Meet a Member – Flora
Meet Flora, a pastry chef with a PhD from Chicago, IL.
Flora and her husband, Lee, began exchanging because they thought it would be a great way to save money on traveling, especially on food expenses.
When it comes to finding an exchange, Flora describes her approach as “passive.” “Not everyone wants to visit Chicago,” she says. “So we wait for inquiries to come to us and see where they take us.” It’s in this way that she and Lee ended up vacationing in Northern Ireland, which she says has been her favorite destination so far.
Flora is no stranger to the kitchen. While she studied History and Education at Harvard and Columbia and was very much involved in public policy and educational reform, she decided to try something a little different when she turned 50 – pastry. She attended the prestigious French Pastry School of Chicago for a six-month intensive program. From there, she became interested in the famous and highly exclusive Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman of France) competition and produced the first-ever film about the event (until then, no cameras had ever been permitted inside the competition).
Upon her return to Chicago, Flora decided to put her extensive confectionary skills to work and created her own business, selling the only sweets at Chicago’s Green City Market. Each vendor at the market is carefully juried, and all items and ingredients must have originated within a certain radius to maintain their “local” status. Flora’s favorite market vendor is a purveyor of fresh, handmade pastas. This local pasta is the chief ingredient of her best-loved meal, which you can recreate!
RECIPE: LOCAL PASTA WITH ARTICHOKES AND FETA
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
1 package garlic or herb pasta from Pasta Puttana
2 bags frozen artichoke hearts (available at Trader Joe’s)
1/4 lb feta cheese from Prairie Fruits Farm [http://www.prairiefruits.com/] 1/2 tsp dried fennel seeds
salt & pepper
Boil water for pasta.
While water is boiling, sauté frozen artichoke hearts in 1/2 cup oil. Cook until all water is evaporated and artichokes are brown and crispy. Add fennel seeds and season with salt and pepper.
When water has boiled, add pasta and cook for 30 seconds. Drain and toss in remaining oil.
Cover pasta with artichokes, crumble on feta cheese, and serve immediately.
Makes 2 dinner portions or 4 antipasto servings.
Flora and Lee’s home, complete with chocolate-tempering machine, is available for exchange.