Local Chefs for Local Food
This winter, High Country gardeners and farmers have been growing cold-tolerant vegetables, such as greens, lettuce and radishes in green houses or under row covers. Foodies are looking forward to farmers’ markets opening within the next couple of weeks. To celebrate the upcoming bountiful season, Boone chefs are demonstrating how to cook up local goods.
Last Thursday, Angela Kelly, chef and owner of Proper, showed us how to make salad dressing. Her menu has a variety of salad offerings, with all dressings being home-made. We were able to sample them over beautiful baby greens grown at Watauga River Farms, topped with feta cheese from Heritage Homestead in Ashe. Angela also shared the art of cooking collard greens, southern-style.
Like a growing number of enlightened chefs in our area, Angela likes to patronize local farms not only because it’s the right thing to do, but for the quality. She shared, “By the time you throw away the lettuce that’s decaying when buying from a large purveyor, it’s really cost effective to buy locally. The presentation is so much better. It’s beautiful.”
On Thursday, April 19, Sam Ratchford, owner and chef of Vidalia restaurant, will demonstrate a marinated tomato and ramp salad with baby collards and shiitake mushrooms, pork belly brown rice risotto with kale, micro arugula and spring turnips and rhubarb strawberry cobbler with vanilla bean semifreddo. Sam features menu items with locally procured ingredients every day.
To register for this event, call N.C. Cooperative Extension at (828) 264-3061, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Charge is $5 per person, and it takes place from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the agricultural conference center in Boone.
For a listing of restaurants that purchase ingredients locally, check out http://www.highcountrygrown.org. High Country Grown is a marketing initiative to mature the High Country’s local food system. These cooking demonstrations are part of this initiative and made possible by a NCDA grant received early in 2011 by project partners: N.C. Cooperative Extension, New River Organic Growers, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture and High Country CSA.
Here are a couple of recipes that Angela demonstrated. These dressings are a great way to dress up the spring greens you will soon find at the market.
Lemon Thyme Dressing
2 lemons, zest and juice
12 springs of thyme with leaves stripped off, around 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon brown mustard
4 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
3 ½ cups light flavored oil, such as canola
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon brown mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
2 ½ cups oil of choice
Combine all ingredients except oil.
Using an emersion blender, blend in a tall container, such as a pitcher.
Gradually add oil while continuing to blend.
This makes a huge quantity, but lasts in the refrigerator for several months.
Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups. To contact Margie, email email@example.com or call (828) 264-3061.