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F.C. Chef Whips Up ‘Sinful’ Delights at Market’s Live-Cooking Demonstration

ChefCookingSinplicity Catering’s Chef Leland Atkinson made sinners of us all last Saturday at the Falls Church Farmers Market Chef Series presentation.

ChefCooking

Leland Atkinson of Sinplicity Catering in Falls Church. (Photo: News-Press)

 

Sinplicity Catering’s Chef Leland Atkinson made sinners of us all last Saturday at the Falls Church Farmers Market Chef Series presentation.

“Let the sin begin!” reads Sinplicity’s “I’m a frequent Sinner” card, which allows customers to buy 10 treats and get one free. Primarily, sin comes in the form of delicious ice creams and sorbets, which are made fresh daily in Falls Church.

This was Chef Atkinson’s second appearance at the Farmer’s Market. Last summer Sinplicity’s market presentation featured ice cream, sorbet and cookies. While ice cream and cookies made a cameo appearance this past weekend, those tasty treats were joined on stage by various other morsels whipped up by Sinplicity’s chef extraordinaire.

“It’s such a great venue and my demonstration is just a small way to contribute to it and to help spread the word that we have the best farmers market in the state,” said Atkinson.

This year Chef Atkinson mixed up his 2010 market menu, which included Vine-Ripened Tomato and Ginger Chutney on Parmesan and Black Pepper Biscotti, Blueberry Shortcups with Margarita Curd and Whipped Cream and The Ice Cream Sinwich: Almond Macaroons filled with Blackberry Jam and Gingered Peanut Ice Cream.

Of course, tastes of Sinplicity’s famous ice creams were distributed throughout the presentation, effectively getting the crowd interested as soon as the chef began setting up. If missed, samples and product are always available at Sinplicity’s permanent vendor booth every Saturday at the Farmer’s Market.

In this summer’s foray into other genres, Chef Atkinson started the presentation with a tangy tomato and ginger chutney on parmesan and black pepper biscotti. In season, the market is stocked with row upon row of vine ripened tomatoes. Toigo Orchards was the capable supplier of the tomatoes used in Sinplicity’s presentation.

“The best way to insure that you’re eating healthy is to know the people who are producing your food. The farmers market presents the best venue for allowing consumers to be comfortable with their food sources,” said Atkinson.

As the tomatoes cooked, the scent of fresh tomato and ginger filled the air. Attendees watched intently as the ruby mixture boiled down and thickened. As a platform, the parmesan and black pepper biscotti proved a pleasant partner. With just a hint of cheese and a bite of pepper, these petite cookies were a savory surprise.

Next appeared blueberry shortcups with ingredients reflecting the market’s fruitier side. For the shortcup itself, Chef Atkinson recommended using a favorite biscuit recipe and cooking it in a mini cupcake pan. Cutting a whole in the center once cooled, the biscuits were filled with the lime juice infused curd, blueberries and topped with whipped cream. The little cakes tasted of summer’s produce with just a nice hint of sweetness balanced by the tart lime and succulent blueberry.

For his final trick, Chef Atkinson scooped some Sinplicity ice cream for the Ice Cream Sinwich. Two almond macaroons acted as bookends for this wonderful indulgence, although the cookies could have been eaten happily all on their own. In this case, the Sinwich was filled with blackberry jam and Sinplicity’s peanut ginger ice cream.

The blackberry jam, as prepared by Chef Atkinson, involved boiling down the berries with some Grand Marnier and a little butter. With the peanut ginger ice cream the “Sinwich” made for a nutty, fruity and drippy masterpiece. Lucky recipients, acted quickly to catch each errant ice cream drip.

Chef Atkinson enjoyed interacting with the hungry and curious Falls Church audience. As people ate and asked questions, he cooked and happily answered all inquiries.

“I like just getting in front of a crowd and sharing some hopefully good food and tidbits of knowledge with a great group of people. They seemed to appreciate the effort that I put in and we received great feedback on the samples that we handed out,” said Atkinson. Three hundred samples disappeared quickly from platters and as did the recipe packages.

Part of Chef’s usual crowd missed the fun. As the only downside, Chef Atkinson said he missed his prior assistants, who are also his daughters. Last year the girls came along to lend a hand with the demonstration.

“Like many families, we don’t spend as much quality time together as we would like. They’re too young to work in the business. Sarah is 10, Emily is 8, but they love helping out at tastings and demonstrations like this,” said Atkinson.

The rest of the audience happily helped out, savoring every bite. Of the three samples, the tasters seemed to enjoy the offerings equally. It would be difficult to pick a favorite. If a vote were held, the almond macaroon Sinwich might be hard to beat, although Chef Atkinson may not agree.

“Of the things that we demonstrated, the blueberry shortcup was my favorite. It was a tasty little treat, but I also thought that it fit the purpose of the event and the time of the season very well,” said Chef Atkinson.

 

Recipes by Chef Leland Atkinson of Sinplicity Catering

Tomato & Ginger Chutney
Makes about 1 ½ cups

This makes a wonderful bruschetta topping. It is also a perfect fat-free condiment for grilled meats and sandwiches.

Ingredients:
6 vine ripe tomatoes or 12 Roma tomatoes, seeded and quartered
10 cloves fresh garlic, coarsely chopped
1 ounce fresh ginger, peeled and diced
½ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
23 tablespoons sugar, more or less to taste
2 tablespoons chopped basil or cilantro

Directions:
Place tomatoes, garlic and ginger into a Cuisinart-style food processor. Pulse until mealy and consistently coarse. Do not puree until smooth. Place into a nonreactive pot and add the vinegars, cayenne pepper, salt and sugar.
Bring to a simmer and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. As the mixture thickens, stir frequently with a heat resistant rubber spatula or wooden spoon to prevent scorching. Remove from heat. Allow the mixture to cool to body temperature before adding the basil or cilantro.

This chutney will keep, tightly covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks.

 

Parmesan & Cracked Pepper Biscotti
Makes 4 to 5 dozen

Ingredients:
1 1/2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (2 1/4 cups)
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 large eggs plus one for egg wash
1 cup whole milk

Directions:
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.
Pulse peppercorns in grinder until coarsely ground.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, 2 cups cheese, and 1 tablespoon ground black pepper in a large bowl. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk 3 eggs with milk and add to flour mixture, stirring with a fork until a soft dough forms.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and quarter dough. Using well-floured hands form each piece into a slightly flattened 12-inch-long log (about 2 inches wide and 3/4 inch high). Transfer logs to 2 ungreased large baking sheets, arranging logs about 3 inches apart.
Whisk remaining egg and brush some over logs, then sprinkle tops of logs evenly with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and 1/2 tablespoon ground pepper. Bake, rotating sheets 180 degrees and switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until logs are pale golden and firm, about 30 minutes total. Cool logs to warm on sheets on a rack, about 10 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.
Carefully transfer 1 warm log to a cutting board and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices with a serrated knife. Arrange slices, cut sides down, in 1 layer on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining logs, transferring slices to sheets. Bake, turning over once, until golden and crisp, 35 to 45 minutes total. Cool biscotti on baking sheets on racks, about 15 minutes.

 

Almond Macaroons
For Ice Cream “Sinwiches”
Makes about 16 filled macaroons

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar
1 cup (4 ounces) finely ground sliced, blanched almonds
6 tablespoons fresh egg whites (from about 3 extra-large eggs)
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions:
To make the macaroons:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and ground almonds. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue to whip until stiff glossy peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the confectioners’ sugar mixture until completely incorporated.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Fit a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch #4 round tip, and fill with batter. Pipe 1-inch disks onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. The batter will spread a little. Let stand at room temperature until dry, and a soft skin forms on the tops of the macaroons and the shiny surface turns dull, about 15 minutes.
Bake, with the door of the oven slightly ajar, until the surface of the macaroons is completely dry, about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet to a wire rack and let the macaroons cool completely on the baking sheet. Gently peel off the parchment. Their tops are easily crushed, so take care when removing the macaroons from the parchment. Use immediately or store in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
To fill the macaroons:
Fill a pastry bag with the filling. Turn macaroons so their flat bottoms face up. On half of them, pipe about 1 teaspoon filling. Sandwich these with the remaining macaroons, flat-side down, pressing slightly to spread the filling to the edges. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

 

ChefCurd

(Photo: News-Press)

Lime Curd

Makes 3 cups

Ingredients:
8 large egg yolks
2 large whole eggs
1 cup (10 limes) freshly squeezed lime juice, strained
2 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
2 tablespoons freshly grated lime zest, (optional)

Directions:
Whisk together egg yolks and whole eggs in a nonreactive saucepan. Add sugar and lime juice; whisk to combine.
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens to almost pudding like consistency, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat; transfer to a heat-proof bowl. Stir in butter one piece at a time, until fully incorporated. Stir in lime zest, if desired.
If not using immediately, cover surface directly with plastic wrap to keep a skin from forming, and refrigerate until ready to use.