Friday, February 21, 2014

Unique Team Building Experience

 

 

 

Having “grown-up” in the corporate world for over 25 years, I remember with some dread the infamous team building events.  Remember the “let’s fall backwards into somebody’s arms, or the “yes everyone golf’s” and “really, we’re going to play “who is that character posted on my back so I can get to know you?” 

I invite you to let FOOD bring your employees together.  I can help you create a unique team building experience – from mystery chopped baskets, a luncheon or dinner, hands on cooking class, or any combination we can think of!  Flexible, fun, and satisfying – you will have a unique and hilarious food fun, and a great way to build steam spirit for corporate groups of 10 – 20 employees.


 

The best part is your team will reap the rewards by enjoying the fruits of their labor! 

Let me, Chef Terri, help you design a new and unique team building experience! 


 

Chef Terri Rees
“a personal chef experience”
616.304.0297

 

 

 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Lesson In Patience - Valentines Day Cake Pops


 

 

 

 

I was at Rylees Ace Hardware on Michigan Avenue recently to demonstrate how to make Cake Pops.  You say a hardware store?  Well owner Lori  has an entire kitchen area in her flagship store.  It’s rather lovely, and unique.  I always tell our guests you never know what you’ll find going on at Rylees Ace Hardware!

 

This time it was Cake Pops. Now this is not a particularly difficult process, but it is time consuming.  You have to have patience.  The chocolate or coating has to be just the right consistency, you have to wait for it to dry (unless you want sprinkles, then it has to be “tacky” enough) and you must be organized.

There are lots of ways to go about this and there are hundreds of “how to’s” on out there. 

Let’s cut to the chase.

1.  Bake a cake and cool it completely (I used a normal box cake and got over 3 dozen cake drops/pops). A friend suggested finding a full baked discounted cake and mixing it together, to save a few steps.  Brilliant idea!


2.  Mix in 1 can of prepared frosting


3.  Chill completely

4.  Using a small (I used a #70 truffle scoop) scoop – get them all out, roll them up and place them in the refrigerator to chill – once again

 

5. If making “pops” – get a piece of Styrofoam and cover it with aluminum or clear wrap – so you can  use it over and over again.

 

6.  Melt your coating, following package directions – I used almond candy bark and chocolate couverture, I like the couverture because it gives a high glossy finish.  If you need to “thin” out – use a bit of Crisco.  It will help melt evenly through your coating.

7.  For “pops” swirl a bit of coating around the tip of the stick and place it into your “pop” and once again place in the fridge for firming up.

8.  Now you are ready to coat!  I always use a small amount of coating, this way if it gets gooey, gummy or stuff in it, you’re not wasting a lot of dollars on chocolate!


9.  Once you dip the cake drops/pops make sure that you let the excess coating drip off.

10.  Place in the Styrofoam or on parchment paper, and then wait once again for it to dry.  If you’re using sprinkles, now’s the time, before it gets hard!

11.  Finally – you can enjoy.

 



I placed some cake pops in individual wrappers, in a ball jar, as a gift.  They are easy to make, and fun.

 

 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner


 

 

Last Saturday, February 1, 2014 I had the incredible opportunity to cook with a group of Moms.  We get together about once a year, spearheaded by my good friend Barb who “mentors” the group.  Actually, I think it’s just a reason to get together and have fun!( By the way the  “official” name of the group is Koinonia a Biblical Greek word meaning Christian community). We needed to get together; West Michigan has been under a “polar vortex” which translates to – Michigan Winter!  It has been cold, dreary, and little sunshine!  Of course we were under blizzard warnings – but only got 6” of snow!  Not enough to stop us ladies from getting together!

We cook together; simple food, fun food and satisfying food.  There are lots of laughs and this time a few tears due to a personal loss of a member’s mother but we had hugs all around – smiles all around – sharing all around.

I’ll admit, it’s not easy to please everybody in this crowd, there are a ton of food likes, dislikes, and the occasional, “I’m not touching that!” The goal is to introduce a few great ideas, and talk about ways to help busy moms with food!

This year, I became a bit brave, and reached out to my friends at Tecumseh Smart Chicken and Susan Boeck!  I was hoping for a few magazines, or an apron, or well I’m not really good at asking for donations.  Susan is a very warm hearted individual, and her company, well they donated all of the chicken! 

 

It came packed, on ice, in two big boxes, and to say the least, I was doing happy yippy skippy dances!  What an opportunity to showcase how important knowing where your food comes from, and that humanely raised poultry is available. 

Our Menu was easy:

Warm Goat Cheese with pepper jelly & crackers

Spinach Salad with pomegranate, grapes, and avocado, and home made lemon vinaigrette

 

Lemon Rosemary Roasted whole chickens


Roasted Root Vegetables
 

 

and Truffles (though I will admit, they didn’t set up in time, and we ate them by the spoonful!)



 

Roasting a whole chicken is sometimes daunting to people.  I know that a lot of chef’s work at this “simple” meal to perfect it over a lifetime. 

I took the time to brine my chicken, though with the Smart Chicken, I probably wouldn’t have had to.  It’s important once you take the chicken out of a brine (or any other cut of meat) to dry it off, otherwise you’ll steam the chicken!  I like crispy skin!

I showed the group how to remove the wishbone before roasting, and we talked about how that makes it easier for carving – a trick that I used in culinary school! 

We then stuffed it with a lemon, cut in half (after we removed the zest and some of the juice for our salad dressing) added some fresh rosemary, trussed them up, placed them on top of some celery to raise them off the cookie sheet, drizzled them with extra virgin olive oil (evoo), salt and pepper then  put them in a 400 degree oven.  Normally, I’d probably roast them at a little lower temperature, but these birds were huge, and I was hungry!

 

We then got to cutting up root vegetables including potatoes, parsnips, onions, carrots and sweet potatoes.  We then layered them on sheet pans with a bit of evoo and salt and pepper and into the ovens they went.  Root veggies tend to caramelize and the sugars come out, and well you sometimes don’t need much more!

 

Onto the salad we went, opening a pomegranate, mixing up a fresh vinaigrette, and showing how to open up an avocado!  All in the guise of having fun, but learning a bit.

 

It wasn’t long before we started smelling the chicken.  It takes about 15 minutes per pound, so we had about 5 pound chickens – about 1 hour and they were done!  You can check the doneness several ways; an internal meat thermometer at 165°, or the juices running clear, or the drumstick wiggles!  We did all three!


The hard part, letting it rest before we got to carving!  About 15 minutes, a very long 15 minutes I might add!

I showed them how to carve a chicken, and let anyone who wanted to learn, get at it!  Sometimes you just got to dig in, and “hack away” to learn how!



Once it was done, and we placed them on a platter, we pulled out the veggies, got the salad ready, said grace, (by my good friend Barb – a lovely grace it was!) and then we got down to business!  Eating chicken.

It was pretty funny though, everyone had to “pick” a bit of chicken before it got to the table!

All in all a great chicken dinner!


 

Chicken Brine

½ cup
Kosher Salt
¼ cup
Brown Sugar
5 cups
Cold water
8
Garlic cloves peeled, diced
2
Cups orange juice
2
Quarts ice water
1
Spanish onion

 


Place salt, sugar, 2 cups of cold water, garlic and bay leaf in sauce pan.  Bring just to a boil to dissolve the sugar and salt, turn off the heat.  Add the onion, oj, and  cups of water.  Remove from stove, and add the container with ice water.  Mix well, cool until it reaches 40 degrees.  Rinse your chicken with cold water, and dry (this is to remove bacteria and such) place the chicken in a large enough container to hold the brine and the chicken, a small cooler, or a Stock Pot.  When the brine has cooled, pour over the chicken, you may need a weight to keep it covered!  Keep in the brine for 12 – 24 hours.  Remove chicken, and discard the brine.  Dry the chicken thoroughly.

Roast with your favorite seasonings.

 

If you don’t have room in your refrigerator, use a beverage cooler for your brine/chicken!  Works wonderful!

Roast the Chicken in a 350 – 400 degree oven for 15 minutes per pound, until it reaches an internal temperature of 165.  Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes!  Loosely cover with aluminum foil if you wish.

 

Roasted Root Vegetables – 1 – 2 veggies per person!

 


Assorted Veggies:

Carrots

rutabagas

turnips

parsnips

sweet potatoes

potatoes

 

Cut into large, uniform dices

 

2 – 3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

 

Toss the veggies in the EVOO and spread on a cookie sheet.  Roast with the chicken for approximately 45 minutes, until fork tender,