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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Easter Brunch – a family tradition- Tuesday, March 31, 2015

In many homes the family starts their Easter Sunday at a sunrise church service followed by a delicious family meal of brunch. We thought that we’d share some of the recipes that have passed down from one generation to the next that make sharing Easter Sunday a wonderful family tradition.

If time is a concern (and when is it not?), many of these recipes can be prepared in advanced and then reheated just before the meal.

 

Hot Cross Buns

Fresh berry bruschetta

Asparagus-and-jack cheese frittata

Breakfast Strata Lorraine

Mimosas

 

 

Spicing Up Your Salads with Arugula- Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Most well-rounded dinner meals are served with a salad, but seldom does the salad become the center of much discussion. At a restaurant, often one of the toughest decisions you need to make is what dressing to order on your salad. It’s almost as if the greens and vegetables are inconsequential, and only the dressing contributes to the actual flavor and enjoyment of the salad.

Although the salad dressing served has a large impact on how much we may enjoy a salad, it’s often the mix of greens that make a salad either bland and unmemorable, or exciting and worth experiencing again.  One favorite of salad lovers everywhere is arugula. This pleasantly peppery green, grown along the Mediterranean since Roman times, has become increasingly popular around the world due to its versatility and flavor. Arugula also has a fairly distinctive appearance with its characteristic sword-shaped, deeply notched leaves. (Some varieties may boast leaves that are more oval in shape with fewer notches).

Because it is so potent on its own, arugula is typically mixed with other, milder greens for a salad with a nicely sharp, spicy edge. Arugula can also be used in pasta sauces and to top pizzas hot from the oven. Or, try it stirred into soups, folded into potato salads, made into a flavorful pesto, sautéed in olive oil, or wilted to serve as a bed for roasted or grilled meat, fish, and poultry.

Fresh arugula can be found in our store from spring through autumn. Be certain to handle arugula with care to avoid bruising its delicate leaves. Trim the thick stalk ends, if needed. Arugula bunches can trap soil and grit, so wash them well before serving. Immerse the leaves in cold water and then lift them out, letting the grit settle at the bottom. Repeat as necessary. Dry thoroughly in a salad spinner or gently shake them in a kitchen towel.

Like most salad greens, arugula is very low in calories and is high in vitamins A and C. A 1/2 cup serving is two calories.  It is also a good source of Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Zinc and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin K, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Manganese.

 

Here are a couple delicious recipes that use arugala:

Fennel-Crusted Beef Roast with White Beans, Tomatoes & Arugula

Roasted Peach and Nectarine Salad

 

 

Lamb can be a delicious red meat alternative- Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Most of us Americans are not accustomed to or very familiar with lamb as a red meat alternative, and as a result we often miss out on opportunities to enjoy it.  Although we don’t tend to eat much lamb, it is a major part of the diets in other parts of the world like France, Greece, Turkey, India, and large portions of Northern Africa and the Middle East.

Cooking lamb is really quite easy, and in addition to the information provided here, please don’t hesitate to ask me questions when visiting the store -- or send me an email at chris@priscosfamilymarket.com and I’ll do my best to answer. 

Let’s start with the basics.  First, like beef, the USDA inspects and grades lamb using the same grading method.  At Prisco’s we carry mostly USDA Choice and occasionally Prime, but never any grade below Choice.  Lamb comes from an animal that is less than one year old; those sheep slaughtered later are sold as mutton, which is a bit tougher. There are five major cuts of lamb: Shoulder, rack, shank, loin and leg.  Cooking lamb is no more difficult than other meats that you are more familiar with, but one thing that you can be certain of is that you will get a very rich flavor. 

For Easter we are featuring two special cuts, a leg of lamb and a rack of lamb.  The leg comes from the back haunches of the animal, and the most common cut includes the upper part of the leg only. Usually leg of lamb is sold without the shank attached, but you can also buy it with the shank, in which case, it's simply referred to as "shank-on leg."  Some people prefer this as it looks more traditional and dramatic on a serving platter, but there's no major advantage to having the shank, other than getting an extra soup bone!

Rare, Medium, or Well?

Personal preference should determine how long you cook your leg of lamb. Most folks prefer medium rare to medium — still tender, with a hint of pink.  All of these cooking times take into account the fact that you broil the lamb first to sear it. They also assume a resting period of at least 15 minutes, during which the lamb actually continues cooking internally. It's best, especially if you like rare or medium-rare lamb, to take it out at a lower temperature than those officially recommended by the USDA.  REMEMBER! These times are only guidelines. Depending on many factors, your lamb leg may roast slower or faster. Check after one hour and then continue roasting, checking frequently, until the lamb reaches your desired internal temperature.

  • Set your oven for roasting temperature at: 325°F
  • Rare: 125°F (about 15 minutes per pound)
  • Medium-Rare: 130°F to 135°F (about 20 minutes per pound)
  • Medium: 135°F to 140°F (about 25 minutes per pound)
  • Well-Done: 155°F to 165°F (about 30 minutes per pound)
  • Lamb Is already tender meat so don't overdo it!

Cooking your leg of lamb...What You Need

Ingredients

  • 5 to 7 pounds lamb leg, bone-in
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 3 stems fresh rosemary

Equipment

  • Roasting pan, with rack
  • Aluminum foil
  • Sharp chef's knife or carving knife, for carving

Instructions

  1. Take the leg of lamb out of the refrigerator about an hour before cooking so it comes to room temperature. This promotes faster, more even cooking. Rub the lamb with olive oil. Set the lamb in a rack inside a roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Broil for 5 minutes per side. Turn on the broiler and position a rack below so that the top of the meat is a few inches from the broiler element. Broil the lamb for 5 minutes or until the top of the lamb leg looks seared and browned.  Flip the lamb over and broil the other side.
  3. Top with garlic and rosemary. Take the lamb out of the oven. Turn off the broiler and set the oven temperature to 325°F. Reposition the oven rack to the middle of the oven. Mince the garlic and rosemary leaves. Flip the lamb leg over again and rub the top with the chopped garlic and rosemary.
  4. Cover the lamb loosely with foil. Tent the pan loosely with foil to keep the garlic and rosemary from burning. Put the lamb back in the oven and cook at 325°F for one hour.
  5. Remove the foil after an hour and take the temperature.Take the lamb's temperature and remove the foil. The lamb is ready (medium-rare to medium) when the temperature is 135°F (or above). At 135°F the lamb is cooked to rare, but it will continue cooking as it rests, so we recommend taking it out of the oven at 135° for medium-rare to medium. (Refer to the cooking chart above for general roasting times).
  6. If needed, continue cooking the lamb until done. Continue cooking the lamb (uncovered) until it reaches your preferred internal temperature. Check the temperature every 20 minutes until done. Important! Let the lamb rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.
  7. Carve the lamb. Turn the lamb so the bone is parallel to the cutting board. Make perpendicular slices to the bone, angling straight down until your knife hits the bone.  Then cut the lamb off the bone by slicing through the bottom of the slices with your knife parallel to the bone.

When you serve your leg of lamb, I highly recommend serving it with a mint pesto or mint jelly.  Check with anyone in the meat department for recipe cards for leg of lamb, as well as a recipe for rack of lamb.  I hope that you enjoy your Easter lamb.


Chris Tope - Meat manager

Comfort Food: Our answer to too much Winter! - Tuesday, March 17, 2015

About a month ago, when we were in the trough of the coldest February on record for the Chicago area, we were trying to come up with a theme for the ad this week...and all of us were suffering from a case of "cabin fever". We had just finished shoveling out from that huge snow storm on Super Bowl weekend, and the temperatures were doing their very best to jump up into double digits, but no one was feeling all that festive. As a group, however, we came up with a bit of Winter Wizardry and decided to run a sale on all the belly-filling, heart-warming foods we could think of, and we called it our Comfort Foods Event.

We realize, of course, that the idea of comfort food runs contrary to what all of us should be striving for: A healthy, well balanced diet low in starch, sugar and fats, and moderately sprinkled with red meats. However, every once in a while we all deserve a break, and we can afford to be a wee bit naughty on occasion -- thus allowing us to eat what we want, rather than what we are supposed to.

As we sat around the room sharing what each of us thought of when asked to describe their idea of comfort foods, you could hear the yumms and sighs of delight throughout the room. After the meeting, in quest of what we Americans consider our best comfort foods, I found no shortage of ideas on the internet.

To be clear, let me share what most people would agree is the definition of a comfort food: It is usually a warm dish that is rather simple to make using only a few ingredients, and very little, if anything, in it is considered healthy, so they should only be enjoyed occasionally and in moderation. For example, one of the members on our staff has a family favorite comfort food made to celebrate birthdays. It is nothing more than flour, salt milk and water dumplings cooked in rich melted butter (don’t even think of using low fat margarine), and these are served with a bowl of heavily sugared red, tart cherries. Try not to think about the carbs and calories -- they are off the chart!

My internet search also opened my eyes to something else... Although our country suffers from a very serious problem with obesity, we are not alone when it comes to loving our comfort food. Here are a few examples of International Comfort Foods I discovered:

Australia & New Zealand

  • Lamb stew

  • Bread & butter pudding

  • Steak & kidney pie

  • Vegemite on toast

Britain

  • Shepherd’s pie

  • Bread pudding

  • Sticky toffee pudding

  • Toad in the hole (sorry didn’t look it up.)

Poland

  • Smoked pork belly

  • Goulash

  • Sauerkraut soup

  • Vanilla pudding with raspberries

Italian

  • Eggplant Parmigiana

  • Macaroni with Zucchini and Mint

  • Sesame cookies

  • Stuffed Shells with Veal and Sweet Sausage

Mexico

  • Gorditas

  • Empanadas

  • Mexican Beef Stew

  • Refried Beans with Chorizo

Well, I do hope that I’ve whet your appetite for some delicious, belly-filling comfort, and I look forward to having you sample many of our staff choices over the next two weeks as we celebrate Comfort Food Days at Prisco's.

 

Beth

This won’t get your goat!- Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Adding goat cheese to salads has become popular in many restaurants lately; for many Americans, this has been their first exposure to goat cheese or goat milk. Worldwide, however, the use of goat milk is very common. More people drink the milk of goats than any other single animal.

The fats and proteins in goat milk are more easily digested than those in cow milk, and it's this increased digestibility that gives goat milk the preference over cow milk for many people -- especially infants and young children, the elderly, and those with digestive problems. Goat milk is naturally homogenized and it can be digested in less than 20 minutes, whereas cow milk can take almost all day.

Fresh goat milk has another health advantage over mechanically homogenized cow milk: It appears that when fat globules are forcibly broken up by mechanical means, an enzyme associated with milk fat, known as xanthine oxidase, is produced, which may penetrate the intestinal wall. Once this enzyme gets through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream, it can create scar damage in the heart and arteries, which in turn may stimulate the body to release cholesterol into the blood in an attempt to lay a protective fatty layer over the scarred areas. This can lead to arteriosclerosis.

As well as being more digestible than cow milk, goat milk tends to have a better buffering quality, which is good for the treatment of ulcers. Often people who are allergic to cow milk have no problem drinking goat milk. The fat molecules in goat milk are five times smaller than the fat molecules in cow milk.

Goat milk is also is higher in calcium, vitamin A and niacin than cow milk.

Source: American Dairy Goat Products Association

 

Here are some fun and interesting facts that you may not know about goats:

  • Goats were the first animals to be used for milk by humans.

  • Goats were first brought to America by Columbus in 1493.

  • Goats do not eat tin cans, clothing, or garbage, but are selective eaters when provided a well-balanced diet.

  • Before coins were used for money, goats were traded for silver because they were so valuable.

  • The pharaoh Cephranes thought so much of his goats that he had 2,234 buried with him.

  • Goats are very social creatures.

  • Wattles are those little tufts of hair that cover the skin that dangles from the throat of some goats. Wattles serve no function.

  • Goat meat is lower in fat and cholesterol compared to beef, pork, mutton, and poultry.

  • Approximately 1.5 million pounds of goat meat is imported into the U.S. every week from Australia and New Zealand, because domestic production and processing systems in this country cannot keep pace with demand.

  • Healthy kids (baby goats) can stand within minutes after birth and are able to move with the herd almost immediately.

  • The early explorers used goat skins for water and wine bottles when they traveled.

  • During biblical times, goat skins were used for writing parchment.

  • Goats’ and octopus’ eyes have rectangular pupils.

  • Coffee was first discovered when goat herders noticed the animals acting very energetic after nibbling on coffee beans.

  • Abraham Lincoln’s sons had two goats that lived in the white house with them.

  • In earlier centuries, goats were often used to nurse babies.

  • According to Roman history, on February 15th of each year, young men would run around wearing only the skins of goats and hit women with strips of goat skin, known as februa, to promote fertility. It is from this practice that the month of February gets its name.

  • The proper name for a group of goats is a "trip".

  • Goats are great swimmers.

  • Anything you make with cow's milk, you can make with goat's milk.

  • Goats use straw to scratch their backs.

  • Goats are great as stock animals. Goats are easier on the trail than other pack/stock animals. Properly conditioned, a goat can carry up to 25%-30% of its body weight.

Source: http://www.homesteadhomemaking.com/

Tags :  goats milk facts
Easter Baking Recipes- Tuesday, March 10, 2015

One of the best parts of any holiday -- aside from having fun with friends and family, of course -- is the food! Food is central to many celebrations; a varied (but not necessarily large) spread represents abundance, and socializing over a meal is a great way to strengthen emotional bonds -- especially among people who may only see each other a couple times per year.

To that end, here are a few baking recipes, courtesy of joyofbaking.com and food.com, that will help bring your family a little closer together...if only due to a shared interest in delectable things. Click on the title of each recipe for instructions.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons are a delicious combination of dried coconut, whole eggs, white sugar, and vanilla extract. Warm from the oven the contrast of a crispy exterior to a moist, soft and chewy interior is amazing. Enjoy them plain, dip the bottoms in melted chocolate, or just place a small chocolate chunk into the center of each cookie. This is such a quick and easy cookie to make that is sure to delight.

Orange Chiffon Cake

An Orange Chiffon Cake also has that wonderful light and spongy texture. Chiffon cakes contain both egg yolks and egg whites, along with baking powder, orange juice, and a liquid fat (in the form of oil). It is the oil that gives this cake its wonderful moist and tender crumb and keeps the cake soft even when refrigerated. This cake goes well with berries or topped with a light icing or whipped cream.

For the kids:

Easter Nests with Jellybean Eggs

We all know that kids love to help in the kitchen, so here is a recipe that they can be hands-on with and let their creativity shine. Depending on their age, this could even be something that you make together and leave out Saturday night with a note to the Easter Bunny asking that he hide them throughout the house.  

And something a little less sweet:

Easter-time Hot Cross Buns

An Easter tradition, these lightly sweetened cinnamon yeast buns feature tender little currants strewn throughout. An egg yolk wash gives these buns a browned, glossy finish, making a canvas for the namesake cross, a painting of milk and sugar icing.

What people often ask me about wine and wine drinking.- Tuesday, March 10, 2015

It’s not uncommon to get a number of questions every week from customers who are new to wine or plan on entertaining guests who are real wine lovers. Some wine enthusiasts take the whole subject far too seriously and come off as being wine snobs. No one likes a snob, so let’s try to take the mystery out of enjoying a nice bottle of wine.

Here is a list of the questions most often asked and what I believe are the straight forward answers.

How long will my wine last once it's opened?

Oxidation—which begins as soon as the cork is pulled—is the enemy of wine. Refrigeration will slow oxidation, but it doesn't stop it altogether. If you find yourself with a partially finished bottle, recork it, and if it’s a white put it in the refrigerator. Personal taste is the best guide, but in most instances once opened you should still be able to enjoy your bottle for three to five more days before its taste is truly compromised.

Should I decant?

Decanting does two things: separates the wine from any sediment that may have formed and aerates the wine. While some feel that extra boost of oxygen can open up a wine and give it extra life, others feel it makes a wine fade faster, and that swirling wine in a glass is sufficient aeration.

Again, this is often a matter of personal taste, but I tend to find decanting wine to be an extra and unnecessary step to enjoying it. Use a large, round wine glass and make a habit of swirling it around in the glass. If you taste a wine and it’s so “tight” that it needs decanting, you can pour it into a decanter; but remember, once decanted a wine loses some fruit to the air, and there’s no going back.

What's the deal with screw caps?

Screw caps are quickly replacing natural cork in many wine bottles. Because they are natural, corks are naturally irregular. Some produce great seals, others less so, resulting in different bottles of the same wine behaving differently as they age.

In addition, natural corks are prone to becoming corked: a chemical reaction which can happen when bleaching corks. When that occurs, the cork imparts wines with a taint known as TCA. On the other hand, screw caps are perfectly uniform and provide a perfect seal for your wine, avoiding the issues that might arise with cork-finished bottles. Many high-end wines now use screw caps, and they are the wave of the future. That being said, I think we all agree that uncorking a bottle is part of the mystique of drinking wine.

How should I store my wine?

Wines are affected by heat, light, and vibration. The tricks to storing wine are simple.

1) Keep the temperature below 70F.

2) Keep it dark.

3) Keep the bottle laying on its side so the wine touches the cork.

4) Leave the bottle alone (rotating the bottle won’t help).

 

I hope you find this helpful. Let’s all enjoy a nice bottle of wine.

 

Rob Prisco

 

Tags :  wine
Go Green the Natural Way- Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Growing up in a mostly Irish household, one tradition that I recall we kids always enjoyed was when our mom would add green food coloring to all sorts of things. Mashed potatoes, applesauce, cake batter and icing, milk, and oatmeal were tinted green -- and, oh yes, I even remember my dad and gramps getting green beer.

Of course some of the innocent fun of my childhood had to be set aside as, perhaps, not so good for our health. Artificial food color is now one of those things parents steer clear of, given that it has been linked to cancer, and hyperactivity in children. So who needs artificial coloring when Mother Nature can do the same thing in a totally healthy way? Here is a simple way to make safe green food coloring that you and your family will enjoy, and no, it will have no effect what-so-ever on the taste of the foods that you turn green.

Homemade Natural Green Food Coloring

Ingredients:

  • 2 handfuls spinach leaves

  • water

Directions:

Place spinach into a small saucepan. Add water so that the level of the water comes almost to the height of the spinach. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes, until water has reduced to about half. Carefully pour spinach and water into a blender and blend until completely smooth. Make sure your blender has a small hole to allow for the steam to escape. If your blender does not have this, let spinach and water cool before blending. Store in refrigerator.

A few things to keep in mind for when you use the food coloring:

  1. Your food will not taste like spinach.

  2. You will need to use more of the natural food coloring to get the same color punch that you would from just a few drops of artificial food coloring. As a result, you may need to use less of another liquid ingredient to compensate for the extra liquid in the coloring.

  3. The green color will be more natural -- less vibrant, but green never-the-less.

Getting the most from your St. Patrick’s Day meal- Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Over the next week or so our store will sell more corned beef than we will over the next fifty weeks combined. St. Patrick’s Day brings out the Irish in all of us and nothing is more synonymous with the feast day than a meal of corned beef, cabbage, red potatoes and carrots. This week and next, our store will, as always, be selling the finest quality USDA Choice grade corned beef available in several different cuts, but we want to be certain that you enjoy the full effect so we are going to throw in a free head of cabbage, a 5 lb. bag of red potatoes, a 3 lb. bag of yellow onions, and a 1 lb. bag of baby carrots ABSOLUTELY FREE with any $35 purchase. Since corned beef will be on the menu at nearly everyone’s home at some point over the next two weeks, we thought it would help to give you a bit more information, as well as cooking instructions for preparing your corned beef dinner.

Setting the record straight

We Americans have the misconceived notion that the eating of corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day is a tradition brought over from Ireland generations ago. Not so! No one in Ireland will be eating corned beef next week, though plenty of cabbage and potatoes will be consumed. Dubliners and Belfasters are more likely to mix cured ham like bacon (called a rasher) with their cabbage.

As it turns out, it was necessity that was the inventor of this American tradition. When the Irish emmigrated to the U.S. following the great potato famine between 1845 and 1852, they dearly missed the old sod and the great traditions that they had to leave behind. Irish immigrants who landed along the East Coast hankered for the bacon and cabbage they were accustomed to, but their Jewish neighbors had perfected an equally tasty, less expensive, and much more accessible dish called corned beef. Being resourceful and frugal, our Irish American forefathers made the switch to corned beef and started what has become a St. Patrick’s Day tradition, American-style.

Corned beef is traditionally made using brisket, which is taken from the cow’s front breast section. Since the cow usually exercises these parts, the precooked cuts are relatively lean. To select a good cut, first make sure the meat has a deep red color. You should also look for a nice layer of fat over the meat. Note that the meat will shrink as you cook, so pick up generous portions. Be assured that the only corned beef or beef briskets (if you are corning it yourself) sold at Prisco’s Family Market is USDA Choice grade.

Don’t lets the different cuts confuse you

When shoppers ask what cut to select, I often recommend the brisket which comes in point cuts or flat cuts. Point cuts are rounder and have more marbling, which means you can get more flavor and juiciness from the fat. The flat cuts are easier to slice uniformly and often folks buy a larger roast so that they have leftovers for cold cuts. Think Reuben sandwiches, yum! Choose the cut that best fits your needs. While point cuts may be tastier, well-cooked flat cuts offer a great deal of flavor. Leftover flat cuts are usually better for making sandwiches, since the lean meat slices and dices so cleanly.

Corned beef should not be rushed

Because the brisket or corned round both come from muscles that get a great deal of exercise, they tend to be leaner, which means that if not properly cooked they can be very tough and chewy. The less tender cuts of meat require slow, moist cooking to achieve their full potential. Excessively high heat will only make your meat tough, so make sure to simmer slowly. Your cooking time will depend on the amount of meat you are preparing. A good time gauge is approximately 50 minutes for every pound of beef, but you should keep an eye on it and simply stop when the meat is nice and tender. Cooking too long can cause the meat to fall apart, which is worse for sandwiches. To be on the safe side, U.S. Food and Safety Inspection recommends cooking raw corned beef to a minimum of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. In short, give yourself a lot of time, since the simmering process can take as long as 5 hours.

Don’t be shy about spice

Corned beef often comes with a packet of spices, but you may want to start from scratch. You can pick up a pickling spice blend from the spice section in our store or get creative and make your own. Spices that work well with corned beef include peppercorn, bay leaves, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, cloves, nutmeg, and mustard seed. You can also throw in some fresh garlic for added flavor. One more idea that you might consider: Adding a bottle of beer to the pot of water. The beer will soak in and infuse your meat with flavor while adding moisture. Since its St. Pat’s Day, why not select an Irish stout beer? But be aware that stronger varieties can be bitter.

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Chris Tope – Meat Manager