“Eat a Ridiculous Amount of Food” Sunday is Here!

February 1, 2015 by The Food Guy
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How can the biggest football game in the world be so Super if action on the field is constantly overshadowed by food and commercials?

Beats me, but Super Bowl Sunday is here – so belly up to the buffet!

Taste of Home says Americans spent more than $1 billion on food during last year’s game, making it the second-most popular holiday for eating, trailing only Thanksgiving.

Wow.

Research shows fans will devour about 1.25 billion wings and 11 million pounds of potato chips tonight alone. They also say you could fill a football field almost 12 feet deep with the amount of guacamole that will be consumed during the game – a fact that is both unbelievable and gross.

So whether you watch while dipping into the salsa or diving into a platter of wings or pot of chili, you’re in good company.

Super Bowl Sunday is always a big day for pizza delivery, but you can intercept that looooooong wait for a slice by making your own at home. Here are two recipes from Kontos for inspiration …

 

Ffour-cheese margherita pizzaour-Cheese Margherita Pizza

one ready-made pizza crust

1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil

½ tablespoon fresh minced garlic

dash of sea salt

8-9 slices of small Roma tomatoes

3 oz. shredded whole milk (artisan) mozzarella

2 oz. Fontina cheese

1 oz. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 oz. Feta cheese

4 fresh basil leaves washed, dried and julienne sliced (strips)

  1. Preheat oven to 400⁰ F (375⁰ for a convection oven)
  2. Stir together the olive oil, garlic, salt and tomatoes and let stand for 15 minutes.
  3. Brush the crust with the tomato marinade (leave tomatoes in the bowl).
  4. Arrange tomato slices over the top of the crust.
  5. Spread Mozzarella and Fontina shredded cheese evenly over top of tomato slices; top evenly with shredded Parmesan cheese, Feta cheese and sliced basil leaves.
  6. Place topped pizza into the oven, directly on rack for crispy crust, on a pan for soft crust.
  7. Bake for approx. 5 minutes (a few minutes less for convection oven); remove from oven with a baking sheet or pizza spatula.
  8. Let cool for 1-2 minutes. Slice into 4-6 slices and enjoy!

 

veggie lover's pizzaVeggie Lovers Pizza

One ready-made pizza crust

3 oz. tomato pizza sauce

4 oz. whole milk Mozzarella (artisan) cheese

1 ½ oz. sliced red onions

1 ½ oz. sliced black olives

1 ½ oz. total (½ oz of each) diced red, green and yellow bell peppers

  1. Preheat oven to 400⁰ F (375⁰ for a convection oven).
  2. Evenly spread the tomato pizza sauce over crust.
  3. Evenly spread the Mozzarella cheese over the top of the pizza sauce.
  4. Top with the bell pepper mixture, black olives and sliced red onions.
  5. Place topped pizza into the oven, directly on rack for crispy crust, on a pan for soft crust.
  6. Bake for approx. 5 minutes, or a minute or two less in a convection oven; remove from oven with a baking sheet or pizza spatula.
  7. Let cool for 1-2 minutes, slice into 4-6 slices and enjoy!

 

Cooking tip: Oven baking times can vary. Flatbread pizza is ready when the cheese is melted completely and edges are medium to dark brown.

Bloomery’s Sweetshine … Oh, So, Fine!

January 22, 2015 by The Food Guy
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For the second time in as many years, a West Virginia craft distillery has been named a winner in the prestigious Good Food Awards. Bloomery Sweetshine in Charles Town (formerly Bloomery Plantation Distillery) won in the spirits category for its Pumpkin Spice Shine.

Bloomery Sweetshine

Bloomery Sweetshine

They join 145 other winners nationwide honored for the responsible and sustainable production of high-quality American craft food and drink in multiple categories.

Winners, representing 33 different states, were selected from nearly 1,500 entries nationwide after a rigorous blind taste test among 182 judges.

Bloomery’s West Virginia-made shine shared top honors with other spirits like organic pear brandy from Colorado, wild elderberry and quince fruit liqueurs from California, and lemon-ginger and hibiscus-lavender syrups from Oregon.

Smooth Ambler Spirits near Lewisburg was similarly honored for its small-batch gin last year.

Happy National Cheese Lovers Day!

January 20, 2015 by The Food Guy
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What, you didn’t know?

There’s a day, week or month to celebrate just about anything these days, and cheese gets it spotlight today. Personally, I feel like cheese deserves MUCH MORE than a mere 24 hours, but I’ll do my best to honor it in this short time we have today.

And in honor of the occasion, I’ll also share these tips from food app SideChef on how to style your own cheese board like a pro. A good cheese board, they say, should consist of three to five different styles of cheeses, plus an assortment of accompaniments that provide a variety of flavors and textures – so no two bites are the same.

When it comes to the cheese itself …

  • Cheese is made of three types of milk: goat, sheep and cow.
  • There are five different textures of cheese: hard, semi-hard, soft, semi-soft and blue.
  • There are two essential types of tastes: mellow that includes citrusy, fruity and herbal tastes; and intense that includes bitter, smoky and sharp ones.
  • For your display, choose cheeses with different textures and flavors (varying from mild to strong) and at least one cheese from each animal.

And about those accompaniments …

  • Cheese needs sidekicks that make it shine, so choose yours carefully.
  • Breads and crackers provide a base for the cheese, but stick to simple or complimentary flavors that don’t overpower your cheeses.
  • Fresh and dried fruits or fruit spreads compliment intense cheeses.
  • Brined vegetables such as olives or peppers provide a salty contrast.
  • Nuts offer a crunchy, nutty flavor.

And if National Cheese Lovers Day snuck up on you, consider this fair warning for the days ahead – Jan. 22 is National Hot Sauce Day and Jan. 25 is National Irish Coffee Day!

Fayetteville Man is “America’s Finest Grillmaster”

November 14, 2014 by The Food Guy
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Hey, West Virginia …

We have a champion “grillmaster” in our midst!

Fayetteville resident and former football player Michael Linkenhoker was crowned America’s Finest Grillmaster at Fayetteville High School’s football game last week.

Michael and his grillHe had entered Ball Park brand’s “Finest Grillmaster” contest and was chosen as the winner based on his stellar grilling skills.

To celebrate his achievement, fans attending the game were treated to a free tailgate featuring hot dogs cooked on a fancy new grill that was presented to Linkenhoker as well.

Stonewall Resort Chef Competing in U.S. Cook-Off

November 9, 2014 by The Food Guy
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In hot news on the state culinary beat, Stonewall Executive Chef Tim White has been selected as one of 11 finalists to compete in the U.S. Copper Skillet Cook-off Competition in Chicago this week.

Stonewall Resort lamb dishWhat got him there was his recipe for Grilled Rack of Mountain State Lamb with Potato and Parsnip Puree, Minted Peas with Spinach, Butter-Braised Baby Carrots and Red Wine Reduction, which he’ll prepare for a panel of judges in the Windy City tomorrow in hopes of bringing home top honors.

“The sweetness from the parsnips and carrots plays well against the richness of the lamb and bitter tones of the spinach,” White said, “and the mint is a classic pairing with lamb.”

Although the dish isn’t currently offered at the resort’s restaurants, a variation of it does appear on conference menus.

Competing in the “Senior Chef” category, White will also have to use ingredients from a mystery basket plus select pantry items to prepare a dish that would be typical at a conference center like Stonewall.

A panel of judges will select one winner, who will then go on to compete at Bonaventure Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale, FL, with that winner returning next April to compete in the Global Finals.

Go, Tim, go!

 

Chef Tim White

5 state food groups receive James Beard honors

October 28, 2014 by The Food Guy
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The James Beard Foundation and Food Tank just released their first “Good Food Org Guide” celebrating more than 400 U.S.-based organizations for their work cultivating a better food system.

And West Virginia has five great groups on the list …

Congrats to The Collaborative for the 21st Century Appalachia, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition, West Virginia University (WVU) Small Farm Center and The Wild Ramp!

These Mountain State recipients were honored for their exemplary work in the areas of food and agriculture, nutrition and health, hunger and obesity, and food justice. Only “nonprofit, scholarly and municipal initiatives” were chosen in an effort to spotlight efforts that are focused on community building and engagement, advocacy, and service.

According to the news release, “These groups are working in fields, kitchens, classrooms, laboratories, businesses, town halls and Congress to create a better food system.”

They’re also working to combat childhood obesity, malnourishment and physical inactivity; prevent food waste; educate consumers on healthy, nutritious food choices; create networks of social entrepreneurs; protect food and restaurant workers; highlight solutions for restoring the health of people and the planet; work with indigenous communities to preserve traditions, culture and biodiversity; inspire and educate individuals to cook more of their own food; and protect public health, human health and the environment.

The list was determined by distinguished experts, including past recipients of the James Beard Leadership Award and food and agriculture leaders. You can download a free copy of the guide here.

Check out the summaries below to learn more about the West Virginia groups honored …


The Collaborative for the 21st Century Appalachia

The Collaborative for the 21st Century Appalachia emphasizes the importance of preserving a traditional way of life by supporting farmers and the rural communities where they live. They encourage community members to buy food from local farmers and promote businesses that utilize local resources. They host community events like the Cast Iron Cook Off, where chefs use indigenous ingredients and citizens learn about food preparation.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange advocates for growers’ rights to save their own seeds. The seeds they offer to consumers are held with that value in mind. They serve on the Organic Seed Alliance and donate 30 percent of their profits to environmental groups while providing basic information on how to properly save seeds.

West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition

West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition aims to improve the availability of healthy local food for all state residents. They host policy and advocacy workshops to publish groundbreaking information, such as their recent report on how to best facilitate SNAP outreach initiatives.

West Virginia University (WVU) Small Farm Center

West Virginia University (WVU) Small Farm Center helps small farmers implement various techniques and strategies to increase their bottom lines. They accomplish this by hosting conferences where professionals and experts share knowledge and small farmers may capitalize on new and exciting opportunities.

The Wild Ramp

The Wild Ramp in Huntington is a community-supported marketplace that operates year-round. They supply their customers with products from local farmers and vendors to support local families, encourage healthy eating, promote small-scale farming, and build community.

Meet ‘n’ Greet a Celebrity ‘Shiner

September 5, 2014 by The Food Guy
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Don’t expect free-flowing samples to be passed around, but here’s your chance to meet and greet celebrity moonshiner Jim Tom Hedrick …

Jim Tom HedrickThe TV personality will be in Marmet and Beckley this Wednesday to promote the release of his signature unaged rye, the first in series of “Legends” moonshines to be produced by Sugarlands Distilling Company in Gatlinburg, Tenn. The partnership with Sugarlands marks Jim Tom’s pursuit of going “legal” to make his brand of ‘shine available to the public for the first time.

Jim Tom with be on hand to sign autographs at King Cut Rate Liquor (9913 MacCorkle Ave.) in Marmet from noon to 2 p.m. Sept. 10, then at CJ’s Liquor (2152 Harper Rd.) in Beckley from 3-5 p.m. later that same day.

Both events are free and open to the public.

 

Vandalia Gathering Hosting a Sweet Bake-off

May 23, 2014 by The Food Guy
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Ready to get your cupcake on?

The folks putting on this weekend’s awesome annual Vandalia Gathering on the State Capitol Grounds in Charleston are inviting West Virginia residents to enter a “Cupcake & Pound Cake” bakeoff as part of this year’s event.

A celebration of Appalachian heritage featuring food, music, dance, crafts and more, the Vandalia Gathering draws big crowds of fans who love to enjoy everything “Wild and Wonderful” about our great state. This year’s baking competition will take place inside the Culture Center State Theater this Saturday, May 24. Registration is from noon to 1:30 pm and tasting/judging begins at 2 pm, with winners announced shortly thereafter.

Entries must be original recipes made from scratch, with no prepared mixes allowed. Judges will disqualify previ­ously published recipes, such as those in cookbooks and in magazines, from food companies, on food websites and cooking-contest winners, unless the recipe features changes considered significant by the judges. Entries must be submitted in disposable pans/liners, with no refrigeration required. The recipe used also must be included on a 3×5” index card.

Creativity is essential and this contest is not limited to traditional cupcake and pound cake flavors. Judges will look for a variety of fillings and textures.

Entries may score a possible 100 points, with 30 for taste/flavor, 25 appearance, 15 consistency in size/shape, 20 moistness/crumb and 10 for creativity. First place wins $75, second gets $50 and $25 will go to both the third-place winner and the top entry among youth ages 15 and under.

All cupcakes and pound cakes become the property of the Division of Culture and History and will be offered as prizes during a cake walk in the Great Hall at 3:30 p.m. All are welcome to join the dancing!

Although I was asked to help pick this year’s winners, sadly, I’ll be out of town this weekend and can’t make it. #bummer

For complete rules or more information, contact the West Virginia Division of Culture and History at (304) 558-0220 or visit www.wvculture.org.

It’s the First (Fancy) Ramp Dinner of Spring

March 22, 2014 by The Food Guy
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Ready for the first ramp dinner of the season?

And a fancy one at that! 

Celebrated West Virginia Chef Dale Hawkins will treat guests to “A Fancy Ramp Dinner: Celebrating Spring Tonics in Appalachia” at 6 pm Saturday, March 29, at Mountain View Event Center in Buckhannon.

The evening will begin with a welcome beverage and ramp queso with corn tortillas, plus a cash bar available as well. Once the dinner begins, you’ll hear from the people who have grown, caught, raised, foraged and crafted the items featured in each dish.

Dishes like: 

  • Buttermilk, Ramp and Bacon Biscuits 
  • Artisan Breads from Jeff Kessler 
  • Bad Ass Beet Salad with Orange Segments and Pea Tendrils 
  • Wilted Spinach Salad with Bacon and Wild Leek Vinaigrette, Pickled Red Onions, Farm Eggs and Mushrooms 
  • Gardner Farm Chicken Braised in White Wine and Caramelized Ramps 
  • Gingered Beef Flank Steak with Buttery Mashed Potatoes and Fresh Asparagus 
  • Apple Dumplings with Caramel Sauce and Ellen’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream 
  • Iced Sassafras Tea and Mountain Roaster Coffee 

Dinner will be served buffet-style, and vegetarian options will be noted. The cost is $35 per person and tickets must be purchased in advance. Email chefhawkins@gmail.com or call 304-704-2535. 

All profits benefit the New Appalachian Farm & Research Center A 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to support the agricultural community’s efforts of supporting a local food system for West Virginia.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark … Beer, That Is!

March 17, 2014 by The Food Guy
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Many people steer clear of drinking “dark” beers like stouts, porters or black ales because of their ominous color, fearing they are too heavy or strong..

But there’s no reason to be afraid of the dark. A beer’s color is not necessarily an indicator of its body, calorie content, alcohol level – even taste.

So if you plan to hoist a pint for St. Patrick’s Day tonight, keep in mind these three commonly held myths surrounding dark beer – as debunked by Julia Herz, publisher of CraftBeer.com and craft beer program director at the Brewers Association

 

Myth 1: All dark beers are rich and heavy.

Dark beer color comes from the barley and rising temperatures of heat. Color is not an indicator of weight or body of a beer.

Myth 2: Dark beers have more calories than paler beers.

The toasting is the reason that the beer is darker. The color of the beer has nothing to do with the calories it contains.

Myth 3: All dark beers are higher in alcohol.

Many dark beers are the same alcohol level of paler beers – some event lower. Color is not an indicator of alcohol levels of any beers, of any style.

 

If you’re looking for some Happy Hour inspiration, CraftBeer.com has also put together a list of local, American Craft Beer to help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

And if you’re in need of some St. Patrick’s Day recipes (I’ve got the Corned Beef and Cabbage simmering on the stove as we speak), CraftBeer.com also offers more than 70 recipes that call for Stout to help you out.