Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

OatWorks® Smoothies

OatWorks® Smoothies

The people at OatWorks® (http://oatworks.com) were nice enough to send me some samples of their new oat powered fruit smoothies to review! I received the samples a few days ago, and this is what I thought:

  • Packaging Apparence – The beverages come in nice, sturdy bottles with a matte finish plastic label. I felt that the logo and color scheme appropriately represents this health conscience product.  There was enough clear area on the bottle to adequately see the product on the inside, and the top was easy to open. All of the information was easy to read, and promotes having the addition of oat fiber (two bowls worth), along with being vegan friendly, gluten free, dairy free, non-GMO, and kosher.  They do not add any ‘boosts’ like the other brands, and rely on only the natural juices for the nutritional value. The ONLY comment I can make about the bottle is that it has a slight raised texture on the base which I though was a wrinkle in the label, but it was the actual shape of the bottle underneath…not a big deal to me.
  • Product Appearance – All of the varieties I sampled had the expected and appropriate color (Strawberry Banana, Peach Mango, Pomegranate Blueberry), but were just a tad duller than some competitive products, as well as the images on their website. They looked a lot smoother in texture than some other RTD smoothies out there which is a plus for me.  The smoothies were not overfilled and did not look like anything on the inside settled to the bottom…meaning I didn’t really have to shake it before drinking. This is most likely due to the addition of guar and xanthan gum. I also noticed there were no visible oat pieces or specs in the drink, which again is a plus for me.
  • Drinking Experience – I was pleasantly surprised when sampling each of the varieties.  I did not pick up any earthy oat flavor, just a smooth, and sweet profile like the label suggests. They are pretty much spot on with the amount of sweet vs. tart, with my favorite being the strawberry banana.  I personally like a little more strawberry flavor in my smoothies, and it delivered just that.  I did not pick up any gritty or graininess in any of the varieties, and the consistency was just thick enough to leave a refreshing, bright aftertaste…in a good way.  I also felt that the 12oz portion was the perfect size for a beverage like this.
  • Value – After doing a little research, the cost per each bottle is right between the two major brands you would find in the refrigerated section at your local supermarket, however, you have the added benefit of a longer shelf life with these since they do not need to be refridgerated. Now the per/oz cost is a little on the high side, but as previously stated, I think this 12oz size it much better for a single serving, making it a great 160 – 170 calories per bottle.  Some of the other brands have a much higher calorie count than that, but just remember this is a fruit smoothie, so you will see sugar kind of high on the nutrition panel…this is to be expected though.
  • Overall – This was a fantastic product that I look forward to having more of in the future. I felt it was the perfect size, the consistency was very smooth without having any grittiness, and the flavor was spot on.  The price is on the high side, but in-line with the competition, however you can store it longer since it does not need to be refrigerated. I give OatWorks® Oat Powered Natural Smoothies4.5 out of 5!

NERDSTEAK is more than happy to review any food, beverage, restaurant, CPG or equipment items you have to offer.  Feel free to contact Mike directly at chefman316@aol.com to arrange for shipping of samples, or to schedule a review.

Chilled Couscous Salad with Kale and Cucumber

Chilled Couscous Salad with Kale and Cucumber

Super easy, light, tasty, and it will make all your dreams come true.  If you can’t find Couscous, click on the link and you can get it shipped right to your door!

Chilled Couscous with Kale and Cucumber

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon crushed Aleppo chile
2 teaspoons finely chopped mint, plus additional whole leaves for garnish
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups cooked Couscous, chilled
1 cup shredded kale, trimmed
1 cup diced baby cucumber
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

Combine garlic, lemon juice and zest, crushed chile, mint, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
Slowly whisk in olive oil until evenly incorporated.
Separate Couscous by rubbing between your hands, and add to bowl along with remaining ingredients.
Let sit for 30 minutes before serving, and garnish each serving with a fresh mint sprig.

Makes 4 to 8 servings

ID-100186769Talk to any of your friends or family members who work in a restaurant kitchen, and they will tell you about the long hours working nights, weekends, and holidays. They will tell you about the burns and knife related injuries, their sore feet and back problems, and the fast pace life of a restaurant chef. Many of us really enjoy this type of atmosphere as a career choice, however, it is not a fit for everyone. Here is a short-list of food related career choices other than working in a restaurant…

Click here to read Chef Mike’s Examiner.com article 

How to fix your failing restaurant

How to fix your failing restaurant

Please check out my newest Examiner.com article entitled:

How to fix your failing restaurant

There has been a surge in reality TV with programs geared towards fixing a failing restaurant or bar. If you pay close attention, they all have the same message and the same steps to change your establishment from losing money, to being packed with patrons and profitable. Here are a few simple initiatives to align your business on the road to success, without waiting for a TV celebrity to walk through your door…

Seared Scallops with D'allesandro Foods Porcini Risotto

Seared Scallops with D’allesandro Foods Porcini Risotto

Here is a recipe I created using an already seasoned Porcini Risotto from D’allesandro.  It’s very simple to make, and you only need water or broth, and about 20 minutes to cook.  It comes out nice and creamy without having to add extra cream or cheese.  If you want to give it a try, you can buy it right here!

Seared Scallops with Funghi Porcini Risotto

4 cups cooked D’allesandro Funghi Porcini Risotto
12 sea scallops, patted dry
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons grapeseed
Scallion oil or extra virgin olive oil, for garnish
Shaved parmesan, for garnish
2 tablespoons chile threads, for garnish

Cook Funghi Porcini Risotto according to package instructions.
Pat the scallops on both sides with paper towel, then season with salt and pepper.
Heat grapeseed oil in a cast iron skillet over high heat, then sear scallops on both sides until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Do not overcook.
Place on paper towel to drain excess oil.
To serve, place some risotto on each plate and drizzle scallion oil or extra virgin olive oil around the plate.
Sprinkle with shaved parmesan and place three scallops on each plate. Top with a pinch of chile threads and serve.

Makes 4 servings

Let me know if you make it at home and how it turns out!

ID-10061999Please take a look at my first article written for Examiner.com about 5 diet myths that are not entirely true. <—(just click on the link)

I would love to hear your thoughts so please let me know what you think and if there are any food related topics you would like me to write about!

OlovesPackaging[1]The people at Oloves™ (http://www.oloves.com) were nice enough to send me some samples to conduct a consumer review.  I received the samples last week and here is what I thought:

  • Packaging Apparence – These olives come in a cool silver pouch with a tear away top.  It was very easy to open and all of the samples held up very well in the shipping box without the need for much extra packaging. This was obviously produced outside the US with the UK ingredient and nutritional statement on the packaging, but still easy to follow.  They have a very nice product shot on the front with a, ’50 calorie snack’ tag on the front.  It has a very simple yet upscale feel, along with enough support to be a great traveling snack.
  • Product Appearance – The olives themselves held up pretty well being in a soft pouch with little excess oil or brine, but you will notice that they don’t have the integrity of olives in a glass jar, which is to be expected.  I will note that the Mediterranean flavor variety was a much darker green than the Hot Chilli Mama and the Lemony Lover varieties.  Nothing on the package noted a different olive variety.  I liked that the olives were not swimming in oil or brine making it a better quick snack option.  The Mediterranean and the Lemon varieties had the appropriate amount of garnish for what I expected, however the chile version looked like it was lacking in chile flakes.
  • Eating Experience – Starting with the Mediterranean, I felt it had a great flavor with notes of garlic and basil, however the texture of the olives were overly soft.  They had just the right amount of tangy brine flavor and did not over saturate my mouth with oil like other olive brands.  Still, the olives being extra soft made this my least favorite of the three varieties and If they were the same texture as the other two, it could have easily been my favorite. Next was the lemon variety which had a much better olive texture.  There were some interesting lemon pieces in the package which tasty more like candied lemon than fresh squeezed lemon juice, but was still a nice little treat you would not normally find.  For me, I could have used just a touch more garlic flavor as well as a more natural lemon flavor in the olives. Last was the chile variety.  My first tasty was perfect, great olive texture, just the right amount of heat and a touch of lemon, however my next piece was over the top hot.  I noticed that the chile flakes were not evenly distributed over the olives, which makes me believe they added the chile flakes after the olives were brined.  This allows for ‘hot-spots,’ not an even amount of heat throughout the product.  Also, on their ingredient statement, it showed lemon pieces are supposed to be mixed in with this variety as well, but I did not find any in my particular package. All around experience was very favorable, but felt there could be some small tweaks to make it even better.  I will note that I did not find any pits or stems which you can sometimes find in other brands of olives.
  • Value – From what I researched, the cost of these seem to be in line with other pre-portioned olives out there.  You will get a better value buying olives in bulk, however with these, you get the convenience of an easy open and transportable snack. They also promote being all-natural, gluten/dairy/nut free, vegan and kosher.
  • Overall – I had a very favorable experience with Oloves™ olives.  I enjoyed the easy-open and fancy looking packaging, the lack of oil/brine to pick though, along with some good flavors.  I felt that if the Mediterranean variety used the same olives as the other two, if the lemon variety moved away from the candy lemon flavor, and the chilli variety had a more even heat, this would have been quite the product!  I give Oloves™ olives a 3.5 out of 5.

Oloves[1]

NERDSTEAK is more than happy to review any food, beverage, restaurant, CPG or equipment items you have to offer.  Feel free to contact Mike directly at chefman316@aol.com to arrange for shipping of samples, or to schedule a review.

Mediterranean Farro Salad

2 cups cooked Farro
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup Feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
2/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup toasted walnut halves, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated and thinly sliced

Cook Farro to the package instructions, then let cool to room temperature.
Whisk vinegar, mustard, salt, black pepper, garlic, oregano, zest and red pepper flakes together in a large bowl.  Continue whisking, and slowly add the olive oil until creamy and thoroughly mixed.  Add the Farro and remaining ingredients into the bowl, then toss until evenly coated.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Honey Dijon Farro Salad with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Fontina Cheese, Flat Leaf Parsley

Honey Dijon Farro Salad with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Fontina Cheese, Flat Leaf Parsley

Brussels2

Sriracha Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Almonds and Coconut

3 cups quartered brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons Woodland Foods Sriracha Seasoning Blend
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 400°F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Toss brussels sprouts with olive oil and Sriracha Seasoning Blend. Pour a single layer of brussels sprouts on the sheet pan, and roast in the oven until the edges start to brown and the sprouts start to become tender, about 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven, and add the almonds and coconut to the pan, tossing until evenly incorporated.  Continue baking until the sprouts are tender and the nuts start to brown, about 5 to 8 additional minutes.  Add additional seasoning to cooked sprouts if needed.

Makes about 4 servings.

You can buy the Sriracha seasoning blend right here!

 

 

Inside out: The chef's perspective article from Examiner.com

Inside out: The chef’s perspective article from Examiner.com

 

I was recently interviewed by Examiner.com about my background as a chef and how it relates to food allergens in restaurants!  Let me know what you think!

Click here to read the interview!