Chef Dana is the owner of the award winning Desserts By Dana in Newark, DE. Chef Dana is a member of the Macys Culinary Council, Novo Nordisk Celebrity Chef Team, winner of TLC’s Cake Boss, Next Great Baker and more. For more information on Chef Dana visit Chefdana.com
CHEESECAKE FACTORY NEW MENU IS A HIT!

Greetings I’m your host and foodie, CHEF DANA

I had the pleasure of being invited to the Cheesecake Factory Philadelphia for the roll out of their new menu.  Myself along with a room full of foodies got to taste their latest additions and menu items.

       Marilyn of Philly Grub and Chef Dana

 The Cheesecake Factory rolls out a new menu twice a year.  Now this might not seem like a lot but you have to seriously take into account that they have 250 menu items.  Thats no small potatoes by any means.  As a chef myself I know the challenges and the effort behind not only conceptualizing a new menu, but let alone testing it, gathering feedback, training staff to change gears, and rolling it out.  Now imagine doing that for a restaurant.  Now imagine doing that for nearly 200 locations.  If you visit their website they even share some of their recipes for you to try at home Click Here  

The night started out with some drinks.  They included the Blood Orange Martini, Irish Coffee Manhattan, Espresso Martini and the Cucumber Mojito.  Now if anyone knows me I am a mojito fan but not so much a cucumber fan. WELL, the Cucumber Mojito was delicious.  Just the right amount of cucumber so that you could taste but not over powering with the cucumber.  You count still taste the mint and all the flavors of the mojito.  It was so good you wanted them to sit a pitcher of it on the table with a straw.

Next came some appetizers.  I got to try the Korean Fried Cauliflower and the Truffle Bacon Cheese Sticks.  Both were delicious.  The truffle on the cheesesticks stood out but wasnt too much.  The Korean Fried Cauliflower was a home run.  There was so much food that night but even when it got cold because we went on to other courses people kept going back to it.  Now you know its good when people even want it cold.  

CHICKEN MANGO AVOCADO SALAD

The Chicken Mango Avocado Salad was done as a demo before it was presented to us.  The salad portions are VERY generous.  SO much so that you can cut them in half and take some for lunch the next day.  I loved the flavors in the salad.  I love tropical fruits so the pineapple and mango were right up my alley.  I loved the crunch from the wontons too.  It gave the salad nice texture. GO TO THE END OF THE POST FOR THE RECIPE Courtesy of Cheesecake Factory.

The next item I tried was from the Skinnylicious Menu. It was the Chicken Pot Pie.  Now I know what you are thinking.  How did they do that.  Well it was one of my favorite things of the evening.  I was so impressed with the amount of flavor that they packed into this dish while still holding to 500 calories.  Well done.  The sauce was silky and full of herbs, and wonderful vegetables.  I remember mushrooms, peas, onions, and carrots.  It was great

Now onto dinner.  Now I must say that there wasn’t a thing I didn’t like.  Being a chef that has cooked at the James Beard House, and with the Macys Culinary Council, I can of course be opinionated, but they did a great job.  Now on to my favorites.

CHICKEN RIESLING

The area director told me I would love this dish.  He wasn’t lying.  The Chicken Riesling was one of my favorites.  The combination of bacon, mushrooms, onion and garlic in that riesling cream sauce definitely did the trick…Truth be told he may of had me at bacon but it is definitely worth the trip.  The noodles were buttered too.

 

CARNE ASADA STEAK MEDALLIONS

My wife Netesha and I were just riding in the car when she asked for something with some sort of Caribbean flair for dinner.  It brought me back to this dish and the way the meat was seasoned along with the sauteed peppers, onions, cilantro and fresh corn.  It had a wonderful sauce as well.  What Caribbean dish would be complete without some rice as well. 

 

PASTA NAPOLETANA

This dish was a definitely crowd pleaser in the room.  Everyone was trying to figure our what was on the noodles.  Being a foodie I tried the noodles by themselves before everything together.  As soon as the noodles hit your palette you knew there was something special about them.  The noodles had been tossed in what I believe is a light Parmesan and butter sauce.  The meat sauce was a delicious blend of Italian sausage, pepperoni, Homemeade meatballs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, onion and garlic in a tomato sauce.  

 

TRUFFLE HONEY CHICKEN

I am a fan of truffle when use the right way.  I remember my days in Four Season Boston when we made a home made truffle vinaigrette. The vinaigrette there was so good we would eat it by the spoonful.  The chicken reminded me of that.  The truffle wasn’t too strong but it was there and showed up in the right way.  Balanced with the honey it gave a nice lift to the fried chicken breast which was paired with mashed potatoes and asparagus.

 

The Cheesecake factory is so much more than the cheesecakes that Evelyn started making in her basement in the 1940’s.  Don’t get me wrong, they are good.  But you also have to take into account their beverages are delish,  and they are very consistent with their food, their style, and giving the customer value for the dollar.

I definitely recommend paying a visit to the Cheesecake factory and trying the new items on the menu below.  Let me know what you think of them.  Bon Appetit 

 

RECIPE: Chicken, Mango and Avocado Salad 
 
Ingredients
 
· 1 ea. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast (3 oz.)

· 1/8 tsp. Kosher Salt

· Pinch. Ground Black Pepper

· 1-1/2 tsp. Teriyaki Sauce*

· 2 oz. Romaine Lettuce, cut into 1” pieces

· 2 oz. Butter Lettuce, cut into 1” pieces

· 1 oz. Mixed Baby Lettuce

· 1/2 oz. Green Cabbage, sliced thin 1/8”

· 2 oz. Fresh Pineapple, cut into 1/2" pieces

· 1 oz. Fried Wonton Strips (optional)

· 1 oz. Carrots, julienned

· 1 oz. Red Peppers, julienned

· 1 oz. Cucumber, partially peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeded, sliced thin 1/8”

· 1-1/2 oz. Asian Sesame-Ginger Dressing*

· 1/2 oz. Balsamic Vinaigrette*

· 3/4 tsp. Honey

· 3/4 tsp. Orange Juice, freshly squeezed

· 1/2 ea. Avocado, medium, cut into 1/2” pieces

· 2 oz. Mango, peeled, seed removed, cut into 1/2” pieces

· 1 oz. Grape Tomatoes, cut in half

· 1/4 oz. Almonds Slivers, toasted

· 1/2 oz. Fried Wonton Strips (optional)

· 3/4 tsp. Mint, sliced thin 1/8”

· 1/4 tsp. Black/White Sesame Seeds, toasted
Directions
 
1. Season both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper.

2. Cook the chicken (grill or sauté) until done, basting several times with teriyaki sauce.

3. Pour the Asian Sesame-Ginger Dressing, Balsamic Vinaigrette, honey and orange juice into a small mixing bowl. Stir the ingredients together until thoroughly and evenly combined.
4. Place the lettuces, green cabbage, pineapple, fried wontons (optional), carrots, red pepper, cucumbers and mango into another mixing bowl.

5. Pour the dressing over and around the salad ingredients and gently toss together.

6. Place the salad mix evenly into a cold bowl, mounding it as high as possible.
7. Sprinkle the avocado and mango pieces all over the salad.

8. Place the grape tomatoes around the base of the salad. Sprinkle the almonds evenly over the salad.

9. Slice the chicken breast into three pieces and onto the lower portion of the salad.

10. Mound the fried wontons (optional) onto the center of the salad.

11. Sprinkle the sliced mint evenly over the salad.

12. Sprinkle the sesame seeds evenly over the salad.

Serves 1

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