Speaking at the Master Gardener Plant Sale

Photos by Sandi Pettus

We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day for the Master Gardener Plant Sale in Lawrenceburg on Saturday. I spoke on cooking with culinary herbs.

My brother Eric and his family came to give us support. I’m so thankful to my sister-in-law, Helen who worked with me during my presentation and kept me organized. I’d also like to thank a girl young named Breanna who helped us keep our area clean.

We all know there’s a multitude of ways to use herbs, so I focused on the areas of  barbecuing, condiments, compound butters, preserving, infusing, steaming and finishing with herbs. I explained some tried and true methods and gave some unique new ideas. Two of the noted favorites were an herb fire-starter and pretty ice cubes filled with herbs and edible flowers.

In the last part of my presentation, I chose to demonstrate pesto because of it’s simplicity and knew it’s something people could recognize. Pesto, which means “‘pounded” in Italian, was historically prepared using a mortar and pestal. However, it has since been revised for modern day. Most of us now use food processors to prepare this sauce.

I put my spin on the traditional basil pine nut pesto and added it to a prepared layered terrine (of sun dried tomatoes, tipenade and goat cheese) and topped it with our freshly made pesto. Then, I introduced a cilantro pepita pesto and a parsley almond pesto. Everyone got a chance to sample everything on crusty bread. I think the favorite of the day was our layered terrine.

I really enjoyed myself and was glad to see others enjoying my demos and samples. I had one lady tell me that she knows a lot about herbs, but she said she actually learned some new things, so I thought that was a great compliment! Sharing cooking knowledge is the one thing I really enjoy.



Cooking with Alcohol Part 3 Workshop


Wednesday night was our last workshop in the Cooking with Alcohol series.  We made a marinara sauce with a gluten-free pasta, accompanied by a salad tossed in lemon/garlic salad dressing and pan roasted green beans in pine nut butter.

This marinara sauce is made completely from scratch, but don’t let that deter you. It’s easy to make. We roasted garlic and roma tomatoes tossed in olive oil for about 30 minutes. We then whirled them up in the food processor and added fresh raw garlic, basil, parsley and balsamic vinegar. We used balsamic vinegar instead of sugar to cut the bitter taste of the tomatoes. Sauvignon Blanc white wine was added instead of the red wine typically used. Using white wine gives a lighter and fruitier flavor. Once our sauce was pureed, we added it to a saucepan and let it simmer for only 30 minutes. 30 minutes was enough time to achieve a pretty thick sauce. However, I typically let the sauce cook for about an hour or more to achieve a deeper color and richer flavor.

While the sauce cooked, we tackled our gluten-free pasta. Making pasta is an art and test of patience, but it is well worth the effort. I pre-made our dough out of organic cornstarch, tapioca flour and potato flour and added Xanthum gum to give it that gluten-like stickiness that’s in traditional wheat pastas. Eggs were added to finish off the dough.

The girls used the pasta roller to make sheets before turning the dough into spaghetti. It took a few passes before we were ready to use the spaghetti attachment. The pasta drying rack came in handy to hang all our noodles on until we were ready to use them.

Next, we prepared our lemon/garlic salad dressing with olive oil, fresh garlic, lemon, salt and pepper. It’s a nice, light and healthy dressing.

The last dish of the night was our pan roasted green beans with pine nut butter. Although the title says, pine nut butter, there is only a tablespoon of butter which gives it just the right amount of flavor. If you like butter, but want to cut out all the calories, combine butter with olive oil. The olive oil will also prevent the butter from burning.

The pasta and marinara sauce turned out perfect. However, I believe the pan roasted green beans stole the show. It’s a simple recipe with amazing taste.

Our entire calorie count for the evening was 593 calories!

Get ready, our next class will be making light, healthy appetizers on Wednesday, April 9.