Archive for the ‘Farmers Market’ Category

Grapes at Corner Stone

We were just talking about the lack of locally grown veggies in Napa because of the high price of land and all those grapes, and here’s what I run across when I sit down to catch up on a little gardenish reading this morning. The article from the Press Democrat, (which I wish I had seen before I left so I could have gone to Benziger last weekend) talks about some of the vineyards and their workers planting vegetable crops. Several of the wineries and vineyards are setting aside days just for working in the garden and have such abundant crops they are selling their produce to the restaurants and setting up farm stands in their tasting rooms. This seems like a head slapping, about time, epiphany for the Valley.


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Flavorella Plum Hand Pies
This summer’s favorite dish for the concerts in the park…was hands down the hand pies. Nectarine, plum, strawberry or a combination of all three.

The best of the lot was the elusive Flavorella plum pie, which I could only produce one time…I must have caught the tail end of the season for that tree. The ease of this dish is what makes it such a favorite of mine and the tangy deliciousness combined with puff pastry made it a real crowd pleaser.

Buy puff pastry sheets and let thaw in the fridge. Each box makes about 8 pretty good sized pies. I just lined the giant muffin tin with squares of parchment paper, then with the puff, then dollops of the fruit mixture, topped with tangy strawberry preserves. Pinch together and bake!

Fruit Filling-Cut up 8 plums and toss with a couple of tablespoons of flour and sugar. Strawberry preserves-made earlier in the summer, just mash up berries and cook down a bit with 1/4 (or less) the amount of sugar for jam…and lots of lemon juice. It won’t set up, but use as sauce…way tastier!

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Ahhh, the summer sun dried tomatoes!  This year I have been making them with Juliet tomatoes from my garden…As the season ends…I will stock up from the farmers market on heirlooms, cherry, pear, and small roma varieties so I can have the taste of summer well in to winter.

The only sun-dried tomatoes I enjoy these days are plump fresh oven dried from home.  Mario Batali made these on a show one time and I have  been making them ever since.  I just do not reccomend you start them at 8pm like I did last time…luckily I woke up (the aroma wafting through the house roused me) in time to save them from becoming over dried tomatoes.

Here’s how easy it is:  cut in half, place cut side up on a couple of sheet pans (might as well make a lot).  I like to line the pans with parchment.  Mix equal parts sugar and kosher salt.  Sprinkle tomatoes with white wine vinegar, and the sugar/salt mixture.  Place in the oven at 200-225˚ for approximately 4-6 hours depending on the size of the tomatoes.  I check frequently and remove them as they are ready.  I like them to have a little plumpness left in them…dried, but not crispy.

To store:  layer with olive oil and basil leaves.  I use like to toss with pasta and any number of additional items from shrimp and feta, to chicken and fontina on top of flat bread.  Enjoy!

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g-Basil patch

Okay- tonight was a real Crisper Crap Shoot.  From the home garden I have corn, basil, sorrel and zucchini.  From the farmers market I have garlic and pasilla.  From Little India I have red rice.  From the fridge I have a little cream and white wine.

Hot, hot heavy enamel pan.  Dry the scallops.  Sear scallops in a little butter.  Remove and set aside.  Throw in whole head of garlic (cloves just smashed and skinned) and push around the pan….lots of brown bits forming….deglaze with a healthy pour of the wine, some in the pan and some in the glass.  Scrape all the bits, add a couple cups of sorrel.  Add a bunch of basil.  Add the juice from the resting scallops.  Add a cup or two of the heavy cream.  Walk away.  Let simmer and reduce.  Add 1 1/2 roasted pasilla chile.  Grab the kick ass immersible blender and puree.  You now have a thick veggie cream sauce!  Add the scallops back in to the pot and heat through.  Pour over (in this case) fresh raw julienne of zucchini  and top with a little rice.  Best case scenario is fresh pasta of some kind (papardelle) or risotto made with a fish stock…yum.

Rich loves everything…but loved this more!  I think the secret ingredient of pasilla added a nice little twist without over powering the greens.

Kiely asked for a big bowl of the fresh raw zucchini and just sauce…now that’s sayin’ something!

I really do think that picking the veggies about 5 minutes before cooking does add a level of deliciousness and healthfulness that you can just feel when you’re eating.  The corn, from the breezeway (just a 4 x 15′ patch between the houses) is hands down the best corn we’ve ever eaten.  We grew corn last year, but out at the Family Plot…picked hours and hours before cooking.  Well this year, I had the pot boiling and threw in the ears seconds after they were plucked and shucked, then turned off the heat and served a few minutes later.  We could all taste the diff.

Bon Appetite!

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dill flower

This is the only picture I have from last year’s dill crop…but I love the flowers too! The dill used in this recipe was dark green and feathery perfection from the farmers market and it was amazingly fragrant. I always forget how much I love fresh dill and how much fresh dill adds to the dish. If I don’t have it, I go without and I would never use dried…it’s just not the same at all.

For this quick sauce the key is simplicity. I might go to more trouble for the sauce and use leeks or shallots and fish stock, but the side dish was where I spent my time last night. Celery root, potato, leek, garlic, simmered in milk, pureed in the pan…then the food mill for creamy smoothness. S & P.

So…I just sear the salmon in a hot enamel pan and let it get a little carmelized, Then add some white wine and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Pull out the salmon when it’s still rare or under cooked, set aside. Depending on the fish, the timing and the doneness you might finish it in the oven.

Reduce the wine, add the juice of 1 or two lemons….reduce until it is syrupy…add salt and pepper. You could also add some cold butter at this point and swirl around until melted and incorporated to give the sauce a nice finish, but you don’t have to. I put the fish on to a plate and pour the sauce over, sprinkle with some good sea salt, and top generously with the fresh dill springs…a lot of dill! Yummy…Super lemony, super dill-icious!

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Every other plot at the community garden, has a stand of blackberries that makes me green with envy! I am going to satisfy my desire for berries however, with Marion Berries in my own back yard. Curling up yesterday with the 1956 issue of Gourmet and all it’s fruits of summer poetry, lore and ruminations, re-energized my quest. I found a great educational site at Oregon State, and who better than Oregon to tell me how to grow Marion Berries?

Trellis Diagram

I am getting the spot ready, ordering my plant, and will have to wait until next summer for my fruit. I will try to pass the time making jam, crisps, crumbles, bettys, soups and tarts with market berries until next summer…Now for the canning class! When I find one I’ll let you know…Chef Michael? Are you canning? Teaching?

In the aforementioned vintage magazine, there is a fascinatingly alluring article titled Strange Fruit and they had me at “gustatory versatility”. Any-hoo, it talks about the history of fruit soups among the ancient cuisines of the world. The Slavs are partial to berries, the Russians make a raspberry sour cream soup with mint and eat it with a slab of pumpernickel. The Norwegians wed cherries with a disproportionate amount of Sherry, the Danes love buttermilk and raisins, and the French glorify their cold fruit soups with good wine of the country, such as Blueberry Soup garnet in hue with Claret and topped with meringues. Okay, enough teasing. Here are a couple of recipes that didn’t sound too terribly bizarre…

Medley Fruit Soup
In a sauce pan combine the following fruits, all finely chopped: ½ cup of each fresh peaches, strawberries, rhubarb, oranges, and pineapple. Add ¾ cup granulated sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, 2 whole cloves and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice. Add two quarts of water and bring slowly to a boil. Lower the heat and gently simmer for 15 minutes. Puree (I like the food mill) and chill thoroughly. Serve with crackers.

Culinary update: I would serve with La Brea Bakery fruit and nut bread and St. Andre Brie. Or better yet, bring on the whole cheese cart. Man, that sounds like the perfect dessert course!

Raspberry and White Wine Soup
Cook 1 quart ripe raspberries and 1 cup dry white wine slowly for 15 minutes, until the fruit is tender. Strain fruit and juice through fine sieve (food mill), and return to the heat. Stir in paste (½ tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water) bring to boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes stirring and skimming. Season with white pepper, salt and sugar to taste. Add ½ cup orange juice and ½ cup white wine. Serve with pound cake.

Culinary update: for this raspberry soup I might just leave out the thickener, add a little grated granny smith apples to the cooking process, and reduce for the right consistency. Adding the juice and white wine 1 tablespoon at a time alternating and stop when it’s just right. I will test and repost.

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An absolute favorite of the kids at the school garden, and known in the under 10 set as Sour Leaf. It’s the first thing they ask for when they are turned loose for their weekly moment of zen in the urban farmyard.

Sorrel starts well from seed and I will be working up a tray this weekend. Until I buy a soil block maker, I will start with an empty flat, lay a piece of tulle or burlap on the bottom to line. Fill with moist, friable soil and poke evenly spaced, shallow holes for the seeds. I like to cover with vermiculite as it retains moisture and helps keep the seedlings from drying out while germinating. This clump pictured above, could probably be dug up and separated in to several good sized individuals. When it comes time to harvest, just pick leaves as needed.  If you have a nice row of plants, go ahead and cut completely…it will come back nicely. Do this often to avoid letting the plant go to seed. It will last all year in inland LB if it gets partial shade. This would be a great item to replace the shade garden cauliflower over at Victory Home Garden! I’ll throw you some baby Sorrel when they’re ready for transplant Adrianna!!

Sorrel was always a popular ingredient with the European Chefs I worked for in the 80’s…mostly served up in a bowl as soup. Here is a good recipe from Epicurious.

Sorrel, Pea, and Leek Soup Gourmet | April 1996

Can be prepared in 45 minutes or less but requires additional unattended time. Makes about 4 1/2 cups

White and pale green parts of 3 leeks (about 3/4 pound), chopped, washed well, and drained
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small boiling potato (about 1/4 pound)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups cold water plus additional to thin soup
1/2 cup shelled fresh or thawed frozen peas
1/4 pound sorrel*, stems discarded and leaves washed, spun dry, and cut crosswise into thin strips (about 3 cups loosely packed)
1/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste

In a large saucepan cook leeks in oil with salt and pepper to taste over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Peel potato and cut into 1-inch cubes. Add potato, broth, and 1 cup water to leeks and simmer, covered, about 10 minutes, or until potato is tender. Stir in peas and simmer, uncovered, about 5 minutes, or until peas are tender.

In a blender purée potato mixture with sorrel in 2 batches until very smooth, transferring to a bowl. Whisk in sour cream and remaining 1/2 cup water, adding additional to thin soup to desired consistency. Chill soup, covered, at least 2 hours, and up to 24.Just before serving, stir in lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

I might use borage flowers to garnish and probably use an immersion blender, rather than get out the regular blender. I saw a really good one in Saveur Magazine current issue. Really great page on kitchen must have gadgets and tools. Loved it!
Also, saw a few comments out there about the color of the soup not being a bright and springy green, as the sorrel leaves are very tender. I believe, if memory serves, the chef would sometimes direct you to blanch a little watercress to brighten up the greens. There is a great book out there from the 80’s, called Secret Ingredients, that has the inside scoop on those untold techniques for polishing a dish. Brightening color, punching up flavors, stretching expensive ingredients and amazing and “magical process of combining flavors”. All fair game and just plain smart tips. Authored by Chef Michael Roberts from the now closed but much celebrated Trumps Restaurant on Melrose.
I just pulled out my book, and he has a recipe in there for Pea and Sorrel Soup. He touts the importance of aromatics in all soups. I agree and always start with a mire poix of 2 onions, 1 carrot, 2 ribs celery and 3 cloves garlic. Going out now, to start the seeds and to check on the strawberries. More on Strawberries tomorrow…I am battling right now with squirrels, rollie pollies-probably mice and birds too.

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