Friday, February 21, 2014

2014 DOGWOOD ARTS HOUSE & GARDEN SHOW:: Celebrating 36 Years

Dogwood Arts Festival's House & Garden Show
A beautiful Valentine gift
From February 14th through 16th, Dogwood Arts presented Knoxville and the region with a beautiful Valentine's gift… the House and Garden Show. The 36th annual Dogwood Arts House and Garden Show is one of the Southeast Tourism Society's Top 20 Events, as well as the largest annual fundraiser for the annual Dogwood Arts Festival. "The Dogwood Arts Festival takes place every April in Knoxville and celebrates our region's arts, culture, and natural beauty," says Dogwood Arts Marketing Manager, Erin Slocum.
Selfless acts of kindness
Presented by the Knoxville News Sentinel, the House and Garden Show relies on hundreds of volunteers who give many hours to bring this early celebration of spring to life. Co-chair Shanna Browning says, "A show of this magnitude simply cannot happen without the volunteers. I am more than grateful for their selfless acts of kindness to the people that come to the show."
An amazing array of displays, services and products
Scores of exhibitors (including Avanti Savoia) offer an amazing array of displays, services and products. Avanti's participation not only includes our booth where visitors can sample and purchase many of our unique products but, also the Avanti Savoia Cooking School. For the last 4 years La Cucina at Avanti Savoia has presented 13 cooking demonstrations over the 3 days of the festival in a beautiful demonstration kitchen provided by Pattersons Appliances.
Con un tocco!
Our demonstrations have always centered on Italian classics highlighting our products and the Italian philosophy of relaxed family dining. This year our theme was "Cucina classica Italian con un tocco!" or Classic Italian Cuisine with a Twist! Chefs Joseph and Karen offered step by step instructions on how to properly chop and prepare the ingredients, cook the sauce and boil your pasta. Then we added "un tocco" a modern twist to the classics. Our menu included Spaghetti Carbonara with Fried Sage Leaves, Porcini Tagliatelle with Alfredo Sauce and Wild Mushroom Medley and this year's standout dish, Farro Pilaf with Roasted Butternut Squash and Salt Block Seared Scallops Drizzled with Basil Infused Olive Oil.
A food staple of the Roman legions
Farro is an ancient cereal grain that was a food staple of the Roman legions. Pilafs are rice or other grains lightly browned in butter or oil and cooked in water or stock. In this recipe Farro is prepared in a pilaf style and combined with roasted squash, pancetta, grape tomatoes and savory flavors. Finally it is served topped with seared scallops and pickled onions. This is a recipe that is ancient and contemporary all at once. This baby was a Chef Karen creation that is spectacularly delicious but also elicited "oohs and ahs" from the crowd because of its gorgeous appearance.
Healthy, tasty and visually stunning
Chef Karen comments, "My inspiration for this dish was the idea of taking a very old grain (Farro) and cooking technique (pilaf) and to turn it into something healthy, tasty and visually stunning." The chef added a seasonal element (butternut squash), pungency (quick onion pickles) and the crowning glory of Salt block Seared Scallops. Chef Karen especially enjoys teaching the method of Salt Block Cooking and looks forward to sharing another variation next year.
Family and friends coming together to share the love of good food and each other
Although our stated intention was to inspire "your inner Italian chef", our philosophy can be stated very simply. The heart of cooking is all about family and friends coming together to share the love of good food and each other. Buon Appetito, Y'all!

Farro Pilaf with Roasted Butternut Squash and Salt Block Seared Scallops
Serves 6-8 - Preparation Time: 35 minutes - Cooking Time: 1 ½ hours
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Prepare the various components in the order listed for ease in assembling the pilaf.
Roasted Butternut Squash
Pre- heat oven to 350°
1. Peel and cut butternut into 1 inch cubes.
2. On a cookie sheet toss butternut with the olive oil and salt.
3. While the butternut squash is baking cook the Farro. Bake 45 minutes or until fork tender, do not allow it to become mushy. Remove from oven, transfer to a plate and set aside.
Since this particular Farro is pearled it will cook quicker.
1. Add olive oil to pot, bring to medium heat, and add Farro stirring to coat each grain.
2. Stir sea salt into hot water and add to pot.
3. Bring to a boil, cover and boil for 20 minutes. Turn the heat to low and cook for 10 more minutes. Pull off heat and let sit for 5 minutes and drain off excess water. Set aside until ready to use. While the Farro is cooking cook the Pancetta and the pickled onions.
Quick Pickled Onions
These pickles are good on just about anything!
1. Pour all ingredients in a small sauce pot, and set the heat to medium high.
2. Julienne onion, when the pickling liquid comes to a boil, add onion, and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes or more if you want softer pickles. Drain and set aside or refrigerate for other use.
Salt Block Cooked Scallops
Pre-heat the salt block
1. Combine all the ingredients, except scallops, in a glass bowl and set aside.
2. Pat the scallops dry, add to the bowl and gently toss to coat the scallops.
3. Pour a couple of tablespoons of olive oil on the paper towel pad and quickly wipe the top surface of the salt block with a light coat of oil. Be careful the salt block is VERY hot.
4. Place the scallops 1 ½ inches apart on the salt block and cook 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from salt block and serve.
1. Cook the Pancetta until brown and crispy. Remove from pan, drain and set aside.
2. In the remaining grease add grape tomatoes, sauté for 1 minute, then add garlic sauté for an additional 2 minutes. Pour in the wine cook for 2 minutes, add Farro cook for 5 minutes. Gently fold in the roasted squash, cook for 3 minutes. Toss in parsley and pancetta, salt and pepper to taste, spoon pilaf onto serving platter.
3. Top with scallops, pickled onions, and drizzle with Basil infused olive oil and serve.

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