Cooking and Catering Blog | Chef Chic, Tucson

3 Must-Visit Travel Destinations for Foodies

July 24, 2017

When I travel, the food scene is just as important as the sights and activities. For me, enjoying real, local cuisine enables me to immerse myself in another culture—and garner inspiration from around the globe.

When I plan vacations, I like to consider regions that are known for exceptional food and wine. Many of my clients do the same. If you enjoy delicious meals at home, imagine what a vacation centered around exploring food culture would be like.

Interspersed with cooking classes, trips to outdoor markets and fine-wine pairings, you have the opportunity to elevate your palate and expand your horizons.

If you fancy yourself a food connoisseur, consider these Mediterranean travel destinations for your honeymoon or annual vacation:

Cortona, Italy

Located in Tuscany, the town of Cortona offers everything you’d imagine an Italian village would: a square surrounded by trattorias, taverns and gelaterias. Set against the stunning mountainside, it’s a feast for all the senses.

Take advantage of fresh truffles, wild boar and homemade pastas for an authentic experience. A freshly baked pastry or espresso gelato will complete any meal.

Santorini, Greece

You can’t go wrong traveling (or eating) anywhere in Greece. But Santorini is one of the best travel destinations. An island located in the Aegean Sea, it features the quintessential whitewashed architecture. When you close your eyes and picture Greece, Santorini is what you’ll see.

Be sure to eat seafood, and lots of it—you’re on an island, after all! Have the horiatiki salata (Greek salad), as it will be better than anything you’ve tried outside of Greece. Saganaki (fried cheese) is also a must. And, of course, don’t forget to pair it with a bottle of local white wine.

Barcelona, Spain

Home of Antoni Gaudi—the architect best known for his ornate basilica, La Sagrada Familia—you will not be a loss for things to do and see. Enjoy touring around, but be sure to plan plenty of time for meals. In Spain, food isn’t rushed; it’s experienced.

Visit La Boqueria market to explore and sample local favorites. The jamon is not to be missed. Enjoy slices with cheese or prepared as a sandwich. Or, scout out a few spots and try tapas all afternoon. For dinner, make a late reservation for a coursed meal.

Travel with Chef Chic: Experience food from around the world without leaving home. We can prepare cuisines based on your top travel destinations. Learn more about our customizable Personal Chef and Catering Services here.

The Best Gluten Free Pizza Crusts (You Haven’t Tried Yet)

July 17, 2017

Pizza is one of the few foods that has the ability to spur heated discussions and late-night debates. New York style vs. Chicago style. Thin crust vs. thick crust. Regular vs. Sicilian. Plain vs. toppings.

And just when you thought you had your preferences nailed down, a new style stepped onto the scene. The latest pizza trend is all about alternative crusts. Made with gluten free flour or a veggie base, they’re healthier versions of everyone’s favorite dish.

While you may think “healthy” and “pizza” just don’t go together; I can assure you that chefs have come a long way in improving the quality of the gluten free pizza crust. Whether you’re on a restricted diet or love trying new things, these crusts will make a believer out of you!

5 Tempting Gluten Free Pizza Crusts

  1. Cauliflower: Made with grated cauliflower, the crust is thin and crispy when baked to golden perfection.
  2. Zucchini: Shredded zucchini combines with fresh herbs to create a low-carb crust that yields a flavorful pizza.
  3. Chickpea Flour: Pizza with chickpeas? Yes! This variation derives from Italy. Known as socca, these are often made in a cast-iron skillet and enjoyed as flatbread or pizza crust.
  4. Polenta: Made with ground cornmeal, polenta can be served as porridge or formed into dough. And when you have dough, you have pizza crust!
  5. Paleo Dough: If you’re looking for traditional dough you can roll out, replace regular flour with a grain-free alternative like almond flour or a mix of tapioca and coconut flour. It’ll still be gluten free, and you might not even taste the difference!

If you’re a pizza fan (like me) don’t be afraid to think outside of the takeout box. Experiment with a gluten free pizza crust. While you’re at it, play with innovative toppings like bluefoot mushrooms, slices of prosciutto, basil pesto and feta cheese.

Stay up on the latest foods trends with Chef Chic! Let us prepare exciting meals for you and your family. We’ll keep your plates full of the latest food trends and freshest ideas. From gluten free pizza to Peruvian ceviche, we’ve got you covered! Call today (520) 406-2757.

Our Top 5 Picks for Elevated Summer Salads

July 11, 2017

Here in Arizona, this hot weather has me dreaming of a big, refreshing summer salad for my next meal. Many of Chef Chic’s clients have also requested salads as part of their meal plans this season—and we’re happy to oblige!

Salads don’t have to be a boring side dish. Throw out the iceberg lettuce and commercial Italian dressing in favor of more colorful, tasty options that please the eye and the stomach. Done right, a salad can move to the center of the plate and become a whole meal in itself.

Our favorite artisanal, upscale summer salads feature ingredients like heirloom veggies, grilled steaks, feta cheese and edible flowers. Below is a sneak peek of our menu options. Try any of the following combinations for a gourmet, cooling and satisfying meal. Better yet, let us create customized summer salads just for you!

Kale, Quinoa & Black Bean Salad: Think outside the salad box by replacing lettuce with greens like raw kale or chard. Massage the leaves with a little salt, olive oil and lemon to soften. Toss in some cooked quinoa, black beans and any other additions like minced red onion, heirloom tomatoes or black olives for a quick vegan meal.

Steak Fajita Salad with Chipotle Ranch: Grill steak with bell peppers and yellow onion, then slice into thin strips and add to mixed greens. Add a little chipotle powder into your favorite homemade ranch dressing recipe for a spicy kick!

Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Almonds and Feta: Fruit makes a wonderful complement to many salads, and strawberries are a natural choice for spinach and balsamic vinaigrette. Throw in some slivered almonds and feta cheese to get the full range of flavors and textures. Using edible flowers as a delicate garnish makes this a standout dish.

Southwestern Chopped Salad with Chicken: Marinate chicken with your favorite Southwestern spices (think: chili powder, lime and cumin), then grill and add to a blend of chopped romaine leaves, corn, black beans, cherry tomatoes and bell peppers. Finish with cilantro-avocado dressing for an extra burst of flavor.

BLT Caesar Salad: Upgrade your classic Caesar salad by adding grilled chicken breast, crumbled bacon and cherry tomatoes to the mix. Top with Parmesan shreds, homemade croutons and creamy Caesar dressing to complete the meal.

Make Salads the Star of Next Week’s Menu

Ready to upgrade your meals with refreshing, upscale summer salads? Contact us to set up a weekly meal plan or schedule our catering service for your next event. And if you’re already a client, ask us about including more artisanal salads on your weekly menus.

Pack Your Car with These Chef-Approved Road Trip Snacks

July 3, 2017

Are you getting ready for a summer vacation? Once you’ve packed your bags and created the perfect playlist, be sure to set yourself up with our chef-approved road trip snacks.

Nothing can ruin a good time quite like a growling stomach. But it’s easy to avoid sugar dips, mood swings and fast-food stops with Chef Chic’s favorite munchies. These satisfying and stylish snack ideas go far beyond those gas station granola bars.

Unlike the standard packaged food finds, these homemade indulgences are full of flavor to please all the foodies in your family. Plus, they’re nutrient-rich (and free from processed ingredients) to keep you energized from beginning to end.

Next-Level Snack Ideas

  1. Toasted Coconut & Cacao Trail Mix: Combine toasted almonds, pecans and coconut flakes with raw cacao nibs for an upgraded take on road trip classic.
  2. Vanilla Almond Popcorn: Popcorn with butter is great, but how about popcorn with a luscious almond-vanilla sauce
  3. Dried Apple-Cinnamon Slices: Simply slice apples, drizzle with lemon juice and add cinnamon. Dehydrate or dry in a very low-temperature oven for 6-8 hours.
  4. Smoky Beef Jerky: Forget the preservatives and make your own protein-packed jerky using grass-fed London broil or flank steak.
  5. Swiss Chard Wraps: Add greens to your road trip snacks with chard leaf roll-ups. Kick it up with a creamy dipping sauce. Just be sure to enjoy soon after wrapping or keep the ingredients separate and assemble at your first pit stop.

Other Road Trip Snack Essentials:

  • Sealed containers for each snack
  • Napkins or a roll of paper towels
  • Reusable plates and utensils
  • Mini dish soap for quick dish and container washing
  • Trash bags for garbage
  • Bottles of water
  • Portable wine glasses to celebrate at your destination

Let Chef Chic Pack Your Snacks: Chef Chic can prepare elegant and fun fare for all of your travels. Whether you’re taking a road trip or an international flight, we can satisfy your palate no matter where the summer takes you.

  • Call us to get started with road trip snacks and travel-ready meals: 520-406-2757
  • If you’re an existing client, let us replace your regular order with an on-the-go order. Just let us know a few weeks in advance.

Let Guests Build Their Own Plates—Without Calling It a Buffet

June 26, 2017

Does the term “buffet food” trigger thoughts of stale pancakes, unripe fruit and an upset stomach after Plate #4?

It doesn’t have to!

You may have bad memories of subpar casino buffet food or buffet restaurants, but the experience is quite different when done right. At Chef Chic, we set up gourmet options for your guests to choose what they want to eat. We even call it something else—we prefer “guests build their own plates” rather than “buffet”.

The Advantage of Guests Building Their Own Plates

When you serve a set menu at your event, you limit your guests’ ability to choose what to eat. Guests with food allergies or sensitivities may find it challenging to consume anything at all, and the vegetarian or gluten-free options provided by some catering companies aren’t particularly satisfying.

Providing a table full of options solves this problem. Guests can feel free to pick and choose from a variety of entrees, sides and desserts, all prepared and kept fresh by our chefs. No stale pancakes here!

Serving gourmet buffet food is also a great way to accommodate all appetites without stressing about ordering enough food. Just tell us the size of your group, and we’ll bring enough food to make sure everyone leaves with a full stomach. Guests can take as much or as little as they please. This actually creates less food waste.

How to Make It a Success

If you’d like to serve buffet food but want to avoid the typical buffet experience, consider the following tips and tricks to keep it classy and fresh:

  1. Make It Themed: Forget the classic buffet options! Try a build-your-own mashed potato bar, Mediterranean fare or 100% locally sourced ingredients with a farm-to-table theme.
  2. Remember the Drinks: Set out each entree next to a bottle of perfectly paired wine and a card describing how the food and wine complement one another. Sometimes having a separate table full of wine choices can be overwhelming. At Chef Chic, we love pairing food and wine so your guests don’t have to guess which varietal would taste best with their meal.
  3. Create Ambiance: Your unique decorations and personal touches will help make the event even more memorable for everyone. Consider tea or fairy lights, fresh flowers and a boxed tablecloth to enhance the food presentation.

Plan a Build-Your-Own-Plate Event

Take the stress and uncertainty out of buffet food and event planning with our catering services here in Tucson. We provide five-star dishes served any way you want them, and specialize in having guests build their own plates. Contact us or view our sample catering menus here.

Book Now

We would be delighted to answer any questions that you may have regarding our wide array of services and custom-designed solutions.