By the time we’d made it halfway through our culinary week of adventures in New York, it was time to spend a day than in the kitchen with renowned chef and seasonal cooking extraordinaire, Carmen Quagliata.
Our day started like that of true farm-to-table chefs, browsing the seasonal selection of produce at the Union Square Greenmarket. Chef Carmen introduced campers to his favorite fruit, vegetable, and fish farmers, and also snuck us a taste of some sweet summer strawberries and some not- so-sweet onion blossoms.
Soon campers were taking over the Union Square Cafe kitchen! Only two ingredients in our line-up of fruits and vegetables did not come straight from the Greenmarket — now that’s what we call local!
On the menu for the day was Frascatelli, Panzanella, and Chocolate Chunk Cookies. It was clear that we had our work cut out for us, and campers were more than ready to get chopping, slicing, baking, and grilling. With Chef Carmen’s help, we added a new pasta making technique to our repertoire; using only ingredients of flour and water, we made Frascatelli by separating clumps of dough from flour and cooking it quickly in boiling water before sautéing the pasta with butter, shallots, sweet corn, and cream to each make our very own pasta creations.
After culinary campers enjoyed plates piled high with fresh greens and creamy pasta, we put our sensory skills to the test with a blindfolded smell exercise in which everyone had to try and identify eight different spices and ingredients — no peeking allowed! In the mix were items like Dijon Mustard, dark chocolate, cinnamon, and basil.
We’re so grateful to have Chef Carmen help us with our knife skills, spice identification, and flavoring techniques. Though we were working hard in the kitchen, he kept campers engaged and smiling all day long. Before we left, we got a taste (or two) of the best chocolate chunk cookies in town; what a great way to end our day in the kitchen!