‘Seson-alize’ Your Breakfast!

I recently had the pleasure of presenting a cooking demonstration at my local farmer’s market, Grant Park Farmer’s Market. What made the experience so unique was that I was instructed to shop the vendors for my ingredients-an hour before my cooking demo! In doing so, I came up with this delicious seasonal breakfast dish and in keeping with Your Resident Gourmet’s Newsletter style-I’m going to share it with you! So enjoy this Gorgonzola Stuffed French Toast with Fresh Fig Compote and support your local farmer’s markets! 

Enjoy!

Chef Jennifer  

 

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Eat Seasonally and Support your local Farmer’s Markets!

 

 

Gorgonzola Stuffed French Toast with Fresh Fig Compote

photo courtesy of Simply Vintage Girl

This is the perfect combination of blue cheese’s sharpness, french toast’s richness with the delicate flavor of fresh figs.

 

Recipe by Chef Jennifer Booker

 

Yields 4-6 servings

 

Ingredients:

 

3 large eggs
½ cup milk

½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 pinch sea salt

1 cup Gorgonzola cheese
½ cup cream cheese
12 slices French bread, cut 1-inch thick
Unsalted butter, for cooking

 

Garnish:

 

Fresh Fig Compote (recipe below)
¼ cup powdered sugar

Directions:

In a flat wide dish, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt.

In a small bowl, cream together the Gorgonzola and cream cheeses.

Spread the cheese mixture on half of the bread slices, top with the remaining 6 bread slices and press around the edges to seal.
Melt butter on a griddle over medium-low heat.

Dip the cheese stuffed bread into the egg mixture for a few seconds on each side.

Place on griddle and cook until bread is golden brown and cheese has melted, about 3 to 5 minutes per side.

Shift with powdered sugar and serve with Fresh Fig Compote.

Enjoy!
   

Fresh Fig Compote

 

   

 

This lusciously sweet fig compote boasts a complex texture that combines the chewiness of their flesh, the smoothness of their skin, and the crunchiness of their seeds.

 

Recipe by Chef Jennifer Booker

 

Yields 2 cups

 

Ingredients:

 

1 pound fresh figs, cut into quarters

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

3 tablespoons local honey

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ cup water

1 pinch of sea salt

 

Directions:

 

Combine figs, brown sugar, honey, lemon juice, water and salt in a heavy bottomed sauce pan.

Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until compote begins to bubble.

The Fresh Fig Compote is done when the syrup has thickened, is amber in color, and the figs are glossy.

Serve with Gorgonzola Stuffed French Toast.

Enjoy!

 

Back By Popular Demand!

I grew up with the saying, ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’! And what better way to get your daily apple than with this week’s Your Resident Gourmet Newsletter recipe, Apple, Peach and Pecan Tart? This delicious and seasonally inspired  dessert features fresh crisp apples, sweet and tangy peaches and rich toasted pecans.

Enjoy it for a quick weeknight dessert, an elegant addition to your brunch table, or to celebrate the fact that apples are finally in season! 

Enjoy!

Chef Jennifer  

 

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An Apple a Day Keeps  

the Doctor Away! 

     

 
North Georgia Apple, Peach, and Pecan Tart

This seasonal tart is quick, easy, and the perfect after dinner treat!

Recipe by Chef Jennifer Hill Booker

Yields 8 servings

Ingredients:

Pastry Dough:

1¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

3 tablespoon cold water

1 large egg, beaten + 1 tablespoon water

*refrigerated premade pie crust can be substituted

Filling:

1 cup dark brown sugar

4-5 medium Georgia grown apples, like Honey Crisp, Gala, and Granny Smith, peeled, cored and cut into ½ inch thick slices

1 cup dried peaches

2 cups water

Garnish:

2 tablespoons sugar

½ cup toasted Georgia pecans, chopped

¼ cup powdered sugar

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375*F.

In a food processor with the blade attachment, pulse together the flour, salt, and sugar.

Add the butter, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.

Add the cold water, one tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the mixture comes together into a loose ball.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a disc.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. This pie dough can also be made up to two days ahead and refrigerated.

In a large bowl, combine the apples and brown sugar; set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the dried peaches and water.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until peaches are plump and tender.

Remove from heat, cool slightly, and drain; reserving ¼ cup of the liquid.

Add the cooked peaches to the apple mixture along with the reserved liquid.

Mix until well combined.

Remove tart dough from refrigerator and allow to temper for 10 minutes.

Remove plastic wrap and roll out on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, into a 12inch round.

Brush excess flour from dough and parchment paper and transfer to a baking sheet.

Spoon apple mixture into the center of the tart round and fold dough edges up around the fruit mixture. You should have a 6 inch circle of fruit showing at the top of the tart.

Brush dough with the beaten egg mixture, sprinkle with sugar, and Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the fruit mixture is bubbling and crust is golden brown.

Garnish with a dusting of powdered sugar and chopped pecans.

Enjoy!

 

Bring the Indoors-Out!

Fall is in the air and the weather is absolutely perfect! The sun is bright but not too hot, the breeze is cool and refreshing, and those pesky mosquitoes have almost called it quits!
What better way to celebrate than taking the inside-out? Your kitchen that is.
This week’s Your Resident Gourmet Newsletter has 10 Tips for Your Best Outdoor Kitchen! So take a look, follow these tips, and you too can be enjoying your dinner alfesco.


Bon Appetit!

Chef Jennifer   

 

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Outdoor kitchens are a hot segment in many parts of the country. Here are 10 easy tips to get yours! 

 

10 tips for creating the best outdoor kitchen and entertaining areas:

1. Apply good kitchen design principles for functional zones of the kitchen.  Cold areas (refrigeration), hot areas (grills and cooktops), wet areas (sinks) and dry areas (prep counters and storage) must all work together effectively in proper proximity, each with enough allocated space.

2. Remember that indoor and outdoor kitchens are simpatico.The most significant difference between indoor and outdoor kitchen design is often the exposure to the elements (shelter and durability considerations). Other differences include more difficulty in running utilities such as water. Outdoor rooms bring a whole world of additional cooking options, like open-wood flame or smoking. In planning the outdoor kitchen,  it’s important to consider the relationship between the indoor and outdoor versions. How will they be used together when cooking or entertaining? What is the traffic pattern between them?

3. Select low-maintenance materials and equipment designed to withstand the rigors of an outdoor kitchen.  Counters and patio or decking material should be highly resistant to grease stains and able to withstand high temperatures.

Natural stone counters require sealing on a regular basis. If you go with granite, use cultured granite with UV stabilizers. Avoid highly porous materials such as limestone. In climates with considerable freezing and thawing, avoid tile countertops.

For flooring, sealed pavers or concrete works. So do natural stone blocks with a lower porosity, such as granite.

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4. Complement the design of the home’s architecture and landscape Use compatible materials and incorporate subtle architectural details.Jonathan Carr, president of landscape design and online retailer Grillmaster’s Garden

(Zionsville, Ind.) advises adding structure. “A fireplace is an excellent anchor. And try to create a feeling of something over your head.” He suggests pergolas, arbors or other open-air or roofed structures, even the canopy of a shade tree.

5. Plan the entire outdoor entertaining space as part of a single functional plan. Dining areas, cooking areas and pool areas often coexist. Think of these as outdoor rooms and consider the flow of traffic as part of the design. Remember to include the cook as part of the outdoor festivities.

6. Plan for utilities. When planning layouts, keep in mind the best practical placement or installation of the necessary gas, water and electrical supply.

7. Extend the outdoor entertaining season with heaters, shade and rain shelter.  Outdoor-rated vent hoods are another option.

Natural gas patio heaters can be used effectively under eaves and pergolas. Portable propane patio heaters are another option.

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8. Incorporate music and other entertainment so the homeowner doesn’t face the design challenge of adding it later.

TVs need to deliver a good picture in bright sunlight. Provide adequate task lighting as well as ambient lighting to accommodate after-dark cooking and entertaining.

10. Understand the homeowner’s needs and the equipment available. Make sure and ask questions and sketch out your vision before starting your Outdoor Kitchen project. Remember the sky’s the limit-or should I say your backyard.

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reference: Marcia Jedd. 10 tips for a better outdoor kitchen

Who is Getting YOUR Tip?

Are you a standard 15% tipper when you dine out? Do you leave more for great service and less for poor service? Have you every really thought about who actually gets the money you leave behind?
Make sure you read this week’s Your Resident Gourmet Newsletter before your next dining out experience. This eye opening article by Pete Wells really clears up any confusion about who is and and who isn’t getting your restaurant tip! It may not be who you think . . .

Chef Jennifer   

 

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Leaving a Tip: A Custom in Need of Changing?

photo by Dennis Yermoshin for The New York Times
Try one of these techniques if you want better service in restaurants:

1. Become very famous

2. Spend $1,000 or more on wine every time you go out

3. Keep going to the same restaurant until you get VIP treatment; if that doesn’t work, pick another place

 

Now, here is a technique that is guaranteed to have no effect on your service: leave a generous tip.

I’ve tipped slightly above the average for years, generally leaving 20 percent of the total, no matter what. According to one study, lots of people are just like me, sticking with a reasonable percentage through good nights and bad. And it doesn’t do us any good, because servers have no way of telling that we aren’t the hated type that leaves 10 percent of the pretax total, beverages excluded.

Some servers do try to sniff out stingy tippers, engaging in customer profiling based on national origin, age, race, gender and other traits. (The profiling appears to run both ways: another study showed that customers tended to leave smaller tips for black servers.)

I could go on against tipping, but let’s leave it at this: it is irrational, outdated, ineffective, confusing, prone to abuse and sometimes discriminatory. The people who take care of us in restaurants deserve a better system, and so do we.

That’s one reason we pay attention when a restaurant tries another way, as Sushi Yasuda in Manhattan started to do two months ago. Raising most of its prices, it appended this note to credit card slips: “Following the custom in Japan, Sushi Yasuda’s service staff are fully compensated by their salary. Therefore gratuities are not accepted.”

Sushi Yasuda joins other restaurants that have done away with tips, replacing them with either a surcharge (Atera and Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare in New York; Next and Alinea in Chicago; Coi and Chez Panisse in the San Francisco Bay Area) or prices that include the cost of service (Per Se in New York and the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif.).

The chef Tom Colicchio is considering service-included pricing at one of his New York restaurants, paying servers “an hourly rate that would be consistent with what they make now,” he said. “I think it makes perfect sense. I’m not sure my staff is going to think it makes perfect sense.”

These restaurants are numerous enough and important enough to suggest that a tip-reform movement is under way. On the other hand, they are few enough and exceptional enough to suggest that the movement may remain very small, and move very slowly.

Americans have stuck with tipping for years because all parties thought it worked in their favor. Servers, especially in restaurants from the mid- to high-priced, made good money, much of it in cash, and much of that unreported on tax returns. Owners saved on labor costs and taxes. And customers generally believed that tips brought better service.

The self-interest calculation may be different now. Credit card receipts and tougher oversight have virtually killed off unreported tips.

Another change is cultural. The restaurant business can be seen as a class struggle between the groomed, pressed, articulate charmers working in the dining room and the blistered, stained and profane grunts in the kitchen. The rise of chefs that are also owners has brought a few of the grunts to power. But as the average tip has risen to 20 percent or so from 15 percent, the pay for line cooks, dishwashers and others has stayed low.

At Coi, in San Francisco, Daniel Patterson, the chef and owner, levies an 18 percent service charge to be “shared by the entire staff,” the menu notes. One of his motives was to level out the income disparity that tipping creates between the kitchen and the front of the house, he said.

“Neither one is more important than the other,” Mr. Patterson said. “So it doesn’t make sense to me that servers would make three to four times as much as cooks.”

A second change has been howling outside the door. Front-of-house workers are suing one respected restaurant after another, including Dovetail, last month, accusing them of playing fast and loose with the laws on tips. The charges include sharing tips with workers who aren’t eligible for them and making tipped employees spend too much time on what is called sidework, like folding napkins between meals.

One such lawsuit was settled for more than $5 million. Some owners now think they can avoid the suits by eliminating tips.

“You abide by the letter of the law and do a service charge,” said Nick Kokonas, an owner of Alinea and Next. “That’s the only way you can take that income and spread it out to the staff.”

Restaurants that move to a surcharge or service-included pricing pay much more for labor, losing a sizable payroll-tax credit on tipped income.

Still, Mr. Kokonas said: “It’s worth it, because as soon as you grow to a certain size these days, and you’re high profile, everyone starts examining what you do. It’s not good enough to say, ‘These guys are making $100,000 a year and they’re treated really well and they have full health care.’ That’s irrelevant. It’s ‘Did they get paid overtime for their sidework?’ “

Mr. Kokonas’s restaurants and others call the extra fee a service charge. The term is misleading if the money goes to workers who don’t serve, and lawyers warn that in New York State, that would be illegal.

Justin Swartz, a partner at Outten & Golden, a law firm that represents employees, says that in New York State, the fee should be called something like an administrative charge, or rolled into menu prices.

Even that won’t make restaurants entirely lawsuit-proof, particularly if some customers insist on tipping anyway. “You’re right back to square one,” said Carolyn D. Richmond, a lawyer at Fox Rothschild who advises many prominent restaurateurs. This summer, after consulting her and running the numbers, David Chang decided against service-included pricing for his Momofuku restaurants in New York.

“It’s a change in legislation that we need, and a change in the American diner’s view on tipping,” Ms. Richmond said. “And that’s even harder than changing legislatures.”

But the diner’s views may be changing. This is in part because restaurants like Per Se have taken the lead, but also in part because those lawsuits have corroded our faith that our tips will go where we want them to.

Even if we believe the argument that workers’ lawyers are going after technical violations of archaic, Depression-era laws, they have brought to light a major peculiarity of the restaurant business: they depend on tips to make their payrolls. The temptation to treat that money as general revenue can be hard for some to resist.

Since the suits began, “people think restaurants are just hoarding that cash,” Mr. Chang said.

But forget the cheats; the suits have also reminded us that many employees share our tips. So, if we leave 10 percent to signal our unhappiness with our server’s tone of voice, we may be hurting other workers, from the host who seated us by the window to the sommelier who suggested that terrific Sicilian white, to the runner who delivered the skate while it was still hot. How much longer can we insist that it’s our privilege to decide whether we want to pay these people?

“A service charge and a salary brings the profession back into the bright sun of the professional mainstream, instead of the murky half-light in which restaurants used to exist,” Mr. Patterson said.

He is a true believer, but he can’t convince everybody. In 2010 he tried an 18 percent service charge when he opened Plum in Oakland, Calif. Perhaps because Plum was less expensive and more casual than Coi, diners rebelled, and he dropped the charge.

The new system may not be right for customers at value-oriented places like Plum, at least for now. But it’s time for all of us who go out to eat to think twice about our habits. Tipping doesn’t work, and it doesn’t feel very good anymore, either.