Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Kitchens for Good Launching "Dinners for Good"

I've been a fan of Kitchens for Good since, well, before it even launched just a couple of years ago.

Never heard of the organization? Well, top of line, it's a San Diego culinary school designed for people 18 and older with barriers to employment—youths aging out of foster care, veterans or people who were formerly incarcerated, for example. The program, which is free to the students, uses curriculum developed by LA Kitchen and DC Central Kitchen, which together have graduated more than 1,500 students over 25 years and have a 90 percent success rate of full-time employment within three months of graduation. Kitchens for Good teaches both fundamental culinary skills, including knife skills, baking, fish fabrication and plating, and what founder and president Chuck Samuelson called “soft skills,” like anger management, résumé writing and professional social interaction. Students graduate the program with ServSafe certification and job placement assistance.

And it's graduated hundreds of students so far. But Kitchens for Good is more than just a culinary school. It's an advocate and example of reducing food waste. It provides nutritious meals for families in need. And it funds jobs and supports local farmers.

Any nonprofit that is juggling this many projects needs financial support. And Kitchens for Good used the collective smart noggins and came up with a new fundraising program: Dinners for Good.

Dinners for Good is a combination chef demo and tasting series sponsored by Catalina Offshore Products and Specialty Produce (yes, the same folks who have brought us Collaboration Kitchen). It  will be hosted by Catalina Offshore Products' Tommy Gomes. Each event will consist of a five-course tasting menu with paired drinks--all prepared by some of San Diego's best chefs during a live cooking demonstration.

Tommy Gomes

The kickoff event will be held on March 24 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Kitchens for Good. It will feature Gomes, with Hanis Cavin of Carnitas Snack Shack and "Sam the Cooking Guy" Zien of Not Not Tacos.

Hanis Cavin

Here's the menu:
1st course:
Shaved squash / roasted cherry tomato / almond
tapenade / manchego / sherry vinaigrette

2nd course:
Smoked pork stuffed sweet-pepper / corn puree / corn-
pork belly sauté / chive oil

3rd course:
Roasted black cod / mussels / sweet garlic / toasted
focaccia / mirepoix / black pepper butter

4th course:
Seared NY strip / crisp potato cake /
mushroom-onion-lardon hash / port reduction

5th course:
Mini ice cream cookie sandwiches /
white chocolate dipped

Sam "the Cooking Guy" Zien
On April 28, the next Dinners for Good program will feature Gomes with Matt Gordon of Urban Solace and Solace & the Moonlight Lounge and Sam Zien.

On June 30, the program will feature Karen Barnett of Small Bar, Logan Mitchell of Cellar Door, and Coral Fodor of Garden Kitchen.

Tickets for Dinners for Good are $115--remember, the proceeds from the events support Kitchens for Good and their culinary job training program!

Kitchens for Good is located at 404 Euclid Avenue Suite 102, San Diego 92114.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Miso Butter Turkey Thigh

Long before I knew the term "compound butter"--and I mean really long before--I was enjoying a version of compound butter at my summer camp. At breakfast some of us got into the habit of mixing soft butter with brown sugar, both of which were in bowls on the long dining hall tables for pancakes or French toast or oatmeal, and eating this mixture with a spoon. Yeah, it was as weirdly wonderful as it sounds, especially to a preteen away from home whose parents weren't around to put a stop to it.

So imagine how happy my taste buds were when I discovered years later that you could blend soft butter with all kinds of ingredients and spread it on really great bread or toast.

Or cook with it.

Compound butters are truly a gift to a home cook with some vegetables, or chicken, or fish--and odds and ends of ingredients. The other night I decided to make myself a roasted turkey thigh but I'd also just cleaned my refrigerator and realized I had a container of miso hidden in the back of a shelf. My usual go to with miso is to make a marinade or glaze for an oily fish like salmon or black cod. But I thought miso could work with turkey and decided to pair it with butter.

And several other ingredients.

I riffled around my pantry and pulled out honey and rice vinegar. Back in the fridge I got out soy sauce. Garlic and ginger made sense--and I remembered my ginger garlic bombs in the freezer (a great hack from Bon Appétit) and got one out to defrost.

After I let the butter soften and the ginger garlic bomb defrost, I mashed the butter and miso and started adding the rest: a teaspoon each of honey and rice vinegar, half a teaspoon of soy sauce, and the ginger garlic bomb. I wanted to relive my youth and just eat the creamy mixture with a spoon; it was salty and sweet with a kick from the vinegar and a little spice from the garlic and ginger.

Instead I smeared it over the large turkey thigh, but once I did that I still had some left over. I pulled out an eggplant from the refrigerator and cut some slices, then smeared the slices with the miso butter. They all went into the oven to roast and within about 10 minutes my entire house already smelled dreamy.

Within 45 minutes I had a beautifully browned turkey thigh and perhaps the most delicious slices of eggplant I'd ever eaten. The miso butter had infused the eggplant with all those flavors and made each slice melt in my mouth.

This is one of those concoctions I'd make again in a heartbeat not just for the turkey and the eggplant, but to smear on fish or chicken or winter squash slices. I'd toss it in pasta or hot whole grains.

Or just use a spoon and eat it.

Miso Butter Turkey Thigh
Serves 1 or 2, depending on the size of the turkey thigh
(printable recipe)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons miso
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon plain rice vinegar
1 ginger garlic bomb
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 large turkey thigh

Mash together all the ingredients except the turkey to make the compound butter.

Spread as much of the compound butter as you need all over the turkey thigh. If you have any left over, refrigerate it or spread over vegetables.

Preheat oven to 375°. Place the turkey thigh and any vegetables you plan to roast in a roasting pan and cook for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 170° and 175°. Remove from oven. Let rest about 10 minutes, then slice the turkey.

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