Foraging Fiddleheads

On Sunday, May 5th I had the opportunity to join several other New England Personal Chefs, along with about 30,000 other walkers to help feed the hungry. Over 3 million dollars was raised for this cause. Way to Go Team!

Team NE USPCA Personal Chefs

Team NE USPCA Personal Chefs

The next day, although feeling a bit sore in areas that are better off left unsaid I succumbed to the prodding of my four legged pal Sammy and we went for a walk in the local woods. The route we were going to take was about a mile and a half loop and upon pulling into the parking lot I remembered that the week before I had seen Fiddleheads growing in the area and decided that it may be a great day do to do some foraging.

Having read up on Fiddleheads previously, I knew that there is a limited season for them and also that they are not grown on farms and are only harvested from the wild. I also knew that they are the new shoots of several variety of ferns and are chock full of nutrients.

A major caveat here is that some studies show that eating raw or under cooked Fiddleheads may be hazardous to your health so if you choose to forage them yourself, please do your research beforehand and follow safety precautions.

As Sammy lead the way, we came across our first “nest” of Fiddleheads.

These little guys tend to grow in batches and once you see them you know what they are. After all, they are called Fiddleheads because they look like; well, fiddleheads.

Not Edible!

Not Edible!

I immediately starting harvesting the prehistoric looking “vegetable” and soon had enough for one serving and continued the hike until the next batch was located which was about 100 yards away. These too were soon harvested and after a few more stops I had enough for dinner. I must admit that I did indeed eat one raw (not recommended) in order to sample its natural form and I was surprised by the almost nutty like asparagus flavor. I was looking forward to getting home and getting them from the field to the plate.

 

 

 

Out in the Wild

Out in the Wild

My plan that evening was to grill some chicken wings as the weather cried out for a barbecue and I had some wings waiting that had already been brined and my Southwestern Rub on them . The Fiddleheads would be a perfect side.

Fiddleheads are typically breaded and fried but I wanted to try them in a more natural state so I blanched them and then sautéed them in butter and garlic.

 

 

 

 

Blanched Fiddleheads

Blanched Fiddleheads

 

It is recommended that wild Fiddleheads are washed and rinsed several times and then boiled prior to eating.  The quick sauté was the finishing touch.

Garlic and Butter, Yum!

Garlic and Butter, Yum!

Dinner was served and I was quite pleased with the result, after cooking the Fiddleheads the taste reminded my more of a spinach like taste and I was quite pleased that I was able to harvest a natural resource in the afternoon and serve it that evening. Talk about supporting local farming!

Dinner is Served.

Dinner is Served.

Would I do this again? You better believe it. I am already looking  into some foraging classes to see what else I can bring home from my hikes.

Thanks for reading, and as always

Always Be Cooking!

Chef Rob

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A day with Kitchen Surfing

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to cook for some folks who are expanding a foodie website into the Boston area. The site helps match clients looking for chefs and the chefs themselves. The website is called Kitchen Surfing and I recommend you check it out. The photos on this page are from that photo-shoot and I’d like to thank Erika for her work.

As part of the tasting and photo-shoot, I was asked to prepare two dishes representing my style. I immediately thought of a few different meals that I might prepare, and while I wasn’t sure of the exact dishes, I knew that one of them would be Southwestern while the other one would be Vegetarian. What exactly they would be would have to wait until my walk through the local produce market. That is a great source of inspiration for me and is sometimes my muse.

I knew that I wanted to base the Southwestern dish on pork and that it would start with a rubbed Pork Tenderloin (using my secret blend of herbs and spices) and after my shopping trip I chose to serve it with Chipotle Roast Potatoes, Asparagus Wraps and Roasted Corn on the Cob with a Brown Sugar, Chili compound butter.

Southwestern Chili Rubbed Tenderloin

Southwestern Chili Rubbed Tenderloin

 

The tenderloin would also be topped with my Signature Jalapeno Chutney The chutney would add a spicy/sweet kick to the pork.

 

If you would like the Chutney Recipe, please email me and will send it along.

 

 

Since several of my clients are vegetarian, I decided that I would also make a Tofu based entree. The sides I chose were Quinoa Pilaf, Ginger Roasted Butternut Squash and Sauteed Garlic Rainbow Chard.

Asian Gingered Tofu

Asian Gingered Tofu

This dish is one of my favorites since it is a wonderful way to introduce Tofu to someone who is trying to incorporate it into their diet. The secret to this dish is pressing the tofu first to remove most of the moisture and then marinate it before sauteing.

The addition of Quinoa to this plate  provides a healthy protein alternative for those trying to either reduce or eliminate the amount of meat in their diet.

I also included Rainbow Chard in this dish, not only because its chock full of vitamins and healthy for you, but the colors look wonderful on the dish. My tip on sauteing the chard is to cut and trim the leaves from the stem. When you are ready to saute the chard, start with the cut pieces of the stem first, and then add the leaves. This will allow all the chard to be tender when done. Of course, if you like garlic, add that as well but only after the leaves are almost done.

Chef Rob Sauteing  Chard

Rainbow Chard Saute

The demo ended with a sampling of the foods and the only leftovers were taken home by Erika to her husband for dinner. She started to wrap a paper plate with aluminum foil but since I am indeed a Personal Chef, I went out to my chef mobile and gave her a proper container. I know he ate well that evening!

Thanks for reading and of course, ABC (Always Be Cooking)

 

Chef Rob

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Its Zucchini Time Again!

A neighbor of mine has been asking me for a recipe for a healthier way to start making Zucchini Sticks. His backyard has already started producing some nice produce and he wanted to get a start cooking it. I mentioned to him that one of the best ways to serve it, especially to kids, is to oven bake it. This method reduces the amount of fat per serving and still tastes great.

The below recipe does use eggs,  if you wish to make it even  healthier, try using egg substitute or egg whites only. If you prefer to make it vegan, try tossing the sticks in olive oil instead of the egg mixture. Enjoy the summer and the Zucchini Sticks.

 

ABC… Chef Rob
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