Big push to eat local!

Star chef hopes to inspire people with her recipes

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Fifteen thousand miles -- that's what the food you might be eating today traveled to make it to your plate. The fuel costs of that is one reason there's a big push to eat local. Today in chef's corner, a top chef master shares a few of her not-so-long distance delights.

Featured nationally as a contestant on Top Chef Masters and trained internationally in London, award-winning chef, Monica Pope is all about local.

"I just want to get people excited about eating locally," said Pope.

She cooks mainly with what she buys at her hometown farmers' markets.

"And that makes everything just seem more meaningful to me," Pope said.

She's cooking us up a few of her favorite dishes. First is a Thai style mushroom stroganoff. (recipe below)

"The mushrooms do act like meat," Pope said.

She adds lemongrass, ginger and onions to the hot pan. Local ingredients you might be able to find at your neighborhood farmers' market. According to the USDA, there are more than 7,000 nationwide. But if you can't get the exact ingredients…

"Go find a bunch of stuff that you want to put in there," Pope said.

Finish with coconut milk and you have a meaty…beef-less stroganoff. Next up is a Korean barbeque Kobe beef. Marinate the six-ounce strip in a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes. Cook to medium rare, serve with a seasonal slaw and take pride in your local dish. Pope says it's a great feeling.

"It's just totally different when you eat something that you grew or something that you went out to the market to get," Pope said.

Pope says if you want to go local, start off simple. She recommends cooking two meals with local ingredients a week. That usually includes food grown or raised within 200 miles of where you live.

Thai Mushroom Stroganoff
Recipe by Monica Pope


1 cup olive oil
6 pounds cremini mushrooms, halved or quartered
3 stalks lemongrass, crushed
10-12 lime leaves or about 1/4 cup grated lime zest
3 tablespoons grated peeled ginger
¾ cup cornstarch
¾ cup coconut milk (to blend with the cornstarch)
10½ cups coconut milk
1 tablespoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
¾ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro


Heat the oil in a large sauce pot. Add the mushrooms to the pot, stir, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Add the lemongrass, lime leaves or zest, and ginger.

In a small bowl, blend the cornstarch to a thin paste with the ¾ cup coconut milk and set aside.

Add the remaining coconut milk to the pot and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Pour in the cornstarch paste, bring to a boil, and then stir for a minute to thicken. Season with the salt and pepper and then remove the lemongrass. At this point, the stroganoff can be cooled and refrigerated until service.

For each serving, to order: Bring about 1 cup stroganoff to a simmer and serve over about 1 cup rewarmed rice blend. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Cucumber-Coconut Gazpacho
Recipe by Monica Pope


1 medium, chopped, peeled onion
2 cloves, green garlic, peeled & chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound of cucumber peeled and in chunks
salt & pepper
1 1/4 c of chicken stock
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup mint leaves
tabasco sauce
juice of one lime
2 tablespoons of fish sauce, to taste
minced cilantro (for garnish)


Combine onion, garlic and oil in pan, on medium heat. Stir and cook 5 minutes or until onion softens.

Add cucumber, salt and pepper and cook 2 minutes. Add stock and cook 5 minutes or until cucumbers turn tender. Add coconut milk, cook 3 minutes then add mint, tabasco and lime and fish sauce. Remove from heat. Puree in blender. Chill well

Add cilantro as garnish.

Bulgogi Korean Style BBQ
Recipe by Monica Pope


1.5 Kobe Beef Steak
6 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 Teaspoon ginger/minced
6 cloves garlic
2 Finely sliced green onions
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 medium onion thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons sesame seeds


Whisk ingredients in medium bowl except beef and onions. When sugar is dissolved, add beef and onions and marinade with hands. Cover and refrigerate for an hour. To pan fry, fry single layers on each side. Serve with rice.

Aztec Rice Blend
Recipe by Monica Pope


6 cups Aztec Rice Blend
1½ teaspoons turmeric powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter
9 cups water


In a sauce pot, mix the rice blend with the turmeric, salt, butter, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until just tender, about 1 hour. Spread the rice on sheet pans to cool, then refrigerate.

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