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JBJSoulKitchen

Please join us for a special Guest Chef evening at JBJ Soul Kitchen with Chef Marcy Ragan of Relish Your Chef.

For this one of a kind, 5-course dinner, Chef Marcy Ragan will pull from one of her most powerful influences, Rock and Roll. Guests can expect bold flavors and enchanting nuances showcased in her creative and enticing dishes. Taking cues from Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Little Feat, and other notable artists, Chef Ragan will compose dishes inspired by the lyrics of Tangerine, Glass Onion, and Dixie Chicken, among others. This Rock and Roll dinner will consist of outstanding local produce grown by Silverton Farms, Argo’s Farm, and the lush Soul Kitchen gardens.

Court Liquors of Long Branch, a fourth-generation family business specializing in elite wines, will be pairing all of the courses with biodynamic wine. The wines, chosen by Court’s own Nick Pizzonia, will pair beautifully and only prove to enhance the experience. Court’s Wine Club credo of “Curated Natural Wines for Organic Lifestyles” blends seamlessly with Chef Marcy’s own food and wine philosophy.

Tue, September 12, 2017
6:30 PM – 9:30 PM EDT

Tickets available here.



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FathersDayGiftPack

It’s almost Father’s Day! Think of the guy that you love; who fills your wine glass at the end of the day and who brushes your two year old’s teeth when you’ve had enough of the whining. Yes, that guy! Doesn’t he deserve a thoughtful gift for his special day? Yes! He does! If you haven’t thought of anything yet, have no fear, Relish Your Chef has the perfectly curated gift for him.

Working with local artisans and specialty purveyors I have put together
a LIMITED EDITION gift.

Firstly, my friend and local wood artisan, Andy Weiss, has created these beverage caddies.  They are made from local Monmouth County cherry wood in Andy’s shop. Andy dried the wood himself in his solar kiln and then got to work. Each caddy has a bottle top opener for sake of ease. Both bottles and cans fit in this beverage holder. It is a substantial gift on it’s own.  Fill it with cans of Carton 077XX, bottles of Kona Longboard or even Roar Organic.

Next up we have my famous “Pork Jack”.  Pork Jack is an addictive snack; that features Relish-made pork cracklings, roasted cashews, pequin peppers, rosemary and roasted garlic. It’s crunchy, spicy and craveable; the signature of any good snack. I personally make these pork cracklings; hand-cut and without additives. Pork cracklings are also Paleo! The cracklings are made with pastured raised pork from my friend Jessica at the Green Duchess. Her animals are pasture-raised in Somerset County and she sells at the Sea Bright Farmer’s Market. When your guy needs to wipe his hands or brow, I included a little bit of fashion in the kit. Handmade pocket square by the Belle and the Beau. I picked a classic yet modern gingham blue pattern.  Each pocket square is 12”x12” and lined with a white fabric. Rounding out this kit is a little fun…Made in the USA Aerobie “Squidgie” Glow in the Dark flexible flyer. It’s comfortable to catch, floats in water, glows in the dark and dogs love it!

The “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” Includes:

  • Handmade NJ cherry wood beverage caddy
  • Local pork “Pork Jack” made by Relish Your Chef in small batches
  • Made in USA Squidgie Flexible Flyer
  • Made in California blue gingham pocket square

Details:

  • $65.00, excluding tax
  • Pick-up at Page Chiropractic on Friday June 16 between 3-6 pm
    (51 Memorial Pkwy  Atlantic Highlands, NJ 07716)

If you are interested, please email me at relishyourchef@gmail.com with subject “Father’s Day”.
I will invoice you via Quickbooks, please pay with a credit card, and then come pick it up.

Relish Your Chef makes Father’s Day a breeze with a curated gift your Dad will love!



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It Ain’t Easy Being Cheesy

Chef Marcy Ragan Cheese Board

For me, it is easy being cheesy… been spreading the food puns pretty thick in my Instagram lately so I’ll put that on the back burner for now…I am a cheese lover and aficionado, going to cheesemaking camp in Vermont with the acclaimed Peter Dixon at Consider Bardwell Farm was a career highlight.  If we were friendly (we are, right?) I would even call myself a whore for the cheese, turophile extraordinaire, there’s nothing more than I love than a big gooey piece of Mt. Tam from Cowgirl Creamery or a nice hard piece of classic Parmigiano, I savor it all.

Dare I say, I do have this one problem with cheese.  How to store it.  Let’s say I go to the Sickles Cheese Department and drop some real dough on curds.  There have been times where I have gobbled the entire piece of cheese or cheeses purchased (ahem, please refer to the “whore” comment above, it’s for real) but sometimes I don’t.  And then what, what do I do with the remaining wedge?  I spent $28.99 a pound on Ossau Iraty and now I am going to shove it in the refrigerator?!  The refrigerator is no place for cheese.  That’s like a walk of shame for that poor beautiful LIVING creature!  Yes, cheese is alive with microbes and bacteria and all good stuff.  Plastic wrap suffocates the curds and the refrigerator sucks the life out of it, making it withered and dry.  Poor dried up little cheese pucks, sadly wasting away…

Then I heard about this wonderful invention by my new #ladyboss friend, Jessica Sennett,  The Cheese Grotto (imagine superhero music here please).  This Virginia-crafted, American-designed amazing little box is like a humidor for your cheese!  A handmade breathable cave that regulates humidity and airflow naturally!  By Gouda, I think we’ve got it (sorry, I was going to stop doing that)!  This is an attractive and useful piece of equipment that fills a kitchen need that I’ve had for a long time.  I love the streamlined plyboo (sustainable bamboo plywood) construction, the ease of use, and it’s function.  Cheese needs proper airflow and moisture to age and keep well.  The Grotto’s air vent and clay moisture brick are uniquely analog solutions in one box.

Would you like to see the Cheese Grotto in person?  I’ll bring it over and we can have a cheese party.  And as you can see from the pictures, the Grotto is also fun at parties (sometimes I’ve been known to be fun at parties too).  I am not the only one who thinks The Cheese Grotto is great; this box of joy has been featured in The New York Times, Saveur Magazine, Vogue Magazine, you know, small little publications like that.  (I try to keep good company).

Keep your cheese love affair alive, treat it with care in the Cheese Grotto and it will cultivate a long term relationship.  Leave the whoring for enjoying the cheese, not the walk of shame to the refrigerator.

Now you can Relish your Cheese!  Check it out or buy it here.

 

*Some of these are affiliate links. I’ll get a small commission if you click and purchase. It has no bearing on why I’ve chosen them. I actually use these products and may have become an affiliate because of my love for them.


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Well folks, I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that I like filming videos for Relish.  Must have been that obsession with the video camera my best friend and I had when we were 12, making our own versions of popular videos back in the day (Heart’s “Alone” and anything by Tiffany were my personal strengths, gosh I hope no one finds those ever…) Anywho, I’m cooking up a new concept I’m calling “Relish Monmouth”, where I visit establishments that are of interest to me and hopefully you too.  I promise that they will be sassy, fun and informative.

For the first Relish Monmouth, the famous SICKLES MARKET of Little Silver, NJ let me do a flower arranging video for Mother’s Day.  I was really honored that they let me work with them.

Enjoy this piece and learn about making a gorgeous flower arrangement for that special someone in your life.



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Asbury Park Press Article

I’m in the business section of the Asbury Park Press today.

I am thrilled and humbled. I work hard, and love what I do everyday.

I couldn’t have done this without the friends and family that support me and listen to my nonsense, the MOSBDC and the awesome WOMEN who have hired me and continue to hire me. (I am lucky this is a long list). Thank you!



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Dream A Little Dream Of Greens

On a cold and snowy day and I was walking on an unfamiliar sidewalk in Newark, NJ.  I was looking for a door, not unlike Willy Wonka, to find a place where I heard they grew salad greens indoors.

Was this really possible?  In Newark?  

Well, I can now tell you that the answer is yes! There is a company repurposing old buildings in urban areas, hiring locals to build community and creating REALLY DELICIOUS SALAD GREENS… IN NEW JERSEY! Look out Garden State, we have a new agricultural wonder – it’s Love Dream Greens.  Please check out their website to see all of the great benefits that this company and salad greens provide.  They have all of the story lines down – sustainable, community-minded, local, no pesticides, non GMO, use less water to grow, you name it, they do it.  But, honestly, I don’t really care about any of that unless it’s delicious.  And the greens are delicious.  The watercress is spicy yet elegant (just like me, ha!).  The arugula (my personal fave) is closer to Italian rocket and peppery.  The baby kale I actually like, because, unlike most baby kales, it’s not all stem, it’s an actual leaf with a bit o’stem.  The greens are interesting (think pac choi and Ruby streaks mustard greens), not run of the mill mesclun mix.  And I also learned how nutritious they are, which makes me even happier! Did you know that watercress has more iron than spinach, more calcium than milk and more vitamin C than an orange?  I didn’t either until now…

Which is why I developed a sauce, a relish if you will, for Love Dream Greens with watercress.  I decided not to do a salad (although if you look at my insta, you know I love a good salad) and create something more versatile that is also dairy and nut-free.  I wanted to move beyond watercress sandwiches and bring out the bold nature of these greens.  I’ll tell you, I love green relishes. When I first read about sauces like chermoula, salsa verde, and the like, I thought that I could somehow come up with my own someday.  Love Dream Greens gave me the perfect opportunity.  This sauce that I came up with is dairy and nut-free and adds zest to anything you are eating.  It’s nutrient dense with pepitas (which is a calabaza squash seed), lemon and mint. Have this sauce around and you can dress up anything;  chicken, meat, fish, vegetables, rice, tempeh, you name it.   And, this is possibly one of the simplest things that you can make; drop everything in a food processor or blender and whir, and you are done- this requires no cooking.  You will probably never hear me say that again, a ONE STEP luscious and bright dinner relish that perks up any meal!  (and honestly sometimes I eat it with a spoon, no, really I do!)

Oh, right, Marcy, you just told me that the greens are in Newark. I am not driving to Newark on one of your little “food mystery adventure rides” that you like to do. Well, guess what?  Newark is going through a Renaissance? Well, yes, that’s true but…they sell through Fresh Direct!!  That’s right, you can get these awesome greens from New Jersey delivered to your house in Jersey!  Boom!  What’s not to love?

Check out their site, see the benefits, enjoy the greens.  You will love Dream Greens, grown in vertical Aerofarms, just as much as I do!



Chef Marcy’s Embellished Green Relish
Featuring Love Dream Greens
Yields a little over two cups of relish

One note: Please use fresh herbs

Ingredients

2              4.5 oz packages Dream greens baby watercress

¼            cup fresh mint leaves

1 tsp.       Fresh oregano leaves (can also substitute with more mint)

2              cloves garlic, roughly chopped 

Zest         from one lemon

Juice       from one lemon (same lemon)

1 TBSP    salt packed capers, rinsed and drained

1 tsp        sea salt

A few      grinds of fresh pepper

½ cup    toasted and cooled unsalted pepitas or pumpkin seeds

¾ cup    extra virgin olive oil

Method

  • In a food processor or a high powered blender, place: watercress, mint, oregano, garlic, lemon juice and zest, capers, salt, fresh pepper, and seeds.  Pulse to break things up and get things going. 
  • After a few pulses, add olive oil to watercress mixture.  Turn on processor again and continue to blend until everything is one homogenous sauce and everything is blended together.  It can be a little chunky.  You may have to scrape down the bowl a bit and then blend again. 
  • Relish will keep in the refrigerator, in an airtight container for about 7-12 days.  A ball jar with a seal and tight fitting lid is great for this.   If you want to halve the recipe, go for it.  I just like having a lot of this around 🙂

Download Chef Marcy’s Embellished Green Relish recipe here.



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Chef Marcy Recommends Week of April 1st

Microplane Zester

Lodge Cast Iron Pan

Lodge Grill Pan

Chef’s Choice Knife Sharpener

Maldon Sea Salt

 

Thermoworks Thermapen
Thermoworks Thermapen Mk4



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Hoping for “Out Like A Lamb”

I remember in second or third grade making of construction paper lions and lambs to signify March for the class bulletin board. The adage assumed that March was “in like a lion, and out like a lamb”, but, after the March we had, I think that this year Mother Nature switched it around on us.  Here in the Northeast, we had a balmy February only to be lashed with a damp and dark March.   Thankfully as I write this the sun is shining and I hope she plans to stay around for a few days.  Now is the time to think of bunnies, green grass and candy!  

Brighten up your Easter basket with beautiful and handmade candy from Quin Candy, a women-owned shop hailing from Portland, Oregon.   At Quin, they say “Candy is Magic” and after you have had some of theirs, you will agree.  Toss the food-engineered high sugar, high corn syrupy, waxy chocolate crap from your bunnies’ baskets this Easter and try something different and delight in candy where there is real  flavor that is distilled from real food.  Quin’s Oregon Cherry Sparkling Candies are one of my favorites; they dance on your tongue and melt in your mouth.  Unbelievably good.  They do have Easter packages, but really, you can’t go wrong with anything that you order from here.   

Another Easter brightener that will make you smile is from another woman-owned shop that I love, Zeitgeist Gifts.  If you have seen my Instagram posts, you know,  like all chefs, that I love eggs.  These little, happy, egg warmers bring me back to my childhood, when my grandfather would eat soft boiled eggs in perfect egg cups and a little cozy to keep them warm.  However his egg warmers were not as cute as these – some of the options are an egg “monster”, a hipster (“eggster”) and even a roast chicken – how meta!  Decorate Easter eggs this year with fun, washable, heirloom-worthy egg covers.  My boys loved these and, if a little whimsy gets your child to eat some nutritious eggs – go for it! I also had a super fun time over at my friend Sarah’s Purple Alpaca Green Goat Farm doing the photo shoot for these covers with her eggs.  Her chickens lay some mighty tasty eggs.  Check out her Etsy shop, for beautiful, handmade hats and fleece in colors so rich you might think they are edible!

If you are looking for a simple and delicious recipe for Easter brunch, look no further than my French Toast Casserole.  You can serve this with fresh fruit and you will be ready to go!  Download the recipe here.

Now that Spring is here, come out for a cooking class! I am teaching at the beautifully renovated Gaetano’s restaurant in Red Bank every Thursday at 7pm. Contact Gaetano’s for details.



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I will tell you what is better. Having a chef come to your house, ahem, like myself, to teach you how to cook. I have had an increased interest in my cooking parties these days. What is a cooking party? It goes a little something like this – a group of friends hunger to get together to enjoy food, have a glass of wine, and learn some culinary skills watching a chef in action. It’s a relaxed and enjoyable evening. Pick a topic that you are interested in; such as pasta, appetizers, how to make a quick dinner with pantry ingredients, or desserts and then I get to work. I plan the entire evening for you including the materials and recipes. People feel entirely relaxed in the comfort of their own homes and quickly realize that I am there to nurture and nourish their cooking skills. Along the way, you and your guests eat well and have a good old time.

Often, people are self deprecating when it comes to having me in their home to cook and have a true “apron anxiety” (I wish I had coined this term, but alas, I did not.) I really try to dispense of this notion quickly. I encourage people to let me in on how they cook, I want to break down barriers and get to understand who I am cooking with and for. I want everyone that I cook with to feel comfortable, that’s it, no stove stress is needed. After I get people to feel comfortable with me, that’s when the true magic happens. People are less concerned with appearances and have increased awareness in the kitchen without fear. That’s the best part. Oftentimes, after a nice glass of Prosecco, when they are truly at ease, the questions bubble to the surface. People enjoy the impromptu tips and tricks that naturally come to me while cooking. For instance, I have been handling leeks for over 20 years. At my cooking school, there is an entire lesson on how to clean the leeks properly. Over time, these early lessons become routines and I don’t really think about them anymore. If I am handling a leek, cleaning it in front of someone, the inevitable question is, “why do you clean it with the water flowing away from the root?” I don’t even think about why I clean a leek like that anymore, but, the reason being is that leeks grow in sandy soil and you want to wash the sand out of the leek and not have it stuck deeper in the onion’s layers. Flexible moments such as this go way beyond a recipe. People learn that there is an ebb and flow to cooking, it’s not just a rigid discipline.

There is a very human element to cooking that involves the senses. When I am cooking for a group of people, recipes come to life and if the conditions aren’t perfect, we learn to adapt. I like to teach all different levels of cooking ability. In every group, there is the eager student, the excellent dishwasher, the timid cook and there is ALWAYS a comedian. When I cook with people, I can always find one skill that a person has and tease it out of them. And then we build upon that strength and create a platform of confidence. That timid cook secretly has excellent knife skills. Everyone has at least one cooking skill, I can promise you that.

I have had the privilege of having access to family recipes. One family that I worked with sent me their grandparents’ meat lasagna and tomato sauce recipe. Over time, the father of the family lost touch with how to make these cherished family recipes. I studied the recipes, blended them with my own techniques and taught the entire family how to make these recipes again. It was an amazing experience and then I was told it was the best Lasagna Bolognese that they had ever had. These are the joys of cooking. Learning a few skills, putting them together and having a delicious experience with family and friends.

Chef Marcy Ragan Cooking Party

What is new and exciting on my horizon right now is that I have been invited to start teaching cooking classes at a local restaurant in Red Bank, NJ. The restaurant is called Gaetano’s. It was purchased by new owners over the summer and they are looking to invigorate their cooking school program. This restaurant has been renovated and the new owners are super excited to share their new space with everyone. So, if you ever wanted to cook with me and try it out, come on down to Gaetano’s and learn to relish your cooking experience. Have some fun, learn a new recipe and meet new people. I promise it will be a great time.

Is there a culinary conundrum that you would like to tackle? You know I will help you. Contact me or share this post with someone you think can benefit from it.  Consider me your culinary concierge, bringing the good stuff to you.



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I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This, But…

I will tell you a secret, I like grilled chicken.  I like eating grilled chicken, I like making grilled chicken (ooh don’t get me started on sexy, well made grill marks) – I love making chicken.  My husband tells me that I am a chicken whisperer, for I make a damn fine whole bird (it’s the French training, International Culinary Center).  Many chefs will say that they think this is boring, but I find it to be anything but.  For me, it is very satisfying when I come home after a long day of cooking and there is grilled chicken waiting for me in the refrigerator.  It is a delicious canvas that I can use to dress up as I like; in a quesadilla for my kids, tacos, with hot sauce (my current fave is called “ghost of ancho” by Born to Hula) or toss in a grain and veggie salad.  The possibilities are endless.  

As we are progressing past the candy holidays of Valentine’s and soon Easter, my focus shifts back to more healthful eating and away from the temptations of the candy basket (I’m talking to you, Swedish Fish!).  If I am needing this renewed dietary focus, I am sure that you are too.  I think that far too often people do not know cooking basics, so I would like to teach you this time around to cook some grilled chicken.  I know that Michael Pollan wouldn’t like me just eating chicken breasts, but sometimes I have to do it and I know that you do too.  

I find that my method works time and time again.  Here’s a recipe for grilled chicken my way. A couple of words of advice, starting with – don’t overcook it, that results in dry chicken.  Invest in a thermometer. I like the Thermoworks Mk4 Thermapen After cooking, let it rest (meaning just let it sit there on a plate, out of the pan) for at LEAST 5-10 minutes before cutting into it.  All of these things will help you find chicken just as delicious as I do.  Master the technique first, then play around with it.  

Happy Cooking!

 

Grilled Chicken Breast My Way

I love all types of chicken.  I have found a good way to make grilled chicken breasts that are moist and delicious.  It’s hard to get them that way, but my method works.  A cast iron grill pan is handy to have here, I really like the Lodge Cast Iron Square Grill Pan, I have had mine for at least 15 years. .

If not, just use a normal stainless steel skillet so you can get a good sear, not nonstick.  Nonstick pans do not allow you to get a good sear on the chicken.

 

Ingredients:

Boneless Skinless Organic, Free Range Chicken Breasts, as many as you need to prep for your week.  It’s practical to cook at least two but probably not more than 6-8.   

Sea salt and pepper

Olive oil about 1/4-1/2 cup

Lemon Zest if desired

Fresh Thyme if desired  

Method:

Place chicken breasts in a large bowl.   Add olive oil to thinly coat, pepper to taste, lemon zest and thyme if using. Make sure breasts are covered with oil, turning to coat.

    • Let sit 5-30 minutes in refrigerator, depending on how much time you have. 2-5 minutes is fine.   Add salt to taste when ready you can always season later, do not be too aggressive with the salt.
    • Heat oven to 400F, have  a sheet pan ready with foil on the side.  Place a cast iron grill pan on high heat until very hot.  Alternatively heat up a sauté pan until hot.  Test by flicking a drop of water on the pan- if it sizzles and evaporates the pan is ready.
       

       Start skin side down. Breasts running North to South.

       

    • With tongs, place chicken breasts on hot grill pan or sauté pan, skin side down.  Let some oil drip off of the chicken.  Do not overcrowd.  A normal pan can handle 2-3 breasts.  Let cook, WITHOUT MOVING THE CHICKEN, 2-3 minutes.  There should be grill marks/sear marks (which are brown) on the chicken.  
       
      Checking for grill marks.

 

    • Turn chicken a half turn, on the same side, to get crosshatch grill marks (see picture).  If you do this, you will look very sexy and professional chef like.  Try it, I believe in you.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes, same as above.
       
      Turn them at a 45° angle for cross hatch grill marks.

 

  • Turn to other side.  Let cook another 3-4 minutes.  If cooking chicken in batches remove chicken from pan and place on foiled sheet pan.  Repeat process with remaining breasts.   With all of the chicken on the sheet pan, place in 400F oven for 10-12 minutes.
     

    See! Cross hatched grill marks! Boom!

  • After 8 minutes, check your chicken with your thermometer if you have one.  If you do not have a thermometer, cook for the full 12 minutes.  If your thermometer reads 160 degrees F, remove the chicken from the oven.  When you remove the chicken from the oven at 160 F, the chicken’s temperature will rise, even if it’s not in the oven.  That is the residual heat working it’s way through the chicken.  
  • Remove from oven.  Let sit and rest about 5-10 minutes.  If refrigerating, let cool first and then place in airtight container. Stays nicely in the refrigerator for about a week.  

 

Download the recipe here.



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