Chef To Order - A recipe booklet created for a client with specific dietary needs

"Chef To Order" - a recipe booklet created for a client with specific needs
Recently I was contacted by a woman who had lost complete inspiration for cooking because she has very specific allergies and is intolerant most or many of the common foods we all cook with on a daily basis. She contacted me in total desperation, asking whether I could create a "few" recipes just for her, based on her specific needs.

At first I hesitated, because I am not a dietician nor have I ever handled such a project. However, I asked her to describe in detail her allergies and intolerances, so instead she sent me the results from her allergist. The list is a very long one - this client is intolerant to all the things I love to eat and cook with, such as tomatoes and red peppers! 

I contemplated the idea for a couple of days and then decided I would take on the project - why ? I wanted to see if I could inspire this woman to love cooking again, and of course for me it was a personal challenge. So I set out for the next two weeks researching intolerances, substitutes, ingredients in various condiments etc. Lots and lots of reading!

Finally, I made a list (not long) of the common foods and additives we use with their substitutes - for me and for her. Then I started creating recipes, and decided I would not write only a few, but that I would write a book of recipes just for her - testing the recipes as I created, tweaking them here and there. 

In the end, I proudly produced a book that contained 39 original recipes from salads and soups, to sauces and main dishes and delivered it to her in a PDF format. I called the book "Chef To Order", which seemed fitting.

Here is her response when she received the book:

"OMG!!!!!!!! this looks so great. I can't wait to be home and print it and bring it to the kitchen.
I will let you know .....SO HAPPY !!!!" and "Hi Lynn,
The recipes are just fabulous and are giving me a ton of ideas for family menu. This is going to be great. You gave me my motivation back. Thanks so much!"

And here is the card she made for me in thanks. I am so happy to have helped someone out and inspired them to cook again with passion !

If you also have specific dietary needs, perhaps I can help you out ?
Please contact me if you would like more information.

Pan Seared Pork Loin with Sauteed Peppers and Mushrooms

Pan Seared Pork Loin with Sauteed Peppers and Mushrooms
Served with seared zucchini slivers and roast potatoes
Time: 25 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

2 pork loin steaks - 3/4" thick
Canola or safflower oil for spraying and sauteeing
1/2 of a large yellow pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 of a large red pepper, cut into thin strips
3 large white mushrooms, sliced thickly
1 tsp. red balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup cooking cream
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 tbsp. rice flour for thickening or 1 tsp. xanthan gum*

In a medium skillet, heat 1 tbsp. oil until very hot. Add the peppers and saute until they are browned. Add the mushrooms and combine with the peppers. Saute until golden, then reduce the heat to medium and add the balsamic vinegar, stirring to deglaze the pan. Add the cream and salt and pepper to taste, stir in the rice flour or xanthan gum until well blended, simmer until thickened and remove from heat. 

Sprinkle the pork loins with salt on both sides. Spray a grilling pan with oil so that the surface is well covered and turn burner on to medium/high and heat until very hot. Add the pork loins and sear for about 3 minutes. Turn them over and sear for another 3-4 minutes - they should be springy to the touch and not soft. If they are still soft, grill for another minute or so. Remove from heat and serve immediately with the pepper and mushroom sauce, sprinkled with a generous amount of fresh ground pepper.

*Xanthan Gum: Follow the link for more information 10 Facts about Xanthan Gum

Grilled Strip Loin Steaks with Green Peppercorn Sauce and Mushrooms

Grilled Strip Loin Steak with Green Peppercorn and Mushroom Sauce
Served with New Potatoes and Baked Beet Slivers
Time: 25 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

2 strip loin steaks, about 1/2 to 3/4" thick leaving the fat on
4-5 large white mushrooms, thinly sliced
3-4 tbsp. Canola or Safflower oil
2 tsp. green peppercorns (canned in water or from a jar)
1-2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1/3 cup heavy cooking cream
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Make 1/2 inch cuts crosswise into the fatty outer layer of each steak, to avoid curling. Sprinkle generously with sea salt on each side, then set aside on a platter to rest.

Heat BBQ until very hot, meanwhile in a medium skillet over high heat, saute the sliced mushrooms in 1 tbsp. oil until the edges are slightly browned. Add the peppercorns, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste, stirring to deglaze the pan. Reduce heat to medium, and add the cream whilst stirring. Let simmer for about one minute, then reduce heat to "warm" - just barely. 

Drizzle the steaks with oil - about 1 tbsp. each, coating each side. Grill with BBQ cover open so that the ol will create flames - being careful not to stand too close! Grill for approx. 2 minutes then flip them over and grill for another 2 minutes - this is for a medium/rare doneness. (See grilling chart for specific grilling/doneness times in the archive section of this blog). Divide peppercorn/mushroom sauce on two plates and place the steaks on top. Serve immediately. (Shown here with steamed, buttered new potatoes and baked beet slivers).

Mango & Strawberry Mousse

Mango and Strawberry Mousse with Dark Chocolate Sticks
Time: 15 minutes for prep, 30 minutes for chilling
Effort: Very easy
Serves: 2

1-2 large ripe strawberries, washed and stems cut off then quartered
2-3 tbsp. heavy cream or whipping cream
1 tsp. cane sugar

1 medium ripe mango, peeled and and  quartered
1/4 cup heavy cream or whipping cream
1 tbsp. cane sugar

Cocoa powder for garnish
1 strawberry for garnish
2 Dark chocolate sticks

Place strawberries and 2-3 tablespoons of heavy cream as well as 1 tsp. cane sugar in a blender or food processor, and whip until fluffy. Pour equal amounts of the mixture into small glasses or small pots. Wash out the blender/food processor. Repeat the same with the mango and gently pour this mixture on top of the strawberry mousse. Chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Decorate with the options above or be creative and decorate with a hibiscus flower or tiny pieces of frozen strawberries. 

Choco-Coffee Jelly (Aspic)

Choco-Coffee Jelly cubes shown here with Panna Cotta
Time: About 1 hour or less
Effort: Easy
Yield: Approx. 50 cubes *

1 cup Espresso coffee (I used Nespresso)
1 tbsp. Agar agar flakes
1 tbsp. cane sugar (or per your taste)
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
Neutral oil for brushing a pan

In a small saucepan, combine hot coffee with the cocoa powder and cane sugar. Adjust the sugar to your liking, then place on burner at medium to high heat and bring to a boil. Slowly sprinkle in the agar agar, and stir until well blended. Reduce the heat a little, and keep stirring while the mixture is simmering, until the agar has completely dissolved. (You can tell by removing your spoon and you won't see any more transparant flecks). Remove from heat and set aside. Take a square dish or pan, deep enough but not too big,  so that once filled the coffee mixture will be about 1/2 inch high - brush lightly with a neutral oil (such as canola). Fill with coffee mixture and chill in the refrigerator until gelled. (About 1.2 an hour). 
Remove from fridge and run a sharp knife along the edges. Lay some plastic wrap on a board or flat plate and flip the jelly onto it. Cut into squares, or you can cut into circles or other shapes using a cookie cutter. 
Use as a garnish for a dessert, or serve with fruit slices. 
This recipe can also be made using fruit juices, with or without fruit pieces as well as vegetable juices or even meat stocks.

*Depending on the size of the cubes

Pork Scallopini in Lemon Sauce

Normally this lemon sauce is used with veal, but as you all know, we love pork in our household...therefore, why not ? I did not dredge the scallops in flour this time, because I wanted a lighter sauce and it worked just as well. This is such a quick and easy recipe and tasty too !

Time: 15 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

4 pork scallops, havled
1 tbsp butter
1 whole lemon, rind grated, juice squeezed 
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley

In a large skillet, heat the butter until it's very hot. Quickly saute each scallop so that they are browned on all sides, then remove on to a plate and repeat with the rest of the scallops. Deglaze the pan with the lemon juice and reduce the heat to medium. Add the lemon rind and salt and pepper to tasted. Return the scallops to the pan and coat with the sauce, quickly so that they don't overcook. Serve immediately.