Holiday cooking tips from Celebrity Chef Jamika Pessoa

Chef Jamika Pessoa. Photo credit: Chef Jamika.

Chef Jamika Pessoa is one of my favorite celebrity chefs.

This Atlanta resident built a wildly successful catering business and garnered the title “Chef to the Stars,” because of her  A-list of loyal clients in entertainment and sports.

Chef Jamika has serious culinary chops. She graduated from the International Culinary Schools at the Art Institute of Atlanta and studied in several European countries.

It was her appearance on season 5 of The Next Food Network Star that we saw her beauty, brilliance, creativity, talent and skilled execution as she competed down to the final rounds in the competition.

Chef Jamika in action. Photo credit: Chef Jamika.

Today this culinary entrepreneur makes regular appearances on shows like The Chew, The Today Show, the Cooking Channel, and the Food Network. She is among the bright lights in the culinary world and a leading subject matter expert in meal planning and entertaining at home.

Clash of the Grandama’s judges and host Cameron Mathison (top). Left to right: Lifestyle expert and POPSUGAR.com Reporter/Producer Brandi Milloy; former NFL player and Food Network star Eddie Jackson; and Food Network Star;Celebrity Chef and Television personality Jamika Pessoa. Photo credit: Chef Jamika.

I had the opportunity to meet Chef Jamika last year when I was contestant on the Food Network Show Clash of the Grandma’s.  She was as amazing judge filled with charm, personality, insightful and didactic critiques that not only elevated my culinary perspective but helped me become a more descriptive food writer.

Thanks chef!

Chef Jamika to the rescue

With the holiday season in full throttle, you undoubtedly are planning your holiday menu or soiree. If not, it has certainly crossed your mind a time or two. This can be overwhelming, even for fairly competent cooks like me.

I sent out an SOS to Chef Jamika and she was gracious enough to provide a few practical  planning and cooking tips to help allay this seasonal anxiety so you can enjoy the holiday season. She even shares an amazing recipe for a  Herb Crusted Prime Rib that the carnivores in your life are sure to love.  It’s at the end of the story.

Wait. I think I heard a somewhat inaudible “whew – thank you Ms. Collard Greens and Caviar.” And to that I say –  you are very welcome!

Make sure to visit her site at http://www.chefjamika.com/recipes/ for more mouth-watering  recipes and please follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook  to keep up with her amazing culinary journey.

Without any futher yadda yadda and pithy prose, the following is offered courtesy of the illustrious Chef Jamika.

As families begin to plan holiday gatherings, the worry of preparing the food always seems to rest on the “head chef” of the family. With that in mind, here are some helpful tips designed to make the meal preparation a special and stress free one.

Plan ahead.   There are benefits to being prepared before a big meal. Organizing yourself will mean a smooth transition from start to finish. Purchase food items as far in advance as possible. Waiting until the last minute does not mean that you will get fresher produce or meats. This only means that you will get items that are picked over and of less quality and taste.

Prep dishes in advance by freezing casseroles and pre-seasoned meats. On the day of the meal, all you have to do is bake them. This will save time and storage space in the refrigerator.

Also, if you are serving hors d’ oeuvres, have them prepped  and as the guests arrive you simply pop them in the oven. Hot and fresh hors d’ oeuvres will buy you some time as the remainder of the meal is still cooking. You never want a room full of hungry guests.

Cook what you like. Who ever said that you have to serve turkey or ham for the holidays? Change things up a bit by preparing dishes that you and your family enjoy the most. Try debuting some of those recipes you have collected over the year, but never tried.

Here is a fun suggestion; before you go shopping, have the kids research recipes they want to see on the table. Make this year’s menu a contributive effort from each family member. Moreover, having family favorites on the table will pay off when it comes time to eating leftovers.

Get the whole family involved. Since the holidays are about family, make cooking time quality time. Create kitchen task lists for each person to complete. While you supervise the entire operation, have dad and the kids measure out ingredients, clean vegetables, or even wash dishes. Each person can proudly present his or her involvement in the meal at the table.

Do not be embarrassed to hire out. Take some of the pressure off of yourself by hiring a professional catering company or a personal chef for the day. The meal will have just as much meaning, without a lot of the hassle. Private companies and chefs book fast around this time, so make sure you place your order in time.

If private catering is not in your budget, your can still seek help outside of your kitchen. Instead of making everything from scratch, try purchasing your breads, side dishes, and desserts from the local bakery or specialty shop. The best way to enjoy a meal is to have someone else do the work.

Get creative with leftovers. There is more to leftovers than sandwiches and soups. Get creative! Take those candied yams, mash them and make a sweet potato soufflé. Try using the cranberry sauce to make cranberry muffins.

Check out her delicious recipe for Herb Crusted Prime Rib. Chef Jamika says your guests will go crazy when you bring this to the table.

Herb Crusted Prime Rib

  • Servings: 8 to 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Recipe courtesy of Chef Jamika Pessoa

Ingredients

8 cloves of garlic
½ cup parsley leaves
¼ cup fresh thyme leaves, stem removed
¼ cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
4-6 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup water
1 bone-in rib roast (prime rib), 8-10 pounds

Directions

  1. Position oven rack on the lowest level and preheat to 450 degrees. Place the garlic, parsley, thyme, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process into a coarse paste.
  2. Coat outside of rib roast generously with olive oil. Smear the paste over the top and sides of the rib roast. Place the roast bone-side down (fat side up) in a heavy roasting pan. Add cup of water to pan and place in the pre-heated oven.
  3. Roast at 450 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue roasting for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until a thermometer with the tip inserted to the center of the roast reaches 125 degrees.
  4. Transfer the roasted prime rib to a serving platter, and let rest for 15-20 minutes.

A special way to end the evening is to share your blessings with someone else and give leftover portions to those in the neighborhood or at your local church who are less fortunate.

Holidays should be a time of giving and spending time with family. Make this holiday an impressive one by being prepared. Plan down to the smallest detail so that the day is one filled with fond memories and not piles of dirty dishes.

Your lucky pot of peas 2.0 Hacked

You gotta have your black eyed peas on New Year’s Day!

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Stove top view of Sassy black eyed peas 2.0 Hacked

It’s tradition.

You know the story. That pot of peas holds the promise of a happy and prosperous new year. See my post Get your lucky pot of peas simmering for the New Year.

Having black eyed peas on New Year’s Day is serious business in my family and has been for generation. There is no way we are going to enter the new year with having them.

You  need your peas

With the United States and the world polarized by the results of our Presidential election, perhaps we all need a lucky pot of peas simmering on our stove tops on New Year’s Day, along with a generous helping of collard greens  which symbolizes the hope that more  moola – you know the green stuff that buys stuff –  is headed your way.

If you stick with tradition, that pot of peas is cooked low and slow, simmering for over an hour on your stove top.

Nestled among the simmering peas is often a smoked ham hock or turkey parts. The aroma of the smoked meat wafting through the air, along with the sound of the slightly ajar lid clinking back and forth on against the simmering pot, is the stuff that my memories are made of.

Hacking the peas

You want that lucky pot of peas. You gotta have that luck pot of peas. But what if you don’t want to go through all that work  soaking and simmering?

Recently, I was a contestant on the Food Network show Clash of the Grandmas. One of the challenges on this special “on fleek” or on point episode involved using a food hack to create an entrée.  Food hacks are tricks, shortcuts, or novel methods in creating or recreating a dish.

In channeling my Food Network experience, I created a tasty black eyed peas food hack for you. I call the recipe Sassy Black Eyed Peas 2.0 Hacked. For this recipe you will need unseasoned, canned black eyed peas – yes you read that right – which I will shamelessly tell you I get from Ralphs or Kroger Market.

This recipe is great to serve for your New Year’s dinner or anytime. It is smoked meat free and tangy, savory, delicious and full of flavor. Your vegetarian friends will rejoice and the carnivores in your life will not even miss the meat.

Now you can have that lucky pot of peas 2.0 style – which simply means updated and recreated using this easy food hack.

Happy New Year to you and your family.

Sassy Black Eyed Peas 2.0 Hacked

black-eyed-peas-in-bowl-2-blog-post-brighter

Sassy Black Eyed Peas 2.0 Hacked, served with Simple Truth Chicken glazed with barbecue sauce.

Ingredients
2  15.5 ounce cans unseasoned black eyed peas (Kroger/Ralphs featured here)
2 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup red chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of one lime
¼ cup liquid
Cracked pepper
Crushed red pepper

black-eye-peas-ingredients-picmonkey-collage

Sassy Black Eyed Peas 2.0 Hacked simple ingredients

Method
With a skillet set on medium heat, add sesame seed oil and butter. When butter is melted, add chopped red onion and red bell pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add chopped garlic to pan and sauté for another 2 minutes.

Add two cans of Kroger black eye peas, drained. Reserve ¼ cup of liquid (optional).

Add juice of one lime, ¼ cup of liquid (water, vegetable stock or reserved liquid from drained peas) and cilantro, crushed red pepper and cracked pepper to taste. Stir well. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes or until well heated. Serve.

Los Angeles Food Blogger Mixes It Up on Food Network’s Clash of the Grandmas Show December 11, 2016

That blogger is moi!

Now that the Food Network has made the official announcement about my appearance on an upcoming episode of Clash of the Grandmas – yes I said Grandmas – now I can officially announce it to you.  See the information below about my debut on the Food Network show which includes details from their official media announcement. I hope you get a chance to watch me in action. Oh – make sure to use the hashtag #ClashofTheGrandmas if you want to chime in on social media. Now that would be super cool!

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Veronica Hendrix,  Los Angeles based journalist, food blogger of  the widely read food blog  Collard Greens and  Caviar, cooking coach and cookbook author, will make her debut on the Food Network’s Clash of the Grandmas Show, Sunday, December 11, 2016  at 10:00 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time).

clash-of-the-grandmas-contestants-12-11

Left to right: Joan Channon (Hawi, Hawaii), Dale Roland (Groveland, Florida), Neera Sharma (Columbus, Ohio) and Veronica Hendrix (Los Angeles, California)

Hendrix, a native Angeleno and grandmother of a 3 year-old grandson, competes on the hour long show against three other grandmas from Hawaii, Florida, and Ohio. This “on fleek” episode challenged contestants to make dishes that were on point with the latest food trends. This was a perfect episode for Hendrix whose personal style, culinary perspective, and youthful outlook shatter all expectations of the “traditional grandma.”

The panel of show judges on this episode are former NFL player and Food Network star Eddie Jackson; Lifestyle expert and POPSUGAR.com Reporter/Producer Brandi Milloy; and Food Network Star, Celebrity Chef and Television personality Jamika Pessoa. The show was taped in Los Angeles.

Up for grabs in the kitchen battle is $10,000 and Hendrix and her staunch competitors battle mixing bowl to stove top in intense elimination rounds that tested their cooking chops, creativity and nerves.

croquettes-two-shot-2

So Cali Chicken Croquettes  I  made in the first round. These moist and crispy, deep fried bites were called “the next big thing” in food trends by one judge [Photo credit: Veronica Hendrix home kitchen]

With 45 minutes or less in each elimination round, here’s the challenge rundown:

  • Round One – four contestants make an after-school snack featuring each of their grandkids’ favorite ingredients.
  • Round Two – three contestants make spicy fried chicken and grits using quick grits and a baking mix.
  • Round Three – the final two contestants battle for $10,000 and make a savory dish that looks like a dessert.

“It was an incredible experience that tested my skills and creativity. The inspiration of my mom, and the spirit of the many women and men in my family whose food nurtured me and generations was with me in that kitchen,” said Hendrix. “My competitors were fierce, and I learned so much about myself with each challenge.  I really am a fearless cook!”

So how did Hendrix handle the challenges?  Did she win the coveted prize? She can’t say, but make sure to watch Los Angeles’ favorite food blogger in action on the Food Network’s Clash of the Grandmas Show on Sunday, December 11, 2016 at 10:00 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time) and find out.

Social media

Follow Veronica on Instagram @collardgreenscaviar, Twitter @collardscaviar @vhend, and on Facebook at Collard Greens and Caviar.

About Veronica Hendrix

Veronica Hendrix is a journalist, a food blogger, columnist, cookbook author, cooking coach and healthy cooking advocate. Her column Veronica’s View covered a myriad of social and political issues and appeared in the Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper and other online outlets for 12 years.

Today her widely read blog Collard Greens and Caviar (collardgreensandcaviar.com) features food stories and recipes of personalities behind the food, and has featured chefs, radio personalities, home cooks and her own personal foray into the kitchen. The stories are smartly written and entertaining. Veronica co-wrote the popular Taste of Soul Cookbook for Bakewell Media, a recipe book that celebrates the largest annual food festival west of the Mississippi.

She is the author of a cookbook that highlights the use of her Red Velvet Gourmet Spice Rub and Seasoning mix she created after a doctor’s diagnosis of high blood pressure.

Veronica also produced a half hour talk show called “LA Woman,” which aired on Los Angeles City View Channel 35. She is a Los Angeles Emmy nominated producer, has been a reporter for USA Today and KLCS News in Los Angeles. She is a 15-year member of the National Association of Black Journalists-LA and the Association of Food Journalists. Veronica is a native of Southern California, has two adult sons and a 3- year-old grandson.

A place where culinary dreams come true

epicuriousWe are unquestionably an epicurious culture.

We get a lot of help from the wave of new food blogs, magazines, and articles now delivered to our smart phones each day to the wealth of cooking classes and schools available for those with cooking aspirations and culinary dreams.

And let’s not leave out the explosion of network food and cooking shows that range from instructive to pure cooking competitions. Oh but the culinary rock stars that have emerged from this epicurean explosion are as awe-inspiring as they are  entertaining.

I’ve been fortunate enough to not only meet a local culinary rock star –  who just happens to a Los Angeles native –  but I’ve had the opportunity to attend his cooking school too.

Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom

Chef Eric and school

Left: Chef Eric Crowley. Right: Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom.

Chef Eric Crowley founded Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom in 2003 (located in West Los Angeles)  where he offers many recreational, individual, couples, kids, and professional cooking classes. He’s a media favorite with frequent appearances on local stations KTLA, KCAL 9, NBC 4, FOX 11 as well as BET, E! Entertainment and more.

“Food matters because people need to eat. And today people clearly have more self awareness about what they eat,” Chef Eric said.  “Some people view food as a fuel and necessity for the body. Others view it as a central experience as well as a visual and aromatic experience. For many people, food is a big deal especially when it revolves around family and relationships.”

His extraordinary passion for cooking and teaching are no accident. His father was a teacher and his mother was a gourmet cook who was quite fearless in the kitchen. However his road to the culinary world was not a straight line.

His circuitous culinary journey

Interesting enough, he started out as a saxophone player and music major at California State University at Northridge ( or CSUN – my alma mater).  Following CSUN, he started working at a law firm in Los Angeles.  But when a cooking class ignited his passion for cooking cultivated by his mother, he got a part-time job working in the kitchen of a local restaurant. That led him to enroll in the Culinary Institute of America in New York where he graduated with honors. What followed was a stay in Europe where he worked at Michelin Star restaurants in Barcelona and Munich.  Upon his return to the United States, he was hired by the Patina Restaurant Group where he supervised catered events and intimate dinners.

Chef and class

Left: Chef Eric assisting student. Right: Students in my Culinary Basic Series class.

It was fortuitous that the teaching bug bit Chef Eric. It happened after filling in for a friend who taught at a culinary school.  Chef Eric said the student feedback that followed was so positive that the “light bulb” went off and he knew teaching was his calling.

Since Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom opened in 2003, he has taught over 7,500 students. Some of his  former students have gone on to pursue their culinary dreams and started successful businesses after completing his Master Chef and Master Baking/Pastry professional certification programs.

The basics and so much more

Although I twirl a pan or two with relative ease, I wanted some professional training. I enrolled in Chef Eric’s 4-Week Culinary Basic Series. I learned that my basic skills needed a little sharpening.  I must admit, I’m sharp now. Literal speaking because in the very first class we learned about knife skills.

“Having a good quality knife and one that can be sharpened can make your time in the kitchen that much more enjoyable,”  emphasized Chef Eric. This tip has already paid dividends for this home cook.

The 4-Week Culinary Basic Series breaks down like this (click here for full description and list of all the food we made):

  • Class #1 – Introduction – Knife Skills/Sauté Techniques
  • Class #2 – Meal Preparation/Organization
  • Class #3 – Fresh Pasta, Sauces, and Potatoes
  • Class #4 – Fish and Shellfish Meals

Cooking like a rock star

Week 2 entrees

Featured here from week 2: Spice Rubbed Skirt Steak (Carne Asada) with Guacamole and Pilaf-Style Rice, Mama’s Meat Loaf with Mashed Potatoes and Carrots, Asian Five Spice Chicken Skewers With Spicy Peanut Sauce, Thai-Style Noodle Salad with Lemon Grass and diced Cucumbers, Hearty Chicken and Chile Stew with Tortillas, Lemon Orzo Pasta with Kalamata Olives and Chicken with Tomato Herb Sauce.

The classes are taught in a professionally designed, fully equipped kitchen stocked with the freshest ingredients. Upon first glance, the menu of dishes we were slated to prepare each class seemed overwhelming.  But we quickly learned that Chef Eric’s pre-cooking class discussion was great preparation before we were dispatched to our workstations.

The classes are all hands on. You chop, shear, sauté, simmer, plate and more. I never felt so confident and empowered from his guidance and instruction. His warmth, enthusiasm and expertise made the class fun and rewarding. The result: we made most amazing and delicious entrées from the simplest of ingredients. The best part – as a class we ate all our creations after the cooking was done. The number and array of items we made each week varied. Here’s the menu we prepared during the final week of class:

Week 4 Menu

Featured here from week 4: Seared and Spice-Crusted Ahi Tuna drizzled with Sesame Dressing on Julienne Lettuce, Brown Rice and Edamame Beans with Soy Sauce, Salmon Steamed in Wine and Spices on Mixed Greens with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Grilled Chipotle-Spiced Shrimp and Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with homemade French Dressing, Succulent Featured here from week 4: Bass and Mixed Vegetable Packets with Mint and Basil Pesto, and Sole Vin Blanc with Ginger-Lime-Scallion Butter with Shiitake Mushroom and Asparagus Sauté.

What’s next for Chef Eric

Chef Eric and wife, co-partner Jeannie Crowley

Chef Eric and wife, co-partner Jennie Crowley

Chef Eric and his wife and business partner Jennie Crowley (President and COO) have put a lot of love, sweat and care into every aspect of the cooking school. It shows.  With teaching 5 to 6 days a weeks, developing and managing new products like his Sizzle and Smooth spice blends, and juggling his numerous media and public speaking engagements, what’s next for Chef Eric?

“I am working on cookbook based on my very popular couples cooking classes. It will have fantastic pictures and easy recipes for busy couples.  It will imbue the feeling couples get when they take our classes. The cookbook will be out early next year or  perhaps sooner,  so stay tuned,” Chef Eric said.

Easy recipes from Chef Eric

Chef Eric chicken and potaoes

Left: Sizzling Grilled Chicken Breasts. Right:Sizzling Oven-Roasted Potatoes

Chef Eric shares two recipes you can try at home. His Sizzling Grilled Chicken Breasts and  Sizzling Oven-Roasted Potatoes. If the cooking bug in you yearns for more, see the list of cooking classes on his website at  http://culinaryclassroom.com/. Now, get cooking!

Chef Eric’s Sizzling Grilled Chicken Breasts

See the YouTube link demonstration at https://youtu.be/Uee-pS1dfMc

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients
Chicken breasts, boneless 4 each
Orange, zested and juiced 2 each
Chef Eric’s Sizzle Spice Blend 2 tablespoons

Method

  1. Cut the chicken breasts in half horizontally, making two thin cutlets. Put the finished chicken into a zip top bag or a pan and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine the orange juice, zest and Chef Eric’s Sizzle Spice Blend.
  3. Pour the orange juice mixture into the bag with the chicken and seal. Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for as long as possible. Overnight is fine.
  4. Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat and spray the pan with vegetable oil spray. When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the marinade and grill for about three minutes per side, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. While the chicken is grilling, pour the leftover marinade into a small pan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and keep warm to use as a sauce.
  6. Serve on a warm plate and garnish with a spoonful of the sauce.

Tip: Tofu steaks, turkey breasts, steak, fish and pork chops would be great with this marinade.

Chef Eric’s Sizzling Oven-Roasted Potatoes

See the YouTube link demonstration at  https://youtu.be/Uee-pS1dfMc

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients
Red bliss potatoes, halved 2 pounds
Olive oil 1 tablespoons
Chef Eric’s Sizzle Spice Blend 2 teaspoons
Salt 1 teaspoon

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, Chef Eric’s Sizzle Spice Blend and salt.
  2. Preheat an oven to 450 degrees. Wash and dry the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into halves and place them into the bowl.
  3. Toss the potatoes in the Sizzle mixture, making sure that they are coated in oil. Add more oil, if needed.
  4. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet that has been lined with aluminum foil.
  5. Roast until the potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes to an hour.
  6. Serve with the Sizzling Chicken Breasts for a delicious meal.