A Recipe Book Mapping the Culinary Journey of a Novice Chef by Anne Chen
A Heroâ€™s Gastronomy A Recipe Book Mapping the Culinary Journey of a Novice Chef by Anne Chen
Table of Contents
1 Introduction: The Call to Adventure 3 Menu
4 Winter Squash Soup with Citrus-Mint Pesto 6 Baby Spinach Salad with Dried Cranberries, Feta & Maple-Glazed Pecans 8 Clementine Marmalade Biscuits 10 Spaghetti Squash with Beluga Lentils, Parsley Pesto & Shiitake 12 Flower Power Cake 14 The Meal: The Return with Elixir
Introduction The Call to Adventure “Excuse me, sir, I don’t mean to intrude on your lunch, but what is that you are eating there? It looks fantastic!”
oe’s daily diet of unhealthy meals (sugary cereal for breakfast; a bland sandwich from his local deli for lunch; take-out from the Chinese restaurant near his office for dinner) had led him to feel sluggish and tired everyday. But it was that Wednesday morning, after he’d finally managed to drag himself out of his bed, that he decided to pursue a lifestyle makeover: stepping on the scale, he stared at disbelief at the number: 189 pounds!
The man looked up from his meal and even offered Joe a taste. “Oh, it’s nothing too fancy - just a simple salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, red peppers, avocado, and crumbled blue cheese, all drizzled with a lemony vinaigrette. And I added a slice of grilled salmon, just to get some protein in there. How about you - what have you go in your lap?” Joe looked down at his half-eaten sandwich and tried to stifle his embarrassment. “Uh, this? Well this was just something I managed to whip up before dashing off to work this morning - it’s really all I had in my fridge...”
During his lunch break, Joe sat on a park bench outside and gazed gloomily at the unappetizing bologna sandwich on his lap. But then, a waft of the most delicious aroma drifted under his nose. “What is that wonderful smell?” Joe wondered. He looked to his left and saw an elderly man enjoying a beautifully boxed meal of salmon, resting on a nest of leafy vegetables of the most vibrant green hues.
And so the seeds of a life-long culinary mentorship were planted, with the famous Gourmand Gordon guiding our young hero in his journey to live a healthier lifestyle. The final test of all his new skills came when he faced the challenge of cooking a delicious meal for his family.
Menu Serves 8-9 People
To Begin Winter Squash Soup with Citrus-Mint Pesto Baby Spinach Salad with Dried Cranberries, Feta & Maple-Glazed Pecans
Side Clementine Marmalade & Biscuits
Main Course Spaghetti Squash with Beluga Lentils, Parsley Pesto & Shiitake
Dessert Flower Power Cake
Winter Squash Soup with Citrus-Mint Pesto Yield: serves 8 people Active Time: 30 min
Ingredients For the Winter Squash Soup:
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium Vidalia or Spanish onion - peeled, quartered, and cut crosswise in 1/8” slices 2 garlic cloves - skinned and finely chopped 1 cup dry white wine 3 lbs (1.36 kg) winter squash (1 medium butternut squash, kabocha, sugar pumpkin, etc.) – peeled (use vegetable hand-peeler), seeded and cut in 1” chunks 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock 3 to 3 1/2 cups spring water 1 1/4 tsp sea salt or to taste 2 tbsp fresh orange juice freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the Citrus-Mint Pesto:
Italian parsley - tough stems removed 1 1/2 oz (43 gr) fresh mint – leaves removed from stems 8 sprigs
fennel seeds – coarsely ground with mortar and pestle 1/4 tsp orange zest (use microplane grater) 1/4 tsp pine nuts 2 tbsp ea salt 1/4 tsp extra virgin olive oil 1/2 cup freshly ground black pepper to taste
“Any helpful tips for making homemade soup?” Joe asked.
1 Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot to medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and onions and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes until golden, stirring from time to time. Add the garlic and wine. Stir well and continue to sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, until the wine has evaporated and glazed the onions. Add the squash chunks, stock, 3 cups of water, salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil and then simmer covered for 30 to 35 minutes, until the squash is very tender.
Gordon paused to take a long sip from the simmering pot before answering: “Well, hot soups like this one we’re making are fantastic as palette cleansers in-between meal courses. And adding a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley as a garnish right before serving helps bring out the soup’s flavor - but here, we have our lovely pesto!”
2 Add the orange juice and purée the soup with a stick blender or food processor, until silky-smooth. Thin the soup with water to the desired consistency. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Remove from heat and set aside. 3 While the soup is simmering, make the pesto. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until very smooth, for 1 to 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. 4 Ladle the soup into soup bowls. Place a spoonful of the pesto in the center of each bowl and serve immediately.
Chef ’s Note: The soup can be made up to 3 days ahead and re-heated just before serving. It may need to be thinned with additional spring water, as the squash will absorb the liquids as it stands. Freezes well up to 1 month.
Baby Spinach Salad with Dried Cranberries, Feta & Maple-Glazed Pecans Yield: serves 8 people Active Time: 20 min
Ingredients For the Maple-Glazed Pecans:
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 tbsp maple syrup 2/3 cups pecan halves sea salt to taste
For the Vinaigrette:
extra virgin olive oil 6 tbsp large shallots - skinned, quartered, and finely sliced 3 aged balsamic vinegar 2 1/2 tbsp sea salt 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper to taste
8 oz (227 gr) baby spinach - rinsed and spun dry 1/2 cup dried cranberries 4 oz (113 gr) French feta or sheepâ€™s milk feta - crumbled freshly ground pepper to taste
For the Salad:
Directions 1 To prepare maple-glazed pecans: Heat a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, maple syrup and pecans. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently until the pecans are golden and the maple syrup has darkened. Spread the pecans on a cooling rack so the pan juices can drip down and sprinkle with salt. Once cooled place in a Tupperware until ready to use. Place the spinach in a large bowl and set aside. 2 To prepare the vinaigrette: Heat a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the shallots. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until the shallots are light golden. Quickly add the balsamic, balance of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir well and remove from heat.
“People often think that salads are boring - an unsatisfying meal. But with a little creativity and willingness to experiment, a salad can be both delicious and filling. When it comes to preparing your own fresh vinaigrette for a salad’s dressing, I really recommend following a 3 to 1 ratio between your oil and you acid. We’ve used extra virgin olive oil here - it’s more flavorful and textured - but hazlenut, grapeseed, and so on work just as well too!” Gordon said as they waited for the frying pan to heat.
3 Pour the warm vinaigrette over the baby spinach. Toss well and divide equally in the center of eight salad bowls or plates (alternatively place in a large serving platter). Top with a few cranberries and a little crumbled feta. Garnish with the pecans. 4 Assembly: Finish with freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.
Chef ’s Note: The pecans can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored at room temperature.
Clementine Marmalade Biscuits Yield: about 2 cups Clementine Vanilla Bean Marmalade, about 6 small biscuits Active Time: 1 hour
Ingredients For the Clementine Vanilla Bean Marmalade:
1/2 cup fresh clementine juice 1 vanilla bean - split, seeds scraped 1/4 cup honey
For the Rosemary Almond Meal Biscuits:
almond flour 3 cups salt 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp grade seed oil 1/4 cup eggs 2 honey 1 tbsp freshly chopped rosemary 1/2 tbsp
Directions 1 To make the Clementine Vanilla Bean Marmalade: First, in order to remove the bitter taste from the clementines’ peels, blanch the clementines. Slice them as thin as you can and place them in a pot with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain. Pour more cold water into the pot, bring to a boil, redice and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and let clementines cool in the pot. 2 Chop clementines into small pieces and return to pot. Add juice and honey. Bring to a boil and boil for about 20 minutes or until the temperature gets to about 220°F. Remove from heat and stir in vanila seeds. Allow to cool before adding to clean jars for storage. 3 To make the Rosemary Almond Meal Biscuits: Combine almond flour (2 1/2 cups), salt, rosemary, and baking soda in a bowl. Mix together the oil, eggs, and honey in a separate bowl. Mix your wet ingredients into your dry until a nice dough forms.
“Remember to key an eye on those chopped clementines, simmering in the pot. You don’t want them to get too hot, especially since we have the juice and honey in the mixture as well,” warned Gordon. Joe had been struggling with keeping an eye on ingredients heating on the stove. “There’s so much going on all at once in the kitchen!” Joe lamented, and he ran his thumb under some cold water after burning it for the third time. “How do you manage to remember what’s in the oven, what’s heating in a pot what’s, what’s cooling in the fridge…” Gordon chuckled. “It takes time, patience, and experience. You’ll get the hang of it soon enough!”
4 Roll your dough between two sheets of parchment paper, sprinkling extra flour to avoid sticking. For larger biscuits roll dough to about 1 inch thick and cut biscuits using a biscuit cutter or the mouth of a mason jar. For smaller biscuits roll dough to about 1/2 inch thick. 5 Place biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake on 350°F for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown on the outside. 6 Assembly: Remove from biscuits from the oven, slather with marmalade, and enjoy! Chef ’s Note: Traditionally, marmalade are an equal weight of fruit and sugar boiled together, which often lends a nice congealed texture. Rather than dousing our clementines in sugar, we’ve enhanced their flavor with vanilla bean and just a touch of honey.
Spaghetti Squash with Beluga Lentils, Parsley Pesto & Shiitake Yield: serves 2 people Active Time: 1 hour 10 min Total Time: 1 hour 40 min
Ingredients For the Spaghetti Squash:
1 large spaghetti squash 1 tbsp coconut oil or ghee sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
For the Beluga Lentils & Shiitake Mushroom â€œSauceâ€?:
beluga lentils - rinsed 1/2 cup (120 ml) water 1 cup (240 ml)
fresh shiitake mushrooms 1 cup (around 100 g) a pinch of salt
2 handfuls flat-leaf parsley - leaves picked 3 tbsp pine nuts or nuts of choice - toasted 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 3 tbsp sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
For the Parsley Pesto:
Directions 1 Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). 2 To make the Spaghetti Squash: Divide the spaghetti squash lengthwise with a large sharp knife. Rub the cut sides with coconut oil and season with salt and pepper. Place both halves on a baking tray, cut side down. Bake in the oven for 40-60 minutes (depending on the size of the squash). The halves are ready when the skin is bubbly and slightly browned. 3 To prepare the Beluga Lentils and Shiitake Mushrooms: Meanwhile, prepare lentils and shiitake. Place water and lentils in saucepan, cover and bring to a boil, lower the heat and let gently simmer for 30 minutes or until tender and can be mashed easily between two fingers. Drain any excess water and set aside. 4 To make the Parsley Pesto: Place all pesto ingredients in a mortar and grind until creamy, but still chunky, set aside.
“You can serve this spaghetti squash with any kind of your favorite pasta sauces,” Gordon explained as he neatly ground the pesto. “But I chose this parsley pesto, beluga lentils, and roasted shiitake topping. The green color of the pesto, combined with the rustic, earthy hues of the lentils and mushrooms are especially eye pleasing.” Joe ran a fork through the spaghetti squash. “Squash? As a “pasta”? How does that work? What about the noodles?” Gordon shook his head. “This is what we call a ‘gluten-free’ version of spaghetti ‘Squaghetti’, if you please.”
5 Remove the squash from the oven, turn it so you’ll have the cut side up. Let cool for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, heat the shitake mushrooms in a frying pan with a little coconut oil until soft and brown. Set aside. 6 Use a fork to scrape out the spaghetti strands. 7 Place on serving plates the spaghetti squash, then top with beluga lentils, pesto and shiitake.
Chef ’s Note: This recipe yields a serving size of 2; adjust ingredients accordingly to serve more people.
Flower Power Cake Yield: serves 8 people Active Time: 20 min Total Time: 1 hour 30 min
Ingredients For the Maple-Glazed Crust:
1 1/2 cups (225 g) almonds 1/2 cup sunflower seeds 2 tbsp hemp seeds 12 fresh dates (medjool) - pitted 2 tbsp virgin coconut oil 1 tsp sea salt
For the Filling:
organic lemons - juice & zest 2
raw cashews soaked for at least 2 hours, longer if you have time 1 1/2 cups grounded vanilla powder 1 tsp coconut oil - melted 1/3 cup honey or agave nectar 1/3 cup rosehip powder (optional) 1 tbsp
2 medium size pomegranate seeds
For the Topping & Decoration:
1/3 cup frozen raspberries 1/2 lime - juice organic & edible fresh flowers (optional)
Directions 1 To make the crust: Grind nuts and seeds in a blender or a food processor for a bout a minute. Add dates, coconut oil, and sea salt and run the processor until it all comes together. Flatten it out on the bottom of an 8-inch, non-stick spring form. Store in the fridge while you make the filling. Clean blender or food processor well. 2 To make the filling: Warm coconut oil and honey in a small saucepan on low heat until liquid. Whisk to combine. Place soaked cashews, lemon juice and zest, vanilla, coconut oil, honey and rosehip in blender or food processor and blend on high until very smooth (this make take a couple minutes so be patient). Pour the filling over the crust and place in the freezer for 30 minutes or until set. Clean blender or food processor well.
“This cake looks too beautiful to eat! I haven’t the heart to cut it.” Joe said as Gordon finished carefully garnishing the dessert with the organic flowers. “Yes, it looks pretty, but it also tastes fantastic!” responded Gordon. “It’s the perfect ending to this delicious meal - your family will definitely enjoy it. Remember, when it comes to cooking and sharing food with loved ones, half of it is about taste, and half of it is about presentation.”
3 To make the topping: Place pomegranate seeds, raspberries and lime juice in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour the topping on top of the cashew filling, place the cake back in the freezer for about 30 minutes. 4 Remove from freezer 30 minutes before eating. Decorate the cake with fresh organic flowers. Run a smooth, sharp knife under hot water and cut into slices. Chef ’s Note: It is completely voluntary to eat the flowers. Edible options include Viola-type flowers, Roses, Calendula, Rosehip, Dandelions, Carnations, lavendar, Cornflowers, Pea flowers, Day Lilies, Chamomile, and many more.
The Dinner The Return with the Elixir do the honors?” We certainly wouldn’t be enjoying this delightful family dinner if it weren’t for you!”
oe could barely keep his hands from shaking as he helped Gordon carry out the first courses to the dining room table. His parents, older brother, and three sisters were already seated, chatting away amongst each other. At the sound of Joe and Gordon’s footsteps, they paused their conversation, and smiled encouragingly at Joe.
Gordon stood up from his seat and held up his glass: “Thank you, thank you, but I deserve only a bit of the credit. Young Joe here was the perfect student - we faced many trials and errors in the kitchen, but his willingness to keep at it and always learn more proved invaluable to his culinary journey. I hope you all enjoy this fantastic meal he’s prepared for you; healthy, delicious , and satisfying, these are the values Joe plans to build all of his meals around in the future. I hope he shares his recipes and kitchen tricks with all of you.”
“Oh honey, this looks absolutely wonderful!” his mother cooed as Joe carefully placed a steaming hot bowl of the winter squash soup in front of her.
And so then the dinner truly began, with not a hiccup in the road: the winter squash soup, savory but sweet; the spinach salad, refreshing and crisp; the biscuits and citrus marmalade, still warm from the oven; the “squaghetti” entree, the favorite among all guests; and finally, the colorful dessert, as delicious as its beautiful appearance.
At his mother’s insistance, Joe sat himself down at the head of the table, with Gordon to his right. “A toast’s in order!” his father roared, as he capped off his glass of red wine for the fourth time. “Gordon, as our son’s superb mentor this past year, would you please
Recipe Sources: Winter Squash Soup with Citrus-Mint Pesto http://foodandstyle.com/2011/11/21/winter-squash-soup-with-citrus-mint-pesto/
Baby Spinach Salad with Dried Cranberries, Feta, & Maple-Glazed Pecans
Clementine Marmalade Biscuits http://www.greenkitchenstories.com/clementine-marmalade-biscuits-a-la-roost/
Spaghetti Squash with Beluga Lentils, Parsley Pesto & Shiitake http://www.greenkitchenstories.com/spaghetti-squash-with-beluga-lentils-parsley-pesto-shitake/
Flower Power Cake