Sunday, July 16, 2006

Chef Bryan Dahlstrom's Amazing Market Bruschetta

This Saturday’s Slow Food booth at the Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market was a great deal of fun. Chef Bryan Dahlstrom, the Executive Chef for Centerplate at the Greensboro Coliseum, volunteered his time to serve up a wonderful combination of market ingredients. Bryan’s recipe for Farmhouse Bruschetta calls for using sourdough bread from Simple Kneads and heirloom tomatoes as a base to build on, then letting your imagination run wild with all of the great choices for toppings available at the market.

Donations of sourdough bread from Simple Kneads, feta cheese from Goat Lady Dairy, baba ganoush and hummus from Zaytoon, as well as purchases of heirloom tomatoes from Handance Farm, butter from the Amish farmstead, and lots of little extras from other market vendors gave us the very best ingredients to work with. The crowds were thick as Bryan and Mary Ellen (a dedicated Slow Food enthusiast and head of food service for the entire coliseum) cooked and served up a delightful array of bruschettas. Bryan’s daughter Monique was on hand too, and chopped greens, drizzled olive oil, and added the final touches to the taste treats. Over and over we gave directions to the vendors responsible for such amazing bread, tomatoes, butter and cheese. Lots of mini lessons on the value of heirlooms throughout the day too! People could not believe the taste!

Not sure how many people we served that day, but we stopped counting mid-morning at around 250 so it was many more than that. The primary recipe we served (sourdough bread, butter, soft cheese, heirloom tomatoes, mesculin greens, basil olive oil and sea salt) appears below and was touted by many as the best bruschetta they’d ever had. I agree wholeheartedly. In addition to the basic recipe, we served bruschetta topped with an ever varying array of baba ganoush, hummus, cheddar cheese, feta, arugula and porcini oil. Lots of double tasters assured us that all the selections were crowd pleasers.

As Executive Chef for the Greensboro Coliseum, Bryan is responsible for a wide range of culinary events including luncheon meetings for groups such as the Greensboro Sports' Council, the Piedmont Triad Council of Governments and other local civic groups' formal business meetings, conventions such as the Southern Baptist National Convention, backstage catering for concerts, and VIP hospitality areas at large scale sporting events such as the ACC and NCAA basketball tournaments. Bryan and his family are newcomers to the Greensboro area having recently relocated from Jacksonville Florida where Bryan was the head pastry chef at the Jacksonville Jaguars Stadium. His delightful recipe follows:

Grilled Farmhouse Bruschetta

One loaf of crusty artisan bread, sliced thin, preferably sourdough
1 pound of farmhouse cheddar, soft fromage or goat cheese
Approx 8 -10 cups tender leafy salad greens (like frisee, arugula, dandelions, squash blossoms, etc...)
2 pounds vine-ripe heirloom tomatoes, fairly thinly sliced
1 pound butter, organic preferred
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste, use basil or porcini olive oil for extra flavor
Kosher or sea Salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Butter both sides of bread, lightly toast both sides on grill or in skillet. Assemble open-face sandwich on baking sheet starting with sliced, spread or crumbled cheese on top, followed by the sliced tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Place in 350 degree oven for about 3 - 5 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped fresh greens, drizzle with your choice of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Serve whole slices or cut into strips for a slightly messy but smaller serving. Enjoy!

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