Rory Gawler: Upper Valley Hotshot!

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Name: Rory C. Gawler

Age: 34

Job: Assistant Director, Dartmouth Outdoor Programs

Single or Taken: Single

Kids: none so far

Q: Is it hard being a hotshot?

A: It’s a lot of pressure. Once you fire out Lamb Curry for 15 in just under 2 hours once, the expectation is that you can do it any time. You end up doing a lot of prep work to make sure you can seem like a hotshot all the time. I have 4 chest freezers, several pallets of dry goods from the Co-op’s caselot sale and innumerable small appliances and heavy duty cookware items to make it all seem effortless.

Q: How did you become such a hotshot, anyway?

A: Necessity and convenience. Having housemates and guests over for dinner all the time means someone has to put food on the table. Everyone’s busy and eventually I just had to the most practice whipping out gourmet dinner for a dozen. Convenience comes down to my own feeling that I’d rather host than travel. I know for some folks, hosting is stressful, but since I’m well set-up, I’d really rather have folks over than go out.

Q: Favorite hotshot recipe (prepared with locally grown food, naturally!):

A: Given the choice, I would eat nothing but curry and here’s why: It includes all of the things that we like to eat: veggies, meat, starch and spices. It’s easy, makes few cooking-related dirty dishes, and is highly nutritious and healthy. It also makes great leftovers. It can be made with vegetables that are marginal and no one notices.

Thai Curry:

1) Make rice. Use the rice cooker. It’s easier. Basically just under 2:1 ratio of water to rice. The more rice you use, the less water. If you do brown rice, use a little more water, but if you press the brown rice button, recognize that it will take 2-3 hours before it’s done. Brown rice seems to cook just fine on the white rice setting.

2) Sautee vegetables. Hard ones early, soft ones later. Bell peppers are favoured, but anything will do.

3) Combine in bowl: coconut milk, thai curry paste (red and green are
my favs), salt.

4) Mix bowl into pan. Heat.

5) Put on rice.

Q: Best hotshot recipe when you need to impress someone:

A: When I want to impress, I usually go to my chest freezer for some Sweetland Farm porkchops or Clay Hill Beef. Salt the heck out of it and grill. Accompanied with a pilaf of brown rice, wild rice, soft wheat berries and other neat grains made in chicken stock, maybe with some sautéed mushrooms and celery added later. Obviously butter too. Side of salad, or seasonal veg.

I also make literally the best pancakes you’ve ever had.

Also, if you’re not making your own salad dressing, then you haven’t even begun to hotshot. Experiment, but couple notes:

  • Mustard, powdered or from a jar, is a natural emulsifier
  • If you then use your handy-dandy stick blender to mix, it will stay emulsified for quite a while.
  • Put a little glob of hellman’s mayo in there. Delish.

Q: Favorite person to cook for:

A: Can’t pick one, but I love having my friends who’ve all moved out of the area come to visit, and I like to thank them for travelling to see me, so always happy to treat to a nice dinner. Also, my mom’s generally pretty appreciative.

Q: The hotshot’s most important kitchen gear:

A:

  • Rice cooker
  • Immersion blender
  • Giant cutting board, handmade from cherry, walnut and maple scraps from my woodshop
  • Wide-mouth mason jar for drinking out of. Hydration is very important.

Q: Name 5 things in your kitchen, without which you cannot live.

A:

  • Gas range, as high powered as possible.
  • Cast iron skillet
  • Sharp Knives
  • Quality ingredients
  • Your brain

Q: If you were a locally grown food, what would you be and why?

A: Huge fan of the Beet. Grows anywhere, super nutritious, delicious, you can eat the whole plant and it turns your whole insides red. What more could you ask?

Q: Best websites or blogs for new hotshot ideas?

A: No idea. If I need help, I use the Joy of Cooking. Reading Michael Pollan was also a major source of inspiration.

Q: Where do you buy the locally grown food for your hotshot recipes?

A: Sweetland Farm in Norwich is my source for meats and veggies in season. The pork and lamb from here is out of this world. I can never go back to factory farmed meats. Off season, I do all my shopping at the Co-op Food Stores. When I can get a gallon of Co-op branded McNamara whole milk for the same price as a gallon of Hood, I don’t see why I should shop anywhere else. It’s substantially, noticeably more delicious.image1

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring hotshots?

A: Think ab
out what you like to eat, and make that. Pick a project – for a while, I was experimenting with hashbrowns until I discovered that grating in some parsnips made them caramelize beautifully. So Good! Also, neither fat nor salt is bad for you anymore. Use it!

Q: Being named one of the Upper Valley’s Men Who Cook Hotshots makes me feel…

A: Quite pleased. One of the best things about living in this area is the access we have to wonderful, locally grown food. It’s a major boost to quality of life. It’s also so simple, I think everyone should cook all the time!

Grill Season is Here!

Summer is the time for firing up the grill and cooking some local food, because charred grill marks and a smokey taste makes everything better – and there are no pots and pans to clean!

Grilling a grass fed steak

At Valley Farm Fresh you will find great recipes (for grilling meat & veggies), a calendar for the Upper Valley farmers’ market season, and the Valley Food & Farm Online Guide so you can find farmstands,  pick-your-own, and more local food near you.

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And if you are a man who cooks with local foods (grill or otherwise) OR you know a man who cooks with local foods – enter our #MenWhoCookLocal summer competition for a chance to win an 8″ Japanese steel chef knife. Read about our celebration of Upper Valley men who are cooking local with our  #UpperValleyHotShots.

 

MWC: Recommended Recipes & Blogs

The Beeroness: Baking and Cooking with Beer

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From TheBeeroness.com:

Jackie Dodd’s beer infused recipes earned her a spot as a finalist for Saveur Magazines Best Original Recipes, 2014 as well as crowned winner for Best Beer Coverage in 2015. The Beeroness was also a finalist for Better Homes and Gardens Best Food Blogs, 2015. She has been seen on The Today Show, Lifetime Network, CBS News, as well as interviewed in print publications such as Imbibe, Bite and The San Francisco Chronicle. She also writes for Parade MagazineDraft Magazine and Whisk Magazine. She is also the author of The Craft Beer Cookbook and the newly released Craft Beer Bites Cookbook.


Smitten Kitchen: Fearless cooking from a tiny kitchen in New York

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From SmittenKitchen.com:

What you’ll see here is: A lot of comfort foods stepped up a bit, things like bread and birthday cakes made entirely from scratch and tutorials on everything from how to poach an eggto how to make tart doughs that don’t shrink up on you, but also a favorite side dish (zucchini and almonds) that takes less than five minutes to make.

What I’m wary of is: Excessively fussy foods and/or pretentious ingredients. I don’t do truffle oil, Himalayan pink salt at $10 per quarter-ounce or single-origin chocolate that can only be found through Posh Nosh-approved purveyors. I think food should be accessible, and am certain that you don’t need any of these things to cook fantastically.


Food Republic

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From FoodRepublic.com:

Food Republic was founded in 2010 by chef Marcus Samuelsson and the Samuelsson Group, and launched in April 2011 under the direction of Editorial Director Richard Martin. In a short time, it has become one of the foremost sources for news and commentary on food, drink, design, travel and more, published to a wide audience in the United States and abroad.

The site features a daily lineup of interviews with prominent chefs and personalities, stories about the lifestyle around food and drink, and recipes drawn from the Food Republic Test Kitchen, as well as from acclaimed chefs and cookbook authors. Most of the content is original and produced exclusively for the website by its staff and contributors around the world.


Fit Men Cook

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From FitMenCook.com:

Fitness is a lifelong journey and I could not imagine a life of eating boring, bland food just to be healthy.  Now more than ever, I firmly believe that healthier food options do not have to be boring. Ever. In fact, they are pretty tasty.  And even better, the lifestyle changed worked. As I saw my physique begin to change, I was motivated to push harder and set more aggressive goals.  Not only did I learn how to lose weight, but also I learned how to gain muscle, with small tweaks in both my diet and training.


The Kitchn

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From TheKitchn.com:

Helping everyone live happier, healthier lives at home through their kitchen. The Kitchn is a daily food magazine on the Web celebrating life in the kitchen through home cooking and kitchen intelligence. This is a site for people who like to get their hands dirty while they cook. It is for those who care about the quality of their food, and how it affects the health of themselves and the planet. It is for cooks who care about design and want to create a beautiful kitchen. It’s a place to dive in deep, and embrace the joy of one of our basic needs: Food, cooked at home, nourishing ourselves and our households.

 

Spring Salad Made From Anything

I made this colorful crunchy salad on the fly on Memorial Day when the grocery stores were closed for the holiday and my parents, siblings, and out-of-town cousin were on their way over for dinner. I wanted a salad but only had asparagus, broccolini, scallions, and radishes from Cedar Circle Farm plus a few carrots in the fridge and herbs in the garden. And thus this salad put itself together with a little thoughtful slicing and a lemon dressing.

Thoughtful slicing? By that I mean thinking about the best way to slice each vegetable to make the salad both beautiful AND to make each bite make sense in your mouth.

For example, radishes are pungent and spicy, so I sliced some of them into paper-thin rounds and the rest into thin wedges – both shapes ensure a huge chunk of radish won’t ruin a bite. 

Similarly, raw carrots are great, but I don’t love them shredded and neither do I want huge carrot sticks. So I cut them in thinIMG_1127 irregular slices on the diagonal that are easy to pick up with a fork without too much crunching and drama. I prefer my broccoli cooked, so I did that before slicing it into long strips.

You get the idea. Give each vegetable a moment of thought to optimize its good qualities and make it pretty and easy to eat. Mix up colors and flavors, shapes and textures.

This salad can be made with any spring vegetable you like eating. Keep a vegetable raw if it tastes good raw (like scallions, kholrabi, peas, and radishes). Briefly steam, saute, or roast it if it’s better cooked (like broccoli, fiddleheads, or bok choy) and then cool before adding. Don’t forget the fresh herbs! I mixed dill, cilantro, basil, and marjoram, all from my backyard. In my opinion, any combination of fresh herbs is good in a salad.

(I used a lemon dressing, but you can use any dressing you have and like. Optional additions are grated, crumbled, or shaved cheese of your choosing, a cooked grain or pasta, beans, or pieces of chicken.)

–Bethany Fleishman,Vital Communities’ Transportation Program Assistant and former pastry chef, is contributing recipes this spring for our Valley Food & Farm program.

Here’s my recipe; adapt as needed:

Spring Salad Made From Anything

Ingredients

one bunch asparagus – kept raw and shaved into ribbons with a peeler (or if you prefer it cooked, steam, cool, and slice)

4-6 radishes, some thinly sliced into rounds, the rest sliced into thin wedges (you can keep the root and a little of the green intact)

3-5 scallions, white and green parts, sliced thinly on the diagonal (extra pretty that way)

2-4 carrots, sliced into thin and irregular spears on the diagonal

2-3 stalks broccolini or one head of broccoli, briefly steamed, cooled, then sliced into long thin pieces

a handful of fresh herbs – basil, cilantro, parsley, marjoram, dill, chives, etc.

salt

Mix everything together in a salad bowl with a little salt (these vegetable chunks will soak up more salt than a plain salad of greens, so don’t be shy with the salt).IMG_1129

Make a lemon vinaigrette with:

half a lemon, juice & grated rind 

one clove garlic, sliced, mashed, or grated

salt & pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

Whisk this all together until smooth and creamy. Toss with the salad and serve immediately.

*Also on the family Memorial day supper menu:
– delicious juicy hamburgers with beef from Back Beyond Farm in Chelsea, Vermont, covered in fried onions and spicy sauerkraut.
– A grain salad my mom made
– Vermont ice cream with chocolate sauce.

**Thank you to my brother Ben for the photos.

Mastering Perfect Spinach

When my friend Justin opened a restaurant in Maine, I fixated on his strategy to train kitchen staff: cooks would learn the best one or two ways to prepare each vegetable, so they’d be optimally equipped to deal on the fly with unpredictable supplies of local vegetables and a daily changing menu.

Let’s try this method together – and make perfect creamed spinach like skilled professionals.

Spinach can deserve its reputation, but it’s delicious when done right. Plus, it’s a nutritional powerhouse.

Why creamed spinach, specifically? Because it’s emerald green and perfect with a steak. And because like the names of our great-grandparents, food like this is coming into style again.

Thank you to the New York Times Cooking section for providing me the hankering and the recipe for creamed spinach. And to Justin for helping me make that original recipe more awesome and for taste testing.

–Bethany Fleishman,Vital Communities’ Transportation Program Assistant and former pastry chef, is contributing recipes this spring for our Valley Food & Farm program.

Creamed Spinach
Recipe adapted from The New York Times Cooking section

Ingredients

About 2 pounds spinach (from a local farm or garden – that’s the whole point!)Raw Spinach
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour (gluten free flour is fine as long as it has some thickening power)
1 cup milk (ideally whole, but use what you have)
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Bay leaf (OPTIONAL)
1 clove of garlic (OPTIONAL)
A healthy sprinkle of grated Parmesan or other sharp cheese (OPTIONAL)

Directions

1. Pick over the spinach to remove any debris, tough stems, and blemished leaves.

2. Rinse the spinach and shake dry.

3. Stuff the spinach into a saucepan with a quarter cup or so of water and cook on medium heat, stirring, until the spinach has wilted and turned bright green. You’re doing a combination sauté and steam here. (I like this method because it’s quick, and I have a completely unfounded suspicion that it preserves the most nutrients.)

4. Run the spinach under cold running water until chilled.

5. Grab the spinach by the handful and squeeze out the liquid. This is important to prevent watery creamed spinach.

6. Thoroughly blend the spinach in a food processor or blender. Set aside.Roux

7. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour, stirring with a whisk.

8. Add the milk, stirring rapidly with the whisk. For extra flavor, add a whole clove of garlic (or minced if you like a lot of garlic flavor) and a Bay leaf.

9. Add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes until it thickens.

2Bowls10. If you used them, fish out the Bay leaf and garlic clove (unless you minced it), and add the cheese (if using).

11. Add the spinach. Stir to blend. Heat
and serve with more ground black pepper.

You’re building your skills: Did you know that the sauce you just made for the spinach is called Béchamel sauce, and is one of the five “mother sauces” in French cuisine? You can use this for the base for cheese sauce and so much more.

Parsnip and Carrot Muffins

By now carrot, parsnip and other root crop supplies are winding down for the spring. But before we say goodbye, why not use them in one creative, less obvious method? These muffins make a healthy breakfast option that could adapted to include additional nutritional benefits with ingredients such as ground flax seeds and golden raisins. Or, for a special celebration, turn them into cupcakes with a maple cream cheese frosting. For those of you who must hide vegetables to get picky kids or stubborn adults to eat them, this should help too.

Parsnip and Carrot Muffins

Makes 12 standard muffins or 24+ mini

Ingredients
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 vegetable oil + more for greasing
3/4 cups maple syrup + a splash more
1/2 cup grated parsnips
3/4 cup grated carrots

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a muffin pan with vegetable oil or use muffin liners.

Place the chopped almonds and the splash of maple syrup in a small pan over medium heat. Cook until the nuts are well coated then remove to a plate to cool slightly.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.

Whisk the eggs, yogurt, vegetable oil and maple syrup in a large mixing bowl until combined. Add the flour mixture, carrots and parsnips, and fold with a spatula until all of the flour is moistened. Divide the mixture evenly among the muffin cups.

Sprinkle the top of each muffin with the maple almonds (you’ll probably have to break them up a bit if they’ve cooled for long). Bake for 20 minutes for regular sized muffins or 8 minutes for mini, either way, checking and rotating the pans halfway through baking. Check with a toothpick for doneness. Cool for 10 minutes before removing. Serve warm.

Adapted from a recipe by Alton Brown

Caramelized Onion Dip

Root 5 onions

Caramelized Onion Dip

courtesy of Food and Wine

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 25 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cook, stirring, until the water has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Let the onions cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer the onions to a cutting board and coarsely chop. In a large bowl, mix the sour cream with the cream cheese, parsley, onion powder and Worcestershire sauce until smooth. Stir in the onions and season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature with chips, crackers, or veggies.

The onion dip can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Warm Kale and Cheese Dip

Kale

Warm Kale and Cheese Dip

courtesy of My Recipes.com

Ingredients

5 bacon slices, chopped
1 pound fresh kale, stemmed and finely chopped (about 1 bunch)
1/2 medium-size sweet onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 (8-oz.) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (4 1/2 oz.) shredded Asiago cheese
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (4 1/2 oz.) shredded fontina or Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Assorted crackers and crudités

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring often, 6 to 7 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 Tbsp. drippings in Dutch oven. Sauté kale, onion, and garlic in hot drippings 7 to 8 minutes or until onion is tender. Add wine, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until particles loosen from bottom of Dutch oven.

2. Stir together cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in Asiago cheese, next 4 ingredients, and kale mixture. Spoon into a lightly greased 1- to 1 1/2-qt. baking dish.

3. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until center is hot and cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes; top with bacon. Serve with crackers and crudités.

Savory Butternut Squash Dip

Squash Dip

Savory Butternut Squash Dip

by Alexandra Kazimir, RAFFL

Often prepared mashed with maple syrup or brown sugar, winter squash is delectable. I love transforming this sweet, nutty squash into a savory dip, that also boasts of the versatility of butternut.  By utilizing savory spices, such as a curry, and the subtle sweet earthiness of nutmeg, the natural sweetness of the butternut is intensified. This dip makes a lovely spread for sandwiches, pasta sauce alternative, or a simple appetizer with crackers or toasted baguette (top with chopped walnuts or toasted pumpkin seeds to dress it up for the holidays).

Ingredients:

Makes about 2 cups

  • 2 c roasted butternut squash
  • 1/2 c soft, tangy cheese (quark, goat cheese, yogurt)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder (add more for a punchier dip)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 2-4 Tbsp water to thin

Cooked squash

Directions:

  • Cut, peel, and de-seed squash. Chop into 1-2″ cubes.
  • Drizzle squash with olive oil. Roast for 35 minutes at 400-425 degrees F on a lined baking sheet.
  • Add cooled squash, cheese, oil, nutmeg, and curry powder to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice or vinegar. Add water to thin mixture until desired consistency is reached.

Transfer to a bowl and serve with a drizzle of olive oil. This dip is delicious served simply with crackers; use it as a sandwich spread, or even as a pasta sauce!

The flavors continue to develop and intensify as the dip sits, so it will be even tastier the next day. If possible, make it ahead of time, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator (for up to a week).

Curried Squash Apple Soup

This is the start of soup season at my house. Soups are comforting and can be super easy, like this amazingly delicious 3 ingredient soup (there are 3 main ingredients, but there are some spices and cider that you’ll need, too).

The original recipe is from Ina Garten, but I’ve made a few adjustments to reduce the spice level. A trick I use to make this a 15 minute soup is to pre-cook the squash. When I have too many squash rolling around the kitchen counter (CSA share back log, irresistible sale at the farm stand, garden abundance, etc.), I cook all the squash at once and then freeze what I don’t need. That way I can just pull the pre-cooked squash from the freezer and add it right into the soup.

(Easy tip for cooking winter squash and pumpkins: Cut whole squash in half, scrape out the seeds and place cut side down on a baking sheet (lined with foil if you want to make clean up really easy). Add a little water to the pan and cook in pre-heated 350 degree oven until tender. Scoop flesh from the skin and freeze in pre-portioned amounts.)

curried squash apple soup


Curried Squash and Apple Soup
courtesy of Ina Garten, The Food Network

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp each butter & olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 large butternut squash, peeled, cleaned, and cubed
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 -1 tsp curry powder (adds heat & flavor)
1 1/2 tsp Garam masala
1 tsp salt
1 cup apple cider, juice, or water

(Garam masala is a traditional Indian blend of spices including clove, cinnamon, pepper, cumin, and cardamon.  You can find it in most grocery stores or co-ops.)

Squash apples
Directions:
Heat butter, olive oil, onion, and curry powder in a soup pot on low heat for 10-15 minutes, until tender, stirring occasionally.

Add squash, apple, salt, Garam masala, cider or water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook over low heat for 20-30 minutes or until very tender.

Remove from heat. Puree with blender, food processor, or immersion blender. Return to heat and thin with cider to desired thickness. Serve and enjoy!

 

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