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Time for a Tailgate Party

Fall is one of the best times of the year for sports. There is a little slice of the season where Football, Baseball and Basketball are in full effect. It is also the perfect time to try new snacks for your next tailgate party.

When I tailgate, I want to have a great time, but I also want to eat great food. The grill is an easy way to create delicious food. One of my favorite things to grill is the chicken wing. They are easy to cook and easy to eat. Spice up your next tailgate with these show stoppers.

Thai Grilled Chicken Wings

2 pounds chicken wings, remove tips, separate drumetts and flats

1/2 cup oyster sauce

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and allow to marinate for 30 minutes. If the chicken marinates any longer, the wings will be too salty. Grill marinated wings for 6-8 minutes or until cooked through. Enjoy with sriracha or hoisin for dipping.

 

Cambodian Inspired Grilled Wings

3 pounds chicken wings, remove tips, separate drumetts and flats

6 lemongrass stalks, remove outer layer, slice tender inner layer

3 tablespoons lime zest

6 garlic cloves

2 shallots, chopped

1 inch ginger, peeled, chopped

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 cup honey

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 tablespoons fish sauce

6 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons sweet paprika

wooden skewers, soaked

 

Combine lemongrass, garlic, lime zest, shallots, ginger, and turmeric in a food processor. Pulse until a smooth paste forms. Add paste, fish sauce, oyster sauce, honey, paprika, and wings to a bowl to marinate for at least three hours, covered and refrigerated.

Once the chicken is marinated, grill for about 8 minutes or until cooked through.

 

Happy Tailgating!

 

 

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Autumn Flavor Ideas | The Apple

The Apple

Autumn Flavor Ideas
Autumn Flavor Ideas
The first iconic flavor of Autumn, until pumpkin spice came to town. But we want to bring back the apple. Because it’s not just for pies, although it does make one heck of a dessert. With thousands of varieties to choose from, you are sure to find the right one. And if you don’t want to find a local orchard and pick your own, you can usually find about 10 different options at your local grocery market. They look great, taste great, and pack quite a nutritional punch with vitamins A and C and antioxidants. Weather you eat ‘em or drink ‘em, you know the old saying. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

Looking for a new way to mix apples into the menu? Try some of these ideas!

  • Grated or julienned apples in a classic slaw
  • Diced with black beans, avocado, jalapenos and lime juice salad
  • Cored and sliced, roasted with pork tenderloin, onions and rosemary
  • Swap out the beer or red wine in your Sunday beef roast for Apple Cider or Applejack
  • Add diced apples the last 5-10 minutes when roasting Brussel’s Sprouts
  • Add grated apples to braised red cabbage or homemade sauerkraut
  • Instead of raisins, add small diced apple on peanut butter and celery boats for a tasty and fun snack
  • Thinly slice apples and fennel bulb for a vibrant and light salad
  • Add apples to your butternut squash soup recipe
  • Dice an apple and add it to your oatmeal for a hearty and warming breakfast
  • Add small diced apples, or applesauce, to pancakes and crepes
  • Add sliced apples to the bottom of a pumpkin pie. Best of both worlds!
  • Peruse the blog and find more recipes and fun ways to use great ingredients! Check out our website to learn more about weekly meal prep.

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Chef Spotlight | Pha Le

pha le
Pha Le, Friend That Cooks Personal Chef in Chicago

In our Chef Spotlight this month

…we introduce you to Pha Le, a Friend That Cooks personal chef servicing clients in Chicago, IL.

Pha Le was born in Vietnam and grew up in Nebraska, Texas, and now resides in Chicago, IL. After graduating from high school in Houston, Texas, she decided to go straight to culinary school. Wanting to stay close to home, she attended the Art Institute of Houston.

While attending culinary school, she did her internship at St. Regis Hotel in Houston, Texas and stayed after earning her degree to further her understanding of hospitality.

Her culinary background in Houston includes Haven Restaurant, which was the 1st certified “Green” restaurant that she helped open for Randy Evans, (formerly Brennan’s & Commander’s Palace, Louisiana). She also helped open Hendricks Deli & Grill and later became the sous chef before moving to Chicago to further her culinary repertoire.

With Haven being such a “green” restaurant, vegetables and herbs were grown and harvested on site. She was able to learn and understand farm to table dining and the true meaning of “cook what you can grow”. This inspired her to learn and mix finesse from fine dining and local ingredients while still maintaining integrity and utilizing each ingredient to its full potential. That kick started her decision to move to Chicago where there’s so much opportunity and back to her midwestern roots.

While in Chicago she worked at Paul Kahan’s Blackbird restaurant as a line cook before leaving to work at the legendary Pump Room conceptualized by Jean-George Vongerichten at The Public Hotel as a Sous Chef. During both times, she was able to learn more about Midwestern ingredients, farmers, and local purveyors. She was able to establish a rapport and push their products and businesses and the knowledge of farm to fork.

Farm to fork really cemented when she left the Pump Room and went to work for Nicole Pederson at Found Restaurant as her Executive Sous Chef. During her 3-year duration, there were multiple field trips for back-of-house and front-of-house employees to farms to learn about where the products came from. She enjoyed making last minute specials based on ingredient availability, changed the menu every two to three months based on seasonality, and worked with local purveyors to see the smile on their faces when a restaurant supported their life’s work.

Pha continues her passion for using local, fresh and seasonal ingredients with her menus for her Friend That Cooks clients. She has been with FTC since October of 2015.

Watch our Chef Spotlight every month to learn about another Friend That Cooks personal chef. Visit www.friendthatcooks.com to learn more about weekly meal prep from Friend That Cooks.

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The Art of Braising Meat

We get asked all of the time, “what’s your secret to cooking great tasting meat?”, so we decided to give you a little how-to guide to braising meat so you can rock dinner. This tutorial is about braising which is a low and slow kind of cooking method. For grilling, stay tuned, we will cover that in a different newsletter. This is also a general guideline and not a specific recipe. There are an infinite number of combinations of meat, aromatics and liquids out there. To list them all out be impossible. If you are thinking, “what kind?” or “how much?” of any ingredient mentioned, send us an email and we can give you some ideas. The pictures you see here are of a 4lb beef brisket. The fat cap (or fat layer) is on the underside to better show you how it was seasoned. Also, before searing, it was cut in half to better fit in the Dutch oven. More on that later.

Step One: Buy some meat

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Whether it’s beef, pork, lamb or other, it doesn’t really matter. The principles are the same. But, quality does. Make sure you are buying your meat from someone you trust. Avoiding previously frozen meat matters too. Without getting too science-nerd on ya, when you freeze anything, the water molecules within the cell walls freeze too. And what happens to water when it freezes? It expands and breaks down the cell walls, which in turn can make for a mushier texture. Great for bananas in banana bread. Not so great for a piece of meat. That’s not to say you can’t use frozen meat. Just make sure it was frozen properly, and take the time to thaw it out properly- in the fridge for a day or two.

Quality also means grade. Budget determines quality grade, mostly. If you have a few extra bucks to spend, get Prime. Choice is the best choice for the dollar…(see what I did there?!) You spend a little less, and still get great quality. Select is the lowest grade you can buy at the store. Unless you are pinching pennies, I don’t recommend getting it. It’s really not worth it. So just buy Choice.

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Step Two: Prep the meat

You don’t want to go straight from the fridge to the stove. Ever. Again…science. Let your meat rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes to an hour. “OMG! Won’t I get sick if I leave my meat out that long?” NO! You won’t. Unless you left it in your hot car for an hour after you got home, it’s probably going to be fine. Just be smart.

Remove any extra fat or silver skin that wasn’t removed by the butcher. I don’t mean remove all the fat. You need some to make the meat not suck. But too much and your meat will be greasy. You want a nice 1/8 inch layer. And there should be some marbling. That’s why you bought Choice, remember. (Fat carries flavor, so leaner cuts tend to have less flavor.) Pat the piece of meat dry with a paper towel or two. This removes any extra moisture from the surface of the meat.

SEASON YOUR MEAT BEFORE YOU COOK IT*!!!! This may be the most important step. Unless you have a medical condition that prohibits you from consuming salt, season your meat with salt. Most of us at FTC prefer Kosher salt, but you can use whatever you want. And pepper. Use pepper. Sprinkle all sides of the meat with a layer of salt and pepper. It’s not just for flavor. Also, science.

beer-braising

Step Three: Prepare the aromatics

This is the stuff that makes the meat taste really good. Things like herbs (remember that disclaimer about infinite number of possibilities), sliced onion, chopped garlic, shallots, carrots, celery, etc. You don’t need a lot of it. Half an onion, 2-3 cloves of garlic, a handful of herbs (dried or fresh) a carrot and a celery stalk will do just fine for a 4lb roast.

You also need a liquid and some acid. Tomato, red wine, beer, and cider all work well as an acid. You will need about ½-1 cup of acid. Broth, stock and juice are fine liquids. Basically, you need something that tastes better than water. About 2 cups should suffice.

Step Four: Prepare the heat source

The oven should already be on and preheating to between 275 and 325 degrees, depending on the meat. But first, we must sear the meat. That takes a high heat source. You will want to use a heavy Dutch oven or stock pot, something with an oven safe lid. We don’t want to wash a lot of dishes at the end of this, so try to use only one pan. But if you don’t have one, you can sear in a skillet and transfer to a roasting pan.

Get the pan hot. Not rip roaring, call the fire department hot. But hot. You are going to put a big hunk of meat in the pan that is going to suck up all the heat in a short amount of time. If when you put a small amount of oil in the pan, it begins to smoke, the pan is too hot. Remove from heat, wipe out the pan, and try again. The trick is to get the pan hot enough that when you put the meat in, it stays hot and continues to caramelize the outside of the meat, but doesn’t burn down your house. And this is one case where the size of the meat matters. You need a pan that is big enough to house the meat comfortably.

Step Five: Cook the meat

brisket-searing
Add a small amount of oil to the pan, just enough that when you swirl the pan around the oil covers the bottom of the pan. And quickly it should start to shimmer. That means it’s ready. Carefully add your meat and let it sit. You will be tempted to check it. Don’t. Every time you lift the meat surface from the pan, it stops cooking. So just trust us and leave it. This is called caramelization. It is a science word that means good tasting meat.

After a couple of minutes, you should start to see the meat turn a beautiful golden or dark brown around the edges. Now would be a good time to check.brisket-browned If it has turned said GBD (golden brown delicious) color, flip the meat and repeat on all sides, until you have a nice crust around the entire outside. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside. Turn down the heat a skosh, add the aromatics and stir them around a bit until they start to release their juices*. Then add the liquids and scrape up any cooked-on bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the meat to the pan (or to the roasting pan if using a separate pan for the oven with the aromatics and liquid), transfer to the oven (covered) and let the meat cook until it is tender. For a 4 lb beef chuck roast, that is about 3 hours.

Step Six: Serve the meat, and take a pic for Instagram

Because that’s what we all do now, right? braise-meat-small

*If you want to use the braising liquid as a sauce, you will want to thicken it. Either, dust the meat with a light coating of flour after seasoning with salt and pepper, or add a heaping tablespoon of flour just after adding the aromatics, and before adding the liquid. Either way, there will be enough flour molecules to thicken the sauce while it cooks.

**If you have an allergy or sensitivity to gluten or just don’t like it, don’t use flour. There are other products out there that can be used as a thickener, but most should be added at the end of the cooking process. Email us if you have a specific question.

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Parsnip: The New Potato

Potatoes are a gift from the food gods! When baked, the skin gets crispy like a chip and the inside is fluffy and delicious. Fried potatoes in chip form or french fries can’t be beat. The crunchy salty goodness is hard to resist and goes with everything. Having a sandwich, eat some chips or fries. Enjoying a steak, have some potatoes…any preparation is perfect.

The down side to potatoes is they are extremely high in carbohydrates and in most preparations, high in fat. Alone, potatoes are high in potassium, vitamin C, B6 and are naturally fat free only having approximately 165 calories per serving. Have you ever eaten a fat free potato? I can honestly say I have NOT. I like my potatoes fried or with butter, cheese, and cream. The fat free notion goes out the window along with the added health benefits. The way I’ve begun to combat the starchy, fat laden potato dishes is to remove the potato and substitute the 100 calorie parsnip.

Parsnips are pretty cool, they are fragrant, sweet and easy to prepare. The first time I saw a parsnip I flashed back to childhood and saw the vampire bunny we read about, Bunnicula.

They look like white carrots (maybe the parsnip and the carrot are cousins). They are incredibly versatile and a fantastic substitution for their starchy white counterpart.

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Parsnips are high in dietary fiber and anti-oxidants. The bright white root vegetable also has  anti-inflammatory properties as well as being a good source for vitamin C, folic acid, B6, thiamin, vitamins K and E. So far, we are ahead of the game! This nutrient dense vegetable works with almost anything.

My two favorite ways to enjoy Parsnips are in a puree, like mashed potatoes and roasted with other fall vegetables like carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes.

Parsnip puree became popular with me because it is low carb and has the closest texture to a perfectly mashed potato.

Mashed potatoes require far more technique than parsnips, they are far less forgiving. There is a super fine line between a perfectly creamy mashed potato and a gummy one. With the white root vegetable, you have a lot more leniency. Here is a recipe I use when I’m craving mashed potatoes and don’t want to over do it with the carbohydrates.

Parsnip Puree

1 lb parsnips, peeled and sliced thin

2 garlic cloves, smashed

1 c half and half

2 T butter

salt to taste

Bring parsnips, garlic, cream, milk, and butter to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce the heat then cover and simmer until the parsnips are very soft, 10–15 minutes. Uncover and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes; season with salt. Puree in a blender until smooth. The stick blenders are fantastic for this application as well.

Parsnip puree takes less than half the time of mashed potatoes and has a deeper nutritional bench. Anything that would normally get potatoes, now receives parsnips.

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Char Roasted Root Vegetables

4 parsnips, peeled

4 carrots, peeled

1 sweet potato, peeled

1 golden beet, peeled

6 brussel sprouts, halved

3 T olive oil

salt to taste

any combination of dried herbs you have in your pantry

Pre-heat Oven to 425. Once all vegetables are peeled, cut them into approximately the same sizes, your choice. Place all vegetables in a bowl and add the oil, salt, and herbs. Toss them together and spread on 2 sheet pans. 1 sheet pan will allow the vegetables to steam rather than char and roast. Place in oven for 25 minutes. Once the vegetables are charred, turn the heat down to 400 and continue to roast until tender. Enjoy with any meal.

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Happy Fall!

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Who’s Ready For a Remodel?!

Kitchen remodels can be pretty daunting. I like to think of them as fun adventures. With the help of our amazing chefs, we’ve come up with some tips to make the process less stressful and the final result workable and beautiful.

 

The Triangle of Success

All kitchens need a functional work triangle or triangle of success, as I like to say. The work triangle consists of the sink, stove/oven, and refrigerator being in proximity to one another for efficient movement back and forth. The idea of the triangle of success is to keep the rhythm in the kitchen while preparing meals. Things should flow like honey, smooth and easy. Here are some examples of the triangle of success for a few different kitchen lay outs.

kitchen-work-triangle   kitchen-design-triangle-classic-with-photo-of-kitchen-design-decor-fresh-in-ideas

 

Flooring and Cabinetry

After you’ve established your triangle of success, the rest of the remodel is fun! This is the place where all the design ideas you’ve had come into play. Here, we’ll work from the floor up.

Materials like tile, stone, and hard wood make excellent flooring choices. The kitchen, in many homes, is the central point. It is the place where family and friends gather before sitting down to dinner. It’s the heart of the home. Hard surfaces like stone and tile are incredibly durable, easily cleaned, and can really make a statement.

Hard wood is warm and feels great on your feet; it’s inviting. Wood floors are also more forgiving than tile or stone. Have you ever dropped a plate on a tile or stone floor? Man, there is nothing like the sound of that shatter. You know the second it leaves your hand, its a goner. As your brain tells you to try to save the plate, your heart skips a beat and it is already mourning the loss of one of your beloved dish. Dropping a plate on hard wood can be less emotionally taxing. They usually hit the floor, *thud*, then spin like a toy top and land flat, ready to be picked up, brushed off and used again. Both surfaces are wonderfully easy to clean. The flooring choice comes to personal preference, but any of the three are fantastic.

Cabinets really set the tone for the kitchen. Are you looking for something light and bright, fun and whimsical, traditional, or darn and modern? The exterior of the cabinets can be whatever you want them to be, as long as they are easily cleaned. There is nothing like scrubbing marinara off bright white cabinets.

For the interior and storage, we’ve found that draws are fantastic for pots and pans. This allows the pans to be stacked and easily accessible. If drawers aren’t something you like, having a traditional cabinet with a pull out for the pots and pans is great as well. Here are some examples.

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Now the question is, “What do I do with those pesky cookie sheets, muffin tins, and random platters?” You’re in luck, we’ve got answers! Over the years you accrue more and more cookie sheets and muffin tins, none of which are the same size, making them difficult to stack and store. Well, having a space that is designated for those random pieces we all have is the first step. Usually it is close to the oven for accessibility. The second step is having racks installed. Like this.

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Problem solved!

There are a couple different routes to take when thinking about a pantry. First, go for the gusto and have a large walk-in pantry (everyone’s dream). Let’s face it, a walk-in pantry is amazing. Not only can it hold dried goods, it can act as extra storage for equipment not regularly used, seasonal kitchen decor, etc.

Not everyone has the space for a large walk in pantry, so the alternative is to make your space work for you. If you currently have a cabinet that is deep and floor length, add pull out shelves. The same principle applies with the pots and pans. With pull out shelves, you’ll be able to see everything you have…easily. The likelihood of having chicken broth from 2000 decreases tremendously!

gray-walk-in-pantry-floor-to-ceiling-built-in-shelves-gray-shelves  images-1

 

Counter Tops and Electrical Outlets

Counter tops are one of the first things people think of when remodeling kitchens, there are so many options. Our chefs work in many different homes and have a vast experience when it comes to workable counter surfaces. Here are some guidelines that will narrow down the search and give lasting satisfaction for durability.

  1. Under NO circumstances: MARBLE.
    1. it is beautiful
    2. it is unique
    3. it is expensive
    4. it stains easily (water can stain marble)
    5. it is porous
    6. it chips eaisly
  2. NO LAMINATE
    1. it is inexpensive
    2. it will melt if something hot is on it
    3. it scratches easily
    4. is isn’t easy to repair
  3. NO CORIAN
    1. it can be perfectly matched in solid pieces
    2. is will melt or scorch if something hot is on it
    3. it can be scratched easily
  4. YES GRANITE/SOAPSTONE/SLATE
    1. it is beautiful
    2. it is durable
    3. it is stain resistant once sealed
    4. the color doesn’t fade
    5. it is non-porous
    6. it won’t melt because it is a natural stone

The upfront cost of granite, soapstone, or slate will save you in the long run.

Electrical outlets are a necessity in any kitchen. We’ve found you can’t ever have enough! Here are some tips. First, if you have an island, place electrical outlets on both sides. This increases functionality. Second, allow for more electrical outlets than you think you need. The standard outlets are usually placed next to each side of the stove and both sides of the sink. Once the standard outlets are placed, add a few more. If you have long open counter space and no outlet, put one on the backslash. If you have a corner and there aren’t any outlets within cord length, you need to place an outlet on both sides of the corner.

 

Appliances

Shopping for kitchen appliances can be overwhelming and a lot of fun. Companies are always coming out with new technology and more efficient ways to work in the kitchen. Our most important note is to have double ovens, one of which should have convection capabilities. Your double ovens should also accommodate a cookie sheet not only side to side, but front to back. The remaining appliances are personal preference.

 

Sinks

Sinks are imperative in kitchens. When choosing a sink for your kitchen there are a few things we suggest. First, get a double sink that is deep enough to place a stock pot/pasta pot in without having to hinge the neck of the faucet. One of the basins must have a garbage disposal. The double sink is important because it helps keep the area as sanitary as possible. Imagine you are washing ready to eat fruit and vegetables and rinsing chicken in the same sink. Salmonella anyone?

Depth of the sink is also important because you don’t want water all over the floor. You want to be able to fill pots and pans easily. The shallow sinks allow water to splash out onto the floor and surrounding counter space. This screams extra clean up to me!

The surface material used in the sink should also be non porous and heat resistant. There is nothing like melting a sink with a hot pan. Here are some suggested materials, Stainless Steel is on the top of the list because it is easily cleaned and durable. Composite Granite is also another fantastic option for sink material. It is durable, scratch resistant, and easy to clean. It also comes in a variety of colors. Cast Iron with a durable Enamel Finish is next on the list. Cast Iron is one of the most durable materials and has been around for generations. The down side is it is incredibly porous, so it needs the enamel finish. The lighter colored enamel finishes will show scratches, but if you get one with a darker tint, you’ll have a great sink for years to come.

 

Venting Systems

There is nothing better than coming home to an amazing smelling kitchen. You sit down and have dinner, the smell is still there. It is time for bed and your are brushing your teeth, but you still smell the roasted chicken dinner you had a few hours ago. This is where the importance of a proper ventilation system comes into play. A hood vent, or ventilation system is a huge part of a kitchen. It allows the odor from cooking to ventilate and dissipate quickly. It really only works if you have a system that vents directly outside otherwise, it is circulating the smells.

 

These are the major things we’ve compiled that are really important when remodeling a kitchen. These are tools you’ll use to hopefully make your remodel a little easier and a lot of fun.

 

 

 

 

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Jalapenos: A Fiery Education

As do many people across the country, we partake in Taco Tuesdays. Who doesn’t love tacos? It is the perfect combination of delicious and fun.

To stick with tradition, I made tacos for Taco Tuesday. I like to make fajita style tacos (roasted peppers and onions) with all of the usual suspects, pico de gallo, corn salsa, sour cream, cheese, salsa, chicken or beef and tortillas. As I was shopping for ingredients, I saw a beautiful red jalapeno. I’ve never cooked with or tasted a red jalapeno, so I bought it and a green one just in case I didn’t like the red.

I made the tacos and was super excited because there was a lot of pico de gallo. It is one of my favorite things to eat; pico goes with just about anything. Pico de gallo has a great combination of heat, fresh flavors, and textures. I took my first bite and it was great. The taco had nice heat and great flavor. As I kept eating, the intensity in heat from the jalapenos became almost too much to bear. I’ve never had this experience with jalapenos before. How is this taco defeating me? I am a taco master!

My lips were numb and my face was on fire. This is image was swimming through my head.

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As someone who is notorious for trying new things before doing my research, I learn the hard way, a lot. This experience was no different. Red Jalapenos are older and therefore HOTTER. Note taken. As I was reading, I also found that jalapenos with the “cracked” looking skin, red or green, are older and therefore HOTTER. It makes perfect sense, when green bell peppers ripen, they turn all sorts of colors, like red. I don’t know why I didn’t put two and two together.

So when picking jalapenos, just remember, smooth shiny skin means young and less heat; “cracked” or red skin means en fuego, so be careful. Happy Dining!

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The Many Wonders of Grapes

We’ve grown accustomed to having certain fruits and vegetables all year round. Did you know that many varieties of grapes are actually harvested in the fall? The fall varietals are unlike your standard red or green grape; one of my favorites is the Moon Drop Grape. They are a dark rich purple color, almost black, and they are the perfect amount of sweet.

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Grapes are a fantastic accompaniment to many savory foods. A couple of my favorite grape recipes are Grape Salsa Fresca and Grape Salad. The Grape Salsa Fresca can be paired with any mild white fish or chicken. It could also be eaten by itself because it is so awesome! The Mood Drop Grapes are superb for both recipes.

The grape salad is a show stopper. It is incredibly satisfying as an accompaniment to any meal or as a main course. It is beautiful and delicious so it is also great for parties. Enjoy these fun recipes, they will keep things fresh and fun while the temperature begins to drop and the cool air creeps in.

Grape Salsa Fresca

3 cups grapes, your preference, halved

1 jalapeno, seeded, minced

2 T fresh cilantro, stemmed, chopped

1 lime, zest and juice

2 t honey

Zest lime into mixing bowl then squeeze the juice into the same bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss together until well coated.

Grape Salad

1 1/2 packages Arugula

2 cups grapes, halved (reserve 6 for dressing)

1 shallot

1 cup marcona almonds

2 T *saba or balsamic vinegar

1 T sherry vinegar

1/2 c olive oil

1/4 c pecorino or parmesan, shaved

Any protein you’d like

Combine the 6 grapes, shallot, saba, and sherry vinegar in the blender. Blend until smooth
Keep blender running and slowly add olive oil until it emulsifies. Add a pinch of salt.
Place greens in a bowl, add grapes and almonds and toss with 1/4 c of dressing and a pinch of salt. Top with pecorino or parmesan

*Saba is reduced grape must. It is a sweeter substitution for balsamic vinegar and has a lighter flavor.

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New chefs in training

Weekly meal prep for 4

We’ve been getting some great dishes from new chefs going through training. There are four new personal chefs starting this month with Friend That Cooks and we love what we are seeing so far.

Poached cod and black rice
Poached cod and black rice
Veal meatballs and white bean ragout
Veal meatballs and white bean ragout
Sausage ricotta stuffed chicken
Sausage ricotta stuffed chicken thighs
Pan sauteed tilapia
Pan sauteed tilapia
Chick pea quinoa salad
Chick pea quinoa salad
Weekly meal prep for 4
Weekly meal prep for a family of four
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Tasting dishes from personal chef candidates

Friend That Cooks is busy interviewing and tasting dishes from new personal chef candidates in Chicago, Kansas City and Denver lately. We’re growing quickly and always on the lookout for talented cooks with a culinary degree and several years experience in a scratch kitchen. We will soon have openings in St. Louis, Omaha and Des Moines.

Here are some of the dishes we’ve tasted lately from talented cooks hoping to become personal chefs with Friend That Cooks.

Friend That Cooks Personal Chef Service offers in-home weekly meal prep for busy families, couples and people with special diets. We send a talented professional chef to the homes of our clients for a half day every week to plan a menu, shop, cook, clean up and stock their refrigerator with a week’s worth of healthy, delicious, prepared meals to reheat.

Service available in Chicago, Milwaukee, Kansas City, St. Louis, Denver, Omaha, Des Moines and Wichita. Coming soon to Minneapolis, St. Paul and Indianapolis.

Tikka masala

Tikka Masala, curried cauliflower, potatoes and basmati rice

Vegetable ragout and polenta
Creamy polenta with vegetable ragout and a poached egg
Fried tofu and tumeric
Fried tofu and tumeric
Salmon with dill sauce
Salmon with dill sauce, potato pancakes, sauteed Swiss chard, pickled onion

If you or someone you know has a culinary degree and several years (post schooling) experience in a scratch kitchen cooking diverse ethnic cuisines, send them our way to see if they would be a good fit to become a Friend That Cooks personal chef. Our chefs enjoy weekday, daytime hours, earn higher than average pay, control their own schedules and get benefits. They get to cook their food and have the freedom to express their culinary vision. No other job in the world offers this type of culinary freedom.

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Personal Chef Service | Meet Friend That Cooks

Meet Friend That Cooks Personal Chef Service

It’s everything you every wanted to know about the fastest growing in-home meal prep service in the Midwest. Meet Friend That Cooks Personal Chef Service. Learn about our mission and how we started.

About Us

Friend That Cooks Personal Chef Service began offering service in Wichita, KS in August of 2007. It started with one personal chef, founder Brandon O’Dell, as part time work to keep him busy between food service consulting projects. Within a few weeks, Friend That Cooks weekly meal prep was a hit. It was soon apparent it was going to be much more than a part time job for Brandon.

From his years of experience in the food service industry, Brandon knew the sacrifices cooks and chefs have to make to have a career. He believed there was a better way and dedicated himself to creating a work environment where talented cooks and chefs could have a career without sacrificing their personal lives to working the 60+ hour weeks that is common in the industry.

Our mission

It is the mission of Friend That Cooks Personal Chef Service to greatly improve the quality of life for our clients AND our employees by providing superior service and a superior career.

Friend That Cooks fulfills our mission to our clients by creating a work environment for our chefs they can’t find anywhere in the food service industry. We attract chefs who are used to a lot of work at little pay, and we pay them more than they can make cooking at a restaurant or in a food delivery company. We also offer our employees benefits they won’t find elsewhere in the food service industry, including maternity leave for both women and men.

Our Chefs

Our chefs are our business. Friend That Cooks sells Friendship, healthy eating, free time, and piece of mind. We do it by attracting the best applicants. We extensively test and screen them. We exhaustively train and support them. And we reward them as well as we possibly can. Our clients love our service because we love our chefs.

Meet Friend That Cooks Personal Chef Service

Friend That Cooks offers the most personal and affordable way for busy families, couples or people special diets to put healthy, scratch made, home cooked meals on the table for their family.

We have families, couples and individuals that use our weekly meal prep service for a myriad of reasons. Some use the service for weight loss, athletic training, controlling Diabetes and treating heart disease. Or some to simply ease the burden of planning meals while trying to balance a busy life with kids or work.

In addition to weekly meal prep, our personal chefs have the culinary expertise and large repertoires of incredible and creative dishes to provide cooking parties or private dinners for family gatherings. We do bachelorette and bachelor parties, birthdays, anniversaries, baby or wedding showers, rehearsal dinners and every occasion under the sun.

Whatever your reason for considering hiring a Friend That Cooks personal chef, you can rest assured that we can provide a service that you will love. You will also enjoy a value unlike any other offered by any personal chef, restaurant, or meal delivery service in any metro we operate.

Click here to contact us today and see if in-home weekly meal prep is right for your family.

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What’s easier than meal delivery St. Louis?

In-home weekly meal prep, that’s what!

easier than meal delivery
In-home weekly meal prep is easier than meal delivery

Meal delivery services are saving some time for busy moms and dads, but there is something much better, and it costs about the same.

In St. Louis and several other cities, busy families, couples and people with special diets are taking advantage of Friend That Cooks Personal Chef Service’s in-home weekly meal prep. Instead of getting online, ordering food, unpacking it, disposing of boxes, then still having to cook and clean up, Friend That Cooks’ clients can literally have food prepared with no more effort than taking a debit card out of their pocket and laying it on the counter.

Easier than meal delivery

Personal chefs from Friend That Cooks travel to the homes of our clients every week. We plan a menu, utilizing any ingredients you already have to limit waste. We shop for the rest of the ingredients. Bring them back to your home. Prepare incredible meals with the technique, speed and efficiency that only experienced professional chefs can. Then we clean up your kitchen, leaving you with a refrigerator packed with healthy, delicious meals to reheat the whole week long. Not only is our service easier than meal delivery, it’s better. Our food is higher quality. We use professional chefs. Menus are unlimited and customized to your family’s tastes.

Relationships and fair pricing

We believe the food service industry has it wrong in how they charge you for your food. Caterers, meal delivery companies and most personal chefs buy food then mark it up 400-500% and resell it to you. Instead of selling you food, Friend That Cooks rents you a chef that you share with 7-9 other families. We charge a reasonable hourly rate and you provide grocery money for the chef to do your shopping. No markup. Your chef returns every week, allowing you to provide personal feedback. They will adjust their cooking style and select dishes to fit your family’s very personal tastes. No limited menus to select from like a meal delivery service, and only well compensated, professional chefs doing ALL the cooking. The average family of four in St. Louis spends $140-190 per week on Friend That Cooks’ service. Our chefs usually save them money on groceries too.

How do you learn more?

Friend That Cooks offers free in-home consultations with our personal chefs. Our chef will come to your home to talk about your family’s tastes and dietary needs. They will help you decide how much food you need to make it through the week and guide you through the service choices that will give you the best possible value. Our clients are our Friends. We treat them that way.

To contact Friend That Cooks, visit our website and fill out a contact form by clicking here.

We’ll send you a chef and make your evenings a dream.