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.  


Related Post

28 Oct 2019

In our previous posts, we talked about how challenging it is to manage all our daily priorities (life, work, kids….) & still cook healthy meals from scratch.

Healthy eating can be a controversial topic. There are so many options today between organic, vegan, paleo and keto, all claiming to be healthy and offering a totally different perspective on health. It’s easy to get overwhelmed looking for guidelines. Most of us can agree that heavily processed foods, starch, carbs, and lots of fried options, is a far cry from a healthy diet. Let’s break it down and look at what the experts say.

What did Mom and Dad say?

Things like “clean your plate” and “Eat your veggies”. It’s true that eating healthy sustaining foods helps to balance your blood sugar; and therefore, helps to stabilize your mood. But portion sizes in America have gone off the deep end. No one needs to clean their plate if their plate is a platter. In general, most experts agree that a serving size is roughly equivalent to the palm of your hand. Now as for the veggies, that’s a message we can all agree on. No one is going to argue you’ll gain weight or decline in health by piling on the greens. Way to go Mom and Dad.

What does the Government say?

Well that depends on when you ask. In the 40’s there were 7 food groups recommended. In the 70’s they reduced it to 4. Then turned it into a pyramid in the 90’s and now we have the “my plate” icon. The new icon suggests that we should eat a balance of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and milk. The government guidelines have changed over the years as science has evolved and our understanding of nutrition has changed. Of course, they are also influenced by industry and culture trends. But balance has always been the resounding message, eat a variety of foods, and eat in moderation.

What does your Doctor say?

This might be a great source for a more personalized direction. As he or she can assess your personal medical history and challenges. They can consider your blood work, your family’s history of heart disease or diabetes, any food allergies you may have or possible interactions with medications you may be on. But overall the general recommendation from the medical field is fewer processed foods, more fruits, whole grains (whole wheat) veggies, and proteins, keeping sugar, starch (e.g. flour, potato) and fat in moderation.

So what DOES healthy eating really look like?

We’ve looked at a variety of “experts” and we’ve received a bunch of different answers. How can we move forward? It’s not as overwhelming as it might seem. The best advice is to look for the common threads. Although the focus and motivations of these people are different, there are a few things they are saying that are the same. Eat a variety of nutrient rich foods. Avoid excess sugar and overly processed ingredients. Of course the best way to know what’s on your plate, is to prepare your own food from scratch. Nutrient rich meals are made with simple ingredients and if you are what you eat, what’s on your plate matters. The next best way is to get someone to prepare it for you under your direction. This is where CookinGenie can come to your home & create home cooked meals for you to enjoy. We shop, we cook & we clean. Try us out.

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Delicious Gluten Free Meals with CookinGenie

06 Jul 2021

The Challenge of Eating Gluten Free

For many Americans, trying to find good gluten free meals is a never-ending struggle. It’s estimated that about 30% of Americans follow a gluten free diet. A small number of these people have celiac disease, a rare disorder that causes violent illness after consuming products with gluten, but many others avoid gluten due to more minor sensitivities or to improve overall health.

Whatever your reason for seeking out gluten free meals, there’s no doubt it can be challenging. Today, as the popularity of gluten free diets have risen, it is easier to find gluten free foods, but there can still be many obstacles.

Many restaurants still don’t offer very many gluten free options on their menus, or menus don’t have specific dietary labels, which can make it hard for diners to distinguish which items are safe to order. Even in the grocery store, unless an item is clearly marked as gluten free, it can be hard to read labels and determine what is actually gluten free or not.

CookinGeine Has Plenty of Delicious Gluten Free Menu Items

This dynamic can make trying to cook gluten free meals at home difficult. Luckily, CookinGenie can service all your gluten free meal needs and then some! Scroll through the menus of our many talented genies, and you’ll find plenty of healthy, delicious gluten free meals available.

Treat yourself to a heart-healthy, gluten free meal of Pan-Seared Salmon over Creamed Spinach, courtesy of genie Lashondre’a Lenor. Or if you’re looking for an elegant gluten free chicken dinner, look no further than the delightful Lemon-Rosemary Cornish Hens found on genie Dylan Tompkin’s menu.

And if you also follow a vegan diet, (we have plenty of vegan food too) there are still plenty of delicious gluten free meals to be found on CookinGenie, such as genie Vanessa Cahoun’s amazing Jamaican Vegetable Curry or genie Ozelm Saritoprak’s authentic Turkish Stuffed Grape Leaves.

Our Genies go the Extra Mile to Create Gluten Free Dishes

Our genies take care to carefully select their ingredients to be accommodating to many different dietary restrictions. Take, for example, genie Jared Kent’s vibrant Pad Thai, which uses gluten free soy sauce, opening up dishes to gluten free eaters that might not normally be available.

Amazingly, that even goes for dessert! It’s notoriously hard to find good gluten free desserts, but CookinGenie has you covered. You can get your fix for a gluten free chocolate craving with genie Lamont Denny’s addicting Chocolate Caramel Turtles or genie Christian Farah’s decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Bars.

Each dish is marked with tags that explicitly note if that item is gluten free, so there’s no guesswork involved. But even if you see a dish that’s not marked as gluten free, there’s a good chance if you give us a call, we can work with your genie to adjust it to your preferences. Often times all it takes is swapping out flour or pasta for a gluten free alternative. Our genies are skilled adapters and are happy to go above and beyond to satisfy their customers.

Eating gluten free can be tough; let CookinGenie make it a little easier, and a little more delicious.

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Meal Kits vs. Personal Chef – Which is right for you-CookinGenie

12 Aug 2021

In this day and age, there are seemingly endless options to feed ourselves. One popular method is the do-it-yourself meal kits. There are hundreds of companies offering this service; therefore, a variety of options.

Another option, personal chef services, are gaining traction and becoming a trend for their unique and incredible dining experiences.

Today we compare and contrast the two most amazing services here.

Meal Kits:

 We talked to one of our friends about her experience with certain popular meal delivery services.

We asked her if the experience of using a meal kit was easier, tastier, healthier, and cheaper than the companies advertise?

Overall, she said she had a positive experience with the service. There’s a great collection of healthy, fresh dishes. The boxes came with conveniently sized, pre-portioned ingredients and straightforward, easy-to-follow recipes that came together in 45 minutes or less. It was much quicker and easier than meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking for yourself.

She could customize her orders to have more or fewer meals per box. As soon as the next day, the boxed food would arrive at her door. The service accommodates those with allergies and dietary restrictions, with plenty of vegetarian, vegan, keto, gluten-free, and paleo options.

When the boxes arrive, the ingredients are of good quality and taste, but it depends on the expertise of the person cooking. She spends about sixty dollars a week to get six meals. Some premium items cost a little more, but generally, you can expect to pay about 10 dollars per meal. It is a bit more cost-effective than eating out.

She also mentioned that the ingredients come with excess packaging, leaving boxes, plastic sleeves, and disposable containers. Occasionally boxes come with missing ingredients or items that are wilted, moldy, or otherwise spoiled.

For her and her family, the portion sizes are mostly sufficient. There are no leftovers.

Finally, while the dishes are simple and easy to make, she has to cook herself. She spends about 45 minutes cooking a typical dish from the box and about another half hour or so cleaning up afterward.

Personal Chef Service:

Personal chefs have been around for a long time. Traditionally used by the rich and famous, now there are more options for affordable personal chef services. Personal chefs provide many helpful services. Some chefs specialize in meal prep for busy families, while some create special occasion multi-course meals for an in-home dining experience for you and your guests. The costs vary depending on the special occasion and the amount of food needed. Meal prepping is comparable to Meal kits, whereas the multi-course meals will depend on the number of guests and the number of courses on the menu.

Personal chefs shop groceries for you, come to your house, and cook for you right in your kitchen. After cooking, they clean up after themselves. With a personal chef, you can customize your meals based on your dietary needs. They can take care of meal prep for the family and create a custom menu for your dinner party as well. They hand-select the ingredients and cook them in front of you. Quality and fresh food are always a priority. With a personal chef, you don’t spend time cooking or cleaning up. Time-saving is a huge bonus.

Personal chefs are gaining traction as more and more people are working longer hours and have demanding lives. People are focused on health and also looking for enriching experiences. The focus is not only fresh, wholesome food, but a personal chef strives to provide a unique dining experience for you, your family, and your friends.

Conclusion:

In the above, we discussed both meal kit service and personal chef service. Let us know in the comment section, which services are your favorite and why.

If you are​ planning to host a dinner party or looking for an unique dining experience with a personal chef, please​ try CookinGenie.

Personal chef service by CookinGenie:

CookinGenie offers a wide variety of delicious foods from different cuisines, in family-friendly sizes. Like these services, they are very accommodating of allergies and dietary restrictions. They tailor a meal to fit your exact needs. You can use the website to book a chef, pick out the menu, schedule a time, and pay in just a few clicks. The chefs (‘genies’) are friendly, professional, and lend a personal touch to your dining experience. With a varied lineup of talented home cooks and trained professional chefs on the platform, CookinGenie strives to provide a delicious wow factor. When you order from CookinGenie, you are supporting a local family-run business and local chefs. If you’re looking for an easy, affordable way to have fresh, healthy meals while saving time, personal chefs provided by CookinGenie are worth a try! Book your chef here.

 

Written by:  Jared Kent

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