Seasonal Cuisine with Chef Michael Tuohy

I attended an amazing class at the co-op Monday night. I had the class on my radar the minute the course list came out and I’m so glad I signed up.

Autumn Harvest – Seasonal Cuisine with Chef Michael Tuohy of Grange Restaurant, located in the Citizen Hotel in Sacramento, CA. Chef Michael Tuohy is known for his farm to table inspired menus. Throughout the night he mentioned names of some local farms he uses for Grange. Del Rio Botanical, Riverdog Farm, Prather Ranch, Passmore Ranch and the list went on. He mentioned that we are so lucky to live near incredible farms and growers in the area. He talked about the importance of supporting local farms and it made me want to visit each and every farm.  He also talked a bit about the slow food movement and gave us a homework assignment to fill out the following postcard:

Strongly opposing FDA approval of genetically engineered AquAdvantage salmon. You can learn more here.

The vibe of the class was totally different than other co-op classes I’ve taken. Chef Michael definitely had a huge following. A few people at my table had participated in his farmer’s market summer tours. He takes groups of “foodies” to the farmer’s market (on Wednesdays) – decides right then and there (based on availability) what to buy and then everyone follows him back to Grange where he and his staff prepare lunch using the ingredients he just picked up at the market. I’m definitely going to check that out next summer.

I was totally mesmerized  by Chef Michael’s enthusiasm and passion for what he does. He engaged the class in conversation and gave us a lot to think about.

I was so excited to see what was in store for us for the evening. You all know I’m a huge celery root fan after having made the Williams-Sonoma Celery Root and Carrot Salad recipe. I was really looking forward to our first course – Celery Root and Parsnip Soup with Celery Leaves and Truffle Oil. I snuck over to the table before class and snapped a quick photo of the ingredients.

The Ingredients:
Celery Root – peeled and roughly chopped
Parsnips – peeled and roughly chopped
Celery – rough chopped – reserve leaves for garnish
Yellow Onion – rough chopped
Heavy Whipping Cream – could use potato to make it a vegan recipe
Grapeseed Oil
Kosher Salt
White Pepper
Truffle Oil

Chef Michael talked about this being “Cooking Season” – the summer is spent eating lightly, grilling, etc. and the fall/winter months are spent creating heartwarming dishes. I would consider the Celery Root and Parsnip Soup to be comfort food. He mentioned that the recipe was probably still floating around the MSNBC Today Show website, but I couldn’t find it. We were given the recipe last night, but I didn’t get permission to post it, so I will leave you with – it was freakin’ fabulous! He pureed the ingredients in the Vitamix and it was silky smooth, I loved it!

Chef Michael brought along some micro celery greens and it was my first time having those. They were so flavorful, he also mentioned that they are pretty hard to find.

Next up was the Dungenesse Crab Salad with Grapefruit, Orange, Avocado and Pimenton Vinaigrette. I had no idea what pimenton was. Now I know.

Pimenton is a Spanish paprika. The dulce has a sweet, smokier flavor, while the picante packs more heat. Chef Michael says that the two cans of pimenton are his favorite spices to use.

The fresh crab salad was layered with flavors. The vinaigrette took it over the top. I did manage to find the MSNBC recipe for this. The recipe they have online uses peekytoe crab – which are found on the east coast (Maine) – so just sub out the peekytoe for the dungenesse… which is availble on the right coast – ha! West coast…

Link to the crab salad recipe on MSNBC

The final dish of the evening was something I never would have ordered in a restaurant. I will now think twice before saying that. Pan Roasted Sablefish with Spiced Chickpea Stew, Spanish Chorizo, Greens (Kale) and Saffron Aioli.

Wow…just wow…

The fish was cooked to perfection. Sablefish is also known as Black Cod. It’s a succulent fish with a high oil content – uber heart healthy. I still have a fear of cooking fish, but I understand the basics and I think I could re-create this dish in my own kitchen. Chef Michael explained that you want to cook the fish skin side down – if you are wanting to serve it skin side up. Whatever side you want to present, goes down first – makes sense. He took extra time and went into the co-op kitchen to make sure our fish was cooked to his liking. The fish melted in my mouth. I even tasted the super crispy skin. The chorizo gave it some heat and I could have eaten the kale, chickpeas and broth all day. They accidentally left the saffron aioli off our dishes, but we did get to watch Chef Michael prepare some using a mortar and pestle.

We talked a little about finishing oils and we got the chance to reserve a bottle of Katz 2010 Olio Nuovo – looking forward to getting that in December.

The co-op also provided yummy snacks for the evening. Idiazabal cheese, Manchego cheese, quince paste, Marcona almonds in oil and sea salt and Acme bread.

I had a fantastic time and connected with fellow foodies at my table. I am now armed with the names of some good Afghan, Indian, and Pho restaurants in the Sacramento area. I can’t wait to try some of them.

Each day I am thankful for this blog and everyone who reads, comments and supports me. While I got a lot out of my old blogging format/style, I am having a blast with the food stuff. I feel so much more fullfilled and connected to what I’m doing now. So thanks… thanks for making this a fun place for me to write.

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    • Aim on November 17, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Well, Kath, I thank you for sharing all these fun experiences with us. I’m sure all of us would agree to that….. I learn a lot from you and this blog, missy! I just wish we lived closer so we could experience this together….sounds like so much fun!

  1. Thank YOU, for the daily drool! 🙂

    • Paul on November 17, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    All of this looks fantastic! The cod with the chickpeas looks amazing—do you have the recipe for that?! I try my best to cook seasonally and it’s great to hear about locals promoting the great resources here in California.

  2. that crab salad looks phenom!!

    i should seek out more co-ops around here.. the only one I went to last year smelled so bad.. I dunno, very granola-ish..

    i definitely think your fulfillment spills over… it’s nice!

    • Marleah on November 17, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Yum…I’m drooling over that soup.

    It’s very fun to read your new blog, so thanks!

  3. This looks like so much fun! When I went to Davis the Co Op there was always doing cool classes like this, but I never ended up going… I should look into what is offered around here. Anyways, everything looks so good – I am going to try making that soup. It looks so warm and comforting for Fall!

    • Kristen on November 17, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Woo hoo! I’m officially caught up on your blog after being on vacation. I had that fish for the first time in Capitola last month. I LOVED the texture! So, lunch at Grange next week?

    • Desirea on November 17, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Awesome!!! We need to make a trip to the farms. It’s been on my list to do the last couple of years along with joining a CSA program. Is see that the crab salad is a good use of the food stacking tube that we picked up at Deane & Deluca. 🙂

    • Tom on November 18, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Blog Crossover Alert!

    The Citizen Hotel is in what was originally the Cal-West building, Sacramento’s first skyscraper.

    This building was the headquarters of California Life insurance which was the brain child of Marshal Diggs- co founder of Thomson-Diggs whose building still stands at 2nd and R Streets and will eventually stand in 1/87th scale on my train layout.

    I’m pretty sure Marshal was a major player in getting the Cal-West building built- he used the same architect that he used in some of his earlier projects, George Sellon. Sellon was also the mentor of his Marshall’s nephew, Maury Diggs who designed the Thomson-Diggs building on R.

    I go on about the Thomson-Diggs Company, Marshall and Maury Diggs at some length- including a related early 20th century sex scandal in Sacramento- in this blog entry:

    I’ve been thinking of hitting the Grange one of these days… now I have even more of a reason to.

  4. Thank you for the kind post! I’m glad that you enjoyed the class
    as much as I did.
    Look forward to cooking for you again soon!
    Chef Michael

  5. What a great post. I know you had a great time. What was the best thing you made?

  1. […] Celery Root and Parsnip Soup with Celery Leaves and Truffle Oil at her local co-op (read about it here).  My soup is very similar, except I added a potato and used evaporated milk rather than heavy […]

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