A Spoonful of Lovin’ at Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ Ultimate Tailgate Fundraiser

As you may remember, several weeks ago I took 2 photography classes at the Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE).  After the intermediate photography class with Chris Padgett, he mentioned that he may need an assistant to help with some food photography at an upcoming event.  Lucky for me, his assistant fell ill last minute and he needed a “pinch photographer”.  After learning about this amazing event, I was more than happy to fill in as amateur food photographer for the night!

Ashley Stanley, Founder and Executive Director of Lovin’ Spoonfuls

Lovin’ Spoonfuls is non-profit organization founded in 2010 by Ashley Stanley to facilitate the rescue and redistribution of healthy, fresh food that would otherwise be discarded.  Lovin’ Spoonfuls works with many local grocery stores, produce wholesalers, farms and farmers markets to help provide hunger relief in the  Greater Boston area.  They have rescued over 2 million pounds of food to date!

The culinary board includes many big names from the Boston food scene such as Joanne Chang (Flour, Myers & Chang), her husband Chris Meyers (Myers & Chang), Michael Scelfo (Alden and Harlow) and Jamie Bissonnette (Toro and Coppa) amongst others.  This was the 4th year of their large fundraising event, aptly named “The Ultimate Tailgate”, consisting of multiple auctions, raffles, a DJ and delicious food from about 20 Boston area restaurants.

The event was held outside in a large, heated tent at Sam’s at Louis with a gorgeous view of the waterfront.

As you can imagine, I was in foodie heaven!  Not only did I get to sample appetizers from some of my favorite restaurants, but I also had the opportunity to meet many of the chefs and unabashedly take photos because it was my “job”…and all for a good cause!  Below are many of the food offerings from the night.

Tiffani Faison’s (Sweet Cheeks) shrimp boil was my favorite dish of the night.

Not only do I love shrimp (and corn, potatoes, sausage and butter) but the display was so fun and colorful to photograph…not mention that Tiffani is super nice and makes incredible biscuits!

The most interesting dish award went to Mei Mei for their Kung Pao Curry Frito Pie.  Warning: fritos and any food that accompanies them may be highly addicting!

The beet tartare pictured above from Fairsted Kitchen was a play on deviled eggs.  The simple combination of deviled eggs and sweet roasted beets was delicious and had me coming back for seconds!  I’m going to have to figure how to make these- they would be an excellent appetizer at a holiday party.

In between preparing food, socializing and eating, the chefs also did a little goofing around!

Beverages included beer by Peak Organic Brewing Company, wine by distributor M.S. Walker, as well as signature cocktails from Sam’s.

One of the more creative dishes was the chorizo, potato and squid quesadilla from relative newcomer on the Boston dining scene, La Brasa.

At one point during the night I was surrounded by the intoxicating aroma of fried chicken, only to find myself next to these mouthwatering duck drummettes with  red plum balsamic glaze from Sam’s at Louis.  If I hadn’t been so full by this point (it’s easier to eat and photograph at the same time than you think) I would have taken at least seconds…and maybe even thirds.

Bergamot served a deliciously tender brisket over a bright and acidic red cabbage slaw.

Nebo was so popular with their Italian sausage, rustic broccoli rage-pine nut pesto and provolone sandwich that they ran out of sausage by the end of the night!

Merrill & Co. served up large meatballs slathered in a robust tomato sauce and topped with parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.

And finally, no food event with Joanne Chang would be complete without dessert!

I’m not about to quit my day job but it was pretty fun being a photographer for the night!  (Hopefully I get “hired” for another gig soon!)

If you would like to learn more about Lovin’ Spoonfuls or donate to this wonderful cause, please click here.

Carrot Cake (and cupcakes)

Last month I had a super crazy schedule: 24 hours on, 24 hours off, alternating for 5 weeks in the busy emergency room.  At some point during the night (and sometimes during the day)  you become slightly (or completely) delirious with exhaustion, dehydration, knowledge overload and hunger (also known as being hangry!).  When this happens, it is doctor recommended that you seek out a caffeinated beverage and something sweet STAT.  One night, this something sweet happened to be carrot cake cupcakes, in honor of my co-resident’s birthday- she was extremely lucky to spend part of it with me in the emergency room (note sarcasm)!

This recipe is one of my most requested desserts and can be made as one large cake or as a dozen cupcakes.  From the original Flour cookbook, this carrot cake is a mixture of rich moist cake, studded with raisins and toasted walnuts, and topped with a fluffy, but not too sweet, cream cheese frosting.  It’s the perfect balance of flavors- especially at 4AM!  I usually despise raisins in all baked goods but I strongly encourage you to use them in this recipe even if you are a fellow raisin hater.  It only uses 1/2 cup of raisins, just enough to add a tart flavor contrast but not overwhelmingly so.

Click here for the recipe. Continue reading

Chilled Spanish White Gazpacho

With my second year of residency coming to a close, and the beginning of my third year rapidly approaching at a heart arrhythmia inducing pace, I have not had much time to delve into the world of Flour, Too (see my last post on the book signing I attended with Joanne Chang).   However, as I was trying to think of a light and easy dinner to make last week, I recalled seeing this recipe and adding it to my mental list of “Things I want to cook/bake soon”.

My love of gazpacho began in Sevilla, Spain when I was studying abroad for a semester my junior year of college.  Gazpacho orginated in the South of Spain (possibly via Arab or Roman influences) and is traditionally thought of as a cold, tomato-based, vegetable soup.  My host mom made a delecious gazpacho and even gave me some cooking lessons on how to make it  (although my attempts to replicate it at home have been slightly dissapointing).

This white gazpacho from Flour, Too is a modern, sweeter take on the classic.   Grapes and cucumbers make up the flavor base in place of tomatoes and instead of the stale bread of the traditional recipe, this soup uses blanched almonds.   The result is a refreshing summer soup that can be whipped up in minutes!  I did add my own touch with a garnish of crispy shallots (from Barefoot Contessa).  While optional, I highly recommend these for a great flavor and texture contrast to the sweet soup.  Buen Provecho!

Chilled Spanish White Gazpacho (from Flour, Too by Joanne Chang)
serves 4-6

2 lb seedless green grapes, stemmed
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
2 garlic cloves
6 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
3 tbsp good-quality sherry vinegar
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 English cucumbers, peeled and cut crosswise into 1-to 2- inch pieces
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1-2 tbsp for finishing
crispy shallots (optional)

Working in batches, combine the grapes, almonds, garlic, cilantro, vinegar, lime juice, and salt in the blender or food processor and pulse until the almonds and garlic are chopped but not too finely.  Add the cucumbers and pulse again until the cucumbers are blended.  Do not overblend, you want the soup to have some texture.  Using a spatula or a wooden spoon, stir in the olive oil.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to chill the soup and allow the flavors to blend.  (Taste and add more salt as needed.)  Ladle into bowls and drizzle each with about 1 tsp olive oil before serving.  You may also garnish with crispy shallots if desired.  The soup will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.