A Recipe of Epic Proportion

This time last year I was preparing for the biggest attraction in the city of Philadelphia – the 2016 Democratic National Convention. On Saturday July 23rd and again on the 24th, JADE Jamaican Grill would become one of a select group of food vendors at the DNC. It was a recipe of epic proportion whipping together two thousand bites for each event; the Media Party at Citizens Bank Park and the Welcome Delegate Reception at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. And an excellent showing it was, filled with world-renowned Jamaican goodness and Caribbean charm.

A few days prior to the DNC, I orchestrated a live television appearance on the local FOX-TV affiliate station and featured both dishes that would be served at the convention; our signature Caribbean Sea Salt Rum Cupcakes, and classic Jerk Pork and Rice & Peas. It was a fun time on Good Day Philadelphia with co-hosts Mike Jerrick and Alex Holley, and an experience of a lifetime at the convention events.

As I sat at my desk yesterday preparing for another exciting opportunity – Adjunct Chef Instructor at The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College – I was reminded about the convention. I was struck by the fact that exactly a year ago I was gearing up for what was divine fortune. Had you told me last year that my small business would be part of the DNC, and not just one but two events, I might have given you the suspicious side eye. Had you told me a few months ago that I would be preparing to teach at The Restaurant School, I wouldn’t have believed it either. Yet, here we are. Here I am.

What a difference a year makes! And yet, the more things change the more they stay the same. In a revelatory sort of way, I was struck that each birthday month (I was born on July 9th and just celebrated my 44th birthday) the universe gifts me an amazing opportunity tailor-made for my unique talents and abilities. On Monday, this Monday, July 24th, I will step onto the campus at The Restaurant School in Philadelphia to teach my first class – a one-week International Summer Cooking Camp. I simply could not have written a better script or charted a more interesting course. This new adventure is, in the same way, a recipe of epic proportion; the same month, the same dates, the same place.

Don’t you just love when things fall into place? And isn’t that it? They somehow always do. Eventually, we all get where we’re supposed to be, not minding the twists and turns, speed bumps and roadblocks.

Here’s to the business of traveling down a new road on this lifestyle, foodie, entrepreneur journey that is my life. I can’t wait to see what’s next. Knowing whichever way the road forks and whatever path I take, I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

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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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Alumni Recognized for Work at DNC

It’s nice to be noticed. And when an alumni is recognized by her alma mater it’s that much more special.

In July JADE Jamaican Grill participated in two events at the Democratic National Convention. Our selection and subsequent involvement garnered numerous mentions. The latest – a featured article by SUNY New Paltz News published August 31, 2016 in the alumni newsletter. Read our story here.

Chef Janet at the 2016 DNC Media Party - Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia

Chef Janet at the 2016 DNC Media Party – Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia

Visit our gallery for more photos of our grand showing at the Media Party at Citizens Bank Park on July 23, 2016 and the Welcome Delegate Reception at the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts on July 24th.

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DNC Picks Jamaican Foodie for Events

Have you heard? JADE is heading to the DNC!

JADE Jamaican Grill has been selected to participate in the 2016 Democratic National Convention coming to Philadelphia. The DNC will be taking place July 25th through the 28th and our company is among a select group of food vendors chosen to satiate the palates of tens of thousands at this national event.

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We will be serving up some of our signature Full on Flavor fare at the Media Party on Saturday, July 23rd at Citizens Bank Park and at the Welcome Delegate Party on Sunday, July 24th at the Kimmel Center. How lucky are we? By luck I mean preparation, hard work, sacrifice and perseverance coming face to face with opportunity.

I thank the DNC for this tremendous honor and I look forward to taking part in what will be an amazing event.

For the latest news and to learn more about our company visit us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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A Fresh Start

Much like this salad, the new year brings with it a fresh start; an opportunity to do a new thing. Even if you’re pursuing the same dreams, going after the same goals, working the same resolutions, it’s your chance at doing it differently.

It’s been said, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is foolish. So, what better time to toss out the old?

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Here are the five steps I’m employing as I press my way to a spectacular 2016:

Go Organic

Strip away all the baggage, dirt, and junk of 2015 and leave it all behind. Take only the lessons. Garb a hold of that fresh start and forge ahead. That means no pollutants; only sustainable practices that will move you closer to your field of dreams.

Plant that Seed

Get out there and work that thing! Enough said.

Water It

What can you do to ensure that newly planted seed will grow? Water it, of course! Put in the time, effort and resources necessary to set yourself up for success. Follow-up, follow through, and repeat.

Build & Grow

As you work and water do so with the expectation that your seed will sprout. Before you know it your tree will be blossoming.

Root it Up

Sure you’ll pause to take it all in. We all want to enjoy the fruits of you labor. But, don’t get so enamored with the pretty flowers that you stop planting for tomorrow. Go back to the root, the source and keep planting, watering, building and growing so you can get to that full blown harvest.

I know it will be hard. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. But day by day, week by week, month by month…

What are you doing differently this year to ensure you’ll have your heart’s desire? Share it. Perhaps I’ll pick one or two to add to my mix.

Happy New Year and all the best for a bountiful and prosperous 2016!

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Seven Facts About Jamaican Rum Cake

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For Jamaicans, Christmas is synonymous with Rum Cake. You simply cannot get through the year end holiday season without enjoying at least one slice of this dessert. And chances are if you’re eating rum cake you are not stopping at just one slice. Here are seven food facts about Jamaican Rum Cake to chew on:

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  1. Referred to as Fruit Cake
    1. As the name suggests, the main ingredient is fruit; candied, chopped fruit consisting of orange peels and pineapple, along with raisins and cherries. But unlike other traditional fruit cakes, Jamaican Rum Cakes are made with grounded or pureed fruits for a smooth consistency.
  2. Also called Black Cake and Christmas Cake
  3. It is the choice for wedding cake in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean. Because of its popularity at weddings, it is sometimes referred to as Wedding Cake.
  4. Dark in color
    1. Color ranges from dark brown to black. If you’re not careful, you’ll mistake it for a chocolate cake at first glance. In some cases, depending how it is cut, it can resemble brownie too.
  5. Traditionally a very dense cake
  6. Made with rum and wine
  7. Fruits are soaked in wine [and rum] for many weeks or even months prior to baking.

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Today, like most other products, rum cakes come in all shapes and sizes, including cupcake. For example our JADE cupcakes feature minis as well as standard cupcake size, and with a variety of icings.

When it comes to fruit cakes Jamaican Rum Cake takes the cake.

Merry Christmas!

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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

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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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Working with Williams-Sonoma

As I sat at my desk outlining my fall calendar a few weeks ago it occurred to me how fortunate I am to be working with Williams-Sonoma. With two upcoming food events at the gourmet retailer, I began to reflect on how our collaboration began. So, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share how it all came to be.

Our relationship is no accident. I had taught cooking classes at another chain store. After about three years, I decided to fold it into my own product offering as Pantry Parties – private, hands-on instruction in the comfort of the client’s home. So, I’d been there, done that so to speak.

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Seeking to establish my brand as a flavorful food venture- not merely a Jamaican one, I set my sights on a company whose name is synonymous with taste, quality, style and functionality.

If you’re a food connoisseur,           Williams-Sonoma’s high quality cookware, specialty products, gourmet foods, in-store culinary events and stylish home furnishings are familiar. And it’s not just passionate foodies; professional chefs are hot for the brand.

Not long after I formed my namesake JADE in the fall of 2013, I contacted the Princeton, New Jersey store to see whether they offered cooking classes and how I would go about getting on the roster. During our conversation I fired off my list of accomplishments – numerous television appearances on NBC and FOX, a cooking series on PBS, mentions in the local print press, having taught culinary demonstrations previously, and so on. They were impressed and we scheduled a meeting and site tour. I followed-up with an email, included the standard accompaniments – my resume, bio, head shot and media clippings.

We met, all went well and we booked my first cooking class. Thrilled about my score I wasted no time. I telephoned the flagship store at Columbus Circle in New York City. A similar scenario transpired. After a site tour the assistant manager and I discussed how we would incorporate my brand of flavor into the mix. Long story short, we settled on a date for demo number two.

My first demonstration was a success. So much so that by the time I reached out to the King of Prussia store the following Monday they were well aware of who I was and equally as excited about me doing a demo there.

Since then I’ve taught almost ten classes, in five cities and three states in under two years. I’ve loved every minute of it! And from the fact that they’ve invited me back numerous times – I think it’s safe to say they relish having me there too.

And that’s how the story goes!

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