Welcome! Below are a few photos of some new small plate ideas I’ve been working on including: chili crusted tuna tataki, bobwhite quail w blue corn arepas, vanilla spiked foie w barrel aged burbon and 24 hr sous-vide short rib w syrah redux. Ultimately, the goal here will be to post easy recipes of dishes like these along with plating notes, a step by step photographic guide and wine pairing suggestions. I would love to hear any requests for specific dishes from our readers and of course, #wine pairing suggestions are always welcome. Hope you enjoy!
A spectacular winter dish, this simple wild mushroom bisque is rich yet elegant.
Slow roasting intensifies the flavor of mushrooms, giving this soup a rich, earthy flavor. Madeira is a sweet wine made in Portugal. Sherry makes an excellent substitute.
Ingredients: (serves 6-8)
- 1 pound fresh portabellos- stemmed, dark gills removed, caps cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 1 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms stemmed, caps cut into 1/2 to 3/4-inch pieces
- 6 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 5 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Madeira or Sherry wine
- 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole organic milk
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup organic whipping cream
- 1/4 sourdough croutons, crushed
- garnish option: chopped cooked bacon
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the mushrooms between prepared baking sheets. Drizzle the mushrooms with the olive oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Cover with aluminum foil. Roast for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the mushrooms are tender and still moist, about 15 minutes longer. Cool slightly. Reserve any liquid from the roasted mushrooms
2. In a food processor or blender, combine half of the mushrooms with 2 cups of the broth and process until smooth.
3. In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the sherry wine and simmer until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
4. Add the remaining 3 1/4 cups of broth, organic milk, and fresh thyme. Stir in the remaining cooked mushroom pieces and the mushroom purée. Simmer over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and ladle into serving bowls or demi-tasse coffee cups. Top with a little dollop of the whipped cream, sourdough croutons and some porcini powder (or any dried mushroom ground in a spice mill or coffee grinder) and the bacon.
• Almost all mushroom varieties are very absorbent and will soak up any moisture that’s available. Moisture causes mushrooms to decay rapidly, so the single most important aspect when cleaning them is not to soak them in water.
• Before you clean mushrooms, trim off the ends of the stems and any clumps of dirt that may be clinging. A soft-bristled brush or damp cloth can usually clean most of the dirt off of mushrooms. If the mushrooms are a little damp, use a clean cloth to dry them.
• Don’t discard the stems of fresh mushrooms like shiitake and Portobello. Use them to flavor stocks, soups, and stews. Wrap them in a square of cheesecloth and add them to a simmering liquid. The stems will release their flavor in about 20 to 30 minutes, then discard the cheesecloth bundle.
Too busy for the kitchen? Special diet? A pro can slice and dice for you — at home.
The busier we become, the more we look to others to help us simplify our lives. Services that might seem a luxury become easier to justify as a necessity.
We’ll hire a lawn service, maybe have someone come in to clean the house regularly, and even drop the laundry off with the dry cleaning.
Now there’s a growing sector of service professionals available to help out with one of your most important daily duties: dinnertime. They’re called personal chefs, and they come into your home and cook your meals.
Oh, right, you’re thinking, I can have the chef bunk with the chauffeur in the rooms over the carriage house. But a personal chef is different from a private chef, and the cost is a lot less than you might imagine. And for some people it’s a service that not only is cost-effective but also a provision that is even more essential than having someone mow the grass.
Eric Kunichika, a Longwood physician, and his wife, Deanne, a dentist, have used Justin of Justin Thyme for about 21/2 years. Kunichika admits that for two doctors the cost isn’t a factor, but he says he has referred friends who are laborers to Justin Thyme.
“It isn’t cost prohibitive,” he says. “The cost to go out to eat is fairly substantial, and I have wines at home I can open that are more economical.”
The client pays for all the food and seasonings the chef purchases, and any items unused are left in the refrigerator. The cost of hiring a personal chef varies from one chef to another and depends on the situation — for instance whether it involves cooking for a special occasion or with special ingredients. Dale Pyle, a part-time personal chef, says $15 to $20 per entrée per person is typical.
And as Pyle says, “If you add up all the times you go out to eat, order in or stop at the drive-through, and the food you buy and throw out” because you never got around to cooking it and it spoiled, the cost is comparable to an average restaurant meal.
“You can get the same meal at your house and eat it in front of the TV in your underwear.”
A measure of independence
A personal chef differs from a private chef in that the latter is someone who is employed by one client and cooks exclusively for that individual or family. A private chef might very well live at the client’s home, though it’s doubtful one would agree to share accommodations with the chauffeur.
A personal chef works for several clients and is an independent contractor who owns his or her own business.
Justin-Thyme has worked as a private chef and also did time working the lines in the kitchens of well-known restaurants in South Florida. But he likes the independence — and the more reasonable hours — of working as a personal chef. When he was working in a restaurant, he says, he never had weekends or holidays off. Now he works only weekdays, 9 to 5, and finally has time to spend with his fiancée. He’s happy he made this career move.
“Quality of life factors into it,” he says.
More chefs are coming to that realization, according to Candy Wallace, executive director of the San Diego-based American Personal Chef Association. She says that when she started her organization 10 years ago, she knew of about 30 personal chefs. Those numbers are blooming. Her Web site, she says, gets about 1 million hits every month.
Of course, some of those hits are from potential clients looking for someone to do the cooking. According to Wallace, consumers will hire a chef for a number of reasons. Foremost is the convenience factor, the dual-income working couple who don’t have time to prepare good food after a day of work.
Some people hire personal chefs for medical reasons. If a physician recommends a special diet, a personal chef can assure that regimen is followed. And seniors will contract the services of a personal chef to maintain their independence instead of moving to a care facility.
Pyle, whose company is called At Your Service, says he often gets calls from out-of-town adult children to hire him to cook a week of meals for elderly parents. Pyle’s last job in a professional kitchen was in a retirement village in Lake County, so a lot of his clients choose him because he knows about proper nutrition and the special needs of the elderly.
Have knives, will travel
That was the case with Lake Mary residents Ed and Phyllis Lower, who found Pyle after doing an Internet search for personal chefs. They wanted someone who could cook meals that fit into Ed Lower’s diet for diabetes. After interviewing three chefs, they decided to hire Pyle.
The chef goes to the Lower house with everything he needs, including pots and pans. He has a large Rubbermaid bin, a smaller plastic container, his knife roll and a cooler with meat and fish on ice. Pyle even brings his own cutting boards, including a separate one for the meats.
It would be convenient for the chefs to do some of the prep work at home, slicing and dicing the vegetables for the dishes. But the licensing restrictions don’t allow that unless the chef’s home kitchen is approved for professional cooking. It’s an odd technicality because the clients’ kitchens aren’t licensed for professional food production either.
Pyle, who also teaches at the Orlando Culinary Academy, says he isn’t looking to build a huge client base. He says his average client will have him cook 20 meals at a time, two portions of 10 entrees plus side dishes, to be refrigerated or frozen for reheating at a later date.
Except for the occasions when they’re hired to cook for a dinner party, all the personal chefs fix multiple meals that are fully or partially prepared for the client to finish later.
And here’s the drill
Each meal begins with the chef doing the shopping. Before heading to a client’s home, justin-thyme makes trips to Publix and Whole Foods, where he purchases fresh fish, poultry and produce. Just before he goes inside he changes from his “civvies” into a crisp white professional chef’s tunic, even though he says it isn’t unusual for him to go to a job, spend his 21/2 to three hours cooking and cleaning up after without ever seeing the client.
A personal chef will usually schedule an interview with a new client to assess likes and dislikes. There’s no sense in hiring your own chef if he or she makes food you don’t like. The Lowers keep a file in a bright yellow folder labeled “Chef Dale” with notes on past meals. A note next to the stuffed pork loin notes it was good, but next to the chicken cacciatore they’ve written “bad.” Pyle says it doesn’t hurt his feelings to receive the negative feedback; he’d rather be cooking the things clients like.
The Lowers have Pyle come in to cook several times a year to prepare multiple meals that he freezes. They say they eat out at restaurants often, but when they stay home, they heat up one of Pyle’s frozen dishes, following the typewritten directions he leaves behind.
Phyllis Lower says she used to cook a lot, but now that it’s just the two of them, it doesn’t seem worth the hassle.
“I like to cook,” she says, “but some of the meals that took a long time to prep . . . why bother?”
And, she says, there’s one other big advantage to hiring a personal chef: “He cleans up so well.”
Scott Joseph can be reached at email@example.com or 407-420-5514.
Copyright © 2004, Orlando Sentinel
- Tampa Personal Chef Services (chefjustinthyme.wordpress.com)
- Justin-Thyme Food Photography 2011 (chefjustinthyme.wordpress.com)
- Justin-Thyme provides elegant full-service event catering to the to the Tampa Bay area! (chefjustinthyme.wordpress.com)
The mango is a very common tropical fruit usually found in Southern Asia, especially in Eastern India, Philippines, China, Burma, Andaman Islands and Central America. It is cultivated and grown vastly in many tropical regions and widely distributed in the world.
Mango is one of the most extensively used fruit for food, juices, flavor and coloring making it as the most functional fruit. The ripe fruit is variable in size and color, and may be yellow, orange, red or green when ripe, depending on the cultivar. When it is ripe refreshingly sweet taste that varies from every variety. Its flesh has its fibrous and some are soft and pulpy texture.
One of my favorite uses for mango is fresh salsa. It makes a great accompaniment to all sorts of grilled fish and chicken recipes.
- 2 peeled, pitted and diced small
- 1/2 large red bell pepper, diced small
- 1 Tbsp medium red onion, finely chopped
- 1 /2 small european cucumber, peeled and diced
- 3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 Tbsp chopeed scallion
- 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 Tsp sugar
- 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. toasted mustard seed
- Salt and Pepper
- Chop mango, red pepper, cucumber, scallion and red onion and combine in a bowl.
- Mix lime juice, olive oil, sugar mustard seeds & salt and pepper in a small bowl, whisk together.
- Mix into salsa.
- Add chopped cilantro and stir until combined.
- Enjoy with fresh tortilla chips, on grilled fish or chicken or as an accompaniment to a fresh green salad
History of Mango:
Native to southern Asia, especially eastern India, Burma, and the Andaman Islands, the mango has been cultivated, praised and even revered in its homeland since Ancient times. Buddhist monks are believed to have taken the mango on voyages to Malaya and eastern Asia in the 4th and 5th Centuries B.C.
The Persians are said to have carried it to East Africa about the 10th Century A.D. It was commonly grown in the East Indies before the earliest visits of the Portuguese who apparently introduced it to West Africa early in the 16th Century and also into Brazil. After becoming established in Brazil, the mango was carried to the West Indies, being first planted in Barbados about 1742 and later in the Dominican Republic. It reached Jamaica about 1782 and, early in the 19th Century, reached Mexico from the Philippines and the West Indies.
Note: There are a few varieties of mango that are commonly found in American groceries stores. The most common are the Haden, Tommy Atkins, and Kent varieties, all of which have yellow or green skins with a reddish blush to them. If you do find an Ataulfo or Champagne mango, it will have a smaller, kidney-like shape, yellow skin, and small pit, so use 5 or 6 for this recipe. To choose a ripe but firm (common) mango make sure it has a reddish blush and firm skin. The mango should give slightly when squeezed and be fragrant. If you accidentally peel a mango that is too green, no worries, cut it into small slices, season with lime juice and sprinkle with salt. You’ve just made mangoviche! Delicious!
As a young man growing up in Key West Florida, I was exposed to a variety of fantastically flavorful ethnic dishes from an early age. Dishes that I would, over the years, constantly try to recreate or infuse into new ideas. South Florida in general is home to a diverse multi-cultural landscape of people, rich in tradition and passionate about the foods of their homeland. The bounty of both fresh produce and super fresh seafood readily available in Florida at any given time gives chefs the opportunity to come up with almost limitless inspiration and flavor combinations. Bahamian Conch Ceviche, Cuban Ropa Vieja, Puerto Rican plantain mofongo, Hatian Oxtail stew, these are all dishes that take me back to my childhood. One preparation always stood out for me, especially because I tend to go for fresh and spicy, flavor packed foods with a simplistic approach…seafood in particular, it was Ceviche. Fish, Shrimp, Conch, whatever…I LOVED ceviche.
Long before I ever dreamed that I would end up being a chef, I had the good fortune to eat many, many times at a little place called Louie’s Backyard in Old Town Key West. You see, my mother was a huge foodie and luckily for me, introduced me to all kinds of strange and exotic foods from an early age. The owners of Louie’s had recently brought in a young chef named Norman Van Aken, who would soon blaze a trail for what would one day become known as “New World Cuisine”, he was and still is the father of it…a new world Escoffier of sorts…Norman is obviously a culinary genius, few would argue that.
I used to love the irreverent cooking style and seemingly bizarre, yet playful flavors Norman created and there was definitely a buzz going around about his cooking from very early on. After finishing culinary school, I sought Norman out at his restaurant in Coral Gables and hung around until I was able to work my way into the kitchen, it was a brief time that would change my perception of what food could really be and how far an idea could be taken. Hopefully Norman knows what an incredible impact he has made on so many young chefs, including me…I doubt I could ever really fully thank him in a way that sounds as good as it does in my mind but, thank you Norman.
Now, looking back on a successful career as a professional chef for the last 15 years, I have begun to seek out the flavors that remind me of my childhood. Afterall, isn’t that one of the great things about food? The fact that one bite can transport you back to a certain time and place…remind you of good times or bad, connect you with a family memory or simply remind you of sunday dinners at grandma’s house. Food connects us with our roots in a way that few other things in life can and I think that any great cook, at any given time, draws inspiration from or strives to re-create dishes that remind them of something dear to them.
My take on a wonderful recipe by Chef Rick Bayless– Chef of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo in Chicago, creator of Frontera Gourmet foods, cookbook author and host of “Mexico One Plate at a Time“. This recipe is from his cook book “Mexico One Plate at a Time.” A must-try!
- ½ cup plus 2 Tbs fresh lime juice
- 1 generous pound unpeeled, smallish shrimp
- ½ medium white onion, chopped into ¼ inch pieces
- 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped into ¼ inch pieces
- ½ cup ketchup
- 1-2 Tbs vinegary Mexican bottled hot sauce
- About 2 Tbs olive oil, preferably extra-virgin (optional, but recommended to smooth out sharpness)
- 1 cup diced peeled cucumber or jicama (or ½ cup of each)
- 1 small avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
- Several lime slices for garnish
- Tostadas or tortilla chips for serving
- To cook the shrimp, bring 1 quart salted water to a boil and add 2 Tbs of the lime juice. Scoop in the shrimp, cover and let the water return to a boil. Immediately remove from the heat, set the lid askew and pour off all the liquid. Replace the cover and let the shrimp steam off the heat for 10 minutes. Spread out the shrimp in a large glass or stainless steel bowl to cool completely. Peel and devein shrimp. Toss the shrimp with remaining ½ cup lime juice, cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
- In a small strainer, rinse the onion under cold water, then shake off the excess liquid. Add to the shrimp bowl along with the cilantro, ketchup, hot sauce, optional olive oil, cucumber and/or jicama and avocado. Taste and season with salt. Cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately.
- Serving: spoon ceviche into sundae glasses, martini glasses, or small bowls. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro and slices of lime. Serve with tostadas or tortilla chips.
Full Service Dinner Parties
Justin-Thyme Personal Chef Service Provides Elegant Full-Service Dinner Parties to the to the Tampa Bay Area!
Do you love fine food and wine but dread a long night out at a fine dining restaurant? In today’s dining scene, people are taking advantage of another option! If you were to compare a personal chef service to restaurant, you could think of it this way: For a restaurant, you must drive to get there, possibly wait for a table, take a chance that your server is having a good day, and if you have allergies or special requests you don’t always have the guarantee that they will be honored, since most entrees are “assembly line” ready in the kitchen.
After eating your meal you must pay for it, tip the server, and get back in your vehicle to drive home. If you have a Personal Chef Service, you can eat a wonderful entrée that has been prepared specifically for you palate and requirements, and eat it in the comfort of your own home.
How it works:
Chef Justin will help create a delicious gourmet menu suited to your particular tastes for any special dining event in your home. He consults with you about what kind of party you’d like to give, how many guests you plan to invite and any other special detail to make your party perfect. He will then design your special custom menu of four or five courses suited to your particular tastes as well as help you pair up the best wines with the cuisine. We are also happy to make changes to the menu to accommodate a guest’s special requests or restrictions. Once menus are finalized, we print up custom copies detailing your event for your guest
Chef Justin will take care of all the shopping, arrange for any rentals needed, schedule his highly professional and personable wait staff as requested and arrive a few hours before the first guest to set up the kitchen and start cooking.
He brings his own utensils and all the cooking equipment and begins the set-up for the night’s festivities. The wait staff will arrive at least an hour before your dinner, finish any last-minute arrangements and then cheerfully greet and serve your guests.
You’ll enjoy a fantastic meal and our high-end four-star service, and then, while you’re savoring dessert, we’ll scrub your kitchen spotless as you bask in your guests’ praise at what a clever host you are for bringing in a private chef to create such a delicious and memorable experience!
An intimate, 3-5 course seated dinner party in the comfort of your home. Custom menus, menu shopping, table service, seated amusé, intermezzo (if 5 or more courses), kitchen clean up and a delicate washing of your servingware.
If you any have questions about our Tampa cooking classes or would like to book a dinner party or purchase a customized gift certificate, please contact us today at: Justin-Thyme.com
Additional Personal Chef Services Available to the Tampa area:
Personal Grocery Shopper–
While we are out shopping for your menu or picking up supplies for your cooking class, we can pick up some of the extra household items you may need for an additional charge. (pet food, cleaning/laundry supplies, etc.)
Hors d’oeuvres Soiree-
A cocktail party for 20 guests with a variety (8-10) of seasonal hot and cold hors d’oeuvres.
$325 + Groceries: Prepared, packaged & left for you to serve your guests in your home
$975 + Groceries: Prepared & served with wait staff during a 2-hour cocktail party in your home
If the hassle of preparing for the holidays is wearing you down, let Justin-Thyme Personal Chef Service come and prepare all your culinary delights for you. Then all you have to do is heat and eat!
One of the key elements to keeping a relationship interesting and exciting is the unexpected! Incorporating a “Date Night” with unique and special activities does wonders! Call us today for more details!
‘Secret’ Chef Service
If you want your friends to think you’ve been cooking over a hot stove all day in preparation for your party, let Justin-Thyme Personal Chefs take care of all the details! We will prepare your menu from soup to nuts then sneak out the back door prior to your guests’ arrival so you can take all the credit. No one will be the wiser! We also provide you with all of the recipes of the day to share with your guests!
In-Home Dinner Parties/ Corporate Luncheons
Want to create a memorable event that your guests will be talking about for a long time to come? Whether it’s a holiday party, family BBQ, a sit-down multi course meal or a corporate event, Justin-Thyme Personal Chef Service can accommodate your needs, providing that WOW factor you seek.
See our sample dinner menu!
Interactive Dinner Parties
Love to host parties but dread the thought of shopping, prepping, cooking and cleaning? How about having an interactive dinner party where Chef Justin provides a hands-on cooking demonstration with you and your guests. Chef Justin will help you plan a dinner menu and will bring all the ingredients to your home for the party. Once the cooking is done, you enjoy your meal with your guests while we clean up the mess in the kitchen!
Kids/Teen Cooking Classes
Kids/Teens are taught healthy/delicious cooking techniques, sustainable cooking/shopping and basic knife skills with every class! Cooking classes can consist of learning how to make healthy after school snacks to an entire dinner! ‘Kids in the kitchen’ is a 2 hour cooking class for ages 5-12. ‘Teens in the Kitchen’ is a 3 hour cooking class for ages 13 and up, call for details!
Personal Chef Tampa Justin-Thyme
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