Monday, August 27, 2007

Dinner with James

Here is a photo of James' salad that made him roll his eyes because he's prepared so many of these in his professional career.

Here's a photo essay on the whole meal, including the marinating of the zucchettas, green walnut cracking, Sunchoke Field Standing, and piglets.

This salad was prepared by cutting thick slices of 3 colors of tomatoes: cherokee purples, german stripes, and green zebras, and placing them on the largest platter my kitchen could muster. In this case it was a dorky one with turkeys on the edge, luckily the camera didn't catch that detail. Then olive oil, balsamic vinegar, S & P were all liberally sprinkled over the whole thing, then roughly chopped genovese basil. That's it!

The roasted pepper salad? I watched him roast the peppers, but I was busy setting the table and preparing the grill, I didn't see the rest. It was a very simple salad that appeared to just be roasted peppers, S & P, maybe some olive oil, but then chefs do have a way of sneaking all kinds of things in there. I'll ask Chef J. and report back.

Official Heirloom Tomato Salad Recipe

Heirloom Tomatoes of at least 2-3 colors
Olive oil: best quality available
Balsamic Vinegar: best quality available
S & P
Chopped Basil (or mint or oregano for a different flavor?)

Cut tomatoes into thick slices. Compose tomatoes on a large plate or platter. Sprinkle with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, and finally top with the basil.

Elderberry Pie and Green Walnuts

Would I make elderberry pie and crack green walnuts on my own? Nope. Too much bother for both items, thanks anyway. BUT I did do both last week.

James Ormsby is a chef in SF we've worked with for years. He's threatened to come down to the farm to cook with us (for us?) after walking our fields. Last week I received an email that the family he is currently private chef-ing for was away and he wanted to cook. I replied that he should stop teasing us and just get on his motorcycle and get down here. He arrived the following day.

Chef James and Mr. Chardgirl walked the fields: they brought home tomatoes, sweet and spicy peppers, zuchetta rapicantes, elderberries, and green walnuts.

On the way home they stopped by Deep Roots Farm to pick up our raw milk share and visit the piglets we plan to bring home in 3 weeks when they are ready to be weaned.

Chef J. started by making an elderberry pie. All in all it was quite easy, EXCEPT the elderberry part: you have to remove the stems, there are lots and they are little. He used a fork and it was clear he was a professional. It was a fun endeavor while having a visitor, but not for daily life. Pie is quite easy for me: the food processor makes a quick crust, and as long as the filling isn't too time intensive, 'easy as pie' makes sense. Unless you're making elderberry pie!

Here's the basic elderberry pie recipe:

1 metal pie pan, enough dough for a 2 crust pie, 3 cups washed and stemmed elderberries, 1/2 cup flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar. Mix the washed elderberries with the flour and sugar, add to uncooked pie crust. Add pie crust top. Brush lightly with water and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in oven (ours was at 400 degrees) and make sure it doesn't burn, but that the elderberries are all truly cooked through. The pie was delicious, by the way.

Elderberry Pie Photo Essay

James also made a little 'ice milk'. He took the whole milk he and Mr. Chardgirl picked up at Deep Roots Ranch (any whole milk will do!) and chopped lemon verbena and lime leaves (formerly known as 'kaffir', not a nice word to use!) and put them in 1 1/2 cups of milk with about a half cup of sugar, into a pyrex cup, then heated it in the microwave. Then we chilled that for about 3 hours while making the rest of the meal. After eating, we strained the chilled milk/herb mixture, and then put that in my little Donvier ice cream maker. Wow. This was a treat!

For dinner we had:

-grilled zucchettas (these are long skinny zucchini things; he halved each one lengthwise and marinated them in garlic/chile flake oil)

-grilled sausages (a few from Fatted Calf and a few from Boccalone, we're friends with both groups of folks)

-marinated roasted pepper salad

-heirloom tomato/basil salad (Chef J. said he's made it hundreds of times if not more, and rolled his eyes as I took photos, I got the sense he was 'over' basiled heirloom salad, but when it came time to eat it all of us enjoyed the salad)

-sunchokes braised in milk

-Wok-fried padron & friarelli peppers and immature serrano peppers. Salt is all you need.

while waiting for the zucchettas to marinate, the pie to cook and cool, the peppers to roast, and the coals to heat: we all cracked green walnuts. This is lots of labor for very little walnut meat. They do have a mildly nutty, only vaguely walnuty flavor, not at all bitter, and a delicate crunch. They were just very very tasty. Right now in mid/late August you can find green walnuts in abundance on trees. Chef J. decided they would be their own dish, a couple of us sprinkled them on the tomato salad.

Photo Essay of the Savory part of the meal

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Quinoa Salad

Our put-anything-you-have Salad of the day yesterday was a quinoa/purple cauliflower salad.

I had about 2 cups cooked quinoa, mixed with 1 small purple cauliflower (broken into florets)that was boiled briefly then chopped into smaller pieces. I put both of these into a mixing bowl once they were both mostly cooled down. I added crumbled feta cheese (about 2 ounces), 1 small finely chopped red onion, some fresh chopped basil, about 20 pitted kalamata olives that I sliced into thirds... I dressed the whole thing with a homemade balsamc dressing: 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1/3 cup olive oil, S & P to taste, red chile flakes, and a small dollop of dijon mustard.

Possible additions that I didn't have this time, but could be added or substituted for the above ingredients:

1) the grain: can be couscous or brown rice or another cooked grain.

2) the dressing: the possibilities are endless both bottled and homemade

3) vegetables: grated carrots, chopped green onions, chopped radishes, chopped, cooked golden or chioggia beets (red ones would make the whole salad a dramatic magenta), roasted or raw chopped sweet peppers, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped arugula, chopped celery or fennel, any cooking greens that are blanched then chopped, the world of vegetables are possible!

4) tasty addtions: chopped olives, capers, sliced marinated artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, crumbled or grated cheeses, toasted nuts

Did I eat it for breakfast? Yes! Just say no to corn flakes.

My children have been banned from breakfast cereal for the time being because they drink too much milk that way, leave the floor littered with corn flakes, and manage to 'forget' the eat-a-fruit-or-vegetable-with-every-meal rule. Did the kids eat my pretty quinoa salad for breakfast? well, no. Lena ate whole wheat toast with strawberry jam, and I don't know what Graydon ate since I was in the office talking to restaurants, encouraging them to purchase tomatoes.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Zucchini and Chocolate? I admit I love chocolate chip carrot bread, so why not add chocolate to zucchini bread? I received a recipe from one of our farm members who receives our vegetables each week and she sent me this recipe.

I had a pile of slightly beat up Cousa summer squash. "Zucchini" is a dark green summer squash, in my kitchen all summer squash are interchangeable for recipes that call for zucchini.

I wanted to make something with this pile of squash that I had a prayer that my kids would eat: so instead of a garlic summer squash saute or a light soup made with grated squash, sherry, chicken broth and a pinch of nutmeg, I opted for the add flour, sugar, butter and chocolate ploy: so far it's worked great.

my recipe filled with add-some-nutrition-tricks:

Julia's Summer Squash Bread
makes 2 loaves

1 1/3 cups sugar plus 2 Tablespoons
6 Tablespoons butter
4 large eggs
2 cups applesauce
2 cups whole wheat flour (I use 'white' whole wheat or ww pastry flour)
1 1/2 cups white unbleached flour
1/2 cup soy flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups grated zucchini or other summer squash
2 cups chocolate chipes (1 cup would be ok, I wanted to use the whole package so I tried the 2 cups, it was fine.)

Put grated summer squash in a colander over a large bowl and sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over all and lightly mix. Leave over colander for about 30 minutes, or until you're done with the rest of the recipe.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a standing mixer blend butter and sugar for a couple of minutes. Add applesauce and mix.

Combine dry ingredients, then add to the sugar/butter mixture and beat until just moist. Stir in drained zucchini and chocolate chips. Pour batter into 2 9x5 inch loaf pans that have been coated with baking spray.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until wooden toothpick comes out clean.