Fairs, Festivals and Food

The season is in full swing in S. Florida. For those of us that live here all year the season is a mixed blessing. What it means to us on the down side is more traffic, longer lines, required reservations at local restaurants and most annoyingly, the New Yorkers beeping at you when a traffic light turns green!

On the up side, more classes and events are scheduled.  This year I decided not to be complacent and to enjoy the blessing of hundreds of snow birds descending on us. I have enjoyed a couple of fun cooking classes and some interesting fairs and festivals.

First, I signed up for a Sushi Making class in Davie Florida with Chef Jorge Montes of Chef George catering. His family is Peruvian and his sister and mom work with him at the classes.  I would highly recommend his classes. I had a blast making Sushi while sucking down Strawberry Saketinis. 

Strawberry Saketini
2 servings
3 strawberries cut into quarters (no stem)
1 tbsp. orange liquor
1 cup sake
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp honey
1 cup of ice

1.    In a glass place the strawberries, honey and lime juice.
2.    Muddle with a wooden stick or muddler until mashed well.
3.    Add sake, orange liquor and ice and shake for 20 seconds

I also learned how to make sushi and was surprised that my rolls looked and tasted pretty darn good, as did everyone else’s.

The menu:
·          Strawberry Saketini
·          Smoked Salmon Hand Rolls (Temaki) w/Avocado and Scallions
·          Tempura Shrimp Rolls w/Shiitake Mushrooms and Cilantro
·          Deep Fried Tuna Sushi Balls w/Sesame Seeds and Pickled Daikon

Smoked Salmon Hand Rolls (Temaki) w/Avocado and Scallions
4--6 servings (4 big or 6 small portions)

1 cup sushi rice, cooked and seasoned
4 oz smoked salmon, cut into strips
½ avocado cut into slices
2 scallions cut on the bias
Sriracha, to taste
2 sheets of Nori

1.    Cut a sheet of Nori in half crosswise
2.    Cover half of one side with the rice
3.    Arrange the fillings diagonally over the rice from the center to the outer corner
4.    Take the bottom right corner and curl it towards the middle to form a cone
5.    Keep rolling until you touch the opposite end

When George posted a Peruvian Class, I signed up readily. I had never had Peruvian food, so it was a great class on the food of his native country with ingredients I had never seen before.  As always, he we started off with a cocktail to get us going. This time it was a Pisco Sour. The bitters and cinnamon really make the drink.

Pisco Sour (Pisco infused Cocktail with fresh lime)
2 servings

½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
8 oz. Pisco
1 egg white
2.5 oz. lime juice
Cups of ice
Dash of Angostura bitters
Cinnamon, for garnish

1.    Bring sugar and water to a boil and let cool (simple syrup) In a blender mix the simple syrup, Pisco, lime juice, ice and blend for 30 seconds
2.    Add egg white and blend for 1 minute
3.    Serve into cocktail glass or old fashion glass
4.    Garnish with a drop of bitters and a sprinkle of cinnamon

The menu:
·          Pisco Sour (Pisco infused Cocktail with fresh lime)
·          Ceviche (Citrus and Aji Amarillo marinated Fish with Sweet Potato and Canchita)
·          Papas A La Huancaina (Yukon Gold Potatoes with creamy Aji Amarillo Sauce)
·          Lomo Saltado (Beef Stir Fry with traditional accompaniments)
·          Mazamorra Morada (Purple Corn Pudding with Dried Fruit)
·          Extra: Chicha Morada (Purple Corn Refreshment)

Lomo Saltado
Beef Stir Fry w/traditional accompaniment
Serve 4-6 (4 large or 6 small)

1 lb. French fries
2 cups of cooked white rice
1 ½ lbs. Sirloin or tender loin, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 red onion, cut into thick slices
4 Roma tomatoes, quartered
2 Aji Amarillo (Peruvian chili) deseeded and deveined cut into thin strips
2 tbsp cilantro, chiffonade (cut into thin strips)
2 oz olive oil
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
10 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

1.    In a large sauté’ pan, heat up 1 oz of oil and sear the beef. Season with salt and pepper
2.    Remove from the pan and reserve along with its natural juices
3.    Add the other half of the oil and heat up the pan to high heat, add the onion and cook for 1
4.    minute, stir occasionally
5.    Add tomatoes and garlic and cook for 2 minutes
6.    Add aji Amarillo, the reserved beef with its juices and deglaze with soy sauce and vinegar. Cook
7.    for 1 minute
8.    Fold in the cilantro, season with salt and pepper and taste

 Serve over rice and French fries

Most recently my sister and I attended two food festivals, The Delray Beach Garlic Festival and The Palm Beach Greek Festival.  The events were fun, the food was, well what can I say, Festival food.  Still we had a good time and I got some cooking ideas to take home and try. Our favorite was the stuffed portabella mushroom with lots of garlic, spinach and artichoke. It tasted like a little garlicky mushroom pizza. I don’t have their recipe but this one looks good:

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Portobello Caps
Serves 1

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bag spinach, washed and dried
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1 can artichoke hearts, quartered
1/4 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1/8 cup feta cheese crumbled (optional)
1 egg
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

2 Portobello mushroom caps, cleaned
Olive oil, as needed
Bread crumbs, as needed
Parmesan cheese, as needed

1.    In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté the shallots until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.
2.    Place the artichoke hearts, ricotta cheese, feta if using and egg in a bowl. Pour the warm spinach mixture over the artichoke mixture. Stir to combine completely. Season with salt and pepper.
3.    Brush the Portobello mushroom caps lightly with olive oil. Place the stuffing on top of the mushrooms. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese and bake in a 400 degree oven until the breadcrumbs begin to brown.

Today I attended the Las Colinas Art Festival in Fort Lauderdale. It isn’t a food event but it is held on Las Olas Blvd where there are many interesting eateries. Unfortunately, it poured rain all day and looking like a drowned rat, I sought shelter in one of my favorite Las Olas eateries, the Big City Tavern. I managed to enjoy a tasty baby greens salad while trying to dry off and warm up with a nice cup of vanilla tea. They offer an interesting brunch on the weekends and I would love to go some Sunday morning.

I guess the season has its upside.