SOJ Chef Demo 11.03.12

The post is a week late, but the ingredients are still in season, so read on!

Resampled_2012-11-03_09-11-42_78

Last week at the South of the James farmers’ market, Chef Sam Baker got inspired by local seasonal ingredients to create healthy and delicious snacks for market shoppers. I had missed a few demonstrations due to wedding festivities and vacation, so I was really pumped to get back in the demo tent for a behind-the-scenes look at the Chef’s creations that day. Chef Sam found inspiration in a stack of large collard leaves from Walnut Hill Farm and a pack of Bombolini Pasta lasagna sheets.

Resampled_2012-11-03_08-35-06_267

The Chef planned to stuff the collard leaves and pasta with a mixture of fresh ingredients found at the market. He sautéed a medley of turnips, onion, kale, Brussels sprouts, and apple in oil, and seasoned the filling with salt and pepper. This mixture would go into dumplings that Chef Sam sampled to the crowd.

Resampled_2012-11-03_08-34-43_669

Then Chef Sam created a creamy dressing with Night Sky Farm basil and sunflower chevre, oil, vinegar and parsley. He explained that he would normally use a food processor, but given the limited resources at the market he had to quickly whisk the ingredients together to make the emulsion.

Resampled_2012-11-03_08-59-43_566

In addition to giving out tips on how to make your own salad dressing, Chef Sam entertained the audience with his original carved root vegetables. The crowd learned a few quick and easy recipes for homemade dressing that beats what you find in the bottle every time.

Resampled_2012-11-03_09-11-22_639

Before stuffing the dumplings, the Chef dropped the pasta sheets, one at a time, into boiling water, then removed them after just a few minutes once they were pliable.

Resampled_2012-11-03_09-42-19_705

He did the same with the collard leaves. The blanched collard leaves were used in place of pasta to offer some gluten-free dumplings. Chef Sam also used Empress Farm turkey cutlets to make some meat dumplings, and he included just the vegetable filling for a vegan option. There were several versions of dumplings for all kinds of market-goers.

Resampled_2012-11-03_11-44-50_33

After filling and wrapping the dumplings, Chef Sam placed them in a pan with oil and cooked them until brown and slightly crispy on both sides, flipping once halfway through cooking.

Resampled_2012-11-03_11-44-58_330

The dumplings were warm and soft on the inside while crispy on the outside. Steam escaped from the inside of each pocket when it was sliced open, and the hearty fall vegetables along with the creamy cheese sauce helped shoppers warm up on a very chilly day.

Resampled_2012-11-03_09-56-17_221

I never would have thought to use fresh lasagna sheets, cut to size, as dumpling wrappers, but this seemed to work really well. Every time I visit the demo tent I learn something new, and I can tell that I think about dinner differently since starting to document Sam’s adventures six months ago. Besides embracing seasonal ingredients even more than I did before, I think more creatively about how to put them together to put a meal on the table every night. If you have time to stop by on Saturday mornings, it is definitely worth the trip to the South of the James market to see Chef Sam Baker in action.

Resampled_2012-11-03_11-21-37_136

Thank you to Bombolini Pasta, Drumheller’s Orchard, Empress Farm, Night Sky Farms, Norma’s Produce, Walnut Hill Farm Produce, and all of our featured vendors for producing this week’s fresh and delicious ingredients!

Advertisements

Vegetable Dumplings

My friends laughed out loud. My own parents declared me insane. Kyle’s jaw dropped and his eyes opened wide as he said… “awwwesome.”

I had decided that I was going to create homemade dumplings and there was no convincing me otherwise. I thought that making veggie dumplings was going to be the most quaint and wonderful thing. . . until I actually made them. One by one, I placed a minuscule amount of filling in the center of a tiny won ton wrapper and then, one by one, I sealed and pinched them together. They were difficult, delicate, and nearly bored me to tears. And then one by one, they started to fall apart.

No worries, this is not a sad tale. There is a light at the end of this tunnel of noodle monotony, because they did, in fact, work out. On more than one occasion, I successfully made delicious dumplings. All I’m saying is, it takes some practice. I present to you the first time (and second time) I made dumplings.

Spinach and Tofu Dumplings

According to my browser, I first bookmarked this recipe from Food & Wine at 2:00 PM on January 21, 2008. I have wanted to make homemade dumplings for three years! A few weeks ago, I went for it. It was pretty easy to make the filling, but folding the dumplings proved challenging.

I followed the directions for sealing the dumplings, but even with water it was difficult to get the edges to stick together. I think I also overstuffed the first round of dumplings, so some of the edges tore when I folded them. I think the main reason I was having trouble was that the dice on the tofu was too large, and the cubes were a tough shape to fit into the miniature wrappers. About halfway through, I decided to mash the tofu into the spinach filling, which made things a lot easier.

When all the dumplings were stuffed and sealed, I popped them into a large pot of boiling water, and then removed them with a slotted spoon to a colander, and finally to a wax paper lined baking sheet. A little messy, but not too bad, right?

Unfortunately, not all of the dumplings made it.

But man did they taste good cold, with a little soy sauce, over a salad the next day. As for the hot dumplings that didn’t fall apart, I served them with TJ’s Gyoza Dipping Sauce as an appetizer before stir-fry.

So what happened to the dumplings that exploded in the pot?

This.

Not a pretty sight, but they did serve as inspiration for my next attempt at dumplings: hot and sour vegetable won ton soup.

Recipe coming soon!