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What is a personal chef?  For many it is an answer to their prayers!  I take time to learn about your needs & provide weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meal services, cooking classes & cook for dinner parties & small events.

Second Annual Barbecue Recipe Contest

Posted by on Jun 2, 2013 in BBQ, Salads | 0 comments

Second Annual Barbecue Recipe Contest

Memorial Day weekend is here, the unofficial start of summer.  And you know what that means – barbecue!  Time to haul out the grill if you haven’t already, clean it, check the propane or lay on some charcoal, and fire it up for another summer of great food and good times. And if that isn’t fun enough, Home Star Cuisine is announcing its 2nd Annual Barbecue Recipe Contest.Like last year, I am asking you to share your favorite barbecue recipes with us.  Whether it is for a Southern-style low-and-slow cooked ribs, a great grilled chicken marinade, or a delicious side dish that wows your guests at all your cook-outs, I want to try your best summer recipes.  And the top three recipes we receive will earn their creators a $25 gift certificate to Omaha Steaks.  Just send your recipe to me by e-mail before July 31, 2013, and I will announce the winners in the August newsletter and they will be receiving their gift certificates by Labor Day weekend.I had a great time last year trying all the recipes that I received, and some of them have found their way into my permanent repertoire.  I hope this year brings me another good crop of recipes, especially for side dishes, a category that was noticeably under-represented last year.  So to prime the pump, I’m sharing with you an unusual and delicious Asian Cole Slaw.  And it goes well with the Korean Barbecue recipe I kicked off the contest with you last year.  I wish you all a fantastic summer! South Asian Cabbage Slaw Vinaigrette: ¼ cup soy sauce or tamari 1 tablespoon light brown sugar 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce zest and juice of one lime ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper 1 clove garlic, minced ¼ cup vegetable or peanut oil   Slaw: ½ cabbage, shredded or finely sliced 1 large carrot, grated 1 red pepper, julienned ¼ cup chopped cilantro ½ cup chopped dry roasted, salted peanuts Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients, or shake well in a small glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Toss together the cabbage, carrots, cilantro, and peanuts.  Add vinaigrette and toss to evenly distribute.   Serves 6 –...

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A growing trend – Community Supported Agriculture

Posted by on Jun 2, 2013 in Food | 1 comment

A growing trend – Community Supported Agriculture

Spring has come, albeit a cool one, and we are just around the corner from the opening of local farmers markets. The farmers have been preparing the earth, enriching the soil, plowing, planting, and starting seeds to get ready for the season, and we await the delicious bounty that our local food producers will soon be bringing to market. Besides farmers markets though, there is another way to support local agriculture: through buying a share of a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture. This is a way to directly invest, so to speak, in a local farm, to share the costs and rewards of farming, and to get a lot more up close and personal with the ups and downs of food production. For those of you who don’t know, buying a CSA share means that you directly pay a farmer for a “share” of his or her crops and you will receive vegetables (and usually herbs, sometimes fruits, and even, depending on the CSA eggs and/or meat) directly from the local grower. This comes in the form of a box of produce that you pick up at a local pick-up center, at the farm or it can even be delivered to you. What is in the box depends on what is growing at the time. If you go to the farmers market in your area you already have a sense of what is ready to harvest when. For example, here in New England you don’t see eggplant in the farmers market in June. Consequently, you won’t see them in your CSA box in June either. Depending on the farm and the success of the growing season, the box could be enough to satisfy two veggie lovers’ needs for a week, more or less. If you have a small garden or if you’re single, you might consider getting a half-share, which are available at many CSA’s. Besides getting incredibly fresh and delicious vegetables for several months, CSAs give you  the satisfaction of knowing that you are giving invaluable support to a local grower. It is easy for us to forget that farming is an uncertain business. We are so used to going to the grocery store and finding the fruits and vegetables we want pretty MUCH any time of year. So we sometimes don’t appreciate what individual farmers go through–rain or lack of it, freak storms, or unexpected insect infestations, etc. For a farmer who sells shares at the beginning of the season through a CSA, part of his and her income is already guaranteed and all involved share in the risks inherent in the vagaries of Mother Nature. So if you buy a share, you are helping to insure the survival of local agriculture. Another plus of buying a CSA share is that you will be receiving a “mystery basket” from your farmer every week. This is sure to broaden your culinary horizons. Ever tried rutabagas? Collards? Well, if you get them in your CSA box you will have the opportunity to experiment with something new and outside your comfort zone. Who knows, maybe you’ll have a new favorite vegetable by the end of the summer! And if you’re really stumped, send me an e-mail and I’ll see if I can help you figure out what to do with...

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A super salad for your Easter or Passover dinner

Posted by on Jun 2, 2013 in Salads | 0 comments

A super salad for your Easter or Passover dinner

Spring is here, at least officially, though it does seem like the snow doesn’t want to stop this year. But with Easter and Passover here it won’t be long before the weather will warm and we’ll be putting the first plants in our gardens. So to get us looking forward to those first crops from the garden I would like to share with you a recipe for a salad that will go well with an Easter ham or lamb, or a Passover meal (in that case, you just need to look for vinegar marked “Kosher for Passover”). Springtime Salad 1 cup arugula 1 head Boston lettuce, broken into bite-sized pieces 1 baby bok choy, cut into chiffonade ½ bunch mint leaves, torn 1 cup sugar snap peas, diagonally sliced into ½ inch lengths 6 large radishes, thinly sliced 1 carrot grated ¼ cup golden raisins   Dressing: grated rind and juice of 1 lime 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar 2 teaspoons honey large pinch salt 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil   In a salad bowl, place greens and sprinkle with the other vegetables and the raisins. In a glass jar, combine dressing ingredients except oil. Shake well to blend and then add oil. Shake again and drizzle over the greens. Toss gently and serve. Serves...

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A big game recipe you haven’t tried – Super Bowl Muffaletta

Posted by on Jun 2, 2013 in Sandwiches | 0 comments

A big game recipe you haven’t tried – Super Bowl Muffaletta

It’s Super Bowl time again and while my beloved Patriots aren’t in the Big Game this year, that’s no reason not to have a party! New Orleans is hosting and what better city to offer culinary inspiration when planning a menu for game day. So I want to share a recipe adapted from our own local Fall River native who made it big in the Big Easy, Emeril Lagasse. The recipe is for Muffaletta, a delicious sandwich that originated in the French Quarter and that you and your guests are sure to enjoy. And don’t forget, if you want to throw a party but don’t want to do all the work, Home Star Cuisine is available to design and execute a memorable celebration, on game day or any day.   Super Bowl Muffaletta Ingredients:1 cup coarsely chopped pimento-stuffed olives 1 cup chopped giardiniera (pickled Italian vegetables) 2 tablespoons drained capers ½ cup coarsely chopped Kalamata olives 2 cloves finely minced garlic 1 tablespoon minced shallot 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon dried parsley Pinch of dried thyme Pinch of crushed red pepper 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 large loaf seeded Italian bread (about 1 1/4 pounds), split 1/4 pound sliced fresh mozzarella 6 ounces sliced capocollo or prosciutto 1/4 pound sliced Genoa salami 1/4 pound sliced mortadella 1/4 pound sliced mild provolone cheese Peperoncini, for serving Stir together all ingredients from olives to vinegar. Blend in olive oil and let stand for 1 hour to overnight. Cut bread in half horizontally and spread the olive salad on both cut sides. On the bottom half layer each ingredient in the order listed, except the provolone. Place the provolone on top of the olive salad on the top half of the bread. Close the sandwich, taking care not to loose the olive salad on the top half. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and let stand for between thirty minutes to two hours. Cut the sandwich into eight pieces and serve with pepperoncini on the...

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A melts-in-your-mouth cookie recipe for the holidays

Posted by on Jun 2, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

A melts-in-your-mouth cookie recipe for the holidays

Holiday greetings!   Since this is the season of giving, I thought I would share with you my absolute favorite cookie recipe in the whole world. These cookies are addictive. In fact, a friend of mine calls them my “crack” cookies because you’re hooked after your first bite. I got this recipe some years ago from the Boston Globe. They ran a cookie contest and printed the top two recipes from each cookie category, such as ginger cookies, bars or squares, hermits, chocolate cookies, etc. I don’t actually remember which category this recipe won. As far as I’m concerned, they won the whole shebang! My husband Michael and I have made dozens and dozens and dozens of these during the holidays and given them away to family, friends and coworkers. And this holiday season I’d like to pass on to you the recipe so that they can become part of your repertoire of favorite goodies. Happy baking and happy holidays! And thank you Sue Rogers, wherever you are! Sue Rogers’s Oatmeal-Cranberry Chip Cookies Ingredients 2 ¼ cups flour 1 cup old-fashioned oats 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature 2/3 cup granulated sugar 2/3 cup dark brown sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla 2 eggs 1 cup dried sweet cranberries 1 cup white chocolate chips 1 cup chopped walnuts   Makes: 36 Set the oven at 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. In a bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. In an electric mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until light. Add the eggs, one by one. With the mixer set on its lowest speed, beat in the dry ingredients until blended. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. Stir in the cranberries, chips, and walnuts. Drop the mixture by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Transfer the baking sheets to the hot oven and bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes or until they are firm. Let the cookies sit on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to wore racks to cool completely. Store in a n airtight container. This recipe is from the Boston...

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Cooking demo at The Villages on Mount Hope Bay

Posted by on Jun 1, 2013 in Salads | 0 comments

Cooking demo at The Villages on Mount Hope Bay

One of the things I love about my business is doing cooking demonstrations, particularly for seniors. Why? Typically, seniors tend to be very enthusiastic students for any number of reasons. One of those reasons is that many are on special diets or have dietary restrictions and are looking for ways to eat healthier. With these cooking demonstrations, I can show them how to not only make meals that please the palate but are also healthier.Recently, Home Star Cuisine held a cooking demonstration at The Villages on Mount Hope Bay, an over 55 active lifestyle community in Tiverton, Rhode Island. Twenty-eight residents attended and we walked them through how to create Quinoa Salad. We also made a delicious Bulgur Pilaf with Dried Apricots, Wild Rice with Cranberries and Hazelnuts, and an unusual but tasty and nutritious Chia Pudding (remember Chia pets? It’s the same seed, but who knew it was this versatile and packed with fiber and omega-3 fatty acids that are great for your heart?!).Besides enjoying a sampling of these dishes, everyone was interested in the health benefits of these foods as well as experiencing the different tastes, textures, and flavors. Needless to say, the demo was a big hit and many attendees wanted the recipe, which is in the article below. If you’re interested in hosting a demo where you live-either in your home or at a common area in your condo association or 55+ community-please drop me a line.  Quinoa, Garbanzo, and Spinach Salad with Smoked Paprika Dressing Ingredients 1 1/2 cups quinoa (9 to 10 ounces), rinsed, drained 4 cups (packed) baby spinach leaves 1 15- to 16-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed, drained 1 3/4 cups 1/3-inch cubes unpeeled English hothouse cucumber 1 1-pint container multicolored baby heirloom tomatoes, halved (2 1/2 cups) 1 cup (packed) fresh mint leaves 1 1/2 cups coarsely crumbled feta cheese (about 7 ounces), divided 1/4 cup Sherry wine vinegar 2 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika 1/2 cup olive oil Directions Place quinoa in large saucepan; add enough salted water to cover quinoa by 1 inch. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until quinoa is tender, 15 to 16 minutes. Drain. Chill until cool. Meanwhile, combine spinach leaves, garbanzos, cubed cucumber, halved tomatoes, mint leaves, and half of feta cheese in extra-large bowl. Add cooled quinoa and toss gently to blend. Whisk vinegar and smoked paprika in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle remaining feta over. Makes 6 – 8 Servings   Adapted from Bon...

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Cooking with Tess: Italian Egg Drop Soup

Posted by on Jun 1, 2013 in Cooking Lessons with Tess, Soups | 0 comments

Cooking with Tess: Italian Egg Drop Soup

Our last e-newsletter talked about the bi-coastal cooking lessons I would be giving my friend and goddaughter Tess, who lives in Oakland, California. Tess had her first lesson recently and here’s what we covered: Knife skills Sweating Vegetables Let’s Talk about Oil and Vinegar Recipes: Italian Egg Drop Soup  Straciatella Salad with vinaigrette As the pictures indicate, Tess learned her lessons well. But I will let her tell you how things went as she created Italian Egg Drop Soup for her husband and neighbors. Italian Egg Drop Soup It turned out to be another packed weekend, and I wasn’t sure there would be time to cook. Sunday, however, turned out to be the perfect day for a light, warming soup, as it was in the mid- 60’s and cloudy with a light breeze. I bought parsley from the farmers market, fresh parmesan cheese, flour, eggs, nutmeg and chicken stock. The ingredients for this soup were basic and easy to get fresh at the market or store. I used my newly sharpened knife because the parsley needed to be cut very fine. The trickiest part of the recipe is whisking the blended ingredients into the boiling broth, which took a little coordination. The mixture immediately started to thicken when I poured it into the hot broth. All together, it took about 20 minutes to make, including prep and serving time. For my husband and me, it was a perfect snack on a busy Sunday. We even had enough so that our neighbors could join us. The soup turned out to be delicious-light and warming, with a delicate flavor. The parmesan garnish was a wonderful touch. Next time, I think I will make it along with a chicken dish and serve with bread and white wine. For the complete recipe, please e-mail Home Star Cuisine at chef@homestarcuisine.com....

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Pulled-Pork with Vinegar-based and/or Root Beer BBQ Sauce recipe wins Home Star Cuisine BBQ Contest

Posted by on Jun 1, 2013 in BBQ | 0 comments

Pulled-Pork with Vinegar-based and/or Root Beer BBQ Sauce recipe wins Home Star Cuisine BBQ Contest

Steve Saver, of Milford, Massachusetts, took home the gold in Home Star Cuisine’s Ethnic and Family Barbecue recipe contest. His Pulled Pork with Vinegar-based and/or Root Beer BBQ sauce earned him a $25 gift certificate to Omaha Steaks. The first and second runner-ups are Richard Radovsky, of Brockton, Massachusetts, and Jonathan Richmond. Radovsky submitted a recipe that originated in the Peruvian Andes, Steak Anticuchos. Richmond entered his Man O Man Barbecued Ribs. Both will also receive a $25 gift certificate to Omaha Steaks. Thanks to all who entered our BBQ contest. If you would like to try the winning recipe(s) keep reading! Pulled Pork with Vinegar-Based and/or Root Beer BBQ Sauce By Steve Saver, stevesacooking.com Ingredients 3 tablespoons smoked paprika 2 tablespoons garlic powder 1 tablespoon brown sugar 1 tablespoon dry mustard 2 tablespoons sea salt 1 5-pound pork roast, preferably shoulder or Boston butt 12 hamburger buns or 24 slider size rolls for serving (we prefer whole wheat) Directions Mix the spices and salt together in a small bowl and then rub the spice blend over the pork. Cover with plastic wrap overnight in the refrigerator. If you are in a hurry, let stand for at least one hour. Preparing the sauce – Vinegar-based or Root Beer Two methods: Oven and Grill Oven Method Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Put the pork in a roasting pan and bake, covered, until it’s falling apart and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 170 degrees (about 6-7 hours). Keep in mind the pot you are using (my heavy cast iron pan can reach 250 degrees). Remove the pork from the oven and transfer to a large platter and let rest for 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle (warm), use two forks to shred the pork. Put the shredded pork in a bowl, add barbecue sauce, and mix well to coat. To serve, place several ounces of pork on a hamburger bun and top with Spicy Slaw (see below). Grill Method Bring grill temperature up to high, then reduce to medium, looking to get temp between 180 to 250 degrees. Cook slow and low – I have a gas grill so I use indirect heat method. Prepare as in Oven method. Place pork in disposable tin foil pan that has a couple of holes in bottom on the side without the heat. Grill, covered, until it’s falling apart and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 170 degrees, about 6-7 hours. Turn once or twice during the cooking process. On the side with the heat, place your smoker tray. Optional: if you want you can wrap in tin foil and cook as above. This gives you moister meat but does not absorb the smoke. Choices, choices, choices. Why not both do meat for one hour unwrapped and then wrap and finish cooking (I like to experiment)? Barbecue sauce (vinegar-based) Ingredients 2 tablespoons brown sugar ½ cup hot water 1½ cups apple cider vinegar 1 tablespoon paprika 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon black pepper Directions In a small saucepan, stir the brown sugar into the hot water until completely dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and cook on low heat for approximately 5 minutes. OK I like to make double the sauce ½ for pouring over the...

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Smoke ’em if you got ’em, ethnic and family barbecue contest

Posted by on Jun 1, 2013 in BBQ | 0 comments

Smoke ’em if you got ’em, ethnic and family barbecue contest

Perhaps you have a linguica kabob recipe to die for.  Or a spicy sausage stuffed mushroom side dish that neighbors always beg you for.  It’s time to share and add to your favorites.  Home Star Cuisine personal chef services, is sponsoring a “Smoke ’em if you got ’em, ethnic and family barbecue contest” to encourage area residents to get out their grilling tools and get busy. “Summer and barbecuing brings out the best in friends and family events and fun food that enhances the gathering.  Barbecuing also levels the playing field a bit – there are less complicated cooking techniques, cookware and pomp and circumstance,” said Deb Fernandez, founder of Home Star Cuisine who studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, noted. “This contest is intended to give barbecue enthusiasts more fun recipes to try and more excuses to try them.” Barbecue fans are asked to email their favorite recipes and instructions for those recipes to chef@homestarcuisine.com.  The top recipes will be posted on the www.HomeStarCuisine.com website for all to see.  Deadline is July 31, 2012. The top three selections will receive a $25 gift certificate to the Omaha Steaks with locations throughout the U.S. and an e-commerce website. So don’t’ let those old family recipes marinade in faded notebooks and kitchen drawers. Enter today.   Korean Barbecued Beef Short Ribs 5# Korean-style short ribs, boneless short ribs cut to ¼” thickness, or steak tips 1 cup brown sugar 1 cup reduced sodium soy sauce ½ cup water ¼ cup sherry or mirin 1 small onion, grated 1 bosc pear, grated 4 tablespoons minced garlic 2 tablespoons sesame oil ¼ teaspoon black pepper 4 scallions, thinly sliced To make the marinade, in a nonreactive container large enough to hold the meat, mix all ingredients from the brown sugar to the pepper.  Add the meat and mix to make sure it is coated.  Let this sit in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 hours, up to a day.  Heat your grill to high and place the meat on the grill rack that has been oiled lightly. Cook on one side for approximately 3 minutes, then turn over and cook for another 3 -4 minutes until  meat is no longer red in the middle. Place on a serving platter and sprinkle with sliced scallions. This is great with an Asian-inspired rice salad and some tangy cole slaw dressed in rice wine vinegar, light vegetable oil, finely grated ginger, and a splash of sesame oil and toasted sesame...

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I’m teaching my friend Tess how to cook. Care to join us?

Posted by on Aug 8, 2012 in Cooking Lessons with Tess | 0 comments

I’m teaching my friend Tess how to cook. Care to join us?

Tess is my goddaughter and one of my dearest friends and favorite people in the whole world. I’ve known her literally since the moment she was born. Tess just got married last September (I’m proud to say her wedding day was on my birthday!) and she is very busy with her new job as an education and employment manager in a social work agency. She’s been so focused on college and graduate school and work and her new marriage that she hasn’t had time to really learn to cook. So she’s turned to me for help. I guess she figures I know a thing or two having studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York and been a professional chef for nearly two decades. There’s one small problem. Tess lives in Oakland, California. No problem. Via power of the Internet, specifically, a blog on my website, I’ll be teaching Tess how to cook. And you are more than welcome to join the fun. Each month we’ll explore a key aspect of cooking and a recipe to test your new skills.  The learning process includes an e-mail to Tess to broach the topic and ends with Tess celebrating with photos or video of her new husband and herself enjoying the new meal and expanded cooking skills. Here’s the “syllabus” for Tess’ first lesson: Knife skills Sweating Vegetables Let’s Talk about Oil and Vinegar Recipes: Onion Soup with Crouton Vegetable Soup  Straciatella Salad with vinaigrette The plan is for there to be a year’s worth of lessons for Tess. The beauty of it being that if you miss a lesson or two, you can just revisit the lesson in the archives of my blog. I know Tess is raring to go. Hope that you can join us,...

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