Would you say no if your super-talented friend (who just happens to be a Private Chef and Teacher) offers to cook for you in your own kitchen??? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Well I certainly couldn’t refuse when Chef Zissie offered to come over and make me a gourmet 3-course meal. In exchange, she allowed me to take tons of pictures of the beautiful fresh food she brought with her. I took at least 100 pictures so choosing which ones to show all of you was almost impossible. But don’t worry, I made it happen. Chef Zissie and I have known each other since we both lived in the same neighborhood in Queens for many years. I moved to my home in Long Island more than 2 years ago but when she came over to cook, it was as if we had just seen each other the day before. Chef Zissie made me feel very comfortable while she took over my kitchen and she even taught me some cooking tricks along the way. I hardly ever let anyone in my kitchen but Chef Zissie was so professional! I think the funniest part was that she even made the garbage bowl look beautiful. It was hilarious!
Before she began cooking, I had a few questions for Chef Zissie…
Kitchen Tested: What is your favorite knife to use in the kitchen?
Chef Zissie: The knife I have now is a global – I love it but there are better knives out there that I want but cant yet afford.
KT: What is your favorite kitchen utensil?
CZ: My favorite kitchen utensil is honestly my knife and a nice wooden cutting board- I’m not so into gadgets. When I travel anywhere I bring my knife and wooden cutting board with me and then I feel that I can make anything.
KT: What is your favorite thing to make for clients?
CZ: My favorite thing to make for clients is themed cuisine nights. I love the challenge of learning different cuisines and mastering them and creating my own recipes based on the spices and flavors of those cuisines. I am a flavor addict. I feel that flavor comes from the heart!
If you would like to book Chef Zissie for a private cooking lesson or to cater a special event, check out ChefZissie.com.
Come with me on a delicious journey through my 3-course meal with Chef Zissie. And don’t forget to drool along the way. Chef Zissie has even shared one of her recipes with all of us so not only can you gush over the food, you can actually make it.
GRILLED HALOUMI SPINACH SALAD WITH BALSAMIC VINEGAR, SLICED FIGS, POMEGRANATE SEEDS, ORANGE SLICES AND ROASTED CARROTS AND PEPPERS
Tips and tricks:
1. To grill haloumi cheese, slice thick and place on a hot grill pan. The cheese will melt quickly so grill on each side for only 1 minute.
2. Wondering how to get all of those pomegranate seeds out?? Don’t spend your time picking them out with a spoon. Just slice a pomegranate in half, place over a bowl and hit it really hard with a wooden spoon. All of the seeds will fall right out.
BRAZILIAN FISH STEW (printable recipe below)
Tips and tricks:
1. The seeds of the jalapeno hold all of the spice. For extra spicy stew, leave the seeds in the jalapeno and just slice. If you want a mild stew with just a kick of spice, slice the jalapeno in half lengthwise and use a small spoon to scoop out the seeds. And don’t forget to wear gloves!
2. If you want don’t like the flavor of fish cooked in a stew, you can cook the fish separately. Cut large pieces of tilapia, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat a non-stick pan over high heat then sear the fish on both sides, for around 5 minutes. Serve the fish on a platter with rice and spoon the stew vegetables right over the top.
FRESH BREAD WITH HOMEMADE PESTO, MATBUCHA AND OLIVE TAPENADE
Tips and tricks:
1. After forming the risen dough into a log, roll two towels to the length of the dough and place on both sides. As the dough rises for 30 minutes, it will keep its log shape.
2. Every 10 minutes while the bread is baking, spray the top with water. This will ensure a hard crust with a soft interior.
EASY CINNAMON BUNS
Tips and Tricks:
1. If you are baking with parchment paper and the paper won’t stay in place, just crumple it in your hand then smooth back out on the cookie sheet.
2. If the brown sugar you will want to sprinkle in these cinnamon buns is too hard, don’t throw it away! Place it in the microwave for 15 seconds to soften.
- 2 tbsp of canola or vegetable oil
- 1 large onion
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 jalapeno (remove seeds if cant handle heat)
- 3 vine-ripe tomatoes
- 2 tspn of cumin
- kosher salt to taste
- ⅛th cup of fresh lime juice
- 1 qt vegetable stock
- 1 14. oz can coconut milk
- 1 cup uncooked basmati rice (cook following package directions)
- ½ bushel fresh basil
- ½ bushel fresh cilantro
- 4 large filets tilapia, chopped in 1 inch cubes
- Heat large saute pan, wok or pot on high heat. Add 2 Tbsp on canola oil and let heat for 1 minute. Add onions, jalapeno, and garlic and let sweat until soft, stirring often, around ten minutes. Don’t let caramelize, you just want it translucent.
- Stir in chopped tomatoes and let cook for 5 more minutes. Add 2 tsp cumin, ⅛ cup fresh lime juice, and let flavors stir in and develop.
- Add 1 court of vegetable stock and mix. Add coconut milk and stir well. Add more lime juice to taste and salt. Bring to a boil and add cubes of fish and let just cook through about 5 minutes.
- Take off heat and add chopped cilantro and basil. Serve over rice.