It is difficult to believe how much can happen in just a couple of weeks. Sorry if I left you hanging dear reader (you're the reason why I take the time to update this thing right?).
This winter I started plotting the season ahead. For those of you keeping score at home, I have remained in the state of Pennsylvania for the summer. Though I still have debilitating wanderlust, I am now focusing on my passion for cooking and have found the opportunity to apprentice at a restaurant tucked away in the Lehigh Valley.
The modest 200 year old stagecoach inn is home to Bolete Restaurant; the blood, sweat, and tears of the Erin Shea and Lee Chizmar, a dynamic couple, producing one of the finest dining experiences in the region. I have been appointed to apprentice with Chef Lee as a part of the James Beard Women in Culinary Leadership Initiative, where I will be working with Chef for 6 months.
I first discovered Bolete 3 years ago while on tour with Outstanding in the Field and I was excited to return to my home state. The dinner was held at Blooming Glen Farm and Chef was preparing fresh mozzarella for the first course and planning to pull the curds minutes before plating... for 200+ people. Our crew was prepared for a delayed and chaotic start to the dinner.
When I saw Lee directing his crew, I was in awe of his composure, his tact and his ability to thoughtfully communicate his vision to his crew. He plated the first course effortlessly, and our crew was taken aback. I knew then he was both a great Chef and teacher.
I am wholeheartedly passionate about cooking and bringing people together to celebrate food. I have a deep and intimate understanding of food and have spent my life learning as much as possible about the culinary arts. Professionally I have always found myself working in the front of house while longing to work in the back of house, but I had never found the right opportunity to do so. However, through self-education and entrepreneurship I have begun to build myself a basis in the back of house. At my own events I both manage the front of house and lead the back of house, but I know that I have much more to learn in my craft. This grant is the opportunity to discipline my skills by working professionally in an inspired kitchen.
I was ushered back into the food scene of Philadelphia at the start of spring and reconnected with many of my old friends in the city of brotherly love. I was asked to curate the Demo Kitchen at The Philly Farm and Food Fest (PF3) and was excited to put together a dynamic schedule of Philadelphia's premier movers and shakers to educate the public.
It was important to me to bring together an eclectic mix of chefs, butchers, farmers, mycologist, fermentors and apiarists in an attempt to represent an entire food system.
The weeks leading up to the festival were packed with meetings with chefs and farmers planning their demonstrations, which lead me all over the city and the countryside. I was particularly excited to work with Bryan Mayer and Andrew Wood of Russet for their Whole Lamb Butchery demonstration. Before the fest we went out to Wyebrook Farm in Honey Brook, Pennsylvania and slaughtered the first lamb of the season under the expertise of Bryan and Andrew. It was an honor to watch them work with such skill, and they were sure to educate the entire team during the process. Bryan performed a highly efficient and mindful slaughter, exemplifying the methodology I aspire to in all of my butchering projects.
Bryan wanted his demonstration at fest to be both educational and personal. He wanted to give reference to the animal, showing that it was once a living creature that was raised with care in idilic conditions. Andrew taught us about preparing the blood with vinegar for sausage making. He walked us through the organs and demonstrated that you could actually re-inflate the lungs after they were removed from the cavity. I had never seen an animal so expertly broken down and came out of the slaughter with a greater understanding and appreciation of the art of butchery. This is the drive guiding my journey: facilitating the propagation of this sacred knowledge to make the sacrifice of an animal worthwhile not only as a means for consumption but as a way of reconnecting on deeper level with the circle of life.
During the Whole Pig Butchery demonstration lead by Heather Thomason of Kensington Quarters and Brooks Miller of North Mountain Pastures, three vegan protesters started yelling in front of them. Shocked, I scrambled to tell these protesters that this wasn't the right fight, Brooks' pigs were the real deal, I had been to the farm, these pigs were loved and raised in the most humane way possible. Single-mindedly ignoring my pleas, they continued to yell. Dumbfounded, I saw a man and his family standing behind the protesters continuing to watch the demo. I then realized, there were more people there wanting to learn about butchering than the three vegans who were protesting against it. I motioned to the audience to rush the stage and displace the protesters, they dashed to the front and then stood, continuing to watch Heather and Brooks' work.
I understood why those vegans were there; industrial farming practices are a disgrace to our society. It is my hope that the animals that we sacrificed for the demonstrations at the Philly Farm and Food Fest were for a purpose, not just for human consumption but for educating the public. We need to shatter the absent referent surround meat; we must acknowledge that the meat we eat was once a living animal and that we should be honest with ourselves about the conditions in which was raised. It is my mission to promote the dismantling of a food system that is unconcerned with the unspeakable cruelty suffered by animals in the service of our addiction to a profligacy of cheap meat.
Pennsylvania Rye Berry Salad
1 cup rye berries
4 cups water
3 carrots, julienned
1 bunch ramps, sliced
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted & chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, sautéed
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
red pepper, salt & pepper, to taste
In a medium pot or a rice cooker, add rye berries and water. Bring to a boil, once boiling, cover and cook on low heat for 40 minutes. Checking every 15 minutes for firmness and water evaporation. Remove from heat and prepare salad.
In a small jar, mix together cider vinegar, olive oil, mustard, honey, red pepper, salt, and pepper.
Combine, carrots, ramps, mushrooms and walnuts. Toss in salad dressing. Add to prepared rye berries. Mix till combined.
5 stalks rhubarb, sliced
1 cup sugar
In a small pot over medium heat, add rhubarb, sugar and lemon. Cook for 5 minutes until rhubarb is shredded. Allow to cool. Serve along side cheese.
1 lb stinging nettles
1 lb dandelion greens
1 bunch garlic grass/chives
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 bulb fennel, chopped
1 cup cauliflower florets, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper, red pepper flake, to taste
In a medium stock pot, over medium heat bring 4 cups water to a boil with salt. Add garlic grass, dandelion green and nettles. Add onions, fennel and cook for 5-10 minutes. Add garlic, and cauliflower. Cook for 5 more minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add mint and lemon juice. Blend with a blender until smooth. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flake to taste.
Buttermilk Grapefruit Cake
3 cups cake flour*
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 grapefruits, peeled
Make sure your eggs and butter are at room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degree. On a large cookie sheet, lay out parchment paper and grease with butter.
Measure out all ingredients. Separate eggs.
In a large bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar. Fold in egg yolks and in thirds add flour mixture while slowly adding milk. Add vanilla. Beat egg whites until they form glossy peaks and fold in. Pour batter onto pan.
Bake for 25 minutes, rotating racks in oven around the 10 minute mark. Remove from oven and let cool. Run knife around sides of sheet pan. When completely cool, gently cut out desired cake size. I did 9 inches. Transfer the cake to desired serving plate lined with parchment paper.
1 cup sugar
1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup lemon juice(reserved from zested lemons )
salt, to taste
Zest 4 lemons. Combine with sugar. Cream butter and lemon sugar and add 1 egg at a time. Add lemon juice and salt.
Pour mixture in a small sauce pan and cook over low heat until thickened, stiring constantly until reached around 170 degrees. Remove from heat and pour through a sieve. Cool in fridge.
4 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
In a large mason jar. Add one cup of cream of time and shake until whipped. *You can also use an electric mixer.
Set 1st cake layer on pan and smooth out a dollop of lemon curd. Lay out a ring of grapefruit and repeat. Ice the outside of the cake with whipped cream.
*Lets be real, who has cake flour lying around? To substitute simply take all purpose flour and for every cup replace 2 tbsp with corn starch. Be sure to sift the mixture thoroughly (1 cup all purpose flour - 2 tbsp replaced + 2 tbsp corn starch, sifted 3 times over)
Spring Pea Salad
2 quarts spring peas
1 bunches mint
1 cup goat cheese, crumbled
slice radishes and peas. mince mint and chives. In a large bowl, stir everything together.
1/4 cup mustard
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon red pepper flake
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
In a small jar, mix together all ingredients. pour atop salad.