Monday, November 5, 2012

Dash around the Table and, a Cookie Cutter angel revealed!

SpaBoy and I caught Chef Jon Ashton's Dash Around the Table tour
on Saturday. And, for foodies like us... This was better than Disneyland!
Before the event, we toured vendor-village and sampled goodies brought to
us by local businesses. We especially enjoyed meeting one of the co-owners
of The Popcorn Fanatic. Not only was she fanatically proud and excited
about her family-owned business, their flavored popcorn was beyond amazing!
We went into the sampling expecting to already know our favorites...
But we were sooo wrong! All the flavors we sampled were delicious
but incredibly, it was the Dill Pickle that had us going back for more!
We were also so happy to see Goat Lady Dairy... We've been enjoying their
spectacularly fresh goat cheeses for years and, we never miss an opportunity
to pick up something new whenever we see them at the Farmer's market!
I certainly have my favorites. And, at the top of my very long list is...
Grays Chapel. It is out-of-this-world good! After our sampling, it
was time to find a seat and get ready to be entertained by some of the
best chefs in our city. Each chef had a half hour to demonstrate a dish!
SpaBoy's favorite was Will Kingery of King's Crab Shack. But
my favorite was this guy! He's Timothy Grandinetti, the genius
executive chef at Spring House. And, if he looks familiar to you, it
might be from his appearance as a contestant on Chopped, Grill Masters!
Every chef prepared his dish using some form of Le Creuset. Especially popular was
my favorite, the Dutch oven. There was one for everyone! Each chef told us why
everyone should have one in their kitchen. They were upfront in telling us just how
expensive they are. But more than that, they wanted us to know that you buy them
once and, you buy them for your family. Please don't tell anyone that some of us...
Also buy them to decorate with!
Anyway, after the local chefs finished their demos, it was time
for the main event... Chef Jon Ashton of Liverpool, England!
He came out talking about his Granny Ashton's bread and about
what a profound and dramatic impact his grandmother had on his
life! Jon talked about making crusty bread in a dutch oven... It reminded
me very much of the No Knead Bread recipe I love to make so much!
It's hard not to immediately adore a man that speaks so fondly of his
grandmother, her wisdom and recipes she shared with him. On top of
that, Jon Ashton is wildly entertaining and seriously expert at his craft!
The two hours we spent together flew by! We watched him make bread, bake
the most incredible rustic pizza dough in a cast iron skillet, create savory pork
sliders that were out of this world, a pasta dish with a sausage and cream sauce
and, he finished with a bananas foster that literally lit up the room. Happy day!
There was also a butternut squash soup that was to die for! I have to tell you...
This was a pretty great way to spend an afternoon!
At the end of his presentation Jon was joined by some of the
good people from Sears so that he could pick the winner of
the 36" induction cooktop used by all the chefs that day!
Fast-foward to today and I'm still thinking about all the fantastic cookery
SpaBoy and I witnessed on Saturday. In fact, I was so inspired I decided to
rush home after work and get right to making chili in one of my Dutch ovens!
Two of the sponsors of Saturday's Dash around the Table
event were Johnsonville brand sausage and Texas Pete!
Texas Pete is made right here in Winston-Salem! And you know what?
Until Jon Ashton put it on his pork sliders and offered me a taste, I'd
never tasted hot sauce in my life. But it was so good! It didn't just add
the heat I expected... Texas Pete added a great flavor I never imagined!
Hot sauce and me... Who knew? I also never considered using sausage in my
chili before but after tasting those pork sliders Jon made, I thought, why not?
By the way, a reader asked me the other day what my
favorite Trader Joe's item is. And, I'll tell you... It's this!
I never leave Trader Joe's without grabbing several of these babies!
Especially during the times of year when fresh herbs are not available in my garden!
With Dorot I can pop a few cubes of herbs into my dishes
anytime I need them and never suspect they weren't just picked!
A little sea salt...
And, a whole lot of cracked black pepper!
Throw in some diced tomatoes...
And lots of hearty beans... Black, pinto and kidney will do just fine!
A little corn, more herbs and a few chili seasonings finish it off!
Oh, and now, since Jon Ashton... my chili can't be complete without Texas Pete!
While my chili cooked, I opened all of the packages I received today. For these
cute little mushroom Christmas ornaments, I have my friend Erinne to thank!
She knows how much I love mushrooms on our Christmas trees so she let
me know about these at Macy*s by Martha. I got five sets. Thanks, Erinne!
And this... Well, what does a girl whose dreamed of owning Martha's copper
cookie cutter collections say about this? I don't even know where to begin...
But I'll tell you this... I recently had the good fortune to meet the most wonderful
cookie cutter collector you could ever imagine. Carol is the grandma we all dream
of. The grandmother who bakes the most delicious sugar cookies and who patiently
spends hours and hours bringing her cookies to life through the art of royal icing!
Fortunately for me and for lots of other people, this wonderfully talented
cookie creator has decided to part with her collection of over 6,000 cookie
cutters! I never imagined in a million years that I would ever own these sets,
offered years ago through the now discontinued Martha by Mail catalog...
But because of Carol's generosity and kindness, today I do!
I intend to cherish these sets forever! Oh! And, create lots and lots of cookies too!
Maybe one day I'll know the joy of creating decorated sugar cookies for my own
grandchildren, just like Carol did! I hope Carol will always know how much I
appreciate her and how she will always be remembered through her gifts!
Oh, look kittens... It's Chili time!


  1. That Johnsonville Italian Sausage is my favorite! Great Flavor =) Your Chili looks awesome

  2. Dill pickle popcorn? Sounds FABULOUS! I would definitely eat that! :) I love Chili :)

  3. Yay! I'm so glad you got the mushrooms AND the cookie cutters!


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