I did not grow up eating fresh vegetables, and although I’ve tried for years, I’ve never really learned to like many of them. I’ll roast cauliflower, or steam broccoli, but beets, turnips, parsnips and most greens have eluded me, which is sad, because I have the garden space to grow them all.
Having bumped into Chef Matt Taylor of Glass2Plate, a local catering/event company, at the Springdale Farm farmstand lots over the last couple of months, I decided to ask him if he would be willing to teach me some pointers about cooking vegetables, so that I might learn to love more than the few in my repertoire. He generously agreed.
We met at Springdale and picked out the freshly harvested vegetables from the farmstand, collard greens, carrots, green onions, parsnips, beets, turnips, fennel, garlic chives and parsley. He also picked up a couple G&S oranges and Meyer lemons from the farmstand.
We reconvened that evening at the farm and began our preparation. First up were the beets. I have never liked beets, except for the beet fries at East Side King. I mentioned this to Matt, and he was undeterred. After removing the beet greens, he put the beets in a roasting pan with some water, a bit of sugar and some salt, covered it with foil and stuck it in the oven.
He put me to work peeling the carrots and parsnips. Easy enough. We then cut the parsnips in half lengthwise and sliced the carrots on a mandolin. As I was slicing carrots, Matt massaged roasted shallot oil into the collard greens, and drizzled it over the green (not yet Spring) onions and set those aside. He put the parsnips into a pan with a little water, and turned the stove on to simmer.
For the salad, Matt used the Mandolin to thinly shave several bulbs of fennel, over which he zested a couple of oranges and a Meyer Lemon, drizzled with a bit of olive oil, a little salt and set aside.
Once the beets were roasted and tender, I removed their skins and sliced them in half. Matt made a vinaigrette with White Balsamic Vinegar, olive oil, Meyer Lemon Juice, a bit of sugar and some salt, and poured it over the peeled and sliced beets and set that aside.
Matt had brought with him a roll of compound butter, made by mixing butter with chopped fennel fronds, garlic, Meyer lemon zest, and minced shallot, then rolling and refrigerating. He sliced off a hunk of that delicious buttery, herby blend and melted it in a pan with lots of chopped parsley and garlic chives. This would become the Bagna Cauda, literally, hot bath in Italian.
Once the parsnips had softened, he added the little Hikurei turnips, sliced carrots, some fennel stems and chives to the pan and sautéed them. Once they were al dente, he added in some browned butter.
At this point, all of the vegetables were close to being done, so we threw some Richardson Farms ribeyes on the grill, as well as the shallot oil marinated green onions.
He squeezed some orange and Meyer juice over the fennel, topped it with the vinaigrette marinated roasted beets, and the beautiful red tinted vinaigrette.
When the steaks and onions were done, we took them off the grill onto the pan the onions had been, to rest in the onion flavored oil.
While the steaks rested, he grilled the collard greens until they were tender. Not long. And plated the root vegetables.
He finished the Bagna Cauda with a squeeze of anchovy paste, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
After a proper rest for the steak, Matt sliced it up, made it beautiful and topped it with the grilled onions.
We spooned this delicious Bagna Cauda over everything but the salad, and it was amazing.
This was one of the best meals I’ve had in long time, and I loved the vegetables – even the beets. The little Chioggia beets were sweet, tender and didn’t taste like dirt, which is always how I think of beets. I guess I’ve been eating the wrong beets, cooked the wrong way, all this time, but I now have a new appreciation for all of the vegetables we had. I think I’ve been mostly lazy too, choosing to roast the vegetables in the oven, rather than taking the time and effort to make them into something special. Now I know how!
Dirk Miller, Matt’s partner in Glass 2 Plate, brought along some delicious wine, and we had a fabulous evening.
Chef Matt Taylor and Sommelier Dirk Miller, formed Glass2Plate in 2012. They regularly host multi-course dinners with wine parings at different spots around town. Their next dinner is Sunday, March 3, 2013 at Aviary starting at 6:30. Matt will be cooking Pho and Lo Mein until they run out. This dinner is first come, first served.
They are also available for catering at your home, (or the spot of your choice). Chef Matt creates inventive menus using locally sourced ingredients and Somm Dirk pairs the food beautifully with artisanal wines. Check out their site via the above link, and follow (and “Like”) them on Facebook for updates on where to find them. https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/-glass2plate-/435092376548260?fref=ts