Sunday, April 18, 2010

"Savor the Moment" Cooking Demonstration at Bloomingdales with Chef John Paul

This past Saturday, the Junior League of Boca Raton held a cooking demonstration at Bloomingdales featuring fabulous recipes from "Savor the Moment." We wanted to showcase recipes that would be perfect for a delicious Spring or Summer meal. We were fortunate enough to enlist acclaimed local chef, Chef John Paul, to perform the demonstration.

An alum of Johnson & Wales Culinary Institute, Chef John Paul has cooked in kitchens from Nantucket to South Beach and explored culinary destinations around the world. He is currently a Private Chef and prepares amazing menus for local events, private dinner parties and holiday meals through his company, Custom Cuisine. He was delightful to work with and, after perusing "Savor the Moment" for a few days, he came up with a variety of creative menu ideas. After listening to them (and boy, they were gooood) we finally decided on the following menu:

Sahara Dates (p.20)
Walnut and Gorgonzola Crostini (pg. 66)
Shiitake and Warm Corn Salad (pg. 126)
Hacienda Skirt Steak (pg. 153)
Cappuccino Brownies (pg. 259)

The creamy Sahara Dates were delicious stuffed with a filling of walnuts, blue cheese, cream cheese and butter (no calories, I swear!). Chef John Paul marinated the Hacienda Skirt Steaks in a delicious Adobo marinade including fresh cilantro, garlic, white vinegar, cumin, oregano, thyme and olive oil for twelve hours before grilling. He's a fan of this particluar cut of meat since it's conducive to cooking to various temperature levels simultaneously due to the variations in thickness of the steaks. Once grilled, he plated the skirt steak on a dreamy bed of flavorful Shiitake and Warm Corn Salad consisting of fresh corn kernels, shiitake mushrooms, bacon, walnuts, arugula and aged goat cheese. It never would have occurred to me to put these two recipes together (that's why he's the Chef!) but the flavors paired beautifully. This combination is also ideal because it can be served at room temperature and seems to get more delicious the longer it "hangs out." Perfect for reducing the stress factor of having to serve it right away!

I offered to help out by making the Cappuccino Brownies and while making them is a lengthy, three step process I do believe they were worth it! With rich flavors of espresso and bittersweet chocolate, the walnut studded brownies were topped with a layer of cream cheese and cinnamon frosting and finished off with a decadent Mocha Glaze made with more espresso, bittersweet chocolate and heavy cream. I have never melted so much chocolate in my life! Even though the recipe called for melting the chocolate in a double boiler, I always use the microwave which really does a fantastic job. Seriously, if you are a chocolate and/or coffee fan - these might be your new favorite brownies!

Chef John Paul garnished the platters with beautiful, bright orange, nasturtium flowers and herbs from his personal garden which also produces a plethora of other herbs and edible greens. It made for a beautiful presentation and I thought our audience was about to rush the stage...the food smelled and looked so good (I was sooo with them!)

We also were fortunate to have some of the original Cookbook Committee members in attendance, women who were involved in the creation of the book from the beginning: Wanda Harrold who served as Cookbook Assistant Chairperson on the Original Committee as well as Cookbook Chairperson on the Post Publication Committee; Laura Stoltz, a Recipe Contributor and Tester; and Mary Lavalle a Recipe Contributor and Tester as well who, to this day, works at the League office and handles "all things cookbook." I call her the "Cookbook Goddess" because the Cookbook Committee just couldn't function without her knowledge, caring and support. After passing out samples of all the delicious dishes, a number of the attendees were impressed enough to purchase copies of "Savor the Moment." Thanks to everyone who did, especially Mrs. Yvonne Bachman who bought three copies! As I've mentioned previously, all proceeds from cookbook sales support our local community projects and I hope you all enjoy this fabulous book.

I'm also really looking forward to our 10th Anniversary "Savor the Moment" Dinner Parties next weekend. Steve and I are hosting one and if you (this means YOU) would like to participate by hosting a dinner party at your home, please let me know! It doesn't matter where you live.nd If you like to entertain it's really ideal and here's why: you select a menu from 5 of our predetermined menus including: "Casting Off the Day" Cocktails and Hors d'oeuvres, "Pastas del Sol, Dining Al Fresco", a fabulous "French Country Charm" Brunch, a "Splendor in the Grass" Pool Party or Picnic, or a "Night to Remember" Sit Down Dinner; you then invite a few friends, assign a dish to each to prepare and bring, and proceed to have a wonderful evening to support a great cause! Oh yeah, and don't forget to take plenty of photos. I'd be happy to e-mail the menus to anyone who'd be interested, and would greatly appreciate your support - thank you!

You can contact Chef John Paul of Custom Cuisine at (561)789-2799 or


  1. Great menu! Those brownies look so scrumptious!

  2. Lovely photos, Stephanie. This looks like a magazine spread! Just wanted to say thanks, too, for the wonderful comments you've left over at Madame Fromage. Anytime you have suggestions for wine pairings, please chime in. Cheers to you!

  3. mmmmm!!!gud job!
    Beautiful blog too!
    visit mine whenever u hv tym:)
    link is

  4. Thank you for stopping by the blog. Look forward to following you here. Great job with the capucchino brownies. They really look like pure indulgence. Hopefully I can learn some more about wine from you, my knowledge in that department is quite lacking. Cheers!

  5. This is fabulous, Stephanie. Love the photos. Thanks for the recipes. I know this was a fun day for you guys.

  6. Thanks for your "visit". You have a delicious undertaking here. I look forward to sharing food and wine with you.


  7. Stephanie, how fabulous for you and congratulations. Bloomingdales - wow. Please pass the tray of brownies. I would love to have one.


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