Thursday, June 23, 2011

50 Women Game-Changers (in Food): #2 Alice Waters: Strawberry-Orange Compote

In May '11, Gourmet posted a list of 50 Women Game-Changers (in Food) that runs the gamut from food writers to cookbook authors to television personalities to restauranteurs to chefs to food bloggers.  Some are a given.  Some are controversial.  Speaking the names of some brings fond childhood memories to some.  Speaking the names of others will make some readers cringe.  And of course, some of our favorites were not even included.  We food-lovers are a passionate bunch of people and whether we agree or disagree, every woman on this list has earned her place for a reason.  Being a woman who is passionate about food (cooking, eating, talking about, writing about, photographing), when I caught wind of Mary from One Perfect Bite's idea of cooking/blogging her way through each of these 50 women...one per week...I knew I wanted to join her.  Many of these women paved the way for us in culinary school, in the kitchen, in cookbooks, in food writing, and on television and I think it is a fabulous way to pay tribute to their efforts.  Some of the women on the list have been tops with me for years.  Some I have heard of (perhaps even seen, read, or cooked from) before.  And there are even a handful that I am not familiar with at all.  I excited to educate myself on each of these women game-changers and hope you look forward to reading along.  We are going in order from 1 to 50.
the "Gourmet" prompt...
2. Alice Waters - The great Alice needs no introduction. OK, just this: Chez Panisse, farmers’ markets, locavore movement, Edible Schoolyard. As yet, they’ve only made documentary movies about her life.

I used to want to do what Alice Waters did.  Okay, I still kinda do.  I want to open a restaurant in a big, empty house in a hip part of town and either grow my ingredients in my own backyard or source them locally.  I want to print my prix fixe menu daily on a chalkboard that I sit on the sidewalk outside every day.  The menu would only have a few options.  If you liked the freshest food possible cooked by someone other than yourself, you'd stop in.  My china and silver would be mismatched and charming.  I'd pick fresh flowers to put at all of the tables.  My staff would be few and trusted and talented.  For those living under a rock, I'm talking about Chez Panisse, the Berkeley restaurant started by Alice Waters back in 1971.  Waters is the vice-president of Slow Food International and the founder of the wonderful program, The Edible Schoolyard.  The Edible Schoolyard is perhaps my favorite thing that she does.  Giving kids access to organic gardens and kitchen classrooms instills a lifetime of knowledge and respect for food.  While I know from experience that it is not always possible to buy organic or local due to high prices, I think learning and exploring and getting your hands dirty is an experience every child should be exposed to. 

worth further exploration:  Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea, Alice Waters and Chez Panisse
Strawberry-Orange Compote
slightly adapted from Chez Panisse Fruit by Alice Waters
serves 4

2 small (~10 oz.) naval oranges
½ c. + 2 Tbs. superfine sugar
1 c. water
1 pint (~2 c.) strawberries

Remove most of the zest from one of the oranges with a citrus zester (the type with the tiny holes) in long, thin strips.  Put ½ c. of sugar and the water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add the strips of zest, reduce heat, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until peel is tender and syrup and reduced and thickened a bit.  Let cool.
Rinse strawberries and gently pat dry.  Hull and slice them into ~¼" thick slices, then place in a bowl.  Using a knife, cut off the ends of the oranges and remove the skins (taking only the slightest outer layer of flesh with it).  Slide a sharp knife along each membrane to remove the segments of orange (the supremes), dropping each segment into the bowl with the strawberries.  Squeeze the remaining juice from the orange "carcass" into the bowl over the fruit.  Sprinkle with remaining sugar and mix gently.

Serve compote with some of the candied orange peel on top and then drizzle with a bit of the thickened syrup.

My absolute favorite way to eat this is to spoon it over some plain Greek yogurt...the combination of the thick, tangy yogurt against the sweet fruit and syrup is luxurious!
*Normally, this will be a weekly post (on Friday's), but since I missed the first two weeks of cooking along with the crew, I am playing catch-up.  Regular weekly posts will start with #3, tomorrow.

Alice Waters (d.o.b: 4/28/44)
Who is cooking along with these 50 Women Game-Changers?
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