Friday, July 29, 2011

Pappa di Pomodoro

There are so many delicious ways to combine tomatoes and bread; and Pappa di Pomodoro, or Tuscan tomato soup, is one of them. This soup is so easy to make and it's a great way to use tasty summer tomatoes and stale bread. A hearty wheat bread, like Mark Stambler's pagnol loaves, do best in this recipe. Avoid any bread that's too soft or spongy. If you don't have any stale bread, coarsely chop up fresh bread into cubes and toast in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
4 C chopped red tomatoes
4 T chopped fresh basil
3-4 C vegetable or chicken stock
3-4 C cubed stales bread
2-4 T grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil in a soup pot and saute the garlic until golden and aromatic, being careful not to burn the garlic.

2. Add the tomatoes and basil and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat.

3. Add the bread. Bring to boil. Turn down the heat and simmer covered for 30-40 minutes.

4. Stir in the parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil before serving.

Today's bounty included the following:

From Underwood Family Farms: Bi-color corn, green bell peppers, purple bell peppers, Hungarian bell peppers, bok choy, mizuna, yellow seedless watermelon, cucumbers, and summer squash.

From Sage Mountain Farm: Asian heirloom radishes, purple scallions, organic garlic, yellow carrots, arugula, broccoli florets, and zucchini.

From Sweet Tree Farms: nectarines, peaches, and heirloom tomatoes.

Also, goat cheese from Drake Family Farms and arugula and mustard microgreens from Silver Lake Farms.



Friday, July 22, 2011

Peach and Arugula Salad

It's peak season for stone fruit and we're getting beautiful peaches and nectarines lately. Sinking your teeth into a sweet and juicy ripe peach is one of summer's great pleasures. Sweet, ripe peaches can also star in a lovely light summer salad; and practically all of the ingredients for this salad were in today's box.

1 bunch arugula
1/2 - 1 C microgreens
1-2 peaches
1-2 T thinly sliced sweet or red onion
2 T toasted walnuts or pecans
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
1-2 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 - 1/2 C crumbled goat cheese
salt and pepper

1. Wash and dry the arugula and microgreens. Trim off the tough stems from the arugula and break into bite-sized pieces. Put the arugula and microgreens in a large bowl.

2. Halve the peach(es) lengthwise. Remove and discard the pit. Slice the peaches lengthwise. Add to the bowl.

3. Add the thinly sliced onion and the nuts. Drizzle the oil and balsamic over the salad and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Add the crumbled goat cheese and toss again. Serve.

You can substitute blue cheese for the goat cheese, if you'd like. You can also substitute toasted pine nuts for the walnuts. I like to add a little fresh mint to this salad sometimes. It gives it a bright and fresh taste.

If you're firing up the grill this weekend. You might try grilling the peaches for this salad. Cut them in half. Rub with a little olive oil and grill, cut side down for a few minutes. Cool before slicing for the salad.

Today's bounty included:

From Underwood Family Farms: Ofelia eggplants, heirloom crookneck squash, Valencia oranges, romaine lettuce, arugula, spring onions, French breakfast radishes, jalapeno, broccoli florets, and yellow carrots.

From Sage Mountain Farm: yellow zucchini, yellow wax beans, green bell pepper, Hungarian pepper, bi-color corn, and orange carrots.

From Sweet Tree Farms: peaches, nectarines and mixed heirloom tomatoes (Cherry, Armani Orange, Red Zebra and Purple Russian).

And arugula and mustard microgreens from Silver Lake Farms.



Friday, July 15, 2011

24 Carat Cake

Carrots are such a versatile vegetable. They can be used in sweet as well as savory recipes. They're wonderful either raw or cooked. They can be chopped, sliced, grated, pureed, or eaten whole. They're super nutritious and they keep for quite a while in the fridge.

I like to add grated carrots as a nutritious extender in potato salad, egg salad, tuna salad, and macaroni or pasta salad. Just mix some finely grated carrots into any of these old standards for a healthy dose of color and vitamin A.

On the sweeter side, here's a delicious carrot cake recipe adapted from an old edition of the Farm Journal cookbook that was given to me by a dear friend. This recipe makes a two-layer cake, but you can increase the recipe by 50% and make a spectacular three-layer cake fit for a special event.

24 Carat Cake

1-1/3 C sifted all-purpose flour
1-1/3 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1-1/3 C granulated sugar
1 C vegetable oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 C finely grated carrots
2/3 C crushed pineapple, well drained
2 t finely grated orange rind
1/2 C chopped pecans
1/2 C flaked coconut, lighted toasted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Butter 2 9-inch round cake pans and sprinkle them lightly with flour. Set aside.

3. Sift together the dry ingredients into a large bowl.

4. Add the oil and eggs and beat until well combined.

5. Mix in the remaining ingredients and blend thoroughly.

6. Pour the batter evenly into the 2 prepared pans and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean .

7. Cool the cakes in their pans for a few minutes. Then run a thin knife around the edge to loosen the cake, if necessary, and turn out the cakes onto a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting between the layers and on the top and sides with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting: Cream together 1 stick butter with 8 oz cream cheese. Mix in 1 t vanilla. Gradually beat in about 1 lb confectioner's sugar, until frosting is of spreading consistency. If it's a little too thick, add some milk, orange juice, or orange-flavored liqueur. You can also add finely grated orange rind to the frosting.

Going on Vacation? Don't Toss Those Veggies!

Summertime is vacation time for many, and clearing out the refrigerator is a pre-vacation ritual in my house. With our compost pile and our chickens, not much food goes to waste. But between our garden and the CSA, I can still find my refrigerator full of beautiful fresh produce just days before I leave town. Lately, I've taken to figuring out ways I can preserve my fruits and veggies for later use. Here are a few tips you might find helpful if you find yourself in the same situation.

Summer squashes, eggplant, peppers, mushrooms, and leeks can be sliced and sauteed in a little olive oil until just tender. When cool, pack them in freezer containers and freeze. Use them later in soups, stews, or as toppings for pizza. Remember, they've already been cooked, so add them toward the end of cooking. Defrost and pat dry before using as a pizza topping.

Corn kernels can be cut off the cob raw or after lightly steaming the corn. Allow the corn to cool before packing in freezer containers and freezing. Use the corn in corn chowder, corn pudding, soups, and stews.

Tomatoes lose their structural integrity when frozen, but they can still be used for tomato sauce. If you don't have time to make a slow-cooked tomato sauce before you leave, peel the tomatoes and freeze them whole. They'll be just fine for sauce when you return.

Berries can be frozen whole on a cookie sheet, then packed into freezer containers and frozen. They'll be mushy when you defrost them, but they're fine for smoothies and for mixing into yogurt or oatmeal. Or use them to make jam or preserves.

Stone fruit should be pitted, peeled and sliced into sections, then frozen on a cookie sheet and packed just like berries. They'll be mushy, too, when defrosted, so use as you would berries.

Turn fresh herbs into pesto and freeze the pesto. Don't add cheese until you defrost it.

Root veggies keep for weeks in your fridge, so carrots, parsnips, potatoes, onions and the like will probably been fine while you're gone. However, sometimes I chop and cook carrots and parsnips in a little broth or water until very tender. When cool, I puree them until smooth and pack in freezer containers. I'll turn these purees into soups when the weather turns cooler.

Of course, you might be able to take some of your fresh produce with you when you travel. I frequently pick green tomatoes from my garden and let them ripen on my trip. I'll eat them days later when they're ripe with some locally-bought fresh bread.

If you're really pressed for time, just pass along your fresh fruits and veggies to to friends and neighbors. Who wouldn't love to get some of summer's best.

Today's bounty included the following:

From Underwood Family Farms: Romaine lettuce, Blue Lake green beans, bi-color corn, round carrots, summer squash, pickling cukes, Texas sweet onions, and Cherokee heirloom tomatoes.

From Sage Mountain Farm: Arugula, carrots, pattypan squash, collard greens, heirloom purplette onions, and rainbow chard.

From Sweet Tree Farms: Yellow nectarines and plums.



Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I'm going to San Rafael on Thursday to take another soil biology class with Dr. Elaine Ingham. If there is such a thing as a Soil Food-Webby, I've become it.

We've been producing compost at Silver Lake Farms for years now but what's lighting my candle at the moment is making just the right kind of compost.

Since taking Elaine's classes, I can't help thinking N:P:K is "out" and F:B ratios are "in".

We're going to start producing different kinds of composts here at Silver Lake Farms. One that is more fungal (F) in nature, and one that is more bacterial (B).


These two pictures show brussels sprouts seedlings. Both seedlings come from the same batch of seed; they germinated at the same time and followed the same path from a nursery in Lake View Terrace to Tin House Farm in Malibu (Thank you Jill and Patrick Dempsey for supporting Silver Lake Farms!) .

We transplanted the brussels sprouts seedlings into different raised beds at Tin House Farm. The raised bed with the huge specimen next to my hand is filled with soil that has a balanced F:B ratio, perfect for growing vegetables. The bed with the puny seedling is filled with soil that is too fungal in nature for growing vegetables in successfully. Again, both seedlings come from the same stock and were transplanted at the same time.

The difference, as you can see, is amazing.

Thank you Sherry, Rachel, Matt, Beat and Stephanie for coming to the "Grapes of Wrath" screening tonight. Thank you Wild Goodness. We love tending the Bike Farm @ Geffen @ MoCA.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Fattoush Salad

Fatoush is a wonderful Lebanese salad made with many of summer's best vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. And we got all of them in today's box!

The thing I love most about fattoush is that it has toasted pita chips in it to give it a fabulous crunch. You can buy pita chips at most markets; or you can make them yourself by separating the two halves of the pita bread, brushing them with a little olive oil, and toasting them in a 375 degree oven until brown and crisp. I like using the whole wheat sesame pita, but you can use any flavor you like.

Another wonderful things about this salad is that you can use a variety of greens. I like using romaine lettuce and mixing in some arugula or dandelion greens. Sorrel, with its bright, lemon-y flavor, also goes nicely in the mix.

Fattoush Salad

4-6 C washed and dried salad greens, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 large tomato chopped
1 cucumber, quartered, seeded and chopped
1/4 C chopped sweet onion
1-2 green onions, chopped
1/2 C chopped bell pepper (green, red or yellow - your choice)
3/4 C cubed feta cheese
2-4 T chopped Italian parsley
1-2 C pita chips
salt and pepper to taste
dried Moroccan olives or Kalamata olives, optional

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl, except the pita chips, salt and pepper.

Mix up the dressing:

2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T finely minced shallot or 1 T mashed roasted garlic
1/4 t salt
pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together until well combined. Pour over salad and toss. Add pita chips and toss again. Serve immediately.

By the way, sumac is a wonderful herb to add to a fattoush salad. Get some at the Spice Station on Sunset.

Today's bounty included:

From Underwood Family Farms: romaine lettuce, bi-color corn, orange carrots, Hungarian bell pepper (pic above), yellow zucchini, cucumbers, bok choy, and avocados.

From Sage Mountain: Broccoli florets, collard greens, dandelion greens, arugula, and chard.

Cottage Grove provided the tomatoes - Early Girls pictured above. And Sweet Tree Farms provided peaches, plums, and nectarines.

And Silver Lake Farms provided arugula and mustard micro-greens, as well as new basil and cilantro micro-greens (cilantro pictured above). Sprinkle some of those basil micro-greens over your next Caprese Salad.