Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Testing, 1, 2, 3...

No, I'm not running a sound check on the blog, though you might think that. Sorry, was I ignoring you?

Yes, the baking business is still keeping me pretty busy -- and I am very pleased to have the "problem" of having to bake more bread every day to keep up with demand. No complaints here!

And though you might not have guessed it from the silence around these parts of late, I have actually been cooking. Real food. In my kitchen.

Hello? Um... are you all right out there? You didn't bump your head when you keeled over? OK, good, let's keep going.

Part of the rationale for my occasional cooking spree has been to clean out the freezer. So far, I've made a good solid dent in the food stored there, and soon I'll be ready to restock with this season's produce.

But the other reason has been a need to test recipes for the many classes I'm teaching at Today's Kitchen Store this year. My Irish Breakfast class went very well, with 14 people attending, and I have more classes lined up in coming months:

this week: Eat Your Weedies (on wild edibles)
June: Herbal Teas AND an Herbal Tea Party
July: Cool as a Cucumber (Local Roots featured class on seasonal produce)
August: zucchini (ditto)
September: eggplant (ditto)

And if you've ever been to one of my dinner parties, you know that a party -- be it a dinner at home or a class -- means it's time to pull out new, untested recipes! Yes, I'm just a little strange that way.

For the wild edibles class, I will, of course, break out the old favorites: chickweed pesto and stinging nettle fritters. But I found a recipe for chickpeas with dandelion greens and tweaked it with curry seasonings, and since dandelions are almost past their prime already, I may use lamb's quarters or other wild greens in the dish.

For the cucumber class, I wanted to sneak in some recipes to get people to think outside the raw cucumber box. I found a recipe for a pan-fried cucumber dish that turned out to be easy, delicious, and just a little HOT for a cool cuke!

And since I want to show that vegetables can sometimes have a sweet side, I'll also make and serve a cucumber limeade that (A) tastes much better than you initially think it sounds and (B) is wonderfully refreshing! Now to plant my cucumber seeds so I have a bumper crop again this year.......

Finally, recipe testing would be no fun at all if I didn't get the chance to test a new dessert recipe. This easy parfait will round out my Herbal Tea Party menu -- layers of French vanilla yogurt interspersed with strawberries macerated with mint sugar, and topped with real whipped cream. (Because I never turn down a reason to make real honest-to-goodness whipped cream from scratch.)

There's more testing ahead -- what fun!

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