This past Thursday, I attended my first event with VA Bloggers. I think that means that I am a real official blogger now, right?
This was a cooking demo at Kitchen Thyme, which is a rent-by-the-hour professional industrial kitchen in the RVA area. It was sponsored by Relay Foods, an online grocery store where you can order all sorts of foods, local produce, and other kitchen staples. They can even deliver right to you! One of my favorite features is that you can search items by vendor, category, previous purchases, and recipes. It is a very easy-to-use site, and I can’t wait to try it out. Check out the bottom of this post for an incredible coupon code for new users! You definitely have to check out their “About Relay Foods” section.
Our chef for the evening was Chef Tammy Brawley from The Green Kitchen. She was so personable and did a great job of sharing pointers throughout the presentation, on top of making all of the delicious foods for us.
Now, if you visit this blog at all, you probably know that I am no chef. Example: At one point in the evening, they asked all of us bloggers to say our favorite “green.” All of these women that cook and bake said all of these exotic-sounding greens (at least to me), and my response: “Spinach.” Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE greens and I will eat them all with no problem, but I don’t know the difference from kale to collards to mustard greens.
Note: As I was writing this post, I found this guide that may help other “greens novices” like me: http://localfoods.about.com/od/cookinggreens/ss/Types-Of-Cooking-Greens.htm.
Because I haven’t familiarized myself with the kitchen like some of those amazing VA Bloggers, this is going to be a dumbed-down version of the evening with incorrect cooking terms and mislabeled foods. I will do the best I can, but this is a cooking demo from the eyes of a non-cook.
We started the evening with kale chips. Don’t they look like they are going to be soft and chewy? Think again. They have a slight crunch taste to them and they are covered in olive oil, sea salt, and freshly grated parmesan. They were cooked in the oven at about 250 degrees for 2-3 hours. Light and crunchy and delicious. Here’s the after:
Next up: the ABC juice. Relay Foods sells this ABC Juicing Kit, but it just consists of apples (4 Fuji), beets (1), and carrots (2 lbs jumbo carrots). There is this earthy flavor to it (I could taste the carrots), but I loved it!
Next up: carrot pineapple muffins! My favorite part of these were the pineapple chunks and the just-out-of-the-oven warmth.
Chef Tammy talked to us about the difference that buying fresh pineapple makes when cooking. She also explained how to properly cut the pineapple without needing the contraption from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Cut the top off,
trim the sides (cutting out the brown parts of the leftover skin), cut large chunks down two parallel sides, cut the other sides, and you are left with the core and no wasted pineapple. It took her about 1 minute to cut it.
She had a lot of extras, so we all got to have fresh pineapple. Mmm. Delicious. Great job with your selection, Relay Foods!
Here is the batter for the muffins:
One point that Chef Tammy made, that is important for us hostesses to remember, is that you should start with the item that will take you the longest. Usually that is baking, so start with that one.
I will jump ahead to show what they looked like when they came out of the oven the first time.
Mmm! They looked and smelled amazing, but they jiggled, which meant that they needed to cook a little bit longer.
Finally they were finished, and we could eat them.
These looked amazing, and the fresh chunks of pineapple simply were delightful. I was surprised, however, at the fact that I just wanted more taste. Maybe it was the whole wheat flour or the agave nectar instead of sugar, but I just wanted something more. Maybe a bit more cinnamon? I don’t know. It still was good, and I enjoyed every last bit of it, but the flavor of it surprised me.
After the muffins went in the oven, it was time to start preparing the main course: lentil, olive, and mushroom veggie burgers.
Unfortunately, as soon as I saw the amount of mushrooms that were going to be in this dish, my heart sank. When I went through allergy testing last fall, mushrooms were one of the foods that I am allergic to. This doesn’t mean that I will go into anaphylactic shock if I eat them, but I will get sick if I eat too much of them. I was able to try this dish, but unfortunately, I couldn’t eat the whole thing (although it tasted amazing and I wanted to eat it all).
One pointer about washing mushrooms from Chef Tammy: Mushrooms hold a lot of moisture, so in order to clean whole mushrooms, simply take a damp paper towel to them. If you wash them, they will take in even more water. I believe Chef Tammy had the already-cut mushrooms for this (to make it easier).
She first made the mushroom mixture and then mixed it with the other ingredients.
She then made another terrific point: “Recipes are a guideline.” I loved that! In the recipe for these burgers listed above, there are some other steps in there that just do that, add steps. If you have a food processor like this one, you can just skip some steps and put them all together. Also, if you like more of this ingredient or that one, add them in or take something out. This is my method to cooking, and Tim likes to follow the recipe word-for-word. That is one reason why I don’t often cook when he is home. We do enjoy cooking together, but I will stray from recipes, and he wants to make sure everything is exact. I don’t blame him, as I have presented some iffy dishes because I wanted to try something on my own, but I still do like to experiment. It was nice to have a chef tell me that this type of cooking is okay.
Somewhere in there, we also had mustard greens with a creamy mustard sauce. While I don’t have pictures of the cooking of this, I do have the fresh mustard greens.
It wasn’t too creamy, but it was 100% delicious.
The after picture:
As the burgers were cooking in the oven, Chef Tammy and some of the other bloggers helped make the salads. We didn’t have enough of the lettuce, so a majority of the salad was made with kale. This gave it an interesting taste and texture, but I enjoyed it.
Chef Tammy likes to make salads for each plate, as when you make them in one big bowl, all of the good stuff goes to the bottom.
Here are just some final Chef Tammy Tidbits:
- The best vinaigrette dressing has mustard in it to help merge the dressing when the oil and vinegar separates.
-To make an avocado ripen faster, put it in your fridge. To keep is from ripening further, put it on your counter. Counter-intuitive, right?
-To keep an avocado fresh after cutting it, wrap it with a damp tap-water paper towel. Then, cover it with Saran Wrap.
So, don’t these foods look amazing? If you want to try out Relay Foods, I would recommend them in a heartbeat. We are actually going to try them out ourselves after tasting these delicious foods! If you are a first-time user, when you sign up on their website, enter coupon code “VABLOG” for $25 off a $50 purchase. Half-off for hand-selected locally-grown food? I’m there. Sign me up!