Posts Tagged ‘Local Markets’
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
If you usually hustle past the jicama in your market’s produce section, it’s time to learn how to make the most of this mysterious-looking root. Jicama, a brown-skinned, turnip-shaped tuber native to Mexico and South America, has white flesh that’s crisp, juicy, very mild, and almost sweet. A member of the bean family, the plant’s only edible part is its root, as the leaves and seeds contain a mild toxin. The root, however, is a fiber-rich find that’s also full of potassium and vitamin C.
When you find it in your farmer’s markets look for firm, dry, slightly shiny jicama roots without bruises or shriveled skin. Store whole jicama roots in a dark, cool place, like a cupboard; they’ll last a bit longer there than in the refrigerator. Unpeeled jicama will stay fresh in the fridge for up to two weeks.
To prep jicama, first remove all of the skin with a sharp vegetable peeler or paring knife, then slice the flesh as desired. Bonus: Jicama doesn’t turn brown or become soggy after cutting like avocados or eggplants.
Crisp jicama makes a refreshing addition to crudité trays and salads, and can sub for cucumber in sushi rolls. Like water chestnuts, jicama will stay crisp in quick-cooked dishes like stir-fries or sautés.
Jicama is underused in cooking — a real shame, since it’s such a wonderful root vegetable with a crunch, crispy texture. This salad (which is more akin to a “slaw”) highlights the best of the jicama’s characteristics and makes a nice side for any fajita or grilled meat.
JICAMA SALAD RECIPE
- 1 large jicama (about 1 ½ pounds), peeled and coarsely shredded
- 2 large carrots, coarsely shredded
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 red or yellow pepper, julienned
- 1 lime, zested
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 3 limes)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon ground pure ancho chile
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Freshly ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, combine the jicama, carrots, onion, and pepper. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the lime zest, juice, oil, honey, and chile. Pour over the vegetables and toss. Add the cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate about 30 minutes before serving.
Note: If you want to go with a more fun and varied texture, add a chopped avocado, cut slices of an orange, or even a couple of chopped tomatoes just before tossing.
Organic: Chickens must be fed organic feed without animal byproducts, be “free range” and the use of antibiotics is prohibited. The feed may or may not be processed organically. Read the label.
Cage-free: Instead of the cage system, chickens are kept in large poultry barns. The floor is open and the chickens can sometimes walk around the barn. There is no standard, however, for how much open space is required per bird or what types of antibiotics are administered. The hens are often de-beaked to prevent pecking. Oftentimes the temperature and light in the barnm is manipulated to mimic the seasons and force the birds into irregular production cycles.
Free-range: Chickens must have access to an outdoor space, which might include a dirt, sand or concrete. Producers who practice this method often have small doors in the coop that open out to a fenced yard.
Vegetarian-fed: Chickens are kept indoors as foraging for food outside might include bugs, which is not considered a vegetarian diet.
Omega-3 enhanced: The chickens are fed ground flaxseed, algae or fish oil in combination with their feed to enhance the levels of omega-3s.
Day range pastured poultry and pasture pens: Chickens have a fenced pasture where they range during the day. At night they are housed inside a permanent, or semi-permanent, coop with open floors. Pasture pens are outdoor movable shelters. They have no floors, so the chickens live right on the ground, and a cover protects them from too much sun and rain. The feed is a combination of pasture and commercial, organic or other feed. Read the label. —CL
How to Hard-Boil an Egg
When cracked open, a farm-fresh egg will reveal the yolk practically standing up as a result of its strong “muscle tone.” While there are many delicious ways to prepare fresh eggs, hard-boiling them is not recommended. Due to its freshness, the shell sticks to the white of an egg like a second skin and you’ll find it difficult to remove it without also removing parts of the egg white. The benefit of farm-fresh eggs is that they have a longer shelf life than commercial eggs, so hold onto them for a couple weeks.
The perfect hard-boiled egg is easy to prepare. Here are some tips for making sure your hard-boiled, farm-fresh eggs come out just the way you want them.
For large eggs, boil the water before submerging the eggs directly from the fridge into the pot. The water should cover the tops of the eggs by about 1 inch. Cook the eggs for:
- 6 minutes—for the perfect soft-boiled egg
- 9 minutes—for a hard-boiled egg with a soft yolk
- 10 minutes—for the perfect hard-boiled egg
- 11 minutes—for a hard-boiled egg with a firm yolk To cool the eggs, drain them and then add cold water to the pot. Let them sit before draining the eggs again once they are cool to the touch. To peel, gently tap each egg on your kitchen counter and pull off the shell, starting with the wide end of the egg (where the air sac is). Eat whole, make deviled eggs or store them in the fridge if you don’t plan to use them within four hours.
With Asparagus produce coming into the markets and sales showing up everywhere….why not try this amazing salad for your lunch today?
- 1 large jicama, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
- 1 bunch large asparagus, ends trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch pieces on the bias
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- Juice of 3 limes
- 3 tablespoons Spanish olive oil
Those of us who live in Northern California are lucky, especially if you are interested in quality food. We have easy access to so many wonderful artisan food producers and growers. CSA (Consumer Sponsored Agriculture) box choices are aplenty, fresh and seasonal at your fingertips, and passionate people with visions scattered about.? Three women are just such passionate people whose visions came to fruition. Dubbed the “G.O.A.T. Girls”, they know a few things about goats and goat milk products because they are truly pioneers in what they do, with years of experience behind them.
These successful ladies are Laura Howard of Laloo’s Goat’s Milk Ice Cream.
Surprisingly delicious and creamy, Laloo’s ® is made with 100% goat’s milk. It has that custard-like-old-fashioned-ice-cream-parlor-taste, with superior digestibility. Why goat’s milk? This magic elixir boasts more protein and calcium, and a natural structure with alkaline properties that allow lactose sensitive people to indulge! Smooth, rich and dense, Laloo’s ® rivals gelato, but with less than half the fat. So go ahead, eat twice as much!
Jennifer Lynn Bice of Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery
Redwood Hill Farm is an award-winning, Humane Certified, Grade A goat dairy farm and creamery located in Sonoma County, California. Family owned and operated for over 40 years, they are committed to making the best tasting and least processed goat milk, artisan goat milk cheese, yogurt and kefir.
and Mary Keehn of Cypress Grove Chevre.
Today, renowned for its innovative range of fresh, aged and ripened cheeses — many invented by Mary — and internationally awarded for excellence, Cypress Grove is a leader in the domestic goat cheese market.
They’ve recently come together in a campaign to educate consumers about the multitude of health benefits and wide variety of goat’s milk products available to us, and that goats are green.
Rising in popularity here in the U.S., many people wonder if the goat variety offers any benefits over cow’s milk. Since cows and goats are both mammals, their milk is similar on many levels, but there are some differences that may offer advantages to some milk drinkers.
- Goat’s milk is slightly lower in lactose, the sugar in both types of milk. People who are lactose intolerant (who can’t digest this sugar) may find they can tolerate a bit of goat’s milk.
- Goat’s milk has a slight edge in calcium content, but both are excellent sources providing at least 30 percent of the daily value for this vital mineral.
- The proteins in goat’s milk have been shown to be less allergenic than cow’s milk. While a true allergy to cow’s milk protein is not common, for those who suffer, goat’s milk may provide a nutritious alternative.
- Goat’s milk is slightly higher in fat, but the form of fat differs from cow’s milk and may be more tolerable for the intestinal tract to digest.
So now, if your curiosity is peaked, head to one of their websites. Or better yet, head to Corti Brothers, Taylor’s Market, Whole Foods Market, or the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op to pick up some goat cheese or ice cream to try.? So what’s the G.O.A.T message? Goats are the “greatest of all time”.
- Farmers Markets could be considered the foundation of the safe food movement. There are more Farmers Markets than there are Walmarts. More than 50M people are influenced by their local farmers market.
- Every Farmers Market has 50-100 vendors. If each market and Vendor or supporting Farmer reaches out to 100 people that is an immediate audience of 46,000,000 people.
- How to take part in your community’s safe food movement and why:
- Local food sources are fresher
- Supporting Local food sources improves a regions sustainability
- Take Action at your local farmers markets. Sometimes there are petitions there on safe food and water issues.
- Many vendors at Farmers markets are Organic.
- Plant a fruit tree in your yard.
- Get in a CSA with the farmers for produce you love.
Check out your local famers market or what is growing in your area at
http://www.localharvest.org/ this will let you look up farms in your area.
- Sacramentans are lucky to have several choices when buying fresh flowers, fruit and vegetables from Northern California farmers. A few are open all year long, while others are seasonal, mostly opening in May and running through October. Some are morning markets, while others are afternoon ones.
Farmers offer a variety of fruit and vegetables, but shoppers can also buy fresh tulips, irises and other flowers, organic cheeses, artisan breads and pastries, raw and seasoned nuts, cut and planted herbs, and other specialty food.
If you can manage to wake up early on a Sunday morning, make your way to the Sacramento Central farmers market where you’ll find many Asian produce. Shoppers will find great prices at this Midtown market, which is among the larger markets in the area.Guide Tip: Get here early. Since this is a popular market, on a few of my visits, some vendors ran out of food.
- Location: 8th and W streets, underneath Highway 80
- Hours: 8 a.m. to noon, open all year
Roosevelt Park is among two farmer’s markets along P Street. Along the perimeter of the park, shoppers can buy vegetables, fruits, nuts, meats, herbs, flowers, baked goods and cheeses.
- Location: 9th and P streets
- Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., from May through October
Just down the street from Roosevelt Park is Fremont Park. Vendors are spread along the perimeter of the park.Guide Tip: Finding a parking space can be a challenge at both of these parks. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a metered spot. Remember to keep track of the time to avoid getting a ticket.
- Location: 16th and P streets
- Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., from May through October
Caesar Chavez Memorial Plaza is abuzz with shoppers from area office buildings at this downtown market.
- Location: 10th and J streets, in front of City Hall
- Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., from May through October
Tucked away in the walkway between Macy’s and the Holiday Inn is the Downtown Plaza farmer’s market where you can buy fruit, vegetables, bread, olive oil, flowers and nuts.Guide Tip: Parking can be tough in this area. Your best bet is to park in the Downtown Plaza West Garage on L Street, which is right next to the market.
- Location: 4th and K streets
- Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., from May thru October
- Hours: 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. all year long
- http://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets/list.jsp this is a list of farmers markets