Tuesday, January 20, 2009

D.C. Central Kitchen celebrates 20th anniversary

D.C. Central Kitchen (DCCK)—which began it first phase of operation on Jan. 20, 1989, by redistributing excess food from balls held for the presidential inauguration of George H. W. Bush—today celebrates its 20th anniversary.

During these past 20 years, DCCK has been combating hunger and creating opportunity by:
  • recovering un-served food from restaurants, hotels and foodservice businesses;
  • training unemployed men and women for careers in the foodservice industry through its Culinary Job Training program;
  • providing free, nutritious meals to shelters and other social service agencies;
  • coordinating outreach services to help men and women living on the street find a way inside;
  • opening "Campus Kitchens" at universities and high schools across America; and
  • offering change through empowerment.
By partnering with local farmers, small businesses and concerned citizens, DCCK now aims to increase its sustainability efforts by generating 50% of its own revenue, while shining a light on new forms of business as philanthropy. At the same time, DCCK will step forward to advocate for an engaged and flexible non-profit sector during this era of rapidly changing demographics and societal issues.

As reported yesterday on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, this year, DCCK's culinary arts students will be cooking for some of the events surrounding the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Click here to listen to the full segment.

Florida Tomato Committee celebrates 20 years
of culinary competition

The 20th annual Florida Tomatoes “Best of the Best” Recipe Contest is underway. Culinary students from the United States and Canada will create dishes featuring red, round, field-grown tomatoes from Florida for a chance to win $2,000.

Supervising instructors will select a recipe to represent their school; only one recipe is permitted per school. Finalists’ recipes will then be judged by a panel of prominent New York-area chefs and food writers on the basis of taste, visual appeal, originality and effective use of fresh Florida tomatoes. Winning recipes will be announced in trade publications and online.

Last year, desserts took center stage, with Fresh Tomato Jam-Filled French Crepes with Tomato Ice Cream and Basil Syrup (recipe below) winning top honors for Jose Luis Hernandez, a student at Johnson County Community College in Lenexa, Kan. First among Canadian school entrants was Lynn Fretz of Canadore College with her Tomato Mousse & Basil Jelly with Tomato “Cigars.”

The contest is open to all students enrolled in a professional culinary program in the United States or Canada. The deadline for schools to submit their selected recipe is Wednesday, April 22, 2009. Instructors interested in learning about how their students can participate should contact Jason Stemm at (212) 420-8808 or tomatocontest@lewis-neale.com.

Fresh Tomato Jam-filled French Crepes with
Tomato Ice Cream and Basil Syrup

Jose Luis Hernandez, Johnson County Community College,
Lenexa, Kan.
Yield: 6 servings

Water, as needed
1 1/4 c. sugar
7 lbs. fully ripened fresh Florida tomatoes
1 c. port wine
1 t. fresh grated ginger
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. fresh basil, loosely packed
12 Crepes (recipe follows)
Tomato Ice Cream (recipe follows)

Method (1) In small saucepan combine 1/2 c. sugar and 1/2 c. water; bring to a boil; set aside to cool to sugar syrup. (2) Bring large pot of water to boil; preheat oven to 200°F. (3) Arrange rack on tray; coat rack with non-stick cooking spray. Score skin on each tomato in 4 equidistant places. Drop several tomatoes at a time into boiling water until skins loosen, about 10 seconds; set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, peel off skins; dip 20 pieces of skin into sugar syrup; place on prepared tray. Reserve remaining syrup. Dry tomato skins in oven until crisp but not browned, 30-40 minutes; set aside. (4) Quarter, seed and coarsely chop 2 quarts of remaining tomatoes, reserving seeds and juice; place chopped tomatoes in a heavy saucepan. Add 3/4 c. sugar, port, ginger, cinnamon and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick and jam-like, about 45 minutes. Remove Tomato Jam from heat; set aside until cool; crumble into 1/2" pieces. (5) Meanwhile, coarsely chop remaining uncooked tomatoes; place in blender with reserved uncooked tomato seeds and liquid. Blend until smooth; strain puree; set aside. (6) In a heavy saucepan, combine reserved sugar syrup and basil; bring to a boil. Transfer to a blender container; whirl until smooth. Strain Basil Syrup mixture and set aside. (7) For assembly: Spread 12 Crepes with warm Tomato Jam; roll up. Place 2 Crepes on the center of each plate. Top with scoop of Tomato Ice Cream and a drizzle of Basil Syrup. Garnish with crisp tomato skins.

3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. milk
2 eggs
2 T. oil, plus more as needed
2 T. sugar
1/8 t. salt

Method (1) In bowl, combine flour, milk, eggs, oil, sugar and salt until smooth. Heat 6" crepe pan; very lightly wipe with oil. (2) Pour about 1 1/2 T. of batter at a time into pan, swirling to cover the bottom; cook until bubbly and bottom is golden. Turn and cook just long enough to lightly brown; remove and set aside. Repeat to make 12 crepes, wiping pan with oil when needed.

Tomato Ice Cream
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. milk
1/8 t. salt
6 large egg yolks
2 c. reserved tomato puree
1 T. crème fraîche

Method (1) In medium-sized, heavy saucepan, whisk together cream, sugar, milk and salt. Heat, stirring frequently, just until mixture comes to a simmer. (2) Meanwhile, in small bowl whisk egg yolks. Very gradually whisk hot mixture into yolks; return mixture to saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, just until it simmers. Remove from heat; whisk in reserved tomato puree and the crème fraîche. Reserve remaining puree, if any, for another use. (3) Refrigerate, covered, until cool. Transfer to ice cream maker; process until frozen. Serve or transfer to freezer container and freeze until ready to serve.