Yesterday’s meal planning experience reminded me of the axiom “home is where the hearth is”. True, we were in a commercial kitchen at the Melrose UU Church where nary a fireplace is to be found, but our group of sixteen brought a coziness to the space that was further enhanced by chef extraordinaire, Jay Diengott, who guided us through the preparation of a vegetarian, gluten-free meal. Jay started with an overview (documented in a 5-page handout) and then quickly moved on to food prep. Soon we were all participating as Jay directed the work-flow and kept up a running commentary, offering tips such as how to more efficiently chop vegetables (especially onions), pointing out that some spices and herbs elicit strong reactions (cumin and cilantro), and explaining that she chose quinoa for one of the salads because it is a complete protein source — always an important consideration in vegetarian cooking. Jay also demonstrated the use of two grating utensils, the mandolin and microplane. The main course was baked falafel, which generated a good deal of discussion about working with dried beans. Jay had soaked the chickpeas overnight and then used a food-processor to grind and mix them (still raw) with the other ingredients before baking. Dessert was candied pecans, a simple and delicious finish to a perfect meal!
Jay Diengott (firstname.lastname@example.org) specializes in gluten-free cooking and today’s menu of cucumber salad, quinoa salad, baked falafel, and candied pecans was an easy and delicious example that provided an excellent opportunity to broaden our culinary skills!