How to Dazzle Your Dinner Party Guests? A Charcuterie Spread May Be The Answer

Charcuterie - CookinGenie blog

26 Apr 2021

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How to Dazzle Your Dinner Party Guests? A Charcuterie Spread May Be The Answer

Whether it be displayed out at your dinner party, the beginning of date night, or accompanying your favorite bottle of wine, a charcuterie board is a perfect accouterment. Charcuterie (pronounced “shahrkyut-uh-ree) is the French word for the art of cookery dedicated to the preparation of preserved meats, typically pork. The name charcuterie dates back to 15th-century shops which sold many different styles of pork, from terrines and pâtés to hams and sausages. They also specialized in confit, another preservation style involving slowly cooking protein in its rendered fat, for other delicacies like foie gras, a preparation of fatty duck or goose liver. The chef that runs the establishment is referred to as a Charcutier. In a more modern French kitchen, charcuterie is typically handled by a Garde Manger, a chef who is in charge of cold items like salads, cold soups, fruit, and charcuterie.  

Before they got to dinner parties: the origins of Charcuterie 

Charcuterie started as a way of life for people who were looking to preserve what they had excess of. Someone could take and eat what they could fresh from their kill and smoke or cure what they couldn’t currently use or didn’t want to go bad. Early examples of American cookbooks have recipes for a preserved culinary survival food called Pemmican, which is a loaf of dried beef, berries, and tallow to form a high-energy, simple food source. This was introduced by Native Americans and then eventually adopted by European fur traders and then found its way to the arctic as it was easy to prepare and would last for a long time before going bad.  

In modern kitchens, when you see a charcuterie board on a dinner party menu, it refers to an artisan-level crafted assortment of meats and sometimes cheeses that seek to work as something to nibble on before the main course. It is often selected with the flavor profile of the wine, menu, or season in mind. In the summer, a cool and crisp Moscato will cut through a razor-thin slice of a rich prosciutto or serrano ham. Likewise, spicy dried chorizo or soppressata will help finish that bottle of bold, tannin-rich Cabernet Sauvignon on a cold winter night.  

In general, charcuterie typically has three main branches: whole-muscle, pâtés, and cured sausages. Whole muscle typically refers to a whole loin of muscle, cured in salt and sometimes spices. It can include anything from American Bacon, Prosciutto, Speck, Jamon Serrano, Country Ham, Pancetta, Bresaola, Cappocollo, Guanciale, and Lardo. Pâtés can be any type of culinary preparation of forcemeat, herbs, fats, and spices. The most famous one people would know by name is probably pâté de foie gras, made from the livers of fattened geese, but most cultures around the world have their own takes on meat-pastes. Cured sausages cover anything from the pepperonis and salamis that you find in your local deli to finely crafted dry-aged Spanish Chorizo or French Saucisson.  

Nowadays most specialty grocers, Mediterranean wine bars, and some high-end pubs will carry a varying assortment of curated meats and cheeses. In Cleveland, we even have access to locally made craft cheese and charcuterie. Places like The Brooklyn Cheese Shop and Astoria Cafe & Market, produce many varieties of their old-world preparations and recipes. If you are looking to assemble a charcuterie spread for your dinner party guests, CookinGenie can help. There are many Genies who can create this incredibly classy looking starter for your guests.  


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Gift an experience of Personal Chef - CookinGenie

10 Dec 2021

The holidays are upon us, and for some, it means it’s time to go out and buy the same old, same old gift cards and items for friends and family. Or does it? Rather than gifting the exact same thing every year or what everyone else is giving, why not give your family and friends a new gift experience that they can enjoy right in the comfort of their own home. You may find that you have started a new trend of gift-giving in your circle.  

CookinGenie Gift Card for Any Occasion

This year, it could be a great idea to consider giving a CookinGenie gift card to your friends and family for any special occasion. As much as we’ve moved back to more normal events in life, such as finally being able to gather to celebrate the holidays and important life milestones, there are still things in life that aren’t back to how it was before the pandemic. For example, family members with severe health conditions often don’t get to go out like they used to previously. In addition, many businesses are struggling with keeping up with demand due to supply chain issues and finding help. 

Reasons to Gift a CookinGenie Experience 

  1. It’s something that’s fun and unique. You can almost guarantee that your gift will be memorable and one-of-a-kind (unless there’s another CookinGenie lover in your circle of friends and family). 
  2. You’ll provide the gift recipient with a relaxing dining experience that they can enjoy whenever they need a night off. You’ll gift them a night of no cooking, dishes, or shopping. 
  3. A CookinGenie experience lets your gift recipient get a restaurant-quality meal at home without the hassle of visiting a restaurant. No looking for a parking spot or waiting on a table. 
  4. Not to mention that gifting a CookinGenie gift card may even result in the recipient giving you one in the future or inviting you to a gathering where they use a CookinGenie personal chef. 

CookinGenie Experience 

A CookinGenie gift card is the perfect gift this year as it offers a new experience while still being practical. Who doesn’t want to have a personal chef experience? You’ll be gifting them an evening of relaxation and great food. A CookinGenie experience starts by selecting a chef and a menu that the chef will prepare at the recipient’s home. Once they’ve decided on the details and checked out with their gift card code, the fun begins. The chef will shop for the fresh ingredients to cook that evening. Once they arrive at the house, they’ll start preparing the meal using the home’s pots, pans, and other necessary kitchen tools. The food will be served right away to get the freshest experience possible. After the chef is finished cooking the selected dishes, they’ll handle the kitchen clean-up leaving the gift card recipient the opportunity to relax and enjoy their meal without worrying about handling the clean-up at all.  

A Gift That Fits All Occasions 

Some ideas include: 

  • Special days: a CookinGenie gift card is the perfect gift to celebrate special days in your loved one’s life. They can get a special meal prepared specially for them in their home. 
  • Newlyweds: Couples that are newly married can enjoy a romantic dinner at home with their personal chef from CookinGenie. 
  • New Parents: Bringing home a newborn can be a busy time for first-time parents or even more experienced parents. A gift card from CookinGenie can give them a meal where they can indulge in some self-care while also balancing the new task of caring for a baby.  
  • Anniversaries: Celebrate any anniversary with a fresh meal prepared for you in your own home. Spark that romantic feeling for wedding anniversaries or have a congratulatory dinner for work or other anniversaries.  
  • Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve: Family get-togethers can be a lot of work. Why not make it a little easier on your family and friends by providing them a CookinGenie gift card that they can use for a special holiday meal.  
  • Birthday celebration: Everyone knows that one person that ends up cooking their own meal for their birthday. Or they choose to go out to a restaurant usually because they don’t have someone to cook for them or their loved one isn’t gifted in the kitchen. Why not change it up and give them a CookinGenie gift card? 
  • Newly moved: Moving to a new place can be a task that most people don’t relish. Why not give them the opportunity to relax with a personal chef for an evening?  
  • Buy a new house: Celebrating the purchase of a new home is always fun. Make your housewarming gift one that will delight their tastebuds. 
  • Bright light in the darkness: Some events in life are hard to go through. The loss of a loved one, medical diagnosis, or other adverse events may not need to be celebrated, but you can do something to help. Sometimes, a meal can be precisely what’s required to give comfort and hope for the future. 
  • Sometimes it’s just fun to give a gift. 

How to Gift a Personal Chef Experience from CookinGenie 

Giving a gift card for CookinGenie couldn’t be easier. Visit the CookinGenie gift card page. Once there, you’ll see a variety of gift card categories to find the perfect design to fit your gifting needs. You can have the gift card emailed or texted to the recipient with your personalized information. You can also print up the gift card to hand over in person. We offer a feature where you can add a message. Then, they’ll be able to use the gift card online to select a personal chef and dishes they’d like to enjoy. During checkout, they’ll need to apply the gift card code. That’s it.  

Questions or concerns about gifting a personal chef experience from CookinGenie? We’re happy to go over anything you’re not sure about or help you with purchasing a CookinGenie gift card for your gifts. Let us help you gift an experience rather than a boring gift card this year and for years to come. 

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Apple Pie_CookinGenie

12 Mar 2021

There are certain things that just evoke America 

 – Baseball. 

– Uncle Sam.  

– Corn fields.  

– Apple pie.  

 

But what if we told you one of these iconic symbols doesn’t really belong on the list? 

 Turns out there’s nothing all that American about apple pie. In fact, neither apples or pie originated in North America: the ancient Egyptians get the credit for creating pie, and modern apples originated in the mountains of Kazakhstan, then spread along the Silk Roads from Central Asia to Europe 

While early pies were made with meatEmily Upton, writing for Today I Found Out, reports that the first recorded apple pie recipe was from England way back in 1381. These early recipes bear little resemblance to the apple pies we know today—they rarely called for sugar (which was an expensive, luxury ingredient at that time) and came served in a pastry that went by the rather unappetizing name of “coffin.” This “coffin” was not meant to be eaten; it was really just a container to hold the filling, sort of the Middle Ages version of a paper plate. The first apple pie recipe that resembles the pie we know and loves today, with a sweetened filling and a lattice top, appeared in a 1514 Dutch cookbook. 

So how did apple pie—which is so deeply rooted in Europe—become synonymous with America? European-style apple trees arrived on American shores with the Jamestown colonists, who brought seeds and cuttings to plant in the New World. (And here’s a fun fact from What’s Cooking America: In Colonial times, apples were sometimes called winter bananas.) As colonists pushed westward, they brought apples with them. Upton credits Johnny Appleseed with cementing the apple as part of American folklore, as he roamed the frontier planting acres upon acres of apple orchards. By the 19th century, American farmers had planted and cross-pollinated trees to develop an astounding 14,000 different varieties of apples. And of course, many of those varieties were perfect for making pie. 

(Also ReadA Whirlwind Tour of US Barbecue)

Nearly as intriguing as the history of the apple in America is the history of the phrase “as American as apple pie. Upton cites a newspaper article in 1902 that said “no pie-eating people can be permanently vanquished” and a 1924 ad in the Gettysburg Times selling “New Lestz Suits that are as American as apple pie.” The phrase became such a part of the American fabric that by World War II, soldiers told journalists that they were fighting for “mom and apple pie.” 

Apple pie may have become a symbol of all that’s good about Americans, but there is a dessert that’s actually a better candidate for the title. While it might not have the same ring, a more apt phrase might be “As American as a blueberry cobbler.” Unlike the apple, blueberries—along with black cherries, strawberries, cranberries, and elderberries—are native to North America, and cobblers are a uniquely American creation. These fruit and pastry desserts, along with regional variations with such colorful names as Bettys, pandowdies, grunts, slumps, buckles, sonkers, crumbles, and crisps were created by early American settlers who turned to the simple ingredients they had on hand to create satisfying desserts. Nevertheless, it’s apple pie that became the apple of Americans’ eyes. 

At CookinGenie, we’ve recently added fresh homemade desserts to our menu and naturally, our choices include an all-American apple pie. Genie Brande Colson folds tart green apples and warm spices into a flaky, golden, homemade crust. She can even make a gluten-free variety. Cap off your next CookinGenie visit with a slice of this wholesome, rustic goodness—we can’t think of a better way to end a home-cooked meal. 

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15 Mar 2020

Most of us feel pretty confident in our ability to read labels and know what we’re putting into our bodies. But sometimes, understanding food labels can be daunting. We feel like we need PHDs in food science. Did you know, for example, that there are 61 ways in which sugar can be described on food labels? Surprised? We thought as much.

The FDA requires that ingredients be listed by weight in all packaged foods. Most of us are savvy enough to realize that the ingredients are listed from greatest to least, but there may be more than one form of sugar in the packaging. Bottomline, when you read food labels, be sure to understand everything that is listed. If you recognized all the ways in which sweeteners are put in packaged foods, you can make an informed choice about what you are buying.

In a recent article published by UCSF it was revealed that manufacturers add sugar to 74% of packaged foods. Consumers expect sugar to be added to dessert type items like cookies and cakes, but many are shocked to find out that otherwise “healthy” foods such as yogurt, breakfast bars, and juice often contain sugar. In some packaged foods, multiple sweeteners are used with different names.

So how can you be sure what you’re eating is healthy? Well the FDA is considering revising the guidelines for how food labels are created to help people better understand what they are putting in their bodies. But industry wide changes take time.

We, at CookinGenie, started our business with the core value that cooking from scratch is the healthiest way to eat. However, not all of us have the time to cook from scratch. If you fall in that bucket, consider CookinGenie. Our Genies are here to cook from scratch in your own kitchens. We choose only the freshest ingredients from your neighborhood groceries and prepare your food right in front of you in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Enough suspense on the 61 names for sugar though. Here they are:

1. Agave nectar,
2. Barbados sugar,
3. Barley malt,
4. Barley malt syrup,
5. Beet sugar,
6. Brown sugar,
7. Buttered syrup,
8. Cane juice,
9. Cane juice crystals,
10. Cane sugar,
11. Caramel,
12. Carob syrup,
13. Castor sugar,
14. Coconut palm sugar,
15. Coconut sugar,
16. Confectioner’s sugar,
17. Corn sweetener,
18. Corn syrup,
19. Corn syrup solids,
20. Date sugar,
21. Dehydrated cane juice,
22. Demerara sugar,
23. Dextrin,
24. Dextrose,
25. Evaporated cane juice,
26. Free-flowing brown sugars,
27. Fructose,
28. Fruit juice,
29. Fruit juice concentrate,
30. Glucose,
31. Glucose solids,
32. Golden sugar,
33. Golden syrup,
34. Grape sugar,
35. HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup),
36. Honey,
37. Icing sugar,
38. Invert sugar,
39. Malt syrup,
40. Maltodextrin,
41. Maltol,
42. Maltose,
43. Mannose,
44. Maple syrup,
45. Molasses,
46. Muscovado,
47. Palm sugar,
48. Panocha,
49. Powdered sugar,
50. Raw sugar,
51. Refiner’s syrup,
52. Rice syrup,
53. Saccharose,
54. Sorghum syrup,
55. Sucrose,
56. Sugar (granulated),
57. Sweet sorghum,
58. Syrup,
59. Treacle,
60. Turbinado sugar,
61. Yellow sugar

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