Relish Your Turnips

Along with classes, I’ve had the vastly entertaining part-time job of assuming the role of Farmers’ Market Manager for our school. It’s difficult to decide exactly which part of the deal makes its way into my favorites category:

Getting to know local farmers and purveyors of artisanal food products (like fine yoghurt and goat cheese)… meeting the well over a thousand market shoppers we have each week in Boulder… decorating the bi-fold chalkboard with ChalkInk markers and my ‘recipe of the week’… or actually creating and testing the recipe attempting to use as many local and seasonal ingredients as I can.

There is a bit of an artsy dork hiding- arguably not well- inside me, and you can’t possibly imagine how fun it is to decorate the chalk board each week! I remember as a teenager wanting to be ‘that guy’ who decorates sidewalk signs for cafés or paints holiday themes on store windows. Fake snow and all. Happy sigh~

But this week playing around in the kitchen with some surprisingly sweet fresh turnips has taken the cake. Or at least some crackers or chips. Or maybe even your favorite sandwich. This refreshingly earthy and sweet, not to mention guilt-free, turnip relish tastes exactly like spring and summer should.

The following recipe incorporates several Colorado products which I’d love for you to explore if you’re even remotely local. But for those incredibly loyal readers from around the globe (I truly do appreciate you!) here are a few descriptions to help you find a similar product hopefully a bit closer to home.

Haystack Queso de Mano Goat Cheese is a raw milk, aged firm cheese with a robust flavor that serves as a fine compliment to the sweet notes of the turnips

 

Noosa Honey Yoghurt is a lightly sweetened cow’s milk yoghurt made with Colorado honey and grass fed, happily roaming Colorado cows~ another happy sigh

 

Japanese sweet white turnips, also known as salad turnips, are literally sweet enough to be eaten like an apple. I did, actually. And of course, keep the greens for a quick sauté or a slow, Southern-style simmer.

Sweet Turnip Relish

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb (about 6 large or 9 small) sweet white turnips coarsely chopped, greens removed
  • 1 cup Haystack Queso de Mano goat cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup Noosa Honey Yoghurt
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 pinches of salt, or to taste

Method:

Combine all ingredients except salt in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Season with salt to taste. Enjoy as a refreshing summer spread for crackers and chips, or as a condiment for burgers and sandwiches.

Yield: 2 cups (vegetarian, gluten free, nut free)

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Vermont Inspired Dinner for Twenty

Just as my ‘team’ in class had the fun of serving friends and family our rustic Italian inspired meal a couple weeks ago, the other half of class decided on an all-American dinner… with a little extra Vermont maple and white cheddar tossed in the mix.

We prepared most of the menu as a class, but when dining time rolled around, my team was able to sit and be served… quite a treat, actually! And the fuel for a leisurely natural light photo shoot. So enjoy a little home cookin’…culinary student style.

Amuse bouche to awake the palate: fried goat cheese round with balsamic reduction and citrus tossed micro greens…

Spinach salad with maple bacon balsamic dressing served in an asiago cheese bowl, and chilled vichyssoise with parsley puree and roasted red pepper oil…

A pork loin was given the royal rolled-up treatment: spinach, caramelized onions, tart green apples, and andouille sausage. Grilled spring asparagus, crispy onions and smashed red-skin potatoes… and cheddar jalapeño focaccia in the background…

Classic homestyle strawberry shortcake underwent an adult makeover: savory buttermilk biscuit topped with a compote of strawberry, maple, and orange liqueur… and whipped almond chantilly cream.

Two of my neighbors were sweet enough to keep me company and be my dinner guests. And if miles would permit… I’d set each of you a spot. Perhaps next time around~

Please be seated… sparkling or still?

If our twenty guests at last evening’s dinner had half as much fun as we did planning, preparing, cooking and serving… then it could be considered a smashing success. It truly was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Please join me for the photo recap…

So please be seated, look over tonight’s menu, and make yourself comfortable. Sparkling water or still?

Apertivo: sparkling kumquat soda

Antipasto: white bean crostini with orange arugula salad

Primo: hand shaped potato gnocchi in roasted garlic and bleu cheese creme with baby spinach and crisp leeks

Pane: ciabatta

Secondo: lemon herb roast quail
Contorno: fungi and oven-roasted tomato polenta with sautéed rapini

Dolce: traditional tiramisu

Digestivo: house limonata with candied kumquat ice cube

Caffe: espresso with cubed sugar

Thank you so much for letting me share a meal with you… the food was fine and the conversation lovely~ 😉

 

Tonight- let’s do dinner

Today is quite a special day at school. Our team of six students will treat family, other classmates, administration and our Chef Instructor to a multi-course dinner.

We’ve developed our menu start to finish from scratch, created and tested our own recipes, planned plating designs, and sourced the freshest and most local ingredients possible to create an Italian feast for our guests!

My side job was coordinating table decoration, menus, and a welcoming place setting… which is half the fun! Enjoy perusing our menu and mission, and a full photo account will definitely follow soon. If it were up to me, I’d set a place for each of you… buon appetito!

26 April 2012

  • Apertivo: sparkling kumquat soda
  • Antipasto: white bean crostini with orange arugula salad
  • Primo: hand shaped potato gnocchi in roasted garlic and bleu cheese creme with baby spinach and crisp leeks
  • Pane: ciabatta
  • Secondo: lemon herb roast quail
  • Contorno: fungi and oven-roasted tomato polenta with sautéed rapini
  • Dolce: traditional tiramisu
  • Digestivo: house limonata
  • Caffe: espresso with cubed sugar

Our Mission

We are excited to share a menu with you today based on a rustic Italian family style meal. Our hope is that you will relax and enjoy being part of our big family for the evening. Italians have truly mastered the art of using fresh, local and seasonal meats and produce to create simple, ingredient-forward cuisine. There is beauty in simplicity executed with mastery, and that’s our goal today.

From hand shaped potato gnocchi and kumquats candied for three weeks, to carefully marinated quail and mascarpone made from a local dairy’s milk and cream, we have attended to every detail to make your meal and your evening absolutely wonderful. So meet the rest of your “family” for the night, enjoy the beauty of Boulder and…

…buon appetito! 

Temper in the Kitchen

The past two days have been super-saturated with candies, confections, nuts and chocolates. Infrared thermometers, sugar-laden bubbling pots, and double boilers of tempering chocolate occupying all twenty-two gas burners transformed our kitchen into the sweetest science lab in Boulder County.

Tempering chocolate involves carefully bringing chocolate up to certain temperature, cooling down to another heat point, and seeding with properly crystallized chocolate to yield a perfectly tempered product that has a coveted shine and snap when broken. I actually think it tested the tempers of the temperers :).

And though I’m sure we’ve learned some valuable sugar and chocolate technique this week, I think the larger point to be made is the importance of a well-trained pastry chef.

homemade vanilla bean marshmallows

 

homemade honey marshmallows

We produced some winners for sure, but we also made plenty of candy that was too soft, ganache-based truffle fillings that were too runny to hold shape, brittle that wasn’t cooked quite long enough, caramel that went those few dreadful degrees too far…

For my colleagues planning to open restaurants in the future, I think the mental budget has been revamped to include a patissier, or pastry chef. For me, it confirms the decision to enter Pastry Arts training this fall.

And I think we’re all probably just a bit better for those decisions. I hope you have enjoyed la dolce vita today.