Christina Nifong, Culinary Instructor, Food Writer and Blogger Extraordinaire!
Local For Lunch: Welcoming Spring!
Christina’s culinary classes include lunch she creates out of local ingredients, many of them right out of her own garden!
Please visit Christina’s website and subscribe to her newsletter where she shares lots of her cooking and gardening expertise and fabulous recipes: http://christinanifong.com
Christina’s Local For Lunch classes at the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op are always colorful! Pictured above Radicchio (a type leaf chicory, sometimes known as Italian chicory. It is grown as a leaf vegetable which usually has white-veined red leaves. It has a slightly bitter and spicy taste, which mellows when it is grilled or roasted) that is sold at the Co-op. Rainbow carrots mixed with radishes (from Christina’s garden) are in the middle photo and fresh mint from Christina’s garden is pictured at the right.
Christina introduced us to kale flowers for salad. The kale in her garden had bolted and bloomed so she cut the flowers and chopped them up to add to the lovely green salad she made for us.
Another delicious salad ingredient that Christina introduced us to is Black Rice sometimes known as “Forbidden Rice”. I love Christina’s recipe. She cooked the rice in vegetable broth and added about 1 tablespoon (to one cup uncooked rice) coconut oil to the rice while it was cooking. These flavors made the rice taste rich and yummy. She served the rice cold to serve alongside our salad greens.
Black rice is an ancient grain that was once reserved for only Chinese royalty. It contains many healthy elements including disease-fighting antioxidants.
After attending Christina’s classes I have gained more respect and love for fresh seasonal produce, but I must admit, I still LOVE the dressing! My favorite part of this class was Christina’s Poppy Seed Dressing.
Poppy Seed Dressing
- 1/2 cup sweet onion (about a quarter of a large onion)
- 1 tsp. fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup honey (local if you can get it)
- 1 tsp. ground mustard
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup canola or avocado oil
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
- In a food processor, using the knife blade, chop onion, with salt, until ingredients are ground into a liquidy paste.
- Add vinegar, honey and mustard. Process until all is well-mixed.
- Mix two oils together in a pitcher or measuring cup with a spout. Slowly (so slowly!) pour oil into the food processor while processing. The slower you go, the better incorporated the oil will be with the other ingredients.
- Add poppy seeds and mix gently. Pour salad dressing into an air-tight container (such as a Mason jar) and keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. If dressing separates, shake to recombine.
Another fun find at the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op: Lacinato Kale or “black cabbage” in Italian is well-known in Italian cuisine. Slightly sweeter and more delicate than curly kale. This is the green that we see so often in Italian soups and pastas.
It’s always nice to celebrate Spring with a little rosé bubbly. We popped open a bottle of Paul Déthune Brut Rosé this weekend. 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay grapes. Absolutely delightful with notes of wild strawberry, peach and Meyer lemon. Very fine mousse. $50 range.
We also had the opportunity to taste Lagard Altas Cumbres Extra Brut 2013 from Mendoza, Argentina this weekend. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sémillon blend prepared under the Charmat (tank) method. Young, fresh and fruity with light citrus and apricot flavors. A fun little sparkling wine for casual sipping in the $10 range.
We toasted our kitchen remodel (kitchen and dining room demolition completed, next step is plumbing and electrical) with Champagne Lelarge-Pugeot Les Meuniers de Clemence NV. Look what we found in the wall ~ Garst Brothers Dairy paper milk container. This container has probably been in the wall since our house was built in 1952.
You are invited to visit my Facebook page: Bubblybee