Archive for the ‘Food writing class’ Category

Food-writing class: Recipe writing

For the food-writing class I’m taking at the Muse, we have an assignment to take a badly written recipe and rewrite it in proper format with good directions. Patrick gave us several to choose from and we practiced in class.

This selection sounds like it would make a good casserole for a potluck, and since this is the season … enjoy.

Garden veggies from our 2008 garden
From our 2008 garden: ingredients that could be used in this dish

Black Bean Tortilla Casserole

A meatless meal with lots of zip. Good for vegetarians and those on a budget.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
4 ounces jalapenos, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained (or, if in season, 2 large tomatoes, chopped)
3/4 cup salsa
2 15-ounce cans black kidney beans
12 6-inch corn tortillas
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (divided use)

2 medium tomatoes, sliced
2 cups lettuce, shredded
3 green onions, sliced
1/8 cup black olives, sliced
1/2 cup sour cream, optional

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, peppers, jalapenos, garlic and cumin. Saute for five minutes. Stir in undrained tomatoes and salsa. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir in beans.

Spread 1/3 of the bean mixture over the bottom of a 13”x9”x2” baking dish. Top with half of the tortillas, overlapping as necessary, and half of the cheese. Add another 1/3 of the bean mixture, the remaining tortillas, and the rest of the bean mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes until heated through.

Sprinkle with remaining cheese and let stand 10 minutes. Top with tomato slices, lettuce, green onion and olives. Cut into squares and serve with sour cream.

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Restaurant Review: Tortilla West

Tortilla West, at the end of Orapax Street near Lambert Point Docks in Norfolk, is not easy to find the first time you go, but it’s really easy to go back to again and again.The style is Mexican flavors with a modern twist using fresh local ingredients and for the most part, they do it very well.

I visited Tortilla West on a recent Sunday for lunch with Patrick Evans-Hylton and members of the food writing class we’re taking at The Muse in Norfolk. We ordered a variety of dishes to share tapas-style.

We started off with drinks. My companions went for the Bloody Mary bar, but as I’m not an aficionado, I ordered the house margarita on the rocks with salt. It always has the perfect balance of tequila, lime juice and orange liqueur, and a crunchy rim of kosher salt.

The most memorable dish for me was the fried oysters with a creamy dipping sauce. The plump, juicy Chinoteague oysters were coated with a crackling cornmeal crust that broke apart with the first bite, releasing the sweet meat. The creamy, slightly spicy sauce was the perfect counterpoint to the crunchy coating. I used to think I didn’t like oysters – they’ve made a convert of me.

Tortilla West dishes

More disappointing was the Mexican pulled pork sandwich, served on ciabatta rolls with tomatillo dipping sauce. While the pork was fork-tender, the sauce was overly salty, which really detracted from the flavor. The Mexican-influenced macaroni & cheese, however, made up for it. It was delivered nice and hot, with curvy cavatelli pasta soaking up the flavor of a perfectly melted, beautifully balanced spicy-creamy cheese sauce flecked with bits of jalapeno.

Pulled Mexican pork with tomatillo dipping sauce

I’ve been to Tortilla West many times since they opened several years ago, and I don’t believe I’ve ever not liked a dish, until this pork. So I’m sure I’ll be back – the food is generally outstanding, the prices are reasonable and the service is fast and friendly.

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Food writing class: Cooking, photographing, eating, writing

I’m taking a class at The Muse, a local writer’s center that offers writing and photography workshops. This is my third class there. This time, I’m taking “Expressions in Food” taught by Patrick Evans-Hylton, food and wine editor of Hampton Roads Magazine and a well-known local food writer and TV and radio personality.

Cooking, gardening and photography are some of my passions, along with writing, which is why I started this food blog years ago. But I haven’t been as consistent with it as I would like, so I signed up for this class, hoping for inspiration and feedback.

I also really enjoy the people and the atmosphere at The Muse, so this keeps me coming back there, as well 🙂

So, for the first class on Oct. 16, Patrick, my classmates and I all brought a dish to share, as well as cameras to record the yummies and paper and pen to record the aromas and flavors.

Classmates photographing yummies during class
Classmates photographing yummies during class

Becky brought cinnamon bread, caraway bread and stewed apples. The stewed apples in particular stirred fun memories for me. Whenever I have homemade stewed apples or applesauce, I think of visiting my great-grandmother Frances on the farm in Monroe, Mich., when I was growing up. She was famous (to me as a child, at least) for peeling apples, freshly picked from the tree out front, with one long peel. I’ve never been able to accomplish this.

Cinnamon bread, caraway bread and stewed apples
Cinnamon bread, caraway bread and stewed apples

My offering was a tasty treat I’ve made a few times now – Honey-Rosemary Scones with Goat Cheese. This recipe is from a book I won in an online contest a few years ago. I love the unusual combination of the sweet honey, a gift from our friend and Portsmouth beekeeper Paul, and the savory rosemary, from our garden.

Honey-Rosemary-Goat Cheese Scones
Honey-Rosemary-Goat Cheese Scones

Patrick also encouraged us to purchase a few books to use as resources in the class; I picked these:

The first class was a lot of fun, and I’ve blogged more in the last two weeks than I did in the last month. And I have more food-related reading materials (as if I need more, but hey …). I think I’m gonna like this class.

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