I love being creative.
It’s just what I do. I find little time to get bored, but when I do, I sit back and accept the drudgery of my state of mind and maybe, just maybe, eat about 4 cups of green tea ice cream.
(this is only relevant because I recently ordered 1.5 gallons of green tea ice cream, straight from Japan).
Okay so one the fun parts of my foodie career is teaching twice each month at Cook’s Warehouse, a local cooking school/retail store here in Atlanta. Students sign up, ranging from all ages and demographics and come out to learn something about me and all the food I make. I naturally have to submit menus to the school, and later provide the class with recipes. Sometimes, I just make up the recipe, in hopes I’ll actually perfect it by the time I show up for class. Mind you, at this point, the recipe has been printed and given to students.
This means the students (and patient assistants) are following my recipe and trusting what they taste in class is exactly what their version will taste like at home. Well, lucky for my students, I ditch the recipes they have in front of them, and start winging it. Especially in cases where again, I really don’t know what I’m going to do.
Such was the case last week for my first hands-on class (edit: all others have been demos) at CW. On the menu: Cuban style kidney beans with smoked turkey neck (ya’ll know I don’t eat pork which is the mother meat for ALL CUBANOS), which I made in my awesome pressure cooker (cuts cooking time by 75%) served over jasmine rice, chicken croquetas (which I’ve blogged about when I first started and I encourage you to see these bad boys here), really, really, really good sangria with cherry liqueur instead of Brandy, and then this carrot walnut salad.
All of the students were assigned a task in making everything. Because the croquetas are a serious labor of love, I manned most of that, but still had them make the chicken dough and shape into sausage links. Because I wanted to give them really intense practice (ahem), I went for the salad, and convinced them they weren’t missing out on anything major by me making it…
And then I got saucy. The recipe, as I’m reading it, seemed kind of blah: shredded carrots, roasted walnuts, golden raisins, ginger and raspberry vinaigrette. Okay. I mean it sounds good & simple, but for me it was missing something. While one of the assistants mixed the salad, it occurred to me to make a thicker sauce instead of just dressing it with the vinaigrette. So I quickly switched gears and pulled out a skillet, dark brown sugar and a box grinder.
Instead of just mixing all of the dry ingredients, including the grated ginger, I decided to caramelize the ginger in the butter and brown sugar and add the vinaigrette; this would infuse the flavor really well and allow the ginger to simmer down a bit from its raw bite. After a few minutes, it all smelled amazing and the end result was a really nice glaze for the salad. I still drizzled the salad with a bit more vinaigrette and for garnish, some strings of ginger, just in case they wanted that spicy bite!
We served the salad in bibb lettuce cups and went to town! The class was in heaven! And I was happy to have received perfect 10′s from all students in class that night, as written in their evaluation (6 criteria)!
The pictures here are from today’s lunch. The only difference this time is that I lightly and very quickly sautéed the shredded carrots in a dab of butter, only to soften them a bit. And I used brown raisins because I was out of the golden ones (the latter looking better but not altering the taste). Of course, you can opt out sautéing the carrots. If you don’t do so, it’s okay, it’ll just be a bit crunchier, which is just as fine.
I love this salad and it’s now my new fave summer side dish! Full of carotene and great oils from the walnuts! The flavors of smokey & savory walnuts with the sweetness of the raisins and raspberry vinaigrette with a awesome kick of ginger, blend very amazingly well and the texture is perfect. A great alternative to your every day ho-hum green leaf salad. You just can’t go wrong. Now go on and make it! I swear it takes no more than 10 minutes!
**WINNER OF SCIENCE OF GOOD FOOD BOOK CONTEST**
And, on to winner news! Everyone likes to win something, right?! A few posts ago I talked up a really good book that all foodies and geeks would love: The Science of Good Food. In that post, I even shared a pdf of the article I wrote and recently published in a local fine dining magazine. If you missed it, check it out. We all need some food geekery knowledge in our lives! So the lucky winner of this bright red book that you’ll refer to a lot is……
NO. 6 –Shameisa Horne of Atlanta, Ga!! You go girl! You must have put some good energy out there! Congrats to you, thanks for reading FE and do come back and leave comments!!!
***Cooking on Verizon Fios TV***
When I was home in February for my dad’s b-day, I got a call the very day I was flying back to Atl. It was a producer from Verizon Fios TV and he wanted to do a 4 minute feature on me as a DC native, local chef. So with 5 hours before my flight, I unpacked, threw on something, cleaned up my parent’s house (just a bit, from what you’ll see in the vid) and figured out something easy to make. I literally had only 2.5 hours to make this happen and he still had to get to the house! I didn’t mention this earlier, because I have mixed feelings about the video. I’m just not crazy about the quality. I’m definitely thankful for the unexpected call and feature that ran in DC, MD and VA in March, but geesh guy, could you have put some appropriate music in the background?! Wassup with the bedside calming tunes?? Hell, it even almost put me to sleep! Boo…. lol. Go and take a look! It’s the current video under Flanboyant Eats TV. I think you’ll enjoy my story and the yummy food I made; all of which the producer ate! I’ve been invited by Verizon to shoot another feature, so I’ll be back in DC for Father’s Day and will whip something up! I’d love your suggestions on what to make. Leave a comment with a suggestion and if I select your dish, I’ll shout you out in the segment!
Next Up: Salmon and Mango Sliders!
- 1- 10 oz bag shoestring or shredded carrots
- 1.5 cups walnut halves, roasted
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 3 heaping Tbsp. freshly grated ginger, parted
- 6 Tbsp. raspberry vinaigrette, parted
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
In small skillet, sauté ginger in melting butter on medium heat. Slowly stir in brown sugar. Caramelize for 4-5 minutes, until sugar has melted and a dark and semi-thick glaze forms. Slowly stir in all but one tbsp. of vinaigrette. Stir for a few more seconds. Turn heat off and set aside. In large mixing bowl, add carrots, raisins and walnuts. Pour in glaze and blend all ingredients until carrots are nicely covered in glaze. Let sit for about 5 minutes so glaze can cool off. Splash a bit more vinaigrette and mix. Serve on bibb lettuce cup and top with a pinch of ginger strings.
Serves 3 oz. for 7-9. Enjoy!