Sorghum 360 NOLA 2014

I’m on an incredible culinary high after visiting New Orleans for the IFT (Institute of Food Technologists) Conference last week. Enjoy my first blog in a three part series about my first and definitely not the last time in the Big Easy.

The Invitation

This email invitation from Sorghum Checkoff showed up in my inbox a few weeks before IFT. We would like you to attend the Sorghum 360 Event in the Big Easy: On Sunday, June 22 at 12:15pm at the Chicory, Chef Forgione will serve a three-course lunch menu using sorghum. We are holding the invitation-only lunch for local media and attendees in town for the International Food Technologists Expo. Reply “Yes!”

Marc Forgione and JaneSensational – Iron Chef Marc Forgione creating with an ancient grain – dreams of a Food Loving Dietitian do come true! And Chef Forgione did not disappoint. For this blog I’m highlighting the culinary genius of Chef Forgione focusing on flavour and texture, but will give you a sorghum 101 to start. My next Baker’s Journal’s Final Proof column will feature the attributes of sorghum in more detail.

Sorghum 101

Sorghum is one of the top cereal crops in the world along with wheat, rice, corn and barley. Today, the grain is being milled into flour and marketed to the gluten-free and whole-grain markets, and is being used by chefs in soups, stews and salads. Only 2 percent of production currently goes to food, but is growing by 25 percent a year. Chef Forgione says, “It tastes like the ancient grain that it is. It’s got a great bite to it. It’s very earthy.” Now let’s get to the good stuff – the lunch!

Iron Chef Marc Forgione’s Menu for Sorghum 360

Scallop App Sorghum 20141st course

Scallop Ceviche, Smoked Avocado Puree, Tomato Consommé, Crispy Sorghum, Sechuan Buttons

First Chef Marc asked us to pop the sechuan button in our mouths to heighten our pallet before diving into the appetizer. The popcorn sorghum added a crispy texture to the delicious, tender scallops. The smoked avocado puree with lime juice was the perfect flavour combination for the tomato consommé with jalapeno, cucumber, mint and basil. Total mouth delight. I’m still salivating…

 

2nd course

Steak and escargot Sorghum 2014 (640x447)

Strip Steak, Escargot, Braised Lettuce, Sorghum Air Bread

The best steak I’ve had in my life! Chef Forgione is a creative genius to serve steak and escargot together. The steak marinade included rosemary, thyme, garlic, pink peppercorns, mince shallot and parsley, plus extra virgin olive oil. Marinate for at least 12 hours. The steak was seared and grilled to perfection. The escargot was crispy yet tender – not chewy. I’m saving the details about the sorghum air bread for my Final Proof column. Did I mention I could cut the steak with my fork…?

Dessert Sorghum 20143rd course

Strawberry Sorghum Consommé, Buttermilk Panna Cotta, Sorrel

Chef Forgione said, “Dessert should make you feel like a kid!” And explained to us his fond memories of visiting his Grandmother as a child and eating strawberries dipped in whipped cream. The dessert was delicious. The strawberry sorghum syrup was light, yet flavourful and was a perfect texture with the heavier panna cotta. The sorrel added a savory taste to the beautiful dish to end this wonderful event. Did I feel like a kid? More like an overwhelmed and thrilled foodie to have shared this time with such a well-known culinary master and the other fantastic people at the event!

Stay tuned for Jane in the Big Easy Parts 2 and 3. And I want to share with you one of the sorghum recipes – the strawberry syrup used in the dessert!

Recipe – Strawberry Sorghum Syrup

Ingredients

300 grams of strawberries

90 grams of sorghum syrup

80 grams of sugar

1 vanilla bean

1 cup of water

Directions

Cook the strawberries with the sorghum syrup, sugar and vanilla bean over low heat until the strawberries break down. Remove from heat and press through fine strainer into a bowl. Add one cup of water to dilute.