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Nittany Lion Inn Chef Prepares Fresh Summer Dish at Grange Fair

Chef Kirsch McMaster at the Grange Fair
Friday, August 24, 2018

Visitors at this year’s Grange Fair got a glimpse into the culinary creations that are on the menu every day at The Nittany Lion Inn. The Inn’s Chef Kirsch McMaster entertained the crowd with a cooking demonstration, preparing a fresh kale and mozzarella pasta (recipe below).

McMaster, who last year prepared a vegan summer squash soup, walked the audience through each step of the recipe, explaining various cooking techniques.

Chefs presenting cooking demonstrations at the Grange Fair choose the dishes they want to prepare, with a general rule to make something that translates well for the home cook and doesn’t take long to make. Chefs are also encouraged to use local ingredients as much as possible.

“The crowd enjoys seeing how chefs in this area use local ingredients and had lots of questions,” McMaster says. We talk about technique and some of the things that could go wrong. We also talk about how you can revise the recipe to make it your own dish. In this year’s dish, for example, you could add ingredients such as chicken, lamb meatballs, roasted vegetables, or bell peppers.”

McMaster says the cooking demos give the fair audience an opportunity to pick the brain of a chef and learn valuable cooking techniques. “I had a great time, and I hope to be able to attend next year,” he says.

For more chef-inspired dishes using the freshest local ingredients, visit The Dining Room at The Nittany Lion Inn.

Chef Kirsch’s Kale and Mozzarella Pasta

1 bunch of kale (1/2 pound), stems removed and chopped
1 medium to large shallot, thin sliced
3 large cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
1-2 cups of mozzarella pearls (if you can’t find pearls, cut fresh mozzarella into ¼” cubes.)
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh pasta (we use Fasta & Ravioli Co. pasta)
Large pot of boiling salted water

In a large saute pan, heat olive oil. Add shallots and allow to brown. Add chopped garlic and saute quickly so it does not burn. Add chopped kale and a small amount of the salted pasta water to help wilt the greens. Place fresh pasta in the salted water and allow to cook for the recommended time (usually 4-4.5 minutes). Reduce the heat on the saute pan with the greens so they do not burn. Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the saute pan of greens. Reserve pasta water. Add the butter and stir at low heat so butter does not overheat and break. Add reserved pasta water as needed to make a sauce. Allow the pasta to simmer and the sauce to thicken. Turn heat off and allow to cool 5 minutes. Add the mozzarella and stir gently. You want the cheese to warm but not melt completely. Season to taste and serve.

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