Prisco’s Family Market

1108 Prairie Street, Aurora, IL 60506 | 630-264-9400

Hours: Monday - Friday, 7 am to 8:30 pm | Saturday, 7 am to 8 pm | Sunday, 8 am to 7 pm

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It's a great time to enjoy autumn’s bounty - Apple Fest- Tuesday, October 27, 2015

With the possible exception of pumpkins, what food says autumn better than apples and cider? Anyone who has spent a sunny but crisp afternoon in an orchard picking red delicious, galas, honey gold, Empires or McIntoshes topped off afterward with a glass of hot or cold cider and some homemade cinnamon apple donuts still hot from the fryer knows that fall is all about apples. You may not get the opportunity to visit a pick-your-own orchard, but not to worry: We offer more varieties of sweet, crisp apples every day at Prisco’s Family Market!

Okay, so now what are you going to do with all your apples?  Here are some delicious apple recipes worth a try.

 

 

 

Adult Apple Cider

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

8 cups apple cider

Juice of 1 orange

2 tsp. nutmeg

8 cinnamon sticks

1 tsp. whole cloves

2 cups bourbon

In a large pot, combine apple cider, orange juice, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, and cloves. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain the cider. Mix in the bourbon and serve. Garnish each mug with a cinnamon stick. Suggestion: you may want to hold off on adding the bourbon and keep the spiced cider refrigerated and serve it to all family members. The grown-ups who wish can simply add ¼ cup of bourbon to their mug to make the drink a bit more festive.

Cheese and Cider Fondue

Ingredients

1 cup cider

4 cups grated Gruyère cheese*

1 1⁄2 tbsp. cornstarch

2 t apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp. apple schnapps or apple brandy

Put grated cheese and cornstarch in bowl. Toss to coat cheese. Bring cider to a simmer over medium heat. Add cheese a handful at a time, stirring until melted between additions. Continue cooking until fondue just starts to bubble, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add vinegar and stir. Take fondue off heat and stir in brandy. Pour into fondue pot and keep warm. Serve with cooked slices of kielbasa or other spicy sausage, bread cubes or crostini, broccoli florets or slices of tart apple. * Note: If Gruyère is a bit out of your budget, you can use a combination of Swiss and sharp cheddar (2 cups each).

Pairing hard cider with cheese & other foods

Camembert and Camembert-style cheeses are outstanding paired with cider, but Cheddar and other English territorial cheeses such as Cheshire and Caerphilly, and semi-hard cheeses like Gruyère, Beaufort and Appenzeller, are all good.

Asian food pairs well with cider, too -- either a more dry cider for sweet dishes or a sweet cider for fiery ones.

In addition, hearty food pairs surprisingly well with hard cider: Try beef or venison chili and barbequed pork...You can also try adding cider directly to your BBQ sauce!

Lastly, hard cider is also delicious with simple desserts, like pound cake or lace cookies.

 

Hey folks, listen up. You’ll what to hear this.- Tuesday, October 27, 2015

I’ve got two exciting announcements that I’m pleased to share with you this week.

First, something for the kids!
This Saturday is Halloween and we have a nice treat for the neighborhood children. Anyone who pays us a visit in a Halloween costume this Saturday, 10/31, between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm will be in for a treat: Stop at our Café and say the magic words "Trick or Treat" and you get a free scoop of gelato!  We will also have something to treat Mom & Dad with as we will be sampling some new seasonal hot beverages.

Just in Time for Thanksgiving      
Every year we take well over a thousand special orders for Thanksgiving turkeys and last year we started doing the same for our freshly baked Farmer’s Market pies. In an effort to speed up the process and make it more convenient for our customers, we have added a new service to our website. Starting this week, you no longer need to call our service desk or meat department to reserve your fresh HO-KA Turkey or Farmer’s market pie. Just go to our web site: There you can order your turkey and pies in a matter of minutes. Once you place your online order, someone from our staff will email you back with a confirmation within 24 hours. We hope that you find this new service time saving, easy to use and beneficial.

Looking forward to seeing lots of cute trick-or-treaters this Saturday. Have a fun-filled and safe Halloween!


Bridget - your Prisco’s Baker Extraordinaire

Butter makes a comeback!- Tuesday, October 20, 2015

[Info courtesy of bussinessinsider.com, newsmaxhealth.com & authoritynutrition.com]

For decades now, butter has been reviled by health professionals and cooks alike for being unhealthy and undesirable. Why? Because butter, along with other high-fat foods like red meat, became the target of health crusaders in the 1970s following the observation that eating saturated fats raises "bad" LDL cholesterol, which was linked to heart disease.

However, butter really doesn’t deserve the wicked reputation it has received.

Over the years, researchers have been unable to provide convincing evidence that saturated fat causes heart disease. On the contrary: the latest evidence actually shows that reducing saturated fat intake has, in fact, increased our cardiovascular risks!

Why butter is back

  • Butter is Rich in Vitamins - There are a lot of fat soluble vitamins in butter. This includes vitamins A, E and K2. Vitamins A and E aren’t real significant -- if you’re eating a healthy diet that includes animals and plants then you are probably getting enough of those already -- but Vitamin K2 is important because it is fairly rare in the modern diet. Vitamin K2 can have powerful effects on health. It is intimately involved in calcium metabolism and a low intake has been associated with many serious diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis. Dairy (including butter and cheese) from grass-fed cows is particularly rich in Vitamin K2. 
  • Butter is a Good Source of Butyrate and Linoleic Acid - The fatty acid butyrate is created by bacteria in the colon when they are exposed to dietary fiber. This may be the main reason fiber has health benefits for humans. Studies also indicate that butyrate supplementation may help prevent weight gain on an unhealthy diet by increasing energy expenditure and reducing food intake. In addition, butyrate improves the function of mitochondria and lowers fasting triglycerides and insulin. It is also an anti-inflammatory. Butter, especially grass-fed, is a great source of a fatty acid called Conjugated Linoleic Acid. This fatty acid has powerful effects on metabolism and is actually sold commercially as a weight loss supplement. CLA has been shown to have anti-cancer properties, as well as lowering body fat percentage in humans. 
  • Butter Contains Healthy Saturated Fats – The “war” against saturated fat was based on bad science. In fact, recent studies suggest that there is no association at all between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease. Saturated fats raise HDL (the good) cholesterol and change the LDL from small, dense (very bad) to Large LDL, which is benign. Additionally, butter contains a decent amount of short and medium chain fats, which are metabolized differently from other fats. They lead to improved satiety and increased fat burning. 
  • Butter Lowers Heart Attack Risk - For a long time, health authorities encouraged people to replace butter with margarine – a supposedly healthier alternative. Unfortunately, this assumption has proven to be false. Margarine contains a lot of trans-fats, which are downright toxic and have been proven to cause a myriad of diseases. In studies examining the effects of butter and margarine on cardiovascular disease, margarine significantly increased the risk of cardiovascular disease, while butter had no effect. Another study revealed that high-fat dairy consumption reduced the risk of heart disease by a whopping 69% (most likely due to increased Vitamin K2 intake). 
  • Butter Is Associated with a Lower Risk of Obesity - Nutritional authorities often recommend that we choose low-fat dairy products. That way, we can get the calcium we need without all those supposedly bad fats and calories. But despite the higher calorie content, eating high-fat dairy products is NOT associated with obesity.  In fact, a new review paper came out in 2012 that examined the effects of high-fat dairy consumption on obesity, cardiovascular disease and other metabolic disorders: They discovered that high-fat dairy did not increase risk of metabolic disease and was associated with a significantly reduced risk of obesity.

Based on all this (relatively) new information, perhaps it is high time we all review our biases toward butter, and reconsider its role in our diets. Besides being much healthier for us than we were lead to believe, butter is also far tastier than existing alternatives...

So go grab that stick out of the fridge and start cookin’!

 

Picking out the “Perfect Wine”- Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Have you had the perfect wine? Chances are, probably not. The reason is because I really don’t believe there is a single perfect wine, just like there is no “best wine in the world.”

Wine-making is a beautiful art and since the boom of red and white blends, vintners have really had a chance to showcase their skill. From a $7 bottle of Cocobon to a $25 bottle of Decoy, vintners have shown that the flavors of each grape, when combined, can create a synergistic effect. My favorite case-in-point so far is Hahn GSM. The sweetness and fruit flavors of the Grenache combine with spiciness and tannins of the Syrah, while the Mourvèdre adds dryness and complexity. If you haven’t had it yet, come check it out. Just about everyone I recommend this wine to has come back for more.

Let’s go back to the idea of the perfect wine and, even though I absolutely love GSM, talk about why it’s not the perfect wine. This example will explain why I don’t believe the perfect wine exists.

A majority of wine is consumed either during or after a meal. Our taste buds get shocked whenever any food comes in contact with them. The taste lingers for quite some time. Two best practices have come because of this fact: 1. Palette cleansing 2. Food pairing. Palette cleansing is the practice of cleaning the taste buds with neutral flavors so that the next taste that enters the mouth can be pure. This can be done with special crackers made for wine tasting or somewhat bland, salted crackers you can find at your local grocery store (wink wink). Food pairing is the practice of understanding the flavors in food and beverage, and rather than clearing those flavors, combining them to a favorable taste.

The secret to never being able to create the perfect wine, I believe, lies in the second best practice. There are some flavors that mix better than others, and some that are never meant to be mixed. Take for instance when Megan and I were mixing up our cocktail for the Cocktail Class in November: We tried combining heavy cream and ginger beer. Hint: Don’t try that at home.

How does GSM fall into all this? Take my experience with GSM and smoked chicken. If you know me, you know I don’t like heavily-oaked chardonnay. You also know I love GSM. Case closed right? Bring in smoked chicken and the game changes. I tried a glass of GSM while having smoked pulled chicken for dinner one night and it was very good. So good I drank my glass of GSM and there was no more to be had. There was a bottle of a heavily oaked Chard open so in the name of food experimentation, I braved it out. And my world changed forever. The smoke of the chicken meshed so well with the oak and grape flavors and I didn’t want to believe it.

Lesson learned? A wine I normally can’t stand beat out a go-to bottle once the flavor profile was changed. And it wasn’t because the GSM was bad in that instance (obviously, since I finished my glass!), but it was because the chardonnay just pulled a Michael Jordan on it. Sorry Karl, the mailman doesn’t deliver on Sundays.

The perfect wine will never exist because of the way our taste buds work. So my recommendation for you is to try as many flavor combinations as possible. Even things you normally wouldn’t like. You’ll have some combinations you will never touch again. But those meals that end up being heaven on a table will keep you coming back for more.

If you haven’t already, stop by and talk to Megan. She is doing an awesome job and having lots of fun curating our wine selection. She is very knowledgeable and adventurous, and willing to help you put a great wine or beer on your table!

 

Cheers!

Andy  

Tags :  wine selection
They say pumpkin is the new bacon!- Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Until the last few years, those huge orange globes we have come to know as the heralds of fall, pumpkins, have served just a few very important functions: For Halloween they are a symbol of festivity when carved into Jack-o-lanterns to adorn our front porches. Once Halloween is behind us they appear on most everyone’s table for Thanksgiving dinner. Beyond that, pumpkins were pretty much out sight and out of mind.

Times have changed. Nowadays, before the first leaves turn color each fall, we find pumpkin everywhere we turn. Pumpkin lattes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin beer.  The weird thing about the pumpkin’s rise to fame and popularity is that pumpkin, on its own, is not a very appetizing food at all. It’s a rather bland and stringy gourd with very little going for it taste-wise. Most recipes that incorporate pumpkin also include heavy doses of sugar and spices to give pumpkin the flavor factor we all seek. When it comes to marketing, however, pumpkin is an ideal addition to restaurant menus.  When you think of pumpkin, you think of something farm-grown and wholesome. This in turn make it easy to convince patrons that even though much of what they are getting is full of sugar and a heavy dose of spices, it tastes good and it must be good for you.

We can blame marketers all we want for making pumpkin into the autumn flavor found everywhere, but actually I think that they are to be commended: They are just doing their jobs, and from the natural success of all things pumpkin it would appear that they really hit the mark with American taste buds.

Who among us doesn't look forward to the annual return of pumpkin ice cream and pumpkin shakes at our favorite creamery, or our first slice of pumpkin cake or cup of pumpkin soup? Not only do we enjoy ordering pumpkin flavored items when dining out, we find that our customers are searching for many new recipes that call for pumpkin each year around this time.

Here is a sampling of some of the most popular pumpkin recipes found on our website that shoppers have been downloading the past month:

Looking for even more? Check out this list of 50 pumpkin recipes, also found on our website.

 

Tags :  pumpkin recipes
Breakfast – The essential meal - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

[info courtesy of webmd, shakeupyourwakeup.com, & dietdetective.com]

Life can be hectic, and sometimes it can be difficult to make time for everything – even such essentials as breakfast. Yes, it's true what they say, "breakfast is the most important meal of the day." This is largely because after a long night's sleep (which is basically an 8-hour fasting period), your body isn't going to have a whole lot to work with in the morning. You're "running on empty", as the saying goes, which can have an adverse effect on your ability to focus – and even your ability to lose weight. Nutritionists advise that breakfast should be eaten within two hours of waking so that your body has all the necessary fuel to get you up and running, and stay that way until lunchtime.

As far as preparing breakfast goes, try to include something from each major food group. Fruits such as apples, bananas and strawberries, are good sources of vitamins and minerals; for protein, eggs are an excellent option, and relatively quick and easy to cook. (Not a fan of eggs? Substitute some Greek yogurt.) In addition, a slice or two of 100% whole grain toast can provide you with much-needed nutrients and fiber, as well as help keep you feeling fuller, longer.

Don't have time to prepare a complete breakfast in the morning? As you know, there are a number of alternatives -- most notably, cereals. It doesn't get much easier than that... Just add milk and eat! The problem is, not all cereals are created equal so you do need to acquaint yourself with the products that are available. When purchasing a breakfast cereal, you want something that:

  • Is low in sodium: Many cereals are high in sodium; the Institute of Medicine recommends no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.
  • Has less added sugar: Regardless of the name, whether it’s honey (although there is some research that indicates honey can help with allergies and work as an antibiotic), brown sugar, raw sugar or maple syrup, all added sugar essentially adds calories without significant nutritional value.
  • Contains fewer ingredients: Choose those cereals (and all your foods) that have the fewest ingredients, and make sure they’re names you can pronounce.
  • Contains whole grains: These could include brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, graham flour, oatmeal, quinoa, rolled oats, whole-grain barley, whole oats, whole rye, whole wheat and wild rice.

If you want the most out of your breakfast (and your cereal), it's up to you to choose wisely!

 

Dark Chocolate – The Healthier “Candy”- Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Often when people think of chocolate, they think of some sort of sugary confection, such as chocolate ice cream, milk chocolate candy bars or pieces, or rich cookies or brownies. As a category, “chocolate’ is generally lumped in with “junk food”, and people tend to avoid it if they are trying to maintain a healthy diet. However, it’s been proven time and again that dark chocolate in particular – that is, chocolate that has a higher cacao percentage (over 35%, with some bittersweet bars being well over 80%) and no milk additives – is actually good for you.

Dark chocolate, by definition, has far less sugar than a comparable amount of milk chocolate, and it is highly nutritious. A 3.5 oz. bar of 70-85% cacao chocolate contains 11 grams of fiber, 67% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Iron, and 58% RDA of Magnesium. It also boasts plenty of potassium, zinc, phosphorus and selenium, all of which are required by the human body for healthy function. In addition, the fats contained in dark chocolate are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, which is excellent, and dark chocolate is also a superior source of antioxidants.

Still not convinced? Well, it’s been determined that dark chocolate can help in the fight against cardiovascular disease. According to authoritynutrition.com,

[According to recent research] the compounds in dark chocolate appear to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL…In a study of 470 elderly men, cocoa was found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death by a whopping 50% over a 15 year period.

Another study revealed that eating chocolate 2 or more times per week lowered the risk of having calcified plaque in the arteries by 32%.

So the next time you have a craving for some candy, rather than deprive yourself completely direct your attention to the dark chocolate section of the candy aisle instead. Consider grabbing that 70%+ cacao bar and enjoying an ounce or two a couple times per week: Not only will you help satisfy your craving for chocolate, you will also be doing your body a favor.

Interested in some tasty dark chocolate desserts? Give these recipes a try! They may include added sugar, but the other benefits of the cacao still apply…

 

Chocolate Bread Pudding with Strawberry Sauce

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Chocolate Drop Cookies

Coffee Liqueur Pudding

Walnut and Chocolate Chip Muffins

 

For us Italians… It’s all about the sauce- Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Let’s face it, one of the best things about being Italian is the food. Not only do we of Roman ancestry love food, but most nationalities enjoy many of our favorite Italian dishes. It’s no secret that most every Italian meal is served with pasta, either as the main course or as a side dish. Today I thought I’d share a little information about the part of that pasta dish that gives it all its delicious flavor, the sauce.

No doubt there are dozens of different Italian sauces, and as you will recall from my sister's Shout Out last week, different sauces are best for different pasta shapes and textures. The same holds true for the meats being served, as each type of sauce tends to best complement a certain type of meat or seafood.  The following is an extensive but by no means exhaustive list of Italian sauces, and if you see something that piques your interest I encourage you to give it a try. Recipes are available on our website and other locations on the internet. Let your search engine do the work for you.

Acciughe-- sauce of anchovies flavored with garlic, oil and parsley. Admittedly, this will never be a chart topper as most folks are not big fans of anchovies. However, if you enjoy them this makes a delicious pasta sauce. Served over spaghetti on Good Friday and on Christmas Eve, this has traditionally been a popular sauce when meat was removed from the meal.

Aglio e olio-- garlic, olive oil and parsley. The perfect sauce for when you're rushed for time: As soon as your pasta finishes cooking, you will be too. Who said all pasta sauce is tomato-based?

Alfredo-- butter, cream and freshly grated cheese, usually served with fettucine. The roots of this delicious dish extend deep into Italian history, though that hasn't hindered its immense popularity among people the world over. After all, who can resist fresh pasta tossed in rich butter, cream and cheese?

Amatricana-- sauce of fresh tomatoes, chopped bacon, onion and garlic, served with grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Named for the town of Amatrice, about an hour east of Rome, considered by many Italians to be birthplace of the best cooks on the peninsula. Bucatini all’amatriciana has a different flavor profile than most Italian pasta. In its purest, most classic form, the sauce has only four ingredients: cured pork, tomatoes, cheese, and hot peppers. Because of the recipe’s poor origins (this was the dish of shepherds, not statesmen), there is traditionally no onion, no garlic, no herbs.

Bolognese-- rich meat sauce flavored with chicken livers, wine, vegetables and nutmeg. Served with butter and grated cheese; sometimes cream is added to the sauce. Also called ragu in parts of Italy other than Bologna.

Burro-- butter and grated Parmesan cheese.  Here is something that may come as a surprise to you: There is no such thing as Alfredo sauce in Italy. The true “white” sauce in Italy is known as pasta bianco (“pasta in white”) in the southern regions, and pasta al burro (“pasta with butter”) in the north. An Italian white sauce has nothing in it but cheese, butter, and maybe a little pepper or parsley. Light and delicious and super-fast and easy to make!

Cacciatore-- meat and vegetable sauce flavored with juniper. This thick and chunky tomato sauce is loaded with vegetables and great with meats and pastas.

Carbonara-- It's basically just bacon & eggs. It originally comes from the Apennine hills of central Italy near Rome and was a shepherd's favorite. As they meandered in the pastures with their flocks, they carried bacon, made cheese as they went and only used eggs if they were lucky enough to have some.

Frutti di mare-- is a popular multi-seafood dish along the coast of Italy. Frutti di Mare literally means “Fruit of the Sea” and can include all types of seafood, including mussels, clams, prawns and other shellfish.

Funghi e piselli-- sauce of mushrooms, bacon and fresh green peas. The sweet taste of peas blends perfectly with the strong taste of the Porcini mushrooms. Serve with spaghetti or any kind of short ridged pasta such as ‘fusilli’, ‘rigatoni’ or ‘penne rigate’.

Marinara-- sauce of fresh tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and basil. One of the beat known to Americans as a good meatless tomato-based sauce, Marinara was first created in Naples. The story goes that Neapolitan ships invented marinara sauce in the mid-16th century after Spaniards introduced the tomato (a New World fruit) to Europe. The original recipe did not contain seafood, so it was resistant to spoilage due to the high acid content of tomatoes. This made it ideal for lengthy sea voyages hundreds of years before refrigeration methods were invented.

Noci-- pounded walnuts and pine nuts with oil, garlic and chopped parsley. This sauce is easy to make and the walnuts give it a robust aroma and unique taste.

Pesto-- oil, grated cheese, pine nuts, basil and garlic pounded into a paste. Oiginating in Genoa in the Liguria region of northern Italy, pesto alla genovese consists of crushed garlic, basil, and European pine nuts blended with olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Fiore Sardo (cheese made from sheep's milk).

Pomidoro - Translated as “golden apple”, the name came from the first tomatoes to arrive in Italy from the New World, which were all yellow! A pomodoro sauce is a lot like the marinara sauce only it's thicker, but still liquid. It feels a lot like minced tomatoes in your mouth rather than the chunks. Since it simmers for a short period of time it retains a lot of its bright red/orange color as opposed to the deeper red of sauces that simmer for hours. While some of the olive oil blends with the tomatoes, some of it does not. So the olive oil lends a shimmery orange color to the pasta and maybe even adds a slightly velvety texture.

Tartufata-- truffle sauce flavored with Marsala or white wine and garlic. It's a delicious savory condiment that is made with onions and truffles. Not the sweet candy truffles, but the earthy, brown mushrooms that are so prized for gourmet meals.

Vongole-- clam sauce with onions, tomatoes, olive oil and garlic. This is a simple sauce made with clams, garlic, olive oil, peppers and a bit of parsley. In its purest state it contains no tomatoes, cream or cheese.

Vodka- Don’t worry if you are a non-drinker, the alcohol evaporates in the process of preparing the sauce.  It’s a simple and tasty sauce made with tomato sauce, vodka, and heavy cooking cream. It is usually added to penne pasta or rigatoni.

 

Buon Appetito!

Rob Prisco