Sunday, September 8, 2013

Agnolotti by Chef Jack Mavraj owner of @LaVeronaPa #GardenCuizine #mushroomfest

Kennett Square 
28th annual Mushroom Festival
The weather could not have been better for this weekends 28th annual Mushroom Festival held in the Mushroom Capital of the World - Kennett Square, PA. The festival is always the weekend after Labor Day. This year it was September 7th and 8th, 2013. All the years living in South Jersey (which is somewhat nearby), we have never gone to this festival. This was the year we finally made it. The gorgeous weather beaconed quite a crowd. We parked in a nearby lot and took a shuttle bus to and from the festival. 

The mushroom fest had something for all ages, making it a fun way to learn more about mushrooms. My only wish was that there were more mushroom focused foods in the sea of "junk" food vendors that lined the main street. It would also be nice if there were more rules prohibiting vendors such as bathtub sales, which seemed out of place and was annoying to see at a public fair promoting food and agriculture.

Antique and classic cars lined a neighboring street, attracting visitors near the culinary event tent.
The shiitake mushroom farm tour we planned to go on was sold out by the time we got there to get our tickets. We regretted not purchasing our tickets before eating lunch; however, we didn't regret ordering portobello burgers and mushroom soup at the Kennett Square Inn. Harry was amazed at how meaty a vegetarian portobello mushroom burger tastes. 

I'm sure another sell out was on Sunday to see Carla Hall, co-host of The Chew and former Top Chef contestant.
Missing the farm tour allowed us time to stroll through the culinary event tent just in time to see Chef Jack Mavraj, owner/chef of La Verona Italian Cuisine and Bar, who cooked one of his menu items - braised beef short ribs and mushroom hand made agnolotti (stuffed pasta similar to ravioli) with an exotic mushroom beef broth using a demi-glace reduction and truffle butter imported from Italy. 

Chef Mavraj was surrounded by a display of gourmet mushrooms that included Maitake (Grifola frondosa), Shiitake (Lentinula edodes), Portobello and Golden Oyster (Pleurotus citrinopileatus). We made note of his Kennett Square restaurant, LaVerona, located at 114 East State Street and look forward to dining there next time in Kennett Square.

Related Links
Mushroom Festival 
Unusual and Interesting Facts about Mushrooms
Mushroom Council
Types of Mushrooms
Blog post and photos Copyright (C)2013 Wind. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Save some of your open-pollinated, heirloom tomato seeds #sustainable #GardenCuizine

Saving Tomato Seeds

     As the Jersey tomato season moves into fall, before eating the last of your favorite open-pollinated, heirloom tomatoes, don't forget to save some seeds for next years planting. Saving tomato seeds is easy. Across the internet you can find posts on saving tomato seeds. Fermentation is a tried and true way to save tomato seeds while destroying pathogens that may be present on the seeds. I first learned about it on Dave's Garden. 

     At a spring plant swap, I agreed to save seeds from Goldman's Italian American tomatoes in exchange for the plant, so they are the first seeds to be collected today. I've seen some people put the whole tomato in a container and squish away to release the seeds. That's fine if it is a cherry tomato or small size tomato, but what if it is a large tomato? Why waste it all? 
     To save seeds from large open-pollinated, non-hybrid tomatoes, select the best tomato. Cut into the tomato and look for chamber areas where the most seeds are located. Trim away the non-seedy parts and save those tomato portions in a baggie to enjoy later in salsa, salads, or on sandwiches. The remaining parts with seeds can be scraped into a storage container with water. 

Help to preserve the genetic diversity of heirloom plants
Become a tomato seed saver - try the fermentation method
  • Put tomato chunks with the seeds you want to save into a storage container. Add water and break up large pieces with your hands if necessary.
  • Set the container aside, somewhere out of the way, to ferment. 
  • After a few days the water will start to get stinky and cloudy. A mass of gunk will form a raft and float on the top. 
  • The size of the floating gunk raft will depend on how much tomato mush was in the water to start. I don't expect to get much from the container shown in the photo. After a week or so, gently pour off the top gunk and some of the murky water - leaving the seeds and some water in the bottom of the container. 
  • Add fresh water, give it a swirl, and slowly pour off the top water layer, leaving the seeds settled on the bottom. A few 'bad' seeds may float to the top. It is okay to get rid of those seeds. Repeat until the water runs clear. 
  • Once clear, drain the seeds and water into a colander. 
  • Dump the seeds onto a paper plate to drain. Try and spread them out with your hands so they are not in a clump.
  • Air dry for a few days in a protected area. 
  • When completely dry, scrape the seeds into airtight baggies: label, trade, share, save and plant next season. 
Related Video and Links
Fermenting Tomato Seeds Diary by a Dave's Garden member 
Become a Seed Saver
How to Save Heirloom Tomato Seeds 
Tomato Seed Fermentation
Blog post and photos Copyright (C)2013 Wind. All rights reserved.