Please Make Them Pick the Fried Stuffed Bell Pepper Rings

Each week my personal chef clients choose four entrees and four side dishes from my main menu. I often offer some special seasonal dishes as well when I feel inspired by local ingredients, produce from my own garden, or an intriguing new recipe that’ll broaden my own culinary education.

Some clients always order heavy on the starch or the chicken or the Mexican dishes, which I find hard to understand. When given so much choice, why are people so repetitive? My complaint is selfish, really. They’re the ones paying me after all. It’s just that I enjoy cooking (and tasting) a wide variety of things. It keeps the work interesting.

While I like every dish I offer on my menus, I wouldn’t necessarily order them in the same combination as my clients. but this week I was particularly pleased with one client’s order. First she chose the grilled lamb chops marinated in curried buttermilk fromCook’s Illustrated’s The New Best Recipecookbook. 24 hours soaking in this divine sauce laced with brown sugar makes the lamb absolutely buttery. This dish was paired with a sweet and savory Israeli cous cous salad: large round grains of pasta tossed with roasted garlic, shallots, and green and yellow summer squash, toasted pecans, currants, and a zesty dressing of orange, lemon, and lime juice, olive oil, coriander, and cumin.

Her second entree was a ground beef, veal, and pork meatball mix pressed into half-inch rings of red and orange bell peppers, pan-fried in olive oil, and simmered lightly in a fresh beefsteak and sun gold tomato sauce (from the garden). This was accompanied by a broccoli, garlic, and kalamata olive saute.

Inspired by a store-bought marinade, I made a tamarind lime barbecue sauce for the baked chicken leg quarters in her third entree. These were served over white basamati rice with extra sauce on the side. The side dish of bok choi salad was dressed with toasted sesame oil, toasted black sesame seeds, onion greens (from my garden), and sweet mirin rice vinegar.

Finally, I was pleased to see her request the eggplant casserole (great cold!), made from roasted eggplant slices (spread with garlic olive oil) layered generously with a thick homemade tomato sauce, topped with fresh parmesan cheese, and baked till it comes together. To go with it she chose the Caesar salad variation made with gorgeous heirloom red lettuce from the farmer’s market, which I served separate from the dressing and homemade croutons so she could toss it herself (she doesn’t like anchovies either).

When I cook for clients in my home and I love the menu as much as I did this week, I buy extra ingredients and keep some of everything in the fridge. It’s one of the perks of being a personal chef!

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            Lackawanna College is the premier, private, accredited two-year college serving the people of northeastern Pennsylvania. With a focus on keeping higher education affordable and accessible to our immediate community, Lackawanna draws 80 percent of its student population right from our own region.

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