Guest Post: Blend & Extend at Hot & Spicy Food Festival by The Yum Yum Factor

By now, our loyal online readers will have heard all about our Blend & Extend initiative, but how about everyone else? The wonderfully talented and charismatic, Carole of The Yum Yum Factor was happy to share the good word with an eager audience at Toronto's Hot & Spicy Food Festival. 

As one of the ten chefs participating in the Ten for the Next Gen Series at Harbourfront's Hot and Spicy Food Festival I was tasked with coming up with something that would fit the themes of sustainability and passing culinary traditions on to the next generation. Since I can't really draw on my own family traditions, unless I wanted to pass along my mom's delicious Sherif's lemon meringue pie and, don't get me wrong, she made a mean Sherif's lemon meringue pie, I was going to have to think outside the box and come up with something of my very own.


Instead of choosing just a recipe to share, I decided to demonstrate Mushrooms Canada's Blend and Extend philosophy using my recipe for Kofta. A traditional Middle Eastern kofta is kind of like a cigar shaped meatball made from either all lamb, all beef or a combination of the two ground meats and, although certainly delicious, they can be heavy and kind of dry. If you make them out of lamb, they are even heavier since lamb is very fatty and rich so I thought it would be the perfect example of using mushrooms to lighten it up. By replacing about 1/3 of the ground meat with ground mushrooms, I am reducing the saturated fat, reducing the calories, stretching my meat dollars and the mushrooms actually help keep the kofta really moist and tender.

Photo by Steven Shackleton
As I was setting up, I spent half of my time answering so many questions about how blend and extend works, giving tips on how to adapt existing recipes using blend and extend that i was worried that I wouldn't have everything ready for my cooking demo in time. About 75 people watched as I showed them how to make the kofta and before they lined up to taste them, we had a lively Q&A where I answered even more questions. By the time I finished, all 100 spice packs and Blend and Extend recipe books had disappeared and everyone seemed eager to try it out themselves.
Photo by Kate Wallis
You know what I found to be the coolest thing to happen that day? More than one person came up to me and admitted that although they don't like mushrooms, they loved the kofta, loved the idea of cutting back on ground meat and were going to go buy some mushrooms for the very first time and try this out at home.

You can't ask for much more than that.


Convert picky eaters at home too! Head on over to The Yum Yum Factor for her full recipe: Blend & Extend Mini Kofta with Beets, Hummus and Zhug.

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A huge thanks to Carole of The Yum Yum Factor for showing off the Blend & Extend initiative at the Hot & Spicy Food Festival! She's always such a wonderful cheerleader for mushrooms and doesn't stop providing us with new and exciting ways to incorporate mushrooms into meals.

Be sure to follow Carole over at The Yum Yum Factor and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

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