26 May Dazzling cuisine an Artbeat away in Helena
Story and photos By SYDNE GEORGE For the Tribune
Standing nearly 6 feet tall in an aubergine sleeveless dress, pansy print apron and pearl necklace, Susan Bartels lives up to her nickname — “the Julia Child of Helena.”
Enunciating clearly and chuckling frequently throughout her lively cooking demonstration, Bartels was the first chef on Helena’s 20th annual Artbeats Chefs Tour, a recent fundraiser benefitting the Grandstreet Theatre, the Helena Symphony and the Holter Museum.
Even her mannerisms were Julia-esque, as she entertained the overflowing crowd.
“The more the merrier!” she exclaimed before introducing the onlookers to her son Mark, her sous-chef.
Bartels demonstrated making Tarte aux Myrtilles, a French blueberry tart.
“It’s appealing because it’s fast and it’s easy,” she said, adeptly assembling the tart dough and rolling it out, folding it in quarters and laying it in the tart pan.
From there, it was merely a quick pulse of the food processor before she poured the almond mixture atop the crust, adding the blueberries. And voila, the tart was done, ready to bake and take almost anywhere, a perfect go-to dessert for spring and summer.
Bartels also whipped up Red Pepper and Artichoke Bruschetta, Italian Meatballs Stuffed with Italian Sausage and Pepperoni and Gruyere Potatoes, presenting all four delicious dishes within the hour.
“Oh, it’s fun,” she said, bidding her onlookers au revoir at the end of her cooking lesson, “laughing and cooking and getting a few new ideas.”
Welcoming the crowd at house No. 2 on the tour was Marci Andersen, owner and executive chef at Marci’s Catering in Helena. Calm and collected, she was cooking casually in the kitchen in her black chef’s coat when the group arrived. Andersen’s instruction flowed from recipe to recipe seamlessly.
“I wanted to prepare recipes that I loved,” she said.
The recipes demonstrated during the chefs tour were dishes anyone could prepare with a small list of ingredients, she said. Starting with her Asian noodle rolls, Andersen demonstrated how to soften the rice paper wraps in water and then fill them with English cucumber, carrot, apple, mint, cilantro, rice noodles and canned French-fried onions. She carefully rolled them up burrito- style, sliced them for sampling and drizzled with her jazzed-up Hoisin sauce.
“Don’t be afraid to experiment,” she said. “The only things I’d leave in are the noodles and the French-fried onions.”
After that there’s no right or wrong, she said, it just depends on your taste.
Sandee Cardinal prepares Shrimp Seviche Salsa at the Artbeats Chefs Tour
Inspired by May and Cinco de Mayo, the third chef, Sandee Cardinal, developed a menu sporting a southwestern flair. She owns and operates Earth to Table Chef’s Services in Wolf Creek. Cardinal created her business in 2000, inspired by her soon-to-be husband’s massive garden.
Cardinal uses their garden produce whenever possible, from asparagus to zucchini. She has a culinary degree from Johnson and Wales and spent several years working in restaurants, hotels and resorts before becoming a private chef in 1997. Her job is never dull.
“I’ve done a sheep shearing, a bull sale, fundraisers, business meetings and really fine upscale dinners at ranches.”
She also conducts cooking classes in people’s homes and creates gourmet lunches for her outfitter husband Pete and his clients.
Cardinal started with her Shrimp Ceviche Salsa, her most requested recipe. She explained that it’s not a true ceviche, which refers to raw shrimp or fish marinated in lime or lemon juice, because her preparation involves steaming the shrimp. The beauty of this recipe is that it’s fresh, crunchy and delicious, especially well-suited for spring and summer, she said.
Cardinal said while it involves a lot of chopping and might seem labor-intensive, it’s worth it.
Following the chefs tour, cookbook writer and editor Ellen Boeke gave a talk peppered with Julia Child quotes about her career in the world of food writing and gave a behind-the-scenes look at how a cookbook is put together.
“No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize” was the first of several tidbits of wisdom by Child that Boeke used to flavor her presentation.
“I’m not a headliner when it comes to cookbook writing, just one of the many, many folks who work hard to make sure the recipes that people try work, taste good and are easy to follow,” Boeke said.
She has worked on cookbooks for notable food personalities such as the Deen brothers, Sandra Lee and Chef G. Garvin.
Her latest project is the 15th edition of “Better Homes and Gardens’ The New Cookbook,” better known as “Red Plaid,” which will be out in stores in October.
Boeke completed the Basic Cuisine Course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris after studying food science and journalism in college.
Her recipe for success in the kitchen begins with remembering that we eat with our eyes so food has to look good to taste good.
Learn basic cooking techniques, Boeke advised, and apply them to the best food available, or as Julia Child put it, “You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces— just good food from fresh ingredients.”
TARTE AUX MYRTILLES (Blueberry Tart) Tart Shell (10-inch)
8 tbsp. butter
1 cup flour
2-3 tbsp. cold water Filling
¼ cup whole unskinned almonds
3 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. flour
4 cups blueberries
Combine ingredients for tart shell. Chill for 15 minutes. Roll out.
Combine the almonds, sugar and flour in a food processor or blender.
Process until the almonds are finely ground.
Sprinkle the almond mixture into the tart shell.
Cover with the blueberries, and sprinkle some sugar over the berries.
Bake at 425° for 30 minutes. Check to make sure the tart shell is browned by peeking at it. It works best to place the shell on the bottom rack of the oven.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with sweetened sour cream.