David Sammarco Catering
 
Graduate of Johnson and Wales Culinary Institute. Best instructional cable show in the U.S.A.
 
     
 


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SAVE MONEY/SAVE TIME

Hi folks, I hope you're all doing well these days. In this Column I will focus on things that you can do to save money and time in regards to food preparation. The process I am introducing will involve six steps. They will be, shopping, cooking, cooling, packaging, labeling and freezing.

Most of us live very busy lives, and usually time is not in abundance. Life is full of work, errands, deadlines (don't you love deadlines Folks??) meetings, commitments, etc, etc ! OK, so how do we find time to cook every night?? Simple, here is the answer, we thaw, heat, and serve, our own food. That's right, our own food! The technique, I will suggest to you is one that I have been employing in my own home for years, whenever the time crunch is on. But it does require a rainy Saturday afternoon, every so often, but the bottom line is that this technique will save you hours upon hours of time. Let me ask you this folks! When do find that the crunch for time is weighing down on you the most, is it not during the week? So the following technique is introduced for those of us who have minimal time on their hands during the week. You could call it a Culinary short cut that will not taste like a shortcut. This technique will benefit busy families as well as busy single folks.

Let us use chicken cutlets for an example in regards to introducing the employment of this technique. Everyone knows that the process is quite involved. Whether they are for chicken parmigiana, chicken cutlets with nice garlic mashed potato, vegetable and gravy, or cutlets for a sandwich. By the way, chicken cutlets with mashed potatoes; vegetables and chicken or brown gravy is one of my favorite meals. It's very popular Down South as well. There are many dishes you can do with chicken cutlets. You can Parmigiana it, brown gravy it, Milanese it, mayo lettuce and tomato it, then put it on a nice sub roll. A homemade chicken cutlet is a beautiful thing folk!!

Yes folks, to make cutlets the right way is fairly involved. (Kidding). Check it out!!
Go to the store, by the chicken, drive it home, rinse it off, trim the fat off, pound it out, flour it, egg it, pass it through seasoned bread crumbs, and fry it. By the way folks, what is it called when you pass a cutlet through, flour eggs and breadcrumbs? It is called Standard Breading Procedure, or if you will SBP. You can also do this with eggplant as well.

Let me tell you this folks that the standard breading procedure and frying process is a fair amount of work. Not to mention it can mess up your clean kitchen considerably. But do not fret. I will explain to you a way for you to prepare hassle free, quick and easy meals during a busy week.

OK, here we go. Like I said earlier in this Column, pick yourself a rainy Saturday afternoon, or a day that you know you have a bit of extra time on your hands, it is a plus to have the kitchen to yourself as well. In other words, if you know that you have about three to four hours at home alone, (being alone in your kitchen is also a beautiful thing folks) your all set. This is what you're going to do to make life during the workweek a bit more bearable. OK, still using chicken cutlets for example. Trim the fat off them, then pound them out, by placing them on a stable surface, with saran wrap underneath and over them. Grab a mallet, or meat tenderizer, lightly pound them. Put them in a bowl; move them to the side. Get rid of the cutting board; make sure you sterilize it, as you had raw chicken on it.

Now set up your flour, egg wash, and seasoned Italian breadcrumbs. Use containers that are square and long and wide enough for the flour and crumbs, use a deep bowl for the egg wash. Now pass your chicken cutlets through the flour, shake off excess, hit it in the egg, now pass it through the crumbs, and shake off excess crumbs. Remember; try to keep one hand dry and one hand wet, other wise your hands will become a gooey mess. Now fry your cutlets in medium hot oil, until golden brown, make sure the oil is not too hot, other wise your cutlets will turn black, this is not good. You want them a light golden color. You should make a ton of these cutlets. Let's say there are four in your family, I would make around forty-eight Cutlets. That would be six Cutlets per dinner, you would have enough Cutlets for eight dinners. You say to yourself, forty-eight cutlets, wow, that's a lot of work.
But here's the beauty of it all, you do all the work on one day, instead of on eight different days, do you see what I am getting at folks? Now we can do the same thing with, Eggplant Cutlets, Meatballs, Lasagna, Tomato, Marinara, Putanesca or Meat Sauce, even Chili, meat or vegetarian. A freezer can be a beautiful thing!!

OK, so here is what you do. Put that rainy day aside, or a day that you know you have three or four hours to yourself. Cook your food, cool it, package it, label it, and freeze it. So here we go, make believe it's Sunday night, it's going to be a crazy week, but that is nothing new. The following is a system to prepare a Chicken Parmigiana dinner on Monday night. Sunday Night, take out a package of chicken cutlets and a container of tomato sauce out of the freezer, put them on a shelf in your refrigerator. Then when you come home Monday night, Pre - heat your oven to 375, put your water on for your favorite pasta, don't forget to put a little salt and oil in it. Put your sauce on a simmer, take your cutlets, out of the refrigerator. Place your cutlets on a non-stick baking sheet, heat them for 15 minutes, take them out, sauce them, put a nice slice of Provalone cheese on each cutlet. Put your pasta in the water. Put your cutlets back in the oven, and cook them until the cheese is a light golden color. Fix your salad, while the pasta is cooking. Drain the pasta, when done, don't over cook your pasta, there is nothing worse than mushy pasta, toss it with a little olive oil. Cover it with saran wrap and put it on the table. Put your bread, Romano cheese and salad dressings on the table. Put your hot Tomato sauce in a bowl, and put it on the table. Take your cutlets out of the oven and put them in a nice serving platter and put them on the table. Call your family to the table and enjoy the meal, and thank the table!!

Folks that whole process should take no more than 45 minutes, from the time you start to the time you sit down to eat. But just think how long it would have taken to prepare this Dinner if you tried to make the Cutlets and Sauce from scratch that same night. You'd be eating somewhere around 10:00pm!! The same method can be applied to all the foods, mentioned previously in this article. As well as cooked chicken for whatever you want. Cooked stew beef, for stew, just come home, boil your vegetables, drain the water, add the gravy, add the hot beef, make it all hot, serve it over rice or buttered egg noodles, your golden. There you go folks, I hope I shed a bit of light on this, great technique, for those hectic weeks we all have once in a while. Until next time, stay healthy, happy and well fed. Also folks feel free to check out my Band playing in and around Metro Boston at; www.davesammarcoband.com - We do a mix of Rock, Pop, Country and Blues. Speaking of which, we just played The House of Blues in Cambridge. I hope you are having fun with your Culinary Pursuits, OK Folks - Good luck and have fun.

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IT'S RECIPE TIME AGAIN

Hi folks. The following recipes are just a few of my favorites. I hope you find them easy to prepare, as well as pleasing to the palate. Lets jump right into them. Good luck and have fun!!!

WHITE CLAM SAUCE
Folks one time I walked around South Beach in Miami Florida, just trying to get a simple Linguini with White Clam Sauce, People were putting butter in it, Olives, Feta Cheese, Artichokes, etc, which in my book is butchering it. The less is more technique really comes into play with dish, here is a winning recipe for all you White Clam Sauce Lovers.

INGREDIENTS:
serves 2- 4 people
1 cup olive oil
3 tbsp. chopped garlic
3 cups chopped drained clams (fresh preferred, but canned OK)
8 little neck whole clams (Optional)
½ cup dry white wine
2 cups clam juice
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp salt
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

METHOD OF PREPARATION
In a medium sized saucepot heat oil until medium hot. Add garlic and lightly brown. Add drained and little neck clams. Blend and stir 1 minute. Add wine. Cook on high 30 seconds. Add clam juice and seasonings. Cover. Cook on medium high heat until little neck clams are open. Serve over your favorite pasta, I prefer Linguini, garnish with fresh grated Romano cheese, little necks, Whole parsley or Kale, lemon slices or twists and fresh pepper. For a variation try adding a little oregano or basil, or a little of both. Whatever you do, do not over cook your pasta and eat it piping hot, and leave out the olives and feta cheese and butter. Butter has no place in a true Classical Italian White Clam Sauce. If you were serving 4 people, I would serve four individual bowls of Pasta, and place two little necks in each bowl, and a portion of clams and sauce. Use big bowls, so folks got room to twist the pasta and dip their bread!

MUSSELS EN BIANCO
(Aka steamed Mussels with garlic and wine.)
OK folks, here is an all time favorite for summer. Even though this dish has been around for a long time, it seems to still be gaining popularity. Try this one, it can be eaten as a meal. Or served as an appetizer.

INGREDIENTS
(Serves 2 - 4 people)
I once ate Six pounds of these by myself; in other words I really enjoy them!!

3 pounds fresh cleaned, Mussels
(NOTE: Make sure that the Mussels are alive, and de - bearded, and free of grit and sand before you steam the Mussels. If they are open or cracked do not buy them. If they do not close back up after you toy with them a bit they are no good.)
½ cup olive oil
4 tbsp of fresh chopped garlic
1 cup dries white wine
½ stick butter (optional)
2 tbsp of fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp salt and black pepper
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp each of oregano and basil

METHOD OF PREPARATION
It doesn't get easier than this folks don't!!!
Add all of the above ingredients in a large saucepot, blend well, and cover,
cook on high heat till all of the Mussels are opened, then cook for an additional 1 minute on high, shut off heat, using tongs or a slotted spoon, arrange Mussels on a platter or bowl, ladle the sauce over the top, eat piping hot, enjoy!!

Tasty Little Tips:
1. For Tasty Tuna use White Tuna, and add a bit of chopped celery, onion, a bit of relish and mustard, and of course your mayonnaise, a pinch of salt and pepper.
2. When grilling Fresh Tuna Steaks, Meat or Chicken try this zesty Tex Mex rub. 1 Tbsp each of the following: chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder. ½ Tsp of following: salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper. Mix it all up. Before you add the rub, first mix your meat, chicken or fish up with, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/8 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup lime juice, 1 tbsp of Tabasco. Now place what ever your going to grill on a flat platter, add your rub, coating both sides, with your clean hands. Above rub should take care two pounds of meat, chicken or tuna or shark. Grill away, make sure grill is good and hot first. I would serve this up with a nice salad, grilled veggies and a wild rice pilaf.
3. For grilled shrimp or vegetables, use a fair amount of your favorite zesty Italian or Caesar dressing. zucchini, summer squash or Portabello mushrooms are naturals for grilling. Just make sure that your grill is always good and hot first, same way as you would never sauté in a cold pan. Do not grill on a cold grill!!

Ok Folks, that's it for this segment, Until next time Stay cool, Happy and well fed.

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FRANCAISE ETC!

Hi folks. Hope your culinary pursuits have been productive and satisfying. In this column, I will explain some terms that we see on menus from time to time. It is also my goal to take The mystery out some of these terms and to show you just how easy preparing these dishes can be. We are talking styles here folks, styles of Francaise, Piccatta, Scampi, Cacciatore and Marsala. Some folks might believe that you could only make a Chicken Francaise, or Chicken Piccatta, or Shrimp Scampi, when in actuality these are only styles of preparation and many different items can be prepared in these styles. Here they are in a nutshell.

1.Francaise, in the style of France, likes French toast. Francaise is typically any item that is first dusted in seasoned flour, dipped in egg, then fryed till golden brown, in hot oil, the oil is then drained out, then we add soft, not melted butter, lemon, parsley, and a dry white wine, and reduce the sauce until it is thick and creamy. For Francaise we mostly use, Chicken, Veal, Shrimp, Filet of Sole, Sea Scallops. Salt and pepper to taste!!

2. Piccatta, is done the same way as Francaise, except we add, a hint of garlic and /or shallots, capers, and the egg is left out. Again, the same variety of meats, chicken and Seafood can be used.

3. Cacciatore - Any items that are prepared with fresh mushrooms, onions, peppers, fresh parsley, basil, dry white wine, tomatoes, and a little salt and pepper, with a hint of zing that would come from adding a bit of crushed red pepper flakes. A Cacciatore sauce should be a tad zesty, the veggies in it should be al dente, the sauce should not be too thin, or too thick.

4. Scampi, anything can be Scampied, Scampi is a style, a sauce, method of preparation etc, as are all the other styles previously mentioned. Scampi is prepared the same way as Piccatta, except we leave out the Capers. Imagine that folks, just by simply leaving out the Capers, we get a completely different dish, or style if you will this is the essence of these segment folks. Just by adding or leaving particular ingredients out of certain dishes, we come up with totally different dishes. That a folk, to me, are a beautiful thing, this is also, what I believe, cooking, as a whole, is all about. The simplicity of cooking and food preparation is truly wonderful!

5.Marsala, made the same way as Piccatta, except we leave out the Capers, and instead of
White wine, we add Marsala wine, and Mushrooms, and a bit of fresh chopped parsley. A variation would be to add a bit of Brown Sauce, Julienne onion and Prosciutto. Marsala is considered to be a dessert wine, it is sweet, rich and flavorful. I personally love anything Marsala, whether it is Monkfish, Chicken, Shrimp or Sea Scallops etc!!
OK Folks, I hope I have shed some light and/or broadened your horizons on some of those terms and dishes that you have been seeing and pondering about from time to time, on various menus here and there. I hope you have fun with your experimenting and food preparation. This segment has almost come to a close, but before I log off, I wish to leave you with some tips, aka food for thought.

1. Always heat your pans before you cook in them.
2. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
3. Chill salad plates and warm your Dinner plates.
4. Keep Knives super sharp at all times.
5. Cook with a wine you'd prefer to drink.
6. Timing is everything in a kitchen.
7. Sniff your fish before you take it home from the Super Market, but do not let your nose touch it, or you own it, there is nothing worse or more time consuming than, getting home, only to find out that your Seafood is spoiled, which means a trip back to the store, and a late Dinner.
8. Fresh fish should never smell like fish or amonia.
9. If fish fresh or cooked, smells like ammonia it is beyond spoiled.
10. When you go out to eat, if the service and food is everything you expected, leave a nice tip.
11. Keep your Kitchens Clean at all times.

OK Folks, that's it for this segment, I have to go make Linguini with Bolognese Sauce for my Family. Till next episode, stay happy and well fed!

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Food as a healer.
Hi Folks. To me summer always seems like a big pot of Grandmas Italian Gravy, come on all you Italians in the house, you all know what I am talking about. We wait so long for it to cook, with the pork, sausage, beef and Meatballs, then as a soon as it hits the dining room table its history, or in plain English, gone, just like Summer. But like Summer, while that big bowl of Grandmas gravy was there and on the table, right in front of us, oh how delicious and satisfying it was !! It seems that some of life's biggest treats have a tendency to be somewhat short lived and fleeting, with Summer and Grandma's gravy on the table in front of ten starving people being perfect examples.

But cooking and preparing meals for friends and family is a great way to keep the excitement of summer rolling on through the year. You might say, but Chef Dave, how in Sam Hill, can cooking make us feel like summer is always here. My answer, Food is a wonderful thing, food heals, food makes us feel content, it satisfies our hunger, and it satisfies not only physical needs, but emotional needs as well. I know if I am having a so called, "One of those days, to little time, to many errands, etc" I take myself out for a quick lunch, either Thai, Chinese, Mexican or Italian, and boy I'll tell you, the rest of the day still might present a considerable challenge, but that little lunch break, really gives extra momentum to get me through the rest of my day. I don't know about you folks, but most of my days start at 7:00 am and end at 12:00 PM and I know I am not alone. For me eating right is important, and not only does it have to be good for me, but also it has to taste good. The tasting good part is the part that makes us feel happy. Who wants something that is really healthy for us but taste's awful, why not have both in one meal? Like a nice broiled Boston Schrod, Salad with Balsamic dressing and steamed rice. Fajitas, meat or meatless are super healthy, just leave out or cut down on the sour cream and cheese part. Linguini with red or white clam sauce is perfect, just go easy on the grated cheese, and make sure you use olive oil. Chicken cacciatore, seafood marinara, ziti marinara, turkey meatballs or meatloaf, ratatouille is all low fat and tasty. So is stir-fried chicken and veggies, or just stir-fried veggies without the meat as well as just about any unfried Thai or Japanese item. Eggplant or turkey submarine sandwiches, light on the cheese and Mayo, are also fine. When I get a turkey sub, instead of everything Mayo, I get it with a little olive oil, pepper and oregano, drizzled on top. The following foods are tasty and healthy for us. Why eat tofu pups or boiled chicken all the time when you don't have too. You see folks; everything about food is wonderful. Its powers to heal and satisfy are tremendous. Just a few weeks ago my friend called us, and said she was going through a tough time in her life. My Wife and I decided to have her over for Dinner, I scooted out of the house, got a bottle of her favorite wine, grabbed some lobsters, Shrimp, (our friend loves seafood) Corn, flowers, I cooked, while my wife made a nice salad and set the table. When our friend walked in the house, the smile on her face could have lit up the darkest night.

We sat down, we ate, we laughed, she talked about some things that were bothering her, while my Wife and I listened and offered solutions to her situation. Three hours passed by, we were still at the table, laughing and talking, she then told us that she had been healed, that she knew what actions she had to take to resolve the problem in her life, and thanked us for the wonderful evening. Our friend now claims that, by my Wife and I, simply having her over for dinner that night, cooking for her, sitting down with her, and listening to her, that she was able to see the path that would lead her to happiness. So folks, I guess in closing food alone heals to some degree, but food and people are wonderful combination for happiness. I believe when we cook for someone, and really put our hearts into the whole experience, is to say to that person, hey look, I really care for you, you mean a lot to me, I want to make you a happy, I hope you find this meal satisfying, I hope you like the way I set and decorated the table. I am not referring to people who get paid for cooking. Although most cooks and Chefs I know, myself included, cook because we have a true passion for it, and still come home and cook for our families after doing it all day. But I am mostly talking about non-culinary professional's here folks. I am talking about Husbands cooking for Wives, Wives cooking for Husbands, friends cooking for friends, parents cooking for children and children cooking for parents. It is easy to heat up frozen dinners, or open up a few cans of beef stew, or pick up a pizza, but to cook from scratch is where the caring really shines through!! So Folks, is it time to show someone or some people just how much you care for them ??

Till next time, Stay well and eat well !!
David Sammarco.


     
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