Preserving and preparing foods keep them ‘garden’ fresh
Editors note: I had two wonderful experiences with food prep here in Muncy, and both Helen Hiserman and Chef Tony Faulkner had some great culinary tips to share.
Cooking foods with Tony Faulkner
MUNCY – There’s a new experience in Muncy. Those who enjoy the art of cooking or want to learn more about the joys of this culinary adventure, can discover cooking classes with Tony Faulkner, who two months ago, started teaching to the public at Orlando’s Restaurant in Muncy. Word is catching on fast and according to Matt Noviello of Orlando’s, classes wih chef Faulkner fill up quickly.
He is a gourmet chef, well known for his cuisine at the Crestmont Inn in Eagles Mere. But now Faulkner is sharing his talent and recipes with creative cooking classes, pop-up specialty dinners at area restaurants, and farm to table full course meals with seasonal foods.
On Tuesday night, August 28 Chef Faulkner demonstrated specialty sauces for toppings, stews and soups. After a brief introduction on stocks and derivative sauces, this was a very hands-on approach that included handouts and recipes for about 25 local participants. Some were there for the first time, while others talked about July’s event. “We had a delicious crab cake dinner in Milton at St. Andrews UM Church,” said Nancy Day, a retired nurse from Muncy Hospital.
During the class, everyone was able to make a Hollandaise sauce served on filet of beef , a vodka sauce compatible with homemade raviolis, and a Beurre Blanc sauce paired with fresh salmon. “Once you master your mother sauces, you can make dozens of delicious sauces,” Faulkner said. He also discussed thickening agents and techniques such as demi-glazing and “slow-reduction”, cooking the sauce down until it thickens. “When it coats the back of a spoon, then you know it is perfect.”
He prefers to use bone stock as a base for his soups and a mirepoix of diced carrots, onions, celery and parsley. “Good sauces come from good stock,” he said and uses chicken and beef. “It’s easy to do. Simmer your bones for about six hours with a ratio of 8 pounds bone to 6 quarts of cold water.”
Chef Faulkner ended the session with a strawberry vinaigrette dressing made with honey, vanilla, brown sugar, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, basil and roasted garlic. “This tastes savory sweet,” said Candy Otte from Montgomery. Everyone in the class got to make some of their own and take it home to enjoy with their favorite summer salad.
His next class on September 25 will introduce the “Flavors of Fall” cooking with apples, pumpkins, and squash. “Oh my! To get you in the spirit of the fall season we’ll be creating some amazing dishes working with all the flavors that define this time of year!” said the Chef.
On Friday, September 14 at 5 p.m. Chef Faulkner will be hosting a pop-up dinner at JLP Bar & Grill, the former Beaver Lake Lodge. Available for dine-in or take-out, he will be featuring slow smoked beef brisket with his signature barbecue sauce made with Carolina mustard, bourbon and brown sugar.
Along with some great recipes, contact Tony with Chef on Demand at 570-419-9197 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Facebook.
Fermenting foods with Helen Hiserman
MUNCY – Another process to savor foods is the art of fermenting foods. Expert Helen Hiserman of Muncy presented a program at the Muncy Public Library on August 20. Hiserman, who has a strong background in the medical field, explained the health benefits of fermentation. “When you eat fermented food, you’re also ingesting probiotics, the ‘good’ bacteria that promotes healthy digestion,” she explained.
Food is fermented when microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria are used to convert carbohydrates to preservative organic acids. This can lead to increased immune function. The process is called “Lactofermentation.”
“Lactobacilli is plentiful on vegetables,” said Hiserman. “These convert the sugars and starches in vegetables to lactic acid.” This leads to a natural preservative that inhibits bad bacteria. Lactic acid is the main byproduct which promotes healthy flora in the intestines. Lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances digestibility and increases vitamin levels according to Hiserman.
Fermented vegetables are part of many cultures. “Cuisines around the world use pickled vegetables,” she added. This is a good way to preserve food for the winter.
Salt is the main ingredient that directs the process of fermentation. No vinegar was used during Hiserman’s demonstration. Joining her was Linda Strausser, director of the Muncy Public Library who coordinated the event. “It is our intent that everyone will be able to take home a jar of fermented food made during the program,” Strausser said.
Cut cabbage and carrots were provided to all participants and the community room was quite full. Bowls were provided and with mallets in hand, everyone began to nourish the vegetables by pounding in one tablespoon of salt. “Salt inhibits putrefying bacteria for several days,” said Hiserman, “until enough lactic acid is produced to preserve the vegetables for many months.”
After about 30 minutes of pounding and mixing salt (most used a head of cabbage), the vegetables became limp and a brine began to form. Caraway seed also was added for taste. Then mason jars were provided for storing. “For the first several days, keep them at room temperature around 72 degrees in a dark place,” said Hiserman as she dated all the jars. After that they can be placed in the refrigerator to store for many months.
Besides cabbage and carrots, fermentation can be made from several other vegetables including asparagus, cauliflower, beans, and small cucumbers for pickles. “Soft vegetables will need less time.” Kombucha, a fermented tea beverage has become more popular in the mainstream, and is another great way to ingest good bacteria according to Hiserman.
The next food program at the Muncy Public Library will be held on October 17 and the topic will be “Sprouting Made Simple” with garden expert Susie Styer.