Winter Squash & Pepper Soup Recipe

About a month ago I was at Bloomingdale’s at The Shops at Riverside in Northern New Jersey to do a food demonstration for a women’s event. I was asked to feature recipes that would be great for Thanksgiving, but with a healthy lean. So, I cooked up a Winter Squash & Pepper Soup recipe. The soup was one of three recipes I prepared that evening. Needless to say, that soup stole the show.

So, as we are nearing the Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to make the recipe available so you can add some seasonal warmth to your holiday table. And who doesn’t love butternut squash with its savory, rich, and creamy flesh?

Check out the recipe below for the perfect start to your Thanksgiving eats!

Winter Squash & Pepper Soup

2 medium butternut squash, rough cubed   Winter Squash & Pepper Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds in Black Bowl

2 yellow bell peppers, rough cubed

1 medium sweet onion, rough cubed

1 cup light cream

1 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, roasted and shelled

1/3 teaspoons ground allspice

sea salt to taste

ground black pepper to taste

water (to cover)

Method

Place butternut squash, bell pepper and onion in a large dutch oven, cover with water, and bring to boil. Boil for about 20 minutes.

Remove from stove and let cool. Do not discard water!

Using a blender, in batches, add cooked butternut squash, bell pepper, onion and water from boiling, and puree.

Repeat until all the vegetables are pureed.

Save any remaining water to the side.

Pour pureed vegetables back into dutch oven and cook at medium heat for 12-15 minutes, stirring periodically.

Stir in light cream and cook for 5-7 minutes.

Add allspice, sea salt and pepper to taste and stir.

Cook for an individual 3-5 minutes (add more water if needed/desired).

Remove from stove and serve.

Dress individual servings with toasted pumpkin seeds.

 

For more delightfully delicious recipes for your holiday table write to us at flavors@jadegrill.com or visit www.jadegrill.com for ideas and inspiration.

#FullonFlavor

Please like & share:

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

Please like & share:

Hire for the Holidays

janet-chef-coatDoing everything yourself is typically not a good idea. Add in the hectic pace of the holidays and you have a recipe for disaster.

In today’s marketplace, more companies exist than ever before to help busy consumers manage the times, seasons and events in their lives. This time of year in particular can be downright daunting. The triple crown of holidays as I refer to them – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s – while filled with food, drink and merriment, might leave a bitter taste in your mouth when you consider all that has to get done. How then do you stop the madness from wreaking havoc in your life? You hire for the holidays!

Here are three great reasons why outsourcing is one of the best gifts you can give yourself:

Time

Simply put, hiring a service or company saves you time. And who doesn’t want more of that? The older you get you realize just how precious time is; you can’t stop it, you can’t reverse it, it travels at warp speed, and more importantly, no one knows how much of it they have. Free up time to enjoy the things that matter most and hire for the things you can.

Personalized Service

Any way you want it that’s the way you need it! This line is part of the lyrics from a song by the band Journey, but it is also the embodiment of personalized, experiential service. It’s catering to a client’s specific wishes. The date, time and place of your choosing, with all the accompaniments you desire in a special event. It’s like being queen – or king for a day. You can’t top that!

Elevated Experience

When it comes to going hire for the holidays, having a professional do the work takes things to a whole other level. Professionals bring more to the table – it’s what they do. It’s why you hire them. More expertise, more experience, more knowledge. And you get to tap all of that.

Calling on the pros also elevates the quality of the experience for both you and your guests. For attendees, it’s a statement that highlights the superior service that lies ahead. For you, it’s no more missing out on the actual event. Instead or running around like a chicken with your head cutoff, you get the best of both worlds; playing host while partaking in the festivities like any other attendee.

Think of all the experiential services that exist today? From a culinary standpoint, there’s food shopping, meal delivery, meal kits, private chef and so much more. Then think of all the moments you miss tending to things that would be better off in someone else’s hands. Being present, without being present robs you from truly enjoying the occasion.

Of course there are costs involved. But the value far outweighs the price tag. So, this season pay yourself first by paying a professional to serve you. It’s our labor of love.

Please like & share:

A Good Day to Air Things Out

Whenever you have the opportunity to share major news on air count it a good day. And that’s the day Jade Jamaican Grill enjoyed recently when I stopped by Good Day Philadelphia to dish about my company’s participation at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

This wasn’t my first time on television or at FOX 29 News for that matter. I’d been on with host Mike Jerrick and his colleagues numerous times over the years. But this particular appearance with Jerrick and his co-host Alex Holley took the cake!

FOX_PHL 2

Here I was – one of a select group of small business food vendors chosen to provide tantalizing tastes at this major national event. And not just one event either. JADE was selected for two; the Media Party on Saturday, July 23rd at Citizens Bank Park and the Welcome Delegate Party at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, July 24th.

So a few days prior to the start of the convention I took the opportunity to air things out on live television by showcasing the bites JADE would be serving at the DNC. Let’s just say our hosts could not keep their forks or fingers off the food. I mean chunks of spicy Jerk Pork and heaps of savory Rice and Peas disappearing in plain view. You can’t make this stuff up. See for yourself.

JADE Jamaican Grill at the DNC

It really was a good day to air things out!

Please like & share:

Having it Your Whey with a Cheese Board

Before saying cheese, ask yourself am I feeling sweet or savory?

There are a few things to consider when putting together a cheese board. Here are some guidelines on achieving an appetizing board whatever your preference.

Cheese Board

Taste

On taste, first decide between savory and sweet. A savory plate such as an Antipasto will include meats like Salami or Prosciutto. You can enhance the flavor profile further by choosing flavored meat as opposed to regular cuts. Olives, roasted vegetables, oil, crusty bread or sliced baguette may also accompany a savory board. Similarly, adding herbs and spices like pepper flakes, basil or oregano to olive oil will give more to savor.

A sweet board on the other hand, incorporates fruits – both fresh and dried, as well as nuts, jams and, or jellies. Here, crackers, not bread is ideal.

Texture

In terms of texture, cheese range from soft to hard. Soft cheeses include Brie, Mascarpone, Cottage and Ricotta. Semisoft include Provolone, Fontina, Mozzarella, Blue and Feta. Cheddar and Gouda constitutes hard cheeses; and Parmesan and Asiago some of the hardest on the block.

When assembling your cheese board, use a variety of textures. For a normal size board or party, three cheeses will do. Use four or even five for larger gatherings.

Nuts & Bolts

Other than cheese, nuts can add an extra bite to a dessert board. Almonds and walnuts offer up a nice crunch and an additional layer of flavor. Complete your board with dried fruits like apricots, cherries, cranberry and raisins to round out a dessert cheese plate.

Fruity & Fresh

While dried fruits have their place on a sweet plate, cheese and fresh fruit alone can be enough. Grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and figs can sweeten the deal here. Fruits not only add layers of flavor but a range of vibrant color that stand in contrast to the more subtle hues of cheese. As previously mentioned, fruity spreads like jams, jellies and even honey, makes for a luscious finish.

More Tips

More than just taste and texture, you can create a themed board with cheeses from a particular region. For example, an Italian inspired board might have Gorgonzola and Mascarpone cheeses, while a French plate might include Brie, Goat, and Camembert. To go all out with your theme, serve wine from each region.

For a really large party, opt for two boards; one savory and one sweet. Your guests will thank you before you can say cheese!

Whether soft, hard, sweet or savory, having it your whey with a cheese board can be a delectable start or sweet end to a party.

What is your go to snack cheese? Whey in here and I’ll respond to your comments.

Please like & share:

Dining In

Will you be dining in? How often do you hear that line? These days it doesn’t quite mean the same thing as it did before. Today dining in encompasses a new way of experiencing food.

There’s a difference between dining in and eating in. Eating in generally refers to eating what you yourself have prepared at home. It also refers to ordering in, or ordering takeout and bringing it home or having it delivered. Dining in is eating in compliments of a personal chef.

A number of companies offer this specialized food service. Each brings their own unique spin that differentiates them from the competition of course. But the premise is the same; a skilled chef, willing to travel to your location, to prepare a restaurant-style meal, complete with five-star service, then cleaning and leaving the space spotless as if they were never there to begin with. All this, so you can fully experience the occasion and your guests.

dinner-party

Consumers choose from fine dining, formal dinners with three or more courses, dinner buffet, family-style service or even a backyard barbecue. The date and time are determined, party style is finalized based on the client’s preferences, and the chef and host curate a personalized menu – taking into consideration dietary restrictions and allergies. Remaining details of the dinner party are hashed out. And a flawless evening of food, flavor and fun is on tap.

More and more people are opting for dining in to celebrate the many events in their lives; anniversaries, birthdays, bachelor and bachelorette parties, other wedding-related events and much more. These personal chef services are especially prominent in major cities like New York and San Francisco, as well as vacation destinations like the Hamptons.

I’ve been part of this personal chef service for a couple of years. Having done dozens of them, I speak for many when I say dining in on the right occasion is dinner done right.

Please like & share:

The MVP of the Super Bowl

Who will nab the top spot at Super Bowl 50? With so many candidates vying for MVP, it is anyone’s guess. Will it be a runaway quarterback, the halftime show, a blow-out team performance or will a commercial steal the show? Perhaps it will be something else altogether? Let’s run the plays.

In years past, super bowl commercials have made the game worth watching, especially when the game itself was a letdown. When the only saving grace is a bag of Doritos or a heart-warming doggie adventure, commercials can have just as big an impact on game night. In fact, the ad themselves have a way of picking up the slack after an epic fumble. With host city San Francisco predicting bright skies and warm temps, there’s a chance Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” could ride in and save the day.

Perhaps it will be the halftime show. It is expected to be an extraordinary performance as Coldplay will be joined by Beyonce on stage. We can look forward to a lot of rocking and popping at Levi’s Stadium. Here’s hoping everyone’s jeans stay up and there are no wardrobe malfunctions.

Noteworthy is the fact that 2016 marks a special super bowl celebrating the 50th anniversary of American football. Will the moment create a thrilling game for the record books or will one man stand and deliver? All eyes have been on star QB Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers, which is the team favored to win. But the chatter has left fans wondering if there is just way too much pressure. We’ll find out soon enough when the game gets underway this Sunday.

But for those not sitting in the stands at kickoff, there is always that fifth option: the food!

BuffetSpread_ST-4569395_med

Much like the super bowl, party hosts are relying on the pros to deliver the goods, hiring personal chefs and private caterers to feed big game appetites. But game day has gone gourmet, dishing up more than just pizza and wings. I for one will be leaving it all on the field with a spread that includes Mini Crab Cakes & Mango Sauce, Pan-seared Salmon with Fresh Lemon Drizzle, and fall-off-the-bone Pineapple Teriyaki Short Ribs. And that’s just some of the highlights.

No one knows how this will all shake out. And of course there’s bound to be the usual monday morning quarterback post game. But what’s not up for debate? Sitting down to a feast and not lifting a finger except to reach for a scrumptious bite. Touchdown! When it’s all said and done the MVP of your Super Bowl may very well be the food!

 

Please like & share:

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!

Please like & share:

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!

Please like & share:

The 123’s of Barbecue Bites

It’s official. Summer is here!

One of the staples of summer is a good old-fashioned barbecue. But, if you’re counting calories you’re probably wondering just how much heat these backyard classics are packing? Before taking a bite out of the savory side of grilling season here’s the skinny on how the numbers add up.

BBQ Calorie CountUntitled presentation (1)

Data Guidelines

  1. Hot dog and hamburger depict one each and includes bun.
  2. Wings are three whole.
  3. Ribs are three pieces.
  4. Additional items are the equivalent of one serving size.
  5. Items do not account for condiments or extra toppings.
  6. Caloric information may vary based on individual style of preparation.

 

Please like & share: