Saturday evening I had the great honor of attending a cookie demo and tasting put on my the great Chef Bill Bailey who runs Playing with Knives and Fire. You can also find him via his blog, which is where the recipes from the demo are listed. Cleveland West Road Runners set up the extravaganza, with one of them loaning their beautiful home for the event. The focus of the night was cooking with different grains and helping runners get away from the typical “pasta loading” style of pre-race eating.
The following were on the agenda:
Barley, Feta & Pear Salad
Chicken and Couscous with Dried Fruit
Toasted Garlic Quinoa
Personally I was most interested in the two risotto dishes. There is a Healthy Choice meal I used to eat a few times a month which was a risotto and mushroom mix. However, I am trying to stay away from boxed frozen meals, but I wasn’t sure how hard it would be to create my own. This was my chance to see the grain in action! The pear salad also caught my eye since I am trying to find good salad ideas. Honestly, I have never had quinoa despite it being such a power item and the same with couscous. Which meant I had mixed emotions. I wanted to try it, but if I didn’t like it, would the guests sense my displeasure and disown me?! OK obviously I’m kidding about that last statement.
The party was set to start at 630, but as with most social events we weren’t up and running until 700. I was fine with this since I saw Pati and we were able to catch up a lil. One thing I am looking forward to is spending time on the trails with her once I am cleared with the doctors. When things started I was pleased to have a front row seat, but wasn’t sure if photos were allowed since he does get paid to do these shows. By the time I realized people were taking pictures, I felt it was too late to start myself. Besides, I’d be blocking those behind me from seeing the cooking.
Something I am always amazed by with professional chef/cooks whatever is how they don’t need to measure their ingredients. I may not ever be able to get to that level, but one level I hope to achieve is knowing what items are in the same family. For example being able to switch out certain oils with each other, when to use various spices or herbs, even what citrus fruits can be switched up. It also was cool to see someone else cooking and talking and making it seem easy to use items we may not always incorporate into our cooking.
The funniest part of the night was when someone asked “How do you toast almonds?” Without thinking I said out loud “Like this. You raise your glass and say ‘To the almonds'”. As I made a toasting gesture with my glass. Only about half the of the people thought I was funny though.
Here is a shot of my personal plate of wonderful and the community table. I couldn’t even finish it, that is how filling these items were for me!!
Afterward I chatted with some other team members and swapped business cards with a nice lady. I even snagged myself an invite to a fabulous biking adventure in July, where we will tour an island, drink wine and hang out on the “beach” of this Canadian island. I don’t know the exact details, but it sounds like a great weekend getaway.