Riverside’s Annual Cooking Contest

It’s that time of year again. As our loyal readers know, every year we ask all kitchen wizards to submit a savory or sweet recipe they think has a chance to win over the taste buds of our Judges. We begin by inviting all the citizens of our fair community to participate in the annual “Best Recipe” cooking contest featuring our most talented home cooks and their favorite foods.

Last year’s winner, Veronica Reynolds bowled us over with her locally famous rendition of Chocolate Flourless Cake. Joseph McCormick sent the judges reeling with his succulent Pig in a Pit when he used a gantry crane to lower the homegrown hog into a coal lined in-ground oven.

Two of the top contenders wins the prestigious position of writing a monthly cooking column for the Riverside Chronicle. Veronica and Joe have been reigning Queen and King of the fun, food fact, 2nd page, article post, but now it’s time to hand it over.

Already mouth-watering entries have been submitted and the Judges are being chosen from locally owned restaurants. Both restaurant owners and chefs have wanted to participate since they all vie for the winner’s recipe to go on their establishment’s menu. That honor is awarded by the winners themselves.

Two of the runner ups from 2016 have made it to the palates of the people. Vegan Chile is now found on the menu at Carol’s Cantina, and Easy Peazy Clam Linguini is a regular at Pete’s Fish Palace. Since they are too delicious to ignore the proud home cooks gave the Chronicle permission to print their recipes.

Vegan Chili
This is a super healthy alternative to meat Chile without giving up taste, texture or protein.

You’ll need:
Olive oil, approximately 2 Tbs.
Garlic, 5 cloves minced
Chili powder, 4 tsp
Onion 1 medium, chopped
Tomatoes, 2 – 14.5 oz. cans fire-roasted, diced
Bell pepper – red preferred, but green is OK, chopped
Bay leaf, 1
Brown Lentils, 16 oz.
Stock, vegetable, 32 oz.
Cilantro, 1/3rd cup fresh,chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté onion, pepper garlic and chili powder just until onion is transparent – about 10 minutes.

Add lentils, bay leaf, tomatoes and stock and bring to a boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender, partially covered. Salt and pepper to taste and stir in cilantro just before serving. If you like your chili spicy, sprinkle red pepper flakes or slices of jalapeno on top. Finish with grated cheddar cheese or a dollop of sour cream.

Easy Peazy Clam Linguini 
To make this at home we’ve made a couple of modifications. Don’t let the long list of ingredients turn you off, this is a very simple and fast dish to put together.

You’ll need:
Extra virgin olive oil, ¼ cup
Red pepper flakes, ½ to 1 tsp.
Garlic, 6 cloves
Anchovies, 7 filets or 1 tin
White wine, 1 cup
Clam juice, I small bottle or 1 cup
Smoked whole baby clams, 15 oz. can or fresh, if they are in season
Lemon, zest the whole lemon
Thyme leaves, if using fresh, 4-5 sprigs, if using dried ½ tsp.
Parsley leaves, ¼ cup chopped
Linguini, 1 lb.
Black course pepper

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, red pepper flakes and anchovies until the anchovies break up and blend with the oil. Put wine and thyme into the skillet and let the wine reduce for about 1 minute. Add clam juice, lemon zest and clams and black pepper.

Meanwhile, stop the cook on the linguini just at the al dente stage and drain. Put into the skillet with the clam concoction. Let the juices finish cooking the pasta until desired tenderness – just about another minute. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with a hard-crusted bread for soaking up those delectable juices.

Sound delicious? Try your hand this year at Riverside’s Annual Cooking Contest. We look forward to your entry.