SOJ Chef Demo 11.24.12

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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?

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Pumpkin Chili

The weather is getting cooler and football season has begun, which means it’s time to break out the chili pot. I celebrated the Ravens’ victory last week with a big bowl of slow simmered pumpkin chili. The addition of pumpkin, cinnamon and white hominy to this vegetarian chili added another dimension of flavor that I really enjoyed. The hint of spice and squash made this the perfect pairing to a Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale to toast to the win.

Regardless of which team you support, whether it be pro football, college football, English Premier League, or your kids’ soccer team, this chili is a crowd pleaser when it’s cold outside and you have cheering to do. Even if all you are cheering for is “more pumpkin!” I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Pumpkin Chili

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • large onion, diced
  • bell pepper (any color; I used orange), diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1- 15 oz can diced tomatoes with jalapenos (or chiles for a milder flavor)
  • 1- 15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1- 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1- 15 oz can white hominy, drained
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1- 15 oz can pumpkin (plain, not pumpkin pie filling)
  • salt and pepper
  • hot sauce

Preparation:

  1. Heat oil in a large chili pot over medium high heat.
  2. Add onions and peppers and saute until onion is translucent and fragrant. Add minced garlic and cook, stirring, for 1-2 more minutes.
  3. Add chili powder and cumin, stir to coat and cook for 30 seconds while stirring.
  4. Add cinnamon, tomatoes, beans, hominy, tomato juice, and pumpkin. When it starts to simmer, turn heat down to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste.
  5. Serve with toppings: sour cream, cheese, cilantro, green onions and tortilla chips are all great options.

I served mine with pumpkin ale and cornbread muffins.

Every time I have this meal, the song “Beans and Cornbread” starts playing in my head. Remember that theme song from Dinner and Movie on TBS? Am I the only one who hears this song every time cornbread is near?

The “I Can’t Resist Posting About Pumpkin” Post

I love this time of year – have I said that before?

I always enjoy the transition to fall ingredients, especially the sudden abundance of pumpkin. I usually celebrate with pumpkin-flavored lattes, beers, and of course pie. This year, I am inspired to use pumpkin even more. I am looking forward to snagging my Mom’s pumpkin soup recipe and making it on my own for the first time. I would also like to take a crack at this pumpkin coconut curry I have heard so much about. And there is a spicy fall stew baked in a pumpkin that I have wanted to make for two years. 2010 might be the year that I go for it.

For now, I am experimenting with a big can of 100% pumpkin puree. I am finding that it isn’t just for pie and that it’s a great ingredient to have in your pantry this time of year. Here are two ways that I used pumpkin puree today.

Maple Pumpkin Oatmeal with Walnuts

It is about to start raining here again for a few days. It isn’t always easy to jump out of bed in the morning when you are cozy under your covers and listening to the soft patter of the rain on the windows. This oatmeal is definitely worth the few minutes of extra preparation (a little more prep and a little less sleep).

Ingredients:

1/2 cup oats

1 cup water

2-3 Tbsp canned pumpkin puree

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1 Tbsp maple syrup (or 2 Tbsp if you have a sweet tooth)

A palmful of walnut pieces

Preparation:

1. Mix the oats, water, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and maple syrup in a microwave safe bowl or mug.

2. Microwave on high for 2.5-3 minutes or until cooked.

3. Top with walnuts and enjoy!

This is also tasty with the addition of a handful of raisins. I can’t wait to try it with chocolate chips too.

Pumpkin Coffee Smoothie

This is a great way to get that delicious pumpkin latte taste on the days that a cold beverage would be more satisfying than a big mug of pumpkin spice. In Central Virginia, we tend to have warm weather throughout October and I am not always in the mood for a hot drink. This was so fast and easy to make that I prepared it in about 5 minutes on my lunch break then hopped in my car to head back to the office. My coworkers looked at me kind of funny when I told them what I was drinking, but I think they were just jealous.

Ingredients:

1 cup cold coffee

1/3 cup milk

3-4 Tbsp canned pumpkin puree

1 Tbsp brown sugar (oh yes…)

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp cinnamon

3-4 ice cubes

Preparation:

Combine ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Add one straw. Bliss.