Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fall, Fairytale Mushrooms, and the 2012 Food & Nutrition Conference Workshop

Wild Mushrooms and Pasta with Gremolata - scroll to bottom for recipe

Participants having their chance at the beauties on set...

This is the set photograph. My set-up AND shots done in minus-5 minutes! I need a rematch...
 Roasted Delicata Squash salad - scroll to bottom for recipe

Garlic Chive Cream Cheese-Crème Fraîche Spread with Grissini - scroll to bottom for recipe

Highlighting specific tools, their benefits, and ways to make "the familiar"  in food fresh or new
Photo: courtesy Liz Weiss
Photo: courtesy Rebecca Bitzer
Last week, I taught a four-hour workshop to over 80 registered nutritionists and dietitians as a new addition to their annual conference. With time - though not enough! - for everyone to get hands-on experience at three different sets, a slide presentation (about all kinds of goodies), and discussion on cooking and styling tips, tools, and sourcing  ingredients, it was nonstop. I had a wonderful time. Between sharing my wisdom hard-earned over the years, to running around during a ten-minute break to set up food at each of the three sets and pop a few shots to compare later (aaaahhhhh!! plus thirty or so pairs of eyes watching my every move as I worked my "magic"), I was at my most adaptable best. The eagerness and clarity of attention given to me by this group was so heartening. Thank you everyone, for helping make the day such a success. And, a special thanks to Janet, Liz, and Regan for helping create this essential piece in the conference puzzle.

To prepare, I had a blast getting up early to source the above mushrooms from great wild food gatherers Les Hook and Nova Kim, at the lovely New Amsterdam Market. I also felt a certain satisfaction at throwing together the quintessentially autumn salad of delicata squash, celery, toasted hazelnuts, and pomegranate seeds (which nicely held up - for an hour! - as people photographed it). As a surprise at the end of the day, I gave away all of the props laid out on the tables, passing along a piece of my studio to all who came. Fun!

Here are the recipes:

Wild Mushrooms and Pasta with Gremolata 
Adapted from the New York Times recipe, printed last week

A few handfuls of wild mushrooms of any kind that please you - I used Lobster, Matsutake, Red-capped Scabers, and some Slippery Jacks
Zest from 2 lemons
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
good extra virgin olive oil
a knob of butter
pasta whose shapes will catch the bits of gremolata mixture - think creases and folds, curls, etc. - I used nodi marini, which translates to "mariner's knot", and which you can find here

Combine the garlic, lemon zest, and parsely. Cover and set aside. Heat a couple glugs of olive oil and the butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Brush clean any debris from the mushrooms and slice thinly, and toss them in. Let the mushrooms sweat, and then stir to brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add more olive oil or butter as necessary, along with s & p to taste. Meanwhile, boil pasta in salted water timed according to package instructions, al dente. Drain, toss into a bowl with gremolata, adding additional olive oil to lubricate the mixture, and stir in mushrooms. Season with s & p to taste. You may add grated pecorino or parmesan, but with mushrooms this good, their rich flavors are so savory that the cheese would lay them to waste. Add a nice black-fruit round red wine, and you are set.

Roasted Delicata Squash Salad
This recipe is less about specific quantities, and more about what you are in the mood for, proportion-wise...

Delicata squash, rinsed, halved and sliced into 1/4-inch thick pieces
1 pomegranate, seeds removed
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted
celery ribs, sliced thinly on a mandoline
good extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar
s & p to taste

Lay the squash half-rings onto a baking sheet. Paint with olive oil and season with s & p. Roast at 325 degrees for a half hour, or until nicely caramelized on one side. Let cool on a wire rack. Toss together the delicata, celery, and pomegranate seeds in a mixing bowl, and transfer to a serving platter. Scatter hazelnuts and drizzle with oil and vinegar. Season with freshly cracked pepper and sea salt, and enjoy.

Garlic Chive-Cream Cheese-Crème Fraîche Spread
...kind of like the best boursin around...

2 8-oz packages cream cheese (buy grass-fed if you can)
2 heaping tbsp crème fraîche (same, here)
2 good tbsp finely chopped garlic chives
s & p to taste

Fold all ingredients together until well combined. Great with grissini, olive bread, tortilla chips, as a veg dip, and with many other foods. Easy-peasy!

I am having so many great experiences. Now that the workshop is behind me, there are many other projects on which to apply the finishing touches, or dive in and create. I will have a story in an internationally produced magazine which you can look forward to in 2013, along with just-completing new branding materials for a lifestyle guru, as well as numerous NYC locations I've scouted and photographed for a website soon-to-launch. There are more great projects coming to fruition....I feel quite grateful at the chance to get creative with all of the wonderful people in each different realm. Wooo-hooo!!!