Emily 2Think of the last event you went to that was catered. All the guests gather around the buffet line (or in some instances, the service was table side) chatting and having a good time. The food was nicely presented, the hot foods were hot and the cold foods were cold. That’s what the guests experience.

Here’s what we experience on our side:

cooks-and-kitchen-workers-300x200

  • Meeting with the customer
  • Designing a menu for the event
  • Purchase the food and ingredients
  • Preparing the menu items
  • Loading up the catering van
  • Delivering the food
  • Setting up tables, chairs, plates, etc.
  • Aesthetically displaying the food
  • Keeping the food stocked
  • Busing tables
  • Packaging left overs
  • Cleaning up (yes, we even do dishes!)

If all you experience is Good Food, on time, and tasty, we have done our job!

For your next event catering, call Trusan Cuisines at: 303.517.6225 or email: info@trusancuisines.com and all you will have to do is enjoy the moment with your guests, we do the rest!

Tableside Guac

For many, myself included, Guacamole is the Holy Grail of appetizers! Every catering I’ve ever done where Guacamole is there, it’s the first thing to go.

There are several stipulations in making a superior Guacamole.

      1. Fresh ingredients is a must! Summer offers an abundance of fresh, available, and affordable seasonal produce.
      1. Have a good selection of ingredients:
        1. Ripe Avocados
        2. Limes
        3. Tomatoes
        4. Jalapenos
        5. Serrano Peppers
        6. Garlic
        7. Spring Onions (Scallions)
        8. White Onions
        9. Salt & Pepper
        10. Cumin
        11. Tortilla Chips

Make sure your Avocados are ripe: Ripe avocados are a bit darker in color and yields to a firm gentle pressure and will feel soft, but not mushy. If they are almost ripe, you can add a little olive or avocado oil when mashing them.

      1. Prep in advance! This is sooo important! Prepping in advance means more time spent with guests instead of slaving away in the kitchen. Have a good mix of selected items cut in very small dice sizes so one item is not overpowering. Store ingredients in clear deli containers (available at your local grocery store deli) until ready to use.

Just before your guests arrive: Place ingredients in appropriate size bowls and arrange in a manner that flows. Make it look nice and display in alternating colors. (see photo above)

Have small spoons (demitasse spoons) in each bowl. Now you’re ready to go!

You are a GuacMiester!  Make it to order for your guests. The nice thing about this setup, is that each participant (be it a couple, a table, etc.) can have custom made Guac exactly to their liking.

Tip: Mash the avocados with the lime juice before adding any other ingredients. Gently fold in the other ingredients. This way the veggies will still be vibrant and colorful.

Serve and enjoy. Don’t be surprised if people come back for more!

trusan@trusancuisines.com

303.517.6225

http://www.trusancuisines.com

Charcuterie - Made with PosterMyWall

Want to impress your guests without the hassle of cooking or tons of prep work? Then a Charcuterie (pronounced: Char-Cu-Te-Rie) Board is the answer! This awesome presentation comes from the French word: Chaircutier meaning Butcher Shop and Chair Cuite meaning cooked meats. Charcuterie is not new, in fact, it dates back hundreds of years when refrigeration was not around and you had to preserve meats by curing them. Charcuterie has come a long way since then by not only using meats that are either salted, brined or smoked, the addition of cheeses, fruit, nuts, pickles, olives and condiments balances out the palate as well as it is visually pleasing.

There are several components to a Charcuterie Board that is easy as 1,2,3!

  1. Determine how many people this will serve and pick an appropriate size board (or platter).
  2. Plan out what items you want on your board:

I start out with cheese: pick at least 3 different cheeses (soft, medium and hard). For example: Burrata or Brie for the soft, Munster or Gouda for the medium texture and perhaps a sharp Cheddar or crumbled Parmesan for the hard. Arrange with different shapes such as: cubes, fan out the brie, and pile up the crumbles. We’re looking for texture and depth here.

Then I go for the meats: pick at least 3 different meats. Salami, Prosciutto, Capicola, Chorizo, sliced Ham, Genoa, Summer Sausage, etc. Arrange with different shapes as well. Roll up the prosciutto and ham, fold the salami, cascade the sausages.

These items are placed evenly and strategically on the board. Think in thirds. Divide your board in a grid of thirds. Don’t clump all the cheeses or meats in one spot. Spread them out so it is visually appealing.

Now that you have your cheese and meats down, there is plenty of area to fill in with the rest.

Think: Color, Contrast and Composition as well as flavors and textures. You are building a work of art. Make it look as good as it tastes!

Fill in with different colors and textures of fruit such as: red and green grapes, dried apricots, blackberries, figs, strawberries, pineapple, etc. This is a good opportunity to utilize seasonal fruit.

Then I fill in with an assortment of olives, gherkin pickles and nuts.

        3.) The finishing touches:

Next comes the condiments. You will want to compliment what you have on your board. The salty and fatty meats would be complimented with some acidity such as a reduced balsamic vinegar dip or stone ground mustard. Jams and fruit spreads go well with the cheeses. A gastrique (a French term for a condiment consisting of half sweet and half sour). *See recipe below. A spicy condiment such as a spicy chutney would compliment the sweeter item on your board. Think also of pate or hummus to compliment the board as well.

I like to keep the condiments and breads, crackers, flatbreads, etc. close by but not on the board. That way they don’t interfere with folks digging in to this delight and it keeps the bread items from getting soggy.

Last but not least, choose your bread products. The softer items such as the burrata, brie, pate or hummus would require a firmer bread such as a toasted flatbread or cracker. Triscuits for hard salami etc. Think in terms of shapes here. Round and rectangular crackers, toasted pita triangles, and planks of flatbread.

In essence, think flavor, texture, color, composition and diversity.

Have fun and don’t forget to take a picture of your masterpiece before everyone indulges in it!

I have a motto in all my cooking classes: “Play with your Food and Eat your Homework”!

* Gastrique Recipe

A gastrique is basically a sweet and sour sauce.

Use equal parts of sugar to equal parts of a sour such as vinegar.

1 Cup Sugar

1 Cup Vinegar (such as balsamic, red wine, or a flavored vinegar)

Put sugar into a deep sauce pan and heat on medium high until the sugar melts and has a nice caramel color. Very carefully add the vinegar as it will bubble up and might splash. Be careful because the hot sugar can stick to your skin and burn. Stir until incorporated and reduce to desired thickness. Let cool and serve with your Charcuterie Board.

There are many variations to this including adding fresh fruit, etc. Use your browser to search on-line for more ideas.

Have questions or want to book Trusan Cuisines for a Catering, an At Home Cooking Class Dinner Party or Cooking Lessons, contact me at:

trusan@trusancuisines.com

303.517.6225

http://www.trusancuisines.com

kim-waiting-for-water-to-boil

Thinking of becoming a chef?  Want to go to culinary school?  Want to have your own cooking show on T.V?  Own your own restaurant?

Patience! Patience! Patience!  Patience is a virtue they say.  Even if you want to learn to be a more confident cook in your home, it takes time, effort and vigilance.  It’s not a difficult task if you take on small bites at a time.  Take a cooking class, watch some cooking videos on YouTube, read a cookbook as it were a novel.  Practice.  Ask questions.  Make mistakes, then cook it correctly.  Go at your own pace just slightly pushing yourself ahead of your comfort zone.

As the adage goes, “A watched pot never boils”,  so don’t be too involved in wanting to immediately become a great chef.  Be passionate about cooking and cook from your heart.  It will come with time.

Advice regarding going to a Culinary Arts Institute:  With the popularity of cooking shows, many people have been inspired to have their own cooking show, be a famous chef or own their own restaurant.  Heed caution before you jump in head first into any of these ventures.  Cooking schools cost a lot of money and starting your own restaurant costs even more.  Get a job at a restaurant first to see if you really like it and can handle it.  Another adage is: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”!  It’s hard work, hot, you work really long hours, is fast paced and can be stressful and monotonous.  The good thing though, is if it’s in your blood, you get really good at what you do.  Having that, working hard and smart, and a passion for food is what will make you successful.

trusan-cuisines-instruction-and-seminar-logo

Trusan Cuisines offers individual cooking lessons as well as cooking class dinner parties.  Chef Trusan is a licensed culinary teacher (CTE via State of Colorado and ServSave instructor and proctor).  He enjoys teaching and his philosophy is: “To empower students with knowledge and techniques to become confident cooks in their kitchen and inspire them to cook wholesome and nutritious food.”

Eat your Homework and Play with your Food!

For more information on rates and availability, contact Chef Trusan at:

trusan@trusancuisines.com

303.517.6225

TrusanCuisines.com

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The girls enjoying their treats

Last Spring a group of us neighbors chipped in on 15 chickens. A 6’ X 10’ coop was build and fenced in. The ladies are happy to get treats and especially enjoy fruit like apples, grapes and they especially love watermelon. They also get a chance to free-range and they love that! They’ll follow us everywhere, even into the house. Colder weather will be here before you know it and they keep nice and cozy and warm inside the heated coop. It took about 6 mo. for the girls to start laying eggs and they were small at first but got larger as time went on. They, of course, all have names: The yellow ones are: Lucy and Ethel, the Black one is Rosa Parks, Barrel Rocks are: Thelma, Louise & Fancy Nancy, Aracanas are Rachel Ray, Julia Childs, and Martha Stewart (could you guess that those last three are mine?) and Cecilia. Brown is Molly Brown and Red is Florence Nightingale.
Marilyn Monroe is a Silkie and has feathers everywhere, even covering her feet! Sometimes when I let them out of the coop, Marilyn will stay on the perch, turn around and wait for me to pick her up and set her down.

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Marilyn waiting to be set down

Here are some of my favorite egg recipes:
Like a lot of egg dishes, these recipes are a blank canvas and you can put most anything in it as you choose. Cheese and cut up veggies are always a winner. Make sure if you use any meat products, they are fully cooked before you add them.
This first one (Shirred Eggs) is amazingly simple and extraordinary good!

Shirred Eggs

shirred-eggs
by
Trusan

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

2 LG Eggs
1 Slice Ham (thinly sliced)
1 teas. Chopped Chives
1 TBS. Heavy Cream
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Butter

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325f. Liberally grease the inside bottom and sides of an individual soup crock (bowl) with butter. Line the bottom inside of crock with ham slice. Break two eggs in crock over the ham. Add cream and swish around briefly. Add chives and a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Place crock in oven for approx. 20 – 25 min. When whites of egg are solid, it is ready to serve.
Serve with toast and coffee.

 

Torte Milanese
torte-milanese
by
Trusan
Serves 8

Ingredients:
1 Sheet Puff Pastry
6 LG Eggs
1 LG Egg (for egg wash)
6 LG Red Bell Peppers (Roasted)
1 1/2 Pounds Spinach (trimmed and washed)
8 Oz. Swiss cheese or Gruyere (thinly sliced)
8 Oz. Ham (thinly sliced)
Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 350f. Prepare the eggs (Make two 8” omelettes – in the round), cook and cool spinach (squeeze out any water from spinach). Roll out pastry dough on a lightly floured surface enough to cover the bottom and sides of an 8” spring form pan with enough to fold over the top completely. Butter the bottom and sides of the pan and line the bottom of and sides of the pan with the dough overhanging the excess outside of the spring form pan.

Layer the pan in this order:
1.) Omelette
2.) Spinach
3.) Ham
4.) Cheese
5.) Roasted Peppers
Then reverse the order with the roasted peppers in the middle:
6.) Cheese
7.) Ham
8.) Spinach
9.) Omelette
Carefully compress the filling and fold the overhanging dough over the top of the torte, using egg wash to seal and brush. Egg wash over the completed top.
Bake at 350f. for approx. 1 hr. 10 min. or until the top is golden brown.

Here’s a power point presentation on eggs I put together for a class I teach at Colorado Free University:

eggs-in-basket

eggs-ppp

That’s it for now!

http://www.TrusanCuisines.com • 303-517-6225 • trusan@trusancuisines.com

(Happy PI day 2015*)

PI Plate

“A cherry pie is . . . ephemeral. From the moment it emerges from the oven it begins a steep decline: from too hot, to edible, to cold, to stale, to moldy, and finally to a post-pie state where only history can tell you that it was once considered food. The pie is a parable of human life.”
― Nick Harkaway, The Gone-Away World
I came across that quote and thought it was apropos for this blog, although I cannot perceive a pie ever getting past the “edible” stage at my house.
For some folks, pie was the first thing special in their lives. Others it was for special occasions such as birthdays and holidays and for one person I talked to: pie sealed marriages.
The fact of the matter is when you make a homemade pie, you use your hands with love and care to peel the apples that were picked at their prime, make the dough and embellish with slits and designs on the top and when they come out of the oven, nice memories are made.

Apple Pie
Pies can celebrate a harvest, warm hearts and put a grin on your face from ear to ear.
I’d like to give you a piece of the pie, here are some awesome pie recipes for you.
It’s easy as pie! Hint: It’s the crust that makes the pie!

APPLE PIE
Makes 1 Apple Pie

Ingredients:
Pastry
3 3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour (or Spelt flour)
1 Pinch Salt
1/4 teas. Sugar
3 Sticks Butter (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 -3/4 Cup Cold Orange Juice (from 2 oranges)
1 Egg (wash – to brush on top crust)

Filling:
12 – 15 Apples – sliced thin (Granny Smiths, etc.)
1 teas Cinnamon
1 1/2 Cup Sugar
Zest from 2 oranges (reserve O.J. for pastry)

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 400 f.
Cut very cold butter into flour, salt and sugar until course and pea sized. Add very cold O.J. and mix just until a ball forms. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while preparing filling.
Peel, core and slice apples very thin. In a food processor, pulse the sugar with orange zest then toss in bowl with the sliced apples and set about 30 min.
Roll out dough on floured surface and cover bottom of pie plate with half (of the rolled out dough). With a slotted spoon, scoop the apple slices and pile high into the pie plate. (Reserve the remaining liquid from the apple / sugar mixture to reduce and save to use on oatmeal, pancakes, etc.)
Top with the second half of the dough. Brush with egg wash, cut slits in the top and bake for approximately 1 hour.
Serve warm with Vanilla Ice Cream.

Lemon and Lavender infused Honey Pie

Makes 1 Pie
Ingredients:
Pastry:
1 3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour (or Spelt flour)
1 Pinch Salt
1/4 teas. Sugar
1 1/2 Sticks Frozen Butter (cut into very small cubes)
1/2 -3/4 Cup Ice Cold Water
Filling:
1 Cup Honey (plus extra for glaze)
4 Large Eggs (beaten)
3 Tablespoons Butter (unsalted)
1 Zest of one Lemon (plus extra for garnish)
1 Tablespoon Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
4 teaspoons Lavender Buds (plus extra for garnish)
Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 325 f.  Cut butter into flour, salt and sugar until the texture is between peas and cornmeal. Add 1/2 of the very cold water and mix. Keep adding 1 Tablespoon at a time and mix just until a ball starts to form. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 min. while preparing filling.
Bring double boiler to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add honey, lemon zest and lavender buds and steep for 20 – 30 min. Strain and add the lemon juice and butter until it is melted. Slowly drizzle into beaten eggs while whisking until mixed thoroughly. Let cool to room temperature.
Roll out dough on floured surface and cover bottom of pie plate. Use a fork to perforate the bottom of the dough so it won’t bubble up. Pour filling into the pie crust and bake for approx. 50min or until the center is set and top is golden brown. Let cool slightly.
Glaze with remaining warm honey and garnish with lemon zest and lavender buds.
Serve warm.

Postcard Key Lime Pie

This recipe was derived from old postcards as well as experience and a little help from my friend Karen.
It is a pretty basic and simple recipe and using the freshest and highest quality ingredients is paramount.
Makes: one 9” pie
INGREDIENTS
Crust:
1 Sleeve Graham Crackers
1/2 Cup Sugar (more or less depending on your taste for sweetness)
2 – 3 OZ. Melted Butter
Filling:
4 LG Fresh Eggs – separated (Farmer’s market eggs if possible)
1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 Cup Key Lime Juice – more or less depending on the tartness you prefer
(If fresh Key Limes aren’t available to you, use Nellie and Joe’s famous Key West Lime Juice)

Top: With fresh whipped cream and zest from limes.
Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 350f. Melt butter in a small sauce pan. Finely crumble the Graham Crackers in a Cuisinart or by placing in a ZipLock baggie and running it over with a rolling pin. Place the Graham Cracker crumbs and sugar in a bowl and slowly add the melted butter mixing it all together until it just starts to stick together. Transfer to a 9” pie dish (I like to use Pyrex) and form to the dish. Place in oven for 10 min.
In a separate bowl, add the egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk (use rubber spatula to get all the condensed milk out of the can), and lime juice and whisk until all the ingredients are completely incorporated.
When the crust is out of the oven, let cool then add the filling. Place back in oven and bake for an additional 15 min. Let cool. Refrigerate until set. Top with whipped cream.

*Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159. This PI day, (3.14.15) comes around only every hundred years.

copyright

http://www.TrusanCuisines.com • 303-517-6225 • trusan@trusancuisines.com

PHO BowlI believe that one of the hardest things to do with PHO is to pronounce it correctly. We all know that “PH” is pronounced like a “F” and the “O”, well, like an “O”. So you would think it was pronounced “FO” as in Fee Fi “Fo” Fum or “PHO”to. Much to my surprise, “PHO” in the Vietnamese language has a mark over the O that softens it and is pronounced “FUH”, just like how you would start to say the FUH sound in Fudge, Fun or Elmer Fudd. If I’m in the company of American friends, I’ll pronounce it phonetically: “PHO”. But when I’m in a PHO restaurant I’ll be properly respectful and say “FUH”. No matter how you pronounce it, it has become one of my favorite comfort foods.
What the PHO is PHO? It is a Vietnamese soup bowl loaded with noodles, beef (or your favorite protein), vegetables and the most fragrant and delicious broth. It is the broth that makes the PHO. It’s served with condiments on the side such as: bean sprouts, Thai basil, lime (or lemon) wedge, Jalapeño slices, perhaps some cilantro and always Sriracha hot chili sauce and Hoisin (sweet) sauce.

PHO Garnish PHO Condiments

How to properly eat PHO. There are several different ways, but pretty much all have the following in common: First of all, forget a fork. I would be so embarrassed to use a fork while eating PHO. It’s not that hard to figure out chopsticks. Just practice a few times before you go out for PHO and you’ll get it. Also when served your delicious bowl of PHO, you will get an Asian soup spoon. I always have chopsticks in one hand and the soup spoon in the other. Start by tasting the broth. Take time to notice its clarity. Savor it’s depth and deliciousness, it should be nice and rich and fragrant. PHO is all about the broth, everything else is secondary.
Step 1: Fill your soup spoon up and savor the broth like it’s a fine wine. A good PHO broth is rich and scrumptious.
Step 2: Hand tear the Thai basil (and cilantro if that is included) and introduce it to the bowl. Next, put a generous handful of sprouts in the bowl too. Jalapeño slices too if you wish. Finish up by squeezing the lime in your PHO.
Step 3: Save the Sriracha hot chili sauce and Hoisin (sweet) sauce for a small sauce bowl that should be with your setup. Putting it directly into your bowl of PHO will compromise the awesomeness of the broth. Instead, just dip your beef in the sauce as you consume it. (see step #6 below)
Step 4: With your chopsticks, stir it all up releasing the flavor of the condiments you just added and to cook any of the proteins you might have (beef, chicken, shrimp, etc.).
Step 5: Here’s where it becomes a personal preference: I start by grabbing a bunch of noodles with my chopsticks, get my face over the bowl (at a 45° angle), shove the noodles in my mouth guiding them in with your chopsticks as you go. This is a traditional Asian way to eat noodles. Slurping is not only accepted, but a sign that you are enjoying your PHO. I also have my soup spoon in the other hand full of broth ready to indulge.

Eating PHO

The other way is to compile the noodles, beef and veggies into your soup spoon and gingerly insert into mouth. This is for folks that are a bit timid about slurping or just want to be polite. I threw the politeness and political correctness away a long time ago. The bottom line is: “Enjoy your PHO”!
Step 6: Put some the Sriracha hot chili sauce and Hoisin (sweet) sauce in your sauce bowl. You can mix them together or as I do, leave them segregated so you can control the proportion of each as you please. Sometimes I want it a little hotter, sometimes I like it a little sweeter. I never add those directly into my PHO bowl. You loose the awesome flavor of the broth if you do that. Next, pick up your beef, etc. with chopsticks and dredge through the sauces and enjoy.
Step 7: When you get to the bottom of your PHO bowl, I don’t hesitate to lift it up to my lips, tilt it and savor every last drop.

Asian Beers

 

 

 

 
Last, but not least: Accompany it with a nice Asian beer!

 

PHO Beef Bowl
Pho Soup serves 8
Ingredients
For the broth:
4 pounds oxtails; cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch pieces and trimmed of fat
2 pounds of good beef bones, preferably leg and knuckle
1 inch chunk of yellow rock sugar (about 1 oz) – or 1oz of regular sugar
2 gallons cold water (approximately)
One 3-inch piece of ginger, unpeeled
1 large onion, halved and unpeeled
1/3 cup Vietnamese fish sauce

For the Beef:

1 Pound thinly sliced beef

In a bouquet garni (spice packet):
8 whole star anise pods
5 whole cloves
1 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken into 3/4 to 1 inch pieces
1 tbl fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1 tbl coriander seeds
3 cardamom pod, lightly crushed
3 bay leaves

For the garnish:
2 bunches scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup tightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup Thai basil leaves (found at Thai or Asian markets; you an subsititute regular basil if unavailable
1-1/2 cups mung bean sprouts
3 large limes, cut into wedges
Sliced fresh hot chilies (optional)

Noodles:
4 14 oz. pack of rice noodles
(I prefer the long flat rice noodles that look similar in shape to linguini)

Condiments:
Hoisin sauce
Sriracha red chile sauce

Directions:
Lightly coat the onions and ginger with oil and Char under your broiler. Set aside.
Bring a stock pot of cold water to a boil, add bones and boil vigorously for 5 – 10 minutes. This will extract all the residual blood and impurities and create quite the scum to rise to the surface of the pot. Drain and rinse the bones and the pot. Refill the pot with the rinsed bones and 8 quarts of cold water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Add ginger, onion, spice packet, beef, sugar, fish sauce, salt and simmer uncovered for at least 1 1/2 hours. Use a strainer to remove any little bit of scum that might appear. Remember to keep some of the fat & marrow bits, they add a lot of flavor to the broth.
Strain broth and return the broth to the pot. Taste broth and adjust. Cook noodles per directions on package, drain and place in bowl(s).
Arrange sliced beef atop of the noodles.
You’ll want the broth really hot (bring to a boil) just before you serve it (to cook the beef and vegetables in the bowl).
Ladle the hot broth into the bowl(s) and serve.
Your guests will “assemble” their own bowls with garnish that is already on the table.

Enjoy your wonderful PHO!

How to Make an Awesome Picnic Basket
Picnics are fun and one of my favorite summer events to both cook for and to attend. Food is always the central theme of friends, family and loved ones gathering for a day of camaraderie and relaxation.

ABC’s and 123’s on how to make a successful picnic:

1.) Make it interesting, diverge from the usual or give it a twist. A few exceptional food items are better than 5 or 6 things that are mundane.

2.) Make it practical:

          A) Easy to transport
          B) Easy to eat & non-perishable (finger food, sandwiches, fresh fruit, etc.)
          C) Be prepared for inclimate weather, bugs, & heat. KEEP HYDRATED!

3.) Avoid foods that require refrigeration or need to be frozen like Jello, yogurt or ice cream. The more foods that don’t need refrigeration the less ice or ice packs you’ll need making your load lighter. Also foods like soups and chili might be difficult to heat up and eat in a picnic environment. Who wants hot food on a warm summer day anyway?

Just a few more common sense things to remember:

* Don’t bring more food than you can consume.

* Bring insect repellent and sun screen and plenty water to drink.

* Please be respectful to the picnic grounds and bring extra trash bags to pack out used disposable utensils, paper plates and napkins, etc.

* Drink any alcoholic beverages responsibly!

Below are some of my favorite Picnic Basket Recipes:

MEDITERRANEAN ORZO SALAD

by

Trusan
Makes about 6 to 10 servings.

Ingredients:

16    Oz.       Orzo pasta
1/4   Cup      Olive oil
1/3   Cup      Red wine vinegar
2      Tbsp.   Grated lemon zest
1/4   Cup      Freshly squeezed lemon juice
2      Cups    Kalamata olives, chopped
2      Pints    Grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1      Lg.       Red onion, finely chopped
1/2   Cup     Drained capers
1/2   Lb       Feta (crumbled and chopped)
1/2   Cup     lightly packed chopped fresh parsley leaves
To    taste    Freshly ground black pepper
pinch           Sea salt

Directions:

1. Bring about 3 quarts of water to boil in the large pot. Add salt and the orzo and cook until al dente. Drain well in the mesh strainer, then pour hot orzo into the mixing bowl.

2. While the orzo cooks, stir together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in the small bowl. Pour the mixture over the hot orzo and toss. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.

3. Add the olives, grape tomatoes, onion, capers, and parsley, and stir well. Season with fresh ground pepper and a pinch of sea salt. Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.

Sparkling Lemonade
by
Trusan

Makes 1 quart

Ingredients:

1/2  Cup    Agave Nectar

4     TBS    Lavender Buds

Zest of the 4 lemons
4     LG     Juiced Lemons – about 1 cup (Meyers if available)
3    Cups  Sparkling Mineral Water

      (see: *note of interest after the recipes)
Mint
1              Lemon for wheels
3   TBS   Agave nectar (or to taste)

Directions:

Steep the Agave, Lavender and Lemon Zest under very low heat for 25 – 30 min. Let cool.

In a pitcher, add the steeped mixture to the squeezed lemon juice and mineral water. Add more Agave nectar to sweeten to taste. Stir well and enjoy. Serve over ice and garnish with a mint leave and lemon wheel.

* Note of Interest:

If you’re lucky enough to live close to Manitou Springs, Colorado (or a natural mineral springs) use the spring water. It makes incredible lemonade. The Twin Spring (in Manitou) is naturally effervescent, has a slight trace of lithium and is very refreshing. Locals refer to it as: “Happy Water!”
Awesome Slaw
by
Trusan
Serves 4

Ingredients:

Slaw:

1/2    Cup    (Sliced) Red Cabbage
1/2    Cup    (Sliced) Green Cabbage
1/2    Cup    (Sliced) Nappa Cabbage
1/2    Cup    (Sm Cubed) Jicima
1/2    LG    (Bite Sized Julienne) Colored Bell Pepper
1/2    Cup    (Grated)    Carrots
1’2    Cup    (Grated)    Radish
1/2    Cup    (Grated and rinsed) Beets

Any other root vegetables you might have

Dressing:

1/4    Cup    Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
1    Oz.    Ume Plum Vinegar
1    Oz.    Honey
2    Cloves    Minced Garlic
2    tsp.    Minced Cilantro
1    Key    Lime Juice
Pinch    Sea Salt and Fresh ground Pepper

Directions:

Prep vegetables.  Prep dressing.  Mix together. Chill.  Serve.

Summer Beef Salad
by
Trusan
Serves 2 – 3

Ingredients:    

1/3    LB    Beef (cut into thin bite size strips)
2    TBS    Olive Oil
1    pinch    Kosher or Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
1    Cup    Cooked Barley
1/4    Cup     Fresh Corn (kernels off the cob)
1/4    Cup    Small Diced Red Onion
1/2    Cup    Blanched Small Broccoli Florets
1/2    Cup    Cherry, Pear or Grape Tomatoes (cut in half)

Dressing:

1    teas.    Whole Grain Dijon Mustard
2    TBS    Pomegranate Molasses (recipe below)
1    pinch    Kosher or Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
2    TBS    Red Wine Vinegar
1/2    teas.    Red Pepper Flakes
1/4    Cup Olive Oil

Pomegranate Molasses:

2    Cups    Pomegranate Juice
1/4    Cup    Sugar
2    TBS    Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice

Directions:

Add all of the Pomegranate Molasses ingredients to a small saucepan and heat over low heat for about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes (until it becomes syrupy).  Let it cool to room temperature.  Cook barley according to package directions, usually takes about 45 min.  While these two are reducing and cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the broccoli for about 20 seconds then placing them to cool in an ice bath.  Repeat the same procedure for the corn kernels.  When cool, drain and set on double folded paper towels to remove any further moisture.  Cut the onion into small dice.  Cut tomatoes in half (if not done so already).  Heat olive oil in sauté pan and sear the thin sliced beef slices with salt and pepper very briefly on both sides.  Transfer the beef with juices to a bowl and let cool.  Add the previous ingredients to the beef bowl.

To make dressing add all of the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you whisk briskly.  When dressing has emulsified, add to the beef bowl and fold in.  Refrigerate for several hours.

Panco Spiced Fried Chicken

by
Trusan
Serves 2 – 3

Ingredients:

6    Pieces    Chicken
1    Cup    Flour
2    TBS    Chopped Fresh Rosemary
2    TBS    Salt and Pepper
to    taste    Cayenne
4 Eggs
1    Cup    Panco
2    Cups    Oil for frying

Directions:

Pre-Heat oven to 375f.  Heat up oil in frying pan or turn electric frying pan to 375f.  Mix together Flour, Rosemary, Cayenne and S&P in a bowl, Break and beat eggs in a separate bowl.  In a third bowl, put in the Panco.  Dredge the chicken pieces one at a time in the flour mixture, then the beaten eggs, then the Panco coating each thoroughly.  Place 3 (avoid crowding the pan) dredged chicken pieces in the pan for about 2 min or until golden brown.  Turn and repeat for about 1 min.  Remove with tongs and place on paper towel to absorb any excess oil.  Repeat with the other three pieces.  Place on a baking pan and finish in oven for 15 min.  Place on wire rack to cool.

 www.TrusanCuisines.com · 303-517-6225 · trusan@trusancuisines.com

Spring is upon us and new crops will soon be poking their tender sprouts through the soil.  While we will have a few early Spring greens such as lettuce, collards and kale, we really have to transition with what remaining Winter root veggies, any meat, poultry or fish that is in the freezer and even items that were canned in the fall.  One of those mainstays is honey.  Come to find out, after an amazing interview with dentist and beekeeper Dr. Stace Lind DMD, DDS, honey is one of nature’s most nutritious and healing foods on the planet.  Here is an excerpt* from that interview:

Chef Trusan:  How long have you been bee keeping?

Dr. Lind:  I’ve been bee keeping for about 5 years. It’s been enjoyable.

Chef Trusan:  What sparked your interest in it?

Dr. Lind:  All my allergies.  I had tons of allergies.  I was taking Seldane, I was taking shots, taking all these meds, antihistamines.  My eyes would be itchy, my nose would run, the back of my throat would get scratchy, I’d cough and I got tired of taking meds.  Someone told me about pollen and how the bees when they collected everything from all the flowers, all the things that make my nose run, and they collect it in a little ball and I eat it, my body builds up antibodies within my immune system to those markers, so all of a sudden it increases my resistance and helps my tolerance.  I haven’t taken allergy meds in probably five years.

Chef Trusan:  Great, I didn’t realize how that worked.

Dr. Lind:  Its pretty amazing when you look at it.  It’s nature’s best way to build up antibodies for immunity against all the pollens in the air by letting your digestive track bring those in and to build an immunity to them.  It takes about nine to fourteen days so you have to start before the season.  If you try to hurry and eat some pollen the day your eyes are itchy and your nose is runny, then it’s a little bit late to build up your system.

Chef Trusan:  What is the difference between store-bought honey and honey that is hand harvested?

Dr. Lind:  The store bought honey is very scary, particularly within the last few years.  Actually some of it is so tainted that Sue Bee and the Federal Government had to dump 40 million dollars worth of honey that had come over from China laced with all sorts of heavy metals and elements that you don’t want in your honey.  So I do not eat store bought honey.  Store bought honey is what I call “Bee Syrup”.  It’s not honey, its the sugars left over from all the good stuff, the pollen, the nectar and other things.  When they boil or treat the honey in that way they mix it with corn syrup.  They’re actually using corn syrup in about everything.  And even though it says 100% honey, it is one hundred percent honey but it’s amazing how many people are getting away with saying its pure honey and they’re adding corn syrups or they’re boiling it or taking out the pollens or worried about any issues that people have. So it’s just like taking maple syrup out of the maple tree and having it processed and refined three or four times and just basically having sugar that tastes like maple.  There’s a big difference.  Once you try natural honey vs. store bought honey it’s hard to go back.

If you’re interested in bee keeping, Dr. Lind would be happy to help you set up your hive and teach you the fundamentals of bee keeping.  Dr. Lind can be reached at:

Email:  stacelind@msn.com
Heritage Dental: 303-770-9901

*To read the interview in its entirety, click “HERE” or go to www.trusancuisines.com and click on the “beekeeping and honey”  button.

Here are some awesome early Spring recipes utilizing honey:

Honey Glazed Salmon en Papillote
by
Trusan

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2    6 – 8 oz. ea.    Wild caught Salmon fillets

8    Ounces        Local Wild Honey

1    Large        Vine Ripened Tomato (sliced into 1/4” slices)

1    Bunch        Spring Onions (scallions or green onions – minced)

1    Tablespoon    Capers

2    Sprigs        Fresh Dill

1    Large        Lemon (zested and juiced)

1    Pinch ea.        Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper

4    Ounces        Unsalted Butter (1/2 stick)

1    Sheet        Parchment paper (18” x 26”)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400f.  Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Cut parchment paper in half so you have two 10” x 13’ pieces.  Fold each piece in half and starting at the top of the creased side, cut a Valentine’s heart at the outermost edges of the paper.  Repeat with the second sheet.  Brush one of the heart shaped paper with the melted butter.  Place two or three tomato slices on one half, just enough to support the salmon fillet.  Add enough lemon juice to the honey to thin it out a bit, but not too drippy.  Brush both sides of the salmon fillet with the lemon honey mixture.  Place salmon on tomato slices.   Place a sprig of dill on top of the fillet and sprinkle with half of the capers and enough onion to balance it out.  Top with a pinch of lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Fold the other side over the fillet and starting at the bottom point of the heart, fold and crease a small section repeating in 1 inch segments cascading folding and creasing till you reach the top of the paper.  This will seal in the moisture and help steam the salmon and veggies.  Repeat for the second salmon fillet.

Place on a baking sheet and set in oven for 10 min.

Serve directly out of the oven.

Honey Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
by
Trusan

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1    Pound    Carrots

1    Pound    Parsnips

1/4    Cup    Olive Oil

2    TBS.     Melted Unsalted Butter

1/2    Cup    Local Wild Honey

1    teas.    Sea Salt

½    teas.    Fresh Ground Pepper

1    teas.    Chopped Fresh Thyme

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400f.  Peel and cut carrots and parsnips into coins.  Toss in olive oil and spread them out over a parchment paper lined sheet pan.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme and roast for 10 min.  While they are roasting, whisk the melted butter in with the honey.  After they have roasted for the initial 10 min, turn them over and drizzle with the honey butter mixture.  Roast for an additional 10 min. or until they are nice and golden brown and caramelized.

Serve hot.

Lemon and Lavender infused Honey Pie
by
Trusan

Makes 1 Pie

Ingredients:

Pastry:
1 3/4    Cup    All Purpose Flour (or Spelt flour)
1    Pinch    Salt
1/4    teas.    Sugar
1 1/2    Sticks    Frozen Butter (cut into very small cubes)
1/2 -3/4    Cup    Ice Cold Water

Filling:
1    Cup        Honey (plus extra for glaze)
4    Large        Eggs (beaten)
3    Tablespoons    Butter (unsalted)
Zest of one Lemon (plus extra for garnish)
1    Tablespoon    Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
4    teaspoons    Lavender Buds (plus extra for garnish)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 325 f.

Cut butter into flour, salt and sugar until the texture is in between peas and cornmeal.  Add 1/2 of the very cold water and mix.  Keep adding 1 Tablespoon at a time and mix just until a ball starts to form. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 min. while preparing filling.

Bring double boiler to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add honey, lemon zest and lavender buds and steep for 20 – 30 min.  Strain and add the lemon juice and butter until it is melted.  Slowly drizzle into beaten eggs while whisking until mixed thoroughly.  Let cool to room temperature.

Roll out dough on floured surface and cover bottom of pie plate.  Use a fork to perforate the bottom of the dough so it won’t bubble up.  Pour filling into the pie crust and bake for approx. 50 min. or until the center is set and top is golden brown.  Let cool slightly.

Glaze with remaining warm honey and garnish with lemon zest and lavender buds.

Serve warm.

NOTE OF INTEREST

Some famous bee keepers:

Aristotle
Napoleon Bonaparte
Shakespeare
Thomas Edison
Ben Franklin
Peter Fonda
Steve Vai

This picture explains the inspiration for the Winter Blog:

Snowed in BBQ
Snowed in for the season

The Solstice is upon us and Winter is officially here!  It’s cold, the roads are snowy, icy and slippery, which makes it a perfect time to stay home, crank up the oven and the wood stove and make some comfort food.

While the BBQ might be closed for the season, there are still plenty of things that can bring family and friends together.

Eating seasonally in the winter consists mainly of these top five veggies:

1.) Squash
2.) Root Veggies
3.) Beets
4.) Brussels Sprouts
5.) Kale
AND:
For all you carnivores, I’ve included something for you as well.

I wanted to deviate from writing the same ole’ things that everyone else writes about and keep it interesting and adventuresome.  I’ve included some traditional winter favorites as well as a few with a slant to them.

Meat Loaf
By
Trusan

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 1/2    Lbs         Lean (80/20)ground beef (or buffalo, etc.)
3    Large        Eggs (beaten)
1    15 oz can     Stewed Tomatoes (chopped and drained)
1    Med-Lg         Onion (minced)
1/4    Cup         Chopped celery (about 1 Lg. stalk)
1/4    Cup         Chopped carrots (or grated)
1/4    Cup         Chopped green bell pepper
1-1/2    Cup         Bread crumbs, panco or rolled oats
2    tsp.         Kosher or Sea Salt
1/2    tsp.         Ground black pepper
1/2    Cup        Finely chopped Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
1/2    Cup +        Ketchup (Plus some for the top)
2    teas.        Worcestershire Sauce
4    Slices         Bacon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put all ingredients except bacon in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly but not over mixed.  Put the meat mixture in a loaf pan and pat it to fill the pan evenly. Lay the strips of uncooked bacon over the top of the meatloaf, tucking the ends under. Put remaining ketchup on top of meatloaf and place the loaf pan on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.  Place a pan of hot water in the oven with the meatloaf and this will keep the ketchup from drying and cracking.  Internal temperature should be 160 degrees F. when done.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes (Yams)
by
Trusan

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

2    LG    Sweet Potatoes or Yams
Olive Oil
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
2    TBS    Unsalted Butter
Maple Syrup (Optional)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400f.  Wash the potatoes thoroughly and dry with a paper towel.  Slather the potatoes with the olive oil to coat them.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place on a baking dish and put in oven for 45min. to 1 hour depending on the thickness of the potatoes.  Check with a fork or wooden skewer for doneness.

When tender, remove from oven, slit the top with a knife and put butter in the slit.  Drizzle with maple syrup if desired.

Awesome Mac and Cheese
by
Trusan

Ingredients:

8    Oz.    Farfalle (Bow Tie) Pasta

1 1/2    TBS.    Butter
1 1/2    TBS.    Flour
1/2    sm.    Onion (peeled and halved)
2    Cups    Organic Whole Milk

1    Cup    Broccoli Florets
4- 5    Oz.    Organic Beef

1/2    Cup    Cravanzina Cheese (or Brie)
1/2    Cup    Maytag Bleu Cheese
1/2    Cup    Cheddar

2    Oz.    Panco (Japanese bread crumbs)
2    pinches    Salt and Pepper Mixture
2    TBS.    Italian Parsley (Chopped)
1    TBS.    Butter
1/2    Oz.    Manchego Cheese (or parmesan) Grated

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 f.
In a large pot with boiling salted water, cook the pasta till al-dente’ (about 11 min.) then strain in a colander and cool by running under cold water.  Let drain.

Melt butter in a saucepan, add onion and let sauté for several minutes. Stirring occasionally so the onions don’t burn.  Add flour and cook till the flour just starts to get some color.  Add milk and let simmer until it starts to thicken.

While milk sauce is thickening, grill or pan sear the beef for about 3-min. on each side then remove and let rest.  Blanch broccoli in boiling salted water for 2 – 3 min., strain and reserve.

In a skillet, belt butter.  When butter becomes hot and frothy, add the panco, salt and pepper, and parsley.  Stir until the panco absorbs the butter and just starts to get some color.  Remove from pan and hold.

By now the milk is starting to thicken.  Add the cheeses and mix with a stiff whisk until all the cheese is melted.  Keep under low heat stirring occasionally so a film doesn’t form.

Mix the pasta, beef and broccoli in a bowl then pour the cheese sauce in and gently fold in the mixture.  Pour into a casserole or pie dish.

Grate the manchego cheese and mix in with the seasoned panco.  Sprinkle on top of the mac and cheese and bake for about 20 min. or until it gets bubbly and the top is golden brown.

WOODSTOVE COOKING:
“It’s like camping inside the comfort of your own home.
It’s not only an adventure, it’s useful in case of an emergency if the power goes out.”

Granted, not everyone has a wood stove, but if you’re fortunate enough to have one, you can have a blast cooking as well as keeping warm this winter.

Woodstove Beef Stew
by
Trusan

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients:

1    LB    Cubed Beef
1    sm.    Red Onion (Cut into bite sized pieces)
2    ea.    Scallions
1    Med.    Potato (1/2” cubes)
1    LG    Zucchini (Cut into bite sized pieces)
1    LG    Yellow Squash (Cut into bite sized pieces)
1    LG.    Carrot (Cut into bite sized pieces)
1        Jalapeño (sliced into small wheels)
2 – 4    TBS    Chopped Cilantro (according to your taste)
4    Cloves    Garlic (Chopped)
4    TBS    Lime Juice
1    tsp.    Red Pepper Flakes
3    pinches    Salt and Pepper
2    TBS    Olive Oil
1    Cup    Beef Stock

Directions:

Light the wood stove using plenty starting material (isn’t that why they publish the National Enquirer?), kindling and hardwood for fuel.  This will ensure that the fire lights properly and maintains a nice hot fire without having to open the door and keep adding more logs.  After the logs burn down some, are glowing and have some white ash on them, brush them aside as much as you can to rest the container of stew on the floor of the stove.  I put an oven thermometer in at this point and my stove registered 425f, a good temperature for this dish.

Meanwhile as the stove is heating up, mix the above ingredients in a bowl and place in a container (a metal bread loaf pan works great!) double lined with foil.  Fold the foil over making sure you have a good tight seal.

Place container on the space that you just made for it inside the woodstove and close the door.  Cook for 50 – 60 min. turning the container once every 10 min. to ensure even cooking.

IF there are any leftovers, this is great to heat up the next morning with eggs and coffee.

Woodstove Roasted Potatoes, Onions and Garlic
By
Trusan

The basics are the same for all three:

Ingredients:

Root veggie of your choice (Roasted Potatoes, Onions and Garlic, etc.)
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Aluminum foil

Directions:

Slather the veggie of your choice with olive oil and liberally sprinkle with Salt and Pepper.  Wrap in at least three layers of aluminum foil (shinny side towards the veggies).

Same as above:  Light the wood stove using plenty starting, kindling and hardwood for fuel. Slather the veggie of your choice with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with Salt and Pepper.  Wrap in at least three layers of aluminum foil (shinny side towards the veggies).  After the logs burn down some, are glowing and have some white ash on them, brush them aside as much as you can to rest the foil wrapped veggies on the floor of the stove.

Cooking times will vary, this is just a guideline:

Garlic        25 – 30 min.

Potatoes        60 min +/- (until tender when pierced with a fork)

Onions        60 min +/- (until tender when pierced with a fork)

Woodstove Top Hot Cocoa
By
Trusan

Serves 2

Ingredients:
2    Cups    Whole Milk*
3    TBS.    Cocoa Powder
3    TBS.    Sugar
½    tsp.    Vanilla Extract

Directions:
Place above ingredients in saucepan, whisk briskly with a wire whisk and place on top of the wood stove.  Stir often.  Serve when steaming hot!

* use 1 cup milk and 1 cup half and half for a real creamy cocoa.

Try spicing it up a bit by adding any of the following to taste:

Orange Zest
Cayenne Pepper
Cinnamon
Allspice
Tequila, Rum or Cognac, etc.

Have a warm and delicious Winter!

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan