I’ll admit it… I’m kind of a Greg Hardesty groupie. Not in a weird, stalker kind of way. But in a ‘this-guy-is-really-talented-and-Indy-is-lucky-to-have-him’ way.
For those of you who don’t know, Greg is the owner and Chef of Recess and Room Four, two of the best and most popular restaurants on the Indy food scene. If you’ve been to either restaurant (both housed in the same building), I don’t need to tell you how good the food is. If you haven’t been, then get thy self there soon. Your taste buds will thank you.
Greg is heavily involved in Taste of the NFL, an organization that has been raising money and awareness about hunger in America for 20 years. The biggest fundraiser of the year for this organization is the Party with a Purpose on the eve of the Super Bowl, but there are also a number of smaller events throughout the year. One recent one was a Macy’s Culinary Council demonstration, held February 2nd at Castleton Square Mall. Greg was joined onstage by Iron Chef, restauranteur, and Culinary Council member Marc Forgione for a free night of recipe demos and conversation. A fun time was had by all, and we walked away with recipes from two of the masters. (See below for a couple to try at home yourself.)
Note to Macy’s… this is a great event, and you could fill that space regularly throughout the year with local chefs. Although it’s always fun to see a celebrity come to town (especially one you’ve seen sweating on Iron Chef), Indy has developed a deep and abiding love for its local restaurants and chefs. This may be a surprise to those who live outside our city and still know Indianapolis primarily as a hub for all things chain-related. But we love our local people. If you offer them a place on your stage, we will write about it, tweet about it, and show up for it. And we’ll peruse the Macy’s goods while we’re at it. Everybody wins, right?
At a minimum, I hope you will continue to include local chefs and members of the food community in all of the Culinary Council events. It’s great to go to a program like this and see a big national company shining a spotlight on the locals. We’ll remember that.
Now… about that FOOD. Here are two of the game day recipes offered up by Chefs Hardesty and Forgione. Both are delicious, so get cookin’ and start eating. Enjoy!
Candy Bar Cookies (Recipe compliments of Chef Greg Hardesty)
- 1 and 1/2 cups shortening
- 2 and 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon orange extract
- 2 eggs
- 3 and 1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 cups chopped candy bars (Snickers, Twix, Butter Finger, Heath Bar, or Payday work well)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, cream the sugar and shortening together. Combine the milk, extracts, and eggs in a separate bowl. Combine the flour, salt, baking soda and candy bars in a separate bowl.
3. After shortening and sugar are creamed, add wet ingredients in three batches. Stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. Form into 2-inch balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
LT’s Pigs in a Blanket (Recipe courtesy of Chef Marc Forgione)
- 1/2 cup sauerkraut, drained
- 4 tablespoons mustard seeds
- 2 sheets puff pastry
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 6 all-beef hot dogs
- 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
- 2 eggs, whisked
- 1/4 cup deli mustard
1. Heat the sauerkraut and the mustard seeds in a pot and set aside to cool.
2. Unfold puff pastry on a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the pastry to a 1/4-inch thickness and cut it into 6 rectangles, each about 7 x 3 inches.
3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray.
4. Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Roll the dogs in the flour.
5. Make a line of cheese the size of the hot dog on each piece of pastry. Seal the ends and fold under.
6. Place the pigs in blanket, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet; brush them with the remaining egg mixture.
7. Bake until the pastry is golden brown and completely cooked through, about 25 minutes.
8. Slice each pig in a blanket into 6 pieces and serve on a plate with the sauerkraut and a dollop of mustard on top.
Note: I received a small gift from Everywhere to attend the cooking demo. (Though I would have gone anyway. Er, did I already mention a time <or twelve> that I’m a Hardesty groupie?)