Making Mozzarella at Fiore Di Nonno

On March 4th, Guild members and friends met at Fiore Di Nonno in Somerville to see how a variety of cheeses are made. Lourdes Smith, owner of Fiore Di Nonno, and her team, taught us how to make mozzarella, burrata, and a slew of other fresh cheeses – just like Lourdes’ grandfather used to make.

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Lourdes Smith.

Lourdes’ cheese has been taken to the James Beard Awards twice, and has received media attention in national outlets such as The New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly, to name a few.

Lourdes and her team make all of their cheeses by hand in small, delicious batches. Guild members were lucky enough to see the process up close, and we were even luckier to get to try everything that was made that evening.

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Lourdes’ team of mozzarella-makers.

In this demo, we learned how to make – and tasted – Fiore Di Nonno’s mozzarella, string cheese, stracciatella, and burrata. We washed our samples down with some fresh bread and wine. It was a fantastic demo with great company and tasty bites!

To try Fiore Di Nonno’s cheeses for yourself, you can find Lourdes and her team at several farmers’ markets throughout Massachusetts, as well as at several stores and restaurants. (View the full list here).

*All photos courtesy of Jen Verrill from Verrill Farm.

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An Evening with King Arthur Flour

by Michelle Collins, CGNE member

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On Monday evening, CGNE members, friends, and guests learned how to make pie dough from King Arthur Flour’s resident “pie queen,” Bonny Hooper. Hooper taught the sizeable crowd how to make an all-butter pie crust. The 90-minute demonstration – also led in part by King Arthur’s Marketing Manager, Julie Christopher – was informative and interactive.

The event was held at Everett High School’s brand-new Culinary Center, and we were treated to an impressive spread of bites for the CGNE crowd prepared by the culinary students. We munched on delights like Spanakopita, assorted mezze dips and spreads, cheese and crackers, and Lemon Mousse Shooters before and during the pie crust demonstration.

Food Spread combined

Hooper clearly knows her stuff when it comes to pie crust, and she taught us a lot of interesting and new-to-most-of-us information about the tricky dough. Some noteworthy lessons learned:

  • The most accurate way to measure your flour is using a food scale
  • If someone in your family can’t ingest butter, the butter in this recipe can be replaced with olive oil
  • Roll the dough with a rolling pin from the middle out, going in clockwise direction with each roll. This will keep the dough in a uniform shape and thickness
  • When rolling the dough, place a piece of plastic wrap between the dough and the rolling pin. This will result in not having to flour the dough as much, and you won’t have to flour the rolling pin at all

Hooper then filled her mile-high pie with King Arthur’s Apple Pie Filling (recipe below). We were all lucky enough to try a slice of the finished product, and it basically tasted like apple-filled, buttery heaven. The crust was delightfully chewy and flaky, and the apples were cooked to tender perfection. Tasting the pie was a fantastic way to end this fun and educational evening!

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Apple Pie Filling

-8 cups sliced apples

-2 tablespoons lemon juice

-3/4 cup sugar

-2 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

-2 tablespoons cornstarch

-1/4 teaspoon salt

-1 teaspoon cinnamon

-1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

-1/4 teaspoon allspice

-1/4 cup boiled cider or undiluted apple juice concentrate

-2 tablespoons butter, diced in small pieces

Directions:

In a large bowl, stir apple slices with lemon juice; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt, and spices. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples, and stir to coat them. Stir in the boiled cider or apple juice concentrate.  Spoon the apple filling into the pie pan (with bottom crust already in it). Dot the top with the diced butter, and cover with top pie crust. Place the pie on a parchment-linked baking sheet. Bake the pie for 20 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 40 minutes more, until you see the filling bubbling inside the pie.


Michelle is a CGNE member and a Boston-based freelance food writer and blogger, who is a big fan of eating well without spending a ton. Keep up with Michelle  on her site — The Economical Eater, on Twitter, and over at Local In Season.

Stir-Frying with Grace Young

By Lena Hanson, CGNE communications manager


On a cold Monday night in January, members of the Culinary Guild gathered at Golden Temple restaurant in Brookline to learn more about celebrating the Chinese New Year from renowned author and chef Grace Young. While the attendees enjoyed appetizers prepared by the restaurant, Grace shared stories of the stir-fry as it has evolved in Chinese communities around the world, explained the use and meaning of a traditional wok, and then demonstrated two recipes from her book.

The stories Grace shared ranged from the traditional interpretations of the stir-fry as an economical way to feed one’s family in China, to the blended interpretations that satisfied a family without access to the traditional ingredients or equipment. Grace even shared the story of her discovery of a Chinese Jamaican Jerk Chicken Fried Rice while exploring Chinese cuisine in Jamaica.


Grace’s loyalty to the traditional, carbon-steel wok goes without question, not only for performance reasons, but because she feels that the wok is an “iron thread that has linked Chinese food and tradition for over 2,000 years”. This loyalty runs so deep, Grace has travels everywhere with her wok — in her carry-on — as she searched out stories and recipes for her latest book, much to the confusion of TSA agents all over the world.

Grace continued to share techniques of the wok and some background of the ingredients she had chosen for the evening’s demonstration while she prepared two recipes from her latest book, Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge — Classic Dry-Fried Pepper and Salt Shrimp and Spicy Long Beans with Sausage and Mushrooms.

After treating everyone to samples of her demonstration dishes, Grace kindly signed and personalized copies of her book for all of the attendees while chatting with anyone who cared to linger for the pleasure of speaking with her for just an extra moment or two.

Classic Dry-Fried Pepper and Salt Shrimp (from Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge)
Serves 2 as a main dish with rice or 4 as part of a multicourse meal.

2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon roasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced jalapeño chili, with seeds

  1. In a large bowl combine 1 tablespoon of the salt with 1 quart cold water. Add the shrimp and swish the shrimp in the water with your hand for about 30 seconds. Drain. Add 1 more tablespoon salt to the bowl with 1 quart of cold water and repeat. Rinse the shrimp under cold water and set on several sheets of paper towels. With more paper towels, pat the shrimp dry. In a small bowl combine the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, sugar, and ground Sichuan peppercorns.
  2. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of the oil, add the garlic, ginger, and chili, then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry 10 seconds or until the aromatics are fragrant. Push the garlic mixture to the sides of the wok, carefully add the shrimp, and spread them evenly in one layer in the wok. Cook undisturbed 1 minute, letting the shrimp begin to sear. Swirl in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and stir-fry 1 minute or until the shrimp just begin to turn orange. Sprinkle on the salt mixture and stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or until the shrimp are just cooked.

Spicy Long Beans with Sausage and Mushrooms (from Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge)
Serves 4 as a vegetable side dish.

8 medium dried shiitake mushrooms
1 bunch Chinese long beans (about 12 ounces)
2 Ounces Sichuan preserved vegetable (about 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1/4 cup ground pork (about 2 ounces)
1 Chinese sausage, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/4 cup cilantro sprigs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

  1. In a medium shallow bowl soak the mushrooms in 3/4 cup cold water for 30 minutes or until softened. Drain and squeeze dry, reserving 2 tablespoons of the soaking liquid. Cut off the stems and mince the mushrooms.
  2. Trim 1/4 inch from the ends of the long beans. Cut the long beans into 1/4-inch-long pieces to make about 3 cups.
  3. Rinse the preserved vegetable in cold water until the red chili paste coating is removed and pat dry. Finely chop to make about 1/4 cup. In a small bowl combine the soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil.
  4. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of the oil, add the pork and sausage. Using a metal spatula, break up the pork, and stir-fry 1 minute or until the pork is no longer pink. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry 1 minute. Swirl in the remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil, add the beans, and stir-fry 1 minute. Swirl in the 2 tablespoons reserved mushroom liquid. Cover and cook 30 seconds. Uncover and add the preserved vegetable, scallions, and cilantro. Swirl the soy sauce mixture into the wok. Sprinkle on the salt, sugar, and pepper, and stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or until the pork and sausage are cooked and the vegetables are crisp-tender.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Guild or attending one of our events, please visit the Culinary Guild of New England’s website.

About the Chef: Grace Young is the author of the James Beard Foundation’’s Award for Best International Cookbook: Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge. Grace’’s career has been devoted to demystifying the art of stir-frying and celebrating wok cookery.

A Modern Feast of the Fishes

By Janet Kalandranis of Food Beautiful

It’s part tradition, part modern feast and a whole lot of seafood deliciousness. On Monday, November 7th, the Culinary Guild of New England hosted its very first Feast of the Seven Fishes at Hotel Commonwealth. With special guest and cooking demonstrations by Jeremy Sewall of Island Creek Oyster Bar (ICOB) the night was filled with more than just yummy eats.

Jeremy Sewall gives a chef demo of searing scallops.

I think many people forget that seafood is a great (and acceptable!) option for a holiday feast. Lucky for us New Englanders, our location provides fresh fish all year round. But what is this Feast of the Seven Fishes you ask? Well that’s just the mystery – this Italian American tradition celebrated on Christmas Eve features a multitude of fishes with no rules or guidelines. It seems every family and every region has their own specialties, their own dishes, and their own fishes. And why the number Seven? No one really knows – maybe the Seven Sacraments for the Catholic Church or the Seven Virtues or maybe that’s the number of fish one household could handle! Whatever you choose, the goal is always the same – to have a fish feast that can become a tradition.

Our first Feast of the Seven Fishes did not disappoint. In an amazing space in the Hotel Commonwealth (right above ICOB – one of the best seafood restaurants in the city if you ask me!), greeted with local wine from Lower Falls Wine Company how could the night not get off to a great start! With a glass of sparkling white – think delicate, Prosecco-like bubbles – I perused what was offered for some of our first bites of the night.

Fish One: Island Creek Oysters with lemon and mignonette

If you’ve never had an Island Creek oyster, you’ve never had an oyster. Okay, maybe I’m biased since I live down the street from the Island Creek Oyster Farm, but I do believe them to be some of the tastiest oysters I’ve ever had. Full of texture and flavor, these oysters simply stand on their own and can be the star. And for a little entertainment all of the oysters were shucked right in front of us as you waited with plate in hand to receive this yummy first course.

Fish Two: House Smoked Salmon, Trout & Sturgeon

I find something extremely refreshing about an appetizer of raw fish. It’s light on the palette and if fresh and served correctly is the perfect start to a seafood-filled night. Of course our friends at ICOB didn’t disappoint. And since the tray of perfect and pretty fishes was gone in no time I think this was a hit.

Fish Three: Jonah Crab Beignets with smoked paprika aioli

This dish was the start of tradition meets modern as these crab beignets use a familiar fish in a very new and tasty way. Not heavy but delightfully light, I’m now in love with crab beignets. Don’t you think everything should be made into a beignet – okay maybe not everything, but most things.

Fish Four: Roasted Sugar Pumpkin & Shrimp Bisque

Soup in a shot glass??? Yes please! I’m not a huge fan of bisques. I tend to find them heavy and missing the flavor mark. However ICOB has made me a bisque believer. And when you put anything in a shot glass I’m pretty much in love. Want to know the secret to why this bisque is so delicious…fresh seafood stock. A must-have in Chef Sewall’s mind – and now in mine too.

Fish Five: Tuna Crudo with olive & basil relish

I’m Greek and I don’t eat olives. Except when they are prepared as a lovely and delectable relish to accompany tuna crudo. Fresh, simple and perfect party food for a night of seven fishes. I love how the tuna was the star and the relish simply enhanced every tuna flavor you tasted. Sometimes simple is best.

Fish Six: Maine Lobster Stew with fall vegetables & sherry cream

And now for the main feature of the night. Once everyone was content with nibbles and drinks it was time to learn a little more about cooking fish from Chef Sewall. His entertaining and calm personality made it seem as though anyone can pull off a Feast of the Seven Fishes.

Chef started with a lobster stew that screamed with the flavors of fall. Using his go-to, homemade fish stock (from ground up shrimp shells – seriously it was heaven) and adding whatever root vegetables he had on hand he created the base for some fresh Maine lobster. I love the way this dish resonated holidays and home. I’m also pretty sure I could have eaten an entire pot of Chef Sewall’s lobster stew.

Fish Seven: Seared Scallops with citrus & chive risotto

To end the night Chef Sewall talked a lot about fish in general – a topic I could discuss for hours on end. Mentioning the recent topic of mislabeled fish, Sewall gave some helpful tips to being a savvy fish shopper.

    • If it smells like fish, don’t buy it
    • Buy from a reputable fish retailer
    • Ask lots of questions
    • If it seems like you are a getting a steal on an expensive fish – be weary

While he was chatting away, Chef Sewall effortlessly created the last dish of the night. Perfectly sautéed scallops in an easy risotto. The comforting risotto was nicely offset by the fresh scallops and the addition of citrus – something I wouldn’t have thought to add. I like to think of this dish as tradition with a twist. All accessible and everyday ingredients but rearranged to become the start of a new tradition.

Feast of the Seven Fishes with Jeremy Sewall

Interview and article by CGNE member Maggie Brooks
As the owner of Coolidge Corner restaurant, LiNEaGe, as well as the executive chef for Eastern Standard and Island Creek Oyster Bar, Chef Jeremy Sewall knows a little something about seafood. For CGNE’s Feast of the Seven Fishes, he’s taking a traditional Italian Christmas Eve celebration and bringing it to New England. I sat down with Jeremy to talk about how he prepares for such an iconic celebration and cooking for a group passionate foodies.

How did you learn about CGNE?

The restaurant’s PR company reached out to me about [CGNE] and I’m looking forward to getting involved. I think it’s a great organization.

Are you preparing for this event differently than you would be for an event of non-food experts?

Not that differently. It’s really fun to be able to get in front a group that’s so passionate about food. I have more freedom to show recipes that are a little more exciting.

You wrote the menu for the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Were you familiar with the feast? How did you approach something so traditional to make it more modern?

It wasn’t something I grew up with so I had to do some research. I spent some time reading recipes to familiarize myself with the meal and where we could take it. The key to the tradition is how regional the food is, so it’s using a modern American flair while staying to true to local food and what the meal is about.

What kind of dishes can we look forward to?

Definitely some oysters. We’re having a raw bar, plus serving fresh ceviche. We’re giving a nod to the traditional with a lobster casserole. Basically it’ll be local fish and seafood prepared our way.

You’re also doing a presentation. Is it intimidating to cook in front of food industry folks?

Not at all. It makes it more fun for me to cook for people who love food.

What are some of the most common seafood handling mistakes that you’ve come across?

Probably not storing seafood correctly. Like covering shellfish. Those guys are alive so covering them just kills them. Also buying quality. Don’t go looking for a bargain when buying seafood or meat.

What are your favorite holiday seafood dishes?

I’m from southern Maine and my family have been lobstermen for years, so lobsters are always a huge part of our holiday. I still get all my lobster from my brother. Littlenecks are a must for me. My father-in-law is a scallop fanatic so we have to have those too.

Are there any holiday menu specials we should be looking forward to at your restaurants?

Eastern Standard does an amazing prix fixe menu. We’ve worked for several years to make this good. It’s all of our classics plus a roasted turkey entrée. LiNEaGe is closed for Thanksgiving, but we do have a meal-to-go option that’ll be really great.

The Guild is partnered with Future Chefs, a program is dedicated to giving opportunities to aspiring young chefs.  Any words of wisdom?

Wow, lots. Stick with it. This is challenging, demanding, and at times, frustrating business to be in. Having pride and humility in your work will take you far. It’s a craft to be constantly worked at your entire career, you’re never too good to [keep] learning.

On November 7th from 6:30 – 9:30 PM, CGNE is teaming up with Island Creek Oyster Bar and Hotel Commonwealth for a Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian holiday. Island Creek Oyster Bar will give their take on the Italian feast with a tidal wave of seafood. Come taste an array of seafood dishes, enjoy delicious wine pairings from Lower Falls Wine Company, try your hand at shucking oysters, and meet Chef Jeremy Sewall in person as he demonstrates lobster stew and seared scallop recipes. Cost for the evening is $55 for members and $70 for non-members and tastings of all dishes, wine, and hors d’oeuvres are included. Click here to register!