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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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.

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!

ApplePie

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.

Support CGNE at the James Beard House!

By Carrie Richards, CGNE President

As you may know, The Culinary Guild of New England was founded in 1979 by a group of female culinary professionals who yearned to connect with other female professionals. Initially the Guild was “The Women’s Culinary Guild.” The founding members of the Guild are well-known culinary figures including: Lora Brody, Sheryl Julian, Marian Morash, Sara Moulton, Ann Robert, Dorothy Crandall, and Ruth Lockwood. These ladies felt inspired by Bostonians past and present, who had accomplished great things in the food world — women like Fannie Farmer, Madeline Kamman, and Julia Child, whose “Julia Child & Co.” was then airing on WGBH. They had been content, filling their days with cooking in restaurant kitchens, catering parties, or penning cookbooks — but still, something was missing. They felt increasingly isolated, and realized that by reaching out to others like them they could expand their knowledge, learn new skills, and support one another.

Today the Guild is still based on the foundation laid by our founders but comprised of men and women. Over the past three years the Guild increased our membership six-fold; we attribute this surge in membership to the inclusion of food enthusiasts as members who share a passion for all things culinary, a new website, and the in-kind donations from invited sponsors.

The Guild’s 2012 crème de la crème of events is the April Prix Fixe Six-Course Dinner at the esteemed James Beard House in New York to be cooked by six credentialed Guild member chefs. Our Vice President, Guida Ponte will be at the helm with Phyllis Kaplowitz — with chefs Anthony Mancuso, Judy Mattera, Maryanne Muller, and Jennifer Verrill.

The Guild is honored to be invited to share our culinary talents at this premier culinary institution. Cooking at The James Beard House is often a once-in-a-career experience for a guest chef. The James Beard House dinners are designed to generate funds that support scholarships, education, and advocacy of the American culinary industry by the James Beard Foundation. Held in the former home of the visionary food legend, the James Beard House is considered by most to be the singular most important and influential dining room in the world.

To create a James Beard Dinner is a mammoth financial and logistical commitment for any invited guest chef, but particularly for those that are outside of the New York area and, in this case, are ambassadors for a nonprofit. All of the costs associated with food purchase (including transportation and storage), expertly selected wines per course, marketing for ticket sales, and keepsake menu publications, are the responsibility of the sponsor organization, in this case, the nonprofit Guild. These costs are not offset by ticket sales, which are directed donations made to the James Beard Foundation.

CHEFS GUIDA PONTE AND PHYLLIS KAPLOWITZ

Guida has cooked twice at the James Beard House. Guida’s first invitation to cook was in 1993; Guida served as Sous chef for Jean-Jacques Paimblanc, the (former) executive chef for Legal Sea Foods. Her second invitation was in 1995 while serving as the Chief Research and Development Chef for Legal Sea Foods. Guida is thrilled for this third invitation to cook at the James Beard House as lead of The Culinary Guild of New England’s kitchen team.

Guida began volunteering her time with The Culinary Guild of New England in 1995. She was a member at large for five years before being tapped to serve as the Programs Co-Chair of the Board of Directors. As Programs Co-Chair, Guida designed, planned, and implemented events for members. Guida served as Programs Co-Chair from 2000 till 2009. In 2009, Guida was asked to serve as Vice President.

For this special occasion, Guida and her team created a menu of Portuguese and Spanish influence, reflective of her heritage. Guida always cooks the way she was taught by her mother, a native of the Azores, and her grandmother, a native of Spain, with the freshest local ingredients and always with passion.

Phyllis Kaplowitz is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University. Phyllis first gained notoriety in Boston as an integral player in the rejuvenation of the historic Jacob Wirth Restaurant in the Theatre District. The 140-year old restaurant was named ‘Best Neighborhood Restaurant’ by Boston magazine in 2003 and one of the ‘Top 10 Places to Eat’ in Boston by FoodTV.com during her tenure.

Drawing on extensive travel in the Middle East, Europe, and the Caribbean, Phyllis allows her cuisine to explore the boundaries of varied tastes and flavors. Phyllis has catered parties for New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, the Boston Celtics, the Boston Bruins, Thomas M. Menino, and the Massachusetts State House. She is recognized across the regional food media circuit, with appearances on such programs as: How2heroes, Stuff Magazine, “The Dish” with Frances Rivera, Boston Globe and Boston Herald, Boston Magazine, Phantom Gourmet, TV Diner, Mix 98.5, WBZ Radio, WGBH-TV, The Olives Table with Todd English, and Chronicle.

Phyllis also volunteers teaching demonstrations at the Boston Center of Adult Education, Boston University, Sakonnet Vineyards Master Chef Series and Boston Cooks. Phyllis was recently inducted into Les Dames d’ Escoffier. In June 2011, Chef Phyllis was a finalist on the Food Network’s “Chopped.”

CHEFS: ANTHONY MANCUSO, JUDY MATTERA, MARYANNE MULLER, AND JENNIFER VERRILL

Anthony Mancuso’s approach to cooking comes from growing up in a large Sicilian family, where simplicity and flavor mattered most. Sunday dinner is where his passion for cooking and pleasing others with food was first born. He would watch his mother and grandmother cook for hours braising down a pheasant that his grandfather had just cleaned. Always wanting to stick his hand in the pot, Anthony’s mother put him to work at a young age.

Years of running a family based business where his technique for Italian food was challenged every day, Anthony thrived for more. A short visit to Chicago turned into a barrage of bread baking and pastry at a small town bakery. Upon returning to Boston, he trained under James Beard award-winning Chef Seth Woods as an executive sous chef, and finally settled down as Chef de Cuisine at Bakers’ Best Catering working under executive chef Phyllis Kaplowitz at one of Boston’s premier caterers.

Judy Mattera owns Sweet Solutions, a business that pairs desserts with sweet/fortified wines for private events, retail shops, schools or corporate settings. A former pastry chef at Boston’s Olives, Grill 23, and The Fed at XV Beacon, she contributes recipes, reviews and articles on the topic of sweet wines to publications such as iSanté, Quarterly Review of Wines and Taste of the Seacoast, among others.

Judy is a member of Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, where she has served on the Board of Directors, and is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Sweet and Fortified Wine Association, Chefs Collaborative, The Culinary Guild of New England and Les Dames d’Escoffier.

Maryanne Muller joined the Culinary Guild of New England in 1998. She was member at large until 2005 when she elected as Vice President. She became President in 2007, serving a two-year term. Under her direction the Guild formed an alliance with Share Our Strength. Today, Guild members continue to work with Share Our Strength, teaching local families how to prepare healthy and inexpensive meals.

Maryanne is the Survey Coordinator for Zagat, managing reviews for the Boston Restaurant Survey. Formerly a corporate chef, Maryanne is a freelance caterer and personal chef, and she has extensive teaching experience with adults and children. Maryanne is a member of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs and Les Dames d’ Escoffier.

Jennifer Verrill grew up on her family’s farm in Concord, Mass. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts, nationally respected for its agricultural academic program; but she had a nagging love of food and wanted to get into the food business. Over the next ten years, she gained knowledge and hands-on experience working in the food industry. She worked on the line at Walden Grill in Concord before moving on to a successful caterer in the Boston area. After working in Providence, Rhode Island for a catering company and restaurant, Jennifer moved back to Concord where she worked at Aigo Bistro as a pastry chef before returning to the family farm.

Formerly a dairy farm, Verrill Farm is now operating as a produce farm with a strong involvement in the early farmer’s market movement. The opportunity was there for Jennifer to add baked goods to the market offerings so a commercial kitchen was built in the old milking parlor at the farm. Homemade pies, made from scratch, were one of the first items produced at the bakery. As the business grew a decision was made to build a year round farm stand and kitchen on the property. Jennifer’s farming, catering, and baking background came to be very useful in the farm’s new endeavors and she began making prepared meals and baked goods to sell at the stand. The addition of ready-to-eat foods and fresh baked goods was added value to a wide selection of fresh produce grown on the farm. Today Verrill Farm is a mainstay of commerce and food sustainability; educational programs include hosting cooking and harvesting events for the Culinary Guild of New England. Verrill Farm is a standout operation in this agriculturally rich region, having earned the Commonwealth Quality Seal from the State of Massachusetts for superior business practices and produce.

Jennifer serves as Programs Chair on The Culinary Guild of New England, and is a member at large of Les Dames D’Escoffier and The Concord Agriculture Committee. She has appeared in articles submitted recipes to: The Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Everyday with Rachael Ray, Killer Pies, Best of Boston Magazine, and How2Heroes.

CULINARY STORY OF CHEF GUIDA PONTE

A native of the Azores islands in Portugal, Ponte began her culinary training early. She credits her grandmother and mother for igniting her passion for the food ways and traditions of Spain and the Azores, an archipelago with a rich tradition of excellent seafood. Armed with solid training in Portuguese cuisine, Ponte was eager to expand her repertoire. She moved to the US to pursue formal culinary training at Newbury College where she received a degree in Professional Food Service Management.

Ponte’s solid expertise with seafood led her to Legal Sea Foods where she quickly rose to the position of Chef of Research and Development. Ponte led the growth from a single take-out establishment into the internationally recognized restaurant and business it is today. While with Legal Sea Foods, Guida opened more than a dozen restaurants nationwide and cooked for two Presidential Inaugural Balls, by invitation. After almost 20 years at Legal Sea Foods, Ponte moved to Verrill Farm in Concord where she currently works. Verrill Farm is a family farm dedicated to sustainable food, which recently received the Commonwealth Quality Seal from the State of Massachusetts. In Verrill’s kitchen, Ponte practices the farm-to-table philosophy by creating recipes and menus with produce direct from the farm’s fields.

From 2003 to 2008, Ponte was commissioned to be a visiting Chef at The Herb Lyceum in Groton. At the Herb Lyceum, Ponte created delectable dishes based on local and seasonal foods. Ponte garnered outstanding reviews and developed a loyal following.

In 2010, Guida was hand selected by First Lady Michelle Obama to be a part of the ‘Chefs Move to Schools’ Program. Guida now advises the highly populous Concord and Quincy, MA school systems. Being inspired to work with kids of all ages, Guida formed an alliance with Future Chefs and The Culinary Guild of New England creating a scholarship program funding culinary scholarships for local underprivileged teens. This will be her third time cooking at the James Beard House.

Chef Guida’s Professional Affiliations:

Please contact us if you would be interested in sponsoring The Culinary Guild of New England at the James Beard House on Saturday, April 28, 2012!

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.

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!