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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Sake – the adult beverage of the East- Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Okay, this is the second week of our Asian food event and we have been enjoying a number of Chinese, Korean, Indian, Thai and Japanese recipes. However, I wonder how many of you have ventured into our beer & wine department and picked up a bottle of sake to try out a new taste to tickle you tongue? In our Western culture, sake does not play a very large role in beverage selections, but, as with exotic Asian foods, that has more to do with our lack of knowledge about sake than anything else. Let me arm you with just a little information and then encourage you to take a bold step, purchase a bottle, and experience sake for yourself.

If you check out our print ad, you will find that we have dedicated one page to describing our sake and Asian beer & wine offerings, so you can have some idea what you are looking at.

Sake is made from rice, water, yeast, and a mold known as Koji-kin, or Koji mold. But the land and the guilds of craftsmen who make the sake are also part of what gives each sake its unique flavor, aroma and taste. Here is a bit more about each of these “ingredients” -- although in truth, each topic could fill tomes.

The rice - There are nine different types of rice used to make Japanese sake, and each type yields specific flavor profiles. How sake is brewed and the water used are the other parts of the story. Finally, the degree of rice milling plays a major role in the final product.

The water - Sake in its completed form is about 80% pure water. The production process relies very heavily on good sources of pure water. The rice is washed, rinsed, and soaked before it ever gets close to the steaming process. Water is added to the fermenting process in the tanks along with additional of rice and koji (fermenting agent). Finally, a little water is almost always added at the end to bring the alcohol down from the naturally occurring twenty percent or so to around sixteen percent.

Yeast - Yeast in the production of sake is extremely important, as yeast influences many elements of sake taste -- most noticeably sake fragrance. And since our sense of taste is highly influenced by (if not dependent on) our sense of smell, this is crucially important.

Koji
– The fermenting agent, which is steamed rice that has had koji mold spores cultivated in it. Koji creates several enzymes as it propagates, and these are what break the starches in rice into sugars that can be fermented by the yeast cells, which then give off carbon dioxide and alcohol. Without koji, there is no sake.

There are four basic types of sake, and each requires a different brewing method.

Junmai-shu: This can be translated as pure rice sake. Nothing is used in its production except rice, water, and koji, the mold that converts the starch in the rice into fermentable and non-fermentable sugars. Junmai-shu is made with rice that has been polished (milled) so that at least 30% of the outer portion of each rice grain has been ground away. The taste of junmai-shu is usually a bit heavier and fuller than other types, and the acidity is often a touch higher as well.

Honjozo-shu: A sake to which a very small amount of distilled ethyl (called brewers alcohol) has been added to the fermenting sake at the final stages of production. (Water is added later, so that the overall alcohol content does not change.) Honjozo, like Junmai-shu, is made with rice that has been polished (milled) so that at least 30% of the outer portion of each rice grain has been ground away. This, plus the addition of distilled alcohol, makes the sake lighter, sometimes a bit drier, and in the opinion of many, easier to drink. It also makes the fragrance of the sake more prominent. Honjozo often makes a good candidate for warm sake.

Ginjo-shu:
This is sake made with rice that has been polished (milled) so that no more than 60% of its original size remains. In other words, at least the outer 40% has been ground away. This removes things like fats and proteins and other things that impede fermentation and cause off-flavors. But that is only the beginning: ginjo-shu is made in a very labor-intensive way, fermented at colder temperatures for a longer period of time. The flavor is more complex and delicate, and both the flavor and the fragrance are often (but not always) fruity and flowery.

Daiginjo-shu: Here the sake is ginjo-shu made with rice polished even more, so that no more than 50% of the original size of the grain remains. Some daiginjo is made with rice polished to as far as 35%, so that 65% is ground away before brewing. Daiginjo is made in even more painstaking ways, with even more labor intensive steps.

 

Now that you have all this knowledge at your fingertips why not pick up a couple bottles and see which type you like best.

Andy

 

 

If you slow down and enjoy your food you will lose weight- Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Did you ever think about all the catchy sayings we have about time management?

  • “Time waits for no man.”
  • “Slow and steady wins the race.”
  • “Move it or lose it.”
  • “Slow down and smell the roses.”
  • “Hurry up, time is a wasting.”

By nature we are an impatient lot, and we tend to let time manage our lives more than we manage our time. One area that most of us don’t even notice is the time we take eating. Often, what we do for a living tends to dictate how fast we eat. How often do you find yourself “grabbing a fast food” breakfast on the way to work, having a “quick bite” to eat for lunch, or “wolfing down dinner” in order to run off to a meeting at school?

Research has proven that the way we eat has a direct impact on our body weight. Most Americans eat too fast, and, as a result, they take in too many calories before they realize they've eaten enough. It takes approximately 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to send out signals of fullness.  Think about it this way:  If you eat an average of three bites per minute, by the time your brain gets the message that you have had enough to eat, you will have consumed sixty bites of food.

Leisurely eating allows ample time to trigger the signal from your brain that you are full. And feeling full translates into eating less. Not only does eating slowly and mindfully help you eat less, it enhances the pleasure of the dining experience.

Here are some tips to help you slow down, enjoy your food more and avoid over-eating:

1.  Chew your food.  I know, it sounds like something that your mother told you as a child. It's true, though. Chewing your food gives it more time on your tongue to enjoy,  breaks up the food (making it easier to digest), and slows down the eating process, thereby allowing your brain to recognize when you have eaten enough to satisfy your body's needs.

2.  Put down your knife and fork.  It sounds so simple yet it’s a tough lesson to put into practice. We hate to waste energy picking up our utensils with each mouthful, so we tend to hold our silverware in our hands. As a result, we are often in the process of cutting off the next bite before we've really had a chance to taste the previous.

3.  Remove the distractions.  Turn off the TV, put your cell phone in another room and let your calls go to voice mail, and carry on a conversation with your family and friends. But don’t forget the other rule that your mom taught you:  Never talk with food in your mouth. This is guaranteed to help you slow down the rate at which you eat.

4.  Drink water.  We all know that drinking lots of water is good for us, and many of us try to keep a glass or bottle of water handy for use throughout the day. Drinking water during a meal serves  the purpose of helping you start feeling fuller, faster.

5.  Don’t let yourself become famished.  When we are overly hungry we tend to eat very fast, frequently eating second and even third helpings. You'll find it easier to slow the pace if you eat regular, smaller meals at three or four hour intervals, rather two or three meals with several hours between them.

A primer on Asian cooking sauces- Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Since our theme over the next two weeks is Asian food, we thought that this would be a good time to introduce you to some of the primary condiments of Asian cooking, their sauces.  


Fish Sauce – Well this is one we westerners are certainly wary of. So, just what is fish sauce, and what is it used for?  Explaining what it is will certainly not make you want to run out and try it.  Fish sauce is an extremely salty, fishy-tasting brown liquid that is a by-product of fish fermentation. The fish is fermented in sea salt and water, then slowly pressed and strained. Fish sauce is great for adding a rich, salty flavor to savory dishes. It is often used in lieu of salt in Southeast Asian curries, and it works well in marinades, since the flavor is strong enough to penetrate the meat.  Put it in marinades, sauces, or curries instead of salt, but be sure to add just a little bit at a time so that it doesn’t overwhelm the dish.

Oyster Sauce - The purest form of oyster sauce is made by boiling oysters in their shells in water and cooking that liquid down to the desired flavor and thickness. Because of its thick, syrupy texture, oyster sauce clings well to food without having to be thickened or mixed with anything else. It’s great as a salty-sweet sauce for stir-fries.  In stir-fries, start by heating your oil and then sautéing your food a little bit. Then add oyster sauce. It will flavor your vegetables, and the liquid will help them cook a little faster, but if you add it too early, it will burn.

Tamari - Gluten-free soy sauce.  Because Tamari is 100% soy, it is less sweet than other soy sauces, and has a saltier, stronger savory flavor.  The flavor is more distinct than regular dark soy sauce, so a little will go a long way to season cooking liquid, vegetables, sauces, and marinades. Use tamari exactly as you would use soy sauce — as a condiment for rice or noodles, in dipping sauces, in marinades, or as a way to season meat and vegetables during cooking.  Technically, it is soy sauce, just a specific type.  Most other soy sauces have wheat included as part of the ingredients.

Sambal - is a type of chili sauce made by grinding fresh red chilis into a paste, traditionally with a mortar and pestle. Certain brands contain vinegar, lime juice, garlic, or other flavoring agents, but in its simplest form, sambal is made of only chilis, water, and salt.  Sambal is used for turning up the heat factor in your dishes and it will do so without adding any other unwanted flavors. It’s great in dishes with already complex flavor profiles.  In most cases, sambal is too spicy to eat as a condiment on its own. Put it in sauces, but make sure to add it incrementally and taste as you go along; the spice/heat  factor is serious.

Hoisin  - is a dark brown sauce made of sugar, fermented soy, vinegar, garlic, salt, chili, and various other spices. Often, wheat or potato starch is added to give hoisin sauce its thick, sticky texture.  Our closest cousin to hoisin sauce would be our BBQ sauce.  Because it has an intense, sweet flavor, hoisin sauce is best used when cooking meat, as opposed to starches or vegetables. The high sugar content makes it perfect for glazing meat, or as a condiment or dipping sauce.  Hoisin sauce can be served as a cold condiment all on its own (think Peking duck). If you want to cook with it as a glaze or as part of a sauce, be aware of its seriously high sugar content. Get it too hot and it will burn, making your whole dish taste bitter.

Rice vinegar - Though there are many variations of rice vinegar (black, red, seasoned, Chinese, Japanese), the most common and multipurpose variety is unseasoned white rice vinegar. It is less acidic and slightly sweeter than Western distilled vinegars, meaning that its flavor is milder and less sour.  Because of its relatively low acidity, rice vinegar doesn’t have the abrasive sourness of most other vinegars, thus is more subtle. It's perfect with raw vegetables, in a dipping sauce, or as a pickling liquid.   Try pouring it over sliced cucumbers and finely sliced onions.  Use it as you would use any other vinegar.

Mirin - a super-sweet, low-alcohol rice wine used widely in Japanese cuisine.  Compared with other rice wines (sake, for example), mirin has a low alcohol content, so it can add flavor to dishes without adding alcohol that will need to be cooked out. It also adds more sweetness than other wines or vinegars.  Mirin can be used anywhere as a substitute for vinegar or wine. It pairs especially well with fish, as its acidity masks the sometimes unpleasant fishy smell. Put it in glazes or marinades as a sugar element.

It's time to add a little adventure to your diet!- Tuesday, February 17, 2015

There are two food events I’d like to point out this week.  This Wednesday 2/18 is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of a six week period of Lent when our Catholic customers will be abstaining from eating meat on that day, and the Fridays throughout Lent.  Over that period, we will be featuring a number of meatless foods at great prices -- so watch the ads.  One sale you won’t want to miss is the buy one, get one FREE sale on Van de Kamp frozen fish fillets and fish stix.  What’s better than FREE?

Our other food theme is Asian foods, and this is something we can all have some fun with. Asian food was introduced to the United States in the mid-1800s when Chinese immigrants from Canton began settling in California. The first Chinese immigrants settled in San Francisco and were followed by thousands who helped to build the transcontinental railways.  It wasn’t until the 1920s, however, that Chinese food became popular with young cosmopolitan Americans because it was considered exotic.  While Chinese food was introduced to America in the mid-19th century, Vietnamese (Japanese, Thai, etc.) cuisine was generally unknown to mainstream American diners until the 1970s. It was during this period that we saw the emersion of fusion cuisine, a convergence of fresh foods, exotic tastes and interesting textures.

Tastes of the regions

Far too often we Americans tend to lump all Asian foods together as though they should all look and taste like Cantonese foods. When we stop to realize that Asia is the largest continent in both land mass and (by far) in population, we can expect to find a very broad offering of tastes, textures, smells, and ingredients. There are some common elements to all Asian regions, though. Rice, for example, is a common staple, and it can be found in or accompanying most entrees or sides.  Ginger and garlic are also ingredients you will find in many Asian dishes. What is exciting about tasting foods from different regions of Asia is the fact that, unlike our early misconceptions, one type of Asian food is not at all like the others.  For example:

  • Southwest Asian foods from India or Burma use plenty of potent spices and different peppers. Curry is a staple ingredient, as is rice and beans.
  • In Northeast Asia (China, Korea, and Japan), you will find wide spread use of different oils and homemade sauces to cook food. Korea is known for grilling and sautéing, while China and Japan rely on the freshness and variety in mild spices to flavor a dish.
  • The Southeast Asian kitchens of Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia cook their food lightly. Stir-fry is very popular because it is quick to cook. People in the Southeast region use lots of citrus sauces and mild spices and fresh herbs, like basil and cilantro.

As you visit our store over the next two weeks, we hope that you will have fun experimenting with different Asian foods; and to help you make the most of the experience, we will be sampling various dishes and will also be highlighting several recipes that should be easy to make at home. 

 

Have fun, and remember: For us Westerners, chop sticks are fun, but optional!


Beth

 

Gentlemen, this is for your information...Ladies need not read.- Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fair warning: You have less than a week to do something for the special women in your life that will endear you to their hearts. That’s right – this Saturday, February 14th, is Valentine’s Day. If you are a husband or a dad, one suggestion to get the attention of your wife and daughters is to explain that, as a special Valentine’s Day treat, you want to fix them a delicious meal. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Our store team is ready to assist you!

Start with some tender and juicy, heart-shaped USDA Choice New York Strip Steaks, or USDA Choice ribeye steaks. Or stop at the deli freezer and pick up a package or two of our frozen heart-shaped cheese ravioli. For dessert, again in our deli we are featuring hand dipped chocolate covered strawberries...mmmmmm good.

Here are some recipes just in case you need a little help and affirmation:

Grilled New York Strip Steaks

Bacon Baked Potatoes

Lite Caesar Salad

Be sure to stop in our wine department for some temptingly romantic Cupcake Red Velvet Wine. Finally, don’t leave without a stop at the bakery where you can find lots of heart-shaped sweet treats certain to melt your ladies' hearts.

You can do this buddy, no problem. But if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, have no fear! Prisco’s is here with fresh cut long stem roses for only $19.99 a dozen (while supplies last).

Don’t put this off, because we all know it a very short walk from the man cave to the dog house.

 

Taking the Mystery out of Beef Grades- Tuesday, February 10, 2015

If you are prone to reading grocery ads (other than ours), you may be wondering how it is that some grocers can sell what appear to be the same cuts of meat as Prisco’s, but at several dollars less per pound. The simple answer is, for the most part they can’t...and they don’t. What actually happens is that other retailers, in order to advertise a low price on, say, NY strip steaks or whole beef tenderloins, will sell a much lower grade of beef, and the untrained consumer will be duped into thinking that they are getting a great value. Actually, they are getting just what they are paying for -- an inferior cut of meat which is most often less tender, less juicy, and in general pretty tasteless.

What are the grades?

In the US, Beef is graded in two ways: quality grades for tenderness, juiciness and flavor; and yield grades for the amount of usable lean meat on the carcass. From a consumer standpoint, what do these quality beef grades mean?

Prime beef the highest grade of beef offered for sale. Less than 3% of the beef sold in the US is graded Prime beef. Prime is produced from young, well-fed beef cattle. It has abundant marbling (the amount of fat interspersed with lean meat), and is generally sold in restaurants and hotels.

Choice beef is high quality, but has less marbling than Prime. Choice roasts and steaks from the loin and rib will be very tender, juicy, and flavorful, and are suited for dry-heat cooking. Many of the less tender cuts can also be cooked with dry heat if not overcooked. Such cuts will be most tender if braised, roasted, or simmered with a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan. Roughly 53 % of beef sold and consumed in the US is graded Choice.

Select beef is very uniform in quality and normally leaner than the higher grades. It is fairly tender, but, because it has less marbling, it may lack some of the juiciness and flavor of the higher grades. Only the tender cuts should be cooked with dry heat. Other cuts should be marinated before cooking, or braised to obtain maximum tenderness and flavor. About 33% of beef sold in the US is graded Select.

Standard and Commercial grades of beef are frequently sold as ungraded. Utility, Cutter, and Canner grades of beef are seldom, if ever, sold at retail, but are used instead to make ground beef and processed products.

What does Prisco's Family Market offer?
We sell no grades lower than USDA Choice beef, never, under any circumstances, ever! Please read those ads and meat labels very closely and take into account these two very important facts:

  1. Never be fooled by the term US Government Inspected. By law, any beef, poultry, veal, lamb, or pork sold at retail in the US must be processed in a USDA government inspected processing plant. Such verbiage is a waste of ink and an insult to consumer intelligence.

  2. If the beef is not graded in the ad or on the package it’s assumed to be Select grade at best, and may actually be of a lower grade of from an older, tougher animal. If the ad or meat label reads Choice or Prime it’s safe to assume that it is that grade, because although US retailers are not bound to show the actual grade for any cut of beef, they are by law bound to only sell the grade listed on the package or in the ad, nothing less.

The next time you see an ad for $6.99 lb. whole beef tenderloin or strip steaks, look closely at the grade. Believe me, you won’t find one. If you decide to buy that ungraded piece of beef, get ready to exercise your gums because you will be getting just what you paid for -- select, standard, or commercial grade meat.

At Prisco’s we just won’t play that game. We offer excellent quality at a fair price, even when it’s not the lowest price. That is what we stand for…nothing less.

 

Margaret Prisco – Meat Manager

 

Tags :  beef grades
Have you tried our personal shopping service yet?- Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I had two things happen in our own family this past week that made me realize how nice it is to have a local grocery store in our neighborhood with a plan to help out neighbors when getting to the store just isn’t practical. We all know just how crippling this past weekend’s huge snow storm was; I’m sure many of you are still working on digging out as I write this note. I know we are. The second thing that happened over the weekend was the arrival of our first grandchild. Mom and Grandson are both doing well, but having just returned from the hospital grocery shopping will be a task that someone else will need to tackle... And here at Prisco’s, we have just the solution: Our personalized shopping and delivery service.

If you haven’t tried the service I’d encourage you to do so. It’s a great service available at a reasonable cost and often worth far more than we charge when you consider the convenience and amount of time saved, saying nothing about the dozens of neighbors we help shop for who really have no way to accomplish that themselves. If you or a family member are home-bound and living in the Aurora area, without a car or simply looking for some help managing your time, why not join the dozens of regular Prisco shoppers who use our personal shopping service? Simply write or type up your shopping list and fax it to us at 630-264-9901. For a nominal handling fee we will pick and pack your order for pickup by you or a friend or relative at a pre-agreed time. No Fax machine? No problem! For an additional $5 we can take your order down by phone for pickup or delivery.

We guarantee that the foods you receive will be of the same quality or perhaps better than those you'd select yourself. Nothing that we would not serve our own family is ever picked for our personal shopping service because we know if a customer isn’t 100% satisfied they won’t be a repeat shopper... Worse yet, they will share their dissatisfaction with others in their circle of family and friends.

We also offer home or office delivery of any grocery order to Aurora and the surrounding communities. For more information regarding delivery fees and availability, simply call our store at 630-264-9400.

 

Stay warm and safe,

Georgette Prisco

Some citrus varieties you should really make a point of trying!- Tuesday, February 3, 2015

For the next two weeks we are having a huge sale on lots of different types of citrus fruit which is a great way to get a good burst of Vitamin C. We would like to point out several out of the ordinary items available for a limited time at Prisco’s that you will want to make a point of adding to your shopping list. Many of these items are relatively unknown, so here is some information to make you a better informed consumer.

Honeybell Oranges - What's a Honeybell? Honeybell are exceptionally sweet and juicy citrus fruits that only reach peak ripeness during the month of January. Also known as Minneola tangelos, they are not actually oranges at all. They are a hybrid or cross between the Darcy variety of tangerine and either the Duncan or Bowen variety of grapefruit. This hybridization process, which some sources say can be traced back to ancient Asia, yields a tangelo with the coloring and size of a grapefruit and the sweetness and juiciness of a tangerine. The fruit is prized for its sweetness and relative scarcity, along with its abundant supply of juice. They're so rare, in fact, that less than one person in 3,000 has ever been lucky enough to taste this delicious fruit.

Cara Cara Navel Oranges - Cara Cara oranges, a type of navel orange grown in California's San Joaquin Valley, are available December through April. The bright orange exterior of Cara Cara oranges is similar to other navels, but their interior is a distinctive pinkish red, has an exceptionally sweet flavor with a tangy cranberry-like zing, and they’re seedless. Cara Caras, a cross between the Washington navel and the Brazilian Bahia navel, were first discovered in 1976 at Hacienda Cara Cara in Venezuela.

Cara Cara Oranges are a special variety of juicy, low acid, seedless navels packed with more natural nutrition and minerals to power a healthy immune system.

Heirloom Navels - The word heirloom itself means something that has been passed down from generation to generation. The heirloom navel is the same fruit that got California’s citrus industry booming. It’s the original or “old line” Washington Navel. The navel has been bred over the years to produce more fruit, easier, and faster without considering flavor. Heirloom navels are grown using certain farming practices. The grower gives special attention to the soil, just like it was done since navels were introduced to America from Brazil in the 1800s. The secret is to use the best root stock. The heirlooms grow best in a sour root stock. But this isn’t commonly used anymore because the trees don’t produce fruit as heavily or as quickly than in newer root stocks. Doing things the right way is what gives the heirloom navels their amazing taste. People who have tasted an heirloom navel orange swear there is no orange that can top its sweet taste.

Blood Oranges - Once you have tasted a good blood orange, you will never forget its superb flavor, a cross between an orange and a raspberry. Their rind and flesh are a deep red color. Blood oranges are very popular in Europe and are grown commercially in Mediterranean citrus regions. They haven't caught on in the United States primarily because their coloration is a bit unpredictable. Fruits grown in hot areas of California and Arizona usually develop the best color, but even their color intensity changes from year to year.

Pummelos - The largest fruit in the citrus family. They are usually compared to grapefruit because of their appearance; many people believe the pummelo may be one of the ancestors of the grapefruit. Pummelos do not need as much heat as grapefruit and they can be grown in most citrus areas. The largest, sweetest fruit is produced in hot climates; in cooler areas, fruit will be smaller and have a thicker rind, but it's still quite good. The fruit's soft, thick rind encloses white or pink flesh. Peeling and eating one for the first time is a memorable experience. The rind tears off and segments separate easily, but the surprise is the way the juice vesicles (the part you scoop out of a grapefruit) separate from the membrane. There is no chewy membrane or bitter rind. The flavor is delicious - mildly sweet without the bitterness common to grapefruit. The texture is firmer than most citrus and there is less juice, but they're definitely not dry. Pummelos are excellent in fruit salads or by themselves.