Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category
Black garlic is a type of fermented garlic used as a food ingredient in Asian cuisine. It is made by fermenting whole bulbs of garlic at high temperature, a process that results in black cloves. The taste is sweet and syrupy with hints of balsamic vinegar or even tamarind. Black Garlic is prized as a food rich in antioxidants and added to energy drinks, and in Thailand is claimed to increase the consumer’s longevity. One interesting use is in the making of black garlic chocolate. In the United States black garlic entered the mainstream in 2008 and has become a sought-after ingredient used in high-end cuisine. Black garlic is great for your health—it’s loaded with nearly twice as many antioxidants as raw garlic.
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Purple carrots, white strawberries and cucamelons?
No, I’m not going crazy, I’m talking about heirloom produce. I’m sure that you’ve heard of heirloom tomatoes, but what does the ‘heirloom’ prefix mean? An heirloom plant or vegetable is a crop that was commonly grown during earlier periods in history, but is not used in “modern large scale agriculture.”
More and more Farmer’s Markets are offering Heirloom produce. The heirloom seed market is growing rapidly as well. Many website offer a large variety of seeds for you to “grow your own” heirloom produce. Everything from black corn, chocolate colored sweet peppers and Merlot lettuce. (yes it’s deep wine colored!) One specific heirloom variety watermelon is a cucamelon. It is a light green fruit whose flesh is white, crisp and crunchy with a lemony tartness. The flavor is similar to a cucumber. People chop them up into summer salads or add them to a simple salsa. I personally eat them like pretzels or chips! Just add a tiny salt and pop them in your mouth! Delicious.
Food should be fun, interesting and enjoyable. Adding color, shapes and new varieties of produce is a simple, easy and great way to develop your palate and knowledge of food! Why bother with heirloom vegetables? Well, first of all, they’re something different. Who expects a blue pumpkin or a yellow tomato? Second, the taste. You might be surprised by how much more flavorful an heirloom vegetable is when compared to one of its modern equivalents. Third, most respond very well to organic treatment. This isn’t surprising, since most were developed long before chemical agriculture became the norm! Fourth, it maintains biodiversity. You never know when we’ll need those genes carried by heirloom produce.
Some heirloom veggies may seem quite odd by modern standards. We get so wrapped up in our expectations of what a certain type of vegetable should look like that we tend to forget that it took a while to breed our modern food plants to the standards that we now enjoy. For example, did you know that some heirloom cultivars of pumpkins are red, white, and even blue, rather than the standard orange? Similarly, carrots can be red, white, or black, and round instead of cylindrical. While a few unusual versions of both vegetables have made it into the modern seed catalog, they’re rare.
What about a simple, delicious and easy heirloom carrot recipe?
***Try and find some different sizes, color and shapes of the carrots for extra flair!
3 tbsp butter, melted
2 bunches heirloom carrots, scrubbed
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 large sprig fresh thyme, leaves only
salt and pepper to season
2 tbsp honey
1. Preheat oven to 400º. In a medium roasting pan, toss the carrots with butter, shallots, and thyme and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Place pan in oven and toast, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until carrots are tender.
3. Remove from oven and drizzle over honey. Toss to coat. Season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
Want to eat healthy and look like a professional chef while serving “heirloom” produce?! Try:
Heirloom Tomato and Eggplant Gratin
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 pound baby Italian eggplants, peeled and sliced into rounds 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick
4 thyme sprigs
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 pound goat cheese, coarsely crumbled (1 cup)
1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Brush a large oval baking dish with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Arrange the tomato and eggplant slices in a single layer of overlapping concentric circles. Scatter the thyme sprigs on top and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil over the top. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the eggplant is barely tender and the tomatoes have exuded their juices.
2. Uncover the gratin and bake for about 25 minutes longer, or until the juices have evaporated and the vegetables are very tender. Sprinkle the goat cheese on top and bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.
I suggest your next trip to the Farmer’s Market you should ask the vendors if they have any delicious recipes or “new’ heirloom produce for you to try!
We are in peak season for summer squash and juicy tomatoes. Chefs are putting their skills to the test and coming up with some very delicious, healthy and creative dishes using these two key farm fresh ingredients. This Provençal summer dish is delightful as a starter or as a side dish with fish, chicken or cooked grains.
FRIED SUMMER SQUASH WITH TOMATOES and BASIL
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds medium or small zucchini or other summer squash, thinly sliced or diced (depending on what shape squash you use)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ripe tomatoes, grated on the large holes of a box grater, or peeled, seeded and diced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped or slivered fresh basil (to taste)
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a wide, heavy skillet. Add the zucchini. Cook, stirring or shaking the pan, until the zucchini is lightly seared and beginning to soften, three to five minutes. Remove from the pan, and set aside.
2. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan, then the garlic. Cook, stirring, just until fragrant — less than 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have begun to cook down, about five minutes. Return the zucchini to the pan, add salt and pepper to taste, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until the zucchini is tender and translucent and the tomatoes have cooked down to a fragrant sauce. Stir in the basil, and taste and adjust seasonings. Remove from the heat and serve hot, or allow to cool and serve at room temperature.
Yield: Serves four to six.
Advance preparation: You can make this a day or two ahead of time. Keep refrigerated, and reheat gently on top of the stove. The dish is also good cold, doused with a little lemon juice.
Nutritional information per serving (four servings): 111 calories; 1 gram saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 5 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 10 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 20 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste), 3 grams protein
Nutritional information per serving (six servings): 74 calories; 1 gram saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 3 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 7 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 13 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste), 2 grams protein
Be a part of National Can-It-Forward Day on August 13
On August 13, join millions of food lovers curious about canning to learn the ease of preserving fresh food as part of National Can-It-Forward Day.
Jarden Home Brands has teamed up with Canning Across America, a nationwide group of food writers, bloggers and cookbook authors united by a passion for canning, to create the National Can-It-Forward Day.
Gather your family and friends to celebrate the bounty of summer through home canning. Learn the ease of preserving fresh food through a day of home canning parties, online instructional canning videos and cooking demos, local events and more. We’ll help you every step of the way.
1. Host a Home Canning Party
Whether you are new to canning or a seasoned pro, canning is always more fun when shared with friends. So get a group and host your very own Can-It-Forward Day Home Canning Party. We’ll make it easy.
Let’s Get the Party Started!
Celebrate National Can-It-Forward Day by hosting your own home canning party. It’s easy and here are all the steps you need to get started:
Step 1: Mark your calendars for August 13 and pick a location to host your very own National Can-It-Forward Day Home Canning Party. Simply select any spot with a working stovetop and some counter space — your kitchen, community center, office break-room, etc.
Step 2: Spread the word – Invite Your Friends, Family, Neighbors and Co-workers for August 13, National Can-It-Forward Day! Twitter #canitforward
Step 3: Select Your Recipes. For National Can-It-Forward Day, we suggest Fiesta Salsa – it’s fun and easy and who doesn’t enjoy salsa made with fresh tomatoes?
Step 4: Decide how many jars of Fiesta Salsa you will be making at your party, just a few or a large batch.
Step 5: Download the printable Intro to Canning Guide, Party Tips Guide, National Can-It-Forward Day Regular Mouth Lid Labels, National Can-It-Forward Day Wide Mouth Lid Labels, and Party Games for hosting your own Can-It-Forward Day party.
Lid Label Directions: The National Can-It-Forward Day labels for the regular mouth jar lids are designed to fit AVERY 5293 Labels. The labels for the wide mouth lids are designed to fit AVERY 5294 labels. Simply download the PDF of your choice, insert the appropriate label sheet into your printer, push print and apply to your jars. Then show your friends and family what you created and listen to their oohs and aahs!
Step 6: Host your own home canning party and receive valuable coupons.
2. Can-It-Forward Day Web TV
Set your calendars and join us here for a full day of LIVE streaming coverage of National Can-It-Forward Day events taking place at Seattle’s Pike Place Market.
From 11 AM — 7 PM EDT/8 AM — 4 PM PDT, we will be airing live canning demonstrations by the experts at Jarden Home Brands, makers of Ball® Home Canning Products and Canning Across America as well as recipe demos from top Seattle chefs. View demonstrations from the comfort of your own home or during a Can-It-Forward Day Home Canning Party! Ask our experts and chefs questions in our live Q&A.
Click here for the National Can-It-Forward Day Web TV broadcast schedule.
Click here for LIVE streaming video on August 13.
3. Participate in Person
Hey Seattle — let’s get canning! If you live in or are in the Seattle area on August 13, stop by Pike Place Market and participate in person! We’ll be celebrating with live canning demonstrations throughout the day, giveaways and sampling and more!
Here are some other recipes we will be celebrating on National Can-It-Forward Day.
Check them out for easy directions:
Now that’s Scamorza!
Scamorza is a cow’s milk spun cheese, belonging to the same family as mozzarella and provolone. It is similar to provolone in its pear-shaped, although it does come in smaller forms. This unique shape is achieved by tying the forms together to hang during the ripening process. In fact, the name of this cheese has somewhat morbid overtones: “scamozza” is an expression in southern Italy which means “beheaded”, it is meant here to describe the cheese’s appearance (tied in a rope bag). Scamorza is from the Campania region around Naples. It is also produced in Abruzzo and Molise. In Puglia, scamorza is made from sheep-milk. Scamorza is similar to mozzarella, but scamorza cheese is a bit firmer and it has more flavor so it is getting a lot of attention worldwide.
Scamorza is made by stretching and molding curd that has been ripened for about 24 hours. The future cheese is then cooled in cold water and put in a brine bath for a period that varies according to the weight of the individual cheese. The end result is drier than Mozzarella, but is equally as smooth and shiny in texture.
Scamorza is generally eaten fresh or smoked, with the latter (Scamorzi Affumicate), having a lovely gold outer layer which makes an excellent table cheese that is also great when used in cooking. All forms are best eaten no more than 3 days after production.
Scamorze allo spiedo is a very old dish in which small scamorza cheeses are threaded on spits which revolve over a wood fire. During the cooking process, the cheese takes on an amber color and the interior becomes creamy and buttery.
This is a wonderful starter. It is incredibly easy to prepare and the WOW-factor is guaranteed!
There’s plain and smoked scamorza cheese and both have a nice texture that only gets better when melted. If you’re planning to grill your cheese using a real grill you can use plain scamorza. If you’re using an electric grill or a pan, go for the smoked one.
2 pieces of smoked scamorza cheese (8 oz each)
About 4 or 6 slices of prosciutto crudo
Cut the cheese in half, lengthwise. If you’re using your panini grill to make this dish, you can spray the grill with a little oil and then turn the grill on. When the grill is ready, set the cheese halves cut-side up. Put some prosciutto on top of each half. Grill for about 1 or 2 minutes, then open the panini grill and continue grilling until a nice crust forms on the bottom side (about 5 minutes). Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and toasted ciabatta bread.
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!
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
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
Once you have tasted Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (aka Nutella) you simply can’t put it down!
Homemade Nutella is great as a dip for fruit, spread onto your favorite bread, or, let’s be honest, eaten straight with a spoon.
Add it to Mascarpone cheese and spread onto sourdough with a couple slices of ripe bananas…..grill both sides for an amazing sandwich!
Total time: 20 minutes
Servings: Makes about 1 1/2 cups
Note: Use good-quality cocoa powder, such as Scharffen Berger.
2 cups raw hazelnuts
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons hazelnut oil, more as needed
1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the hazelnuts evenly over a cookie sheet and roast until they darken and become aromatic, about 10 minutes. Transfer the hazelnuts to a damp towel and rub to remove the skins.
2. In a food processor, grind the hazelnuts to a smooth butter, scraping the sides as needed so they process evenly, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the cocoa, sugar, vanilla, salt and oil to the food processor and continue to process until well blended, about 1 minute. The finished spread should have the consistency of creamy peanut butter; if it is too dry, process in a little extra hazelnut oil until the desired consistency is achieved. Remove to a container, cover and refrigerate until needed. Allow the spread to come to room temperature before using, as it thickens considerably when refrigerated. It will keep for at least a week.
Each tablespoon: 109 calories; 2 grams protein; 8 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 9 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 13 mg. sodium.