Recipes, inspirations, and more.
Recipes, inspirations, and more.

The Herb Series – Thyme

A member of the mint family, thyme is the third installment in our 5 part Herb Series. Thyme is a very common herb used in dishes with meats, soups and stews. It is a great source of iron, manganese, Vitamin K and dietary fiber.

Thyme can be used in both fresh and dried manners. However, when using fresh thyme, it must be used quickly as it does not hold well after being picked. Along those lines, thyme actually retains more flavors in dried form than most other herbs. Thyme is slow to release flavors so unlike other herbs that should be added at the end of cooking, thyme should be added during the cooking process to fully extract its flavors.

When adding thyme to your herb garden, be sure to store it in a hot sunny location with well-drained soil. Thyme can survive through a drought so don’t be shy about growing it in a desert home. Try taking some of your home grown thyme and use it in this great recipe from Chef Jean-Philippe.

Broccoli Soup

  • 3 lb Broccoli, shopped
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 Leek, sliced
  • 2 large potatoes diced
  • Fresh thyme
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Extra virgin olive Oil
  • 5 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp butter

In a large stainless steel pot heat up 1 tbsp. of olive oil and yellow onion, leek, broccoli for 5 minutes. Add potatoes, fresh thyme, pinch of sea salt and water or vegetable stock. Bring to boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes are cooked. Put in a blender with 2 tbsp. of butter. Taste and add sea salt and pepper if necessary. Serve in a soup bowl with stems of broccoli florets.



Farmers’ Market

I know you have heard us say this before, but we can’t stress enough the importance of quality ingredients. We say it constantly because it’s true, and that is why we do all of our shopping at our local farmers’ market. The farmers’ market gives us the opportunity to know where our ingredients come from, speak directly to the farmers, and always provide the best quality.  Every week Chef Jean-Philippe goes to two different farmers’ markets, one here in Thousand Oaks and one in Santa Barbara.

One of the great things about shopping at a local farmers’ market is that you will always be provided with ingredients that are fresh and in season. For example, right now we are in the peak of artichoke season. Just look at these beautiful artichokes that were at the Thousand Oaks farmers’ market.

Not only is a farmers’ market great for the ingredients, but also because the farmers are selling directly to you they are able to provide these quality items at a price less expensive than the grocery store.  There is a great selection; you can find everything like fresh herbs, vegetables, fruit, homemade breads, fresh seafood and lots of other items depending on the season. You can also visit the Ventura County Certified Farmers’ Market Association booth for lots of information on the vendors and seasonal items. For more information visit

Come and visit the Thousand Oaks Farmers’ Market every Thursday from 2pm-6pm at the Thousand Oaks Mall east end parking lot. If you have any questions please send an email to




The Herb Series – Dill

The second post in our Herb Series is all about Dill. I have found that dill is one of the herbs that are underrated. Originally from Eastern Europe, some people stay away from using dill because it has such a strong scent and flavor, but when used properly dill, or dill weed, can add a deliciously bright flavor to a dish. Utilized mostly in dip, herb butter, soup, salad and fish recipes, dill is best used when it is freshly picked.

The best way to do this is to grow dill in your herb garden at home. Dill is one of the easiest herbs to plant and harvest. It is best to plant dill in the warmer winter months. If you decide to grow dill in a pot, be sure to use a deep one to allow its roots to flourish.

Once it is ready for harvest, grab a sprig or two while you are cooking. Freshly chopped dill in a dish can bring such a bright, fresh flavor that is unlike anything else. Dill is great to throw in a summer salad with just a squeeze of lemon juice.

We have a delicious dish from Chef Jean-Philippe that will show you how to use dill in your own kitchen.

Fresh and Smoked Salmon Mousse on Baguette Crostini

  • 8 oz. Fresh Salmon (poached)
  • 4 oz. Smoked Salmon (fine sliced)
  • 1 Shallot (diced)
  • 2 Tbsp. Low-fat Greek Yogurt
  • 3 oz. Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh Dill (chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley (chopped)
  • ½ Lemon Juice
  • Salt and Pepper

Mix all the ingredients together and chill for few hours. Served on Baguette Crostini.



The Herb Series – Basil

This is the first of 5 articles that will be posted known as our Herb Series! We will be doing a short article on each herb individually and pairing it with a delicious recipe from Chef Jean-Philippe.


We will be starting our Herb Series with one of my favorite herbs to cook with… Basil! There are a few different types of basil but the most common type is sweet basil.

Basil is native to India and Persia but it is very easy to grow basil in your own home. A member of the mint family, the leaves can be used fresh or dried.  Coming from the Greek meaning “king” or “royal”, basil was always held in high regard. Basil is a great source of iron, calcium, potassium and vitamin C.

It is very easy to grow basil in your own home and have it at your fingertips anytime you want to cook. Basil thrives in warm, sunny areas and can be planted in a pot and kept on a sunny windowsill.

Chef Jean-Philippe has developed this recipe that uses fresh basil, now you can make this at your home or have it on the menu at your next event catered by AYS. Enjoy!

Farmers’ Market Yukon Gold Potato Salad

  • ·         1 lb. Yukon Gold New Potatoes
  • ·         2 Persian Cucumbers
  • ·         6 Cherry Tomatoes
  • ·         2 Shallots, diced
  • ·         10 Greek Olives
  • ·         1 Fresh White Corn on the Cob
  • ·         3 Small Balls Mozzarella Cheese
  • ·         ½ Handful of Toasted Pine Nuts
  • ·         Handful Fresh Basil, julienne
  • ·         Balsamic Vinaigrette

Blanch the potatoes and the corn, let them cool. Cut all the vegetables the same size and mix in a bowl. Add the vinaigrette, fresh basil, salt and pepper, toss well and serve in a platter.


10 Ingredients to Always Have in Your Pantry

When setting up your kitchen there are a few items that should always be at hand. Having the essentials makes it very easy to cook from scratch. With these 10 items you will always have a base to start a meal from!

1. Olive Oil: preferably extra virgin olive oil. This ingredient is used in a variety of dishes from salads dressings to marinades or just put a little bit on top of grilled fish to compliment the flavor.

2. Kosher Salt: I love kosher salt because it has wonderful flavor and contains no preservatives and it has a less salty taste than iodized salt.

3. Garlic: by far one of my favorite ingredients. Fresh garlic can be used in so many ways including salad dressings, in a rub, to infuse oils, with pasta, meat, salad, vegetables, fish and meat.

4. Eggs: can be utilized in breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eggs can be a meal in themselves, a base for a soufflé or a key ingredient in baking.  I only use organic or cage-free eggs.

5. Vinegar: I prefer sherry vinegar but whatever you like is fine.  Vinegar is a key ingredient that can be used in many dishes such as a base for vinaigrette that can be for salads or vegetable dishes.

6. Onions: onions are great because they can be manipulated into so many different flavors.  They can be used raw, to flavor a stock, or cooked slowly to create a delicious sauce or soup.

7. Hot Mustard: the most commonly used hot mustard is Dijon. When used correctly hot mustard can add just the right amount of spice to a dish.

8. Flour: a necessity in a French kitchen as a staple ingredient for baking.  I use whole wheat flour, or mix it with regular flour, when possible.

9. Sugar: also a key ingredient in baking.  I also use natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup when possible.

10. Peppercorns: I like to use mixed peppercorn with a good grinder (like Peugeot).

Having these 10 ingredients is a great way to start building a well-stocked kitchen.  Here’s an example – to make your own vinaigrette, mix one part vinegar for three parts of olive oil with 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons of Dijon mustard.  Add salt and pepper to taste and whisk together.  Voila!  In 2 minutes you have a delicious, preservative-free fresh dressing.

If you would like a kitchen consultation from Chef Jean-Philippe just send us an e-mail through our website or call AYS Catering at (805) 966-4574.

A Relationship With Food

We all know that food is imperative to our survival, but how we eat and what we eat are simply bonus questions. Humans are the only species to put so much time and effort into eating, it’s like it has become a sport.  We associate food with memories, holidays, special events, celebrations, coping with stress, etc. Through all of this there are those of us who have taken that relationship to a whole other level, we have made it our whole lives including our work.

In order to work in the food industry, you have to have a certain respect for food. Here at AYS chef, food is the most important part of our team.  Chef Jean-Philippe will stress over and over the importance of quality, fresh ingredients… and he’s right. Think about it, when was the last time you knew exactly what was in your food and where it came from? It is a refreshing feeling to sit down with a meal where all the ingredients were purchased at a local farmers market from a farmer within miles of your home. The treasure is in the peace of mind to eat without worry of preservatives, additives, and faux flavors. To eat a steak and truly taste the flavors of the meat. To enjoy vegetables that actually taste like vegetables, not like the butter they are covered in. So much of today’s food is meant to hide the true flavors of the ingredients behind butter, salt, and sauces. I invite you to take a trip back in time where the ingredients held the respect they deserved. Where a seafood dish tasted like the fish, where a pasta dish is cooked al dente and the starch is left in, where a salad holds all the flavors of the season.

This is what I believe quality food is. When we provide you with a meal, it comes with peace of mind. You will see us walk through the door with a basket of fresh ingredients purchased from a local farmer at the market. We handle all of our food with the respect it deserves, and at the end of the day… you will taste the difference.

French Intern now working with AYS Chef

Antoine Sangan

Antoine Sangan, a Master’s Degree student in Marketing at Université de Paris, has joined the AYS Chef team for a marketing internship. Antoine has developed a newsletter concept for AYS Chef that will be launched in May. Antoine is trading his marketing knowledge for learning about healthy eating from the AYS staff. He is getting back into running and enjoys the Southern California weather and shopping.  We are glad to have Antoine as a member of the AYS Team!