Iron Chef – Locavore Edition

On Tuesday, Chef Rachel challenged us with preparing a unified set of dishes from produce from a Johnson’s Backyard Garden CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box, which was a fun challenge since we had no recipes to cook from. A CSA box is a box of produce from a farm or collection of farms and it’s a way of supporting locally produced food. My team decided on an Italian theme and we made a white pizza with beet “pepperonis,” a red leaf salad with mint and citrus, and a carrot cake. Of course, we knocked it out of the park. 🙂

Below: The goodies from Johnson’s Backyard Garden.

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A photographer from Johnson’s Backyard Garden showed up to shoot our use of their CSA boxes. Chard, Brussels sprouts greens, beets, mint, carrots, and more were included in this week’s box. The Natural Epicurean has been a heavy user of Johnson’s produce – we cook with it every day – and it’s nice to know that the school buys locally, so the produce is fresh, in season, and has minimal ecological impact from transportation.

Below: Photographer from Johnson’s Backyard Garden and a woman taking notes on our handiwork while Chef Rachel (center) looks on.

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Below: Some quinoa-stuffed tomatoes.

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Below: My team’s beet-pepperoni pizza (left), carrot cake (center), and citrus salad (above the cake).

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Below: An artfully assembled de-constructed beet-chard salad.

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Below: Me with two classmates after a successful morning of cooking. Fun! (Photo from Rachel Zierzow’s Facebook page.)

Veg on the Table

We got down and dirty with fungus and other bulb-y, root-y plants on Tuesday. I have developed a real appreciation for mushrooms in the past several months, so cooking them in school was a good thing for me.

Did You Know?

Mushrooms don’t use photosynthesis? They get their energy by basically eating away at the matter around them. They are considered parasites – but GOOD parasites because they are instrumental at breaking down and decaying matter, thereby contributing to the Circle of Life (cue the Lion King music 🙂 ).

You get to participate in the circle of life by cooking them down until tender with some olive oil, adding some stock perhaps, and eating them, herbivore style.

Below: Beech mushrooms. So cute! They actually have little faces that smile at you and sing songs. Not really. Just being silly.

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