Archive for July, 2011
Verjus or verjuice. The word verjus derives from the French term vert jus, literally “green juice,” which refers to its source—the high-acid, low-sugar grapes that winemakers thin from the vines just when the crop is beginning to ripen. This early crop of unripe grapes is pressed, resulting in verjus. While acidic, verjus has a gentler flavor than vinegar, with a sweet-tart taste that is often used to heighten the flavor of many sauces or mustards. Unlike wine, however, verjus is not fermented, and is not alcoholic, meaning that its use in a salad dressing or sauce will not interfere with the flavor of the accompanying drinking wine.
It’s fairly new to the American culinary scene, but cooks in Europe and Middle East have been using it for centuries, to tenderize meats and as a remedy for a variety of ailments, including upset stomach, according to texts on early Roman cookery. (Verjus is cited in what is considered the first printed cookbook in Europe, Platina’s De honesta voluptate et valetudine, dated around 1465.)
It can be red or white. Red verjus has an earthier flavor, while white verjus has a crisper taste. Red verjus, which is bolder than the white, pairs well with meats and sauces in which you would use red wine or red-wine vinegar. White verjus which is a bit more delicate is lovely in a simple vinaigrette dressing, it enlivens rich sauces for fish and chicken. Using verjus for deglazing pans can make some amazing sauces……add in some fresh herbs and voila…..dinner!
Exploring with this wonderful juice is a must. Starting out with just a few teaspoons and adding more by taste is the best way to experiment in your recipes. Finding the right balance is key.
Verjus is available right out our back doors in the Sacramento Valley Region. Napa Valley Verjus is made from some of the best Cabernet and Merlot vineyards in Rutherford and St. Helena from such growers as Laurie Wood, David Abreu and Chuck Wagner. Napa Valley Verjus has been processed at Caymus Vineyards, Monticello Cellars, Robert Pecota Winery, Charles Krug Winery, and Napa Wine Company. Look in your local gourmet food stores and see if you can locate Verjus.
HOW TO USE
Both red and white verjus can be used in salad dressing, with a proportion of 3 parts verjus to 1 part oil; red verjus is better suited for strong-flavored greens like arugula, while white verjus is better for tender greens, like butter lettuce. You can use red verjus as you would use red wine vinegar or red wine—it is particularly good in sauces for meat or spicy foods, as well as marinating. You can use white verjus as you would use white wine vinegar, lemon juice, or white wine—it is good in beurre blanc, or other sauces for chicken or fish.
HOW TO STORE
Verjus bottles are sealed with a cork; remove it gently so that it can reseal the bottle. Once opened, store verjus in the refrigerator, where it will keep for a month or two. For longer storage, pour it into ice-cube trays and freeze
- 1/3 cup verjus or 3 tablespoons white grape juice and 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Pears and salad:
- 3 bunches fresh thyme sprigs
- 4 ripe but firm Bartlett pears (about 2 1/2 pounds), halved, cored
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 head of butter lettuce, coarsely torn
- 4 ounces baby arugula
- 6 ounces blue cheese, sliced or coarsely crumbled
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
Gardens are bountiful with zucchini this time of year. Zucchini can be used in many amazing dishes; appetizers, entrees, soups, desserts, drinks….you name it….it is a very universal vegetable and here is one more way to put it to good use in your kitchen!
- 3-4 medium/small sized zucchini
- 1 cup Chevre cheese or similar artisan cheese
- 1 cup porcini mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 to 2 tsps white truffle oil
- 1 tbsp jalapeno, finely diced
- 1-2 tbsp each of finely minced fresh green onion/parsley (or whatever you feel like)
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350.
Slice each zucchini in half, and hollow out the seeds with a spoon. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with a bit of salt, pepper and oil. Place in oven for about 15 minutes, or until zucchini is tender, but not overcooked.
Take out of oven to let cool a bit and prepare cheese mixture.
Sautee mushrooms and jalapeno, until mushrooms have softened. In a medium bowl, add goat cheese, mushroom mixture, fresh herbs and salt and pepper. Mix and spoon into the zucchini boats.
Pop on your broiler, and broil until the goat cheese is melted.
Recipe could be used on the grill as well with some amazing results. Enjoy!
Imagine Sacramento offering a “People’s Garden” which would provide fresh organic produce for the area’s homeless and needy. The garden would also serve the people of Sacramento as an outdoor classroom and a community hub for all ages. What if Sacramento offered a garden project where their locally grown food is sold to restaurants, at Farmers Markets and community organizations with similar aims of improving neighborhood food security. Individuals who would be hired to work the large garden program would see the farm as a place for self-growth and healthy community development, while beautifying their neighborhood.
One company is offering a huge opportunity for cities like Sacramento to partake in such an idea. Nature’s Path Organic believes that urban farming is a model of sustainability that can help make fresh, organic food available to everyone.
“Our goal is to plant it forward”, notes Arran Stephens, founder and CEO of Nature’s Path. “By providing access to healthy, organic food and the education needed to grow it, we hope to encourage and cultivate socially responsible community leaders who will bring people together to feed those in need.”
In 2011 Nature’s Path is putting their money where their hearts are by offering GARDENS for GOOD program, providing $65,000 in funding to support 3 urban farm projects. Have a project in mind?
Here is how you can get involved:
1. Nominate: visit www.facebook.com/NaturesPath and “Like” Gardens for Good to enter an urban farming project into this year’s grant contest.
2. Participate: View applications and vote for the project that you believe is making the greatest impact on their community.
3. Activate: Spread the word and activate your community to support urban farming in your neighborhood. Help their mission go viral!
Sacramento – are you ready to make a difference and start planting your “People’s Garden”? Plant it Forward!!
Highlights of our walking food & cultural tours in Sacramento and what they are providing to the local community and businesses is spot on. One of our biggest goals in offering walking food tours in the Sacramento Region is to bring more awareness to the community of what is behind the next door in Sacramento’s cuisine, the fantastic fresh local ingredients being brought in from local farms and showcasing the incredible history by exposing the roots to where it all began. The most prevalent comment we receive in our reviews by tour participants is; “Wow, I didn’t even know that existed and I have lived down here for over 20 years”.
Our walking food tours, as stated by Blair Robertson, are a “Win/Win/Win” for everyone involved. Knowing our company is expanding within the next month to more pockets of Sacramento as well as some great towns outside of the grid is very exciting. We are moving in the direction we were hoping for and the reception has been amazing by our local communities and businesses. Our summer months walking food tours have been very well received by locals as well as quite a few touring families who are looking to learn more about Sacramento and its amazing local roots! Private group tours are always an option : Birthday, Anniversary, Bachelorette, Cooking and Book Clubs, Company Team Building…put a theme behind a food tour and we will guide and cater to your group’s needs. Tours launch every Tues, Thurs, Friday and Saturdays. 6 different locations, great food and refreshing drinks included in ticket price. Advanced ticketing is required. Midtown Food Tours will be launching in August. Keep checking back for more details on tickets and food tour menu teasers.
THE LIFE OF A ZUCCHINI SEED:
As you plant your tiny little zucchini seeds and you nurture the soil surrounding the seeds, you always wonder as a gardener…..should I plant more? The plant begins to grow and prosper but still you are thinking…..will this one plant be enough to suffice me through the summer?
The plant takes on a whole new life and the edible squash blooms begin to poke through the vine branches. The excitement begins to build with anticipation of when the first vegetable will appear. The vine is growing, the green hue is becoming more and more prevalent, the blossoms turning into an amazing flower, tiny little squashes are beginning to pop up throughout the vine. More water, please. One evening you go check on your growing vines…..everything looks great but still not big enough to harvest. You have a gardening dream and it is abundant and fresh.
Next morning you go to take a status check on the crop and look down……”Holy Garden Hoe”! You take another look down and to your amazement your squash blossoms and tiny squash have grown 10 inches in length and 5 inches in diameter overnight. There’s not only one or two but 5 of the same size. You scratch your soil infested hair and take a second look. Maybe you are still in that gardening dream? Touch, feel, smell. Nope…..this is your precious seed that has been nurtured and loved by you. It is time for Zucchini Season and the crop is ready to flourish you with TONS of amazing vegetables. The vine keeps producing and producing deep green and yellow zucchini. Now what?
Zucchini (aka courgette) can come in many varieties throughout the world. Some amazing features about this abundant vegetable:
- One of the very low calories vegetable that is used during weight reduction and cholesterol control programs. Zucchinis provide only 17 calories per 100 g. Contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. Its peel is good source of dietary fiber that helps reduce constipation and offers some protection against colon cancers.
- Courgette is relatively moderate source of folates, consists of 24 mcg or 6% of RDA per 100 g. Folates are important in cell division and DNA synthesis. When taken adequately before pregnancy, it can help prevent neural tube defects in the fetus.
- It is a very good source of potassium, an important intra-cellular electrolyte. Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte; helps reduce blood pressure and heart rates by countering effects of sodium.
- Fresh fruits are rich in vitamin A; provide about 200 IU per 100 g.
- Furthermore, zucchinis, especially golden skin variety are rich in flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants such as carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds help scavenge harmful oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) from the body that play a role in aging and various disease process.
- Fresh fruit is good source of anti-oxidant vitamin-C. Provide about 17.9 mcg or 30% of RDA per 100g.
- In addition, they are also good in B-complex group of vitamins like thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin and minerals like iron, manganese, phosphorus, zinc and potassium. Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids, helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.HOW TO SELECT ZUCCHINI
- At your farmers markets and stores, choose small to medium sized zucchini featuring shiny, bright green skin, firm and heavy in hand. The best size for zucchini is 6 to 8 inches long and 2 inches or less in diameter. Some big sized varieties with marrow are specially grown especially for stuffing. Minor superficial scratches and mild bruises are oftentimes seen on their surface but are perfectly fine.
- Avoid overly large courgette with pitted skin or those with flabby or spongy texture. Also, avoid those with soft and wrinkled ends as they indicate old stock and state of de-hydration. Go for organically grown products to get rich flavor and nutrients content.
- At home, place them in plastic bag and store inside the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator set with adequate moisture. They can be stored for up to 2-3 days.
PREPARATION and SERVING METHODS
- Wash zucchini thoroughly in cold running water just before cooking. Sometimes the fruits may require light scrub at places where prickles or dirt attached firmly. Trim the neck and bases. Peeling of skin is not advised.
LEARN MORE ABOUT ZUCCHINI BLOSSOMS and RECIPES for the BLOOMS in our next posting on
Come join our culinary and cultural food tours in Sacramento this week as we take a step FORWARD by celebrating the 80+ degree weather! Temperatures are cooling down but our tours are about ready to heat up in a week long offer!
Ticket prices are DROPPING for 1 week only!
$45.00 adult tickets for tours taken on
Tuesday, July 12th
Thursday, July 14th
Friday, July 15th
Saturday, July 16th
Take advantage of these lower priced tours for this week only by using special code: “80 degrees”. Now that’s Groovy, Baby!
Looking for a birthday, anniversary or wedding gift?
Our gift certificates make a wonderful and unique gift option and we will honor these low ticket prices for the week for our gift certificate purchases.
More BANG for the BUCK option. Now that’s psychedelic!
Sale prices will end on Saturday, July 16th at 10:30pm Pacific time.
Have you wondered what a walking food and cultural tour was about? Sound fun but you were waiting until the heat subsided before joining a tour? Weather forecast is GOING BACK TO THE 80′s for the entire week! Our trained tour guides will be taking you on a 3 hour culinary adventure while walking under beautiful shade trees and eating at 6 different restaurants that share their air condition with us! Refreshing drinks, local, fresh ingredients and great historical facts blended in. Sounds like a great afternoon to us! Come explore Sacramento’s hidden gems and enjoy the 80s! We might even have to have a “Name that 80′s tune” contest on our culinary adventure!
Advanced ticketing is required. Take advantage of this one week offer by entering special code: “80 Degrees”
In honor of July and it being National Ice Cream Month we thought we would share some tips and recipes for homemade ice cream sandwiches! Cool, refreshing and hits the sweet tooth smack down!
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 8 ounces dark cocoa powder or Dutch processed cocoa powder
- 12 ounces pastry flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 6 eggs
- 2 cups sour cream
- 1 3/4 cups chocolate syrup (recommended: Hershey’s)
- 3 sticks butter, melted
- 1 gallon ice cream, preferred flavor, softened
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Line 2 (12 by 14-inch) sheet pans with parchment or buttered waxed paper.
In a medium sized bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients and sift onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper. Set aside.
In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat eggs for 1 minute. Add sour cream and chocolate syrup and mix to combine. With mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients until incorporated. Add melted butter and mix until fully incorporated.
Spread batter evenly onto the 2 sheet pans. Bake cakes for 10 to 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cakes cool completely.
Using a serrated knife, cut off the top crust from the cakes. Freeze the cakes for 5 minutes.
Spread softened ice cream onto 1 cake. Place second cake on top. Freeze until hardened. Cut into 3-inch squares when ready to serve.
#1 You should start with hot, barely baked cookies, fresh out of the oven. Bake the cookies for about 14 minutes or until just set. Let them cool for 3-4 minutes; they should still be quite hot but firmed up. Use an ice cream scoop to portion the dough evenly—uniform cookies make prettier sandwiches.
#2 Then take your ice cream out of the freezer. It should still be hard. Ideally, you want your ice cream to be around -5°F, or as cold as possible.
#3 Scoop or shave your ice cream in long strips — not in big round balls. You want chunky thin blocks or strips. Lay them on the cookie, top with another hot cookie and eat immediately.
#4 Be creative: Pair plain sugar cookies with an unusual ice cream flavor, or put vanilla ice cream between two different types of cookies.
#5 Sweeten up: Spread a thin layer of caramel, butterscotch or chocolate sauce on a cookie before sandwiching with ice cream
#6 Roll with it: Garnish the sandwiches by coating the sides with chopped nuts, mini chocolate chips or toasted coconut.
If you are running out of time and still wanting to treat yourself to a homemade ice cream sandwich look no more if you are downtown Sacramento!
Stop by Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates for her famous Parisian Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches:
Pistachio, Lemon, or Salty Caramel
ICE CREAM SOCIAL FUN @ Ginger’s! Saturday, August 13th
Raw Milk Ice Cream, Salty Marcona Almond Sherbet, Whipped Saint-André, Local Plum Compote, Caramelized Pie Crust, Chantilly Cream
Chef Zakary Pelaccio is thinking outside of the box and offering his skills and vision to make a change in elementary students lives. NYC Public School system is embracing his boldness and direction in creating a great window of opportunity.
The Cooking Room – the first of its kind: an in-school, hands-on, dedicated cooking classroom where children learn about food and create delicious dishes based on tenets of good nutrition… while having fun.
Food knowledge, culinary skills, taste-coaching: The Cooking Room will help kids to make smart food choices. The program’s goal is to promote food literacy to kindergarten through 5th grade students. The Cooking Room operates through dedicated kitchen classrooms where teachers, professional chefs, and chef-instructors educate kids in grade-appropriate food-related lessons that incorporate science, math, reading, and nutrition.
Walking food and cultural tours are being offered in cities all around the globe.
1. Would rather be inside in a stuffy office or house than be outdoors in the fresh air.
2. If you simply don’t like to eat and try different types of food. You find food boring!
3. If you enjoy eating out of a can or bag rather than fresh local ingredients prepared by an artisan chef just for you.
4. If you are a loner and hate being around anyone.
5. You could care less about the history of the city you are living in or visiting…learning about “the roots” sounds dirty to you.
6. You don’t deal well meeting new people, making new friends/contacts. Shaking hands with chefs and restaurant owners sounds lame.
7. Humor to you is like nails across a chalkboard…..jokes are not a part of your vocabulary nor do you like hearing any.
8. Finding out where hidden gem eateries are and where great value meal offers are is a total waste of time and energy.
9. You have a fear of getting lost even though a trained guide would be leading the way.
10. You prefer to be in groups of more than 25 people at a time feeding off the same tray of food instead of your own personal fresh serving.
If you WEREN’T able to check off any 10 items above then WALKING FOOD & CULTURAL TOURS are just the activity you might be interested in participating in!
Learn more about your city’s great cuisine, architecture, history and culture all in one tour. Traveling this summer? Make sure to Google the city you are visiting and see if any walking food tours are offered. It’s a fantastic way to get to know the city you live in, are visiting or hope to live in in the future. Here is a listing of some Walking Food and Cultural Tours offered in some fun and tasty cities. Check them out!
SACRAMENTO, CA: http://www.localrootsfoodtours.com
SEATTLE, WA: http://www.savorseattlefoodtours.com
PORTLAND, OR: http://www.forktown.com
MIAMI, FL: http://www.miamifoodtours.com
NEW YORK, NY: http://www.foodsofny.com
CHAPEL HILL, NC: http://www.tastecarolina.net
CHICAGO, IL: http://www.chicagofoodplanet.com
SCOTTSDALE, AZ: http://www.arizonfoodtours.com
MINNEAPOLIS, MN: http://www.twincitiesfoodtours.com
Buy your walking food tour tickets today and see why it is becoming the NUMBER ONE ATTRACTION in CITIES ALL ACROSS THE NATION!