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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Chicken Tacos

25 Nov 2020

When thinking about famous foods from around the world, some key dishes come to mind. We’re willing to bet Mexican cuisine ranks high on many people’s lists, with tacos at the top. But, have you ever stopped to wonder how the tasty taco came to be?  

It turns out, the history of the taco is as colorful and varied as the taco fillings themselves.  

Tacos as we know them today were believed to have started in the 1800s as the humble lunch of Mexican silver miners. The word “taco” translates to “plug” or “wad” – reflecting the small sticks of dynamite used in the mines.  

There is evidence, however, that the taco’s origins began much earlier.  

It is believed that the Aztecs invented tortillas using masa cooked on hot stones. The Aztec emperor, Montezuma, used the tortillas like a spoon to scoop or hold food such as cochineal, beans, and chiles. The word “taco” stems from the Nahuatl word “tlahco,” meaning “half” or “in the middle” in reference to how it is formed. 

(Also ReadMade to Cook: The Cooking Hypothesis)

Early taco fillings were simple and reflected what was available, such as fishcooked organs, small insects, ants, locusts, and snails. It wasn’t until the 1500s, when Spanish soldiers arrived in Mexico with pigs from Cuba, that pork was introduced as a filling and served at large banquets (the first “taco parties” as documented in 1520 by Bernal Diaz del Castillo, a Spanish soldier sailing with Hernan Cortes). From here, the taco spread across the “New World” as a staple food 

Whether crediting the Aztecs or silver miners, the taco is a dish woven through the fabric of Mexican cuisine. 

Into America & Beyond 

Portable and easy to eat, tacos became a primary meal of the working class. In time, street food vendors filled soft corn tortillas with a simple, spicy filling to offer workers on their breaks. Around 1905, this delicious and practical meal crossed the border into the United States when Mexican laborers moved north to work on the railroads.  

It wasn’t until the 1920s that the traditional filling of organs was replaced by beef and chicken. In addition, lettuce, tomato, and cheddar cheese became standard fillings in America  this fusion brought forth by the availability of American ingredients and a more subtle palate.   

While some may prefer more traditional preparation, today, tacos in America include a vibrant blend of traditional Mexican flavors combined with new ingredients and influences from around the globe – a fusion of flavors to satiate a wide variety of tastes.  

Need further evidence of the taco’s cult-like following? In 2019, Netflix released the first season of Taco Chronicles, a docuseries that explores the rich histories of popular taco styles. From barbacoa to carnitas, cochinita to birria, and many others, watch this mouth-watering series on your next taco night.  

Whatever fillings you like, tacos are arguably one of the most-loved foods in the world. Whether you prefer vegetarian sweet potato and black bean, or chicken, pork or beef, CookinGenie offers fresh, authentic home-cooked Mexican-styled tacos to make every night taco night. We cook from scratch with wholesome ingredients, right in your kitchen. Whether meal prepping or organizing a small dinner party, our Genies can help create a taco bar like no other, connecting you back to hundreds of years of tradition and fusion of cultures through food.  

 

Sources 

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Aphrodisiac Recipes for Valentine’s Day - CookinGenie Blog

14 Feb 2022

You’ve heard the word aphrodisiac before, and often, the first thing that comes to mind is something like oysters. But, truth be told, there are actually more foods that are considered aphrodisiac or aphrodisiac recipes to help you and your partner get in the mood this Valentine’s Day and beyond.

What is an Aphrodisiac?

Aphrodisiacs are foods that are believed to help stimulate human desire. As eating a great meal is always a pleasurable experience, these foods are thought to go a step further in heightening sexual emotions.

Historically, there are five different types of aphrodisiacs and why they are said to arouse passion.

  1. Exotic foods were thought to be erotic because they were rare and expensive compared to more everyday foods in the past.
  2. Spicy hot foods were thought to fire up passion through their spicey heat, while more bland foods were said to have the opposite effect.
  3. Foods that resemble the sexy parts of your body were also thought to be aphrodisiacs, such as oysters and asparagus.
  4. In addition, eating reproductive parts of animals, such as caviar, was believed to be an aphrodisiac.
  5. Finally, foods that were to stimulate your senses were also considered to be aphrodisiacs. When you eat, you’re doing more than just fueling your body. You’re engaging your senses. You’ll use sight, scent, touch, and taste during a meal, and it’s believed that these foods help heighten your sensual feelings through these senses.

While scientifically speaking, no studies have been done to examine the claims that these foods work to increase your libido, it can be a more personal experience that helps spark a fire. Food works to create a pleasant atmosphere, and that can be enough to help stimulate your evening. Keep in mind what helps to create a more romantic evening will depend on the person. Someone that can’t stand seafood probably will not appreciate your attempt to use oysters to stimulate their senses, while chocolate may be more of a boon than you realize this Valentine’s Day.

Examples of Aphrodisiacs and Aphrodisiac Recipes:

  • Chocolate: Between the taste and how the silkiest chocolate melts in your mouth, it’s easy to see why chocolate has made the cut on this list. Chocolate can help to make anyone feel good. Don’t forget that this Valentine’s Day, when you book with CookinGenie, you’ll receive a complimentary Chocolate Mousse to enjoy after your dinner. If Chocolate Mousse isn’t exciting, you can also try the Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Bars or the Red Velvet Cupcakes with Creamy Frosting.
  • Asparagus: Asparagus is a healthy food that offers plenty of potassium and vitamin E, which are both excellent for helping to improve overall health and sexual health. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it’s shaped rather conveniently to be added to this list. For your Valentine’s Day menu, you may want to try Garlic Butter Steak Bites with Oven Roasted Potatoes and Asparagus or the Lemon-Herb Salmon with Parmesan Crusted Asparagus and Mashed Potatoes.
  • Finger Foods: There’s something sensual about finger foods that adds them to this list. Not using utensils and being able to feed each other easily helps to give this food an added layer of allure. Charcuterie can be a fun addition to your Valentine’s Day dinner.
  • Hot Peppers: When you want to kick things up a notch for your palate, hot peppers like jalapenos can be great for adding hot flavors to any recipe. Thanks to the capsaicin in the peppers that give them that spicy effect, your heart rate increases, your endorphins start pumping, and it stimulates your nerve-endings. All-in-all sounds like a great time! Here are some tremendous CookinGenie options that feature peppers: Jalapeno’s Cheddar Cornbread, Baked Lemon Wings With A Kick And Homemade Ranch, and Veggie Pad Thai.
  • Brussel Sprouts: Before you dismiss these little green balls, Brussel sprouts have a lot to offer regarding male libido. These tasty guys have Indole-3-carbinol, which helps reduce estrogen in men and helps to spark desire. Some choice dishes that feature these humble veggies include Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Stuffed Salmon with Roasted Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts.

Setting the Right Mood

Now that you’ve got an idea of some of the best meals to add to your Valentine’s Day, the next thing to consider is how to set the right mood for your special dinner. Although you’re at home, that doesn’t mean that you can bring the romantic restaurant feel to your house. So think about how you can go about setting the right mood.

One of the things that romantic restaurants offer is the ambiance. Music, lighting, and more combine to create the perfect Valentine’s Day dinner atmosphere. Pick out romantic selections for the music you and your special someone enjoy. Classical music, R&B, jazz, and other musical selections can work. You’ll also want to find ways to mute your lighting. You may need to add some candles around the table if you don’t have a dimmer switch. Plus, you can add a nice tablecloth on the table from vintage lace that’s a family heirloom or go with a classic Italian restaurant-style red and white checked cloth.

Another thing to consider is plating. The way that your food is presented helps to evoke being in a nice restaurant. It’s time to break out your fine china and silverware to add to the ambiance. Slopping food on the plate doesn’t add to the presentation. You’ll want to plate it carefully, so you’re not ignoring one of the most important senses of sight when it comes to eating.

Let CookinGenie Help Your Valentine’s Day

Give CookinGenie a try this Valentine’s day with these dishes featuring these aphrodisiac recipes. You and your special someone will dine on a meal specially prepared in your kitchen by a professional chef. Make Valentine’s Day a special day where you won’t have to worry about shopping, cooking, or even having to clean the kitchen afterward—leaving you with plenty of time to enjoy the rest of your date night. Check out these fun dishes and more on the CookinGenie website to find the perfect Valentine’s Day meal, whether you believe in the effects of aphrodisiacs or not.

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26 Oct 2019

So many people fight the traffic and come home from work tired and hungry. You want to feed your family well but the idea of chopping and prepping a real meal for your family is daunting. Add hungry kids to the formula and it’s a bigger challenge. Decision time. Few, if any, good options.

Restaurants on a weeknight? Pack the family in the minivan, wait for your table with hungry tired kids. Then you’re presented with a menu & it’s hard to stick to healthy options. You leave after eating foods you’d be better off avoiding, and likely paid more than you planned on spending. The evening is done & that homework still needs done. Or else, a green slip is headed your way from the teacher.

You could opt for home delivery like pizza, which is always a crowd pleaser. But you can’t feed your family pizza 4 times a week. Now there are options like Uber Eats, Doordash or GrubHub to help. Those help fill a gap on a busy night but it’s far from a long term solution. You’re going to blow your budget on delivery fees and once again your feeding your family less than healthy options.

Prepared meals are the go-to for a lot of busy folks. Many grocery stores offer meal kits or premade options. Although they are slightly healthier than pizza, you’re likely to get burnt out quickly on the limited menu options week after week. Most stores offer 3-5 options for this, and even if they are healthy and budget friendly and easy to cook, you’re going to find yourself dying for a little variety on your plate.

Of course, there are meal kit delivery choices. This eliminates some work, with less grocery shopping and expanded menu choices. But they tend to be light on the leftovers and they don’t really free up your time. The menu might be decided, but you’re still the one chopping and cooking after a long day of work. Not to mention the pile of dishes waiting for you after dinner. They also don’t eliminate grocery shopping all together. You’re still going to be heading to the store every few days for staples like milk and fruit. And those subscriptions don’t manage themselves make sure to set an alarm on your phone to set your menu every week, and don’t forget about when the auto withdraw comes out of your bank account.

Cooked & frozen meal delivery services are an option. But even though you might be ordering your food based on beautifully plated pictures on a website, what you receive is going to look more like something from a cafeteria. Of course, it’s still chef prepared and that alone might be a big step up if you aren’t yourself a culinary master. Just don’t forget to budget for delivery fees here too. And the meals are shipped from afar in bulky boxes. Who knows when they were cooked?

Grocery delivery services like insta cart are good way to keep your fridge stocked with all the healthy options you want to have on hand. But they can’t give you the motivation to cook at the end of a long day.

Give our Genies a try. Schedule an in home cooking session with them. They will shop, cook & clean up after themselves. You are left to enjoy fresh home cooked meals – except you don’t have to do the cooking.

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