Kentucky is honored to have many visits from The James Beard House in New York, and from James Beard award-winning chefs.
The James Beard House had a sold-out dinner last month at the Headley-Whitney Museum. New Orleans restaurateur Dickie Brennan, a James Beard House board member, brought 43 members of the Bourbon Society, along with the chef from his Bourbon House restaurant, from the bayou to the Bluegrass.
Chef Darin Nesbit tag-teamed with Jonathan Lundy, chef/owner of Jonathan at Gratz Park, to offer diners dishes including Bourbon BBQ shrimp cracklin' cornbread; fried chicken salad lettuce wraps with buttermilk crème fraîche dressing; garlic-crusted Gulf fish crawfish cake, with jumbo lump crabmeat and bourbon cream corn sauce; and Bluegrass-fed beef tenderloin with caramel-peppercorn sauce and Sheltowee Farm shiitake bacon. Each course was paired with a bourbon provided by Buffalo Trace Distillery.
In September, Sullivan University will hold a Friends of James Beard dinner to showcase 16 of Louisville's top chefs. The seven-course dinner on Sept. 14 will benefit Sullivan's National Center for Hospitality Studies scholarship fund and the James Beard Foundation.
The event, which celebrates the 25th anniversary of the foundation, begins with a 6:30 p.m., reception followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets are $150 a person for foundation members and $175 for non-members. Go to Jamesbeardlouisville.com.
Hosted by Chef Laurent Geroli of the Brown Hotel and Chef John Castro of Winston's at Sullivan University, the dinner will be held at The Brown Hotel, at Fourth and Broadway in Louisville. Participating chefs and their courses are:
■ Mike Cunha of Sullivan University, Agostino Gabriele of Vincenzo's, and Sullivan University culinary students, reception hors d'oeuvres.
■ J.J. Kingery of Wild Eggs and John Varanese of Varanese, first course.
■ Peng Looi of August Moon and Asiatique, and Shawn Ward of Jack Fry's, second course.
■ Anthony Lamas of Seviche and Anoosh Shariat of Shariat Catering, third course.
■ Kathy Cary of Lilly's and Dean Corbett, Corbett's, Equus and Jack's Lounge, fourth course.
■ Joe Castro, chef at General Electric, and John Castro, Winston's at Sullivan University, fifth course.
■ Jim Gerhardt of Limestone and Dallas McGarity of Marketplace at Theater Square, sixth course.
■ Laurent Géroli of The Brown Hotel, and Ghyslain Maurais of Ghyslain on Market, dessert course.
Each course will be paired with a different wine, provided by Southern Wine and Spirits.
Kenny's cheese recognized
Kenny's Farmhouse Cheese of Austin received the 2012 American Treasures Award in recognition of its artisanal, raw-milk cow cheeses at a ceremony Wednesday in Washington, D.C.. The award is given annually to individuals and small producers in recognition of a singular and significant contribution that preserves and fosters a unique all-American craft and tradition. Winners are selected by Made: In America, a not-for-profit educational organization based in Washington, D.C.
Kenny Mattingly and his family have been dairy farming for more than 30 years and have made cheese for 14 years in Barren County. The Mattinglys, including Kenny's wife Beverly, son Jared, and an extended family of employees, adhere to sustainable farming and business practices. The cows are raised without any synthetic hormones, and every step of the cheese-making process takes place on the farm. Go to Kennyscountrycheese.com.
Support your market
Central Kentucky has several farmers markets, and if you would like to have your favorite market recognized, you can vote for it during American Farmland Trust's fourth annual America's Favorite Farmers Markets contest.
The summerlong competition aims to see which farmers markets can generate the most votes from their customers. The goal of the contest is to promote the role that farmers markets play in keeping family farmers on the land. As part of the contest, a $1,000 Farmers Market Inspiration Award, sponsored by the Farmers Market Coalition, will be presented to a farmer showing the greatest dedication to his/her market.
According to the contest rules, people can vote for as many participating farmers markets as they choose, but they can vote for each market only once. Voting runs through Sept. 3, when one small, one medium, one mid-size, and one large market will win the title of "America's Favorite Farmers Market" for 2012. The winning markets will be honored at local celebrations organized by American Farmland Trust. Go to Votemyfarmersmarket.org.
Many more cooks
According to a Progressive Grocer newsletter, people are preparing more foods at home. A study by The Harris Poll shows that seven in 10 Americans say they are cooking more instead of going out, in an effort to save money.
Fifty-seven percent of consumers surveyed agree that going out for dinner is now a luxury, compared to their previous dining preferences, and less than a third (29 percent) say they would cut other expenses in order to be able to eat away from home.
Another consumer survey by the DuPont Teflon brand also highlights that people are cooking more at home in order to eat better and save money. Of the 72 percent of respondents who said they are changing the way they eat at home, 37 percent said they are cooking more often.
So, now that we're cooking at home, we need ideas to jazz up our menus. Here are some new cookbooks you might want to add to your collection:
■ Four books in the Hamlyn Quick Cook series are:
Desserts, Family Meals, Low Fat, and Pasta. The flexible cookbooks let you choose from recipes based on how much time you have available: 30, 20 or 10 minutes. You can prepare chili and caper tagliatelle with ciabatta crumbs in 20 minutes, or easy chili, caper, and tomato tagliatelle in 10 minutes, or chili and caper tagliatelle packets with crispy bread crumbs. For dessert, you can choose from white chocolate and strawberry cheesecake that's ready in 30 minutes; individual white chocolate and strawberry cheesecakes in 20 minutes; or the 10-minute version, strawberries with warm white chocolate sauce. The books are $9.99 each.
■ If you need ideas for the slow-cooker, pick up Slow Cookin' Companion by Nicole Sparks and Jenna Marwitz (Five Star, $32.95). The Crockin' Girls show how to teach your children to prepare dinner using easy recipes, cook breakfast overnight, and save time and money with meal planning. You can join The Crockin' Community at Crockingirls.com.
■ Quick-Fix Indian by Ruta Kahate (Andrews McMeel, $16.99) can provide some exotic dishes in 30 minutes or less. Try Indian veggie burgers, grilled chicken wrap or green pan-roasted chicken.
■ Jim Lahey shares his secret to making incredible pizzas in My Pizza: The Easy No-Knead Way to Make Spectacular Pizza at Home (Clarkson Potter, $27.50). Lahey is the baking genius behind New York's Sullivan Street Bakery and Co. pizza restaurant, and his foolproof no-knead bread-making technique, which was first featured by the New York Times.
Lahey and writer Rick Flaste have recipes for red-sauce, white-sauce and no-sauce pizzas, and recipes for toppings, toasts, soups, salads and desserts.