National Junk Food Day: What’s your favorite junk food? Here are ours:

Hip-hip-hooray, it’s National Junk Food Day!

And while that shouldn’t necessarily give one carte blanche to gorge on sugary, salty, fatty snacks, do we really need an excuse to discuss our favorite treats from the junk aisle?

We asked around the newsroom: What’s your favorite junk food?

Grippos potato chips. (Photo by Greg Lynch)

Samantha Ragland, digital content strategy manager (things to do):

Grippos potato chips – who doesn’t love a good salty potato chip!

Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies

Larry Aydlette, culture editor: 

Five words: Little Debbie oatmeal creme pies. My love of this gas-station staple is so well known that office workers once unwrapped a pile of Little Debbies and presented it to me for my birthday. With a candle on top. Better than cake, I can tell you that. You know how the oatmeal pies come in a big rectangular box? About 100  pounds ago, I could down a whole box in one sitting. I’m not even sure Little Debbies should be classified as junk food. Oatmeal is nutritious, right? Fiber, etc. OK, that big sugary mass in the center is not particularly healthy. But it is delicious.

Twizzlers

Laura Lordi, digital editor: 

Awww…junk food. Can anything be junkier than Twizzlers?! The strawberry kind is the only way to go. I could eat almost the entire 1-pound package in one sitting!

junk food utz sour cream

Leslie Gray Streeter, pop culture columnist: 

Every region has its own specialty junk food – make that specialty snack item, because even though there is probably little nutritional value in Utz Sour Cream and Onion potato chips, there is nothing junky about their value as primo greasy, salty tummy filler. Based, as many quality snack food is, in Pennsylvania, Utz produces a singularly crunchy, seasoned-just-enough chip with ripples to hold all the sour cream and onionness. Is onionness a word? It should be. I spent many a happy afternoon pairing a bag of these babies with a Diet Dr Pepper, because the “diet” makes it better, or trying not to eat them all at parties where they were poured into a bowl covered with napkins to soak up the grease. And the way the seasoning stuck to your glistening fingers in green specks…to swoon. TO SWOON.

Payday: the perfect blend of salty and sweet

Staci Sturrock, writer: 

A Payday bar, which marks the intersection of salty and sweet, and crunchy and chewy. I’m most likely to indulge in one on a road trip when dinner is still miles away but my stomach is already asking, “Are we there yet?”

Fritos

Liz Balmaseda, food and dining editor: 

Fritos! Frito-Lay has been producing these corn chips for as long as I’ve been alive – and they never get old. I tell myself they’re not junk food at all because they are spectacular with decidedly non-junk dishes, like homemade chili. Crush a handful of them over hot bean chili, or ladle some beef chili into a bag of them for Southwestern style Frito pie. And I know Fritos come in some fancy flavors – like Bar-B-Q and Chili Cheese. You can keep those. I’ll take the original kind. No seasoning or dip necessary.

Trader Joe’s in Wellington. (Madeline Gray / The Palm Beach Post)

Corvaya Jeffries, entertainment writer:

Trader Joes gluten free chocolate chip cookies – As I changed my eating habits, I went from Drake’s Devil Dogs to Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies. they’re big, soft and loaded with flavor. I put them in the microwave then squeeze vanilla bean ice cream in the middle of two! SO SO GOOD…especially in the middle of your bed in front of a movie. P.S. you’d never know they’re gluten free.

For National Ice Cream Day: Readers pick 3 best local ice cream spots

sloan's ice cream parlor
Jessica and Mimi doing their best ice cream scooping at Sloan’s in CityPlace. (Thomas Cordy/The Palm Beach Post)

Sunday, July 16 is National Ice Cream Day. To celebrate, we recall the results from our Readers’ Choice poll for the best ice cream in town.

Original story posted in 2016:

A few weeks ago we announced the winner of our latest Readers’ Choice Award. For Best Ice Cream Shop in Palm Beach County’ our readers chose Sloan’s Ice Cream, which has several locations in the county.

The winner was selected from our online poll which was created based on your social comments. Want to know the runners-up? Here are the top three places for ice cream, based on your votes:

Sloan’s Ice Cream, various locations (won with 181 votes)photo readers choice best ice cream

An excerpt from our original story:

But for all its bells, whistles and foggy glass, Sloan’s is best loved for its 48 varieties of deliciously rich, chef-made ice cream. The concept founded 17 years ago by Sloan Kamenstein has expanded to include 10 locations (including one in Kuwait) and a newish ice cream factory in West Palm Beach. Business has been booming since the company started franchising three years ago.”

Founded in West Palm Beach, Sloan’s continues to operate two locations in the city (on Clematis Street and at CityPlace), one in Palm Beach Gardens (Downtown at the Gardens), one in downtown Delray Beach, and one in Boca Raton (Mizner Park).

For addresses and flavor info, visit SloansIceCream.com.

 

Ice Cream Club, various locations (79 votes)

photo ice cream club
Bonnie Jellerson scoops up a dish of ice cream at The Ice Cream & Yogurt Club. ( Jennifer Podis/The Palm Beach Post)

Check The Ice Cream Club’s website for location information.

 

Palm Beach Ice Cream, Tequesta and Jupiter (77 votes)

photo palm beach ice cream
Palm Beach Ice Cream in Tequesta is a classic ice cream shop.

Palm Beach Ice Cream has two locations: 239 U.S. Hwy. 1, Tequesta; 6761 W. Indiantown Rd., Jupiter. Check their website for more information.

Want to know more about our Readers’ Choice winners? Here is a list of the previous winners for best pizza, best fried chicken, best brunch, best hot dogs, best tacos, and best bbq in Palm Beach County!

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On rainy days: 6 best coffee shops in Palm Beach County

In case you haven’t noticed it’s a rainy day outside today. Which means, it’s a good time to get some coffee.

Here are some of our favorites in Palm Beach County.

JOHAN’S JOE

A cappuccino inside Johan’s Joe Swedish coffee house and cafe in downtown West Palm Beach. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

This unique Swedish coffee shop, in downtown West Palm Beach, is a spot to sit and enjoy your hot brewed coffee in a proper ceramic cup, in a plush, deep-violet, Alice-In-Wonderland-like chair. You don’t come here for a high-octane, Sharpie-on-paper-cup, American coffee, you come here to relax.

>>Related: Best food delivery services in Palm Beach County

Johan’s Joe: 401 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach, 561-808-5090


C STREET CAFÉ

An Italian espresso at C Street Cafe. (Photo by Liz Balmaseda)

This cozy coffee shop welcomes you with a laid-back, urban vibe and freshly brewed coffee. Can’t go wrong with an Italian espresso.

C Street: 319 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-469-9959


OCEANA COFFEE

Barista Amy Duell makes Japanese Cold Brew at Oceana Coffee in Tequesta. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Barista Amy Duell makes Japanese Cold Brew at Oceana Coffee in Tequesta. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

The cold brew at this Tequesta roaster is clean and sublime. And now you can enjoy it at Oceana’s spiffy new coffee lounge.

Oceana Coffee:  150 N. US Highway 1, #1 (across from the Marshall’s/Homegoods store), Tequesta; roasting house at 221 Old Dixie Highway, Tequesta; 561-401-2453


BREWHOUSE GALLERY

A cappuccino made with The Rabbit coffee at Brewhouse Gallery. (Photo by Liz Balmaseda)
A cappuccino made with The Rabbit coffee at Brewhouse Gallery. (Photo by Liz Balmaseda)

As you peruse the works of local artists or listen to some live music, treat yourself to a yummy cappuccino made with The Rabbit’s locally roasted Guatemalan beans. It’s so delicious, I could sip it by the gallon.

Brewhouse Gallery: 720 Park Ave., Lake Park; 561-469-8930


SUBCULTURE COFFEE 

A couple of macchiatos at Subculture Coffee. (Photo by Liz Balmaseda)
A couple of macchiatos at Subculture Coffee. (Photo by Liz Balmaseda)

This hipster hangout on Clematis Street brews some delicious coffees that are roasted onsite. My favorite preparation: the macchiato, a bold café with the slightest puff of milk foam.

Subculture: 509 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-318-5142


THE GRIND CAFÉ

A latte from The Grind Cafe in Delray Beach. (Photo by LibbyVision.com)
A latte from The Grind Cafe in Delray Beach. (Photo by LibbyVision.com)

This Delray Beach spot serves some yummy – and artistic – lattes. Sip one from one of The Grind’s branded retro cups while you decided if you’ll succumb to the café’s baked good temptations.

The Grind: at the Delray Marketplace, 14859 Lyons Rd., #132, Delray Beach; 561-270-2058

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda

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Memorial Day weekend: Best places to eat and drink in Palm Beach County

Best places to eat, drink and relax for Memorial Day.

Looking for the perfect restaurant or bar to enjoy and relax on your three-day Memorial Day weekend?

Whether you go by boat or by car, we have some great places to choose from:

Ready to dock and dine?

Che at Waterway East in Delray Beach. (Contributed)

Here are the best waterfront spots:

Best waterfront restaurants in Palm Beach County

Looking for a good burger?

Try these best-looking burgers in Palm Beach County!

How about a delicious hot dog?

Food truck Ps561 sells the “Crazy Art Teacher hot dog” — Extra BBQ Sauce, Jalapenos, Cheddar and Frito chips on a hot dog.

Our favorite hot dogs in Palm Beach County

Need a new brunch spot?

photo sundy house
Brunch offerings at Sundy House in Delray Beach include chicken and waffles with maple-bacon syrup. (Contributed by LibbyVision.com)

Looking for a terrific brunch on Saturday or Sunday? Here are the ‘Must-try ‘Sunday Funday’ brunch parties in Palm Beach County’.

Related: Easy eats for your last-minute Memorial Day cookout

Related: 5 best tips for a better burger

Recipe of the week: Southern-style deviled eggs with crispy Spanish ham

Chef Lindsay Autry pipes a kicky deviled yolk filling into herb-crusted egg white halves. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)
Chef Lindsay Autry pipes a kicky deviled yolk filling into herb-crusted egg white halves. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)

One might believe a good deviled egg shines in its simplicity and requires nothing else to achieve perfection. We beg to differ.

Sure, simple, Southern-style deviled eggs are swell on their own, but add a sliver of crispy Serrano on top, a dusting of Cajun spices and dill on the egg white halves and you’ve got deviled eggs that are sublime.

These are deviled eggs, as created by West Palm Beach Chef Lindsay Autry, of The Regional Kitchen & Public House.

SOUTHERN-STYLE HERBED DEVILED EGGS
In this recipe, Chef Lindsay Autry takes inspiration from her grandmother’s deviled eggs.

Makes 24 deviled eggs

12 whole eggs, boiled and peeled
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup mayonnaise (preferably Duke’s or Hellmann’s)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped gherkins or dill relish

A mix of Cajun spices and fresh dish gives these egg halves an herbed crust. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)
A mix of Cajun spices and fresh dish gives these egg halves an herbed crust. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)

For herb crust:
2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning or any Cajun spice blend
1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped

For crispy topping:
3 to 4 slices Serrano ham or prosciutto

Prepare the eggs:
1.
Cut boiled eggs in half lengthwise, remove the yolks and place them in a fine sieve over a small mixing bowl.
2. Force the egg yolks through the sieve into the mixing bowl, creating a fine powder. (Alternatively, you can mash the yolks with a fork.)
3. To the mixing bowl, add mustard, mayonnaise and optional cayenne and mix well. Adjust seasoning, and fold in the chopped gherkins or dill relish. Set aside.
4. Gently wipe out the egg whites with a damp paper towel to remove any of the leftover yolks.

To crust the eggs:
1.
In a small bowl, mix the Old Bay or Cajun seasoning together with the chopped fresh dill. Spread mix on a plate.
2. Place each egg white half, cut side-down on the spice blend to crust the tops. Set aside.

Crisp the topping:
Place slices of ham or prosciutto in a 250F degree oven for 30 minutes to crisp. Set aside.

Autry places crisped prosciutto atop herbed deviled eggs. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)
Autry places crisped Serrano ham or prosciutto atop herbed deviled eggs. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)

To fill the eggs:

1. Place the yolk mixture in a piping bag or a Ziploc bag. (If using a plastic bag, snip off a lower corner for piping.)

2. Pipe the mixture into the crusted egg whites. If using a simple plastic bag without a fancy pastry tip, pipe the filling in a zigzag motion for added flair.

3. Break crispy ham or prosciutto slices into bite-size pieces and place them atop filled deviled eggs.

GIVE YOUR EASTER EGGS A POP OF NATURAL COLOR

Here’s a natural way to dye your Easter eggs:

Chef Lindsay Autry soaks hardboiled and peeled eggs in natural ‘dye’ liquids that take their color from beets and turmeric.

(Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

After 3 hours of soaking, the eggs turn brilliant hues.

Like this:

Dressed up for Easter: a trio of colorful deviled eggs, jazzed up by Autry. (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

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Openings: Taco Chula boasts ‘handsome’ tacos in the Gardens

You’d never guess Taquería Taco Chula just opened last week – many of the customers streaming into the charming taco shop Friday were greeted by name.

Palm Beach Gardens’ newest restaurant already has regulars even though it is not so easy to spot from Military Trail, out front. The small, Mexican-style taco spot is tucked into the corner of the Abbey Road Plaza, just south of PGA Boulevard.

Delicious duo at Taquería Taco Chula. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Delicious duo at Taquería Taco Chula. (Liz Balmaseda/ Palm Beach Post)

RELATED: 5 best places for tacos in Palm Beach County, readers say

But there’s a reason for the repeat customers – the tacos. They’re authentic and delicious. They get top billing in a well-focused menu that includes burritos, quesadillas, tortas (Mexican sandwiches) and gorditas, all stuffed with a choice of five meats or simply veggies.

That means you can have that spicy, heady “al pastor” pork filling in gluten-free corn tortillas (purveyed by Lake Worth’s Gallo de Oro tortillería), in flour-tortilla-wrapped burritos, in fried corn gordita pockets, in cheesy quesadillas or torta-style in fresh, thick-cut telera bread.

Tastes like rice pudding! Refreshing horchata is on tap at Taco Chula. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Tastes like rice pudding: refreshing horchata on tap at Taco Chula. (Liz Balmaseda/ Palm Beach Post)

Wash it all down with Mexican Coke, a “Jarritos” soda or any of three fresh-made aguas frescas, offered in tamarind, hibiscus and horchata. The horchata is especially destination-worthy – the cinnamon-laced rice punch tastes like rice pudding, but in refreshing liquid form. It makes a perfect, cool pairing for any of Taco Chula’s spicier meats.

The team behind the counter-service restaurant share a great love of Mexican cuisine, though none of them are Mexican. Brother-sister duo Peter Tapia and Dahiana Lainfiesta, who co-own the place with their father and Dahiana’s husband, hail from Venezuela.

“We’ve been eating Mexican food since we were kids,” says Tapia, who moved to Palm Beach Gardens after spending four years in California, where he fell in love with Mexican food. “It’s one of the most amazing tasting food I’ve ever had in my life.”

Tacos and more: the menu at Taquería Taco Chula in Palm Beach Gardens. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Tacos and more: the menu at Taquería Taco Chula in Palm Beach Gardens. (Liz Balmaseda/ Palm Beach Post)

In opening the taco shop, the family spreads its presence and enterprise in the plaza. Dahiana Lainfiesta owns the Canino Pet Spa grooming shop there. Her artist husband Scott Lainfiesta, who created the shop’s wall art and outdoor wood bar, has an art studio.

So, why the “chula” in the shop’s name? It’s a flirty word that can mean “cute” or “chic.”

At Taco Chula, the word serves as a kind of mission statement, says Tapia.

Taquería Taco Chula is in the Abbey Road Plaza on Military Trail. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Taquería Taco Chula is in the Abbey Road Plaza on Military Trail. (Liz Balmaseda/ Palm Beach Post)

“It means a handsome taco, or a pretty taco,” he says. “We decided on that name because every taco was going to look perfect, was going to have just the right amount of onions, the right amount of cilantro, the right amount of sauces. So we always strive to have every order perfect.”

Taquería Taco Chula: 10800 N. Military Trail, #108 in the Abbey Road Plaza; 561-530-7755; tacochula.com; open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to close (till the tacos run out, usually about 8 p.m.); closed Sunday.

Review: Follow the buzz to Lynora’s, north county’s new hot spot

What the heck happened to that formerly quiet block of U.S. Highway 1, the one that would segue sleepily from Jupiter to Tequesta?

Lynora’s happened.

Lynora's sits in Jupiter's new Inlet Plaza. (Contributed by Lynora's)
Lynora’s sits in Jupiter’s new Inlet Plaza. (Credit: Michael Price)

The new Italian restaurant is the north county outpost of a lively Clematis Street spot. And it seems the owners have brought some of that downtown West Palm Beach verve to northern Jupiter.

Just try to walk in and find a table on any given night, even on a weeknight. More than likely, you’ll find there’s a wait. It’s a smallish restaurant that can accommodate 89 diners scattered throughout its main dining room, indoor bar and al fresco patio.

What’s the draw? Certainly not the location. There’s no water view or people-watching potential on the patio. The restaurant sits in a commercial plaza that faces U.S. Highway 1. Sure, it’s a spiffy-new, Bermudian-style plaza, but the view it offers is parking lot and passing cars.

And yet, Lynora’s possesses that “it” factor restaurateurs crave: vibe. It’s an animated spot. You pick up the chatter as you squeeze past the bar and in between tables, feeling like the dinner party guest of a large, merry family. On Sundays, the restaurant hosts a Clematis Street-style brunch replete with red-sneakered servers in “Legalize Marinara” t-shirts and bottomless Bellinis, mimosas, bloodies and Peroni (for $18).

All this in a neo-Brooklyn setting of warm woods, subway tile and simple furnishings.

Old school Italian, re-imagined at Lynora's. (Contributed by Lynora's)
Old school Italian, re-imagined at Lynora’s. (Credit: Michael Price)

The food stands in striking contrast to the hip décor. It’s old-school home cooking, red-sauce specials, comfort grub.

That’s because Lynora’s roots are in a bygone Italian restaurant owned and operated by Ralph and Maria Abbenante, the parents of current owner Angelo Abbenante. That now-closed family restaurant, also named Lynora’s, stood for years on Lake Worth Road. (Lynora’s is named after Maria’s mother.)

Angelo Abbenante wanted to bring back the spirit of that restaurant. He and a partner opened a modernized version of the restaurant, Lynora’s Osteria, in 2014. But that collaboration ended in a lawsuit and the owners went their separate ways. Abbenante and his family remained at Lynora’s, dropping the “Osteria” from the name.

Legal matters aside, the food endured. This is not food that rises to astonishing levels, but it is food that would draw me back again and again. It is simple and well prepared by Lynora’s Italian chef, Mario Mette. The sauces are on-point, the servings abundant. It hits the spot.

On a recent visit, our party of three skipped the varied, classic antipasti offerings (bruschetta crostini, $6, cheese/meat plate, $22, fried rice balls, $8, fried calamari, $14, among other dishes), and started our meal with a shared “piccante” pizza ($14).

Topped with pepperoni, salami, mozzarella and cherry peppers (hence the spicy name), this wood-oven-baked pie popped with flavor. The crust, of medium thickness, puffed up on the edges, sending the toppings toward the middle. Even so, the deliciously chewy dough did not go to waste.

For main course, we sampled Lynora’s homemade pappardelle, wide noodles tossed with duck ragu (pappardelle all’anatra, $26). It’s an earthy dish that’s particularly appetizing on a crisp or chilly night. The pasta is bathed in a brandy-spiked sauce of roasted duck and porcini mushrooms and presents just a hint of truffle essence.

Chicken Francese on a recent night at Lynora's Jupiter. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Chicken Francese at Lynora’s, Jupiter. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

The Pollo Francese (chicken in lemon sauce, $24) did not disappoint. A lightly battered chicken breast was served on a bed of linguine in the bright Francese sauce. Mounded beneath two pounded chicken fillets on a flat plate, the pasta seemed incidental on this dish. The shape of the plate made it difficult to twirl and scoop up the linguine, so much of that delicious sauce remained on the plate.

We also sampled the Braciole con Gnocchi ($24), which is listed as one of Lynora’s classic dishes. This rolled-up meat favorite is made with pork that’s folded with prosciutto, garlic and Parmesan, braised in a light tomato sauce and served with small gnocchi dumplings. This is a homey, rib-sticking dish, but the monotone flavors of the meat and pasta could have used some contrast, perhaps from a pop of bitter greens.

Eggplant Parm is offered as an appetizer at Lynora's Jupiter. (LibbyVision.com)
Eggplant Parm, offered as an app at Lynora’s Jupiter. (Credit: LibbyVision.com)

Dessert time brought us a couple of memorable bites: a classic tiramisu stacked high with ladyfingers and mascarpone layers ($10), and a warm and sinful Nutella lava cake ($10) that was served with a tumbler of vanilla ice cream on the side.

Our dishes were delivered promptly, as, despite the bustle, service is brisk and professional. However, I did feel rushed. And our server did that “I’ll take this when you’re ready” thing, dropping off the check before we could request it.

Sometimes, I take the check nudge as an opportunity to ask for something else, say, a cappuccino. But, truth be told, I didn’t want a cappuccino, and I didn’t want a perfectly nice dinner to end on a sour note.

The service slip will not keep me from returning to the restaurant. Untimely check aside, Lynora’s is a fetching spot that brings a little buzz where it’s needed.

REVIEW

Lynora’s Jupiter

FOOD: B

SERVICE: B-

ADDRESS:  1548 U.S. Highway 1 (Inlet Plaza), Jupiter

TELEPHONE: 561-203-2702

WEBSITE: Lynoras.com

PRICE RANGE: Moderate

HOURS: Open for dinner daily at 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

CREDIT CARDS: All major credit cards

RESERVATIONS: Taken only for parties of 8 or more; can reserve at 561-203-2702

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes, including restrooms

NOISE LEVEL: Lively, more manageable on the patio.

FULL BAR: Yes, and there’s a separate bar area. A happy-hour menu is served daily from 4 to 7 p.m. at the bar, with a late night happy hour offered from 10 to 11:30 p.m.

WHAT THE GRADES MEAN:
A — Excellent
B — Good
C — Average
D — Poor
F — Don’t bother

From Peru, the holiday dish that transformed a Jupiter table

Katie Choy’s crash course in Peruvian cuisine came years ago, when her mother-in-law fell and broke her leg during a visit to her Jupiter home.

Until then, the food of her husband’s homeland seemed almost too complex to master. In her newlywed years, Katie, a Pittsburgh-area native raised on meat and potatoes, would jot notes as she watched her mother-in-law cook. Consuelo Aragon de Choy would create classic Peruvian dishes by fusing earthy Latin American flavors with interesting Asian ingredients, spooning out spicy chile pastes of various hues and intensity.

Spicy, creamy stewed chicken: Peruvian-style aji de gallina. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Spicy, creamy stewed chicken: Peruvian-style aji de gallina. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

But it was when Consuelo could not cook that Katie became her surrogate in the kitchen.

“I’ll teach you,” her mother-in-law would say from her chair, directing Katie to grab pots, open spices, raise and lower the flames on the stove.

Ingredient by ingredient, the dishes would come together on Katie’s stove. Today those dishes fill a large cookbook – Katie Choy’s “Family Secrets: Experience the Flavors of Peru” ($29.99, Lydia Inglett Publishing). But well before the book was published months ago, and well before the Choy family came to expect delicious Peruvian feasts at their Jupiter table at holiday time and, later, on random weeknights, there would be a few disasters in Katie’s kitchen.

One incident involved what is perhaps one of Peru’s more iconic dishes. Once Consuelo went back home to Peru, there was a disastrous attempt to make ají de gallina (creamy stewed chicken in Peruvian yellow pepper sauce). Katie recalls she didn’t have the right ingredients on hand and her substitutions didn’t work out as well.

But once she managed to transcribe the recipe in detail from Consuelo and seek out the authentic ingredients at local specialty markets, Katie not only mastered the traditional Peruvian dish, she devised a crockpot shortcut for the stew she likens to chicken chili.

“It became our holiday meal. We’d have it for Christmas. It was that special meal,” says Katie, a former nurse who met her husband, Dr. Rogelio Choy, while on the job at Jupiter Medical Center.

Cookbook author Katie Choy at her Jupiter home. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Cookbook author Katie Choy at her Jupiter home. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

She was cooking that very dish one night when her husband got home from work and stopped by the stove in admiration.

“He just stood there and he smiled at me. And I said, ‘What are you smiling at?’ And he said ‘I think you’re turning into my mother,’” she recalls.

Some might be mystified at such a remark, but Katie knew exactly what he meant – and she took it to be “the biggest compliment ever.”

Her rendition of the dish had conjured a powerful memory of home and childhood for her husband. It was a gift to both the recipient and the cook.

That crockpot shortcut has turned the dish into an anytime meal for the Choys and their younger children, Francesca, 17, and Stefan, 19. (Their son Armand, 20, lives in San Francisco.)

“I’ll make it on a weekday like nothing,” says Katie, who now blends most of the stew ingredients, pours them into the slow-cooker and tops it with chicken breasts. The flavors intensify as the chicken cooks. “The chicken shreds like a dream. It’s just so good.”

Katie Choy displays the herb paste she blends into her Peruvian ocopa sauce. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Katie Choy displays the herb paste she blends into her Peruvian ocopa sauce. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

More than two decades have passed since she had her first taste of the cuisine that transformed her kitchen. It came in the form of aromatic ocopa sauce, the first thing her mother-in-law cooked on the day she arrived at Katie’s Jupiter home.

“She comes in and she’s unpacking and she’s putting things in the freezer. Then she made this wonderful sauce,” recalls Katie. “I can’t say I remember the exact day that I tasted it, but it was one of those things you don’t forget. We put it over potatoes first. Then, whatever we’d have for dinner, we’d pour it over the top, and it was just so delicious.”

It turns out, her mother-in-law had brought the homemade sauce, frozen, all the way from Peru, and braved a U.S. Customs interrogation before warming up the delicacy on the stove in Jupiter. She had brought it from home because she wasn’t sure she could find the sauce’s key ingredient, a Peruvian herb known as huacatay, in Jupiter.

“At the time, I was unfamiliar with the spice and asked her what it was,” Katie Choy writes in her cookbook. “She leaned over and whispered, ‘It’s similar to marijuana!’ I thought to myself, ‘Hmmm. What is she feeding us?’”

She came to find out, the herb belongs to the marigold, not marijuana, family. And it’s sold locally in a jarred paste.

“We still get a laugh over that one,” she says.

RECIPES

Reprinted with permission from Katie Choy’s “Family Secrets” cookbook.

This kicky Peruvian yellow pepper paste is a key ingredient in aji de gallina. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
This kicky Peruvian yellow pepper paste is a key ingredient in aji de gallina. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

Ají de Gallina

Chicken Chile

Imagine your taste buds coming alive as they savor tender chicken bathed in a nutty cream sauce, followed by a hint of heat. I find it even more delicious the next day, or as a filling in empanadas.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

1 whole chicken (3 ½-4 pounds), skin and excess fat removed, and cut into parts

2½ teaspoons salt, divided

1 cup pecans or peanuts (soaked in fresh water for 1 hour or more and drained)

4 slices white bread, crust removed and cubed

1 large yellow onion

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2-4 tablespoons ají amarillo paste, depending on hot you like it (see NOTE below)

3 cloves garlic, pressed

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Prepared white rice, for serving

3 hardboiled eggs, halved, for serving

Peruvian olives (purple-black botija olives)

  1. Place chicken and 1 teaspoon salt in a large pot with just enough water to cover. Bring to a gentle boil over high heat, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until no longer pink.
  1. Remove chicken and let cool. Reserve water. Shred or cube chicken and set aside. This step can be done a day ahead and refrigerated.
  1. Blend nuts, bread, and ¾-1 cup reserved chicken water on high until smooth. Remove and set aside. Rinse blender.
  1. Blend onion and ¼-½ cup reserved water until pureed. Remove and set aside.
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add pureed onion and cook 10 minutes, stirring as necessary to keep from sticking.
  1. Add 1 teaspoon salt, ají paste, garlic, nutmeg, and 2/3 cup reserved water, stir and cook another 10 minutes.
  1. Add nut puree and stir and cook about 8-10 minutes.
  1. Stir in evaporated milk, cheese, and chicken. Cook another 5 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve over hot white rice on warm plate, garnished with eggs and olives.

NOTE: Find ají amarillo, or Peruvian yellow pepper paste, wherever Latin foods are sold. In Palm Beach County, it’s available at Presidente, El Bodegon supermarkets or other Latin specialty markets.

COOKING TIPS

  • For an easy shortcut, use a store-bought rotisserie chicken and canned broth. Discard skin, remove meat from bones and shred. Follow with recipe beginning at step 3.
  • Crockpot version: Take 1 teaspoon salt, soaked pecans, bread, oil, onion (quartered), aji paste, garlic and nutmeg, and blend with 2 cups chicken broth until smooth and creamy. Pour ½ into slow-cooker. Lay 4 chicken breasts over sauce and pour remaining sauce over chicken. Cook on medium 4 hours or until chicken is very tender and easily pulls apart. Shred chicken, return to slow-cooker, and stir in evaporated milk and Parmesan cheese. Cook another ½ hour on low. Times may vary according to individual slow-cookers.
Potatoes ladled with Peruvian ocopa sauce are served with a purple Peruvian olive. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Potatoes ladled with Peruvian ocopa sauce are served with a purple Peruvian olive. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

Ocopa con Papas

Potatoes with Cheese Sauce

This was the first Peruvian sauce I ever tasted and loved it immediately. We serve it over everything.

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

4-5 Yukon gold potatoes

3-4 large eggs

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 cloves garlic, peeled

¼ cup peanuts or walnuts

1 medium onion, diced small

1-2 tablespoons ají amarillo paste, depending on how hot you like it

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup or more of water

1 pound queso blanco or other fresh cheese

2 tablespoons huacatay paste (sometimes called Peruvian black mint)

3-4 lettuce leaves, washed and dried

Peruvian olives (purple-black botija olives)

Sprinkle of paprika

  1. Place potatoes and eggs in a medium sized pot, cover with cold water, and bring to boil over high heat. Lower heat to maintain simmer and set timer for 9 minutes.
  1. Remove eggs only and plunge into ice water bath. Continue simmering potatoes another 12-15 minutes or until tender. Remove potatoes and set aside to cool.
  1. In medium sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Sauté garlic cloves 2-3 minutes until golden and fragrant, stirring frequently. Be careful not to let them burn, lowering heat if necessary. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside to cool.
  1. Add nuts to already hot and oily pan, and roast over medium heat for several minutes until fragrant and golden. Caution, they can burn quickly. Remove with slotted spoon, and let cool with garlic.
  1. Return already hot pan with oil to medium heat, add a little more oil if necessary, and stir in onion, ají amarillo paste, and salt. Cook until onions are soft, about 5-6 minutes stirring often. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  1. Place garlic, nuts, onion mixture, water, queso blanco, and huacatay paste in blender. Puree until smooth and creamy, adding more water, a little at a time as needed. This sauce becomes very thin when heated, and thickens as it cools.
  1. Pour sauce into medium sauce pan. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  1. Peel eggs and potatoes and slice in halves or quarters. Place atop bed of lettuce along with olives, drizzle with sauce, and sprinkle lightly with paprika.

Serve with additional sauce alongside in serving bowl.

To purchase Katie Choy’s cookbook, visit KatieChoy.com.

Openings: New York’s chic Sant Ambroeus debuts in Palm Beach

The long-awaited Palm Beach outpost of Sant Ambroeus, the Milanese restaurant and pasticceria with locations in New York City and Southampton, will debut at dinnertime Saturday, according to a publicist for the fashionable spot. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Pastry palace: Sant Ambroeus, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, is beloved for its sweet tooth. (Credit: Sant Ambroeus)
Pastry palace: Sant Ambroeus, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, is beloved for its sweet tooth. (Credit: Sant Ambroeus)

The pretty-in-pink ristorante has slipped into the island’s newly renovated Royal Poinciana Plaza, which is home to Hillstone’s popular Palm Beach Grill. It inhabits part of the space where Del Frisco’s Grille operated from 2013 to 2015.

Beloved for its espresso bar, pastries and gelato selection, Sant Ambroeus brings wide-ranging menu options and extended hours (by Palm Beach standards) to the plaza. The restaurant will open every day from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., serving breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.

On the menu: classics including Vitello Tonnato, saffron risotto, Cotoletta alla Milanese, plus dishes inspired by Florida’s coastal ingredients.

Classics at Sant Ambroeus: Spaghetti all'Arrabbiata. (Photo: Nicole Franzen)
Classics at Sant Ambroeus: Spaghetti all’Arrabbiata. (Photo: Nicole Franzen)

“The menu will focus on seafood and will incorporate local citruses and herbs to accentuate the fresh, luminous surroundings that encompass Palm Beach,” said Executive Chef Marco Barbisotti via news release.

Desserts will include Italian pastries as well as homemade pies and cakes. The drink selection is varied as well, thanks to a full bar: regional wines, cocktails, specialty coffees and teas.

All this in a setting inspired by Italy’s vintage caffe culture. The 174-seat restaurant will serve various roles during the day: It’s a fine dining restaurant in the principal dining rooms, but at the bar it transitions into coffee-bar and cocktail mode.

With roots in 1936 Milan, Sant Ambroeus has seven locations: the original Madison Avenue restaurant, locations in SoHo, the West Village and Southampton. The SA Hospitality Group also operates Sant Ambroeus coffee bars at New York’s Loews Regency Hotel and Sotheby’s. Another coffee bar is planned for the Hanley Building in New York’s Upper East Side.

SA logo
The restaurant has its roots in 1936 Milan.

Now there’s Palm Beach. The location made sense, according to restaurateur Dimitri Pauli, a partner at SA Hospitality Group who owns a home in Palm Beach County.

“We had long considered opening out of New York, but nowhere resonated with our brand until we saw this opportunity at The Royal Poinciana Plaza,” he said via news release.

Sant Ambroeus already has something very Palm Beach-y going for it. It’s pink and gold branding. Think flamingo, with sunscreen.

Sant Ambroeus: Opens at 6 p.m. Saturday at 340 Royal Poinciana Way, Palm Beach

 

 

 

 

It’s PB Food + Wine Fest week: here’s a glimpse of the action

The Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival kicks off Thursday, celebrating its 10th year of existence. What will it be like?

Here are 10 moments from previous years.

one

The beach behind the Four Seasons Palm Beach resort is the backdrop of the annual Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival, which runs from Thursday through Sunday. (LILA PHOTO)
The beach behind the Four Seasons Palm Beach resort is the backdrop of the annual, star-studded Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival, which runs from Thursday through Sunday. (LILA PHOTO)

two

Inspired bites, as in these burgers by uber chef Daniel Boulud, range from the casual to the more refined. (LILA PHOTO)
Inspired bites, as in these burgers by uber chef Daniel Boulud, range from the casual to the more refined. (LILA PHOTO)

three

Simple and sensational. It is Palm Beach, after all. (LILA PHOTO)
Simple and sensational. It is Palm Beach, after all. (LILA PHOTO)

four

The festival is a wine lover's oasis, with wine dinners and free-flowing tastings. There's a ton of beer and craft cocktails, as well. (LILA PHOTO)
The festival is a wine lover’s oasis, with wine dinners and free-flowing tastings. There’s a ton of beer and craft cocktails, as well. (LILA PHOTO)

five

Famous chefs, like Elizabeth Falkner and Robert Irvine, are now regulars at the fest. (LILA PHOTO)
Famous chefs, like Elizabeth Falkner and Robert Irvine, are now regulars at the fest. (LILA PHOTO)

six

And Jeff Mauro, Food Network's 'Sandwich King.' He's a regular, too. (Photo: Fernanda Beccaglia)
And Jeff Mauro, Food Network’s ‘Sandwich King.’ He’s a regular, too. (Photo: Fernanda Beccaglia)

seven

Beneath the palms, the festival is a big, grown-up affair. (LILA PHOTO)
Beneath the palms at The Breakers, the festival is a big, grown-up affair. (LILA PHOTO)

eight

Kids get their event, too -- there's a Kids Kitchen class offered by Robert Irvine. (LILA PHOTO)
Kids get their event, too — there’s a Kids Kitchen class offered by Robert Irvine at the Four Seasons Palm Beach resort. (LILA PHOTO)

nine

Palm Beach's local stars, like Chef Lindsay Autry, shine at the fest alongside visiting stars. (LILA PHOTO)
Palm Beach’s local stars, like Chef Lindsay Autry of The Regional, shine at the fest alongside visiting stars. (LILA PHOTO)

ten

The big finale happens Sunday at The Gardens Mall, where wall-to-wall bites and sips are served and where local chefs compete in an annual throwdown for charity. (LILA PHOTO)
The big finale happens Sunday at The Gardens Mall, where wall-to-wall bites and sips are served and where local chefs compete in an annual throwdown for charity. (LILA PHOTO)