Farm to Fork Dinner at Verrill Farm

homegrown

What is better than a summer dinner full of farm-fresh treats? How about enjoying that dinner outside, on the farm itself, surrounded by friends?

Take a break from the city and come celebrate the bounty of summer with the Culinary Guild of New England and the AIWF (American Institute of Wine and Food) for a special Summer Harvest Farm to Fork Dinner out at Verrill Farm!

hayrideFirst, we will enjoy a pre-dinner tractor drawn hayride that will take us through the fields to get a closer look at the crops. Then comes dinner — which will showcase the seasonal and fresh produce grown on the farm. Dinner will also show-off the culinary talents of a few of the Culinary Guild board members as well, such as Verrill Farm chefs Guida Ponte and Jennifer Verrill and Guy Crosby of Cook’s Illustrated.

Just a heads up — our dinner will be held rain or shine and we will be sitting outside. So, please (pretty, pretty please) remember to dress for the weather!

Want to join us for dinner? RSVP now!

Can’t wait until our dinner to enjoy the produce of summer? Try this recipe now — straight from the farm!


Verrill Farm’s Corn and Tomato Tart

This recipe got rave reviews at Verrill Farm’s 2004 Corn & Tomato Festival!

  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion – chopped
  • 1 garlic clove – chopped
  • 5 ears corn – uncooked – kernels off
  • 1/4 cup smoked cheddar cheese – shredded
  • 1/2 pint “Sweet 100” cherry tomatoes (these are a small variety and left whole – other varieties may be substituted)
  • 3 scallions – chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  1. Sauté onions & garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add the corn & cook 5 – 10 minutes.
  2. Season with salt & pepper to taste and remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Add 1/2 of the corn mixture to the pie shell. Layer shredded cheese on top and add the remaining portion of the corn mixture.
  4. Put the cherry tomatoes & scallions on top.
  5. Whisk eggs, milk, and cream together with a pinch of salt and pour over tart.
  6. Bake at 375°F for 30 mins or until set.

Variation: Add chopped bacon and/or jalapeno to the tart for some extra kick.

Notes: You can use either a pre-made pie crust or make your own. If making your own pie crust, check out Verrill Farm’s recipe that fits a 9″ – 10″ ceramic pie pan.

A tart pan may also be used.

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DIY Recap: How to Make Chocolate with Taza

by Marshall Bright, CGNE youth member

When I was a kid, my favorite part of Mr. Rogers were the segments when we got to visit a factory and see how things were made, so when I heard about the opportunity to go to a DIY event where we got to visit a real-live chocolate factory, I knew I had to go.

Touring the Taza Chocolate factory was a dream come true for both the Mr. Roger’s fan and food nerd in me. Located in Somerville, MA, Taza offers daily tours led by their super-knowledgeable guides. Taza makes Mexican-style organic, fair-trade chocolate, which is a far cry from the milky, super-sweet stuff sold at grocery store counters.

We began the tour learning about what chocolate beans get up to before arriving in Somerville. Our guide explained how the cacao beans are harvested, and how Taza works directly with farmers to get the best quality beans possible in their chocolate. We also learned what makes Mexican-style chocolate so different from what Americans typically eat. Mexican chocolate is stone-ground and typically sold in rounds. No milk is ever added, instead, just coarsely-ground cane sugar. With much more of a crunch and complexity than many European-style chocolates, Mexican-style chocolate is most often used in Latin America to melt into drinks much more comparable to coffee than hot chocolate.

Next we got to see where the beans are roasted. Roasting brings out a lot of the nuttiness in chocolate, and is a vital part of the process. This was also the step in the tour where we got to don our super-stylish hair nets. In the roasting room we got to try chocolate nibs, which is the shelled and roasted product halfway between cocoa beans and chocolate. Biting into it was a lot like sneaking a bite of the baker’s chocolate your mom had in the pantry when you were a kid. I knew no sugar was added, yet I was still taken aback by how bitter it tasted. We were then handed chocolate-covered nibs–much better.

Next, we got to see where the chocolate is wrapped and packaged. One thing that makes Taza unique is that, in one location, the chocolate is made from beans to bar. Many chocolate companies will start with “chocolate product,” not cacao beans. The “bean to bar” method is just one way that Taza ensures the highest quality ingredients go into their chocolate.

Photo by Finn of Eyes Wide Stomach: http://eyeswidestomach.wordpress.com/

Our last stop was getting to see the cacao beans turn from bitter nibs to sweet, rich chocolate. The chocolate is stone-ground by hand-carved wheels. These wheels were made by Taza founder Alex Whitmore, who fell in love with Mexican-style chocolate while traveling in Oaxaca. The hand-carved stones can only be made by master carvers and the tradition is typically handed down through family members. These stones, however, are carved right here in Somerville. He earned the title of master carver after apprenticing in Oaxaca for a year after his revelatory experience tasting Mexican chocolate.

After grinding the nibs and sugar, flavors are added like cinnamon, or salt and pepper. Surprisingly, that’s it–no waxes, gums, or preservatives (but you don’t have to worry about Taza going bad on you, it has a shelf life up to a year). Next, the mixture is plopped into molds (this was my favorite part) by a donut machine to make either circular or bar-shaped chocolate. The chocolate then goes to the packaging room where it is wrapped up and shipped out of the factory… or eaten up by hungry tour groups before it ever gets a chance to leave.

We ended the tour at the gift shop, sampling chocolate and grilling our ever-knowledgeable and gracious guide with more chocolate trivia. I was impressed they knew everything from the nitty gritty of fair trade certification to chocolate throughout history (I was a history major, I had to ask!). We even got to sample some drinking chocolate, a mix of the regular Mexican chocolate and chocolate seasoned with peppers for a kick.

We all left happy and full of free samples, having learned something about science, history, culture, social justice, and food. All in all, a highly successful way to spend a Wednesday afternoon.


Interested in joining us for a future DIY event? Visit the CGNE website to learn about future events.

An interview with WGBH event panelist Dan Souza

By Amy Scheuerman, CGNE vice president

Dan Souza is an Associate Editor for Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. Dan was the Test Kitchen Experiment Editor for The Science of Good Cooking and will be a star in the upcoming season of America’s Test Kitchen TV. We interviewed Dan to learn more about The Science of Good Cooking, his experiments with David Pogue and the NOVA team for Can I Eat That and how he went from being an English teacher in Hungary to studying the science of the perfect Thanksgiving turkey.


Amy: How did you first get interested in cooking?

Dan: I was interested in cooking from a young age, which I think most people are who get into this world. I didn’t get interested in cooking professionally until I went and tried teaching English in Hungary and I was quite poor at it. And one of my adult students was the chef at the local restaurant – and this was a village of like 1500 people, so this is a restaurant in the truest sense of the term – but was more making really old school Hungarian food for large groups of people. I was looking for something I’d really enjoy and I started cooking there on the weekends and fell in love with it and thought it was the best thing ever. We’d get like whole sides of beef from like the father of the bride for a wedding dinner and turn it into beef stew and goulash and all these things. So I started paying way more attention to that and didn’t have to worry about the fact that I was horrible at teaching.

Amy: Did you just abandon the kids?

Dan: Ha! No I actually started working cooking more into the lessons, which made me like teaching more.

Amy: Where did you attend culinary school and get your cooking chops?

Dan: When I came back from Hungary, I’d gone to school for business and communications and wanted to do something with that. So I worked in advertising as a copywriter. During that time I kept thinking “I kinda want to cook,” but it took me two years or so to convince myself that I could go make salads for a living and it would be okay. I finally did that. I was doing some freelance ad work with Dante and I just asked them if I could cook for them on weekends. They threw me into it, I screwed up a ton, they let me keep doing it, amazingly. And eventually the chef said to me, “If you want to do this, you’re kinda old in the grand scheme of restaurant cooking, so you might want to go to culinary school soon.” So I went to the CIA in Hyde Park and got an Associates there.

Amy: Did your interest in cooking science lead you to ATK, or did ATK increase your interest in cooking science?

Dan: There were times in culinary school that I wanted to know more and I turned to Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking, which I think is pretty common. I tried to look for answers on things and try to understand the whys. But I definitely came to science through food. I’m really a writer and a cook first. The science helped me to better understand the cooking. It really came to a head here [at America’s Test Kitchen] when I was really looking for ways to make recipes better or more functional.

Amy: What was the topic for the NOVA special?

Dan: Making the perfect turkey. We talked a lot about brining and salting. We did some stuffing. Talked about staling bread versus drying it out and what that does to the final texture. I know what I did was smash a lot of burgers with David Pogue to show the value of grinding your own meat.

Amy: When was it filmed?

Dan: We filmed in April.

Amy: So is it weird to be making a giant Thanksgiving feast in spring?

Dan: You know, it isn’t really for us, just because we work on a time table that’s so offset. We’re never really doing things at the right time, like holiday cookies in summer. I think that for most people it could be weird, but we’re very used to it at this point. Like grilling when you don’t want to be grilling so readers can do it in the summer. By the time Thanksgiving actually rolls around you don’t even want it because you’ve had it so many times.

Amy: What’s your favorite part of testing recipes and cooking techniques in the ATK kitchen?

Dan: We do two kinds of testing. One is more step-by-step. We always try this and then that and then that. The other is that we do some really out of the box stuff where we just see what happens. It’s those kinds of discoveries that I really like. And I like trying things that you read in Modernist Cuisine that’s kind of a chefy, high-end book, but then we tweak it in the kitchen so it’s something home cooks can use.

Amy: You were also very involved in the new Science of Good Cooking book, right?

Dan: Nods

Amy: What was your favorite experiment from that book?

Dan: There’s one that I really liked…discussing the effect of glutamic acid and glutamates on our sense of savory or umami and talking about these newly identified group of flavor boosters called free nucleotides and they work in synergy with each other.

So what we did was we got pure samples of MSG and free nucleotides and added them to water. We added MSG to one and free nucleotides to another and a combination of the two to another. And the water is remarkably savory, which is kind of weird because it’s water and it’s savory. The combination one there’s synergy there and it’s really noticeable and really cool. And if you look at cuisine this relationship is everywhere. And foods that are rich in glutamates and paired with foods that are rich in free nucleotides.

Amy: I’ve never heard of free nucleotides, can you give me an example?

Dan: If you look at Caesar salad. In caesar salad dressing you have anchovies, which have a lot of free nucleotides (and a little bit of glutamic acid), and then the Parmesan cheese has a lot of glutamates, so that combination together is really savory and good. If you look at even like a cheeseburger, the beef has a lot of free nucleotides and the cheese has glutamic acid which is another combination we love and you see that repeated over and over.

Amy: What experiment gave you results you really didn’t expect?

Dan: There’s some really surprising stuff in the book and when you first encounter it you’re like “whoa!” We had an experiment where we had four boneless, skinless chicken breasts and four different marinades. They were pretty standard: one was soy sauce based, one was red wine, one was garlic and parm and one was yogurt based. So we marinated them for 18 hours, which is a really long time for a marinade, but we wanted to make sure it had time to penetrate. Then we cooked them and carved off the outer 3 millimeters of all of them. We cut them into cubes and had people try them and people couldn’t tell the difference.

Amy: Everyone who buys a ticket to the screening of the NOVA special will receive a copy of the Science of Good Cooking. What is the one recipe you think everyone should make from the book?

Dan: It depends on if you have a sweet tooth or not but I feel like the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies are a must. They’re so good, they’re what the Tollhouse cookie always wanted to be. And there are a few tricks in there terms of how we boost the flavor and perfect the texture. Cookies are really complicated even though they seem so simple, so there’s a lot of good science in there.

Amy: What are 3 ingredients you can’t live without?

Dan: What would go into a vinaigrette basically: salt, oil, and acid. More specifically Kosher salt, olive oil, and lemon juice. You can make so many things good with those ingredients. I think the best things on our world are essentially vinaigrettes.

Amy: A piece of equipment you think every cook should own?

Dan: I feel like the easy answer is a good knife. I’m going to say that beyond a good knife is a good cutting board. Which most people don’t have. A cutting board that is big enough and a good material.

Amy: Who or what inspires your cooking?

Dan: Two different things. What I do here: the curiosity and the scientific process because I find it really interesting. Cooking in general would be the childhood memories. Trying to make things more and more delicious.

Amy: What’s your favorite comfort food?

Dan: Noodle soups are the most comforting thing out there. Any big hot bowl of soup, like miso soup or ramen.


Want to meet Dan in person? He’ll be one of our panelists at the Culinary Guild’s event: Cooking Science with WGBH. This exclusive event, open to Culinary Guild members and their guests only, is just $60. Ticket price includes a copy of The Science of Good Cooking. A book signing will be held after the panel discussion. Register now to save your spot!

Real Winners Get Chocolate

By Lena Hanson, CGNE communications manager
 

 

Congratulations to Brittany Shutts! Brittany won a Taza Chocolate Mexicano Sampler by tweeting about our upcoming tour of the Taza Chocolate factory in Somerville.

We hope you enjoy the chocolate, Brittany!

Just because the sampler has been won doesn’t mean the fun is over. There are still 10 spots left for our tour and tasting with Taza. Sign up now to hold your spot (it’s only $15!).

DIY: How to Make Chocolate

By Lena Hanson, CGNE communications manager

Learn all about how chocolate is made with Taza Chocolate and the Culinary Guild of New England. Plus, tweet us for a chance to win a sampler of delicious Mexican-style chocolate. Details below.


Chocolate. You love it, you eat it, you give it as gifts…but do you know how it’s made? Why is one chocolate smooth while other is crumbly? Why is some more mild and some more acidic?

On Thursday, November 1 at 5:30pm, we will be touring the Taza Chocolate factory in Somerville, MA to learn more about chocolate and how it’s made. We’ll learn about Taza as a business as well as what makes their Mexican-style chocolate so different and special. And, not to be forgotten, we’ll taste samples of their chocolates and a special Mexian-style hot chocolate.

Don’t miss this great event!

Want to win your own Taza Chocolate Sampler? Here’s how:


Details
1 entry per person. Tweets must be completed by 5:00p.m. on Sunday, 10/21/2012 for a chance to win. 1 person will be chosen at random as a winner of a Taza Chocolate Mexicano Sampler worth $20 and containing eight 1.5oz Chocolate Mexicano discs, one each of Cacao Puro, Chipotle Chili, Cinnamon,Ginger, Guajillo Chili, Orange, Salt & Pepper, and Vanilla Bean.

GiveAway: Win a FREE ticket to The Feast of the Seven Fishes

This November 7th, The Culinary Guild of New England is teaming up with the folks at Island Creek Oyster Bar for a modern take on The Feast of the Seven Fishes, a Southern Italian tradition passed down through generations and celebrated around the world.

The event, costing $55 for members and $70 for non-members, is being held at the Hotel CommonWealth Boston and will include an amazing menu designed by Island Creek Oyster Bar, chef demonstrations of lobster stew and seared scallops, and wine pairings personally selected by the Lower Falls Wine Company.

Here’s how to win a FREE ticket:

  • Like our Facebook page CulinaryGuild
  • Follow Us on Twitter @NECulinaryGuild
  • Answer 1 of the 3 following questions on Twitter and include @NECulinaryGuild in the answer.
  1. The Feast of the Seven Fishes was originally celebrated by which religious tradition?
  2. Baccala, one of the most famous Southern Italian dishes served at Feast of the Seven Fishes, is made of what main ingredient?
  3. The Culinary Guild of New England was founded in what year?

The contest ends at 7:00pm on October 14th, so get your answers in! At the end of the contest we will randomly choose a winner from the contestants. We’ll notify you by Twitter and Facebook by October 17th if you’ve won. Contest limited to 1 entry per person.

Good Luck! 

Verrill Farm Strawberry Dessert Fest

We like to feed our passion with strawberry desserts!


Our friends at Verrill Farm sure know how to grow delicious strawberries! Their Annual Strawberry Festival, which was on June 25, featured Verrill Farm strawberry shortcake, pick-your-own strawberries, and–our favorite–the Strawberry Dessert Recipe Contest.

Our happy judges, hard at work.

The contest, which is judged by Culinary Guild members, is one of the highlights of the growing season and a celebration of the delicious crop that Verrill Farm brings to us each year. This year we had three winners and we’d like to share their recipes with you.

With so many delicious desserts, it was hard to pick winners.

Baked_1st_Place Our 1st place winner for Baked Dessert was Goat in the Strawberry Patch Cheesecake by Debra Bennett

Unbake_1st_Place Our 1st place winner for Un-Baked Dessert was Stuffed Chocolate Dipped Strawberries by Rose Denning

Kids_1st_Place Our Kids 1st place winner were Gabriel and Aden Chalick for Scrumptious Strawberry Chocolate Cake (Dairy-Free)

The proud winners and their scrumptious dessert!