Earlier today, I attended a lunch at Aquagrill that was sponsored by Stop & Shop, Sorrento Cheese and Président Cheese. I love events hosted by Stop & Shop. I always know that I will get both a great meal and some helpful information to come back and share with you. I was not disappointed. This particular summer entertaining themed lunch was primarily focused on produce and seafood.
Aquagrill’s Chef Jeremy Marshall shared how to make three great dishes. I asked if I could share the recipes with you and he was kind enough to oblige. I scanned them, so just click on the link under each dish’s picture. They are…
-Crostini of Sorrento Fresh Mozzarella (Appetizer)
-Sauteed Wild Pacific Shrimp with President Fat-Free Feta (Entree)
-Sorrento Velvety Smooth Ricotta Cheese Sorbet (Dessert) *Chef Marshall kept raving about the texture of this cheese. Apparently, it was expensive to get a smooth textured ricotta in the past.*
I also wanted to share some random, helpful tips that I learned from the chef as he cooked:
1. When introducing seafood to young kids, it is best to start with “neutral” ones. Shrimp, crab and lobster are fresher and sweeter, so kids tend to like them. Halibut, a white fish is another neutral one.
2. When preparing gnocchi, it is easy to tell when it is ready. When the water just comes to a boil and the gnocchi floats, it is ready. It will fluff a bit, because the egg is expanding. Another word on gnocchi…don’t prepare the dough beforehand.
3. Seafood from the wild is preferable to farm raised seafood. The flavor is better. (Unfortunately with everything that has recently happened in the Gulf, seafood from the wild will be harder to come by.) Speaking of seafood, some great tips about shrimp were shared. If you cut shrimp in half when serving it with pasta, it will accomplish two things: 1. diners will have more bites of shrimp and 2. it causes the shrimp to have a better texture.
4. Your oiled pan should be smoking. A little chef secret: If you have a pan with a little oil in it…a smoking pan is a sign that the pan is ready to be cooked with (it almost becomes like a non-stick pan). If the pan is not smoking, don’t cook!
After the cooking demonstration, Stop & Shop’s Consumer Advisor Andrea Astrachan shared a bit about what Shop & Stop was doing in the area of local produce and seafood.
-There has been a lot of talk lately about the importance of eating locally grown produce. That is why I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Stop & Shop is one of the largest buyers of local products in their markets. In fact, their puchases help to support and sustain several local family farms by buying in large amounts. I didn’t know that I could buy locally even if I wasn’t buying at a farmer’s market.
Andrea also answered some of the top questions that she receives about produce.
Q: How long can I keep produce?
A: Around a week (Don’t over-buy fresh produce. Rather, supplement fresh with frozen.)
Q: What should I look for when purchasing produce?
A: You want to look for firmness in green peppers and cucumbers. For corn, you want to look for green husks. Tomatoes and avocadoes should not be too firm. They should have a little “give”.
Lastly, Andrea briefly talked about Stop & Shop’s award-winning seafood sustainability program. They will not stock any seafood if it is not a sustainable species. (They actually get advice from the New England Aquarium regarding which seafood to sell.)
Every time that I walk away from an event hosted by Stop & Shop, I am impressed by something different. This time, it was their regard for local farmers and their commitment to sustainability that hit the mark.