holiday feast.

The premise was to create a dish using four traditional Thanksgiving foods: turkey, stuffing, mashed potato and cranberry. To make it interesting, each chef could add one secret ingredient of their choice. Watch as I rolled over these four holiday staples and my secret ingredient into a savory gourmet delight – all while having a little fun with my spicy cohort Mike Jerrick, Co-host of Good Day Philadelphia.

 

How cool was that? Thanksgiving made over easy!

Want more to savor this holiday season? Start with these Tuna Pastry Cups. They are inexpensive, easy to make and are a great first bite to the festivities. Be sure to include my Candied Sweet Potatoes & Raisins – a savory side even the pickiest eater will love.

For still more ways to enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers post your questions in the comments section or email flavors@jadegrill.com!

 

Brought to you by JADE… Food, Flavor, Fun!

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Tuna Pastry Cups

Tuna_Pastry_Cup 2

The holidays are fast approaching. Oh what fun it is serving up something new and exciting. Lucky for you, your foodie and chief flavor head at JADE has you covered! These flaky and flavorful Tuna Pastry Cups are delicate and delectable all in the same bite. Why not spread some gourmet goodness this season?

2 Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed

2-4oz. cans Albacore Tuna in Water, drained

2 Tbsp. olive oil

3 Tbsp. mayonnaise

2 tsp. spicy brown mustard

2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped

1/4 tsp. paprika

1 pinch sea salt

1 pinch ground black pepper

Puff_Pastry_Crinkle_Cutouts

  1. Preheat oven to 415 degrees.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, add tuna, paprika, salt, ground pepper, parsley, mayonnaise, mustard, olive oil and mix evenly. Set aside.
  3. Using a round, crinkle cookie cutter, cut out 12 rounds from each pastry sheet. (Yields fewer for supermarket pastry sheets. Refer to Note below).
  4. Stuff cutouts into muffin pan to form 24 cups.
  5. Using a teaspoon, fill cups with tuna mix. Press gently with finger.
  6. Bake pastries until nicely browned.
  7. Remove from oven and let sit 3-5 minutes.
  8. Remove from muffin pan and serve.

Baking time: 18-20 minutes

Servings: 8
Puff_Pastry_Muffin_Filled
Note: This recipe was made using two large, restaurant-style puff pastry sheets. When using pastry sheets from your local grocer, substitute about 8 pastry sheets to yield 24 rounds. Recipe requires a 24-cup Nonstick Mini Muffin Pan (or two 12-cup pans) and a round cookie cutter (crinkled or plain). 

 

Tips & Techniques

When thawing pastry, remove paper underneath sheets.

Dust cutting board (or other surface) with flour to prevent sticking.

Frozen puff pastry generally thaws within 10-15 minutes.

 

These Tuna Pastry Cups present like crab but for a fraction of the cost and are the perfect appetizer to get your holiday party started! Visit www.JADEGRILL.com for more Food, Flavor, Fun!

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Brought to you by…

Have you ever been on television?

I’ve been fortunate to do it both live and taped. My television debut began about seven years ago shortly after starting my food business. I had contacted my local PBS station WYBE-TV channel 35 about hosting a show on Jamaican culinary tradition. I pitched the idea of The Pepper Pot, a 5-minute cooking series. With the help of a few friends I hosted and produced seven episodes.

WYBE would later undergo a rebranding. When the newly formatted station launched as MiND TV, The Pepper Pot: Curry Chicken segment was the first show that aired.

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Since then, I’ve made numerous guest chef appearances on FOX Philadelphia and NBC-Philadelphia, and most recently PHL-17 TV with Jennifer Lewis-Hall. Actually, you could say my first stint on network television was brought to you by PBS. As luck would have it, one of my pepper pot segments caught the eye of the planning editor at FOX-Philly. It wasn’t long before I was spicing this up with Sheinelle Jones, Anthony Gargano, Mike Jerrick and the rest of the FOX-Philly team. I even did a live segment on FOX representing Cabot Creamery. FOX lead to quite a few delightful segments on NBC with Bill Henley.

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This latest video, however, is a slightly different take. I produced this 3-minute clip recently as a special project. It’s not the usual recipe or how-to video as that was not the intent. The purpose was to produce a piece that highlights my cooking and on-camera skills while engaging the audience and viewer effortlessly.

Brought to you by Janet Davis, CEO, Executive Chef & On-air Talent.

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