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Peach, Prosciutto and Mozzarella Salad


Peach, Prosciutto and Mozzarella Salad

Peach, Prosciutto and Mozzarella Salad

Peaches. There’s something so satisfying about biting into the sweet, juicy flesh that quenches the thirst for a cool and refreshing treat in the summertime.

Peaches

Peaches

Even the perfectly round shape, bright peachy red and fuzzy exterior gives it a heavenly appeal.

Peach Still Life

Peach Still Life

Almost too pretty to eat.

Peach, Prosciutto and Mozzarella Salad

Peach, Prosciutto and Mozzarella Salad

This recipe pairs white peaches with prosciutto and fresh mozzarella in a tangy sweet vinaigrette. It’s refreshing and light and the salty prosciutto paired with the cool, mild mozzarella and sweet peaches is a combination to die for. You can also substitute the mozzarella with Ricotta Salata (fresh ricotta) or Feta Cheese, and add some sliced or slivered almonds for crunch if you like. Serve this salad with some crusty bread and a glass of white wine – perfect for a lunch or dinner side salad with an Italian dish.

Peach, Prosciutto and Mozzarella Salad

Ingredients:

1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp honey
1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 head leafy green lettuce
2 large white peaches, sliced into wedges
½ red onion, sliced paper thin
3-4 slices prosciutto, sliced thin and torn into pieces
3 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded into pieces

Dressing:

Combine lemon juice, honey, vinegar, salt and pepper, stirring with a whisk. Gradually drizzle in olive oil, stirring constantly, until vinaigrette is mixed thoroughly and doesn’t separate.

Salad: 

Combine lettuce and peach wedges in a large bowl, drizzle with dressing and toss to coat.

Arrange salad on serving dish or in individual bowls and top with prosciutto, red onion and mozzarella cheese. Top with freshly cracked black pepper.

Serve with crusty bread and a glass of white wine (Reisling or Chardonnay pairs well).

Serves 4.

Lovely Peaches

Lovely Peaches

Other Peach Recipes you may enjoy:

Grilled Chicken and Peach Salad

Oprah’s Summer Peach Salad

Paula Deen’s Grilled Peach Salad

Roasted Beet, Peach and Goat Cheese Salad

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Fresh from the Farm Market: Herbed Potato Salad & Strawberry Watermelon Salad


Summertime always remind me of home – when the sun is shining, a warm breeze is in the air, locusts are humming and all the flowers, fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables are in full bloom. There’s a small local farmer’s market up in Webster, NY not far from where I grew up that I used to visit with my Mom as a kid. We would buy fresh apple cider and donuts, pumpkins for Halloween and fresh corn and melons for our summer picnics. This year I went home to visit for Fourth of July weekend, and my Mom and I visited once again to buy some fresh fruit and veggies for our holiday BBQ feast.

Herman's Farm Market & Cider Mill

Herman's Farm Market & Cider Mill

I was craving some juicy watermelon and strawberries and went on a mission. There’s nothing like that first bite of sweet, cool, bright pink flesh of melon and ruby red berries in the summertime.

Fresh Watermelons

Fresh Watermelons

This Watermelon and Strawberry Salad is a simple combination of fresh watermelon, strawberries and a few blueberries mixed in with a little bit of lemon juice, sugar and water to make a simple refreshing syrup to macerate the fruit. This is how we traditionally make the fruit salad but you can also toss the fruit in a citrus infused balsamic vinegar for a tangy contrast with the sweet fruit – a good friend of mine made this salad and used Tavern on the Green Citrus which has a blend of orange, tangerine and lime essence and is just as delicious!

Ripe Juicy Strawberries

Ripe Juicy Strawberries

I found a recipe for a French Potato Salad made with salt potatoes and fresh herbs, a lightened up version from the heavier mayonnaise-laden salads from our family picnics of the past.

Salt Potatoes

Salt Potatoes

It calls for salt (or new) potatoes (red or yellow), shallots, parsley and thyme tossed in an oil, vinegar and Dijon mustard base making it light and tangy.

Italian Parsley

Italian Parsley

Fresh parsley adds some green…and the sweet shallots mixed with thyme, dill and onions gives it nice fresh flavor. I added some dried dill (you could also use fresh) and a few chopped green onions for an extra dash of flavor – délicieux!

Shallots

Shallots

Fresh market grown. Simple, fast and delicious. And most of all homemade with love, and my Mom – just like the good old days.

French Herbed Potato Salad

French Herbed Potato Salad

French Herbed Potato Salad

Ingredients

2 lbs red or yellow salt potatoes, halved
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 c olive oil (light yellow, not extra virgin)
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp Champagne vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tbsp dried or fresh dill
1/4 small Vidalia onion, chopped fine
1-2 green onions, sliced

Preparation

Place potatoes in a large pot of cold salted water covering potatoes by about an inch. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Run under cold water to cool slightly, then drain.

While potatoes are cooking, whisk together oil, mustard, vinegar, shallot, parsley, thyme and dill in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Add cooked potatoes and chopped onion and 1/2 of the green onions to the dressing and toss to combine. Garnish with additional green onions and parsley and serve at room temperature.

Serves 6-8. 

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living.

Strawberry Watermelon Salad

Strawberry Watermelon Salad

Strawberry Watermelon Salad

Ingredients

1/2 c sugar
1 c water
1/4 watermelon, cut into cubes
3 c strawberries, halved
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
1/2 lemon, squeezed for juice
garnish: fresh mint leaves (torn into small pieces) or microgreens

Preparation

To make the simple syrup, bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan, let simmer for about 5 minutes and cool.

Place watermelon, strawberries and blueberries in a large bowl and add the syrup, mixing well. Add a dash of lemon juice and garnish with mint or microgreens.

Serves 6.

On the Menu: Cooking with Fresh Seasonal Ingredients


Scallops and Asparagus

Scallops and Asparagus

Spring has arrived! It’s my favorite time of year when everything comes alive…flowers are blooming, streets are buzzing, the sun is shining, and the freshest fruits and vegetables are available at the local markets. Asparagus, Strawberries, Avocados – three lovely, seasonal ingredients perfect for a light and refreshing Spring menu. The salad has marinated strawberries in a Strawberry Balsamic Viniagrette, which gives them a sweet, tangy flavor – a perfect complement to the crunchy toasted almonds, bacon and avocado in this delicious spring salad. The Scallops are pan-seared in a roasted garlic chardonnay marinade with a splash of lemon, served with a side of sautéed fresh asparagus. Enjoy!

Pan Seared Scallops with Garlic and Lemon and Sauteed Asparagus

Ingredients

16 Large Sea Scallops
¼ c. Roasted Garlic Chardonnay Marinade (Tavern on the Green)
2 tbsp EVOO
1 lemon, sliced into wedges
Lemon Pepper (Trader Joe’s)
1-2 Green Onions, sliced
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Kosher Salt to taste

Preparation

In a plastic freezer bag, place scallops and ¼ c. marinade and lemon pepper, coat scallops well. Marinade in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Prepped ingredients

Prepped ingredients

Chop the green onions and parsley and reserve for topping the scallops.

Asparagus

Asparagus

Cut off the ends of the asparagus (tough parts of the stem), rinse and pat dry. In a pre-heated sauté pan over medium-high, sauté the Asparagus in a tablespoon of olive oil with a splash of lemon juice and lemon pepper for about 5-6 minutes until cooked through.

After scallops are done marinating, take them out of the bag and dry off with paper towels. Place them in the same sauté pan, adding remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt and lemon pepper.

Pan-seared Scallops

Pan-seared Scallops

Sear the scallops for approx. 2-3 minutes per side until browned and cooked through. Sprinkle scallops with some fresh lemon juice and remove from pan.

Place asparagus and scallops on a plate and garnish with chopped green onions, parsley and a lemon wedge.

Serves 4.

Strawberry, Bacon and Avocado Salad

Strawberry, Bacon and Avocado Salad

Strawberry, Bacon and Avocado Salad with Toasted Marcona Almonds

Ingredients

1 lb of mixed lettuce
1 pint of fresh strawberries, sliced
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 ripe avocado, sliced
½ cup of Rosemary Marcona almonds, toasted (Trader Joe’s)
3 green onions, sliced thin
3 tbsp of EVOO
3 tbsp of Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar (Tavern on the Green)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper

Preparation

Slice the strawberries into thin slices and place in a sealable plastic bag with the 2 tbsp Strawberry Balsamic vinegar in the refrigerator, let marinade for about an hour.

Prepare salad dressing, mix olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and mustard together, slowly whisking in oil until it is mixed well and set aside.

Fry bacon in a pan until cooked well and drain on paper towels. Let bacon cool and crumble for salad topping. Set aside.

Rosemary Marcona Almonds and Green Onions

Rosemary Marcona Almonds and Green Onions

Place almonds in a separate pre-heated medium-sized pan with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle kosher salt over the nuts. Cook and stir for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown and toasty.

Slice the avocados and green onions.

In a large salad bowl, toss the lettuce and vinaigrette together, mixing well, and top salad greens with the marinated strawberries and sliced avocados.

Garnish the salad with crumbled bacon, green onions, toasted almonds, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4.

Cooking with a Purpose: Tavern Direct + NCMEC


I recently was fortunate enough to meet Lou Bivona, Managing Partner of Tavern Direct and Founding Member of National Center for Missing & Exploited Children/NY and sample some of his gourmet products to cook with. Tavern Direct has a fantastic line of flavorful, gourmet marinades, dipping and finishing sauces, 14-16 year barrel-aged balsamic vinegars infused with real fruit and herb oils all made with premium, all-natural ingredients bottled under the Tavern on the Green name. The best of all about this wonderful cooking line is that a portion of all their proceeds goes to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a charity committed to help millions of children through the sales of their products.

Tavern on the Green Oils & Marinades

Their product lineup includes Oils, Herbs ‘n More featuring Garlic with Rosemary Oil, Chili Pepper with Garlic Oil and Pepper with Lemon Oil. Their Marinade, Dipping and Finishing Sauce line includes Central Park Signature, Wasabi Wonder, Smokin’ Chipolte and Asian Lemon. The Marinade trio features Chandelier Chardonnay and Fire Grilled Garlic, Old Vine Cabernet and Fire Grilled Garlic and Toscana Garlic Parmesan. The Balsamic Vinegar line is premium and gorgeously flavored with options such as Citrus on the Green (infused with Orange, tangerine and lime), Blackberry and Ginger, Autumn Fig with Vanilla, and Summer Strawberry. Last but not least, they have a robust 1870 Steak Sauce as well as a sesame Golden Ginger Teriyaki Sauce, perfect for marinating steak, chicken and fish for stir-fries and grilling.

Tavern on the Green Garlic & Rosemary Oil
With so many gorgeous sauces and marinades to choose from, I had a hard time choosing which one to cook with first. I chose the Garlic with Rosemary Oil in their Oil, Herbs n’ More collection to make a fantastic, delicious meal of Pan Seared Pork Chops, Roasted Zucchini with Garlic and Parmesan and Pecan Brown Basmati Rice with Garlic. With all the wonderful oils and vinegars and marinades in this line, I’ll be cooking up a storm and planning food and wine pairings and special recipes, and aim to share all my creations and cooking experiences with you throughout the year. Stay tuned for more!

For more great recipes and info about Tavern Direct, visit www.taverndirect.com.

To make a donation to NCMEC , visit their secure website.

**This was not a paid endorsement for Tavern Direct, NCMEC or Tavern on the Green.


Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Garlic and Rosemary

Serves 4
Total Prep time: 30 mins
Total Cook time: 1 hr
Cooking skill: Intermediate

Ingredients

4 large boneless pork chops (about 1 ½ inches thick)
Tavern Direct Garlic with Rosemary Oil
4 Garlic cloves, sliced
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
Fresh or dried rosemary leaves

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees and adjust the oven rack to middle position.

Marinade pork chops in the Garlic with Rosemary Oil in a plastic freezer bag or baking dish and place in the refrigerator for up 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Once chops are done marinating, cut 2 slits about 2 inches apart into each chop, using a sharp knife. Insert sliced garlic cloves into slits and sprinkle entire surface of each chop with 1 tsp of salt. Place them in a roasting pan or baking sheet and let stand room temperature for about 15 minutes.

Sprinkle chops with freshly ground pepper and rosemary and transfer baking sheet or roasting pan to oven. Cook until meat thermometer inserted into the center of the chops registers 120-125 degrees (approximately 30-45 mins).

Heat 1 tablespoon of the Garlic with Rosemary oil in a 12 inch heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat until smoking. Place 2 chops in skillet and sear until well browned and crusty, 1 ½-3 minutes, lifting once halfway to redistribute the fat underneath each chop. (reduce heat if browned bits in pan bottom start to burn). Using tongs, turn chops and cook until well browned on second side, another 2-3 minutes. Transfer chops to a plate and repeat with remaining 2 chops, adding extra tablespoon oil if pan is dry.

Reduce heat to medium. Use tongs to stand 2 pork chops on their sides. Holding chops together with tongs, return to skillet and sear sides of chops until browned and meat thermometer in center of chops registers 140-145 degrees, about 1 ½ minutes. Repeat with remaining 2 chops. Let chops rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10 minutes until ready to serve. Sprinkle with some extra Rosemary if desired to garnish.

Pair the Pan-seared chops with Roasted Zucchini with Garlic & Parmesan and Pecan Brown Basmati Rice (recipes follow) and a light, crisp Chardonnay to top off the meal. Delicious!

Roasted Zucchini with Garlic and Parmesan

Serves 4
Total Prep time: 15 mins
Total Cook time: 30-45 mins
Cooking skill: Easy

Ingredients

4 medium zucchini
Tavern Direct Garlic with Rosemary Oil
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Fresh or dried rosemary leaves

Preparation

Wash zucchini and cut in half length wise, chopping off ends, and cut in half again. Arrange zucchini in a glass baking pan and drizzle the Garlic with Rosemary oil over the zucchini. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and top the zucchini with the shredded Parmesan cheese and fresh or dried rosemary. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 mins until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.

Pecan Brown Basmati Rice with Garlic

Serves 4
Total Prep time: 15 mins
Total Cook time: 1 hour
Cooking skill: Easy

Ingredients

1 cup long-grain brown rice
1-2 tablespoons Tavern Direct Garlic with Rosemary Oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
¼ cup green onion, sliced thin (for garnish, optional)
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Preparation

Prepare brown rice in medium saucepan, following package instructions.

About 15 minutes before the rice is done, heat 1-2 tbsp of Garlic with Rosemary oil in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened and begins to yellow, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and pecans; sauté over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the garlic is tender and pecans are browned slightly, about 5 minutes.

Remove rice from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Spoon brown rice into a bowl; spoon the onions, garlic and pecans on top and toss lightly to combine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with some chopped green onion if desired.

Garlic Rosemary Pan-Seared Pork Chops, Parmesan Zucchini + Pecan Brown Basmati RIce

Behind the Scenes with Energy Kitchen


Energy Kitchen logo


Energy Kitchen is one of the fastest growing fast casual and healthy restaurant chains in New York City, and is quickly expanding down the East Coast. For those of you who haven’t tried a delicious meal here yet, you’re in for a tasty treat!

This isn’t your typical fast food restaurant where you can pick up a greasy burger, shake and fries for lunch – instead you’ll find healthy alternatives such as Bison Wraps and Turkey Burgers, Thai Chicken Wraps, Veggie Quesadillas or Turkey Meatloaf. Even their sides are healthy, including Steamed Broccoli, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Black Bean and Mango Salad, Creamed Spinach with Tofu and more. They also offer healthy Soups and Salads, Breakfast Wraps and Smoothies for when you’re on the run but need a fast, delicious and healthy pick-me-up.

They truly live up to their motto: “Healthy on the Go”. Everything is Grilled, Steamed or Baked – Never Fried. All their drinks are low-calorie and salad dressings fat-free. And, everything on the menu is under 500 calories and reasonably priced (an average meal is around $12-13). How good can it get?

I had the opportunity to interview Anthony Leone, President/CEO of Energy Kitchen, as well as their Recipe Developer, Olivia Dupin, to get an insider view on their background, philosophy, company culture, and keys to success in the restaurant industry. I hope their stories will inspire you not only to become an Energy Kitchen fan as much as I am, but also to inspire anyone who has a love of healthy, delicious food and a desire to succeed as much as they do (which they clearly are and have done!) Enjoy.

Anthony Leone, President/CEO

Anthony Leone

AG: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself: background, education, career path, etc.?

AL: I have always had a passion for the food industry and eating healthy. I went to school for Hospitality Mgmt at FIU and have worked for Disney, and Boston Market. I decided to branch out on my own and develop a concept. Energy Kitchen was born. A place where everything on the menu is under 500 calories and we steam, bake, and grill everything – Nothing is fried! We plan on making Energy Kitchen the Pioneer and Leader of the healthy fast casual segment by opening 1,000 stores in 10 years!

AG: Can you tell me how Energy Kitchen got started and what prompted you to start your own business?

AL: I have always been entrepreneurial. Even when I worked for other concepts I would run them as my own.  I would be working in NYC and tried to eat healthy at local restaurants. What I noticed was that I was ordering healthy items, but the way they prepared their food was not good for you. I realized all calories are not created equal. One example was egg whites – the restaurants would put oil and butter on the grill to cook them. I said there has to be a better way of cooking and I know that there are so many other people that want to eat this way. That is how it started. I decided then to take a chance and have not looked back since.

AG: How did you fall into your partnership with Randy Schechter and later on with Mike Repole, founder of Vitamin Water?

AL: Randy was a friend for many years when I built my first restaurant. Randy would travel a half hour to come eat at that location. When I was looking to build another store Randy invested. He has since left corporate America and has been working with me for 6 years building the brand.

Mike was a customer before he was an investor. He would come in to eat. We would also deliver to his office in Whitestone from time to time. When he sold Vitamin Water to Coke he was out there looking for the next Billion Dollar Brand. He called me up. we met for dinner and hit it off. The partnership has been incredible.

AG: How has Energy Kitchen changed and grown since the beginning and what are your long term goals?

AL: We have grown by leaps and bound. When Mike came in we changed the look and feel of the concept from the stores to our branding. We added custom salad bars, made everything under 500 calories. We made all of our beverages low or no calories. Our goals are much bigger today than since the beginning.  I thought we could get this chain to 100 stores. With Mike aboard, our goal is 1,000 stores in 10 years.

AG: What are your main values and beliefs as a healthy fast food restaurant?

AL: We believe that Fast Food does not have to be Fat Food, and that you can eat great tasting meals without all the guilt. We believe that all calories are not created equal – that is why we Steam, Bake and Grill everything and our food is never fried. We want to change the eating habits of America with our Concept. It is really ‘Healthy Made Easy’.

AG: What are some current and/or new efforts that Energy Kitchen is working on in terms of new product development, promotions, sponsorships, charities, etc?

AL: We are always looking to improve our product. We are never content. We have just partnered with Olivia Dupin as our recipe developer and Robert Brace as our trainer extraordinaire. We are always looking to add value to our guests’ experiences by providing them with different tools so they can reach their goals.

AG: How large is your staff and what qualities do you look for in an EK employee?

AL: Our staff in the stores average about 15 people per store. Our corporate office has 10 people working in it. I look for 4 things when it comes to employees. Attitude, this is something that is innate and that cannot be taught. Skill, toward their particular focus. Will, the attitude of whatever it takes to get the job done. And a great smile, it is infectious.

AG: Can you describe a typical day and responsibilities as CEO of Energy Kitchen?

AL: It varies from day to day. Some days I am out in the field getting feedback from our guests and employees. Other days I am in the office meeting future franchisees (I want to meet everyone that comes into the company) telling them about our vision. It really depends on the day.

AG: What are some of the challenges of running and growing a restaurant chain/franchise?

AL: As we get bigger, having the guest experience the same quality and service every time has been a challenge. We have instituted systems to ensure that we are following specific procedures to try to eliminate those errors. If there are mistakes making sure the customer is satisfied at the end of their visit. I would rather make a mistake than miss an opportunity.

AG: What do you like most about what you do? Least?

AL: I love our concept and really enjoy all aspects of the business.

AG: What do you see as some of the current and upcoming trends in the food and restaurant industry?

AL: In a New Yorker’s fast-paced lifestyle, they want something that is ‘Healthy on the Go’.  It needs to be good for them, quick, but they do not want to compromise taste. At Energy Kitchen they know they can get a great meal and the piece of mind knowing that all the calorie counts are posted.

  1. We Only Serve Low Calorie Beverages
  2. We Do Not Cook with Oil Or Butter
  3. We really are ‘Fast Food Without The Guilt’
  4. They have recently asked for fiber on our nutritional chart and we have added it

AG: Do you have any words of advice for people considering a similar career?

AL: 1. Be Passionate on what you do. 2. Take your time hiring the best people with different skill sets. 3. Do not ever give up your dream. 4. Keep the end in mind. 5. Try to be like a turtle, soft on the inside, hard on the outside, and willing to stick your neck out!

AG: What is your proudest accomplishment?

AL: On our website we have a section called Love Letters. I really enjoy when I hear guests say how Energy Kitchen has helped them lose weight, reach their health goals, etc. It is very gratifying knowing that we were able to have a positive influence on people’s lives.

AG: Lastly, what is your favorite dish at Energy Kitchen and why?

AL: I really love all the food at our restaurants. But, if I had to pick one it would be our Energy Burger. It is a bison burger, topped with three egg whites and low-fat mozzarella cheese. It is making my mouth water as I speak!

Olivia Dupin, EK Recipe Developer

Olivia Dupin

AG: Can you tell me a little bit about your background and how you got started at Energy Kitchen as a Recipe Developer?

OD: I’ve wanted to be a chef since I was a little girl.  I used to play restaurant -cooking actual meals at home and with my friends at their houses.  I have always loved to eat, so learning to cook just felt natural.  Right after high school I enrolled at The Culinary Institute of America, and have been working in the industry ever since.

I got involved with Energy Kitchen when I interviewed with Mike Repole to be his private chef.  It wouldn’t have worked logistically since I live far from his home, so he asked if I would be interested in doing recipe development for Energy Kitchen instead. Then I met with Anthony, and brought him some samples of dishes that I thought would be good additions to the menu.  The corn and edamame salad I brought him is on the menu today!

AG: What are your specific responsibilities and what are some current efforts you are working on at EK?

OD: I’m responsible for developing new, healthy menu items on-trend with what’s happening in the world of food.  Everything is grilled, baked or steamed, but that doesn’t mean it has to taste “healthy”.

Right now I’m really excited to be developing recipes for Energy Kitchen’s website, too:  They are simple, nutritious dishes under 500 calories that people can cook in their own kitchens.

AG: What is the process for recipe testing and development? Do you develop recipes from scratch or adapt them from previous ones you’ve developed? How do you test them to make sure they are aligned to Energy Kitchen’s standards of being low fat, healthy and under 500 calories? Can you explain that a bit more?

OD: When I’m working on something new, sometimes I will start with a basic recipe, and then find ways to tweak it and make it healthier or more exciting.  Or, I develop recipes from scratch and, by trial and error, get them to a place where I am happy with them.  From there I use basic nutritional software to get a rough estimate of calories/fat etc. to make sure that they align with the nutritional standards of EK.  Then, once Anthony and everyone at EK are happy with the final product, we send the actual food to a lab to be tested for exact nutritional analysis.  Finally, I write up the recipe with detailed instructions and exact ingredient measurements and take step-by-step photos for the training manuals.

AG: What do you see as some of the current and upcoming trends in the food and restaurant industry? Are there any culinary trends that you are incorporating into the food and recipes you are developing for EK?

OD: I love that people are becoming more aware of the foods they eat, how they are prepared and what is actually in them.  I think that’s why people come back to Energy Kitchen – we make it easy to be good to yourself. Also, I think the food industry is becoming more conscious of people’s dietary restrictions, and catering to them rather than treating them as a nuisance.  I have Celiac Disease so I can’t eat gluten.  I love that Energy Kitchen has so many great options for those who eat gluten-free, low-carb, vegetarian, etc.

AG: How many people do you work with and where do you test and develop and cook?

OD: As far as the actual development goes, I work by myself – I think in a lot of ways I am the demographic we strive to please at EK.  I’m a busy professional trying to make healthy choices when I’m on the go.  Primarily I work on location in one of Energy Kitchen’s beautiful restaurant kitchens, or I’ll test at home in my kitchen.  I like working in the stores because it gives me a chance to see if a potential menu item is really practical for the scale of production, space and equipment of the restaurants.

AG: What are the challenges you run into being a private chef and recipe developer and what do you love most about what you do?

OD: Being a private chef comes with its own list of challenges.  Food is very emotional for people, and when you are working in someone’s home and preparing food for someone’s family or their honored guests, it’s very personal.  You have to listen to your clients and anticipate their needs – the biggest challenge is developing that intuition.

As a recipe developer, it is kind of the same thing.  It’s translating the ideas and concepts of the company into the food.

What I love most about what I do is that I get to see people eating and enjoying the food I’ve created, and know that I had a hand in making a healthy choice a little easier for them.

AG: Do you need to have prior hands-on cooking experience as a chef to get into recipe testing and development or is this something a person can grow into/learn?

OD: I think cooking experience is a must – you have to be comfortable in the kitchen and familiar with all types of ingredients and techniques.  I was lucky enough to sort of fall into recipe development a few years back.  I was working as a private chef and one of my clients was writing a cookbook with healthy meals for children/families.  She loved the foods I was preparing and asked if she could use some of the recipes in her book.  I learned a lot watching that cookbook come together and made some great connections to people who were willing to teach me even more.

AG: Do you have any words of advice for people considering a similar career?

OD: Love it. Being a chef has definitely been glamorized, but it’s really hard, and often really un-glamorous. You can’t do it if you don’t love it.  Also, eat everything!  I learn so much by eating!

AG: What is your proudest accomplishment?

OD: Once, I was on my way into the city for a meeting.  It was rush hour and the train was full of people reading that free daily paper they give out on the street.  I sat down and noticed that on the back of every paper was an Energy Kitchen ad featuring the newest burger we’d developed.  I think that’s when it really hit me – people all over New York City are eating my creations!  It was the best subway ride I’ve ever had.

AG: Lastly, what is your favorite dish at Energy Kitchen and why?

OD: I love all the sides, but my favorite dish is definitely the creamed spinach.  It’s garlicky and rich and feels like comfort food.

The following is one of many tasty and healthy recipes that Olivia has developed for Energy Kitchen (you can find more of them on
their Facebook page in the Recipes tab and also on Olivia’s Blog, “Liv Gluten-Free“):

Thai Pineapple “Fried” Rice with Shrimp (Serves 2)

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup cubed red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 6 medium peeled deveined shrimp, tails removed and sliced lengthwise in half
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup cubed pineapple
  • 1/2 cup cubed light, firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon roasted peanuts, chopped

Preheat a large sauté pan over high heat. Meanwhile, combine the soy sauce, red curry paste, and fish sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

Add the oil to the sauté pan and when the oil starts to glisten, add the broccoli, pepper, and onion. Cook 1-2 minutes, until the broccoli turns bright green, then add the shrimp. Sauté, stirring occasionally until the shrimp curl and turn pink, about 3-4 more minutes.

Add the rice, pineapple, tofu, basil, and soy sauce mixture to the pan. Stir occasionally until the mixture is heated through, approximately 3 minutes. Divide onto 2 plates and garnish with the chopped peanuts. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information (all nutrition information is approximate)
Per Serving

  • Calories: 375
  • Total Fat: 7.7 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 8 grams
  • Protein: 16.8 grams

Energy Kitchen has multiple locations all over New York City. Read more about them (or order online!) at their website www.energykitchen.com or become a fan on Facebook for weekly and monthly specials at http://www.facebook.com/energykitchen and on Twitter (@Energy_Kitchen)

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