Recipes from our 1st Cooking day with Chef Jen

I hope you were able to sample the amazing array of tasty food Friday June 1st at the first in the series of our monthly First Fridays with Chef Jen. She and awesome sous chef Suzanne Capone created 3 fresh salads, a batch of grits and greens, a chicken, vegetable stir fry, a chicken stuffed jalapeno and cheddar baguette sandwich, and Swiss chard rolls with lamb chirozo.

Celtuce and Freckle salad was the opener. Celtuce( also called stem lettuce, celery lettuce, asparagus lettuce, or Chinese lettuce, is a cultivar of lettuce grown primarily for its thick stem, and its leaves.The stem of the celtuce should be peeled of its tough exterior (this is not very hard; you can use a peeler or a knife), revealing an interior that’s surprisingly crisp, delicate, and mild. This interior can be eaten raw or cooked; it is fantastically versatile, tending to retain its jicama- or water-chestnut-like crispness whether pickled, grilled, roasted, or stir-fried.) and Freckles lettuce.  Suzanne made a dressing of white modena vinegar with a few splashes of soy suace and extra virgin olive oil with dried marjoram,paprika and garlic powder.

Grits and Greens was next.

Jen made 2 batches, one with Kale and one with Chinese mustard.  Greens are sauted in olive oil with a pinch of garlic powder, paprika and holy shitake seasoning.  Add 1/2 cup water , cover and cook over medium heat until tender. While the greens are cooking make the grits. Jen prefers white hominy grits because they have been properly treated with an alkali in a process called nixtamalization that makes the nutrients more available.  4 to 5 cups of a water and milk mix to 1 cup of grits.  Suzanne added in butter and grated cheese.

Lettuce with fennel fronds was the 2nd salad

Lettuce, a handful of fennel fronts and grated fennel bulb, carrots and chopped celery were dressed with a mixture of fresh lemonade, honey, a splash each of soy sauce and olive oil.  The seasonings were thyme, marjoram and salt and pepper.

Chicken and vegetable stir fry was the next entree.

Jen flavored the chicken with soy sauce, shiracha, salt, pepper, garlic powder and shitake seasoning and seared.  Remove chicken from pan, add the vegetables (chopped celtuce stem, carrots, scallions, kale stems and celery) and saute with chicken stock and put the day old rice( it’s preferred because it’s dry and grains separate nicely) on top to steam.

Chicken stuffed jalapeno cheddar baguette.  Grill the buttered baguette and top with chopped seared chicken(seasoned and cooked the same as for the stirfry) celtuce leaves, mozzerella, shiracha. YUM!

Swiss Chard rolls were the last entree because they take a while to cook.(45minutes to an 1 hour in a pan on the grill or a 350 degree oven) Mix 1 pound chirzo with an egg and a cup of rice. Take large swiss chard leaves, remove the lower stem, place a golf ball sized bit of meat in the center.  Roll, place seam side down and top with chopped tomatoes and mozzerella and parmesan.