Tag Archives: NYC Food Events

“Cooking from the Heart” with Chef John Besh at The International Culinary Center

Chef John Besh adding crab bodies to fish stewChef John Besh adding crab bodies to pan

“I thought today might be a good day to cook fish heads,” Chef John Besh announced as he kicked off his culinary demonstration on Thursday, Halloween Day, at the International Culinary Center to a room packed full of students from all the programs as well as a few alumni like me and a couple of my classmates.  Taking advantage of a day off from the catering kitchens where I usually work, I slid into a seat in the front row, anticipating some delicious treats and looking forward to stories and tips from this celebrated chef, who was in New York City with his team, touring and promoting his new cookbook “Cooking from the Heart,” which talks about his own personal journey and growth as a culinary professional.

Fish Soup w RouilleSoupe de Poissons (Fish Soup) with Rouille

Regaling us with stories of his own (and his chefs’) cooking exploits, Chef Besh walked us through not just the process of making a classic Provençale fish soup and how layers of flavor are built at each stage of the cooking process.  Seared crab bodies lend a subtle nuttiness to the finished product.  “Fish heads add a great viscosity to the soup.”  The soupe de poissons is also the base for a classic bouillabaisse, so a good flavor profile in the base is important to the final dish.  He added lots of saffron to the broth as well as other aromatics: “using dried herbs and spices work well with long, slow braises,” he advised.  To accompany the soup, Chef Besh whipped up a classic rouille, a mayonnaise with garlic and harissa and served it to us with toasted bread rounds.

Chef John Besh making rouilleChef Besh making rouille

He also talked to us about his own personal development in becoming a chef after attending culinary school.  “It was important to me to know the stories behind the food,” he explained.  This journey took him to Germany to the Black Forest region and to Provence in France.  At each step he worked with trained masters of their profession who challenged him, let him make mistakes and learn from them.  He also spent time with home cooks in those areas, too, capturing even more of the feel of the local cuisines.  These stories and the recipes that he developed from these lessons are captured in “Cooking from the Heart,” a copy of which we received at this demo.

Cooking from the Heart cookbookChef John Besh’s latest cookbook

It was very clear from the demo and the passion and delight that Chef Besh’s showed in his cooking on Thursday, that this is a very special book.  It’s a fond look back at the road that a bright, young culinary graduate took in order to become a chef, a recognition of all the people and places that have inspired him along the way.  This is a book that makes you just want to curl up on the couch, as I did, and read it as a piece of literature.  At the same time, the recipes are also inspiring and heart-warming, the terrines, soups, vegetable dishes, and desserts that capture useful techniques and terrific tastes and are rooted in the heritage of the countries in which he studied, and can also translate to meals on your table for family and friends.

Pear ClafoutisPear Clafoutis

We wrapped up the demo with a piece of a Pear Clafoutis, another classic dish, and a simple and tasty dessert that is very easy to make.  It’s super flexible as well, as Chef Besh explained, as it can be made using almost any seasonal fruit that you have available.  Throughout the demo, Chef Besh highlighted the efforts of his team of chefs and discussed how he sends them to get further training with some of the same chefs who taught him along the way.  Of course, he also ribbed them a bit as well for their own culinary exploits, including one of them who had dumped a whole vat of soup on a prominent chef.  He ended the demo by recognizing the folks who work with him, “There’s no way that I could do the work I do, have the life I have, without this team.”

Buon appetito!

Normally, at this point, I might offer this book as a giveaway item on this site, but I’m hanging onto this one, folks.  You should put it on your holiday gift book list, too.  

City Harvest Bid Against Hunger 2013

City Harvest TruckA City Harvest food collection truck

Last week, I attended one of New York’s premier fundraising events, City Harvest‘s “Bid Against Hunger,” a night where the culinary community comes together to raise money to feed its city’s citizens.  Seventy chefs provided tastings of specially-made dishes, beverages flowed, and wallets and pocketbooks opened to generate funds that will have a wide-reaching impact on getting much-needed food to people who might otherwise go hungry.  The moneys raised through the live and silent auction will go towards supporting the organization’s programs throughout the year, initiatives that help support 400 community food programs and to provide resources to more than one million New Yorkers a year.

Cronuts Auction - Nicholas Lowry, Questlove, & Dominique AnselQuestlove and Dominique Ansel auction Cronuts

After the initial walk-around tastings portion of the evening, everyone gathered around for the live auction.  I haven’t jumped on the Cronut bandwagon as yet.  Truthfully, I’ve been avoiding this food fad.  After this event, however, I might have to become a fan.  First to take the stage were Questlove and Dominique Ansel with an extra-special, off-program, unique additional item for guests to bid on that evening.  One dozen, freshly-baked, hand-delivered Cronuts.  The winning bid?  $14,000.  That’s quite a few people being fed from just one box of sweet treats.

The Auction - Nicholas Lowry, Aldo Sohm & Eric RipertThe Auction – Nicholas Lowry, Aldo Sohm & Eric Ripert

Other prizes for the auction featured special dinners cooked by top NYC chefs, including the top-bid item “C’est Magnifique.”  This was also the highest-bid item during last year’s auction as well.  A wine class for 15 people hosted by Aldo Sohm and Jay McInerney plus dinner for two a Le Bernardin prepared by Chef Eric Ripert.  It’s the kind of one-off experience that makes me wish I’d saved all of my pennies from every job I had ever had so that I could also have the chance to compete for it.  The winning bid for that was $42,000, enough to keep many bellies from growling from hunger.

The Auction - Star Chefs package - Amanda Freitag & Marc MurphyThe Auction – Star Chefs package – Amanda Freitag & Marc Murphy

The other live auction items were no less splendid or spectacular either.  How would you like to take a private sushi-making class for four at Morimoto followed by dinner personally prepared by the chef himself?  Or maybe take a tour of Harlem with Chef Marcus Samuelsson with dinner at Ginny’s Supper Club aftwards?  Chopped Chefs Marc Murphy and Amanda Freitag also teamed up to offer a meal prepared together by them complete with special wine pairings selected by Landmarc’s Beverage Director David Lombardo.

Picholine - Gorgonzola Semi-freddo w Pear, Port-red Wine Gel, Walnut CrumbPicholine – Gorgonzola “Semi-freddo” with Pear, Port-red Wine Gell, Walnut Crumb

In addition to the auction lots, everyone was gathered this evening to enjoy the food, and there were some amazing dishes to sample.  When I arrived there, I bumped into Rhonda Kave of Roni-Sue’s Chocolates (who had opened up a new store on the Lower East Side just the week prior).  She advised me to start with dessert first, which I was more than happy to do.  One dramatic, stand-out dish was the Gorgonzola “Semi-freddo” with Pear, Port-red Wine Gel, and Walnut Crumb offered by Picholine.  The “semi-freddo” was made on-site using liquid nitrogen and mixed up to order (see the slideshow below for a step-by-step plating).  It was a bit like eating the crunchy Astronaut Ice Cream of our childhood, for those who remember that concoction with a funky, blue cheesy backnote, and made an interesting contrast to the fruit and sauce.

Landmarc - Creamy Grits with Charred Kale & Sweet Italian SausageLandmarc – Creamy Grits with Charred Kale & Sweet Italian Sausage

On the savory side, there was so much amazing food to taste that it is really hard for me to pick a favorite.  I am going to give a special nod, however, to the folks with whom I work on a daily basis and highlight the Grits with Charred Kale and Sweet Italian Sausage that the team at Landmarc put together.  By way of full disclosure, I work with the events group for this company, doing culinary production, so I had a kitchen-eye view of the evolution of this dish.  I even had a hand in chopping up the cooked kale and getting it packed and ready to go for the evening.  Truthfully, I was a little bit skeptical when I first heard about it, but after trying that first bite, all hesitation melted away.  The creamy grits worked perfectly with the smokiness of the kale and that sweet meatiness of the sausage.  My only complaint is that I wanted more parmesan to sprinkle on top of it as the nutty, salty addition of the cheese really brought it all to an even more delicious level.  I enjoyed this plate so much that I was hoping maybe we’d get the leftovers for family meal at work the next day, but I’ll have to settle for re-creating it at home.

To see more of the evening’s activities and lots of plates of wonderful food and refreshing beverages, click on the slideshow above.  It was truly a remarkable event with a special mission of feeding not just those of us in the room, but using the power of food to assist others in our community to be able to feed themselves.  For more information about City Harvest, please visit their website.

Buon appetito!

Thank you very much to Rubenstein Public Relations for arranging for me to have a press pass to attend this event.

NYC Wine & Food Festival 2013 Burger Bash with Le Rivage

French Onion Soup Burger by Le RivageLe Rivage French Onion Soup Burger

So what did I get up to this weekend?  Well, not much, really.  I just worked the very popular Burger Bash event at the NYC Wine & Food Festival.  Oh, yeah, and the restaurant at whose stand I was helping out just happened to win first prize judge’s choice for their French Onion Soup Burger!

Skyline viewThe view

Here’s how I got involved with this.  A week or so before the event, I reached out to a friend of mine who was coordinating the cooking and set up for the chef competing in this.  She’s one of the people who helped to train me when I was a very green culinary student.  (Piece of advice for current students: volunteer to work as many events as possible.  It will make you faster and more adept at your culinary skills.)  So, when I found out I wasn’t scheduled to work at my other three jobs, I offered to pitch in to help out.  You’ve never seen an email returned so quickly saying, “Yes!”

Burger Bash CredentialsEvent credentials

I reported to the restaurant at 11:00 a.m. on Friday.  My first task was to start getting things together to load them up into the large tubs that we used to transport all the burger fixings to the event site over at Pier 92.  Our meat was being delivered directly to the venue by the distributor, Pat LaFreida Meats.  We were sponsored by Thomas’ English Muffins, the same kind that is used for this burger when it is served in the restaurant.  The English muffins were piled high on the table when we got there, ready to be toasted and paired with their burgers.

Burger Bash 2013 stageBurger Bash stage – the calm before the storm

We arrived at the venue at about 1:00 p.m., and it was just prepping our area and getting everything set up from there.  My first task – slicing in half the large pile of English Muffins and getting them set up on sheet trays to be toasted.  Then, walking through with our coordinating chef the set up for our stations and figuring out the flow for the evening.  These events are gobs of fun to work, but they take military-style precision to get the team to function in the most effective and efficient manner possible.  The word “multi-tasking” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Station from the terraceOur “kitchen” and the event tent

When you walk into one of these events, you might generally have an idea of the equipment you will be working with for the next several hours.  Things that can’t be controlled like the weather or power shortages only add to the fun and dynamic aspect of the day.  Fortunately, we packed enough ice when we left the restaurant, as the bins for them hadn’t been filled when we arrived.  We reorganized our speedracks and tables to work with the flow that the chef thought would be the best to cook, finish, and plate our dishes.  The cooking took place outside of the main tent where the guests would be sampling the various chefs’ burgers.  Given the smokiness of the grills, especially as the evening wore on, that was probably a smart decision.  We all reeked of bbq grease and essence of cooked burgers at the end of the evening.  I’m not sure that all the smell is still out of my clothes.

Grilling the onionsHeating the onions

Once our area was in order, it was time to fire up the grills and get cooking.  The containers of caramelized onions, this was, after all, a French Onion Soup Burger, were dumped onto the griddle and heated up to temperature before being held in a pan to be added to the burgers.  English muffins were toasted on another griddle after being brushed with clarified butter.  Then, there came a delivery of another component to our dish, one that I’d been looking forward to trying very much.  We had Jacques Torres’ chocolate potato chips, salty, sweet, creamy, chocolatey, crunchiness to place alongside the very rich burgers.

Chocolate Potato Chip Bark by Jacques TorresChocolate potato chips by Jacques Torres

The VIP guests started arriving at 6:30 p.m.  Prior to that, we were told that the judges would be coming through at 6:15 p.m.  All of the set up had to be done with the first set of everything: buns, burgers, fixin’s all ready to go to start pumping out plates of our dish.  It’s like a starting gun going off at a race with it just taking off from there and everything flying at greater that full speed for the next 3+ hours until it comes to a complete and total stop or the station runs out of food, whichever happens first.

Putting the burgers togetherPutting the burgers together

My task was to get the completed burgers sliced into quarters (our serving size for this event) and onto the serving dishes to be put onto the tray and then garnished with a few chocolate potato chips. After that, a culinary volunteer would run the tray into the event tent to our table there, where the chef would serve them to the guests.  It was a continual, frenzied pace to continually get the burgers put together, sliced, and plated to go out.  We had a lot of hungry guests to feed and folks really seemed to enjoy our food, coming back for seconds and thirds.

Working the grillsChefs working the grills

Smoke and grease filled the air, the grills were firing on all cylinders, and we just kept pounding away, moving as many burgers as we possibly could with everyone on the team jumping in to work as quickly as possible to get the trays out to the table.  We each took turns plating, adding chips to the dishes, slicing, and running the food to the guests.  I even manned the grill for a few minutes, toasting English muffins to give one of the other chefs a break and to let the smoke clear from his eyes.

Angela & Paul with winning trophyAngela and Paul with the winning trophy

Finally, when the chef gave us the “all in” (meaning we could quit cooking and start to clean up our area and pack everything to go back to the restaurant), I had a chance to run to the bathroom and to walk out the kinks in my back and knees (one side effect of moving in a limited range of motion for several hours while working these events).  I made my way through the crowd of well-fed, happy guests who were all enjoying the music, the venue, and the great crisp fall weather.  When I got back to our tent, I started clearing up and was barely listening to the background chatter coming from the judges’ podium.  Our coordinating chef ran up and said, “We won!  We just won Burger Bash!  Did you hear that?!”  We all ran into the main tent to see our head chef with his trophy and a giant smile on his face, as his industry peers had awarded him the Best Burger for Burger Bash 2013.

Dirty Chefs jacketA burger grease-stained jacket

Winning or losing, it is always so much fun to work these events (although, it was pretty awesome to win this one).  The adrenaline just flows, and it all comes together in some magical way to get the food prepped and on the table to feed people.  It’s crazy, hectic, smelly, smoky, dirty, and madly frantic, but at the end, that beverage that you sip to celebrate the finish of another evening is the sweetest tasting thing you’ve ever had, and you go to bed completely spent but utterly satisfied that you did your job the best you could that day.  Then, you sign up to work the next event, whatever that may be.  In our case, we were back on again the next morning to work the Greenmarket Brunch.

Burger Recipe cardThe winning recipe

Thank you so much to Angela Dimino for letting me help out with this event.  It was a pleasure to work with her, Chef Paul Denamiel of Le Rivage, and the rest of the team.  To make the winning burger at home, here is the recipe card that the folks at Thomas’ had put together for Burger Bash.  You can also find the recipe here on their website.  The chef created a Monte Cristo using Thomas’ English Muffins, too.  We served that at the Greenmarket Brunch on Saturday.  Here’s looking forward to next year’s competition!

Buon appetito!

James Beard Foundation’s Taste America!

JBF Taste AmericaJames Beard Foundation’s Taste America!

Along with the catering and production cook work I’ve been doing to pursue my fledgling culinary career, I also fit in some time this weekend to help out with a couple of chefs’ demos that were part of the New York City leg of the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America! celebration of regional food across the country.  On Saturday, at the Hell’s Kitchen location of Sur La Table, two chefs presented their recipes and gave attendees a peek into their culinary philosophies.  From California, Daniel Patterson the executive chef of Coi restaurant in San Francisco, demonstrated how to make one of his signature soups.  From this coast, cookbook author and chef Maricel Presilla came in from Hoboken, New Jersey to talk about mole’ and Latin American flavor influences.

Daniel Patterson making sunchoke soupDaniel Patterson making sunchoke soup

Before the demo started, Chef Patterson spent a few minutes introducing himself to the group of assistants who would be helping out during the mini-lesson, setting the stage for his casual, yet informative communications style that combines his passion for and knowledge of working with season and hyper-local ingredients.  His new cookbook, which he was also promoting on this tour, Coi is part recipes, part stories, and part inspirational, as he put it.  As he whipped up a batch of Sunchoke Soup, he talked about how this dish is representative on many levels of the way that he and his colleagues cook at their restaurant.

Daniel Patterson Sunchoke soupSunchoke Soup

They take a local and seasonal item, like the sunchoke, and then build up a recipe using each aspect of the product.  Sunflower seeds are ground in a mortar and pestle and mixed with oil, the young greens are used as garnish and thinly-sliced, raw sunchokes are placed on the final dish.  The sunchokes themselves are also puréed and mixed with an emulsion of chanterelle mushrooms, giving the soup added depth of flavor and an extra dimension of earthy, meatiness.  Attendees raved about the samples that we presented to them, and there were just a few bowls left for the staff to enjoy, too.  This soup seemed to capture the essence of autumn in each bite with a feel of afternoons walking through a damp field or shuffling feet moving through piles of fallen leaves.

Maricel Presilla explaining peppersMaricel Presilla explaining about various peppers

The next demo took us south to warmer climes.  Maricel Presilla, the award-winning author of the Latin American cooking tome, Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America.  She explained to us that mole’ was traditionally a dish served at celebrations and that it has a long history across many Latin American civilizations.  When chocolate was used in the recipe, it was as a sign of prestige, as it was very expensive.  She also talked to us about the kinds of peppers that are used in the dish and how to prepare them for putting into mole’.

Enchilada with Mole'Enchilada with Mole’

Then, the tasting portion of the program was ready.  Attendees were treated to Chef Presilla’s hand-rolled enchiladas, steamed for us on-site served with a generous helping of the mole’ that she had made for us.  The deep, rich flavor and silken texture with slightly-spiced, mildly-peppery cocoa notes hit every area of my palate and made me want to lick the prep bowl to get every drop out of it.  This was a fantastic display of the range of cuisines and cultures that make up our culinary landscape in this country, which just encourages me to want to explore more of it.

Buon appetito!

Prosciutto di Parma Parma-palooza

Parmapalooza guidebookParma-palooza guide to the chefs

Thursday night under a beautiful fall evening was the perfect setting for an event celebrating Italy’s most iconic pork product: Prosciutto di Parma. Underground Eats put together a roster of some of New York’s top chefs along with legs of this ham for a Parma-palooza at the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn in order to highlight the 50th anniversary of the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma.  The evening culminated in one chef being crowned “Prince/Princess of Prosciutto di Parma.” For those attendees brave enough to get inked with a tattoo heralding their fandom for this meat, they walked off with their very own leg of prosciutto, not a bad goodie bag item.

Wall of legs of Prosciutto di ParmaWall of legs of Prosciutto di Parma

Before heading into the main event space to visit each of the chef’s tables, guests could stop by an sample 24-month and 36-month-aged prosciutto, allowing their tastebuds to savor the saltiness, fat content, and flavor development of each level of the process.  The beverage station, with wine and drink choices offered by Vinissimo, had a garnet-hued Lambrusco, perfect for cleansing the palate after eating the rich ham, or maybe to pick up an Aranciata Twist, a spin on a more traditional aperitivo made with Aperol and orange bitters.

Sampling 24-month Prosciutto di ParmaSampling 24-month-aged Prosciutto di Parma

Then, it was on to try the creations put together by the chefs.  I definitely had my favorites among them.  The prosciutto was showcased in a number a versions of salty-sweet-fatty combinations.  I really like the idea of shaking up the typical cataloupe-and-prosciutto pairing, as several chefs did at this tasting.  There were also some other presentations that I thought might be interesting to try the next time I treat myself to a bit of prosciutto at my local Italian market.

Massimo CarboneBrio

Brio - Prosciutto di Parma-wrapped Gorgonzola-stuffed FigFig stuffed with Gorgonzola and wrapped in Prosciutto di Parma

Ryan HardyCharlie Bird

Charlie Bird - Octopus Saltimbocca with Prosciutto di ParmaOctopus Saltimbocca with Prosciutto di Parma

Elizabeth FalknerCorvo Bianco

Corvo Bianco - Scallop, Butternut Squash Puree & Prosciutto CrispScallop, Butternut Squash Puree and Prosciutto Crisp

Danny BowienMission Chinese

Mission Chinese - Tartine Rye, Genovese Pesto, Prosciutto di Parma, Sea UrchinTartine Rye, Genovese Pesto, Prosciutto di Parma, and Sea Urchin

Sam MasonOddfellows Ice Cream

Oddfellow's - Prosciutto di Parma-Cantaloupe-Red Wine Ice CreamProsciutto di Parma-Cantaloupe-Red Wine Ice Cream

Sara JenkinsPorsena, Porchetta

Porchetta-Porsena - Crostino w Cataloupe Melon Butter & Prosciutto di ParmaCrostino with Cataloupe Melon Butter and Prosciutto di Parma

Sean RemboldReynards

Autumn Squash and Prosciutto Saltimbocca with Honey MayoAutumn Squash and Prosciutto Saltimbocca with Honey Mayo

Francis DerbyThe Cannibal

Prosciutto di Parma and Egg Sausage with Tomato JamProsciutto di Parma and Egg Sausage with Tomato Jam

Ann Redding & Matt DanzerUncle Boon’s

Thai Chili and Prosciutto di Parma dipping sauce with fried pork rindsThai Chili and Prosciutto di Parma dipping sauce with fried pork rinds

Wild Rise Pizza

Margherita with Prosciutto & HerbsPizza Margherita with Prosciutto and Herbs

While I really enjoyed everything that I tasted, basically because there was ample prosciutto on almost everything, there were a few stand-out items.  Although you might have given a “ick” or “eww” when looking at the photo of the Prosciutto di Parma-Cantaloupe-Red Wine Ice Cream, you would be cheating yourself out of trying one of the most creative dishes of the evening.  I’d had prosciutto ice cream before at another anniversary event for the consorzio back in May, so I knew that this combination could work. It did here, too, with the sweetness of the fruit and cream melding beautifully with the funky, meatiness of the ham.  Another dish I saw tackled, literally, every time a server came around with it was the Autumn Squash and Prosciutto Saltimbocca with Honey Mayo. It took me a few passes to get my hands on one of these nibbles. One bite, and I understood completely why they were in such demand. Salty, fried, hot, earthy, creamy, with hint of sweet, they hit every flavor, taste, and texture note that you could want in a party dish.

Hand slicing 36-month Prosciutto di ParmaHand slicing 36-month Prosciutto di Parma

So, who was crowned “Prince/Princess of Prosciutto di Parma”?  The dish that won over the most tastebuds and hearts was the Octopus Saltimbocca with Prosciutto di Parma by Ryan Hardy of Charlie Bird.  The octopus was cooked perfectly and sat on a bed of puréed chickpeas with additional soft, tender chickpeas on the side.  The dish was bathed in a sauce of sage, butter, lemon, prosciutto, chick pea liquid, and octopus braising liquid and then topped with a slice of crispy prosciutto.  The combination not only hit every point on my palate with layer upon layer of flavors melting together in harmony, it also left me wanting to eat several more plates of this dish and to dip a mug into the sauce just to drink that on its own.  More that a few folks told me that they ate several plates of this item, and as I walked back to the subway to head home, two woman passed by me still raving about the tastiness of the sauce.

Chef Ryan Hardy crowned winnerChef Ryan Hardy crowned “Prince of Prosciutto di Parma”

Thank you so much to the folks at PadillaCRT for inviting me to attend this event.  It was a pleasure to meet all of the chefs and sponsors and to have a chance to highlight the wonderful work of the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma.

Buon appetito!

Gluten-free Potluck – Italian Cannellini Bean-Quinoa Salad

Shauna Ahern introducing the dinnerShauna James Ahern greeting everyone

When the invitation to attend a potluck dinner for NYC food bloggers that Shauna James Ahern (aka Gluten-free Girl) and her husband were having last week during their #AmericanPotluckTrip tour, checking out various cities around the country and meeting food folks as research for their next cookbook about classic American recipes, I knew I was on board to join in.  This was a great chance to connect with fellow NYC food bloggers and writers and to enjoy eating a variety of delicious dishes.  Besides, I’d been thinking about the gluten-free items that we’d tried at Big Summer Potluck and had the idea for an Italian Cannellini Bean-Quinoa Salad to contribute to the feast – a dish both gluten-free and vegan.

Gluten-free table dishesThe Gluten-Free Dishes Table Display

The gluten-free section of the room at our host location the GE Monogram Design Center in Midtown filled up a long table, while the non-gf dishes could be counted on the fingers of one hand and were segregated on the other side of the room.  The Diva That Ate New York (Jackie Gordon) brought her incredible version of gluten-free spinach knishes – fried in schmaltz – which were gobbled up quite quickly.  There was a pecan-covered Pineapple Cheese Ball created by Michelle Buffardi that was also a huge hit.  For those looking to satisfy their sweet tooth, Jackie Ourman made a stack of the NYC deli classic Black & White Cookies that got a lot of attention.  My favorite, however, had to be the Flourless Brownie Cheesecake brought by Susan Palmer of The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen.

Italian Cannellini Bean SaladItalian Cannellini Bean-Quinoa Salad

I’ve always admired Shauna for all of her hard work to help those who suffer from gluten-related intolerances and allergies.  She puts her whole heart into helping out those who have been diagnosed and who are trying to figure out how to feed themselves without getting sick and suffering other ill affects on their health and well-being.  I’ve often referred folks to her site when they mention to me that they need to follow a gluten-free diet so that they can find guidance and can get their hands on some terrific recipes.  It was so nice to be a part of this evening and to get to try all the great gluten-free dishes.

Mise en placeMise en Place – really

I’d love to be able to be all neat and tidy in typing up the recipe that goes along with the dish that I brought, but the truth is that I walked into the door of my apartment at 5:45 p.m., having just started my first day as a production chef at a catering company, with shopping bags in hand from Whole Foods and a rough outline of what I was going to make in my head.  The event started at 6:30 p.m., and I live at least 30 minutes away in travel time.  I knew I was going to go in the vegan and gluten-free direction.  I was also going to draw on Italian taste profiles to add lots of flavor to the dish as well as to highlight one NYC cultural culinary influence, as the event invitation had asked us to do.  From there, I just decided to wing it, eyeballing the proportions and relying on gut instinct to make it all come together.  Here’s a guess at what I did, but, really, this is a free-form dish that you can alter to fix yours and your family’s preferences.

Buon appetito!

Italian Cannellini Bean-Quinoa Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Potluck-sized

Italian Cannellini Bean-Quinoa Salad


2 Tbsp. Parsley, chopped

1 Tbsp. Garlic, minced

2 tsp. Oregano, chopped

2 tsp. Basil, chopped

1 tsp. Red Wine Vinegar

1 tsp. White Wine Vinegar

1/2 tsp. Salt

1/4 tsp. Black Pepper

1/4 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 c. Quinoa, cooked (about 1 1/2 cups uncooked)

2 cans Cannellini Beans, rinsed

1/2 c. Artichoke Hearts, chopped (reserve some for decoration)

1/3 c. Roasted Red Peppers, chopped (reserve some for decoration)

1/4 c. Black Olives, chopped (reserve some for decoration)

1/4 c. Pine Nuts, toasted (reserve some for decoration)


Did I mention that I was kind of pressed for time in making this dish? I'd had some herbs from Gourmet Garden from our goodie bag at Big Summer Potluck, so I decided to use those (yes, they are also gluten-free). I guesstimated how much I would need to make the dressing, tossed in a few dashes of red wine vinegar and thought I'd add some lemon juice for extra acidity.

When I found that the lemon I had was a bit moldy, I threw in some white wine vinegar, and that seemed to do the trick. Then, I whisked in enough olive oil to balance out everything and make the dressing come together. Taste everything to make sure that the seasoning is balanced.

Mix together the cooked quinoa and the beans. Add the dressing and toss it all together to coat the quinoa and the beans with the dressing.

Mix the chopped artichokes, red peppers, and black olives together separately. Then, add them to the quinoa-bean mixture. Once that is done, add the toasted pine nuts.

Pour salad into serving container. Decorate the top of the dish with the reserved artichoke hearts, red pepper pieces, chopped black olives, and toasted pine nuts. This dish can be made several hours in advance and should be served room temperature.


Gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan