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Fighting Hunger Is at the Heart of This Cookbook

An Interview with Chef Mark Eggerding of U.S. Foodservice

The nation’s high unemployment rate, plus cutbacks in school breakfast and lunch programs, along with the usual summer slump in food donations has prompted foodservice distributor U.S. Foodservice to launch “Operation STEM-ulus’ to help feed Americans who don’t have enough to eat.

At the heart of the program is a cookbook called ‘Recipes from the Heart.’ All proceeds from sales of the book will be given to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization.

The cookbook contains hundreds of recipes gathered from U.S. Foodservice employees from all over the country and all over the company. Cover price for the cookbook is $24.99, but during Operation STEM-ulus, it can be purchased for $14.99.

Click here for recipe and 'how to’ video for Heart Healthy Crab Cakes from the cookbook.

One of the key players in charge of compiling the cookbook was Chef Mark Eggerding, senior vice president of sales and marketing. The Food Channel had a chance to catch up with Mark and talk about Operation STEM-ulus.

How did the idea for ‘Recipes from the Heart’ come about?
Things are really tough out there now, for a lot of people. As we visited with food banks across the country, we saw the tremendous need. The USFS culinary group came up with the cookbook idea—it just seemed like a great way to help.

How did USFS decide to team up with Feeding America?
We have a partnership with their organization that began about 2½ years ago, and in that time we have raised more than $4 million in cash and/or food donations to the Feeding America network of food banks, so we already had an excellent relationship with them.

Chef Mark Eggerding

All the recipes came from USFS employees. How were they gathered?
We put the word out through all the regions and divisions of our company, and frankly, we were overwhelmed with the response. We received well over 1,500 recipes…from everyone from the CEO on down…drivers, associates of all kind. Then we took our culinary team, got everybody into a room together and went through them one at a time. We prepared and tasted many of the recipes, too. We chose the best of the best for the cookbook.

Do you have some favorites?
Well, there are so many great recipes in the book, but, yes, I do have a few personal favorites. I really like the Crab Fluffs, a recipe we got from Parkville, Maryland, using some good Maryland crabs. Another one I like is called Feed the Neighborhood Salsa. It’s a great recipe for feeding a crowd. There’s a recipe for Breakfast Risotto, which is really interesting. And another good one is the Google Custard, made with eggs and sugar, and fresh cream pudding, blended with kluski noodles. (These recipes can be found at the end of this interview.)

The cookbook is loaded with delicious recipes, and it’s such a good cause. The need has almost doubled in the past year. I was talking to one of the gentlemen who run the Cincinnati food bank the other day and he told me he sees some of the people who once donated now standing in the lines at the food pantry.

For more information or to order the Recipes from the Heart cookbook, visit U.S. Foodservice’s web site. While Recipes from the Heart is regularly priced at $24.99 plus shipping, the book can be purchased for just $14.99 plus shipping during Operation STEM-ulus through October 15. After that date, the price returns to $24.99 plus postage. Consumers who purchase the cookbook will be acknowledged on the Full Plates Full Lives web site for their support.

You can also order Recipes from the Heart by calling 1-800-328-9800, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

A Sampling of Recipes

Crab Fluffs

Ingredients for crab mixture
1pound crabmeat
½ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1 large egg
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Ingredients for batter
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon Old bay seasoning
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon celery seed
½ teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
2 eggs
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon prepared mustard
1-cup milk
Margarine, butter or oil for frying

Preparation for crab mixture
Remove all cartilage from the crabmeat and place the crabmeat in a bowl. In another bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, egg, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, salt, and pepper. Pour the mixture over the crabmeat and mix gently but not thoroughly. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more mayonnaise. Shape into 12 balls. Set aside.

Preparation for batter
In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, Old Bay seasoning, celery seed, and lemon-pepper seasoning. In a small bowl, beat the eggs; mix the mayonnaise and mustard. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture. Slowly stir the milk until the batter is the consistency of medium pancake batter. Coat crab balls one at a time with he batter and drop gently into hot fat (350€F). Cook until browned, then remove and drain. Coat balls again, cook in fat again until golden brown on all sides. Remove and drain. Serve immediately.

“Feeding The Neighborhood” Salsa

Ingredients
6 Roma tomatoes
1 yellow tomato
1 orange
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 orange pepper
1 yellow pepper
2 small cans of sliced olives
2 cans of shoepeg corn
2 cans of black-eyed peas
Fresh cilantro
1 bottle Robusto Italian dressing
Pinch of garlic salt
2 teaspoons lime juice
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
1 jar of chopped jalapeños (optional)
Tortilla chips

Preparation
Seed and chop all peppers and tomatoes. (Note: if yellow and orange tomatoes are not available, add a few extra Roma tomatoes.) Transfer to a large bowl. Drain the olives and add to the tomatoes and peppers. Add corn and black-eyed peas (undrained). Chop fresh cilantro to taste and add to the bowl. Add the Italian dressing, garlic salt, lime sugar, and jalapeños. Serve with the tortilla chips. Leftover salsa is great served with egg, fish, chicken, or burritos.

Risotto Colaziano (breakfast risotto)

Ingredients
3 cups of apple juice
2 sticks cinnamon, broken in half
Pinch of nutmeg
2 cups 1 percent low-fat milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1½ cups Arborio rice
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup raisins
¼ cup dark brown sugar for topping
½ cup milk or cream for topping

Preparation
In a saucepan, combine the apple juice, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; immediately reduce heat to low and keep warm. At the same time, in a separate saucepan, warm the milk over medium-low heat; turn off heat and keep warm.

In a large non-aluminum saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the rice and salt and stir with a wooden spoon until the rice begins to turn translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Ladle in about ½ cup of the hot apple juice and stir rice until it absorbs the juice. Continue adding juice about ¼ cup at a time until absorbed. When all the juice has been absorbed, ladle in the ½ cup of the warm milk along with the raisins. Stir until milk is absorbed. Add the remaining milk the same way, stirring after each addition until fully absorbed before adding more milk. All liquid will have been added and rice will be tender in about 30 minutes. Test a few kernels; they should be creamy on the outside but firm to the bite at the center.

Remove pan from heat, cover, and let stand for about 5 minutes. Ladle risotto into warmed individual bowls. Add the brown sugar and cream to taste.

Google Custard

Ingredients
1 bag of egg noodles
3 whole eggs
½ cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 large jar of applesauce
Cinnamon

Preparation
Cook egg noodles slightly. Beat the eggs with the sugar, vanilla, and applesauce. Add the egg noodles and mix well. Put into a flat casserole dish and sprinkle cinnamon on the top. Bake uncovered at 350€F for 30 minutes or until golden brown.