Gilroy Garlic Festival 2015 – The Great Garlic Cook-Off

The Great Garlic Cook-Off
The Great Garlic Cook-Off Gilroy Garlic Festival 2015

The Gilroy Garlic Festival just celebrated its 37 year with the third annual Great Garlic Cook-Off.  I had the pleasure of attending the event where I met up with several of my foodie friends for the very first time. It was the most competitive garlic cook off  the event has ever seen.

Eight home cooks vied for the coveted title, Garlic Queen/King, cooking some very impressive dishes for the five celebrity judges; Jason Gronlund, Executive Chef, Smokey Bones BBQ, Jason Lavinsky, Executive Chef, Hyatt at Fisherman’s Wharf, Adam Sanchez – The Milias Restaurant, Bryan Martinez, Executive Chef, Raley’s, and Carl Stewart, Executive Chef, Raley’s. Master of Ceremonies: Dan Green, Kate Callaghan & Wendy Brodie, HAAC, Executive Chef.

Contestants, Jodi Taffel, Lauren Katz, Tresa Hargrove, Merry Graham, Sherri Williams, Gloria Bradley, Loanne Chiu and Margee Berry, wowed the audience and judges with their garlic infused recipes. The outdoor stage was set with two jumbo-trons giving spectators a birds-eye view of all the cooking action. The air was filled with mouthwatering aromas of charred meats and my favorite kitchen staple, garlic.  Once the smoke settled, the judges crowned Jodi Taffel, first place for her stunning breakfast dish, Shashuka with Deep Fried Garlic. Second place went to Lauren Katz with her Glazed Garlic-Buttermilk Fried chicken and Savory Waffled grits. Third Place went to Tresa Hargrove for her, Chipotle Cilantro Chimichurri Steak on Enchiladas with Roasted Salsa Verde.

I became friends with Tresa, Sherri and Merry, five years ago over our shared interest in food competitions, and Facebook groups. What a pleasure for me to finally meet them all in person as well as, the other competitors. Making new friends and sharing this special day with my fellow foodies was a true blessing.

The day was made more enjoyable hanging out with my dear friend Nancy Judd, winner of the 2013 World Food Championships, Dessert category, and contestant on Chopped Grandma’s.  She and I cooked together in my home during the Real Women of Philadelphia-Cooks Across America-Colorado Cooks video promotion. To see more from that event, watch our Youtube video HERE and HERE.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t chosen to compete with my Benedict Florentine with Roasted Garlic Hollandaise and Garlic Basil Oil this year, but I hope to be on stage at next years competition, cooking alongside my friends. 

Gilroy Garlic Festival Eggs Benedict

 

 

Gilroy Garlic Festival 2015
Sherri and Nancy

Gilroy Garlic Festival 2015
Sherri Williams, Rebecka Evans, Nancy Judd, Jodi Taffel, Merry Graham and Lauren Katz

Gilroy Garlic Festival 2015
Lady Nann and her man

 

Gilroy Garlic Festival 2015
THE WINNER! Jodi Taffel

Gilroy Garlic Festival 2015
The top THREE Jodi, Lauren and Tresa

Gilroy Garlic Festival 2015
Waiting for the big announcement

Gilroy Garlic Festival 2015
Selfies with nancy and Rebecka

Winner Circle

Gilroy Garlic Garlic Festival 2015
Sherri Williams and Merry Graham

 

Gilroy Garlic Festival 2015
Rebecka Evans, The Garlic Man, Nancy Judd

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Italian Stuffed Artichokes

italian stuffed artichoke

The recipe for Italian stuffed artichokes was introduced to me a few weeks ago by my friend Val Struck, owner of Good Life Food and Events, Catering.

It took only one bite for me to decided that this is my new favorite preparation for the tender, leafy vegetable, and I’ve been craving the perfect combination of flavors ever since. 

Served with a crisp white wine, the creamy artichoke marries perfectly with the crisp Italian style bread crumbs. The dish makes for a wonderful appetizer however, I could eat mine as an entree, it’s that good!

A little California Artichoke History:

It was the Spanish settlers who brought the artichoke to California. Some artichoke plants were in the gardens of European immigrants.

California’s first artichoke fields grew south of San Francisco, near the town of Half Moon Bay, in the early 1920s.

In 1922, Andrew Molera planted the first artichoke shoots in Castroville. Angelo Del Chiaro, Egidio Maracci, Daneil Pieri, and Amerigo Del Chiaro subsequently leased 150 acres of land and grew artichokes.

In 1923, there were nine artichoke growers. Within four years, there were over 50 growers and 12,000 acres of artichokes growing in Castroville, and in the Monterey Bay area.

In 1924 Daniel Pieri, Amerigo Del Chiaro, Angelo Del Chiaro, Alfred Tottino, and James Bellone formed the “California Artichoke and Vegetable Growers Corporation.” In 1995, they renamed the company to “Ocean Mist Farms.” Source: Wikipedia

  • Artichokes were named California’s official vegetable on April 10, 2013. California growers boast 99.99% production of all commercially grown artichokes in the United States. Source: Artichokes.org

Italian Stuffed Artichokes
Serves 4
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 large artichokes (6 smaller artichokes for more people)
  2. 1 lemon, halved
  3. 1 3/4 cups bread crumbs (can be made from scratch with leftover bread)
  4. 3/4 cups, plus 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  5. 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
  6. 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  7. 2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
  8. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  9. 1/4 cup, plus 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  10. Hot water
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Cut artichoke stems to create flat bottom. Cut away tough outer skin of the stem and finely chop the stems. Sprinkle with lemon juice to keep from browning
  3. Remove tough outer leaves of artichoke. Slice the top third off, and with scissors, cut sharp tips of remaining leaves. Rub bottom of artichokes with lemon. Spread leaves to make space for stuffing
  4. Combine chopped stems, breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and combine until moistened
  5. Starting from the bottom leaves, use your hand to stuff the mixture in and between leaves. Push the stuffing downward into leaves as you work your way around to the top of the artichoke
  6. Place artichokes in a baking dish and pour 1 inch hot water around the artichoke bottoms. Drizzle each artichoke with 1 tablespoon olive oil
  7. Rub one side of foil with olive oil and place foil (oil side down) over artichokes and secure tightly
  8. Bake for 45 minutes OR until a fork slides easily into the base
  9. Remove foil. Sprinkle artichokes with remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and broil tops until golden brown (watch while broiling)
  10. Serve hot or at room temperature
Notes
  1. Artichokes can be cut into halves and served on salad plates. Remind guests to remove the Choke before eating the heart.
Adapted from Allrecipes
Adapted from Allrecipes
At Home with Rebecka http://athomewithrebecka.com/
 Italian Stuffed Artichokes

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Waldorf Risotto #WaldorfSaladRefresh

Waldorf Risotto  #WaldorfSaladRefresh

If you love the dreaminess of a classic Waldorf Salad, you’re going to die for my remixed version, Waldorf Risotto!

The warm apple infused risotto is the perfect balance to the crispy, tart salad. I finished the dish with a spicy crunch of California candied, cayenne, walnuts. The flavor combination is out of this world and is my submission for this years recipe challenge. 

California Walnuts presents the Waldorf Salad Refresh, Recipe Contest. Wish me luck! #WaldorfSaladRefresh

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Waldorf Risotto
Serves 4
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 red crisp apples
  2. 4 large celery stalks
  3. 1 cup mayonnaise, divided
  4. 1 tablespoon plus, 2 teaspoon sugar
  5. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  6. 3 teaspoon lemon juice, divided
  7. 1 cup arborio rice
  8. 4 cups apple cider
  9. 1-2 cups water
  10. 2 teaspoons butter
  11. 1/4 teaspoon olive oil
  12. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  13. 1 cup California walnuts
  14. 1 tablespoon sugar
  15. 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the Salad
  1. Slice apples across lengthwise into 1/4 inch rounds, thinly slice each round into match stick lengths, toss in a large mixing bowl with 1 teaspoon lemon juice.
  2. Reserve 1 cup match stick apples, set aside
  3. Thinly slice 3 celery stalks, combine slices with apples
  4. Add 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon sugar to cut apples and celery and toss, cover and refrigerate until ready to use
For the Risotto
  1. Diced the reserved match stick apples, you should have about 4 tablespoons
  2. Dice 1 stalk celery, combine diced apples and celery with a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  3. In a medium saucepan, over medium high heat, melt 1 teaspoon butter
  4. Saute diced celery and apples until Al dente, (tender but not soft), remove from pan and set aside
  5. Heat 4 cups apple cider in a saucepan, keep warm
For the Candied Cayenne Walnuts
  1. Add walnuts to non-stick pan, turn heat to medium, sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar over nuts, allow sugar to melt, When sugar is almost melted or begins to caramelize, stir or toss walnuts to coat evenly. Pour candied walnuts out onto a piece of waxed paper and sprinkle with cayenne pepper, cool and rough chop
For the Risotto
  1. Add 1 teaspoon butter and 1/4 teaspoon olive oil to the same pan the apples were cooked in.
  2. Stir in 1 cup arborio rice, saute for 3-5 minutes stirring occasionally to coat rice kernels
  3. Begin making risotto by adding 1 cup of apple juice at a time to sauteed rice, allow liquid to absorb, and continue adding liquid 1 cup at a time, until all 4 cups are incorporated, this will take about 25 minutes. Risotto should be tender but not mushy, more liquid can be added if the rice is still tough, add 1 cup water until absorbed and test again until desired consistency.
  4. Turn heat off.
  5. Add cooked apples and celery and 1 teaspoon butter to risotto mixture, stir to combine. Finally, add 1/2 cup mayonnaise. Season with additional lemon juice, and salt to taste
To serve
  1. Ladle 1/2 cup risotto portion onto plate, top risotto with prepared Waldorf salad, and sprinkle with candied cayenne walnuts
At Home with Rebecka http://athomewithrebecka.com/
 

 

 

Waldorf Risotto

For a list of all the contest entries, visit Waldorf Salad Refresh Recipe Challenge on PINTEREST

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Radishes Butter and Sea Salt – Simple Summer Snacks

Radish Butter and sea Salt

Radishes, butter, and sea salt; it doesn’t get any easier or tastier than that! This simple summer snack is best paired with a crisp white or light bodied rosé wine. When making this classic dish it’s imperative to use the best butter you can find.

I used Kerrygold, a pure Irish butter, but there are many other high quality butters to choose from. Check your local market for butter that are rated AA or higher, these butters contain higher amount of sweet cream, giving them a sweeter flavor as well as, a creamier texture. 

Method:

Soak radishes is cold water and rinse well to dislodge sand and dirt particles.

Cut the radishes in half leaving the greens attached to create a lovely presentation.

Serve with a variety of sea salts. I used Maldon sea salt, Himalayan Pink Salt with Blood Orange and Black Sea Salt. The slightly different flavor profile of the individual salts lend nuance to the eating experience. 

The simple combination is superb; a delightful, simple, summer snack. 

Radish Butter and Sea Salt

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Mứt Tắc Preserved Kumquats, Vietnamese Candied Kumquats,

Mứt Tắc (Candied Kumquats) Kumquats, Preserved Kumquats, Vietnamese Candied Kumquats,

Mứt Tắc (Candied Kumquats), are commonly made during the Vietnamese Lunar New Year; lending their sweetness and bright happy color, their flower shape symbolize good luck and prosperity. 

Parting from the New Years tradition, I decided to make this delightful recipe just a few weeks ago. The kumquat harvest in California was so bountiful this year, I  put up 20 jars of kumquat jelly, and still had enough fruit to make the tiny morsels. Served with a hot cup of tea, they’re packed with a delicious sweet, citrus flavor, and offer up a big dose of vitamin C in every bite. Their tart, citrus flavor also lends itself to more savory dishes featuring pork, and duck as well as, their syrupy juice, to flavor cocktails, and tossed into salads as a chewy, sweet bite. 

I’ve adapted the Mứt Tắc (Candied Kumquats) recipe from two sources, Spices of Life  and The Kitchen. Both recipes are time-consuming but The Kitchen uses fewer steps in their version. I’ve followed the pickling steps from Spices of Life, as I’m familiar with preserving with Mrs. Wages Pickling Lime, and it’s the more traditional method of preparation; the result is well worth the effort. 

Kumquats, Preserved Kumquats, Vietnamese Candied Kumquats,

Kumquat are native to South-Eastern China but grown in many parts of the world. These varieties are most commonly grown for their fruit: Marumi kumquat, is known for its pleasant flavor and round. The Nagami kumquat (featured in this recipe) is more oval-shaped and the most common variety grown inside the United States. The Meiwa kumquat is round, and larger than the other varieties. Surprisingly, the skin is packed with sweetness, so eating the entire fruit is recommended. Kumquats, Preserved Kumquats, Vietnamese Candied Kumquats,

Mứt Tắc (Candied Kumquats) 
Yields 8
Vietnamese Candied Kumquats
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 9 cups kumquats
  2. 3 cups sugar
  3. 1 tablespoon pickling lime (Mrs. Wages)
  4. 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
  5. 12 cups water
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. In a large colander, rinse kumquats in cold water
  2. In another bowl combine 6 cups water with 1 tablespoon Mrs Wages Pickling Lime
  3. Place kumquats in a large pickle jug or bowl, pour pickling lime liquid over fruit and toss with a large spoon, cover and rest at room temperature for up to 4 hours or overnight
  4. Scoop whole fruit out from the pickling liquid into colander, and rinse in cold water
  5. Using a sharp pairing knife, slice 6-8 eyelets into the sides of kumquats making sure to leave the top and bottom of fruit intake.
  6. Remove as many seeds as possible by gently squeezing the cut fruit, a toothpick or sharp object is useful when trying to fish out the seeds however, don't' worry if you don't get all the seeds out, they will loosen up during the cooking process.
  7. Add salt to leftover pickling liquid, stir to combine
  8. Return cut fruit to the pickling liquid, add more water to cover fruit, cover with plastic wrap and rest overnight at room temperature
Finally
  1. Remove fruit from pickling liquid, and discard liquid, gently toss fruit under cold water and rinse for 3-5 minutes
  2. In a large stock pot combine sugar, bottled lemon juice and fruit, heat to medium high, stirring until sugar dissolves, bring to a boil, stirring occasionally
  3. Reduce heat to medium and cook until liquid is almost absorbed, takes 45 - 50 minutes.
  4. Remove individual fruit to a parchment lined cookie sheet, press the tops of the fruit with your finger until they resemble a flower shape, allow them to rest and air dry for up to 24 hours
  5. Keep fruit in canning jars or covered container for up to 3 months in the refrigerator
Notes
  1. Syrup can be pour over fruit and stored in jars to create a softer version.
Adapted from The Spices of Life
At Home with Rebecka http://athomewithrebecka.com/
 

Kumquats, Preserved Kumquats, Vietnamese Candied Kumquats,

Kumquats, Preserved Kumquats, Vietnamese Candied Kumquats,

Kumquats, Preserved Kumquats, Vietnamese Candied Kumquats,

Kumquats, Preserved Kumquats, Vietnamese Candied Kumquats,

You might also like:

COTS n QUATS Marmalade with Madagascar Vanilla Bean & Morbier Cheese (Apricot and Kumquat Jam)

 

 

 

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Radish and Herb Butter Sandwiches

Radish Sandwiches with Herb Butter

 

Radish and herb butter sandwiches are not just delightful to eat, they also serve as a trigger food for memories of my childhood. Today’s recipe is homage to my mom who introduced me to cultivating radishes and then making them into a scrumptious lunch. There are just too many great radish eating moments to share; suffice to say, they were all yummy! 

Radish and herb butter sandwiches make an easy appetizer, and are beautiful when plated; perfect for Sunday tea with friends, or simply enjoyed for lunch. Serve with a light and fruity white wine.

Stay tuned for more yummy radish recipes. 

 

Radish and Herb Butter Sandwiches
Yields 6
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 loaf multigrain bread cut thinly into slices
  2. 1 pound good butter (I used Kerrygold)
  3. 1 large bunch radishes
  4. 1 bunch fresh basil
  5. 1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley
  6. 1 small bunch fresh oregano
  7. Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Fill clean sink or large bowl with cold water and submerge radishes to loosen sand and dirt. Soak for 2-3 minutes, rinse in cold water and drain on a clean towel
  2. Set butter at room temperature for 5 minutes or until soft enough to blend with herbs
  3. Finely chop herbs
  4. In a medium bowl blend softened butter with herbs, salt and pepper to taste
  5. Slice bread thinly, spread one side of bread with 1-2 teaspoons of herb butter
  6. Slice radishes very thinly and place several slices over buttered bread, serve
At Home with Rebecka http://athomewithrebecka.com/
 

Radish and Herb Butter Sandwiches

 

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