SOJ Chef Demo 11.24.12

Resampled_2012-11-24_09-51-07_523

Chef Sam sporting his No Shave November look.

At this week’s South of the James farmers’ market cooking demo, Chef Sam Baker transformed local, seasonal ingredients into a delicious dish for market shoppers. It was a cold and windy morning, so I was grateful that we had an abundance of fall vegetables at our disposal. Fall and winter veggies have a way of warming you to your core, don’t they?

Resampled_2012-11-24_09-10-59_851

Chef Sam gathered collard greens, butternut squash, and apples to incorporate into a pasta dish featuring Cavanna Pasta pumpkin ravioli.

Resampled_2012-11-24_09-11-09_431

Chef Sam knew he needed an additional ingredient to tie together the dish, and he found the answer in two types of goat cheese.

Resampled_2012-11-24_09-11-16_600

For the first time this season, Goats R Us brought some aged goat cheese to market. The Chef counted on the sharp tangy-ness of this hard goat cheese to elevate the flavors in his dish.

Resampled_2012-11-24_09-13-15_865

The second type of goat cheese used was Night Sky Farm’s semi-soft chevre, from which Chef Sam made a creamy sauce for the pumpkin ravioli.

Resampled_2012-11-24_09-40-21_29

The Chef demonstrated how to chop the greens into ribbons by first stacking and rolling the leaves into a log, then chopping thin strips from end to end. Chef Sam also showed market shoppers how to quickly peel and seed a butternut squash. In important lesson for safety and efficiency was to make cuts that allow you to lay the squash flat, so that it does not roll around while you are chopping it. After cutting the squash into cubes, the Chef steamed the butternut squash for several minutes.

Resampled_2012-11-24_09-58-57_402

After steaming the butternut squash, Chef Sam added the apples and greens to the sauté pan. Meanwhile, the Chef cooked the pumpkin ravioli in a large pot of boiling water, and heated the chevre with a bit of the pasta water to create a goat cheese sauce. Chef Sam then seasoned the vegetables and sauce with salt, pepper, and an herb and spice blend from The Village Garden.

Resampled_2012-11-24_10-20-06_239

Chef Sam then layered the squash, apples and greens over the ravioli, and topped them with the goat cheese sauce. Then he grated the aged goat cheese over top of the dish. Everyone agreed that the cheese sauce tied all of the ingredients together. The Chef recommended that this dish be made with pears instead for a different flavor. I thought the apples worked really well. Upon tasting the pasta dish from the sample boat, one bystander commented, “finally we can build a positive association with those paper hot dog boats!”

We have just one week left for the South of the James farmers’ market in Forest Hill Park. Stop by to see us next Saturday, December 1st, between 8:00 AM and noon, for our final demo of the season. On the following Saturday, the market moves to the Patrick Henry charter school for the winter.

Thank you to Cavanna Pasta, Drumheller Orchard, Goats R Us, Night Sky Farm, The Village Garden, Walnut Hill Farm, and all of our featured vendors for producing this week’s fresh and delicious ingredients!

Advertisements

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!

Fancy Tomato Sandwiches with Hummus and Goats R Us Greek Chevre Dip

Resampled_2012-08-10_19-48-50_806

When tomatoes are good, they are so very good. And when they are out of season, they are so very bad.

Resampled_2012-08-10_19-39-20_896

While we have the pleasure of seasonal tomatoes’ company, we should enjoy them every chance we get. However, some people get a little tired of tomatoes this time of year and need to change up their usual tomato sandwich. I suggest they trade up to this “fancy” tomato sandwich instead.

Resampled_2012-08-10_20-05-48_249

It’s easy enough to pack for lunch and sophisticated enough to make for dinner. Recently I made these on a Friday night when Kyle and I were headed out to Crossroads in Forest Hill to watch some live music. This sandwich was quick, easy, and very satisfying. It helped to lay a good carb and protein foundation for the libations we were about to consume, without filling us up so much that we couldn’t enjoy a beer (or three).

Resampled_2012-08-10_19-41-24_587

This sandwich is a tale of two spreads. In one corner, Greek Chevre Dip from Goats R Us (found at Ellwood Thompson’s Natural Market and the South of the James farmers’ market). In the other corner, homemade black bean hummus.

To make the black bean hummus, simply puree in a food processor: 1 can black beans (rinsed and drained), 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 clove garlic, 1 tablespoon fresh dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread the hummus on one slice of bread, and the Greek chevre dip on the other. If you don’t have the Greek chevre dip, substitute any fresh chevre or tzatziki.

Resampled_2012-08-10_19-48-28_741

You may see the rest of the ingredients in this sandwich and ask, “Black beans? Really? Why not white beans?” Sure, the flavors might make more sense with Cannelinis or Great Northerns, but the color of this hummus is the reason for black beans. It looks great opposite the white chevre dip, with bright red tomato and dark green spinach sandwiched in between. But really you could use whatever beans you want.

Resampled_2012-08-10_19-51-17_6

Stuff the sandwich with fresh sliced tomato and spinach. Add whatever other vegetables you have on hand. Cook each sandwich on a panini press or grill until dark brown grill marks appear and the sandwich is warmed throughout. Serve with a side of fresh veggies.

Resampled_2012-08-10_20-03-47_423

Asian Pear Pizza with Blue Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onions and Walnut Pesto

Resampled_2012-08-13_18-13-22_651

We picked up some Asian pears from Saunders Brothers Orchard at the farmers’ market this weekend.

Resampled_2012-08-12_19-36-43_655

We also picked up a very fancy grape leaf wrapped ripened Chesapeake Blue goat cheese from Sullivan’s Pond Farm.

Resampled_2012-08-11_09-45-07_499

With a little help from Serious Eats to perfect my onion caramelization method, and a batch of my basil pesto with just a few ingredient adjustments, we were in business.

Resampled_2012-08-12_20-44-20_460

Nutty, earthy pesto made with Victory Farms basil. Crisp, slightly sweet pears from Saunders Brothers. Caramelized red onion from Walnut Hill Farm. Tangy blue goat cheese from Sullivan’s Pond Farm. It was a locavore’s late summer feast!

Resampled_2012-08-13_18-13-43_148

I served this alongside a simple salad of fresh arugula with dried cherries, walnuts, and a berry walnut vinaigrette. Fresh cherries would be perfect this time of year too. There are a few steps to get the components just right, but this pizza is worth the extra effort. It looks impressive but is easy to make; it works on a weeknight family dinner or for company on the weekend.

Asian Pear Pizza with Blue Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onions and Walnut Pesto

Resampled_2012-08-13_18-13-11_970

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup walnut halves or pieces
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 recipe pizza dough, store bought or homemade (great recipe here)
  • 5 small Asian pears (or 3 large), thinly sliced
  • 2 oz. blue cheese (I used goat cheese but any kind will do)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over low-medium heat in a medium pan. Caramelize the red onions according to instructions here: How to Caramelize Onions.
  2. While the onions are cooking, make the pesto. In a food processor, combine basil, mint, walnuts, garlic, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Process until smooth. Add salt to taste.
  3. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add sliced Asian pears and cook for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside to dry.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  5. Roll out the pizza dough on a baking sheet or pizza pan. Top with pesto, sliced pears, and caramelized onions. Crumble the blue cheese over top.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes. Season with fresh ground black pepper.