The Gwinnett Daily Post and Good Taste Gwinnett presenting sponsor Jackson EMC presented their second week of virtual cooking expos on Thursday.

Good Taste Gwinnett, Gwinnett Daily Post’s signature culinary event, is all virtual in 2020, but the core goals of this year’s program remain the same: to inform Gwinnett County residents about many of the best dining opportunities the county has to offer and to demonstrate some signature culinary prescience.

Aurora Theatre co-founder Anthony Rodriguez hosted the second episode that featured more culinary tips, cooking demonstrations and catering ideas from establishments across Gwinnett.

Registration for Good Taste Gwinnett is free and just by registering you are eligible to receive some of the many great prizes that will be given away during the four-week show. There are also a limited number of Chef’s Package and VIP tickets.

Packages can be purchased and upgraded at GoodTasteGwinnett.com. By registering for free, you are eligible to receive prizes. Gwinnett Daily Post and Jackson EMC are giving away eight per week for the first three weeks and all the grand prizes the final week. A Chefs or VIP package-holders are eligible for prizes that are earmarked exclusively for paid ticket holders.

Table of Contents

Rico’s World Kitchen: 3:52

Publix Apron Cooking School: 11:10

Universal Joint: 18:34

Proof of the Pudding: 25:23

D’Floridian Cuban Cuisine and Bar: 33:30

Rico’s elegant and simple pasta carbonara

Rico’s World Kitchen in Buford is famous for providing “world comfort cuisine.”

The first expo of Good Taste Gwinnett's Thursday show put one of those elegant meals on display. Chef Rico and Chef Jen from Rico’s World Kitchen demonstrated pasta carbonara.

The idea was that some of the ingredients could come from re-purposed leftovers. The chefs started with pre-made pasta, bacon, tomatoes from leftover salsa, Parmesan cheese and some original Rico’s blackening seasoning.

Chef Rico and Jen started by heating a pan on high and added bacon to start caramelizing it. While the bacon cooked, Chef Jen began whisking eggs and mixed in Parmesan cheese for the makings of a sauce.

“Just enough Parmesan to build the base of my sauce,” Chef Jen said.

Once the bacon was brown, some blackening seasoning went into the pan. Chef Jen said some black pepper could make for a suitable replacement for Rico’s signature seasoning, but Rico’s World Kitchen was also sending customers home with blackening seasoning, either as a Christmas gift or for personal use at home.

“We’re going to let that toast and let the peppers and the aromas open up in that fat,” Chef Jen said.

After a few minutes, the cooked pasta was combined with the seasoned bacon and Chef Rico added pasta water to the pan. Chef Rico mixed pasta and seasoned bacon in the pan and added the egg and cheese mixture shortly after.

“It’s speed from here on out,” Chef Jen said. “You want to be thorough and keep mixing so that way your eggs don’t cook.”

Chef Rico lowered the heat and the sauce started to come together. Chef Jen said the pasta could be garnished with seasoned salmon or chicken.

Finally, Chef Rico elegantly plated the dish with finesse. He twirled a serving of pasta onto large tongs and deposited it onto the plate with an artistic flourish.

“It’s always nice to come back, once you have the pile of pasta, to garnish and give it a little addition to really fill up the plate,” Chef Jen said.

The pasta was topped with cheese, tomatoes and freshly chopped parsley.

Publix bread pudding with ‘easy’ pastry cream

Chef LB, who demonstrated a beer cheese recipe with Publix ingredients in the first episode of Good Taste Gwinnett, returned in Episode 2 with a blueberry bread pudding with lemon pastry cream.

“Bread pudding is actually one of the easiest desserts to make,” he said.

Chef LB mixed sugar, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg into a bowl of six eggs.

As he mixed the bowl, Chef LB recommended any dry bread be used for making the dessert. In the demonstration, Chef LB used croissants from Publix’s bakery.

Next, Chef LB added about two cups of milk to the egg mixture.

“Now we have a nice, easy custard base to go on our dried bread,” Chef LB said.

Chef LB used a separate container to create alternating layers of bread and blueberries. He put half of his bread chunks in a container and sprinkled some blueberries on top. Then he added the remaining bread on top. He topped that layer of bread with another layer of blueberries.

Then, Chef LB poured the custard on top, recommending it was best to let it soak. He said the custard and bread could even soak for a full night before going into an oven.

“If you want to do this part Day 1, then you have some friends coming over for breakfast, throw this in the over when they come over,” he said.

The second part of the dessert was the pastry cream. Chef LB started with a bowl of corn starch and sugar, then added a pinch of salt. Meanwhile, he simmered half-and-half in a pot on medium-high heat.

Chef LB added five eggs to his sugar and corn starch mix and whisked. Once the eggs and sugar mix was whisked, Chef LB slowly added the warm half-and-half. After mixing, he introduced his new mixture to the still-warm pan. He increased the heat slightly to thicken the cream.

“I want it to be a nappe,” he said. “Which means if I stick a spoon in there, it coats the back of the spoon and I can run my finger down it and it holds its consistency.”

Finally, Chef LB added about half a tablespoon of lemon zest to the cream.

The finished bread pudding was plated on top of the pastry cream on a saucer.

A deluxe Godfather Burger

Good Taste transitioned to Lawrenceville to visit the kitchen of Universal Joint, where Chef Rebecca demonstrated an 8-ounce angus burger.

At Universal Joint, it’s known affectionately as the Godfather Burger. The burger is intense, topped with marinara, ravioli, provolone and Parmesan cheese.

A cook seasoned the beef patty and grilled it to medium temperature on a flat-top grill.

The burger comes with a variety of health sides, such as cucumber salad or Brussels sprouts. Of course, a classic side of french fries is also an option.

While the burger cooked, Rebecca added ravioli and potatoes to the fryer.

The burger is cooked completely before provolone cheese is added to melt on top. While the cheese melts, buttered buns toasted next to it on the flat top. Once the cheese melted, Rebecca added ravioli to the burger and topped it with Parmesan.

Universal Joint offers a punch-card promotion that allows guests to check off eight burgers and get their ninth free.

Proof in the presentation

Chef Vagn Nielsen, executive chef at Proof of the Pudding, returned for a second episode of Good Taste Gwinnett to demonstrate presentation techniques.

Nielsen said he considers the size of a plate critical to presenting a meal elegantly, but the plate’s appearance is equally important.

“It’s all about the color of the plate and how the food will bound off of that,” he said.

Nielsen a large plate or bowl with a subtle centerpiece can improve the appearance of a dish. While white plates are common and help the food “bounce” off visually, Nielsen exhibited some solid-color plates and decorated plates. A unique plate can present a host’s personality.

Nielsen transitioned to providing tips for presenting disposable ware elegantly.

“There are so many unique pieces,” he said. “I just think you could put all different types of food in here.”

Nielsen displayed some examples of bamboo disposable ware, including small bowls and cones for salads. He said the bamboo disposable ware could also pair well with glassware for desserts and cocktails. The less they match, Nielsen said, the better.

“Don’t ever be afraid, just think outside the box,” Nielsen said.

In another example, Nielsen “plated” some crudites in flower pots for an elegant but organic style.

For some southern flair, Nielsen recommended using cast iron pots or pans to display dishes.

“Barbecue, steaks, potatoes - these are the perfect vessels for that type of food,” he said. “Rustic-type food works perfectly in cast iron.”

D’Floridian mojitos with fresh ingredients

Diana Camacho with D’Floridian Cuban Cuisine and Bar demonstrated the Downtown Lawrenceville restaurant’s signature mojito.

For the traditional Cuban drink, Camacho used fresh lime and fresh mint. She ground the lime and mint together dry in the mixing cup before adding rum and agave (which replaced sugar).

Camacho mixed the drink in a shaker with ice, poured it in a glass and capped it with some soda.

Want more Good Taste?

There are two more days of Good Taste Gwinnett on the calendar. The most recent episode and last week’s premiere are available to replay at GwinnettDailyPost.com and GoodTasteGwinnett.com.

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