If you are looking for a personal chef in the Western PA area, you’ve come to the right place! Our members offer a wide variety of services and are spread out over the region so there is sure to be a personal chef near you!
Comprised of several independently owned and operated Personal Chef Services, West PA Chefs has member chefs located throughout the Western PA Region, including portions of the Northern Panhandle of WV and bordering counties in Eastern OH.
Each chef offers a variety of Customized Meal Solutions including freshly prepared meals which are packaged and ready to heat and eat as well as offering chef services for small dinner parties, interactive cooking parties and demonstrations! Several member chefs also provide larger catering services, cooking instruction, meal pick up and preparation from commercial kitchen space.
Our members are also dedicated to providing services using as much locally grown products as are in season and available. With many local farms, farmer’s markets and CSA programs in the region, we look forward to cooking what’s currently in season in the area!
The direct tangible benefit to hiring your own chef will be the time saved in the actual meal preparation and the associated shopping while still enjoying palate specific meals at a surprisingly reasonable cost! Those who choose a chef to cook for a dinner party will no longer need to spend countless hours in the kitchen and will have more time to actually enjoy their party and the company of their guests!
The time and money saved as well as the health benefits of having preservative and additive free meals at your fingertips is incalculable!
If you are a member of any of the CSA programs in the Western PA area and are interested in having your CSA boxes turned into delicious meals, or to be taught what to do with all that great, locally grown produce, please click here to email us to be referred to the personal chef nearest you!
If you would like to find out more about membership in West PA Chefs, are interested in becoming a personal chef by utilizing a course through the Culinary Business Academy or would like information about finding a personal chef in your area, please click here to email us!
by Chef Shane Russo – Owner/Chef of Russo’s Cooking PCS and author of Radical Surgery!
All grains, with the exception of rice, and the various grain meals, require prolonged cooking with gentle and continuous heat, in order to so disintegrate their tissues and change their starch into dextrine as to render them easy of digestion.
Even the so-called “steam-cooked” grains, advertised to be ready for use in five or ten minutes, require a much longer cooking to properly fit them for digestion.
These so-called quickly prepared grains are simply steamed before grinding, which has the effect to destroy any low organisms contained in the grain. They are then crushed and shredded. Bicarbonate of soda and lime is added to help dissolve the albuminoids, and sometimes diastase to aid the conversion of the starch into sugar; but there is nothing in this preparatory process that so alters the chemical nature of the grain as to make it possible to cook it ready for easy digestion in five or ten minutes.
An insufficiently cooked grain, although it may be palatable, is not in a condition to be readily acted upon by the digestive fluids, and is in consequence left undigested to act as a mechanical irritant.
Water is the liquid usually employed for cooking grains, but many of them are richer and finer flavored when milk is mixed with the water, one part to two of water. Especially is this true of rice, hominy, and farina. When water is used, soft water is preferable to hard. No salt is necessary, but if used at all, it is generally added to the water before stirring in the grain or meal. Another option is the use of chicken, vegetable, fish, or beef stock for a change in flavor.
The quantity of liquid required varies with the different grains, the manner in which they are milled, the method by which they are cooked, and the consistency desired for the cooked grain, more liquid being required for a porridge than for a mush.
All grains should be carefully looked over before being put to cook.
In the cooking of grains, the following points should be observed:
1. Measure both liquid and grain accurately with the same utensil, or with two of equal size.
2. Have the water boiling when the grain is introduced, but do not allow it to boil for a long time previous, until it is considerably evaporated, as that will change the proportion of water and grain sufficiently to alter the consistency of the mush when cooked. Introduce the grain slowly, so as not to stop the sinking to the bottom, and the whole becomes thickened.
3. Stir the grain continuously until it has set, but not at all afterward. Grains are much more appetizing if, while properly softened, they can still be made to retain their original form. Stirring renders the preparation pasty, and destroys its appearance.
In the preparation of all mushes with meal or flour, it is a good plan to make the material into a batter with a portion of the liquid retained from the quantity given, before introducing it into the boiling water. This prevents the tendency to cook in lumps, so frequent when dry meal is scattered into boiling liquid. Care must be taken, however, to add the moistened portion very slowly, stirring vigorously meantime, so that the boiling will not be checked. Use warm water for moistening. The other directions given for the whole or broken grains are applicable to the ground products.
Place the grain, when sufficiently cooked, in the refrigerator or in some place where it will cool quickly (as slow cooling might cause fermentation), to remain overnight.
Written by Chef Shane Russ, Owner of Russo’s Cooking Personal Chef Service
On Easter Sunday my father-in-law requested that I cook for the family. Being as I am physically afraid of him, I said yes. I decided that I needed to do something easy. I rummaged through my collection of recipes and came across this gem from Lisa Lillien. You might know her as Hungry Girl. I made one addition to take this healthy pizza over the top. Enjoy!
Easy Caprese Breakfast Pizza
1 light english muffin
2 slices of tomato
1 oz Black Forest ham
6 fresh basil leaves
1 piece of light string cheese
1 tsp light butter
1/2 tsp crushed garlic (omit if you like. I did!)
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
In a small dish, combine butter and garlic; set aside.
Split English Muffin and spread the butter on each half.
Place strips of cheese on each muffin half.
Place basil then tomato on each half.
Top with chopped Black Forest ham.
Place on a backing sheet sprayed lightly with nonstick spray.
Bake in the oven for around 15 minutes or until the tomato starts to soften.
Salt and Pepper to taste and enjoy!
written by Chef Shane Russo; Owner of Russo’s Cooking Personal Chef Service
As a personal chef, people always expect me to cook things that are so complex and involved that the “normal” person could never recreate it. That is certainly true of some things. THIS IS NOT ONE OF THOSE!! This recipe is an insanely simple side dish that packs a ton of flavor. It takes only minutes to prepare and is one of my favorites. Enjoy!
Green Bean Saute 4 Servings
I use fresh green beans whenever possible but frozen or canned could be substituted. I don’t recommend it though!
1 lb Fresh Green Beans (with the stems removed)
2 tbs olive oil
4 medium shallots – diced
2-5 cloves of garlic (depending on preference) – minced
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-low heat. Add shallots, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook until the shallots start to soften. Be careful not to burn them. Add the green beans and cook until tender yet still crispy; about 15 minutes. The shallots and garlic will start to caramelize when close to being done.
Serving: drizzle a little olive oil over green beans after plating.
written by Chef Shane Russo; Owner of Russo’s Cooking Personal Chef Service
Of the many things I love about this time of year, ranking right near the top has to be drinking hot things to warm the body. Anyone that knows me knows that I love hot chocolate. However, ever since my gastric bypass I had to come up with a way to get it without all the sugar. Solution: make it from scratch. The first time I made hot chocolate from scratch it was ok but I don’t settle for ok. I want awesome! Below is a recipe for a variation I made today. Any of the sugar-free ingredients can be changed with “regular” items. No matter which way you do it this recipe is sure to warm you up on an icy day!
Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
2 cups milk
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup Splenda (or to taste)
2 tbs no-sugar-added Peanut Butter
Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat and whisk until blended well. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly to help prevent burning the milk. Serve immediately.
Chef Shane Russo