Lots of exciting happenings at Grow. Cook. Eat. Headquarters this week.
First, The Boston Globe published a lovely review of “The Farmer’s Kitchen” in the Wednesday food section.
Later on Wednesday, I headed over to EVOO Restaurant where I was guest-chef for the night. I prepared a special menu featuring lots of recipes from our cookbook. The turnout was great and the food well received. More on that in a minute.
I love EVOO Restaurant for many reasons… They are strong supports of local farmers, and their menu reflects that commitment – featuring meats and produce from dozens of local farms: Verrill Farms in Concord, Eva’s Herbs in Dartmouth, Drumlin Farm in Sudbury, Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds in Concord, and so on.
And I really connect with Chef/Owner Peter McCarthy’s style of cooking. People have often asked what type of food I cook, and I tell them that if I had a restaurant, the food would be just like EVOO. So it goes without saying that one of the big reasons I love EVOO is indeed the food. The Smoked Rabbit Confit salad is one of my top 10 favorite restaurant dishes in Boston.
It’s been about 3 years since I worked in a professional kitchen, and at least 10 years since I worked in a kitchen in the style of EVOO. To say I was a little nervous would be an understatement. Would I work fast enough to get everything done? Could I create refined restaurant presentations? How would the straightforward recipes from the book translate into fine-dining dishes?
When I get nervous like this, I make lists and do everything I can to be super-organized. I write the menu weeks in advance, write prep-lists in 5 different formats – by which day I would prepare each component, from where I will order all the ingredients, how long each item will take to prepare, what quantities I need of every dish, and a master-list of all the lists.
But because the menu was based on what was in season, I couldn’t write the menu (or my lists) until three days before – I was pretty sure strawberries would be available, but what if the weather was cold and wet. Would the beets be available? Would the asparagus season have ended? Given the uncertainty of the menu, I could not make all the lists that would have calmed my nerves until just two short days before I had to get to work.
On Tuesday, I headed into the restaurant to start my preparation. I made crepe batter, and kohlrabi salad. I sautéed mushrooms and wilted greens. I peeled asparagus and julienned radishes. I marinated the chicken and blended vinaigrettes. I worked at a somewhat leisurely pace because I knew I could prep late into the night and still have Wednesday to finish things up.
Wednesday’s pace was a bit more frenetic. I had a hard-deadline of 5 pm to finish everything. Thankfully, Peter and his staff pitched in to make sure I was ready. And indeed, by 5.00 pm, I was. We made sample dishes so the cooks would know how they were prepared, and the wait staff could taste.
Yes, the regular line-cooks at EVOO would be putting the finishing touches on my food. Peter and I agreed that having me cook “on the line” would be a disaster for so many reasons. Instead, I made sure all the food tasted and looked as I wanted, and then his cooks would actually prepare the dishes to order when the diners came in.
I was humbled by how many friends and clients came in to support me. And so grateful that the food was well received. We sold out of my two favorite dishes – The Kohlrabi Salad with Grilled Bun Cha (which is also the most popular recipe on this blog) and The Chick Pea Crepe filled with Wilted Greens, Spinach Flan and Smoked Tomato Coulis.
Here's the menu. Page numbers refer to where the recipes are in the cookbook.
First Course Options
- Grilled Asparagus and Greens Salad with Dreamy Green Goddess (page 246) and Easter Radishes
- Kohlrabi Salad (page 155) with Grilled Bun Cha – Vietnamese Pork Meatballs
Second Course Options
- Chick Pea Crepe Stuffed with Wilted Greens (page 136), Spinach – Flan and a Drizzle of Smoked Tomatoes (page 226)
- Grilled Korean Style Free Range Chicken with Spinach Salad (page 147), Fresh Kim Chi (page 73) and Scallion Pancakes
- Sautéed Sea Scallops with Sautéed Mushrooms and Greens (page 135) and Beet Vinaigrette (page 247)
- Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (page 268) with Sour Cream Ice Cream
- Chocolate Molten Cake with Minted Berries (page 276)
Thanks again to Peter and Colleen for hosting me in the restaurant. And to all the good wishes.
And thanks to David for taking photos.