Eat Your Veggies Gravy

A healthier and even tastier version of a classic gravy and be made for Beef, Chicken, Pork, and even Turkey.  There is no need to add any extra fat. Instead of slathering your chicken or turkey with butter lightly brush with a little oil and prepare as usual. Same goes with the beef or pork. Cut up a couple of carrots, celery stalks and slice an onion.  Rest your poultry or meat on top and roast.  When the meat is done remove from the roasting pan and transfer to a cutting board.  Loosely cover with some aluminum foil.  

While the meat is resting push the vegetables through a food mill/mouley or strainer.  Seperate the excess fat from the cooking liquids.  Add the liquids and vegetables to a blender and whiz away. If you have a hand blender you can place the liquid and vegetables to a bowl and puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Usually there is no need to add extra. You will have a delicous and VEGETABLE packed gravy sure to please everyone.

Dinner Party for Two Special!

For a limited time, we are offering a superb discounted dinner for two, which includes your own private chef to prepare and serve a starter salad, main course, and dessert.  You choose from a special menu created specifically for this great deal.


One of our Personal Chefs will travel to your specified location, prepare and serve your special meal, clean up and leave for you to enjoy the rest of your time together.

Halibut with Avocado SauceCaesar SaladFresh Fruit Tartlett

This special makes a great gift!  When payment is received we will create a specific voucher for you to give and to be redeemed at a later date for no additional fee.

The price including the foods AND the chef for this limited time special is $299.99.  Just choose your selections and we are set to go!


For more information, availability and restrictions, email us at:; Or call us at: 954-367-YADA (9232).  A fuel surcharge may apply.  Tip is not included in pricing.

Family Cookie Party

Do you have fond memories of those favorite cookies that no will make anymore? You probably not only miss them, you also miss the tradition.

How about a Family Cookie Party!!!!!

You provide two to three recipes (depending on how complex). — Go to the attic and pull out those old family recipes! 

We will plan, shop and do ALL the preparation for your family (or just kids) baking party. The party usually takes less than an hour (kids baking is sometimes closer to two hours).

YaDa Chef provides the ingredients and you provide the equipment (we bring oven thermometers to ensure your cookies are baked properly). There will be enough cookies for the party and some to store in the freezer for Christmas.

*** Disclaimer. Often grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, mom, dad, will omit an ingredient in “their” recipe to ensure no one else can make it. Please be sure and have the best copy of the recipe available. ***

The cost for Cookie Party is $90 with up to five family members. Availability is limited. Terms and restrictions apply. This specially priced holiday Family Cookie Party is only good through the month of December 2016. 

For more information, contact us at 954-367-YADA (9232) or

Orange Chipotle Turkey & Wild Rice Fruit Stuffing

The thought of Thanksgiving brings visions of a Norman Rockwell painting, with a table laden with all of the traditional foods. Over the past decade or so there have been those that did their best to change those traditions by not having turkey as the star.  I however am not one of those people.  In my world unless you are a vegan or vegetarian it is de rigueur to consume turkey. This does not however mean I am against “playing with the recipes”.  As a chef, this is what I love to do. Below is a fun way  to stick with the basics while making it a bit healthier, giving it a flair of elegance and keeping it gluten free.


12 - 15lb/5.54-6.8 kg  Fresh Turkey

3 carrots, cut in half lengthwise and widthwise making an elongated half circle

2 stalks celery, cut into 4 pieces each

1 large onion cut into 6 wedges

turkey neck and giblets


kitchen twine

large piece of foil to cover bird, oiled and dusted with flour, or cornstarch if going gluten free


Zest of 4 large oranges

¼ cup/59ml brown sugar

2 tablespoons/30ml minced garlic

2 tablespoons/30ml dry mustard

2 tablespoons/30ml ground cumin

1 tablespoon/15ml dried Italian seasoning

1 tablespoon 15ml ground chipotle

2 tablespoons/30ml sea salt

2 tablespoons/30ml canola oil, divided


1 cup/225 ml mahogany rice

1 cup/225ml long grain brown rice

4 ½ cups/10.65 dl water

1 teaspoon/5ml sea salt

1 teaspoon/5ml canola oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

¼ cup/59ml dried cranberries

¼ cup/59ml chopped dried apricots

1 teaspoon/5ml chopped fresh sage

¼ teaspoon/5ml dry or fresh thyme leaves

In a large sauce pot bring water to a boil add salt and mahogany rice. Lower heat to medium, letting rice cook for 10 minutes.

In the mean time heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom.  Add onion and celery to the pan, saute for 3-4 minutes until the onion becomes translucent and celery is softening. Remove from heat.  Pour brown rice and softened vegetables to the mahogany rice.  Stir to combine, raise heat to bring back to a boil, lower the heat to low. Cover the rice and simmer for 30 minutes or rice is cooked. Remove from heat draining any liquid. Stir in dried fruits, sage and thyme. Allow to cool.

Pre-heat oven to 450F/232C/GM 8

Remove neck and giblets from turkey cavity. Rinse the turkey well under running water. Pat dry.  Season the  turkey cavity with 2 tablespoons/30ml rub. Stuff turkey with cooled rice/fruit mixture. Skewer the flap of skin shut over the stuffed cavity. Bind the legs together with the length of twine to keep them close to the sides. Place the, giblets, the neck, cut carrots, onion and celery in the bottom of a roasting pan large enough to fit turkey creating a base for the turkey to sit on without touching the bottom of the pan. Drizzle dried rinsed and stuffed  turkey with 1 tablespoon/15ml oil. Pat the remaining rub on the turkey skin, rubbing it in to cover all of the turkey. Place a piece of foil large enough to cover the turkey sealing the edges around the roasting pan. Be sure to leave a gap not letting the foil touch the turkey. Place the turkey in the pre-heated oven. Lower the heat to 325F/162C/GM 3. Roast for 3/12 - 4 hours basting every 45 minutes.  Remove foil, untruss the legs to allow for browning. Check the breast temperature it should read approximately 125F/52C.  Roast uncovered for another 30 minutes to 1 hour. The leg at the thickest point and the stuffing should reach a temperature of 165F/74C.

Remove the bird, neck and giblets to a carving board and let sit for 15-20 minutes.  While bird is resting pour pan juices and vegetables in a blender. Cover tightly and blend for a healthy and tasty gravy.

Roast Pheasant with Cabbage and Turkey Bacon

Roast Pheasant, Pheasant, Game, Hunting, Holidays, Thanksgiving, Cabbage, Bacon, Onsite Catering, Personal chef, Miami chef, fort lauderdale chef, villa chef, Organic, All natural

Roast Pheasant

Most game is delicious on its own.  Nothing is added by smothering or drowning it in sauces or strong flavours.  Classics are classic for a reason.  Bacon, juniper berries, onion, leeks, cabbage and even sauerkraut seem to work best with most game.

Roast Pheasant with Cabbage and Turkey Bacon

Pheasant is still hunted with good results.  If you are not likely to head into the woods, process and “hang” one yourself, and most are not, find yourself a reputable butcher that keeps a variety of game in stock.  Free range birds are an excellent choice and much less work.  Be prepared game birds in the USA unlike in most countries is a bit expensive and therefore a treat, but we all deserve treats.  Pheasants have a surprising amount of meat.  A 4-5 pound/1.8-2.2kg bird will easily serve 4-6 people.

Serves 4-6

1 onion cut into quarters

1 stalk celery cut into quarters

2 carrots sliced in half vertically and horizontally

Roast Pheasant, Pheasant, Game, Hunting, Holidays, Thanksgiving, Cabbage, Bacon, Onsite Catering, Personal chef, Miami chef, fort lauderdale chef, villa chef, Organic, All natural, YaDa Chef

1 4-5 pound/1.8-2.2kg pheasant

1 tablespoon/15ml YaDa Maya Natural Sea Salt (divided)

1/2 tablespoon/7ml fresh ground black pepper (divided)

2 knobs butter

1/4 teaspoons/1ml dried tarragon

1 bunch of parsley

6 pieces of turkey bacon, cut into quarters

1 medium sized head white cabbage (sub savoy)

2 ounces/1/4 cup/60ml red pepper jelly

1/2  cup/125ml stock, or dry white wine

Pre-heat oven to 375F/190C/Gas 5

Place the cut vegetables in the bottom of a roasting pan.  Dry the pheasant inside and pat outside dry.  Season the cavity liberally with salt and pepper.  Place one knob of butter in the cavity.  Add the thyme and parsley to the cavity.  Rub the 2nd knob of butter over the entire bird , then season with remaining salt and pepper.  Drape the bacon pieces over the bird covering as much of the breast, wings and thighs as possible. You can tie it with string if you wish, but it is not necessary.  Place the bird on one side using the vegetables to balance it.  Cut the cabbage roughly into bite sized pieces.  Surround the bird with the cut cabbage.  Place the roasting pan carefully in the oven making sure not to knock over the bird.  Roast for 15 minutes.  Turn it on its other side and roast for 15 more minutes.  Turn the bird breast side up and brush with red pepper jelly on the breast and sides.  Pour the wine into the pan. Return the pan to the oven, roasting for 20-25 minutes.  Test for doneness by piercing the thigh near the leg joint.  Juices should run a pale pink and leg should move freely.  If they juices run clear--your bird is over cooked and will be dry.  Thighs should register 165F/74C.

Remove the bird to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes to redistribute the juices.  Place Cabbage on a serving platter.  Remove the vegetables to a mouli/food mill and push them through, mixing with the pan drippings  or put into a food processor with the juices and whiz until smooth.  This is your gravy.

Potato Crust Pizza - Gluten Free!

Here is a different type of pizza.  A gluten free styled pizza if you will... Interesting, different, and a crowd pleaser. 

Who wouldn't like the equivalent of a potato chip pizza?  Try it and amaze the kid in everyone.

Potato Crust Pizza Recipe

Makes (1) 16 inch 41 centimeter thin crust pizza

2-2 ½ lb/900-1215g potatoes, slice thin on the mandolin into rounds*

corn or potato starch for dusting the rounds

1 tsp/5ml YaDa Chef’s Maya Natural Sea Salt

1 tsp/5ml fresh ground black pepper

¼ cup/59ml Parmesan cheese (optional)

1 tbsp/15ml olive oil to drizzle over potatoes

2 cloves garlic, sliced thin

Toppings of your choice

Pre-heat oven to 45oF/232C/GasMark 8

After slicing the potatoes place in a large bowl cover with cold water, swish around, drain repeating 2 more times.  This is removing excess starch.  Dry potatoes well using either paper towels or a clean kitchen cloth. Dust lightly with corn or potato starch.  Lightly oil a 16 inch/41 centimeter pizza round.  Lay potatoes around the pan slightly overlapping the potatoes. Sea with some salt and pepper and light sprinkling of the parmesan cheese if using. Continue the layers until potatoes are used keeping the layers uniform. Drizzle with oil to help brown. Place in pre-heated oven for 45 minutes.  Remove potatoes from oven. Lower the heat to 375F/190C/GasMark 5.  Evenly lay the garlic over the crisped potatoes, then the remaining ingredients. Drizzle with olive oil. Place in oven for 20-35 minutes.

*use more potatoes for a thicker crust

YaDa Chef Tip: You can make the crust in advance and finish when you are ready to eat. substitute non-dairy cheese to make this vegan.


baklava greek pastry, turkish pastry, phyllo, filo, fila, walnuts, pistachios, nuts, honey, sugar, butter, ottoman empire, baking, flaky, sweet,

A staple in most Greek and Middle Eastern  restaurants and bakeries.  There is no mention of it until  after 1299, which is the beginning of the Ottoman Empire.  Filo/a dough originated in what is now Turkey, but it is the Greeks that refined it into the paper thin dough we know today.  In Greece, baklava is supposed to be made with 33 dough layers, referring to the years of Christ's life. Any recipe we have ever found used no more than 24 (which is what is found in the pre-made 1 pound/450g packages. This recipe is a combination of two of our favourites.  The one from Greece adds in cinnamon which the one from Turkey did not have.  You choose.  

1/2 pound/225g about 12 sheets thawed filo dough, covered with a damp towel

1 1/2 cups/174g chopped walnuts, pistachios or almonds

2 1/2 tablespoons/30g granulated sugar (you don’t need much the syrup is sweet)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

1 stick/1/4 pound/8 tablespoons/113g melted butter

For the syrup:

2/3 cup/120g granulated sugar

2/3 cup/158ml water

1/2 tablespoon/7ml fresh lemon juice

Pinch ground cinnamon (optional)

1 tablespoon rose or orange blossom water

Preheated oven 350F/175C/Gas 4

Mix chopped nuts with sugar and cinnamon if using (it's easy in a food processor with a couple of pulses).  Brush a baking pan with melted butter.  Lay one sheet of filo on the pan, and brush with butter.  Do this with five (with the next 5) more pieces.  Add half of the nut mixture and spread evenly on the filo pastry.  Place one piece of pastry over the nuts and brush with butter.  Add the remaining five pieces brushing each piece with butter.  With a very sharp knife, cut into serving pieces (triangles are traditional).  Place in a preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.  Increase the temperature to 450F/230C/Gas 8 and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the top is light golden brown.  When done, remove from oven and pour the cold syrup evenly over it.  When completely cooled, run a knife along cuts and place separated pieces on a plate.

While the pastry is baking make the syrup.  Place sugar, water and lemon juice in a small pan.  Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cook until it coats the back of a spoon.  Add rose or orange water and cook for another 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool completely.  Place in the fridge.

British Fish Pie

This is another our comfort foods, which bring memories of cool fall and spring days by the seaside. If you happen to have access to some smoked fish be sure to add it in for an added treat. We saw a version of this by Jennifer Patterson with sauteed greens on the bottom for a meal in a pan.

Serves 4

1 pound/450g potatoes, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons/10ml salt
1 pound/450g cod, haddock or any mild white fish
1 1/2 cups/375ml rice milk
2 tablespoons/30g vegan non-hydrogenated vegetable spread
2 tablespoons/30ml rice flour (white or brown)
1 tablespoon/15ml capers, chopped
Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon/5ml sea salt
1/2 teaspoon/2ml black pepper
1/4 teaspoon/1ml freshly grated nutmeg
8 ounces/225g cooked baby (salad) shrimp
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped small
handful finely chopped parsley, about ¼ cup/59ml

Preheat oven to 350F/176C/GasMark 4

Place potatoes in a saucepan large enough to completely cover them by 3 fingers width. Fill with water, drain and fill again to remove excess starch. Fill pot with water, add salt and bring to a boil. When the water comes to a boil remove from heat, cover and let sit in the water for 10-12 minutes. Drain reserving 1 cup of the liquid. Mash the potatoes adding in the liquid to make them smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Place the fish into a saucepan and add milk. Bring to boil and simmer for 7-8 minutes. Strain the fish from the milk, making sure to reserve the cooking liquid. Flake the fish into large pieces.

Melt the vegetable spread in the same saucepan that the fish was cooked in on low. Stir in the flour and cook gently for about 2 minutes. Whisk in 1 cup/250ml of the milk the fish was cooked in. Bring to boil and then immediately turn heat down and simmer gently for 5 minutes, or until it thickens. Remove the saucepan from heat and add the capers, lemon juice, salt, pepper, nutmeg. Stir gently to mix everything in well. Spread a small amount the filling into a shallow baking dish. 

Add in layers the shrimp, then fish, eggs and topped with remaining milk mixture. Allow to cool and then spoon the mashed potato all over the filling, spreading to cover. 

Sprinkle with parsley.

Fish Pie, British Food, Smoked fish, shrimp, comfort food, one pan meal, fresh fish

New England Indian Pudding

Indian Pudding Miami Fort Lauderdale Personal Chef London Cannes Helsinki Faro Loule International Chef Freelance Chef

Turns out, Nov. 13 is National Indian Pudding Day. It sneaked up on you again, didn't it? / #Recipe #IndianPudding #NewEngland

You can't be blamed.

Indian pudding is virtually unknown outside of New England, and even there it's tricky to find. But this enduring New England dessert may actually deserve a day of its own.

The origins of this food holiday are obscure but the dish itself is unquestionably all-American. The "Indian" in Indian pudding, Wall explains, refers to Native American cornmeal. The original pudding was likely just cornmeal, milk and molasses, steamed or boiled for a very long time. She calls it one of the country's first truly American recipes.

Like much of traditional New England cooking, Indian pudding was quite plain. It fell out of favor, though it never disappeared entirely. Some places, like the historic Wayside Inn in Sudbury Mass., find that though the dish can be a hard sell to the uninitiated, it's still a favorite with locals.

Longfellow's Wayside Inn Baked Indian Pudding Recipe

Makes 12 servings — halve recipe for smaller batch

2 quarts/2 liters milk
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups/343ml/256g cornmeal
1/3 teaspoon ginger
2 cups/500ml molasses
2 1/2 cups/625ml milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups/375ml/6  large eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Bring 2 milk to boil in a heavy pan. Add cornmeal to milk and blend with a wire whisk until it thickens. Add molasses, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and bring to a boil. In a separate container, blend the milk and eggs and add the hot mixture to it and stir. Place in a very large, buttered and sugared casserole. Bake in a 350 degree oven approximately 1 hour. Test pudding with a knife for doneness. Let stand and then serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Lettuce Pesto Recipe

Recently we found ourselves with a glut of field greens.  Lovely, green and deep purple, and eggplant with no one to eat them. We believe in using and eating food, not throwing it away.  So what could be done to preserve the goodness at hand?  Soup came to mind, but you can eat only so much soup and it has a tendency to get “grainy” when frozen.  Juicing was another option, but our illustrious leader (Chef Ya) decided to go a different route.  PESTO.  

The sauce pesto originated in the northern region of Italy, Liguria, Genoa.  According to Wikipedia The name is the contracted past participle of the Genoese word pestâ (Italian: pestare), which means to pound, to crush, in reference to the original method of preparation, with marble mortar and wooden pestle. The ingredients in a traditionally made pesto are ground with a circular motion of the pestle in the mortar. This same Latin root through Old French also gave rise to the English word pestle.

Traditionally the sauce is made of basil leaves, salt, garlic, pine nuts, lemon juice, pepperoncini, Parmigiano Reggiano and Fiore Sardo.  

Lettuce pesto is made in much the same way although we found the leaves could take more garlic.  We almost doubled the garlic without the garlic becoming an overpowering taste.  We also used lime juice as we had a bag full of fresh limes.  We made 2 batches and froze the majority of it. Pesto freezes wonderfully.


In a 11 cup/2.6 liter food processor:

4 whole peeled  garlic cloves

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup/31g pine nuts (sub peanuts)

juice of 3 limes

1/8 teaspoon/.5ml red pepper flakes

4 handfuls mixed field greens ( any lettuce will do )

1/2 cup/125ml olive oil ( more or less depending on the consistency you want)

1 handful about 1/2 cup/90g grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Place the garlic, salt, pine nuts and lime juice into the processor.  Process until it is a slightly chunky paste (1 minute).  Stop the machine, remove the cover and add the pepper flakes and lettuce.  Pulse to begin breaking the lettuce down.  With the machine running slowly pour the  olive oil in the feed tube until you have a loose paste or firm sauce.  Add the cheese and process for 30 seconds.  Taste for seasoning.  

The pesto can be used immediately, place in the refrigerator for 7-10 days or frozen for up to 3 months in a well sealed container.

Cauliflower Soup Recipe

Need a little something different and elegant - a little rustic?  This soup is the answer.  It is thickened with potatoes, not flour, and is hearty enough to serve as a luncheon main course or starter for your next dinner party.


1 large head white cauliflower with leaves

2 medium potatoes (about one pound)

1 handful dandelion leaves (or fresh celery leaves)

1 small onion, chopped

2 cups/500ml vegetable stock (water or chicken stock is fine)

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

2 cups/500ml cauliflower water

salt and white pepper, to taste (black pepper is fine)

1/2 cup/125ml white wine

1/2 - 1 cup/125-250ml cream or milk (regular or vegan is fine), optional



Wash and trim the cauliflower, keeping the pale-green inner leaves that cling to the head.  

Separate the head into flowerets and cook in a large pot of salted boiling water for 3-4 minutes.  

Drain the cauliflower, reserving 2 cups of the cooking water.

Wash, pare and dice the potatoes.  Put the potatoes, onion, dandelion leaves (or celery leaves) in a pot.  

Add the broth (or water), wine, and cauliflower water and bring to a simmer.  

Season to taste with salt and white pepper as well as the Italian seasonings.  

Cook on a slow heat until the potatoes are tender, then add the cauliflower and simmer until the cauliflower is very tender.

Puree the soup, then return it to a clean sauce pan and heat through.  

Stir in the cream if you choose.

Serve with fresh croutons.

Mrs. Cheney’s Apple Cake Recipe

Mrs. Cheney's McIntosh Cake

Sometimes  “old” classic recipes are the best.  This recipe has to be from at least the 1950’s .  It was found whilst cleaning out my Nanna’s (Nonna’s) kitchen.  No need to have McIntosh apples any good baking apple will do.  Since the bottom is the top you can arrange  a couple of apples before pouring in the first amount of batter.

5 apples, peeled, sliced, cored

1/2 cup/85g granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons/7ml ground cinnamon

Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon over apples in a medium sized bowl.  Toss to coat all the apple pieces and let sit while making the batter.

3 cups/298g all purpose flour

2 cups/383g granulated sugar

1 teaspoon/5ml baking soda

2 teaspoons/10ml baking powder

1 cup/250ml vegetable oil

4 large eggs

1/3 cup/80ml orange juice (we used triple sec)

2 teaspoons/10ml pure vanilla extract

Greased bundt/tube pan

Pre-heat oven to 350F/176C/Gas Mark 4

In a large bowl add the flour, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder.  Whisk together.  Make a well and add oil, eggs, juice and vanilla.  Using a handheld mixer, mix on low speed (number 2) for 1 minute.  Raise speed to 4 and beat for 4 minutes.  Place 1/3 of the batter into a greased pan.  Arrange 1/2 of the apples on top of the batter.  Add half of the remaining batter, smoothing to cover the apples.  Place remaining apples on the batter.  Pour any accumulated juices from the apples to the remaining batter mixing to combine.  Pour the remaining batter over the apples, smoothing to cover.  Place the pan on a cooking/baking sheet to catch any drips and place in the pre-heated oven.  Bake for 90 minutes turning 180 degrees halfway in the cooking time (45 minutes).  A skewer should come out clean when testing for doneness, top will be slightly crisp.  Remove from oven and let stand for 20 minutes.  Turn the pan upside down and let cool for another 30 minutes.  Remove from pan and serve or let cool further.  The cake will “settle” a little during cooling.  

Vegan Chou Farci (Stuffed Cabbage)

(Cabbage Stuffed with Barley and Split Peas)

Be sure your barley and split peas are cooked prior to beginning this recipe. To save time, you can cook your barley in a pressure cooker or use ‘quick barley’.


1 large head of cabbage

1/2 cup barley/118 ml/78g, cooked (other grains can be used such as farro)

1/2 tablespoon/30ml olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 carrots diced

1 1/2 cups/343 ml/300g cooked split peas, drained

4 cloves of garlic, sliced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika (or other paprika if you have on hand)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

1 egg, beaten

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2-1 cup/125-250ml  tomato sauce or juice


In a large pot, large enough to submerge the whole cabbage, fill with water and bring to a boil. When boiling, add salt.

Discard large outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut the bottom of the core, but not too deep, and remove. Place the cabbage top side down and insert a fork into the cut core. Keeping the fork in the cabbage, use it as a handle and place into the boiling water.  Reduce the heat of the water to a high simmer and let sit for 8-10 minutes to soften the leaves. When softened, remove the cabbage using the fork and place in a colander to drain.


Heat a large deep skillet. Add onions and carrots and cook until the onions soften. Add water by the teaspoon if needed to help prevent sticking. Add barley, split peas and spices. Stir to combine and cook for about 5 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and let cool. When cool, mix in the beaten egg.

When the cabbage is drained, remove the fork and place core side down on a surface. Gently pull back cabbage leaves one by one until you have just a small ball of cabbage. (At this point, the cabbage will look like a blooming flower.)  Carefully, cut the small ball of cabbage from the outer leave making sure not to cut any of the leaves. All the remaining leaves MUST be attached to the core. With the small ball of cabbage removed. Place a handful of the filling in the middle of the cabbage where the small ball was located. Carefully place the open cabbage leaves over the mixture.  Continue adding the mixture in between the cabbage leaves, then covering (closing the ‘blooming flower’). When the cabbage if full and all the leaves are put back, creating a stuffed cabbage. Either tie into place with butcher twine or use cheesecloth then tie with the twine to keep the shape of the cabbage. Set aside.

Take the small ball of cabbage and chop. Add to a pot large enough to hold the stuffed cabbage. Place the tied stuffed cabbage inside the pot on top of the chopped cabbage. Pour the tomato sauce around the cabbage.  It should be about half way up the re-formed cabbage.. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a medium low. Let simmer for 40-50 minutes depending on the size of the cabbage.  Remove the tied cabbage from the sauce.

Cut and remove twine and cheesecloth if using. Place the stuffed cabbage on a cutting surface and cut into wedges.

Serve a wedge atop of the tomato cabbage mixture in the pot used for simmering.

It’s Guy Fawkes Night - Bring on the bonfires and mulled wine

guyfawkes fort lauderdale miami beach south florida keys personal chef freelance international gluten free

5 November - Guy Fawkes Day (UK): celebration in honour of Guy Fawkes, a member of the “Gunpowder Plot,” who was arrested whilst guarding explosives that had been planted under the House of Lords waiting for King James I to enter. King James fell ill and never went to the meeting. Supporters of the King lit bonfires celebrating the failure. Today people gather around bonfires and light off fireworks, staying warm by drinking plenty of mulled wine.

Heated wine dates back to ancient times, when spoilt wine was converted back into a drinkable form by heating and the adding of spices and honey. In medieval times heated wines were called Ypocras or Hipocris, named after 'the father of medicine,' the Greek physician Hippocrates. Purer than the water in those days, it was thought to be a very healthy drink.  During the 1500's, the mulling of clarrey, or bordeaux wine was popular, sweetened with honey and spiced with cinnamon and cardamon.

Living in Southern Florida times are few and far between (at least according to our northern brethren) that we need a drink to warm us up on a cold winter’s night.  The popularity that this spiced and sweetened wine enjoys in Great Britain and Europe has not hopped the pond.  Why I am not sure.  To me mulled wine spells holidays and festivity.  It brings back wonderful memories of family and friends spending time together.

guyfawkes mulled wine fort lauderdale miami beach south florida keys personal chef freelance international gluten free

Mulled wine goes by many different names here are a few...maybe this is the cause of all of the confusion.

Glögg - in Scandinavian countries, it is spiced with ginger, cloves and cinnamon. Sugar is added to the red wine and brandy or vodka is also added sometimes.

Glühwein - glowing wine, in Germany.

Vin brulé - burnt wine, in Italy.

Grzane wino - heated wine, in Poland.

Varené wino - boiled wine, in Slovakia.

Forralt bor - boiled wine, in Hungary.

Quentão - in Brazil, it is made using cachaça, an alcoholic beverage made from fermented sugar cane mixed with spices. In some parts of the country though these days, cachaça has been replaced for the more common red wine.

Here is a basic recipe for mulled wine.  Try it out and I think you will be a convert.

Serve 4-6

  • One bottle (750 mL) of red wine (suggestions: Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot), not anything too expensive
  • One orange, sliced
  • One lemon, sliced
  • One apple, sliced (optional)
  • 8-10 cloves
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp allspice berries
  • ¼ cup brandy (traditional) I prefer vodka

Place all ingredients in a large sauce pan or crock pot.  Heat the ingredients on a medium low heat for 20 - 25 minutes, being careful not to boil.  Serve in mugs.  Garnish with additional cinnamon sticks.  Use whole spices as ground can make the drink gritty.

Planning a Successful Cocktail Party Part II

cocktail-party-reception USA YaDa Chef Personal Chef London Loule cocktail party vintage fort lauderdale miami beach south beach south florida florida

Setting the Mood


Keep the lighting low, not so low you cannot see, unless you are looking for that "nightclub" feel.  Everyone wants to be able to see what they are eating and drinking.

Cleaning Before and After 

Relax, this is a fun thing! 

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Before: Unless you are throwing a black tie affair, then hire the cleaners.  Otherwise tidy up and make sure you cannot write your name in the dust.  It is only going to get dirty anyway.  My one exception is the place everyone snoops...the bathroom.  Make sure it is spotless.  Put out disposable guest towels (they look like high end napkins).

After:  Enlist the help of a dear friend to pick the big stuff up and then leave the rest until the next day.

Putting it all together

Three weeks before:

Send out the invitations

Start planning the menu, theme and music 

Two weeks before:

If you have the freezer space make and freeze your hors d'oeuvres

Inventory your serving platters and utensils.  If you are using chafing dishes check the Sterno.

Buy and (WAIT! AND WHAT?) decorations, napkins and anything non-perishable you may need

One week before:

Put your game plan down on paper for the party day.  Schedule your time accordingly for set up and last day food preparation.  Always give yourself 20-30 minutes more than you think is necessary.  You want everything done before the first guest arrives.

Call the friend or friends who will be helping with set up/break down

Count the RSVPs and contact anyone invited who has not yet responded

One day before:

Pick up flowers if you are using any

Prep any foods that need to be made at the last minute

Day of:

Set up the party space: rearrange any furniture if necessary; set up the bar

Clean the bathroom

Two hours before:

Buy ice

Double-check everything.  Make a last minute run to the store or better yet have your "helper" do this—this is the time to make a last-minute run to the store.

Set up the bar and cut up the garnishes

One hour before:

Reheat or thaw any frozen hors d'oeuvres

Get dressed and ready to go

Thirty minutes before:

Ice down the beverages if using buckets or tubs for service

Put room temperature food out

Light the Sternos if using chafing dishes

Put on the music, set the lights, light any candles you will be using

Fifteen minutes before:

Put food into the chafing dishes

Relax and pour yourself a drink

Make ahead recipes

Here are some classic cocktail party menus not seen much anymore, but still fantastic!

Dipping Bowl for vegetables or crackers

The Thirst Inviter:

  • 1 large clove of garlic grated            
  • 2 chopped hard boiled eggs
  • 1 pint/500ml sour cream                 
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard                   
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon grated horseradish      
  • 2 tablespoons/30ml chili sauce

Blend the sour cream and garlic.  Beat in with a wooden spoon eggs, horseradish and dry mustard.  Add remaining ingredients.  Let chill in refrigerator at least two hours.

Stuffed Eggs:

  • 6 hard boilded eggs                        
  • 2 tablespoons/30ml anchovy paste
  • 1 TB chopped chives                       
  • 1 teaspoon/5ml lemon juice 

Cut eggs in half length wise.  Remove egg yolks. Mash egg yolks and combine with remaining ingredients.  Spoon or pipe mixer into the egg whites with a pastry bag.  Garnish with chopped parsley, paprika a slice of olive or pickled onion.

Salami Cornucopias:

  • 12 slices fine grained salami sliced thing            
  • 1 clove garlic grated
  • 1 package of cream cheese                                   
  • 3 tablespoons/45ml chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon/5ml dry mustard                               
  • 1/2 teaspoon/2ml dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon/5ml grated horseradish                     
  • 1/2 teaspoon/2ml salt                 

Cut the salami slices in half and wind them around your pinky to form cornucopias (horns).  Press the edges together and place thim in a large mesh rack.  Place in refrigerator for 1 hour.    

Blend the cream cheese with the remaining ingredients until smooth.  Fill a pastry bag and fill the salami return to refrigerator until ready to serve.      


Planning a Successful Cocktail Party

YaDa Chef's successful coctail party

Step-by-Step Tips and Planning Strategies For Your Next Cocktail Party

Have you ever wanted to throw a successful cocktail party like the one you see in the movies, but are not quite sure how to do it?  Do you think you do not have the time or the money for one of those fabulous events and do not want something reminiscent of your college day parties?  They are easy to plan and can be relatively inexpensive.

Plan to have a theme, and I am not talking about a "costume" like the roaring 20's.  Choose one or two signature drinks, build a menu around the drinks and then go with colors for plates, candles etc that will reflect the feeling.  ie mojito inspired night can have everything served on green plates and platters.  Remember you are supposed to have as much fun as your guests.  Follow the step by step instructions and you will have a stress free and successful cocktail party.

Choose the theme

A theme can be as simple as a color or be inspired by a drink.  A good example would be a "Tropical Heat" theme. Plates and cups and candles would be orange or red.  Menu would be "tropical". The theme sets the mood.  It does not mean you have to bring in palm trees and beach sand. 

Picking the drink or drinks and plan the menu

A themed bar focuses on one type of liquor and an assortment of mixers. A signature cocktail bar features one or two mixed drinks. Regardless of the way you choose to serve cocktails, be sure to include an appropriate amount of wine and beer. Remember to always have plenty of water, still and sparkling.  Freeze some fruit slices to make it more festive.  These can be used in place of ice cubes.

Themed Bar

A themed bar features one or sometimes two types of alcohol and a variety of mixers, plus wine, beer, and nonalcoholic drinks. A themed bar works for any liquor.  Make sure you know which mixers go with the alcohol you choose.

Signature Cocktail Bar

Offer one or two signature cocktails, plus wine, beer. A signature bar is the way to go if you do not want to buy unneeded alcohol and by far the easiest on your wallet. You can mix the drinks ahead of time, then once guests arrive, add ice and serve. If guest are pouring make sure the ice and garnishes are laid out in an easily reachable manner.

You may want to provide at least two cocktail choices, made with different alcohols, for example, one with vodka and one with rum.

 Plan the menu

Here is  the one place that all or any of the items do not necessarily have to go with your theme. Try and have the party outside of the dinner hour or make sure you have enough food to replace a meal (6-8 types of hors d'oeuvres).  We will talk later about how many of each to prepare. 

If you have any "old stand-by" recipes this is a good time to break them out.  If they are "meals", don't be afraid to scale down the size to serve as one of the hors d'oeuvres.  Try some new recipes-don't be afraid remember these are on a small scale.

Our rule of thumb is half hot, have cold or room temperature.  A fruit and cheese platter is always a winner.

When with a theme pick a couple of the foods to that are theme oriented ex. Caribbean or beach theme--spicy tequila shrimp with tapenade on crustini, grilled chicken and pineapple skewers with sweet/spicy dip.  These are both served room temperature.

Pick foods you can prepare in advance.  We will offer some make ahead selections at the end of the article.

Everyone loves nuts, make your own candied spice nuts or mix.  Hit the gourmet olive bar for some extra munchies.

Enlist the help of a friend or two to help serve if you are doing passed hot hors d'oeuvres.

How to determine how much food and alcohol to have


Remember, cocktail parties are normally hosted before or after the dinner our.  The food is not meant to replace a meal.  A good rule of thumb is three to five different types of hors d'oeuvres planning on two to three of each per person.

If your cocktail party takes place during meal hours, there should be enough food to replace the meal. Prepare six to ten types of hors d'oeuvres planning on two to three of each per person.

Guys tend to eat more than women, so if you have lots of up and comers on your guest list, plan on a few more of each hors d'oeuvres.

Beverages-alcohol and non

• Each guest will drink an average of two drinks the first hour and one drink each hour thereafter.

• Figure on four to five glasses per bottle of wine and two to three glasses per person.  That means one bottle will serve two guests.  Try to find out if your guest prefer red or white.  Right now red is more popular.

• There are approximately 26 shots per a one-liter bottle of alcohol.  Calculate two to three cocktails per person.

• Plan on having two litres of mix per litre of alcohol.  Mixers to plan on having would be club soda, tonic, cola, diet cola, lemon lime soda.  If you are featuring martinis get one bottle 750ml of vermouth(dry) per four to five bottles of vodka or gin.  Same for manhattans except also get a bottle of sweet(red)vermouth.

• Garnishes are just that a garnish and not part of a meal. Plan on one lemon or lime per guest 1/2 orange and nine olives, 3 cherries per person. It never hurts to have a little extra for those guest that inevitable nibble on the garnish.

• Plan on one and a half pounds of ice per person. This sounds like a lot, but you will need to ice down the beer and wine unless you have a small refrigerator by the bar.

Creating a guest list

Keep it simple.  We have so many online options today. Facebook, Myspace, regular e-mail or even online services like Evite.   Electronic invites make keeping track of RSV P's easy. Telephone and in person works well to and can make your invitees feel special. 

Count on 6 out of 10 people you invite that say yes to actually show up.  Ladies are more likely to attend when they say they will.  Invite more guys if you want the sexes to be evenly represented.

If you have a lot of time and some extra money on your hands or are really organized theme, use the theme of your party to set the look of your invitations. For example, in lieu of a traditional invitation send an object that communicates the theme of your party. If you're hosting a beach themed party go to the dollar store and get flip flops and send the invite on one of them to each of the people you are inviting.

Let the guests know if you want them to show up in themed attire.  A prize for best three would really help to get them in the mood.  Be sure to mention that on the invitation.

Setting the mood

Choosing and Arranging the Space

Set up your area the day before the party so you have plenty of time to make last-minute changes. Make sure guests can move throughout the room easily.  Remove furniture if you need to.  Remember you want enough seating for about 1/4 of the guest.  People have a tendency to just sit and not move.

If you do not have much room use one centrally located table or buffet for your food.  If you have plenty of space create "food stations" around the room.  This helps the guests to move about and mingle.

Have plenty of waste bins for the trash and have a couple of places to deposit dirty dishes and plates. You may have to put a used glass on them just to give everyone the "subtle" hint.

JC’s Croissants


Croissants to me are the most decadent of morning pastries.  In my mind I drift back to walking in the 5th arrondisiment on the rue Mouffetard and discovering L'essentiel Mouffetard and their most delectable croissants au beurre (butter croissants).  This recipe is a reworked version of Julia Childs and others I have worked with over the years.  Croissants are a labor of love. I've listed a recipe for 24—do yourself a favour, take half and freeze it for a later date.

Makes about 12- make the full recipe and freeze the second half

1 ounce/3 tablespoons/30g SAF brand instant yeast (I prefer fresh yeast)

1/2 cup/125ml warm water

17.6 ounces/4 cups/500g all purpose flour  ( I prefer a mixture of 1 part unbleached AP to 2 parts unbleached Pastry flour for a less glutenous dough)

2-4 tablespoons neutral flavoured oil (optional)

1.3 ounces/3 tablespoons/36g granulated sugar, divided

2 teaspoons/10ml salt

1 cup/250ml milk

for the butter

2 sticks/277g unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch/1.27cm squares

2 tablespoons/30ml AP flour

1 large egg for brushing

Prove the yeast by pouring warm water into your stand mixter with the yeast, 1 tablespoon/12g sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon/2ml salt.  It should foam in 3-5 minutes. Put the flour, oil,  sugar, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  With the machine on low slowly pour in the milk .  Mix for 1 to 2 minutes, until a soft, moist dough forms on the hook.  If the dough is to dry,  add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Stop the mixer and look into the bowl. All the flour should be incorporated. Set the mixer to its highest speed and work the dough until it is smooth about 4 minutes. Remove the dough from the mixer, wrap it in plastic and put it in a plastic bag, leaving a little room for expansion.  Keep the dough at room temperature for 30 minutes to give the gluten time to relax; then refrigerate the dough for 8 hours or overnight.

Attach the paddle attachment to your mixer.  Add the cold butter and flour,beat the butter and flour first on low then on the highest speed until smooth and the same consistency as the croissant dough, about 2 minutes.  Reach into the bowl and poke around in the butter to make sure that its evenly blended-if you find any lumps, just squeeze them between your fingers.  Scrape the butter onto a large piece of plastic wrap and give it a few slaps to knock the air out of it.  Mold it into an oval 6 x 1 inch 15.24 x 2.5 cm round or rectangle. Wrap it tightly and refrigerate until needed.

Adding the butter to the dough:

Place the croissant dough on a generously floured large work surface cold(marble is ideal and sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour.  Using a long rolling pin, roll the dough into an oval approximately 10 inches/25.4 cm wide and 17 inches/43cm long.  Brush the excess flour from the dough.  Center the chilled butter across the  dough and fold the top an  bottom of the dough over the butter to make a tidy package.  Gently and evenly stretch the folded layers of dough out to ther sides and press the edges down firmly with your

fingertips to create a neatly sealed rectangle. If you own a French rolling  pin (one without handles)now’s the time to use it.  Hold one side of the dough steady with your hand and strike the other side gently but firmly with the rolling pin to distribute the butter evenly.  As you hit the dough you will see the butter moving out into the crevises.  After pounding you should have a 1 inch/2.5cm thick rectangle about about 14 inches/35.5cm long and 6 inches/15.25cm wide. Keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured, roll out the dough.  Now we are going to fold this like a business letter into thirds. Take the top part and fold it 1/2 of the way down then fold the bottom over the folded top portion. You should have three (3) layers. That is your first “turn”. Now roll the dough back out into a 14 inches/35.5cm long and 6 inches/15.25cm wide rectangle.  Repeat the folding into thirds (2nd turn), cover it with plastic and chill it for 1 to 2 hours; this way you won't risk having the dough go soft or the butter seep out.  (Each time you wrap the dough, make sure it’s well covered-even a little air will cause the dought to form an unwanted skin.)  

Create note with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd turns, and check off the 1st turn. If using a silicone mat, shake off the flour and refrigerate again to chill.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to rest at room temperature for about 5 minutes. Line your rolling surface with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Again, be sure to dust your rolling surface well. With the longest side facing you, roll the dough out to a 24 x  14 inches/61 x 35.5cm. Repeat the folding as you did for the first and second turns. Roll out again to a 14 inches/35.5cm long and 6 inches/15.25cm wide rectangle. Repeat rolling and folding again for the fourth time. This time fold the long ends until just before they meet in the center of the dough.  Fold the two sides like you are closing a book (you should have four (4) layers. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and check off "2nd turn" on the note you created. For the third turn:  Start agian with a 14 inch side running from your left side ti your right.  Roll the dough into a rectangle 24 x  14 inches/61 x 35.5cm  wide.  Fold the left and right sides of the dough into the center, leaving a little space in the centrer, and then fold one side over the other as though you were closing a book.  This is the famous double turn, also known as “the wallet”. Chilling the dough:  Brush off the flour, wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours. At this point you can divide the dough in half, wrap tightly and freeze for up to 1 month.

Rolling out your croissants:

Line one or two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets, depending if you using half or the full recipe. On a well floured rolling surface roll out your dough to about 24 x  14 inches/61 x 35.5cm. If you desire, you can trim any uneven pieces off. Wrap any scraps in plastic wrap or store in a ziplock bag and refrigerate them. You will be using them later. Working with a pizza cutter or a large, very sharp knife, cut triangles from the dough.  This is done most easily by making a diagonal cut on the left hand side to geet the pattern started; save the uneven piece of dough.  Measure off a 4 inch/10cm base and begin

cutting the triangles, always cutting from bottom to top.  You'll have another scrap when you reach the other end-you'll use these scraps when you shape the croissants.  Unfold each pair of triangles and cut them in half to seperate.  You should have 10 to 12 maybe 14 triangles; set them aside while you clear the work surface of all flour.  Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Shaping the croissants:  

Moisten your hands with a wet towel.  Working with one triangle at a time, gently stretch the base to widen it slightly, then, holding the base of the triangle in one hand, run the fingers of the other hand down to the point of the triangle.  Use your thumb to pull and stretch the dough until it’s almos twice the original length-have courage and tug; the extra length is what allows you to make a large croissant with sufficient rolls to show off it’s layers of dough. Place the treiangle, point toward you, at arm distance on the work table this will give enough space to roll the croissant into shape with-out having to lift it in mid-roll)  Pull off a little piece of the reserved scrap dough, mold it into a small football shape and center it on the wide top part of the triangle-this will help make the “belly” of the croissant plump.  Fold about 1/2 inch/1.25cm of this wide end over itself and press the ends down once to secure.  With you palms and fingers positioned over the flattened ends of the croissant  and the heels of your hands on the flat work surface, roll the croissant toward you-try to keep your hands moving down and out to the sides as you roll- ending with the point of the triangle tucked under the croissant.  A well shaped croissant-and it takes practice to achieve one-will sport at least six clearly accountable sections, or ridges, from rolling.  Place the croissants on one of the baking sheets, leaving room for them to triple in size without touching one another.  Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Glazing and Rising:  

Give the croiossants a last gentle plumping, carefully turning the ends down and toward the center to produce the classic croissant shape.  Brush the croissants with egg wash and allow them to rise, uncovered, at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours, until

tripled in size and spongy.  (Reserve egg wash, covered in the refrigerator.)  The ideal place for rising is a turned off oven (one with a pilot light is fine) containing a pan of hot steamy water.  To test that they are properly risen, wet your fingers and squeeze the end of a

croissant:It should offer no resistance and feel almost hollow.

Preheat oven to 350F/176C/Gas Mark 4

Brush the croissants once again with egg wash and bake for 12 minutes.  Rotate front to back and bake another 4 to 6 minutes, until the croissants are deeply bronzed.  Cool on racks.

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