Why You Should Hire a Personal Chef (and Why I Love What I Do!)

ZCC recently completed a “Cook in your Nook” for a pre-wedding gathering of a very special family and friends. The main consideration was that one family member had celiac issues that needed to be addressed.

ZCC specializes in attention to detail and custom themed events including:

  • Consulting with the client determining specific needs, budget and details via client inquiry form on zackisculinarycreations.com

  • Creating an approved menu specific to a client’s needs

  • Obtaining photos of the entertaining space

  • Previewing the client kitchen and the culinary equipment

  • Setting the ambiance and the event timetable

  • Coordinating staffing for the event

  • Purchasing all menu ingredients

  • Preparing, plating, and cleaning up

I love what I do providing personal service that brings joy and exceeds customer expectations. This catering was a magical event the last daughter’s marriage. The menu was a signature healthy “Ancient Mediterranean Meal.”

Fresh Fall fig, fruit and yogurt covered raisins platter

Fresh Fall fig, fruit and yogurt covered raisins platter

Keep ZCC in mind for all your holiday entertaining needs with “Cook in Your Nook” culinary classes, custom made wreaths, baskets & gifts. ZCC wreaths are made with real leaves, nuts, and baskets are abundantly filled and magic marble balls made to order to match your color scheme.

More information @ zackisculinarycreations.com









            

It's Finally Fall, Y'all!

What “joy in the morning” to finally welcome Fall! Here’s to pumpkins, sparkling apple cider and dining “al fresco” on the deck without mosquitoes! Some my favorite October photos are below -- split pea soup w/ toasted croutons, a colorful tabletop decor and roasted pork tenderloin, sweet potatoes & apples.                            

At ZCC, we have completed our holiday shopping list for small plates and appetizers. Let us take the stress out of entertaining, so you can relax and enjoy your guests and celebrate “the reason for the season.”

                         

Holiday Small Plates & Hors D’Oeuvres

  • Asparagus wrapped in smoked salmon w/chive cream cheese & prosciutto wrapped asparagus w/honey mustard              

  • Bacon, chevre leek tartlets

  • Sesame ginger meatballs

  • Mini Yorkshire puddings topped w/beef and horseradish cream 

  • Assorted crudite w/blue cheese dip in small cups

  • Shot glass shrimp cocktail

  • Mini mac ‘n cheese balls

  • Apple cheddar tarts or empanadas

  • Shot glass w/varied mousses (passion fruit, mango, & strawberry)

  • Mini tartlets (lemon curd w/raspberries, pumpkin spice & pecan)

Keep ZCC in mind for all your holiday entertaining needs with “Cook in Your Nook” culinary classes, custom made wreaths, baskets & gifts. Our ZCC wreaths are made with real leaves & nuts and baskets are abundantly filled. Magic marble balls are made-to-order to match your color scheme.






Perkins Orchard; 49 years selling local produce…and the largest farm stand in Durham

When I first started buying fresh produce from this home side orchard, there were still fruit bearing trees. Late summer, I would call Rev. Dr. Joseph Perkin’s grandson Alex, to ask if the figs were ripe as it was a race between me and the birds.

The reverend and his wife began this road side business almost 50 years ago…and now, Alex is the owner.

Here are some photos from earlier times and, my just picked garden flower bundles that I want Alex to include in his vast repertoire or you can stop by to buy a $6 or $10 fresh bouquet of garden flowers. Ancient Mediterranean Seasoning, fig jam, watermelon pickles and whatever else I have conjured up this week is available for special order from ZCC.

 

The Real “Brown Derby” Cobb Salad

Hillsborough native, Elizabeth Matheson, once called my mother, Kitty Murphy; “The most interesting person in a room.” Mama knew how to weave a story and her favorite slogan was:”If exaggeration died at 11 in the morning, the world would be bored by noon.” She had visitors from sources I do not know. One of them was the controversial Bishop Pike, the dean of St. John’s Divine Cathedral in NYC, who fought for rights now current…Then there was NY Times food critic, Craig Claiborne, who I think wanted to interview her first about our ghost filled house, Seven Hearths. He devoted a whole NY Times page to her Hunt Breakfasts stories, including the ghosts and her Brunswick Stew. That Stew is in two of Martha Stewart’s books…all over the world.

The son of Hollywood’s famous Brown Derby restaurant ended up on our 200 year old brick patio (which was once our kitchen), sipping on some concocted libation. I meet him briefly and wondered why the name… (named after a NY restaurant which was shaped as a brown derby.) Later, as a Hollywood resident I visited that popular place…and of course ate their Cobb Salad. Here is the original recipe:

The Original Cobb Salad

Yield: 12 servings

Share This Recipe

 

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts, cooked and finely diced

1 ounce iceberg lettuce, washed and chopped

1 ounce romaine lettuce, washed and chopped

2 ounces tomato, washed and chopped

1/2 avocado, thinly sliced

2 ounces bacon, cooked and finely chopped

2 ounces hard boiled eggs, finely chopped

2 ounces grated Roquefort cheese

COBB SALAD DRESSING

2 egg yolks

2 cups olive oil

1 lemon, juiced

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup water

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Place greens in bowl. Arrange all other ingredients attractively across greens. Add dressing when ready to serve. 

COBB SALAD DRESSING

Whip eggs vigorously until yolks turn pale yellow. Slowly incorporate oil to form an emulsion. Add remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper.

Consumption of raw or undercooked eggs, shellfish and meat may increase the risk of foodborne illness.

 

The Wonderful Cuisine of Peru

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I have fallen in love with Peruvian food. To my surprise, the much improved Latino Compare Market on University Dr. now carries many of the needed ingredients and Amazon Prime offers the missing links. At ZCC, we are pleased to announce this addition to our "Cook In Your Nook" list of culinary classes. Commencing in August, here is a cooling alternative to beat the heat:

"Peruvian Delight Night"

  • CHICHA MORADA (this is a drink made from boiled purple corn, pineapple, apple, lime juice and sugar.) It can be served as a beverage. To make it a cocktail, the Peruvian way would be to add the liquor called Pisco. This is unfortunately NOT available at the ABC stores in NC. A good substitute is vodka or tequila.

  • CEVICHE APPETIZER Fresh raw tilapia fish diced and marinated in lime juice and served with Peruvian corn and onions.

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  • YELLOW PLANTAINS (FRIED)

  • CAUSA DE POLLO Boiled Peruvian Mashed potato seasoned with Ají Amarillo (Peruvian yellow chili pepper) and layered with Peruvian style chicken salad.

  • CREMA VOLTEADA Peruvian style crème caramel or FRUIT STUFFED EMPANADAS

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Come learn with us! Sign up now and visit www.zackisculinarycreations.com

Cheers, Zacki & the ZCC Team

Ode to Butter Beans and a Salute to Cornbread

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My sister Karen’s “Singing Circle,” dressed in hand-sewn aprons, belted out this song at St. Mary’s Church Homecoming. It inspired me to go make some fresh lima beans with ham pieces and skillet cornbread.

 "Just a Bowl of Butter Beans" (Sung to "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" )

Just a bowl of butter beans
Pass the cornbread if you please
I don't want no collard greens
All I want is a bowl of butter beans

Just a piece of country ham
Pass the butter and the jam
Pass the biscuits if you please
And some more o' them good ol' butter beans

Red eye gravy is all right
Turnip sandwich a delight
But my children all still scream
For another bowl of butter beans

Some folks think that cornpone's best
Some likes grits more than the rest
But if I was a man of means
I'd just want them good ol' butter beans

See that lady over there
With the curlers in her hair
She's not pregnant as she seems
She's just full o' them good ol' butter beans

See that big, fat, ugly lad
He's made everybody mad
They don't love him, by no means
He's the hog that ate the last of the butter beans

When they lay my bones to rest
Place no roses upon my chest
Plant no blooming evergreens
All I want is' a bowl of butter beans

Just a bowl of butter beans
Pass the cornbread if you please
I don't want no collard greens
All I want is a bowl of butter beans
(Written by Charles Colvin recorded by Little Jimmy Dickins in 1965)

I made and styled a Southern picnic spread for Family Circle magazine, including skillet cornbread. I like to substitute buttermilk whenever I can. Here is a delicious recipe that serves a dozen:

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 EASY BUTTERMILK CORNBREAD In a Skillet

Ingredients

· 1 stick of unsalted butter, melted

· 1 cup all-purpose flour

· 1 cup yellow or white cornmeal 

· 1/4 cup white sugar

· 1 teaspoon baking powder 

· 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

· 1 cup buttermilk 

· 1/4 cup honey

· 2 large eggs

· 1/4th teaspoon of salt

· ½ diced scallion, opt.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F and position a rack in the middle. Lightly grease a 9-inch cast iron skillet with butter and hold rest to recipe. Place into the oven or over stove to heat up. 

  2. In a food processor, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder (If using), baking soda and salt.

  3. Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk, honey and eggs. Mix together to combine, then add in the melted butter. Mix until 'just' combined.

  4. Carefully remove your 'hot' pan or dish from the oven or stovetop, and pour the batter into the hot skillet or dish.

  5. Bake until the cornbread begins to brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean (about 20-23 minutes). Allow to cool before slicing.

Enjoy!,
Zacki Murphy

July Recipe of the Month: Kale & Blueberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Kale & Blueberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Kale & Blueberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

This delicious and healthy salad is the perfect summer recipe. Prepare this salad for a family cookout or neighborhood potluck as a tasty side that won’t leave guests feeling weighed down in the heat.

Serves: 12

Ingredients:

-         5 cups loose cleaned kale cut

-         ½ Cups Blueberries

-         ½ Cups Shredded Carrots

-         ½ Cups Purple grapes cut in half

-         ¼ Cups Raisins

-         ¼ Cups Roasted sunflower kernels


Dressing:

-         ¼ cup Vidalia Onion, diced

-         1 cloves of garlic

-         2 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

-         ¼ Cups Lemon Juice

-         ½ Cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil

-         ¼  Teaspoons Celery Seed

-         ¼  Teaspoons Poppy Seeds

-         ¼ cups Honey (for a vegan version substitute maple or agave syrup)

-         Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

1.    In A large bowl, blend all the greens and fruits. Reserve the kernels until the last step.

2.    Combine dressing ingredients and blend until well mixed.

3.    Add dressing to salad just as you are serving. Finish with the kernels.

A Voyager Academy Charter School student enjoying his first experience with a kale salad.

A Voyager Academy Charter School student enjoying his first experience with a kale salad.

FujiFilm Health Expo

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At the end of June, ZCC participated in its second FujiFilm Health Expo sponsored by Excel Fitness.

ZCC demonstrated two nutritious recipes: Avgolemono soup with lemon, egg yolks, brown rice and chicken & an egg salad guacamole with edamame from ZCC’s Eating4Life curriculum.

Our first expo experience was outdoors in April on an eighty-five degree day, and there was no beating the heat! This health fair was inside in the air conditioning, and such a relief.

Wonderful FujiFilm employees eating Egg Salad Guacamole with Edamame served with blue corn chips.

Wonderful FujiFilm employees eating Egg Salad Guacamole with Edamame served with blue corn chips.

Zacki’s terrific assistant Gigi preparing Avgolemono soup with lemon, egg yolks, brown rice and chicken.

Zacki’s terrific assistant Gigi preparing Avgolemono soup with lemon, egg yolks, brown rice and chicken.

Egg Salad Guacamole with Edamame served with blue corn chips.

Egg Salad Guacamole with Edamame served with blue corn chips.

Bride's Breakfast Croquembouche

When Zacki was at Peace Jr. College in Raleigh, there was always a consistent smell that wafted over the campus. The addictive aroma was from a next door Krispy Kreme donut store and it called her name. In those slim days, she never gained weight, but saw her dentist more often.

Krispy Kreme is a North Carolina based company founded in the 1930’s. Founder Rudolph Rudolf purchased a secret recipe for yeast-raised doughnuts from a New Orleans-French chef and opened a doughnut shop in Paducah, Kentucky. Rudolph soon moved to Winston-Salem, NC, (some say Camel cigarettes attracted him to the city) where he opened the first Krispy Kreme on July 13, 1937.

ZCC had a request to make a donut hole croquembouche for a bride's breakfast in May. This was the first croquembouche Zacki had made since working on Martha Stewart's Christmas book croquembouche using filled puff pastry. Zacki started this project by purchasing a Christmas tree styrofoam shape from a craft store, then purchasing 75 fresh "holes" (minus 2 for sampling!). Geranium leaves decorated the base using wooden toothpicks.

Croquembouche base in progress.

Croquembouche base in progress.

Donut holes were then added and it was wrapped with layers of cling wrap for transportation.

Croquembouche with Krispy Kreme Donut holes attached.

Croquembouche with Krispy Kreme Donut holes attached.

Once on the lovely table created by the hostess, the gaps were filled in with fresh mint and white roses.

Croquembouche on Bride’s Breakfast table.

Croquembouche on Bride’s Breakfast table.

Cake-holes could be used for a dessert version of this beautiful addition to a buffet table.