Friday, December 30, 2011

First Demo at the Farm - Swiss Chard Caprese Wraps

So, as I mentioned previously, I occasionally perform demos at the farm, themed by a particular ingredient.  Dave and Cathy approached me the first time a few weeks ago to demo ways to serve Swiss chard to the members as they came to pick up their weekly produce.

I was pretty excited about the demo and spent the night before researching Swiss chard, its nutritional values, and ways to eat it.  Swiss chard's a pretty versatile leaf that people don't always think about, and I hoped to change people's minds.  I decided on a simple caprese wrap.  I'd heard a few member mention on occasion that they knew to saute and cook down leafy greens like chard and spinach, and I felt a wrap would make chard the 'showpiece' of the dish.  You don't have to just cook it down into a pile of greens.  Also, the red, white and green of the wrap would make this colorful dish very attractive on the plate for the demo.

I woke up anxious and excited the morning of the demo.  I couldn't wait to get to the farm!  What would the turnout be?  Would the farm members be excited?  Would they think it's a big deal? I needed to stop off at the grocery store on the way in to pick up a few extras for the demo and my farm chores still needed to be done.  I was a bit nervous about the demo space and how it would be designed - it needed to look good for the spectators!  All of these thoughts swirled in the back of mind while I attempted my farm chores.  I needed to make this demo a success... make it taste right.  I kept thinking that I shouldn't cook things in front of people that I hadn't tried before.  I felt confident in my process and the flavors I was shooting for, but you never know what can happen.

Unfortunately I don't have a picture to accompany this first demo - I was way too amped up about my performance  and demo itself to stop and take pictures!  In the middle of it all, I remember looking up  and there was a man buying produce across the way at the market.  I could tell he was listening, but uncertain uncertain about what was going on.  I made it a point to call him over to include him in the demo.  I recognized a few of the members standing around and really loved being able to interact and joke around with everyone!  When the wraps were ready to be plated I looked around and realized I completely forgot to bring presentation plates!  I ended up using the top of a plastic container I brought with me - maybe that's the real reason I forgot to take pictures!

All in all, everything worked out great for the demo!  The members left full of new knowledge about Swiss chard and excited to cook in their own kitchens.  The best part of all - when everyone left the farm, all those wraps made a perfect lunch for Dave, Cathy and myself!

Swiss Chard Caprese Wraps
by Chef John N Carminati

Makes 4 wraps

4-5 leaves Urban Oasis Swiss chard
1 large Urban Oasis Heirloom tomato, cut into petals
1 sliced fresh large mozzarella ball
Urban Oasis lemon basil to taste, roughly chopped
White Balsamic Vinaigrette (see below)

  1. Lightly blanch and shock Swiss chard. Pat dry.
  2. Remove chard spine from each piece. Lay pieces of each leaf flat, overlapping.
  3. Drizzle vinaigrette over chard leaves, spreading evenly.
  4. Place sliced mozzarella, basil, and 1 tomato petal on each chard leaf pair, near the bottom.
  5. If desired, add more vinaigrette. Otherwise season with salt & (optional) pepper.
  6. Delicately roll chard wrap in from the bottom, being careful not to tear.

Slice wraps on a bias in the center. Arrange on the plate by leaning one half on the other, displaying the open sides. Drizzle vinaigrette over and around the wraps and plate.

White Balsamic Vinaigrette
2 tsp finely diced shallots
1 garlic clove, minced
¾ cup sunflower oil (or any other light oil)
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
salt to taste
pepper, optional

Whisk together all ingredients.

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