Show 210, February 11, 2017: Melba and Steve Artea, Crown City Toffee

Melba ArteaWe love inspirational entrepreneurial food success stories. For Melba Artea of Crown City Toffee it all started with a family recipe for toffee (with chocolate & nuts) and a pressing need to provide more financial resources for her Family. Husband, Steve, provides added guidance on the business side.

“Our English toffee is made with the freshest ingredients available. It is crispy with a wonderful buttery crunch and topped with a coat of creamy chocolate (milk or dark) with fresh-roasted almonds sprinkled on top.”

“Our Peanut Butter Drizzle is a huge favorite of many of our customers. It’s roasted peanuts topped over melted Peanut Butter Morsels and drizzled with milk chocolate.”

Crown City Toffee is part of the Pechanga Wine Festival. We’ll get the full story from Melba on her popular toffee line that started in her home kitchen. Based on demand they have graduated to producing in a commercial kitchen.

Update: About an hour and one-half into the 9th Annual Pechanga Wine Festival, Crown City Toffee was about sold out.

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Show 164, March 19, 2016: Julianna Abdallah, Earned Media Manager, Justin’s

Justin Gold The story of Justin’s began when Justin Gold, a lover of the active lifestyle, moved to Boulder, Colorado in his 20’s. In order to fuel his long bike rides, Justin embarked on a mission to create new varieties of nut butter that not only packed the protein, but also tasted great.He began crafting the very first batches of his now-famous, culinary nut butters in his home kitchen.

Justin’s family and friends encouraged him to start selling his nut butter at the Boulder Farmers’ Market. With the help of mentors and extensive research at Colorado University’s Leeds School of Business, he developed his first business plan. The jars of nut butter, filled with passion, were an instant hit at the Farmers’ Market.

Justin used this success as leverage to convince select retailers to allow him to stock their shelves and demo the nut butters in store. As a one-man operation, he tirelessly overcame one challenge after another and slowly the business grew.

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Show 164, March 19, 2016: Julianna Abdallah, Earned Media Manager, Justin’s Continues…

Justin Gold The story of Justin’s began when Justin Gold, a lover of the active lifestyle, moved to Boulder, Colorado in his 20’s. In order to fuel his long bike rides, Justin embarked on a mission to create new varieties of nut butter that not only packed the protein, but also tasted great. He began crafting the very first batches of his now-famous, culinary nut butters in his home kitchen.

The newest addition to the Justin’s line of products is a fun lifestyle cookbook, Justin My Kitchen – simple, delicious recipes in a nutshell. The effervescent author of the book, Julianna Abdallah, is our guest. She is also the Earned Media Manager fur Justin’s.

Julianna is a sweets’ person and is known around Justin’s for two of her “All The Treats.” It’s joked that her recipe for “Easiest Peanut Butter Cup Cookies Ever” perhaps got her hired and also of acclaim within the Justin’s Family is her “Maple Almond Butter Snickerdoodles.” Who are we to disagree? Both recipes are generously shared in the book.

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Show 36, July 20, 2013: Customer Service and Speculoos Cookie Butter

SupermarketProducer Andy sounded off about a less than satisfactory customer service story he experienced at his neighborhood chain grocery store. Is it acceptable customer service for a store employee to shrug off a simple customer request when the employee didn’t have a clue where a common item was stocked in his area. Shouldn’t a store employee have enough training and basic initiative to instead go ask  a co-worker who knows instead of giving up?

Next we jumped into the Speculoos Cookie Butter craze playing out at a Trader Joe’s near you.

Speculoos Cookie Butter from Trader Joe'sSpeculoos Cookie Butter is made by a small Danish company and is apparently a Trader Joe’s exclusive in the U.S. It comes in both a smooth and crunchy version. It tastes like the best fresh ginger bread you ever had with a kick. It’s incredible, melted, over ice cream when used like a fudge sauce. People use it like peanut butter but it has a much richer flavor profile.

Surprisingly it’s the number one selling product in all Trader Joe’s right now, and they seemingly can’t keep it on the shelf. The crunch variety is presently out of stock and they aren’t sure when it will be back. The explanation is the manufacturer makes one version at a time. The smooth, when you can find it, is limited to the purchase of two jars per customer.

Crazy but absolutely delicious …!

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Thai-Style Carrot Soup with Chrysanthemum Leaves

Melissa's World Variety Produce Yields 8 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped unpeeled fresh ginger
3½ cups fat-free, low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup light coconut milk
1/3 cup fat-free evaporated milk
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar or maple syrup
2 teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon Asian (roasted) sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon dried red chile flakes
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh chrysanthemum leaves

In a large pan or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onions, celery, garlic, and ginger; cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent. Add the broth, coconut milk, evaporated milk, lime juice, peanut butter, syrup, vinegar, fish sauce, sesame oil, coriander, turmeric, and chile flakes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the carrots are very tender. Remove from the heat.

Using a ladle, remove 1 cup of the broth and set aside. Process the remaining soup in batches in a food processor or blender until smooth; hold the lid down with a potholder if using a blender. Taste and season with salt and pepper. If the soup is too thick, stir in all or some of the reserved broth.

If making it ahead, refrigerate, covered, for up to 24 hours. Gently simmer on low heat until reheated. Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish each serving with chopped chrysanthemum leaves.

Meatless Alternative: Omit the fish sauce and substitute soy sauce.