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A Foodie's Paradise: Culinary Exploration of Puerto Rico


Posted by Elizabeth Lindemer on 3/28/17

Puerto Rico 7

We arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Saturday evening around 7:30pm. It was warm and somewhat humid, but for someone who is always cold, it was quite comfortable. We caught a taxi and checked into our room with the typical excitement of chefs being in an almost foreign country and having empty stomachs from a 4 Puerto Rico 3hour plane ride. So, naturally, we decided to explore and find some good food. Our first bearings brought us to the beach, which was only 2 blocks from where we were staying! It was dark so we couldn’t see much, but as we looked down the sandy strip in each direction you could see the lighted patios of beach side resorts and restaurants.

A woman walking her fluffy dogs on the soft cream colored sand recommended that we head over to one of her favorite places La Playita. The restaurant was just a short walk away, and as we arrived we were greeted with a warm smile and seated on the patio which reached out over the ocean. Waves lapped at the boards under our feet gently, and we waited patiently to place our order...and waited...and waited. Finally we moved back over to the bar, since this is where the staff seemed to be congregated in hopes of better service. (Island life is a bit more laid back, which is just what was needed, but we were starving) One of the young men immediately noticed that we had moved to the bar and jumped into action making us drinks and placing our order. Although we didn’t have the sound of the water, we had the joy of conversation with the young men working there who were happy to share their stories and recommend more places to see and restaurants to visit during our stay. That night we dined on Tuna Tartar and Whole Fried Red Snapper, both of which had that sweet and clean taste that only comes with very freshly caught fish. The snapper had been placed in a marinade of sofrito (Puerto Rican sofrito version is heavy laden with green peppers, onions, garlic and varying amounts of spicy peppers) this morning and then fried to a crispy perfection before being topped with a mixture of garlic and butter sauce. Our server explained that the chefs went shopping every morning so that they worked with the freshest ingredients possible. Oh, the perks of being in Puerto Rico!

After spending much of the next day enjoying the sun and surf of the local beach, we decided we were ready to find a more authentic experience and would check out the area that was recommend by our server from the night before. One such place, we were told was a favorite of the locals....just what we were looking for!Puerto Rico 1

We traveled about four miles west down 187 to Piñones and as we arrived we could see the place was packed, bumper to bumper cars and crowds of people. The area of Piñones is just over a little, heavily trafficked, two lane bridge and bumps up to the shore. It’s a small space that is basically a loop with limited parking and packed mostly with restaurants that feature open aired seating and cases of hot food stacked high with an assortment of fried and grilled goodies. It was clear that this wasn’t a tourist trap since among the crowds milling between the cars, restaurants and beach we appeared to be the only tourist here.

It didn’t take long to see that one of the restaurants, Puerta Del Mar, was the crowd favorite. Lines of people waited to order from the walk-up counters, tables inside all Puerto Rico 6packed with happy families and friends, and a delicious plume of smoke wafting from the outdoor grill that was being manned by two jovial men.
Since neither my husband nor I speak Spanish (five years of French aren’t coming in too handy....), we played a bit of charades with Fidel, our waiter, to place an order. It took a bit of patience on both ends, but we ended up with everything we wanted. We started with chicken and pork pinchos; it was these lovely snacks that had lured us from across the parking area with their grilled BBQ goodness! The scrumptious skewers of meat are basted over the grill with alternating rounds of a sweet BBQ sauce and generous amounts of melted butter until they are perfectly cooked. This was followed by the traditional tostones (mashed and fried plantains), fried pork mofungo served with slightly sweet and vinegary slices of pickled onions and peppers, and then finished off with a sweet and delicately briny array of raw oysters and clams on the half-shell that were so big they were falling out of their shells!

Although we were clearly not the typical customer here and spoke basically no Spanish, we found everyone to be so pleasant and helpful. Something we would continue to see throughout our stay in Puerto Rico. We even managed to share a few laughs, mostly at our expense as we attempted/butchered the language while trying to pick up a thing or two.

Read more about Chef Elizabeth Lindemer here

 


  • Elizabeth Lindemer
  • Elizabeth Lindemer
    Corporate Executive Chef

Chocolate & Love: A Valentine's Day Recipe from Chef Elizabeth Lindemer


Posted by Elizabeth Lindemer on 2/7/17

Chocolate 5

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.”
― Charles M. Schulz


Around the world chocolate is adored and loved by millions. It is used to helps us celebrate the good times, as a gift to someone special, as a reward for a job well done, as a form of art and creativity, and, when times are tough, it can also be comfort. But the chocolate that many of know and love has come quite a long way, and for much of its known existence it has not been so readily available to the masses, like it is today. Let’s take a quick look at how we have arrived at our place in time with this love affair.
The tree that is responsible for giving us the amazing gift that is chocolate is called Theobroma cacao, which translates to “food of the gods.” And it’s no wonder that it received this name.


The first known evidence of chocolate is traced back to as early as 1900 B.C. in what we now know as Mexico. It is said to have been Chocolate 7discovered in the Central American rainforest by the Mesoamericans, who cultivated, fermented, roasted and ground the beans into a paste which they would combine with spices such as chili and sometimes honey and then brew it into a frothy beverage. In fact, the word “chocolate” can be traced back to the Aztec word “xocoatl” which is a bitter drink that is brewed from cacao beans. This beverage was found to be energizing and some even thought of it as an aphrodisiac. As a chef and someone that follows culinary trends I love to find tidbits of information such as this. I had known that it was roasted and brewed into a beverage, but was unaware of the fermenting. Fermenting has become such a popular trend over the past few years, and I always find it so intriguing to see how the “new and big” trends almost always tie back into processes that have been used for centuries.


The Mayans would reserve this exceptional treat for their most noble citizens, priests, warriors and rulers. And when the Spanish conquistadors brought it back to their homeland it was only enjoyed by the most elite, who adapted it slightly by adding the sweetness of cane sugar and sometimes a hint of cinnamon. Throughout so much of its life, chocolate remained a treat for the aristocrats and privileged of society, and minus the addition of sweeteners and some spices was enjoyed in a similar way as the Mesoamericans.
It’s not unforeseeable that chocolate would have remained as an elitist treasure for even longer, but in 1828 a Dutch chemist named Coenraad Johannes van Houten invented the cocoa press which would extract the rich and fatty cocoa butter from roasted beans leaving behind a dry substance that was easily processed into a fine powder....cocoa powder. The creation of cocoa powder enabled chocolate to be a much more affordable and accessible product, and put its innovation on the fast track.


Less than 20 years after the invention of the cocoa press, and centuries after the Mesoamericans had discovered this magical bean, J.S. Chocolate 6Frye & Sons, a British chocolate company, created the first solid edible chocolate bar. And it wasn’t long afterwards that in 1879, the now world renowned Rodolphe Lindt created the conching machine, which would produce chocolate with an extremely velvety texture and superior taste. Since then we have had many more advances which have made chocolate one of the most popular foods in the world. It is reported that in America alone, on average each consumer eats about 12 pounds a year!
It’s hard to imagine a life without chocolate, at least in my book. Technically speaking, I don’t NEED chocolate to survive. And if memory serves me then I’m pretty sure that chocolate didn’t have its own category as part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Yes, it is a food and therefore it’s included in the basic physiological needs, but it’s more than just...food.
It is said to truly love you must understand, so now that we understand a little bit better I feel it’s high time that we have an opportunity to enjoy our love of chocolate!


I’m sharing with you my recipe for chocolate mousse. Yes you can buy packaged easy prep mousse in your grocery store, but you’ll find this much more indulgent and once you get the hang of making it you’ll see it’s not that hard at all. I feel that chocolate mousse is the perfect dessert for someone who is craving rich and indulgent chocolate but not something that is heavy, such as a cake. It’s similar to a pudding or custard but much lighter and more airy. It’s just classy enough for entertaining and simple since you can make it a day ahead. Plus it looks very beautiful with just simple garnish of a few berries. You’ll be hard pressed to find a lover of chocolate turn their nose up to a cute cup filled with such a delicate and satisfying treat!


Chocolate Mousse

Yield: approximately 6 servings

Ingredients:

• Heavy Cream ½ cup
• Egg Whites 4 whites
• Sugar 2 ½ Tbsp
• Bittersweet Chocolate 1/2 pound
• Butter, cold & cut into 4 4 Tbsp
• Egg Yolks 4 yolks


Steps:

Chocolate 3

1. Whip heavy cream until it forms stiff peaks.
2. In a separate bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar. Whip this until it forms stiff peaks.
3. Set up a double boiler. A what? How do I do this?
a. Find a small sauce pot and fill with about 1 ½ - 2 inches of water. Chocolate 2b. Find a metal mixing bowl to sit over the pot. It should be slightly larger than the pot.
4. Heat the water over medium heat until boiling: then reduce heat to low.
5. Add the chocolate chips to the bowl and let melt while stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula.Chocolate 46. Add the butter and stir until melted and fully incorporated; Remove from the heat.
7. In a separate bowl, gently whisk the egg yolks.
8. Very slowly drizzle the warm chocolate mixture into egg yolks while gently and continuously whisking the yolks. (This is called tempering the yolks.)
9. Gently fold ½ of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, then repeat with ½ of the egg whites. Repeat with remaining whipped cream and egg whites.
10. Portion into serving bowls, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
11. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and some fresh berries.

 


  • Elizabeth Lindemer
  • Elizabeth Lindemer
    Corporate Executive Chef

 

Local Flavor: Maryland Pit Beef


Posted by Elizabeth Lindemer on 1/17/17

Pit Beef 1

This January marks one year for me in Maryland and during this time I have enjoyed many local favorites: hands down the very best crabcakes in the world, steamed and deliciously seasoned blue crabs, golden fried soft shell crabs, Natty Boh, Flying Dog, Heavy Seas and the vast array of local brews, Bergers cookies, rock fish (it’s actually striped bass, but we’ll just let by- gones be by- gones), a dinner to remember at Volt....this is just to name a few. I have truly enjoyed many of the good things that Maryland has to offer, and I have a good feeling that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

As a chef, the most logical way to learn about a new place is to eat. Also, as a chef I enjoy sharing my love of food with those around me, so let’s begin some culinary discoveries in and around the Mid Atlantic. I figured I should start the journey close to home....with Baltimore’s own Pit Beef. Around here it’s often called barbeque, but if you’re expecting a piece of beef that cooked slowly over a low temperature and is seasoned with a rich and sweet molasses, tangy tomato, notes of vinegary mustard and savory onion and garlic, you’re in for a surprise. Stunningly, it is cooked in rather short amount of time....less than hour total for 4 to 5 pound top round roast. Although I saw some evidence of smoking, the vast majority of places cook it over a bed of piping hot coals. And the seasoning is an uncomplicated mixture of salt, garlic, chili and black pepper. You would think that a sparing seasoned cut of beef that is grilled over hot coals in short amount of time would yield something tough and unpleasant. You would be wrong. It’s delightfully moist and tender with a pleasant beefy-ness and studded with bits of flawlessly seasoned and charred edges. Pit Beef 2
Being new to the pit beef experience, by no means have I achieved expert status on this subject so I’ll just have to continue to eat my way to knowledge. With that being said, I have learned that this little treasure originated on the east side of the city from within the working-class neighborhoods. After it’s seasoned and grilled to a precise temperature and allowed to rest, it’s sliced. This next step is the icing on the beefy cake....They ask you how you want your meat! And that’s exactly how you get it. I prefer medium rare, but found that even the more well-done pieces are delightful. They can slice it either paper thin on a slicer or carved slightly thicker by hand, then it’s piled onto a Kaiser Bun or white bread. Many places offer a good assortment of toppings but I was told the best way to go about this is to finish with sliced onions and Tiger sauce (a delicious concoction made with horseradish).


In order to understand it I needed to sample from a couple of places around the area. My first stop was close to home, a small shack filled the aroma of beef and bacon. Overall it was alright, a bit dry so I was thankful for the generous helping of tiger sauce. I’ll leave the name out as not to offend. This wasn’t the best start to my journey and I was having some serious doubts about my chosen subject, but I was not ready to give up. I had read many reviews about a much loved joint called Chaps Pit Beef.


It’s located in downtown Baltimore, and it was well worth the trip. The small restaurant’s patrons included a good amount of families. And the beef was incredibly moist, tender and utterly enchanting. In life, the simple things when done right are such a treasure!
Now that I had a taste of what I wanted to recreate, it was time to enact the second part of the plan. I found a couple nice pieces of top round, created a simple and flavorful rub (recipe follows), let it sit over the weekend and then on Monday I fired up the grill. Everything I read said if using a propane grill to set it to a medium high setting, get a good char on all sides and move it to indirect heat to finish. Most of the recipes said to cook a 4-5 pound roast for a total of about 30-40 minutes or until it reached 120°F...really? That’s it?

After removing it from the grill, wrap it in foil and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes. This is so simple...there’s no way it will yield a similar result as what I had experienced from Chaps. I was wrong....it was amazing, well at least “not bad” (which according to my oldest brother means pretty darn good food).
All that remained was to slice, pile, top and enjoy...and oh how we enjoyed!

Pit Beef 3
Baltimore Style Pit Beef


Ingredients for the beef:
• 1 Tbsp kosher salt
• 1 tsp cracked black pepper
• 1 tsp garlic powder
• 1 tsp chili powder
• ¼ tsp ground cumin
• 4-5 pound top round or eye round cut of beef
For the sandwiches:
• 6-8 Kasier buns
• 1-2 sweet onion
• 1 cup homemade or store bought horseradish sauce
Instructions:
1. Combine the salt with the spices, and rub generously onto the beef.
2. Cover and place in refridgerator for at least 4 hours. I recommend overnight or 2-3 days for maximum flavor.
3. Remove the seasoned beef from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature while you prepare the hot grill. If using charcoal prepare an area for direct heat to char it a bit, and an area of indirect heat to finish the cooking.
4. You’ll want to use the direct, intense heat to get a nice crust on the outside. Once this is achieved move it to the indirect heat and allow to continue to cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 120-130°F...this took me about 30 minutes total on the grill.
5. Remove it from the grill and wrap it in foil. Allow it to rest for about 10-15 minutes while wrapped in the foil.
6. Unwrap and place on a cutting board. You’ll want to slice it as thin as possible and try to go against the grain.
7. Pile the thin slices of beef on the buns and top with slices of sweet onion and horseradish sauce.
8. For the full experience serve the sandwiches wrapped in foil and enjoy!

 Click here to read more about Elizabeth. 


  • Elizabeth Lindemer
  • Elizabeth Lindemer
    Corporate Executive Chef

Getting the Best Out of Beets


Posted by Elizabeth Lindemer on 11/09/2016

Beets 1

The warmth and humidity of summer has begun to dwindle and hand-in-hand with that departure goes the garden fresh tomato and freshly picked wild strawberries. The air is becoming cool and crisp, leaves are beginning to decorate the ground and I’ve already pulled out my gloves (Let’s be honest here, it doesn’t take much for me to wear gloves; they are one of my favorite accessories necessities)...all signs that autumn is here and it’s time to crank up the oven!

If you are a gardener and or avid shopper at your local farmers market, then you are surely seeing clear signs of autumn here as well. My tomato plants look very sad and are ready to be pulled, the tender lettuces are looking less than appealing, and there are no more cute little baskets of blackberries at my favorite stand. But now a new wave of vegetables is ready to take their place at the head of the table. Butternut and acorn squash, pumpkins, carrots, parsnips and beets are taking center stage in the garden, at the market, in restaurants and on my dining room table.

I enjoy beets prepared in many ways throughout the year...fried as chips, pickled, shaved thin or shredded on a salad, sautéed beet greens with garlic, the list goes on and on. My all-time favorite preparation for these colorful vegetables, however, is roasted. Slowly roasting them softens them into a tender treat and brings out their natural sugars.

The key to roasting beets is to remember “slow and low.” To bring out the best in your beets, and just about any dense food, you want to use a low temperature and allow cooking for a long period of time. This technique enables the natural sugars in beets to come out so that you can enjoy them on their own or as a vibrant addition to a recipe. Here is my technique for roasting beets....I’m sure you’ll delight in this as much as I do!

Tender Oven Roasted Beets

  • 6 large beets
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 6 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 head garlic, sliced in half
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Water

Beets 2Preheat the oven to 300°F. Gently scrub the beets without damaging the skin and remove the green tops. (Save the washed green and clean them from the thick ribs ... they are delicious sautéed with sliced garlic and olive oil.)

Arrange the beet, thyme, bay leaves and garlic in an oven proof pan. I like to use a heavy cast iron pan for jobs like this, one that is enamel is great as it will resist staining from the beets. A heavy cast iron may take longer to heat but they hold heat more evenly than a stainless steel pan and will maintain a temperature more consistently. Sprinkle the beets somewhat heavily with salt and drizzle with olive oil, then add enough water to go about halfway up the beets.

Beets 3If your pan has an oven proof lid then use that, otherwise cover the pan with foil. Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven.
Roast for an hour, then check to see if they are done. The actual cooking time will depend on the size of the beets but these took about 1 ½ hours. To see if they are done roasting, carefully pierce with a fork into one of the beets. The fork should go easily into the beet, but you don’t want them to be mushy so be sure not to overcook them.

Once they are finished roasting, remove them from the oven and let cool slightly so that you can handle them without burning your hands. You’ll want them to still be fairly warm in order to easily remove the skin. If you have latex or similar gloves, you’ll want to wear them when removing the skin to avoid staining your hands. Remove the warm beets from the water and rub with a kitchen towel (one that you don’t mind staining) or paper towel to remove the skin. Enjoy your beets!

If you’ve grown accustomed to beets then you probably already have a few go-to pairings, and for someone that “loves, loves, loves” beets the pairings are countless, but here are a few ingredients that I find pair very well with beets.

  • Dairy: yogurt, sour cream, goat cheese and bleu cheese
  • Nuts: walnuts, hazel nuts, almonds and cashews
  • Fruits/Veggies: apples, oranges, squash, carrots and parsnips
  • Herbs and Spices: thyme, rosemary and dill; ginger, cinnamon and a cayenne
  • Condiments: Dijon mustard, honey and balsamic vinegar

 


  • Elizabeth Lindemer
  • Elizabeth Lindemer,
    Corporate Executive Chef

 

Meet Elizabeth Lindemer

Fuchs’ Corporate Executive Chef

“As the chef for Fuchs North America, I have the opportunity to share my passion for food with our customers and help them overcome their culinary challenges every day.”

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