Chop it, Scoop it, Cook it!

Chop it, Scoop it, Cook it


Hello Foodie Friends,


Many of you many not know that along with my love for the culinary arts; I am an avid movie buff. I love the old movies, and enjoy watching the works of many of our contemporary directors and artists.  My wife and children will often times join me in watching movies. However, whenever there is a Bradley Cooper movie, both my daughter and wife do not need any convincing of watching his movies.  If you have not yet seen one of his recent movies “Burnt”, I would recommend it - especially if you come from a culinary background or just simply enjoy cooking. “Burnt” shows the stressful and prideful life of our incredible chefs. It portrays the behind the scenes demands in the making of the dishes we savor when we eat at a restaurant.


We had fun identifying the tools and watching the skill levels of the chefs in the movie. One particular piece that stood out was the importance of food prep in the kitchen. The art of prep work is significant to the efficiency of getting meals out from the kitchen to the customer for chefs.  “Mise en place” is French for “everything in place”. This is an important tip from professional chefs. Before you cook, have everything measured, peeled, chopped, and within reach.  Prep work is easily more than 50% of cooking.


The chop and scrape tool has an important role in food preparation in getting your diced meat and chopped vegetables from the cutting board into your stove top pots.  The prep tool can also be used to chop cubed potatoes, chop nuts, or cut through bread dough. 

The chop and scrape tool is made of stainless steel to allow for ease of cutting and easy clean up.  At Compliments to the Chef located at 46 Marion Avenue in Saratoga Springs, we have several types of chop, scrape and scoop tools for your prep needs.


The next time you go to a restaurant, please be sure to “compliment the chef”. They work hard and really take pride in the spectacular dishes they create.  They deserve to be recognized for their work.  Remember, “Life Happens in the Kitchen” for both our chefs and our foodie’s. Take care. John and Paula

Pronto Pizza!

Pronto Pizza

Hello Foodie Friends - 

Making pizza is a great tradition no matter how often you do it. Oftentimes, though, you’re feeling hungry for some pizza but you don’t have the patience to cook a pizza in the oven for an hour, so you order in. Well, in an effort to take the delivery man out of your pizza craving, I’ve found the perfect solution for delicious homemade pizza in less time — the Pizzeria Pronto. 

If you have a gas stovetop and some fresh pizza ingredients you have all you need to let the Pizzeria Pronto do its magic. 

Since the Pizzeria Pronto takes just 15 minutes to preheat, you can make 7 12” pizzas in the same amount of time it takes to make just one in the oven. The secret to the Pizzeria Pronto’s tasty magic is the combination of the dual stone system that distributes the intense 600 degree heat evenly from burner and vented hood that draws moisture out to ensure toppings are crisp, similar to the appeal of a wood-fired oven. So maybe it’s not magic, but it’s still a unique and fast way to make great pizza.  

The compact Pizzeria Pronto takes up little space, meaning you can easily store it with your pots and pans. The Pizzeria Pronto also makes crisp and tasty calzones, breadsticks, and quesadillas.

Come visit us at Compliments to the Chef to get a closer look at the Pizzeria Pronto. While you’re here, check out our large selection of pizza accessories. With our help, you can easily transform your kitchen into a pizzeria. 

Remember, life happens in the kitchen. 

Take care, 
John and Paula

Steamy Situations!

Steamy Situations



Hello my foodie friends!  The town I was born in is famous for steaming everything from vegetables to cheeseburgers!  If you have not heard about this secret to healthy cooking then please read on.

   “Accentuate the natural flavor of foods.  Retain nutrients and vitamins while cooking with less fat or oil.” – Helen Chen

  • Handmade of 100% natural bamboo
  • Ideal for vegetables, seafood, meats and fruits
  • Perfect for cooking, reheating and serving your favorite dim sum
  • Strong and durable
  • Recipes and instructions included
  • Tightly constructed and woven to trap steam for quick and efficient cooking
  • Bamboo absorbs condensation so no water will drip back onto the food
  • Steaming preserves minerals and vitamins in foods
  • Healthy, low-fat cooking method

Our natural bamboo steamer is handmade and securely assembled with bamboo pegs and bamboo lacing.  Unlike wood, bamboo is a grass, so it’s a renewable and sustainable resource.

How steamers work:  A bamboo steamer is designed to sit over another pot containing boiling water (specially designed steaming rings, make it easy to steam on 11" or 13" diameter stockpots).  As the water boils, the steam enters the steamer through the open slats in the bottom and is contained in the steamer by the lid.  The bamboo steamer absorbs any condensation, keeping water from dripping back onto the food.  When heated, it forms a hot container and, with the cover in place, can keep food warm for up to half an hour.  The bamboo steamer is also an attractive serving piece and may be brought right to the table.  Foods that are steamed require little or no added oils or fats, and they retain vitamins and minerals and cook quickly and evenly.

Tips for steaming the Asian way:  When steaming dry foods such as breads and dim sum, line the bottom of the steamer tier with parchment paper or cabbage leaves to prevent sticking.  9.5" parchment rounds do the job easily.  However, for foods that are seasoned such as seafood, meats and tofu, steam them in a heat-proof shallow dish (such as a Pyrex pie plate) to catch the flavorful and nutritious juices.  The dish should be about 1 inch smaller than the diameter of the steamer and the food should not touch the inside of the lid to allow steam to circulate freely around the food for even cooking.  The added benefit of using a dish is that the bamboo steamer stays clean.  Use specially designed Plate Retriever Tongs for added safety.

Caring for Your Bamboo Steamer:  Before using your steamer for the first time, rinse the bamboo steamer and lid with cold water.  After each use, wash steamer with hot water and a brush, if necessary.  Do not use soaps or detergents — bamboo may absorb fragrance and impart unwanted flavors to foods.  Allow steamer to thoroughly air dry before storing in a well-ventilated place.


 Steaming food is delicious and if you ever get a chance to have a real steamed cheeseburger with steamed cheddar cheese and sometimes the bun steamed you will never go back to fried. Some people even put a big old slice of fresh onion on it.  Don’t wear your onion goggles over the steamer because your vision will become blurred.   Remember my Foodie Friends; “Life Happens in your Kitchen!”

Take Care, John and Paula                                    

No "I" in Team!

No “I” in Team!

Hello my foodie friends. We here at CTTC and a few of our Foodie Friends have been waiting for the arrival of this coffee machine for about a year! The machine, by Capresso, is called the Coffee Team Pro Plus!  A great machine that grinds your beans fresh in a Conical Burr Grinder!  Anyone who loves coffee knows that when your beans are that fresh your coffee is delicious! It even has a special setting for oily dark roast beans with extra grinding time for these slow moving beans. You can brew with the grinder or turn it off for your favorite pre-ground coffee.  If you are like my father-in-law you’ll love that feature! He loves his “Chock full o’Nuts” pre-ground coffee! It also features a S/S Thermal Carafe which keeps your coffee hot for hours and in the same quality condition.

 Features and Benefits

Freshly grinds whole coffee beans directly into the filter then automatically brews up to 10 cups of coffee

10-cup stainless steel thermal carafe with ergonomic handle has brew- through lid and drip-free pouring spout

Permanent GoldTone Filter is easy to use and clean

24-hour programmable clock/timer with easy-to-read LCD display

Fully removable water tank for easy filling

Integrated, professional, solid steel conical burr grinder with removable upper burr

Slow burr grinding imparts minimal heat, preserving more aroma

Two-step grind & clean chamber automatically cleans the grinder after every cycle

Patent-pending dispenser improves flow of ground coffee into the filter

Special “Oily” coffee bean setting for slow feeding dark roasts

Improved bean container with low-friction, ribbed surface for easy feeding beans

Fully removable 7-ounce bean container is easy to unlock and lift, to change out beans or access burr for cleaning

Beans stay inside of container when removed, no spilt beans

Freshness seal bean container lid preserves coffee flavor

Three fineness settings for light to dark beans let you adjust the grinder to your preference (the darker/oilier the bean, the coarser the setting)

Use with or without the grinder, accommodating pre-ground coffee, flavored coffees or decaf

Charcoal water filter removes up top 82% of impurities

Drip stop for pouring a cup while brewing

Full stainless steel exterior

Automatic shut off

AM/PM Programmable Clock/Timer to grind and brew automatically

How Things Work

The fully removable water tank and bean container are just some of the most desirable features packed into the CoffeeTEAM PRO Plus line. It is widely known that fresh grinding your beans is the optimal way to prepare drip- style coffee, but for the first time ever, the CoffeeTEAM PRO Plus allows for complete access to the solid steel conical burr. The intricate design of the conical steel burrs provides for a higher gear reduction to slow down the grinding speed below 500 rpm. The slower the speed, the less heat that is imparted to the ground coffee thus preserving maximum aroma.

The two-step grind and clean process ensures no beans and minimal ground coffee are left in the grinder after use. Fully adjustable grind and cup settings make it easy to craft the perfect brew no matter your strength preference, and the all new "Oily" bean setting, and the redesigned, low friction bean container automatically compensates for slower feeding dark roasts.

 Stop in to my family business at 46 Marion Ave. and let’s have some coffee and sing the Chock full o’Nuts original jingle that my father-in-law sings everyday:

Chock full o’Nuts is that heavenly coffee,

Heavenly coffee, heavenly coffee.
Chock full o’Nuts is that heavenly coffee,

Better coffee Rockefeller’s money can’t buy!”  (Later changed to “Millionares”)

 Remember my Foodie Friends: “Life Happens in the Kitchen”, Take Care, John and Paula

Bread For Life!

Bread for Life!


Hello my Foodie Friends!  Guess what weekend this is!  Yes its Valentine’s Day weekend and I know the quickest way to someone’s heart is great cooking!  I had some friends stop in and talk about how they love to bake bread together in their LeCreuset French oven.  It reminded me of my daughter Aubrey volunteering to help Rabbi Jonathan bake bread and how much fun she had! When you are working together to bake or cook there is a bond and a kind of excitement that you don’t receive when you work by yourself.  When you are working side by side you are talking, laughing and working towards a common goal.  I listen to my customers and some just hate to cook or bake or even help out and that is ok. I do wonder though how I would have gotten through my teen years without helping mom out in the kitchen!  She would work and answer my questions about the biggest secret in the universe, women! I know there are many who don’t like Valentine’s Day but my mom loved it!  She would bake cookies and bread like it was Christmas! Now there were three boys in my family and every year we would give her a card and a present.  Recently my sister passed me some of my mom’s personal items that she kept in perfect condition.  One of them was a beautiful Valentine’s Day card from me!  It full of beautiful words that I underlined about her, while adding my own thoughts to the card.  I was proud that I had done that because when you lose someone you always feel like you could have done more and said more. So when you get a card and some flowers and maybe some chocolate for your wife, husband or sweetheart, please remember your mom, because she’ll appreciate it!  Now stop down to Compliment to the Chef at 46 Marion Avenue and pick up your own French or Dutch oven and bake some love with your sweetheart!  Have a wonderful holiday and remember my Foodie Friends “Life Happens in the Kitchen!”  PS Did any of you ever call it Valentimes Day?

Take Care,

Paula and John



Olive Parmesan Bread


4 cups flour

1 teaspoon dry active yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups warm water

1 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 cup finely grated, divided

7 ounces Kalamata olives, halved

Olive oil



Preheat oven to 450 F.

In a stand mixer fitted with the bread hook attachment, combine flour, yeast, salt and 1 cup water. Mix briefly. Once combined, add remaining water, 1 cup grated Parmesan and olives. Mix until dough is thoroughly combined. It should not be sticky.

Form the dough into a round with your hands, and place in a bowl that has been brushed with olive oil and dusted with flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until tripled in size and dough springs back when touched, about 3 – 4 hours.

Brush the Dutch oven with olive oil or butter. Place dough round in the center. Brush the top with olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Cover and bake 30 minutes.

Reduce heat to 375°F. Bake until golden brown and internal temperature is 200°F.

Allow the bread to rest in the Dutch oven for 20 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack before slicing.


Dutch Oven




Over 2 hrs.




Rice is Nice!


Hello my Foodie Friends!  Is rice one of the staple foods in your home? This past week our daughter returned back to graduate school to continue her vigorous studies. Many of you may have met her during the holiday break. One of her favorite foods is rice. However, it has to be cooked perfectly.  If it’s not right, she will not eat it.

Our daughter has become a very good cook.  Along with her interest in creating dishes with rice, has been her discovery of the many benefits of rice.  Here are some fun facts about rice:

  • Rice is a menu staple for half the world’s population
  • It is the most versatile grain. It is a perfect ingredient for a wide range of styles of cooking
  • Rice offers healthy benefits depending on the type you choose
  • Rice is a complex carbohydrate that can boost mental and muscular functions
  • Rice is low in fat
  • Rice can make your happier! It can trigger the production of serotonin in your brain

The adventure of getting the rice to be perfect can be daunting especially when you find you are high fiving each other because the rice finally came out right.

There is nothing like hot fluffy rice that has just been cooked. Especially when the rice is not too smushy or firm and the natural sweetness of the rice comes through with each bit. However, the task of cooking perfect rice has not been easy. When I was learning to cook rice, it never came out the same. In short, rice is fussy. The type of rice, heat, and cooking vessel can make a big difference in how your rice comes out.

The rice cooker makes it easy to enjoy eating perfectly steamed rice.  It is as easy as pushing a button.  The benefits of a rice cooker includes; never burning your rice, takes the guesswork out of making rice, and allows for uniform cooking. It is a perfect solution for the rice connoisseur.  At Compliments to the Chef, we carry the Zojirushi Rice Cooker. The Zojirushi rice cookeris a pressurized system that elevates cooking temperatures to high levels allowing for a rice cooking process that does all of the work for you.  It has a keep-warm function.  It is also rated one of the best rice cookers on the market. 

Here is a recipe that we enjoy to making:

Asparagus Rice with Seared Scallops

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

To Cook in the Rice Cooker:

·                                              1 cup (rice measuring cup) long grain white rice

·                                              1-1/4 cups (rice measuring cup) water

For Blanching Asparagus:

·                                              2 quarts water

·                                              1 Tbsp. salt for blanching water

·                                              12 oz. fresh asparagus

·                                              1 clove garlic, peeled

·                                              1 whole fresh shallot, peeled

·                                              2 quarts ice water to chill

To Add to Blender:

·                                              2 Tbsp. whole butter at room temperature

·                                              1/2 tsp. salt

·                                              Blanching water as needed

To Garnish:

·                                              1/2 lb. large sea scallops

·                                              1/2 tsp. salt

·                                              2 tsp. canola or other neutral flavored vegetable oil

Measure rice accurately using the measuring cup that came with your rice cooker. Rinse rice quickly once, drain and place in the inner cooking pan. Add water and cook the rice using the “Mixed Rice” setting.


While the rice is cooking, blanch the asparagus. Boil the water in a saucepan and add 1 Tbsp. of salt. Also prepare 2 quarts ice water. Cut off the hard ends of the asparagus and discard. Cut the tips off the asparagus, about 2 inches, and reserve separately. Chop the remainder of the stalks into short, even pieces.


Add the chopped asparagus stalks (but not the tips), garlic and shallot to boiling water and blanch for 1 minute. Remove from boiling water and plunge into ice water to chill thoroughly.


Remove chilled asparagus from ice water and place in a blender with salt and softened butter. Puree until mixture is smooth – use a small amount of the blanching water to facilitate smooth blending if needed.


Repeat blanching and chilling procedure with asparagus tips; hold tips separately for garnishing.


Place oil in a small sauté pan (6-8” diameter) and heat until quite hot, almost smoking. Sprinkle scallops with salt and sear until lightly browned. When scallops are cooked, remove from the pan.


Add asparagus tips to the hot pan and toss quickly to heat through.

When rice completes cooking, gently fold in the asparagus puree.


Serve in bowls and garnish each serving with the scallops and asparagus tips.


Have fun making rice. Rice can be nice!! Don’t let it become a frustrating task. The rice cooker could be a great Valentine’s Day gift for that special person in your life who loves rice. Come visit us at Compliments to the Chef located at 46 Marion Avenue in Saratoga Springs to assist you with some of those Valentine ideas.

Remember my Food Friends; “Life Happens in the Kitchen”. Take care.  John and Paula

Spice up Your Life!

Spice up your Life


Using spices in preparing foods has not only been for nutritional value but for flavor enhancing. My daughter has just recently found out that she has an allergy to gluten and so there have been a lot of changes in the Reardon household with the food that we are buying. We are now on the hunt for anything and everything gluten-free. Here at CTTC, we have noticed that all of the spices we sell are labeled “gluten-free”! Since my daughter has started cooking different types of meals for the family, she has begun using all different types of spices when she cooks in order to give the food a little more flavor. She has found that adding a little bit of spice to something bland like tofu can make it more enticing.  

Two of the most used spices in the world are Salt and Pepper.  Salt is considered the “King of Spices”.  It is a natural mineral (sodium chloride) as it is mined from underground.  Pepper is the second most used spice. Black pepper is the fruit of the pepper plant harvested unripe but not far from ripening--called the peppercorn. The fruit around the seed shrinks and darkens as it's dried, forming black pepper. A form of black pepper is produced in all countries that grow it. Fully ripened pepper fruits are used to make white pepper (it is the seed with the fruit removed). White pepper is more expensive than black due to the cost of processing. Green pepper is harvested pepper that is not ripened yet. It is processed to avoid fermentation of any kind. It has a fresh herbal flavor. Green pepper is used in Western cooking. It is mixed in mustard, pepper steak and sauces. White pepper is often used in cream-based sauces.

An excellent combination of spices, as recommended by Simon and Garfunkel in their song “Scarborough Fair”, is parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. You can always find these four spices lined up in this exact order here at CTTC!          

My daughter’s favorite combination of spices to use for spicing up tofu are a little bit of salt, pepper, rosemary leaves, ground sage, and Italian seasoning. Mix this up with some olive oil and cook the tofu in a frying pan until golden brown. To add a little extra flavor, sauté the tofu with some chopped up green pepper. Serve the tofu with any kind of rice and enjoy! Eating healthy can be very hard and at times very bland. Utilizing different types of spices can add some much needed flavor to your food while still following healthy guidelines.

We carry a host of spices here at Compliments to the Chef at 46 Marion Avenue Saratoga Springs, NY to help “spice up” your life. 

Remember “Life Happens in the Kitchen”

Take care,

John, Paula and Aubrey.

Little Pockets of Deliciousness!

Hello my Foodie Friends! I hope everyone is going to celebrate Elvis Presley’s 81st birthday today! Here is a food Elvis would have loved: Calzones, an Italian filled oven pizza that is folded over to resemble a half-moon. The idea of the calzone originated in Naples, Italy and has become a favorite worldwide. The character Ben Wyatt from my daughter’s favorite show “Parks and Recreation” describes calzones as “a portable delicious meal that is in its own container. It is a whole new spin on Italian fast casual dining.” My daughter likes to describe them as “little pockets of deliciousness”. I would have to agree with both of them on this one. You can put anything you would like into a calzone; different cheeses, pepperoni, sausage, eggplant, peppers, spinach, broccoli, etc. Calzones do not have to be as heavy as most people assume they are. Vegetarians and meat lovers can unite in eating this glorious creation!

In order to make the calzones perfectly, you will need the right tool and that tool is the Calzone Press. To use the press, take your favorite pizza or pie dough and roll it onto a floured surface to about 1/8 inch thickness. Open the press and use the bottom of it to cut out a circle of dough. Transfer the dough round into form of the press and then proceed to fill one side with approximately 1 cup of your savory or sweet filling of choice. In order to create the best results, brush the outside rim of dough with water before closing and firmly press to seal the grill. This press is only to form the calzone, DO NOT place the press in the oven! Instead, pre-heat your oven or grill to 450 degrees F and place the formed calzone onto a cornmeal dusted baking stone or greased baking sheetfor approximately 20 minutes (or until golden brown). The press is dishwasher safe so the clean up should be easy so you can enjoy your Elvis Birthday party!

We haven’t tried it yet but I bet you can put one of Elvis’s favorites: “Grilled Banana and Peanut Butter” in one!


So remember my Foodie Friends that Life happens in the Kitchen”     So stop in to Compliments to the Chef at 46 Marion Ave to pick up your Calzone Press and Happy 81st Birthday Elvis!

Ahhh, Thank ya, thank ya very much!

John and Paula have left the building!

Score Big and Kick it up a Notch

Hello my Foodie Friends!  Super Bowl Sunday is still a couple of weeks away. However, it is never too early to begin your party prep.  Over the years I have attended and hosted many Super Bowl house parties.  As I reflect on the number of Super Bowl’s I have watched, I have to admit there have been a lot that were over before half time. If the game is bad then the party better be great! The first Super Bowl party I hosted was with my best friend and roommate Fred in our first bachelor pad apartment. We invited at least 15 young ladies and informed all our male friends that we were going to have an epic party! Fred and I made a Super Bowl Feast fit for 100 with the little wieners wrapped in a blanket, pulled pork, Ziti just to name a few and we used lots of spices and rubs to kick it up! As the guests started to arrive we noticed that there were no males walking in only females!  The party was going well with all our great food and rocking music playing over he turned down TV. As I looked across the room at Fred we both smiled a knowing smile that our male friends thought our party would be lame! Now we had to entertain 15 young ladies who stayed for the whole game and after.  Who played in the game?  I don’t remember! I love all the hype that accompanies this annual event.  We now have time-honored tradition of commercials featuring croaking frogs slinging beer, singing cowboys slinging beer, battling beer bottles slinging beer and little kids magically starting a car by using the “force”. I won't even mention half time wardrobe malfunctions, lip-syncing superstars and reunions of some great '70's rock bands.

To make your Super Bowl Sunday feasting easy and super, try these cheesy, lightly spicy, crunchy morsels. 

 Cheesy Corn Pudding Bites


·                8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

·                1 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese

·                1 large egg

·                1/2 cup frozen corn kernels

·                48 scoop - shaped tortilla chip - I use Tostitos Scoops

·                Chopped chives or cilantro, for sprinkling


Preheat the oven to 350°. 

In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, pepper jack cheese, egg and corn.

Fill tortilla cups and bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden and bubbly. 

Garnish with cilantro and/or chives. Serve warm from the oven.

You can prep at least one baking sheet ahead so you can pop them in the oven when it's time for a refill. These fly off the platter and when served at parties, they are, by far, the most popular appetizer. 

This recipe doubles and triples easily, just buy plenty of Tostitos and be aware that there will be broken scoops in each bag. The cheese mixture can be made ahead, but because it contains raw egg, I do not recommend making more the night before you plan to serve.

Good Luck with your parties and oh to this day our male friends still do not believe anyone came to our party!

Remember my Foodie Friends; “Life Happens in the Kitchen!”

Take Care, 
The Saratoga Chef 

Lucky New Year's Food

Hello Foodie Friends. It’s that time again for us here at CTTC to thank all the wonderful acquaintances that have helped us throughout the year!  As Clarence said to George Bailey “No man is a failure who has friends.” We have foodie friends which is even better!  So many great people have come through our door with questions and some with suggestions. We believe that we have a great extended family who shares in our joy of cooking and creating our own masterpiece meals. As we get ready to ring in the New Year and welcome 2015; memories of some New Year traditions come to mind.  Upon meeting my wife Paula, I had the opportunity to be exposed to some of the southern traditions her mother made based on her father’s background growing up in Virginia.  The serving of black eyed peas on New Year’s Day has been considered a lucky New Year’s food that dates back almost 1500 years.  The tradition arrived in America during the 1930’s in Georgia and spear after the Civil War.  In the Southern states, the tradition of eating black eyed peas on New Year’s Day is considered good luck to bring prosperity to the New Year.  The traditional meal includes collards, turnips, or mustard greens, and ham.  The swelling of the black eyed peas symbolizes prosperity; the greens symbolize money; the ham represents positive motion.  Here is a great recipe that includes all of the ingredients we hope brings good luck to you for 2015 !!



 Original recipe makes 10 servings

 1 pound dry black-eyed peas

 2 tablespoons olive oil

 1 large yellow onion, diced

 2 cloves garlic, minced

 2 (32 ounce) cartons chicken broth

 8 cups water

 1 pound smoked ham hocks

 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes

 5 pepperoncini peppers

 1 bay leaf

 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme

 salt and pepper to taste



20 mins


3 hrs


11 hrs 20 mins Directions

Place the black-eyed peas into a large container and cover with several inches of cool water; let stand 8 hours to overnight. Drain and rinse before using.

In a large stock pot over medium heat, cook and stir onion and garlic in olive oil until onion becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Pour in the chicken broth and 8 cups water, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer. Stir in soaked black-eyed peas, ham hocks, tomatoes, pepperoncini, bay leaf, garlic powder, thyme, and salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until peas are tender, ham meat is falling off the bones, and the broth is thickened, about 3 hours.


We have wonderful round ovens from Le Creuset, Staub, and Lodge that can help you with this wonderful dish.

Have a safe and happy New Year and remember “Life happens in the kitchen”

Take care,

The Saratoga Chef


Home Made Christmas Caramels

Hello my Foodie Friends! Its candy making time and I am not the best at this so I am passing along a recipe from our new partner ThermoWorks!  I have been listening to our great Chefs from some local restaurants and they have asked me to bring the best Thermometers in the world.  Christmas was a magical time in my family and my brothers and sisters loved the candy making competitions’ my mother and her sister would have.  They never admitted it was a competition but they would always try to top each other with more and more different kinds of candies.  My Aunt’s name was Carmella and guess what her specialty was!  Here is a recipe from  ThermoWorks for Christmas Caramels:

Caramels are non-crystalline candies made from a mixture of caramelized sugars, butter and cream. Their chewiness comes from lower cooking temperatures and high moisture content. Caramels are at their best when they are chewy rather than hard, wonderfully mouthwatering and chewing liberates droplets of butterfat from the sugar mass.

The key to great homemade caramel is controlling temperature at three critical points in the process. First, cooking your sugar to just the right temperature; second, allowing the finished product to cool properly, and finally, storing the caramel so sugars will not crystallize before you’ve had a chance to eat them.

Start by combining the seeds from one vanilla bean, butter, salt and heavy cream in a sauce pan. This mixture not only adds richness and flavor to the finished product, it also keeps the caramel soft and chewy. Bring to a boil, cover and remove from the heat. Allow the mixture to meld for 10 minutes. The longer it sits, the more vanilla flavor will infuse with the cream and butter.

Next, turn your attention to the sugar. In a high-sided sauce pan combine corn syrup, water, and sugar and cook over medium-high heat. One of the dangers of making caramel is crystallization. To reduce this risk, do not stir the mixture. You don’t want any sugar granules sticking to the side of the pot.

Allow the sugar to cook until it develops a faint golden color and registers 300°F. The Super-Fast Thermapen is ideal for monitoring temperatures when making candy because its temperature readings are fast and very accurate (±.7°F).

Once at 300°F, lower the heat to medium-low and gently swirl the pan periodically as you continue to cook the mixture. Cooking the sugar slower allows you to have more control as the temperatures creep higher, and reduces the chance that you’ll burn the mixture. When the mixture has reached 350°F it’s done.

Another option for monitoring the temperature of your candy is with an alarm thermometer, like DOT. Attach DOT’s Pro-Series probe to the side of the pot with a pot clip and set the alarm to sound when your caramel has reached350°F.

Once at 350°F, remove the caramelized sugar from the heat and stir in the cream mixture. Return the pan to the heat (medium-low) and cook the caramel until it reaches *248°F - what candy experts call “Firm Ball” stage. During this step in the process it’s important that you keep stirring the caramel so it doesn’t burn.

Pour the finished mixture to a pan lined with parchment paper that’s been coated with nonstick spray. Smooth out the caramel in the pan and let sit at room temperature (67 to 77°F) for 1 hour. After an hour, transfer the caramel to the fridge (set to below 40°F) and allow to cool for another hour.

Cut the caramel into bite size pieces and wrap them in wax paper to preserve freshness while storing them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. The crystallization is caused as a result of the sugar crystals in the caramel becoming damp from humidity from the refrigerator or being stored at room temp and not in an air tight container.

Ingredient List:  
1 cup Heavy Cream
5 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 Vanilla Bean
Tsp Salt
1/4 cup Light Corn Syrup
1/4 cup Water
1 1/3 cup Sugar

*248°F is only applicable at sea level. If you’re at a higher elevation, you need to reduce temperature by 1°F for every 500 ft above sea level.

Oh and the real winners of my Mom and Aunt’s competition were me and my siblings!

Enjoy your candy and remember my foodie friends: “Life Happens in the Kitchen!”


Take Care,

The Saratoga Chef