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4 Jul

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Eat This…. Not That

25 Jan

I just started with a new client last week,  nice guy. I found him through a dietitian I had met at least a year or two ago.  When we met  I suggested meeting and seeing if we could work together at least as a referral source for  each other. I tried following up but she did not seem interested.

A few weeks ago I noticed she was a friend of a friend on Facebook.  I “friended” her.  Fortunately she remembered me “Aren’t you the Personal Chef that does Kosher?” She asked.  yes, that’s me.  She told me that she specializes in a specific diet plan and has clients with specific dietary plans.  I told her as long as I know what the client can eat (and can not eat) , how much, and want they don’t like or want and any other specifics to their diet I can make delicious food for them.

Of course, it worked.  Ten meals with sides as well as freshly made brown rice rice, quinoa and hummus and a special salad dressing and happy as a clam.  I asked yesterday and the only problem was that I gave him more hummus than he needed….

Good news.  the dietitian told me that if things worked with the first client more to follow.    Happy dance!

 

Why I Love to Cook for my Clients

31 Dec

In a world where most jobs have us as “cogs in a wheel” working for low wages, without sight of a final goal for the company or ourselves, as a Personal Chef I do everything soup to nets for each client. I find out what
Instead, as a Personal Chef I speak to people about what food means to them that would determine the choices of foods we will prepare for them. Is it simply for nourishment? Must it be a work of art for them to enjoy it? Are there specific dietary needs such as diabetic diet or salt free diet for clients that have been through heat failure or similar issues. Vegetarian or vegan is easy for me since I keep kosher I am very conscious of any indication meat, dairy and shellfish ingredients that would make a dish non-kosher or trayf.
Within the limitations of these health related issues, I find the dishes they most enjoy (or won’t go near). I am able to prepare some of my client’s favorites (and mine) with minor adjustments.
Two weeks ago I prepared one of my signature salmon dishes that normally is marinated in lime, ginger, garlic.oil and soy sauce for a salt free client. I removed the soy sauce for the recipe (I may try the liquid aminos in the future). It was delicious. The husband and wife said they never had such delicious food. I will be back in their kitchen this week to refill their fridge with the foods they most enjoy.
My most requested dishes include roast chicken, beef stew, chicken picata, baked marinated salmon. Roast vegetables, brownies, chicken matzoh ball soup, lentil soup. peanut butter cookies .and meat loaf.
People want healthy well prepared home-style dishes. They can’t believe how good this food tastes. When they tell me this, it is SOOO satisfying. Of course, making money doing what you love is pretty cool too!!
I can use the knowledge I acquired in college studying nutrition as well as the latest trending diet programs to tweak recipes and food choices to an individuals needs.

Call me, tell me what you need, or want. Chef Helen can put together weekly meals, dinners for 2, dinner parties, and of course baking. Always open to new ideas.

Call me at 561-676-2078 or email chefhelen@helenshomecooking.com so I can talk about helping you.

 

Time Magazine’s list of Broken New Years Resolutions Same as 2015?

30 Dec

Man plans, G-d laughs.

We make resolutions whether out loud, written or to ourselves.  According to Time Magazine, here is the list of most broken New Years resolutions.  How can we do better this year?

Do you need someone to guide you with exercise, relaxation, fiscal responsibility, educating yourself, or my favorite:  EATING BETTER.

I can help you with eating better and refer to some of the best local (South Florida) people to help you with the rest!

Do you need help planning menus?Are you looking for someone to prepare meals in your home that will address any health issues and will please the palate of everyone in your household?

Call Chef Helen at 561-676-2078 or email to schedule your free in-home pr phone consultation.

helen@helenshomecooking.com or check out my website at

http://www.helenshomecooking.com

Comfort Foods

15 Dec

As a Personal Chef I talk to people about food. Most importantly I speak with my current and future clients about how food makes them feel.  Food is emotionally charged. Some people had bad experiences, being forced to eat poorly prepared vegetables growing up that made them forever avoid healthy choices and add to their poor nutrition and poor health.

My goal is to turn that around for people.  I talk to the potential client , preferably in their home.  I find out what they eat and WHY.  I am no therapist but giving people roast cauliflower or roast beets that are good enough to snack on has been the beginning of changing people’s lives.

I learn about their cultural food choices.  while with my background as an Ashkenazic Jew, brisket and Pflaumen kuchen top my list as do my mother’s spritz cookies (recipes another time) for an Italian it my be meatballs and spaghetti or Lasagna.  I find your comfort foods, your dietary needs (are you allergic to a specific food? are you kosher (my specialty!!) supposed to lower your fat or salt  or do you just HATE peanut butter like I do?) .

I figure out the menu with your help.  I shop for all ingredients on the way to your home and cook everything there.

Since my focus is kosher clients, by using the clients equipment I don’t have questions about anything getting mixed up.

561-676-2078 helen@helenshomecooking.com

Chef Helen Gottesman

 

 

 

Rosh HaShanah Dishes for the Soul

6 Sep

Rosh Hashana inspires dishes for the soul

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Personal chef Helen Gottesman of Helen’s Home Cooking prepares a kosher holiday meal. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Before Helen Gottesman looks into the depths of the new year, she glances back to remember the sweetest, most flavorful dishes of her childhood.

Rosh Hashana inspires dishes for the soul photo

The most vivid culinary memory of Rosh Hashanas past: Pflaumenkuchen, her Czech-German grandmother’s special plum tart.

“I remember the smell of the plums. My mother made a couple of dishes wonderfully, and one of them was my grandmother’s plum tart. She would use Italian prune plums. They came into season shortly before Rosh Hashana – and it was a short season,” recalls Gottesman, a New York native who works as a personal chef in Boynton Beach.

This is the great motif of Gottesman’s home cooking – comfort foods that pay homage to family memories. And as the Jewish New Year begins at sunset tonight, ushering in 10 days of reflection and repentance, she will greet it with prayer, introspection and kosher dishes reminiscent of her younger years in the Kew Gardens Hills neighborhood of Queens.

Rosh Hashana inspires dishes for the soul photo

“We would always have the matzo ball soup and, typically, challah,” says Gottesman, 55, who now bakes eight loaves of traditional challah bread at a time.

Helen Gottesman prepares her plum tart (or pflaumen kuchen). (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

And because Rosh Hashana exalts the sweetest of foods – as in honey-dipped apples to beckon happiness – there was always a piece of that ­fragrant, open-face plum tart, a culinary prayer for a sweet life.

Today, in accordance with her Orthodox Jewish faith, Gottesman keeps a kosher kitchen. But “kitchen” is a movable notion for a woman who turned a love of cooking Shabbat dinner for friends – and a knowledge of nutrition and kosher standards – into a small enterprise she calls Helen’s Home Cooking ( helenshomecooking.com).

Usually, she cooks in other people’s kitchens.

“Because I focus on kosher cooking and I keep kosher myself, I’m aware that people are particular about anything that comes into their house,” says Gottesman, who shares her home with husband. Robert, an educator, and 16-year-old son, Adir.

So when she cooked an early Rosh Hashana dinner at a friend’s home on a recent weeknight, Gottesman worked with fresh ingredients her friend had shopped for and brought only the items her friend was missing. While other mobile chefs may carry their own knives and trusty spice kits, she used her friend’s cooking vessels and kitchen utensils.

On the menu that day: one soul-warming comfort dish after another. She roasted a chicken with sweet potatoes, white potatoes and carrots, a sweet noodle kugel with sugar and apples, a batch of almond-flecked green beans, a steaming pot of matzo ball soup and her grandmother’s plum tart.

It’s the kind of cooking that stirs easy conversation with friends and clients.

“If I’m in their kitchen, I hear their food stories, what they like and what they don’t, what their idea of comfort food is. For some, it’s lasagna. You never know. It all depends where and how they grew up,” says Gottesman.

She says a lot of her clients are seniors who don’t cook for themselves anymore. “And they don’t like the takeout places. Typically, what they want is the comfort foods they grew up with,” says the chef.

She dreams of opening a healthy kosher café one day, “a place of coffee, homemade breads and vegetarian items.” But for now she cooks wherever a kitchen welcomes her.

“I love cooking,” says Gottesman. “When I start cooking, I can get a little carried away and my husband tells me, ‘Don’t you realize there are only three of us in this house?'”

PFLAUMENKUCHEN (PLUM TART) WITH MUERBETEIG DOUGH CRUST

TO MAKE THE CRUST:

1 cup margarine

3 cups flour

2 egg yolks

1 lemon

1/4 cup sugar

Cream margarine and sugar, add flour then egg yolks along with grated rind of lemon along with the juice. Chill dough for at least half an hour and then pat into large pie tin with fingers.

TO MAKE THE PLUM TART:

Muerbeteig dough

6-9 Italian prune plums

1 teaspoon sugar

Cut plums into eighths and place them skin side down in the pie pan starting with the outside going halfway up the side. When all of the space is covered, sprinkle with sugar and bake for about 30 minutes at 350º. Tart is done when crust is lightly browned. Allow to cool completely before serving.

ROAST CHICKEN WITH VEGETABLES

Serve with vegetables on the side.

1 chicken cut into eighths or serving size pieces

1 large sweet potato or 2 medium, peeled and cut into chunks

2 white potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

1 large onion sliced or cut into chunks

1 zucchini, sliced

Garlic, a few cloves

1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced or diced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Paprika, to taste

In a roasting pan place bed of vegetables and mix them up and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then, top with chicken pieces skin side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and paprika.

Place in preheated 350º oven. After 30 minutes, turn chicken pieces over and sprinkle salt and pepper and paprika on the chicken if you have not already done so. When this is done (it will be browned) turn chicken pieces back to skin side up and cook for another 30 minutes. (Cooking time is about 1 hour, 15 minutes to 11/2 hours.)

STRING BEANS ALMONDINE

1 to 11/2 pounds string beans

1 tablespoon margarine

1/4 cup almonds, slivered or sliced

1/4 red pepper, slivered

Salt and pepper, to taste

Cut tips off string beans. Either leave beans whole or slice into 1 to 2 inch pieces. Place into boiling salted water until they are tender, but still bright green in color.

Drain the string beans. In the same pot, melt margarine and lightly sauté almonds. Add red pepper and cook to soften slightly. Then add the string beans to heat through.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon, and serve.

Recipes by Helen Gottesman, helenshomecooking.com

MICHELLE BERNSTEIN’S WHOLE STRIPED BASS WITH ARTICHOKES AND FENNEL

1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced in rings

2 (1.5 pound) whole bass, gutted and scales removed, cleaned

1/4 cup olive oil

Zest of 1 lemon, reserve juice

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon zahtar (a sesame seed-based Middle Eastern spice blend)

1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped

1/2 cup dill, chopped

8 plum tomatoes, quartered

2 artichokes, trimmed of outer leaves, cut in quarters

1 fennel bulb, cut in small diced pieces

Preheat oven to 375º.

Place the onion in a single layer onto a roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the fish in a large bowl and add the oil, lemon zest, fennel seeds, garlic, zahtar, parsley, dill, salt and pepper. Mix well. Place the fish over the onions, reserve the oil and spices in the bowl.

Place the tomatoes around the fish, as well as artichokes and fennel bulb. Drizzle the reserved oil and spices over the fish and vegetables.

Cover the pan with aluminum and cook for 25 minutes. Remove the aluminum and raise the heat to 400º. Squeeze the lemon juice over the fish and cook for another 15-20 minutes. Check doneness of the artichokes, if they are tender they are ready, if not, remove the fish carefully with a spatula and set aside covered to keep warm and cook the rest of the vegetables until the artichokes are tender.

MICHELLE BERNSTEIN’S CHICKEN SOUP

(Serves 4 to 6)

1 chicken, about 4 pounds, skinned, rinsed, patted dry, and cut into 6 pieces (2 legs, 2 thighs, and 2 breasts)

2 cups minced Spanish onion

1 cup finely diced celery

1 cup finely diced carrots

1 bay leaf

About 4 quarts chicken broth

1 cup finely diced chayote (small green squash popular in Latin American cooking)

11/2 cups peeled sweet potato, medium dice (from about 1 large potato)

2 medium ears of corn, cut into 1/4-inch rounds

1 cup dill leaves

1 teaspoon habanero pepper, or jalapeño, minced

1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves and stems

1 lime, quartered or cut into sixths (1 wedge per person)

Salt and pepper

Put the chicken, onion, celery, carrots, and bay leaf in a large stock pot and cover with cold chicken broth or cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, moist, and tender, about 1 hour. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Add the chayote, sweet potato, corn, dill, and habanero to the pot. Simmer until the vegetables are cooked, about 30 minutes.

Shred the cooled chicken meat by hand and return it to the pot. Stir in the cilantro and cook for about 5 minutes to rewarm the chicken and further develop the flavor. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into 4 to 6 bowls, making sure to get a good mix of vegetables in each bowl. Serve with a wedge of lime.

CHEF ALLEN’S EXOTIC SPICE BRAISED BRISKET

(Serves 6)

5 pounds brisket, first cut, well marbled

4 tablespoons kosher salt

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup diced celery

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced carrots

3 large cloves garlic, smashed

4 sprigs fresh thyme

3 sticks cinnamon

3 stars of star anise

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

1 large orange, cut in eighths

3 teaspoons bitters

2 tablespoons good tomato paste

1 bottle pinot noir (use kosher wine for a kosher recipe)

To prepare the brisket: Rub the brisket with 3 tablespoons salt and set aside in a dish for 1 hour. Rinse the salt off under running cold water and pat dry. Place a heavy braising pan over high heat. Drizzle in the olive oil. Carefully add the brisket and sear the first side for 2-3 minutes. Turn the beef with a meat tong and brown the second side for another 4-5 minutes. To braise the brisket: Preheat the oven to 325º. Remove the brisket from the pan to a platter. Add the vegetables, spices and orange to the pan. Stir in the bitters and tomato paste. Place the beef on top of the braising mixture and add enough wine to cover the meat by a good 2-3 inches.( You may add more wine or water.) Cover the braising pan with a lid or tightly with aluminum foil and place in the preheated oven. Slowly braise with the cover on for 3 hours until fork tender.

To serve the brisket: Remove the braised beef from the oven and place on a cutting board. Let the brisket rest for a good 5 minutes before attempting to slice. Skim the fat from the braising liquid, and remove the cinnamon sticks. Check the seasoning and add salt if necessary. Spoon the vegetables and pan juices into a gravy boat. Now carefully cut the beef across the grain in short thick slices. Serve with pan juice

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Morrocan chickpea stew

5 Aug

Morrocan chickpea stew

Sautée onion , garlic, carrots, celery. Add cumin, cinnamon, and pepper . Add 8 ounces soaked garbanzo beans and sweet potato along with 4 cups broth or water . Bring to boil, cover and simmer for one hour. Add 2/4 cup of tomato sauce and salt. serve with brown rice

I wanted to be more specific with this recipe which I made again. I had gotten part of the recipe on the package of dried beans and adapted some of the additions based on what I had in my pantry.

Soak half a pound of dried garbanzo beans/chick peas for an hour or more and drain. In a Dutch oven add a Tbsp. of olive oil or other vegetable oil to a pan, Add 1 large onion (sliced or diced), 2 to 4 cloves garlic, a few sliced carrots and celery ribs and saute on medium . As it cooks add 2 tsp. cumin, 1tsp cinnamon, black pepper, and add 4 cups of broth or water (By the way, don’t add the salt until the beans are soft). Cook for about one hour until the beans are soft . Add salt to taste. Add one peeled and diced sweet potato. when the potatoes are cooked through enjoy!
Vegan unless you used chicken broth.
Let me know when you try it.
Helen

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