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Class in session…

April 9, 2013

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This past weekend we held the cooking class and farm tour that were auctioned at the BASIS Peoria school fundraiser.  Chef Payton Curry graciously offered his time and talents and created an amazing menu of dishes using produce picked that morning from the farm.   Payton showed how to love your veggies roasted and raw.  He taught the class how to make perfectly roasted beets, rutabaga and turnips, gave a lesson in how to hand-pull mozzarella, and made a dish that I have obsessed about for two years.  He also did some simple dishes that made our veggies shine… like drizzling honey over grilled fava beans in the shell or adding whipped honey butter to a plate of raw radishes.  He taught us when to use vinegar for roasting beets and why not to use it when roasted rutabaga, and he gave some tips on how to use green garlic.  At the end of class, Bob, Sean and I got pizzas going in the wood-fired pizza oven using sausages from the Brat Haus, Payton’s pickled onions, the mozzarella made in class and veggies from the farm.  The pizzas, along side all of the wonderful dishes Payton made during class, left the class smiling and full.  You know the food is a hit when there is a quiet happy contentment that passes across the table after a meal.

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Bob got the event started with a quick tour of the farm, starting with the high tunnel that is filled with our heirloom tomatoes.  

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Payton educating and entertaining the class

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Turnips roasting in the fire

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Perfectly roasted and tossed with a little green garlic

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A wonderful assortment of mushrooms that were cooked in the fire.  Eaten on their own and on the pizzas.

IMG_2247Shelling the fava beans

IMG_2267Sharing the pros tips for perfectly roasted beets

IMG_2275Learning how to hand-pull mozzarella

Image 1A new sous chef for Payton mastering mozzarella

And my favorite dish…

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We first had this dish two years ago when Payton was at the Welcome Diner.  We loved it so much we ordered a second bowl for our table.  We then went back to the diner for it again.  I may have asked Payton about it so feverishly that he made me a gallon (no joke!) to take home.  Sean, Aidan and I made short work of that gallon.  I have tried recreating it at home since then, but it wasn’t the same.  And then as a gift, Payton taught it to the class, and this student took note… yellow eye Steuben beans, grilled Favas, pecan pesto, lemon zest, a little love.  Sounds simple, but done right it adds up to pure happiness.   It was just as I remember and totally worth two years of obsessing.  (We may have had it again with dinner last night.)

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Much thanks to Chef Payton Curry and his always lovely wife Shantal for a wonderful afternoon.  And a big thank you to all of the auction winners who bid on the class and came out to the farm.  We were thrilled to help the BASIS Peoria school… and to have so much fun doing it!

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