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July 2019 Chef of the Month- Ale Gambini

We are proud and ecstatic to introduce our July Chef of the Month- Ale Gambini, also known as a Queen in the Kitchen! Chef Ale is not only a cookbook author and a cooking instructor, but she’s also a LA-based food writer AND an Italian food ambassador! Chef Ale also frequently travels the United  States and Italy as Keynote speaker for food-related events, a Queen in the Kitchen indeed! Read below to learn more about Chef Ale (prepare to be fascinated).

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Where were you born?

100% Italian, born and raised in beautiful Milan (Italy).

2. Where do you work and where are you based?

I’m a LA-based food writer, Italian food ambassador, cooking instructor and chef in online food programs. I also travel the U.S and Italy as a keynote speaker for food related events.

3. What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes?

I’m a huge fan of the Kitchen Aid stand mixer, such a great help but as I always say to my students, your hands are your best tools in the kitchen.

4. What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?

The smell! Everything about my cooking starts from the smell. I want my dishes to be a bouquet of flavors through the nostrils first and then to the palate.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

Passion and hard work are the key ingredients to succeed in the food industry.

6. What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?

I don’t have a tip, but a suggestion: always use the BEST quality ingredients.

7. What does good food mean to you?

Family, health and love. I grew up in a typical Italian family watching my Nonna prepare food for the whole family every single day. Cooking is one of the greatest acts of love. For us Italians, it is much more than fuel for the body, is sacred.

8. What features are important to you when selecting your chef outfit? 

The fabric is the most important thing, I love lightweight coats made with natural fibers. The colors hot pink and black are A Queen in The Kitchen colors.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with?

Flour. I love to bake especially bread and baked goods.

10. Favorite City to dine out in?

Bologna in Emilia Romagna region (Italy), the capital of the Italian food: fresh egg pasta, lasagne, ragù, gnocco fritto, Prosciutto di Parma, Mortadella and so much more.

11. Best Dish you have ever made?

People say that my Lasagne alla Bolognese is to die for.

12. What you like to eat most often on your days off? 

I try to eat as good as possible every day, but if I have to choose something not Italian, I would say ceviche de pulpo.

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 

My daughter, when she cleans her plate I’m the happiest person on this planet. Mangia, mangia is my motto!

14. What made you decide to become a chef?

The love for the good food.

 

Connect with our July Chef of the Month: 

Instagram: @alegambinidt

Facebook: @aqueeninthekitchen 

Twitter: @alegambinidt

Website: https://aqueeninthekitchen.com/

November 2018 Chef of the Month Gina Sansonia

Shop Her Look!

Image 2We’re delighted to introduce our November 2018 Chef of the Month, Gina Sansonia! Chef Gina is the Executive Chef/Owner of Cucina Bambina, a mobile, gourmet Italian eatery that is located in Hollywood, FL. Gina is a driven and passionate chef, with a zest for life…and basil! We can’t wait to share her story and delicious recipes!  Read below to learn about Chef Gina Sansonia and her passion for food.

 

 

1. Where were you born? 

I was born and raised in New York.

2. Where do you work and where are you based? 

I’m the Executive Chef/Owner of Cucina Bambina Inc. We’re a mobile, Gourmet Italian Eatery based out of Hollywood, FL. We travel all over the state participating in various festivals in addition to catering private events.

3. What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes?

I have an obsession with spoons…. they’re just so handy!

4.What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?

I have a keen sense of smell.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. If you have passion, drive, a strong work ethic and a vision….you can make it happen-you just have to put in the work

6. What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?

Work smarter …. not harder.

7. What does good food mean to you?

I firmly believe that good food comes from the heart, along with quality ingredients.

8. What features are important to you when selecting your chef outfit? 

COMFORT and style.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

I’m OBSESSED with basil.😍

10. Favorite City to dine out in? 

NYC, baby! Although I would like to check out the Chicago food scene. I hear amazing things.

11. Best Dish you have ever made? 

I make a mean rice ball if I do say so myself and many call me “The Meatball Queen”. Both of those are always crowd pleasers.

12. What do you like to eat most on your days off?

I typically don’t sit down and eat structured “meals”. I’m content with a good old bag of Doritos surprisingly enough!

13. Person you most like to cook for? 

Hands down my nieces and nephews. I love how excited and engaged they become.  It really is special.

14. What made you decide to become a chef? 

After losing my father to cancer, and being diagnosed with Celiac Disease, it made me look at food differently and (not to sound cliché) made me realize that life is too short. I just went for it!

Connect with our November Chef of the Month: 

Instagram: @cucinabambinainc

Twitter: @CucinaBambina

Facebook: Cucina Bambina Inc

A Real Thanksgiving Treat From Chef Ace Champion

It’s 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. The aroma of baked turkey still simmers through the living room. The mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole and stuffing has already maneuvered itself into leftovers and now sits in the fridge inside a plastic container. The fall inspired tablecloth has been branded with gravy droppings and bread crumbs. Hungry gazes have glazed into satisfied smiles.

You can’t help but think: I couldn’t possibly have another bite. Except…

“What’s for dessert?” You utter the words that everyone is thinking.

Pecan pie? Pumpkin pie? Apple pie? 

Nope. Not this Thanksgiving. Thanks to Chef Ace Champion, we have a mouth-watering treat that is just waiting to be gobbled up at Thanksgiving dinner. It’s not your average pecan pie, it’s Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie with White Chocolate Ganache Drizzle. What can we say? There’s always room for dessert.

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie with a White Chocolate Drizzle

Make 1 pie for 8 slice servings

Pie Ingredients:

3 large eggs

1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar – packed

1 Cup Light Corn Syrup

3 tablespoons Southern Comfort – 3 ounces

2 tablespoons Real Butter

1 tablespoon Heavy Whipping Cream – optional

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 tablespoon All-Purpose Flour

1 teaspoon/a pinch of Salt – Kosher or any Table Salt

1 – 1 1/2 Cups Pecan Halves – Ruff Chopped

3/4 Cup Chocolate Chips – Semi-sweet baking chips/half way melted

1 Pre-Made Pie Shell – to fit a 9″ deep dish pie plate

Drizzle Ingredients:

1 teaspoon Southern Comfort – optional

8 ounces White Chocolate – melted

1 tablespoon Cream – for the right consistency

1 teaspoon Dark Brown Sugar

Instructions for the Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie:

1. Roll pre-made pie shell to fit a 9-in. deep-dish pie plate.

2. Transfer pastry to pie plate; trim to 1/2 inch, beyond edge of plate and flute edges.

3. Par-bake the pie shells for 10 minutes on 325 degrees then remove from oven and cool.

4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, brown sugar, corn syrups, bourbon, butter and salt until blended.

5. Fold in 1 cup pecans and 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

6. Pour filling into crust; sprinkle with remaining pecans and chocolate chips.

7. Bake at 325° for about 1 hour & 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is puffed and set.

9. Cool completely on a wire rack.

10. Allow the pie to rest for at least 2 hours before cutting.

This is a great make a day ahead pie!

Instructions for the White Chocolate Ganache:

1. In a double broiler, add the cream and Southern Comfort and allow cooking for about 2 minutes on a steady medium high heat.

2. Add the chocolate chips in a few at a time to allow them to melt nicely with the cream and whiskey.

3. Cook until all chocolate is melted and you have a smooth consistency in your sauce.

4. Note if the sauce is too light, add more chips and if it’s too thick, line it out with a little cream or whiskey.

Presentation: Place a slice of pie on a small plate and top with pecans and drizzle.

Enjoy this delicious dessert!

Chef Morghan’s Banana Bread Recipe

Whether it’s for breakfast, brunch or dessert, Chef Morghan’s Banana Bread is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth! Find her recipe below, and savor the flavor!

Banana Bread

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup AP flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 TBS Vanilla

2 eggs

3 very ripe bananas

Directions

1. Heat oven to 350°F and grease a loaf pan.

2. Mash and beat together eggs and bananas.

3. Add the vanilla, the butter and sugar, and combine.

4. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.

5. Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture.

6. Do not over-mix!

7. Pour batter into prepared pan.

8. Cook in the oven for 50 minutes or until a fork comes out clean.

*Note: Let banana bread cool for about 15 minutes before removing from pan.

Tip: Add a sprinkle of brown sugar on top of the batter before putting in the oven for an extra sweet crunchy top.

You may also add any nuts or chocolate to this recipe if you’d like.

 

Connect with our October Chef of the Month:

Get Her Look!

Instagram: @chefmorghan

Facebook: Morghan Medlock

Website

 

Chef Morghan’s Shrimp Pasta Recipe

Shrimp. Pasta. What could be better? How about shrimp pasta? Chef Morghan has shared a mouth-watering shrimp pasta recipe that is a perfect dish for either lunch or dinner. Get her recipe below, and give your taste buds a treat!

Shrimp Pasta 2.jpg

Ingredients

1 pack linguine pasta

1LB shrimp (peeled & deveined)

2 TBS EVOO

2 cloves fresh garlic

1 tomato chopped

Parsley bunch

1/2 lemon

Salt/pepper to taste

1 TBS red chili flakes

Sprinkle of shredded Parmesan

 

Directions

1. Boil pasta according to instructions on package.

2. Rinse and dry and season shrimp with salt, pepper and red chili flakes.

3. Heat a skillet to medium high heat and add 1-2TBS of a high heat oil (veggie, canola, grape seed).

4. Add 1TBS of minced garlic to the heated pan, then add shrimp and begin to sauté just until the shrimp become pink (careful not to overcook them).

5. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside. DO NOT RINSE PAN!

6. Leave all drippings from sautéing the shrimp in the pan and add 1 TBS of olive oil to pan.

7. Dice either a whole or 1/2 tomato depending on how much you like tomatoes.

8. Drain pasta and add to the pan. Begin to toss the pasta around in the drippings and EVOO. Then add the diced tomato and trim the heat to low.

9. Season Pasta with salt and pepper.

10. Add shrimp and toss everything around in the pan on low heat.

11. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and the juice of the 1/2 of lemon. Plate and serve.

 

Connect with our October Chef of the Month:

Get Her Look!

Instagram: @chefmorghan

Facebook: Morghan Medlock

Website

 

Chef Morghan’s Vegan Waffle Recipe

Vegan Waffles 2.jpg

Whether you are vegan or not, Chef Morghan has shared a delicious waffle recipe perfect for any breakfast! A delicious waffle can be topped with anything you may like – try fresh berries or whipped cream if you desire. Get her recipe below for a breakfast treat not to be missed!

Ingredients

1 cup whole-wheat flour

3/4 TBS baking powder

3 TBS of sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup nut milk

1 TBS vanilla

2 1/2 TBS vegetable or canola oil

Directions

1. Heat & spray waffle iron as instructed.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl combine nut milk, vanilla and oil.

4. Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix together. Make sure to not over mix.

5. Scoop about 1/3 -1/2 cup of batter onto waffle iron (depending on how big it is). Let waffle cook as instructed on waffle iron

6. Plate and serve.

Connect with our October Chef of the Month:

Instagram: @chefmorghan

Facebook: Morghan Medlock

Website

 

October 2018 Chef of the Month Morghan Medlock

We are so excited to introduce our October 2018 Chef of the Month, Chef Morghan Medlock! Chef Morghan is one of a kind – she went from playing basketball to whipping up masterpieces in the kitchen. Chef Morghan has all aspects of the meal perfected from breakfast to dessert. Read below to find out more fun facts about our October Chef of the Month and her new found love of cooking.

1. Where were you born?

Pasadena, California

2. Where do you work and where are you based?

I am self employed personal chef and food blogger.

3. What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes?

My favorite kitchen tool when creating mater piece dishes is my Chef’s knife that was gifted to me upon graduation of culinary school.

4. What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?

My sharpest sense out of all my senses is taste.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

The advice I’d offer aspiring chefs is that if their heart and soul is not on the kitchen then please get out of it. Food is emotional and takes everything you have to produce a delicious dish.

6. What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?

One tip every chef should know and perfect is the ability to adjust on the fly. Stuff happens in the kitchen at any given moment and as a chef your job is to be able to transform mistakes into masterpieces.

7. What does good food mean to you?

Good food to me means a dish that takes my soul on a ride as I fork around the plate. Or a dish that triggers a memory or inspires me to create.

8. What features are important to you when selecting your chef outfit?

The features important to me when selecting a chef outfit are color, fit and style all of which should tell someone who I am without me having to utter a word.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with?

Favorite ingredient to work with is an egg because you can literally put it in or on almost anything and call it brunch if you want. Not to mention it’s a hell of a binding agent. when baking.

10. Favorite City to dine out in?

Favorite City to dine out in is Houston, Texas.

11. Best Dish you have ever made?

The best dish I have ever made was a braised squid ink pasta.

12. What you like to eat most often on your days off?

I like to eat all things brunch on my days off.

13. Person you would most like to cook for?

The person I would most like to cook for is Gordon Ramsay.

14. What made you decide to become a chef?

I decided to become a chef because it is the only thing that makes me feel alive as I did when I played basketball (my first career). It’s the only other way for me to entertain a crowd, inspire people, and tell my story like I did with basketball. And lastly so my kid would never have to grow up in a drive thru at a fast food spot.

Connect with our October Chef of the Month:

Instagram: @chefmorghan

Website

Chef Penelope’s Pork Belly with Peas & Carrots Recipe

IMG_4037Pair Pork Belly with a subtle blend of peas and carrots using Chef Penelope’s elegant recipe. This recipe highlights the use of various spices to activate rich, complex flavors in the pork and vegetable blend. Serves up to 4 plates – see Chef Penelope Wong’s recipe below!

Ingredients

Pork Belly

  • 10 oz. pork belly, skin diamond scored
  • 4 oz. store bought or house made hoisin sauce
  • 4 oz. light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground toasted fennel seeds
  • 2 oz. toasted sesame oil
  • 2 oz. olive oil
  • 2 C. chicken stock

Carrot Puree

  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 C. peeled, rough chopped carrots
  • s&p
  • pinch star anise
  • ¼ tsp. ground toasted fennel seed
  • pinch ground clove
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground Szechuan peppercorn
  • 2 C. chicken stock

Anise Glazed Heirloom Carrot

  • 1 bunch assorted heirloom carrots, peel, tops trimmed and halved
  • 4 oz. unsalted butter
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 4 oz. granulated sugar
  • 4 oz. chicken stock
  • 1 C. cleaned English peas
  • 8 oz. brown butter
  • 2 oz. pea tendrils

Directions

Pork Belly

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

  1. Rub pork belly with hoisin, brown sugar, white pepper and fennel seeds.
  2. Heat a roasting pan on high heat with sesame oil and olive oil.
  3. When the pan is hot, place the pork belly, skin side down and sear. Cook for 8 minutes, or until skin starts to caramelize.
  4. Flip over and sear the other side for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Add in chicken stock and cover with aluminum foil and transfer to the oven.
  6. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until tender and cooked through. remove aluminum foil and continue to roast for 15-20 more minutes, or until skin is browned and crisp.
  7. Slice into 4 thick 2.5 oz. slices, reserve for plating.

Carrot Puree

  1. In a small stock pot, saute minced shallot with 1 tsp. olive oil.
  2. Add in chopped carrots, salt & pepper, star anise, fennel seed, clove, cinnamon and Szechuan peppercorn.
  3. Continue to saute for 3-5 minutes, until carrots begin cooking and spices become fragrant.
  4. Add in chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  5. Lower heat and allow to cook at a slow boil for 20 minutes.
  6. Transfer carrots and ½ amount of stock into a high speed vitamix blender.
  7. Add in 2 oz. chilled unsalted butter.
  8. Puree on low speed gradually increasing to high speed and continue to puree until mixture becomes smooth.
  9. Add in more of the cooking liquid if necessary.

Anise Glazed Heirloom Carrots

  1. In a saute pan, heat butter.
  2. When butter melts, add in halved carrots and saute for 3 minutes.
  3. Add in star anise pod and sugar, continue to saute for an additional 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add in stock and reduce heat to medium low, making sure carrots are mostly submerged.
  5. Continue to cook for 20-25 minutes, or until liquid has reduced to a syrupy glaze and carrots are cooked through. Reserve.

Peas

  1. Heat a saute pan with 2 oz. olive oil, saute peas with salt & pepper until cooked through.

Brown Butter Foam

  1. Heat butter in a small sauce pan on low heat, until butter starts to brown.
  2. Once you notice the butter starting to brown, start whisking the butter lightly to evenly distribute and brown proteins.
  3. Once desired darkness of butter is reached, remove butter from the pan to prevent further browning and possible burning).
  4. Transfer browned butter into a deep vessel. Using a handheld immersion blender,
  5. Blend browned butter at a 45 degree angle to create a layer of foam on the top.

Plating

Swirl carrot puree onto plate, spoon English peas on puree, place slice of browned pork belly nestled into peas and spoon brown butter foam on top of pork belly.  Garnish with snipped pea tendrils.

Connect with Our September Chef of the Month:

Shop Her Look!

Instagram: @penelopewong

 

 

 

 

Chef Penelope’s Black Mussels with Korean Street Corn Espuma

IMG_4803.JPGShellfish may seem intimidating to some cooks without experience, but our September Chef of the Month, Chef Penelope Wong, crafts a seafood recipe fit for anyone to attempt. Serve these Black Mussels with Korean Street Corn Espuma for your next casual dinner to impress your guests with the complex and delicate flavors of seafood!

Ingredients

Mussels:

  • 1 pound fresh black mussels
  • 1 ear corn
  • 2 oz. roasted garlic oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp. sambal chili garlic paste
  • 4 oz. Japanese mirin rice wine
  • 2 oz. unsalted butter

Espuma:

  • 2 ears fresh sweet corn, kernels cut off, reserve cobs
  • 1 shallot minced
  • ½ tsp. Spiceology Korean chili flake
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • pinch ground black peppercorn
  • ¼ C. Japanese mirin rice wine
  • 1 C. homemade chicken stock
  • 2 oz. unsalted butter, chilled
  • 6 oz. heavy whipping cream
  • Micro cilantro

Procedure

Espuma:

  1. In a small stock pot, add in 1 tbsp. olive oil, sauté shallots and cut corn for 2 minutes, until corn becomes slightly charred.
  2. Add in reserved corn cobs, Korean chili flake, salt and pepper and continue to sauté.
  3. Add in mirin rice wine and allow to reduce by half.
  4. Add in chicken stock and lower heat to a slow boil.
  5. Continue to cook for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove cobs and discard. Transfer items to a high-speed vita mix blender and add in cold butter.  Starting on low speed and low power, puree and gradually increase speed to high and turn power on high, slowly pour in heavy whipping cream.
  7. Allow mixture to cool slightly to approximately 80 degrees F.
  8. Transfer to an ISI charger and reserve.

Mussels:

  1. Submerge mussels in a bowl of cold water to clean.
  2. Rub fresh corn with garlic oil and salt & pepper. Char on a grill until lightly browned.
  3. Cut kernels off of the cob and discard cob.
  4. Strain mussels.
  5. Heat a sauté pan with 1 tbsp. olive oil, add in mussels and sauté for 2 minutes or until they just start to open.
  6. Add in cut corn and sambal and sauté for 1 minute.
  7. Add in mirin rice wine and cover to continue cooking mussels for 1 minute.
  8. Add in butter and swirl in pan to slightly emulsify.

For plating: apply corn espuma into the center of a shallow bowl.  Spoon mussels on top of espuma and sprinkle with additional Korean chili flake and garnish with micro cilantro.

Connect with Our September Chef of the Month:

Shop Her Look!

Instagram: @penelopewong

Chef Penelope’s Pan Roasted Snapper Recipe


IMG_4536Our September Chef of the Month, Chef Penelope Wong, has shared with us a gourmet recipe for your next dinner party or event – her Pan-Roasted Red Snapper with Star Anise roasted Bok Choy, Radishes, and Dashi. This Asian-influenced dish offers mild, earthy flavors and sweetness blended with the nuttiness of red snapper. Follow the steps below to recreate Chef Penelope’s masterpiece for yourself!

Ingredients:

4-6 oz. skin-on red snapper fillet, scaled

8 oz. unsalted butter

2 bulbs bok choy, quartered

½ tsp. ground star anise

4 oz. roasted garlic oil

1 tsp soy

8 assorted radishes, cleaned and tops trimmed

4 oz. dashi broth

½ gallon cold water

16 oz. dried kombu seaweed

3 cups bonito flakes

1 shallot

4 oz pickled ginger

1 oz soy

6 oz Japanese mirin

Steps:

Dashi Broth

  1. Soak kombu in water over a very low flame for 1 hour.
  2. Add bonito flakes and increase heat slightly.
  3. Continue to simmer to 45 minutes and strain.
  4. In a separate stock pot, heat 1 tbsp sesame oil and saute minced shallot and pickled ginger.
  5. Add in soy and mirin, reduce by half.
  6. Add in strained bonito broth.
  7. Simmer 30 minutes – strain and plate.

Veggies

  1. Heat dashi broth in a small stock pot.
  2. Add in cleaned radishes and allow to simmer on low heat to poach the radishes for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  4. Marinate quartered bok choy in star anise, roasted garlic, and soy.
  5. Place in shallow baking pan and bake for 5-7 minutes, or until cooked through and browned.

Pan-roasted Red snapper

  1. Put 2 tbsp. olive oil in a high-heat well-seasoned saute pan.
  2. When oil starts to smoke, add fish fillets skin side down to sear,
  3. Sear 1 minute and flip with a fish spatula,
  4. Add in butter and start to baste the skin of the fish with the hot butter to crisp the skin,
  5. Continue to baste for 1-2 minutes, or until fish is cooked through and skin is browned and crisp,
  6. Plate pan-roasted red snapper on top of roasted bok choy (and wasabi whipped potatoes if desired). Ladle dashi broth around, garnishing with a few poached radishes.

Connect with Our September Chef of the Month:

Shop Her Look!

Instagram: @penelopewong

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