Tuesday is market day at the Ferry Building and, since the CUESA kitchen is in the midst of it all, so were we! Today we were literally inside the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market!
As soon as everyone had arrived we quickly gathered around to hear from Chef Elianna about all the exciting things we were going to do during the day! Today's cuisine was inspired by the food of Mexico and we started it off by by learning about the staples of any Mexican Meal: rice and beans! We learned from Chef Hollie, yesterday, about how important timing is in our meal preparations so we started with the rice and beans because they would take the longest. Chef Amy showed us that black shelling beans and talked to us about rice and how it is grown and cooked. We seasoned the rice as a group and then we shucked our shelling beans from their pods and got them ready to slow cook on the stove.
The activity today was one of my all time favorite things that we get to do at Bay Leaf Kitchen Summer Camp; today we got to create our own recipe using only fresh ingredients found IN the Farmers Market! We were each given a shopping tote and $12.00 in tokens to use to buy any fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs to make our own salsa!
We used all five of our senses to help us pick the best options for our recipes. We smelled the produce and also the earth that some of the vendors had brought with them from their farms. We saw all the beautiful colors, listened to what the farmers had to say about their wares, we touched bright, smooth pluots and rough, earthy carrots and, of course, we tasted! We also tracked where our food was grown on a map of California and explained to us where their farms are located and we got to see just how far some of them had come to sell us their beautiful products!
Each group came up with really different recipes for their salsa; some created more fruit-based salsas (mostly stone fruit), some were avocado focused, some had lots of tomatoes, some had a lot of texture and unusual herbs and one group made two variations of the same salsa but made one much spicier than the other. I LOVED the spicy one but it turned out to be a little too hot for some of us (Chef Amy.)
As one group at a time was assembling their salsa at that station, the rest of us got to rotate around to help make the other components of our lunch! We had a tortilla-making station with Chef Amy where the kids made their tortillas from scratch, a hot station where Chef Elianna helped us season our chicken and showed us how to sear and then properly cook it. We even had a station to make our beverages! Chef Jacob showed us how to make Agua Fresca using fresh blackberries, lime and lemon combined with water to make a delicious and healthy juice.
Needless to say lunch was a huge success and everyone got to eat their fill of everyone else's salsa creations!
In the afternoon we met Dr. Sonya who works with many senior citizens in need of messages from some young and vibrant children. As it just so happens, we have many such young people at Bay Leaf Kitchen Summer Camp and the campers were more than happy to put their creativity and brain power to use to make some cards, posters and flyers with inspirational messages to send to one of the assisted living facilities where Dr. Sonya works. We really hope that they will brighten someone's day.
For dessert Chef Emily taught us how to make Sopapillas. The campers divided into smaller groups that combined flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter in a bowl where they used two knives in a crossing motion to cut the butter into the flour and, eventually, create dough! Once the dough could be formed into a ball it was divided into 8 smaller balls and flattened into little pancake shapes.
While Chef Emily baked the dough, the campers each made their own version of a fruit salsa to put on top of their sopapilla. Some were purees, some were chopped, and, when spooned over a piping hot sopapilla covered in cinnamon and sugar, they were ALL good!
Only one more day in the CUESA kitchen until we take our show on the road and head up to Eatwell Farm! I'm so excited to see what I will learn tomorrow!