When Life Gives You Lemons #pickingupthepieces

During Portia Joyce Wellness’s Beyond The Resolutions: 11-Day, Winter Clean Eating Program, I probably use about 2 whole lemons in one day. My morning lemon elixir, to get my digestive enzymes started and to release toxins from my liver, alone uses 1 whole lemon for juicing. Then, throughout my day, I can possibly use a lemon or two for a massaged kale salad, to give a pâté some acidity or to season a soup. Thinking ahead, I realized there is a much wasted ingredient every time I juice a lemon and throw it in the trash.



The lemon zest is an essential part of flavoring in modern day cooking. Citrus fruit have the outer layer called a peel. The peel is made up of two parts, the flavedo and the pith. The pith is the white under layer of the peel which gives the citrus fruit its bitter characteristics. The flavedo, which is what the zest comes from, is the outer most layer of the peel. It contains the essential oils in citrus that is key to flavoring dishes without the use of its juice. Using the zest eliminates the addition of liquid and the “sour” and/or “sweet” taste of the fruit. The zest gives us the basic, yet powerful, flavor and smell of the fruit itself.


1. MICROPLANE/GRATER: This ingenious tool is designed to finely grate zest from citrus fruit such as lemons, limes, and oranges (oh, my). However, I have used my microplane to finely grate Parmagianno-Reggiano or hard cheeses, finely mince garlic, top off my coffee with ground nutmeg, or even use it to finely grate dark chocolate to top off a panna cotta. Depending on the size of the microplane or grater, you will get a different coarseness of zest.

  4414ZESTER_07_10_2012__17_55_32_456  microplane-zester-L 

2. ZESTER/CHANNEL KNIFE: This is very useful when trying to remove strips of zest from citrus fruit for garnish or to chop up finely and use as zest. The beginning product comes out a bit larger than if you were to just grate a lemon for zest finely. The channeling knife produces larger and longer ribbons of zest. Usually found on the opposite end of the zester or right beneath it on the same metallic piece. This is a great way to store citrus zest before use. Once ready to use, you can finely chop these ribbons of zest into a finer product.

                                                      brio-bar-zester-largezest1-300x260           citrus-zester


3. PEELER or PAIRING KNIFE: This method produces the largest portions of zest. This is the best way to zest citrus for later use. Whether using a peeler or knife, you just remove the zest, which is the first layer of rind. You never want to remove the white pith part of a citrus fruit. It is the most bitter part of the citrus. Removing these larger pieces can give you the best advantage of more yield. You can then julienne, cutting into long strips, them into a zest size, then finely chop those strips into a fine grated size. This is my favorite way of zesting in bulk to store for later use!


I take the zest and use it in many aspects of my cooking. I add orange zest into coffee to make an orange spiced coffee and some added cinnamon for more flavor. I always use lemon zest in making my homemade vinaigrettes or dressings. This is the best way I know to add the lemony citrus flavor to my recipe without adding additional acidity or liquid. Zest is amazing any way you use it. So please, next time you know you are about to juice lemons for a cleanse, drink, or recipe, ZEST IT FIRST! You never know when you need that extra burst of citrus in your life.

Beer Braised, Coffee-Rubbed Prime Rib

Now this recipe came about by combining a few of my favorite recipes that I have encountered through my years at Whole Foods Market. This will definitely be a non-traditional recipe but will captivate your guests for its originality.

My Beer Braised, Coffee Rubbed Prime Rib serves about 14-16. It really depends on how hungry your crowd is. If you have kids at the dinner table, this will stretch to about 20 guests.  Just remember that every rib makes about 2-3 servings. Here it goes! Enjoy!


  • 7 rib, Standing Rib Roast (16-18 pounds; 2-3 pounds/rib)

  • Coffee Rub (below)
  • 2-3 bottles of Dechutes Jubelale or any holiday brewed ale, enough to cover vegetables


  • 4 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch celery, roughly chopped
  • 3 red onions, halved
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite red wine, preferably one that you are serving. I would chose a Burgundy or Merlot
  • Parsley, finely chopped, for garnish

Coffee Rub (from Lou Lambert’s Coffee-Rubbed Roasted Brisket):

  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely ground dark roast coffee (French Roast for best flavor)
  • 1/4 cup red chili pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup garlic powder


  1. Preheat your oven to 450°F. IMPORTANT: Keep roast out for at least 2 hours in room temperature for proper, even cooking.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients of the coffee rub and combine well.
  3. Arrange vegetables at the bottom of the roasting pan creating a platform for the roast.
  4. Take the rub and distribute evenly around entire roast. Concentrate on the topside of the roast Then, place the roast on top of the vegetables, fat side up/ribs pointing down. Make sure that your roast is placed evenly atop the veggies for even cooking.
  5. Take your Deschutes Jubelale and pour carefully over roast and in the pan. You want the beer to cover the vegetables entirely. (Since we don’t keep it covered for the first hour, the water in the beer will evaporate and the liquid will reduce down to a glaze.)
  6. Roast in the oven for the first 45 minutes uncovered. After searing the roast, lower the temperature to 325°F, then loosely cover the roasting pan for the remaining 3 hours and 30 minutes.
  7. Take your meat thermometer and insert in the thickest part of the roast (away from the ribs/bones) and it should read 125°F (rare). Remove the roast from the oven. Place the rib roast onto a platter or cutting board covered with the foil. DO NOT TOUCH THE ROAST WHATSOEVER! Let the roast rest for at least 15 to 20 minutes. The roast will continue to cook and the temperature should rise up to 135°F (mid rare).
  8. During the 10 minutes of rest, it’s time for you to finish off your jus/glaze. Remove your perfectly cooked maybe even carmelized vegetables and place them onto your serving platter. Turn up the heat on the stove and let the jus come to a boil. Add two tablespoons of whole wheat flour and mix thoroughly with a whisk. Mix in 1/2 a cup of your favorite red wine. I prefer a burgundy or a merlot. Remove from heat and serve. Garnish with chopped parsley and enjoy!

A few tips to consider:

  • For easy carving, ask your butcher to  cut the bones from the roast and reattach them with twine. The ribs offer flavor and proper cooking but with it being removed, it will be easier for you to carve and serve at the dinner table.
  • If you don’t have one yet, invest in a good meat thermometer. Ovens vary in power and temperatures so you can only really trust your own meat thermometer. Check this one out from Williams-Sonoma, the OXO Instant Read Thermometer.
  • When purchasing your Prime Rib, think about how many people you are serving. If you are looking for leftovers or generous portions, you want to remember 1 rib serves 2 people. If you are going to be serving a second roasted meat or if you want to control portions, serve 1 rib for 3-4 people. It all depends on the size that you carve.


Now don’t be afraid if this is your first time. I will be here for you to guide you through your holiday roast. Email me at florvilking@servemenow.org or just leave me a message and I’ll answer all your questions and concerns.


Enjoy & Happy Holidays

– Chef Flo

A Montclair Must


Out in Vegas, my “office hours” (basically time that I devote to updating all my social media outlets, answering foodie questions, and creating recipes) always consisted of 9:30AM to 2:45PM Mondays at the Starbucks a mile and a half from my daughter’s elementary school. I’ve been going to this wifi cafe, if you must, for the past two years. It kept my schedule for a blog post and correspondence on point and it provided me with that black cup o’ joe or unsweetened iced green tea to keep me going. If anything the only complaint that I ever had was that there was an annoying cold draft at every single seat in the place. Makes sense, they don’t want us setting up shop for too long but shoot, didn’t I buy plenty of hot libations in exchange for the wifi connection?!

Anyhow, being back in New Jersey, I needed to find a great spot for “office hours” whenever it was available to me. It’s a little bit different out here. You get to drive a little further than 30 minutes and find yourself in a quaint town with a cute cafe or even a suburban Starbucks. Or you can take the train into the City and prop yourself up at a Starbucks in front of a park or see the organized chaos that is New Yorkers hustling to catch the next train, cab, or bus. I love the plentiful options my new home offered but I still wanted that special place that can play as my muse or sanctuary.

I was driving to Montclair State University where I’ll be taking some classes (not degree program, just classes) to spruce up my nutrition/healthy eating background. Anyway, I was in the area needing to post a quick blog on my latest trip across the country. I found myself on my Yelp app searching for a “wifi cafe.” And there it was, with 4 stars, 13 reviews, and the closest location to me. The top two reviews, both by amount of stars and recent post, excited me even more about this place.

Liz D. said, “This is what so many places in Montclair TRY to be…but just can’t. Or won’t. Or are just incapable of being, because the lady who owns this place is ‘genuine.'” 5 Stars 5/12/12

Per L. says, “This little cafe is a perfect spot for lunch – especially on a nice day when you can sit outside. Great for kids, great for adults. Really, really nice!” 5 Stars 4/1/12

This is exactly what I needed, so I checked it out!


I pull up to park on the street and see that I need to pay a parking meter. I thought, “Oh, heck no!” So I pulled up a little further then caught a glimpse of the Montclair Public Library. What?! I thought my GPS brought me to Terra @ The Isabel Rose Cafe. I kept driving and saw a side street, no meters and I can park here at the time without any time restrictions, score! I walk over to the library and wonder what was going on. Then, I look just to the left of the library entrance and saw it…Terra! This place is attached to the public library? This place just got cooler and I haven’t even gone in yet.

With a chalk sign on the front lawn and few patio seats adorning the front, it just keeps giving me good vibes. Walking in, I saw a circular nook with window table tops and four free standing tables with a counter and kitchen good to fit four team members comfortably to create all the orders. A young gentleman, who turned out to be the owner’s son (at least I think so), greeted me and asked how he can help me. Looking over the chalk designed menu behind him, I ordered an unsweetened green iced tea and a special, the Jersey Bowl Salad. I asked him if it was ok to have vinegar just on the side and no oil. He turned over to Grace, his mother and the owner of the cafe, and she obliged with a smile!



The young man (sorry brother, totally forgot your name) served me my iced tea first because Grace was making my salad, freshly cut, my favorite. Once the salad came, I couldn’t help but smile myself. It had local green leaf lettuce, so light and buttery I thought it was butter lettuce, apples, local strawberries, fennel, and thinly sliced Walla Walla onions (I think that’s how you spell it, like the city in Washington state) which at first I thought were leeks. She served it with a slice of lemon and small bowl of red wine vinegar. The salad was so fresh and the apples and strawberries were so juicy that I didn’t even need the vinegar. It was perfect! Totally Jersey fresh and local.


After eating my salad, I checked out what she had for sale other than the fresh food and libations. Terra featured Fair Trade teas and chocolates, fresh local strawberries, organic and natural coffee, tea, drinks, and specialty gourmet honey, syrups, and other pantry items. There were also a few products I recognized because we sold them at Whole Foods Markets across the country like Simply Organic bread and cake mixes. Don’t quote me on this but I believe they are Gluten Free as well. They also sold tea pots, coffee & tea cups, and a special display contained all-natural loose teas! The cafe was adorned with plenty of art, probably created by the local artists and maybe school children. Directly behind where I was sitting, there was an Opus One (some great wine) crate of locally made soaps and beeswax candles.






They were from Tassot Apiaries, Inc. out of Milford, NJ which is only 60 miles away. Talk about LOCAL!



Need I say more?! Ok I will! Sitting there, I got to see a true local cafe do what it does best, take care of its community. Parents came in to pick up their pre-ordered local strawberries, probably like a co-op program. A mom and son came in to pick up a catering order of sandwiches decorated with edible pansies, if I’m mistaken. I overheard them talking about the nice platter the sandwiches were placed on and that instead of throwing it away or keeping it. They were going to return it to Grace so that they can reuse it. The mother was exposing being ‘green’ and reusing things to reduce waste. I swear I thought I was in a global warming commercial and I was happy!


I finally flagged the owner over. She introduced herself to me and I quickly thanked her for an amazing experience. I told her who I was and what I do and extended another “Thank You” for being there for the community. She told me that she’s been in business for six years but recently moved into the library. She was on a location on Church Street prior to the library but moved over when her lease ended. I think she made an amazing decision. Greetings from library employees and frequent community members said it all to me. The community was thankful she was there and Grace was only humbled by the gesture. Just like what Liz D. said on Yelp, the owner is “GENUINE!”


There are so many businesses these days that claim to offer an experience as genuine as this one but they are definitely far from it. A lot of current and future business owners need to take notes from Terra At the Isabel Rose Cafe. Being genuine and simply humble goes a hell of a long way. A true business not only offers services and goods but must offer a sense of community and quality in its interactions with it’s patrons. Grace, her son, and team does just this!

Do me a favor, if you are in the Montclair area or if you are parched searching for true sustenance in a great cup of tea and customer service, come and visit Grace at Terra. They’re located at the Montclair Public Library on 50 S. Fullerton Avenue in Montclair, NJ. It’s in the heart of Montclair just minutes from Montclair State University and the town center. You won’t be disappointed just incredibly pleased! Tell them King sent you!