27 Oct 2021
CookinGenie is a novel concept which fits aptly with the needs of modern living while preserving the traditional experience of eating.
26 Apr 2021
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 “shahr–kyut-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.
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.
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 Read – Made to Cook: The Cooking Hypothesis)
Early taco fillings were simple and reflected what was available, such as fish, cooked 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.
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.
19 May 2021
In my time as a chef, I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the world and immerse myself in different cultures and cuisines. I’ve learned from amazing local chefs how to prepare traditional dishes and have been awestruck by the sensational flavors that can be found across the globe. Now, with CookinGenie, I can bring those experiences into your home, so that you can feel some of the same wonder I did.
While living on the small island of Bermuda, I learned from my Jamaican co-workers the secrets behind making Jerk sauce, the nuanced, spicy-tangy condiment that they slather over grilled chicken, pork, shrimp, and other meats and vegetables. I fell in love with the sauce and its big, bold flavors, and now offer a jerk chicken on my menu, complete with a sweet plantain puree and fluffy coconut rice.
On a trip to South America, I met a local chef in a sleepy beachside town in Peru. After a brief conversation, she took me down to the local fish market where we picked out a gorgeous seabass that was caught that morning. We went back to her kitchen and she showed me how to make ceviche, carefully dicing the fish and marinating it with lime, cilantro, and onion, allowing the acid from the lime to gently cook the fish. The dish was so bright and crisp and refreshing; it was unlike anything I’ve ever had before. It stuck in my memory so much that it’s now the inspiration behind the ceviche found on my menu; red snapper tossed with lime, fire-roasted pineapple, habanero, and coconut milk.
When I was studying abroad in Singapore, I was blessed to partake in an immersive month-long course on Southeast Asian cuisine. I was taught by distinguished Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian chefs how to use spices to build layers of flavor, how to cook in a wok, and how to prepare a dizzying array of noodle dishes. Today, that knowledge is reflected on my menu by a rich Indian butter chicken and a simple yet delicious Chinese-inspired dish of stir-fried veggies in a sweet chili sauce.
A few weeks later, I spent ten days learning from a Thai chef who had mastered the cuisine. She showed me how to grind aromatic herbs and spices into vibrant, colorful curry pastes. I learned to make classic Thai street foods like chicken satay, pineapple fried rice, and of course, the beloved noodle dish, Pad Thai. With CookingGenie, all of these favorites can be made in your own kitchen.
After Thailand, I traveled to Vietnam and walked the streets of Saigon, sampling various delicacies from busy roadside vendors. The bun cha, sweet-savory pork patties cooked on charcoal grills and served with a tangy dipping sauce, were a revelation for me, and I hope they will be for you too.
As a genie, I get the joy of reliving those experiences with each dish I cook. I apply the knowledge I’ve learned and deliver every plate with love and passion. I hope to honor those around the world who so graciously opened their hearts and kitchens to me, by sharing what they taught me, with you.
So, if you’re curious and if you want to take a trip around the culinary world without leaving your own home, give CookinGenie a try, and taste the possibilities.