Posted by: lisetta | July 10, 2010

Iron Chef Pittsburgh

It’s a simple concept: gather foodie chefs and challenge them to create something delicious with an ingredient they likely don’t use all the time. Friends in Pittsburgh chose beets for this round. I was lucky enough to be in town for the event, and wanted to contribute a beet ravioli dish from Veneto (dressed with butter sage and poppy seed), but my efforts were thwarted. I had completely forgotten that Pittsburgh’s culinary landscape is light years beyond the East Coast. Fresh pasta sheets, even in the mostly upper-middle class South Hills, are nowhere to be found. While I did find durum flour, my mom’s pasta machine, stored in a box in the basement, needed some serious cleaning, which I had no time for. Pazienza!

I showed up at the party beetless, taking instead a dozen cupcakes from Bethel Bakery and a much appreciated montepulciano d’Abruzzo (posting the picture here so that I remember this wine should I actually ever *see* it again). Martin, however, suggested that I improvise something with the ingredients the lovely hostess Ruth had on hand. She’s in a CSA (community supported agriculture) and had zucchine, chard, and cabbage. Her garden had tons of mint. I decided I could make an improvisational version of pizzocheri, a traditional buckwheat flour pasta from the Alps. I had no buckwheat flour, but chose the shape because I knew it would be relatively fast to roll out and cut.

Flour, salt, an egg, about a cup of water, and some collaborative kneading was all it took. I served it with sliced zucchini sauteed in olive oil with a bit of onion, lots of mint, some lemon zest and a handful of parmesan. It was a hit, and lots of fun to make.

The other dishes at the party were far more interesting, though! We had several beet salads and, for dessert, a beet mousse and a chocolate caramel cheesecake. Anyway, here are a few more of Martin’s iPhone pictures of the event.

Thanks to everyone for such a lovely evening. I *so* miss the Pittsburgh social scene. In the 9 years I’ve lived in Philadelphia, I’ve had collaborative cooking events only a handful of times. Sigh. The next apartment I rent will have a larger kitchen, right?



  1. This sounds like so much fun! Your dish sounds delicious – fresh and simple is the sort of cooking I adore. Loved the post!

  2. In a funny kind of way I was glad that Lisa did not bring beets. One of the most entertaining and educational things to do is to open your fridge and tell her: ok go!

    Magic ensues.

  3. Thanks, Vickie! I adore fresh and simple as well. Can’t do much anything else in the kitchen anymore!
    Martin, thanks for the vote of confidence. I will gladly cook for you anytime – for me much of the fun is in sharing food with those who can appreciate it. 🙂

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