Friday, December 28, 2012

Grated Radish Party Dip

Here's a deliciously different dip that mixes sharp and spicy radishes with the smooth creaminess of sour cream.  It's perfect for a party, and it's pretty simple to make, too.

Personally, I like the richness of sour cream in this recipe, but if you want a somewhat lower calorie substitute, you can use Greek-style yogurt for some or all of the sour cream.

1 C grated radishes
4-6 T finely crumbled feta cheese
1 C sour cream
pinch or 2 of salt (to taste)
pinch or 2 of pepper (to taste)
1/2 t finely grated lemon rind
1-2 T chopped fresh parsley

Wash, dry and cut off the roots and leaves/stems of the radishes.  Grate radishes on a medium grater.  Measure out 1 C and place in a medium bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Stir until well-combined.  Adjust seasoning.  Chill.  Serve cold with crudites or potato chips.

I like to doll up this recipe by adding 1/2 to 3/4 C flaked crab meat.

I also like to add a little hot pepper in the form of finely ground red chili flakes.

Today's bounty included:

From County Line Harvest South:  Tuscan kale, arugula, French breakfast radishes, scallions, and collard greens;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Garlic, leeks, carrots, winter squash, romaine lettuce, spinach, cilantro, beets, yellow onions, and cabbage;

From K and K Ranch:  Oro Blanco grapefruit and Pink Lady apples.

Happy New Year Everyone!  Here's to a delicious 2013.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Beet Soup (not Borscht)

When the weather turns cold, I think of soup.  Soup's been on my mind a lot lately with the thermometer dipping below 40 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

There are many wonderful soups, but few are as exquisitely beautiful as beet soup.  It's intense magenta color belies a mild and slightly sweet taste that plays nicely with many different flavor enhancers and garnishes.

Best of all, it's a cinch to make.  Simply saute some onion, peel and chop some beets and a small amount of russet potato; simmer everything in water or broth with salt, pepper, and herbs of your choice, if desired; puree; and voila, it's soup.

You can use a standard blender, immersion blender or food processor to puree the beet soup to a smooth consistency.  Below are the ingredients and amounts I use; feel free to double or halve this recipe.

1-2 t olive oil
1/2 C chopped onion
3 medium red beets, peeled and quartered
1 medium russet potato, peeled and quartered
4-5 C water
1 bay leaf
1/2 t salt, or to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste
juice of 1 fresh orange (optional)

1.  In a medium stock pot, saute the onions in the olive oil until translucent.

2.  Add the peeled and quartered beets and potato, 4 C water, bay leaf, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer.  Cover and simmer until beets and potato are tender, about 20 minutes.

3.  Cool slightly, until easy to handle.  Remove the bay leaf.  Then puree in a blender or food processor, in batches if necessary, until smooth.  Add more water for a thinner soup.

4.  Taste and adjust the salt and pepper, if necessary.  If desired, stir in the juice of half a fresh orange.  Taste and add more fresh orange juice if desired.

Serve warm or hot.  Garnish with crumbled goat cheese, snipped dill, or chopped parsley.  Lemon juice is a nice, though slightly more tart, alternative to orange juice.

For a richer soup, you can substitute broth for all or part of the water.  Chicken broth, beef broth, or veggie broth are all fine.

You can make this soup from golden beets instead of red beets.  It will be just as delicious, but won't have that fabulous deep magenta color.

Remember to compost the peels and rinds.

Today's bounty included:

From County Line Harvest South:  Spring onions, rainbow carrots, arugula, and lacinato kale;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Garlic, broccoli, cabbage, beets, winter squash, russet potatoes, romaine lettuce, spinach, cilantro, leeks, and chard;

From K and K Ranch:  Oro Blanco grapefruit and Pink Lady apples.

Happy Holidays everyone!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hoshigaki - Japanese Dried Persimmons

In November, I attended a marvelous class in Santa Barbara on drying whole Hachiya persimmons in the traditional Japanese style.  Hoshigaki are somewhat of a delicacy; and making them involves weeks of air drying and periodic hand massaging to transform the astringent fruit into a sweet treat with a smooth and creamy interior and a flat, oblong shape.  At the end of the drying process, sugars from the inside of the fruit will come to the surface, leaving a sweet, white, powdery bloom.

Our teacher, Laurence Hauben, has been teaching the hoshigaki method for years.  She started by demonstrating the peeling, stringing, and hanging techniques.  Then we practiced carefully removing the peel, leaving the stem and a piece of the calyx about the size of a quarter.  We paired up fruit by weight and and tied each to opposite ends of a string.  Then we hung the peeled persimmon pairs over bamboo rods placed next to a sunny window where they would spend the next few weeks drying.

Laurence then demonstrated how to massage the drying fruit to produce a soft and smooth pulp.  After the fruit hangs for about a week, a thin outer skin forms.  From this point forward, the fruit is gently massaged every two to three days in order to keep the interior soft and to flatten out the fruit.  Depending on the drying conditions, it can take up to four weeks or longer for the persimmons to become hoshigaki.

The best part of this class was that Laurence sent us home with a full case of persimmons and a bamboo rod so there was no excuse to delay getting started on our own hoshigaki.  As soon as I got home, I peeled, strung, and hung my fruit.

Here's what they looked like the next morning when there was enough light to take a photo.

After about a week, they looked like this.

After about three weeks of drying and two weeks of massaging they looked this this.

It took just a little more time for the sugary bloom to appear on the surface, and they were done.

Making hoshigaki was great fun.  Eating one with a cup of green tea is even better.  The fresh Hachiya persimmon season is over now, but you can try this next year.  I know I'll be making hoshigaki again next fall.



Friday, December 14, 2012

Candied Grapefruit Peel

There's still time to make some delicious holiday gifts from your kitchen.  Candied grapefruit peel takes only about an hour plus drying time. 

One of the things I like best about candied citrus peel is using a part of the fruit that's often discarded.  Grapefruits are now in season, so you can cook up a batch or two or more of this tasty treat for yourself, your family, and your friends.  Don't worry about making too much.  You can chop up candied peel and put it in cookies and cakes.  A little bit adds spark to a green salad.  Try mixing some into hot cereal at breakfast.  And it freezes nicely wrapped tightly in a freezer bag, so you can bring it out in the summer when fresh, local grapefruits are just a memory.

2 grapefruits
1 C granulated sugar
1/2 C water
1 C superfine sugar (optional)

To prepare the fruit:  Cut the grapefruit lengthwise into quarters.  Keeping the peel intact, remove the fruit, leaving the pith on the peel.  Set aside the fruit for another use.  Cut the peel lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips.

Put the peel in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring slowly to a boil over moderate heat.  Boil for 1 minute, then drain.  Repeat 3-4 times.

To candy the peel:
1.  In a medium saucepan, bring the 1 C granulated sugar and 1/2 C water to a boil.  Stir until sugar is completely dissolved.

2.  Add the prepared peel and gently boil, stirring, until most of the sugar syrup is absorbed.  This will take about 10 minutes.

3.  Remove the peel slices and place them on a wire rack set over a sheet of foil or a baking pan.  [The peel will drip sugar syrup.]  Separate the pieces so they don't stick together.  Allow the peel to dry until only slightlky sticky, about 4 to 8 hours.

4.  If desired, place 1 C superfine sugar in a plastic bag or container with a lid.  Toss a few slices at a time to coat with sugar.

If you don't have superfine sugar, you can make your own by putting regular granulated sugar in a food processor and processing for 20-30 seconds.

Today's bounty included:

From County Line Harvest South:  Collard greens,  chard, green bor kale, purple scallions, baby red beets, red bor kale;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Winter squash, leeks, cabbage, carrots, romaine, lettuce, space spinach, cilantro, and russet potatoes;

From K and K Ranch:  Oro Blanco grapefruit, persimmons, and Pink Lady apples;

From Silver Lake Farms:  Sage and microgreens.



Monday, December 10, 2012

From Hawaii...

This week our recipe blogger, Shelley Marks, reports from Hawai'i.  (Lucky Shelley!)
Here's what she says:
I've been in Hawaii for about a week now and almost everything I've eaten has come from the islands.  It's so easy to eat locally in Hawaii.  There are farmers markets everywhere.  On Kauai, there's at least one market everyday, and that's on an island of only 60,000 people!
Here's my recent haul from the farmers market in Kapaa:  super sweet mini pineapples, two varieties of papaya, green leaf lettuce, arugula, apple bananas, cucumber, green onions, cilantro, and a bouquet of organic tropical flowers complete with ants from a 90-year old gardener's yard.  A few days ago, I picked up enough locally-grown avocados and tomatoes to last through the week.

When I'm on the islands, I like to start my day with a three-fruit salad consisting of papaya, pineapple, and banana.  The ripe fruit are super sweet and the local papayas give the salad an exotic perfume.

Later in the day, I make my island salad using a mix of locally-grown greens, sliced cucumber, green onions, cilantro, avocado, tomato, and papaya.  There's a locally-produced salad dressing sold throughout the islands made with papaya seeds, canola oil, vinegar, and spices.  It's a tasty complement to this salad.  For a more substantial meal, I'll top this salad with locally-caught ahi tuna coated with pepper and seared on the outside or sliced teriyaki chicken.
Locally-farmed shrimp are available throughout the islands; and shrimp trucks are everywhere serving a plate lunch with garlic or spicy cooked shrimp and two scoops of rice.  The shrimp trucks are great, but I like to make my own garlic butter shrimp from these local beauties.  These fresh shrimp cook up sweet and tender as they have never been frozen.
Time just slips away here in paradise.  I'll be back in LA soon, but in the meantime, I'm going to enjoy one last sunset over Hanalei Bay.

Friday, November 23, 2012


I hope everyone had a happy and delicious Thanksgiving.

I like to eat what's in season.  Most things taste better if they're grown when they can thrive.  Plus, you frequently get a wider range of varieties when you stick to seasonal produce.  We're fortunate here in California.  Our growing seasons are long and there's something wonderful coming ripe almost any time of the year.  But some things are truly seasonal, even here in Southern California, and apples are a fall crop.

We see apples year-round in the grocery stores because many varieties have been developed that respond well to cold storage and are hard enough to withstand shipping from far away.  The Granny Smith apples you buy in May and June usually are shipped from somewhere in the southern hemisphere.  That's a long way for an apple to travel.

Personally, I prefer to save the flavor of the apple season by preserving a variety of apple products made from fresh local apples.  Did you know there are over 25 varieties of apples available less than a two hour drive from Los Angeles?  And the Pink Lady and Fuji apples we're been getting in our CSA box are perfect for making your own apple butter, dried apple slices, apple chutney, and apple sauce, one of the easiest ways to preserve apples.

If you've never made your own applesauce, you're in for a treat.  You can tweak the flavor by using different apple varieties and you can control the sugar, from adding none at all to as sweet as you like.

Unless you want your applesauce chunky, you don't have to peel the apples.  And if you have a food mill, you don't even have to core them.  But you don't need anything more than a stockpot and a knife to make a chunky applesauce.  And if you like your applesauce smooth, a food mill, immersion blender, regular blender or food processor will do the trick.

Personally, I prefer the food mill approach.  I just cut my apples in 4-8 pieces each, put them in a stock pot with 1/2 C water and cook them covered over medium-low heat until they're very soft.  I let them cool a bit; then I run them through a food mill, return the puree to the pot, sweeten to taste and cook to my desired thickness, which isn't very long.  From here, I can cool the applesauce, pack it into freezer containers and freeze it, or preferably, can it in a boiling water bath canner.  Pints process for 15 minutes.  I like the rosy color imparted by the peel.  Sometimes I add a little lemon juice, if I want some tartness, too.

No food mill.  No problem.  A blender or food process will pulverize the peels, but you might want to seed and core the apples first.  Or you can peel and core the apples and cook them in a stock pot with 1/2 C water until soft.  Then mash the apples with a fork for a chunky style sauce or use a blender or processor to make a smoother sauce.  Again, sweeten to your taste.

Cut apples turn brown when exposed to air.  You can minimize browning by soaking the apples in a lemon juice and water solution.  But I usually don't bother with this step.

Making your own applesauce is easy.  You can mix varieties or make a sauce from a single variety.  Best of all, you can control what's in it.  So, extend the season for our own local apples by making this simple and delicious treat.

Wednesday's box included the following:

From Drake Family Farms:  Chevre;

From Jaime Farms:  Tarrgon, parsley, red leaf lettuce, kale, leeks, and celery;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Cilantro, winter squash, russet potatoes, bell peppers, and spinach;

From K and K Ranch:  Pink Lady apples, pomegranates, Chandler walnuts, and fuyu persimmons; and

From Weiser Family Farms:  Russian banana potatoes and mixed carrots.



Friday, November 16, 2012

Oven Roasted Whole Cauliflower

Are you looking for a super simple side dish for Thanksgiving?  This oven roasted cauliflower recipe may be just the thing.  It's delicious and dramatic, and it couldn't be easier.

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Remove the outer leaves and cut out the tough core of the cauliflower.  Wash the cauliflower and pat it dry.  Rub it with a generous amount (2-3 T) of olive oil.  [If you prefer, you can brush it on.]  Sprinkle it generously with salt (about 1/2-1 t) and pepper (1/4 t or to taste).  Place it on a cookie sheet or in a shallow-sided roasting pan and roast it for about an 60-90 minutes until it's tender when pierced with a fork and golden brown on the outside.

You can stop right there and you have a simple and beautiful side dish, but I like to remove the cauliflower from the oven and sprinkle it generously with smoked paprika.  Then I return it to the oven for another 10-15 minutes.  If you want to get even fancier, you can make a simple sauce to serve with the roasted cauliflower.  I like this one:

4 cloves finely chopped garlic
4-6 T capers, drained
1 stick butter

Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan and cook on medium heat until the butter is melted and the garlic is just beginning to color, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and serve with roasted cauliflower.

You can roast a head of garlic while the cauliflower is in the oven.  It should only take about 20 minutes.  Then you can substitute roasted garlic for the finely chopped garlic.  Chopped parsley makes a nice garnish.

Today's bounty included:

From Jaime Farms:  Cauliflower and red and green peppers;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Rainbow chard, winter squash, strawberries, dill, and cilantro;

From K & K Ranch:  Pick Lady apples and grapes;

From Maggie's Farm:  Garden salad mix, spicy salad mix, and tatsoi;

From Weiser Family Farm:  Potatoes and beets;

From Silver Lake Farms:  Oregano, rosemary, and mint.



Friday, November 9, 2012

Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread

This marvelous quick bread comes courtesy of Food & Wine magazine.  I've been making it for years, and it never fails to please.  It's essentially a biscuit dough baked as a loaf with a super delicious filling of sauteed onions, poppy seeds and cheese.  While it's best fresh and warm, do let it cool down for about 15-20 minutes before breaking into it.  You can also make it a day or two in advance and re-heat it before serving.

Make the cheesy onion filling:

1 T butter
1 med onion, finely chopped
1 T poppy seeds
1 C grated Gruyere cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Melt the butter in a skillet.  Add the onions and saute until soft and transparent, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2.  Remove from heat.  Stir in poppy seeds.  Cool to room temperature.

3.  Stir in grated cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside until assembling the bread.

Make the bread:

2 C flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 stick chilled butter, cut into 8-10 chunks
1 C buttermilk
1 recipe cheesy onion filling (see above)
2 T melted butter

1.  Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.

2.  Butter a 9" x 4" metal loaf pan.  Set aside.

3.  In a food processor or a bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) until well mixed.

4.  Add the butter and pulse the food processor or cut in the butter with two knives until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.

5.  Add the buttermilk and pulse 5-6 times in the food processor or gently stir just until a dough begins to form.  Do not over mix.

6.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead a few times until the dough comes together.  Then shape into a 2" x 20" rectangle.

7.  Spread the cooled onion cheese mixture on top of the dough.

8.  Cut into 10 pieces.  Stack 9 pieces of dough on top of one another with the onion cheese mixture on top.  Place the tenth piece on top, onion mixture down.

9.  Carefully lay the stack in the prepared loaf pan and brush with the melted butter.

10.  Bake at 425 degrees F for about 30 minutes until golden on top.

11.  Cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from pan and and serve warm or wrap and store for later use.  Re-heat in oven before serving.

Today's bounty included:

From Cuyama Orchard:  Gala apples;

From Jaime Farms:  Radishes, green leaf lettuce, broccoli, and kale;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Carrots, leeks, rainbow swiss chard, dill, cilantro, Albion strawberries, and winter squash;

From K and K Ranch:  Thompson grapes, Chandler walnuts, and yellow onions; and

From Polito Ranch:  Hass avocados.



Friday, November 2, 2012

Chiles en Nogada

I just came back from San Miguel de Allende in Central Mexico where I enjoyed a classic seasonal Mexican dish called Chiles en Nogada.  Chiles en Nogada are roasted poblano peppers stuffed with picadillo, covered with a rich and creamy pureed walnut sauce, and garnished with parsley and pomegranate seeds.  The red pomegranate seeds and the fresh green parsley leaves against the creamy white sauce are said to symbolize the red, green and white of the Mexican flag.

Chiles en Nogada are often served cold or at room temperature, but personally, I prefer this dish warm.  It's a little bit of a production to make.  Fortunately, you can roast the peppers and make the picadillo ahead of time.  That way, you simply have to make the walnut sauce and assemble the dish.

Picadillo is a sweet-savory filling that's used in tacos and tamales as well as these stuffed peppers; and there are probably hundreds of recipes for picadillo.  It's typically made with ground meat, onions, garlic, raisins or currents, nuts, olives or capers, and spices.  I made my picadillo with ground lamb, but you can use ground beef or pork, shredded meat, or even tofu, if you prefer.

To roast the peppers:

On a gas stove with an open flame, lay the peppers across the burner in direct contact with the flame.  Turn the peppers as the skin blisters.  When completely charred, put the peppers in a bowl or paper bag until cool enough to handle.  Then rub or peel off the charred skin.

You can roast peppers on a barbeque grill or in a hot oven instead.  Follow the same steps as above, turning the peppers as the skins blisters and chars.  Cool before peeling.

Make a 2-3 inch lengthwise slit in each pepper and carefully remove the seeds without tearing the peppers.  Set aside or refrigerate for later use.

To make the picadillo (for 2-3 medium poblano peppers):

1 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 C finely chopped onion
1/2 lb ground lamb (or beef)
1/2 medium Fuji apple cut in 1/4" dice
1-2 T chopped golden raisins
1 T chopped slivered almonds
1-2 T sliced olives (black or green)
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground cumin
pinch ground cloves
1 T tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Heat olive oil in 10" skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and onions and saute until translucent.

2.  Add ground lamb and continue cooking, breaking the lamb into crumbles as it cooks.

3.  Stir in the diced apple, raisins, almonds, and olives and continue cooking until the lamb is nearly done.

4.  Stir in the spices and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5.  Use immediately to stuff the roasted poblanos or cool, cover and refrigerate for later use.

To make the nogada sauce:

1/2 C roasted walnut halves and pieces
1/2 C milk
1/2 - 3/4 cream
1-2 T sherry
salt to taste
pomegranate seeds and fresh parsley for garnish

1.  Pour boiling water to cover over the walnuts.  Allow to stand for 5 minutes.  Drain.  Rub walnuts in a dish towel to remove their brown, papery skins.

2.  Soak skinned walnuts in 1/2 C milk for 1 hour.  Drain.

3.  Put walnuts and cream in a blender and blend on a low speed until the walnuts are pureed into the cream to make a sauce.  Be careful not to over-process to turn the cream into butter.

4.  Pour from blender into a small saucepan.  Stir in sherry.  Season with salt.

5.  Just before you're ready to assemble the dish, heat the sauce, whisking constantly.  If desired, you can reduce the sauce over medium-low heat to desired thickness.  Some people like to add a little cream cheese or goat cheese to the sauce for flavor.  Stir the cheese in while your heating the sauce and make sure it's fully melted and mixed into the sauce.

To assemble Chiles en Nogada:

1.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  Stuff the roasted poblanos with picadillo and place in a shallow baking dish or on a baking sheet.  Cover with foil and bake for about 20-30 minutes, until heated through.

3.  Heat nogada sauce.

4.  Place a heated stuffed pepper on a plate.  Cover with the warm nogada sauce.  Garnish generously with pomegranate seeds and fresh parsley.

Today's bounty included:

From Jaime Farms:  Green leaf lettuce, kale, cabbage, beets, and celery;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Leeks, tomatoes, green beans, winter squash, carrots, chard, mixed peppers, basil, and dill;

From K and K Ranch:  Grapes and pomegranates; and

From Silver Lake Farms:  Oregano and thyme.



Sunday, October 28, 2012

Baked Apples

It's apple season; and the apples we've been getting most weeks in our box have been delicious.  Usually, I eat them whole or chop them into a salad.  But this week, I decided to make baked apples as a light dessert to a rich meal.

One of the things I truly love about baked apples is the infinite variations there are to this simple and healthy dish.  You can bake apples entirely plain, of course, but it's much more fun to dig out the core and fill them with a sweet and crunchy filling that enhances their sweet-tart flavor and soft texture.

Dried fruit, such as cherries, cranberries, and raisins are great, as is candied ginger; and walnuts, pecans, and/or oatmeal give the filling a nice crunch.  Personally, I like to use brown sugar to sweeten the mixture, but you can use maple syrup, honey, granulated sugar, a combination of these, or none at all if you prefer.  A little finely grated lemon or orange zest will add some zing.  And don't forget the spices.  Cinnamon is practically required, but nutmeg, allspice, and ground cloves add even more depth of flavor.

You can eat baked apples hot or cold.  I like to pour a little cream and maple syrup on them.  Leftovers are great for breakfast.  If the apples are large, you can serve half an apple instead of a whole.  Just cut them down the middle lengthwise to attractively reveal the filling.

One more thing:  The baking time depends on the apple's variety, size, and your taste.  Denser and larger apples need to be baked longer.  Also, the softer you prefer your baked apples, the longer they will need to bake.  I baked the large, dense apples from our box for 50 minutes at 350 degrees F and they were still relatively firm.  Some varieties, such as McIntosh, become quite soft the longer they are baked.

To start:  Wash and dry the apples.  With a sharp paring knife or a melon-baller, cut or scoop out the stem, core, and seeds, making a well, but being careful not to cut all the way through the bottom of the apples.

For each large apple, mix together:

1 T brown sugar
1 T chopped toasted walnuts
1 T chopped dried cherries
1/8 t cinnamon
A little finely grated lemon peel
A pinch grated nutmeg

Mix until combined and pack into the cavity that you scooped out of the apple.

Pack apples snugly in a buttered glass or non-reactive baking dish.  Add a little apple cider or water to the bottom of the baking dish (about 1/2 inch).  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F until done, 30-60 minutes.  If the apples won't stand straight, you can take a small slice off the bottom to create a flat surface.  Just be careful not to cut open the cavity on the bottom, or the filling might spill out of the bottom when baking.

Friday's bounty included:

From Jaime Farms:  Red leaf lettuce, broccoli, kale, and cauliflower;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Tomatoes, bell peppers, rainbow chard, cilantro, basil, and winter squash;

From K and K Ranch:  Grapes and apples; and

From Weiser Family Farm:  Russian banana potatoes, beets, carrots, garlic, and Lucerne Valley onions.



Friday, October 19, 2012

Best Brownies Ever!

Locally-grown walnuts are a special fall treat.  An early sign of the approaching holidays, they make me think of all the goodies I'll be cooking up in the months to come - cookies, cakes, pies, and of course, these brownies - all with some kind of nut to add toasty richness.

And speaking of toasty, I've never met a nut I didn't like better toasted; so do go to the trouble of toasting them in a 350 degree oven for about 12-16 minutes after you shell them.  Watch them carefully.  There's probably not more than a minute between well-toasted and burned.

All nuts get rancid pretty quickly at room temperature.  Keep unshelled walnuts in a cool, dark place for no more than three months.  Personally, I like to shell walnuts and freeze them raw.  If you wrap them well, they'll keep in the freezer for six months or longer.  I like to toast them as I need them for cookies and brownies.  If you make a little extra, you can toss them into salads.

I can't tell you how many times I've been asked for this brownie recipe.  Every time I serve them or bring them to a potluck, folks ask for the recipe.  The best part is this recipe is super easy.  What's important is the quality of the ingredients, especially the chocolate.  These brownies will taste like the chocolate you use, so use something you like to eat.

1 stick unsalted butter
3 oz dark chocolate
1 C sugar
1 t vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 C flour
pinch salt
1/3 C chopped, toasted walnuts

1.  Line the bottom of an 8x8-inch metal baking dish with parchment paper.  Butter the top of the parchment and the sides of the pan.  Set aside.

2.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

3.  Put 1 stick butter in a 1-1/2 qt heavy saucepan over very low heat.  When the butter is partially melted, add the chocolate and allow the chocolate and the butter to fully melt.  Stir gently to combine completely.  Remove from heat.

4.  Allow to cool slightly.  Add 1 C sugar and 1 t vanilla.  Stir well to combine completely.

5.  Mix in one egg at a time.  Stir to combine completely.

6.  Sift in 3/4 C flour.  Add pinch salt and nuts.  Stir to combine completely.

7.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 28-30 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Tester inserted into the center of the brownies should not come out completely clean, but not too gooey either.

8.  Allow brownies to cool in pan.  Turn out onto a cutting board.  Peel away the parchment and cut into desired sizes.

Makes 8 large brownies, 16 small brownies, or 32 bite-sized brownies.

Today's bounty included:

From Jaime Farms:  Green onions, cabbage, and red leaf lettuce;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Strawberries, basil, cilantro, delicata squash, summer squash, chard, and tomatoes;

From K and K Ranch:  Walnuts, butternut squash, plums, and apples:

From Moua's Farm:  Long beans and Asian greens; and

From Silver Lake Farms:  Micro-greens.



Monday, October 15, 2012

Thank you Volunteers!

Hello Farm Volunteers!

Fieldwork for Food - A Volunteer Work Incentive program from Silver Lake Farms

If you are interested in volunteering at Silver Lake Farms in exchange for a CSA share, please call Tara at 323-644-3700. I will send you information  about how to sign up.

Here's what the main tasks of the coming weeks in October will look like: 

Monday - Tending to the compost with Adam in Silver Lake
Tuesday - Compost tea application at our Glassel Park growing grounds with Faye and/or micro greens work with Adam
Thursday - Flower Harvest for the Sunset Strip Farmers Market
Friday - General tasks at either our Silver Lake or Glassel Park growing grounds
Saturday - Flower Harvest for the Hollywood Farmers Market

Things are looking really good at the flower growing grounds. A lot of the garden pathways have been mulched, and it's been nice to walk along their weed free, clean, clear, and cushiony lanes as I look around and see all the changes happening at the growing grounds. The Celosia that were once so vibrant and bright are now starting to take on a slightly brown hue as they begin to shed their seeds. We are sad to see them beginning to fall out of the bouquet spotlight, but the little birds around town are DELIGHTED! If you're still you can see and hear little groups of them (some kind of field tit) twitting about from stem to stem gobbling up those yummy black seeds to get their winter fat on. 

And then there are the butterflies. I'm not sure what it is, and I was not expecting it, but there's all kinds of butterfly activity right now. They seem to really like the Globe Amaranth and the Scabiosa, so if you're harvesting, don't be surprised to have a few winged friends by your side and a praying mantis or two peeking out from the stems.

Besides the wildlife, there's the process of it all. Since we began the volunteer program in September, we have seen flower beds go through big transitions. You cut down the spent plants and added them to the compost heap, you ripped out the nasty weeds, you loosened the bed with a garden fork, you added compost, you straightened out the sides of the bed and widened it, you raked the bed clean and flattened out the planting area, you deep-watered the bed, and you weeded and mulched the paths around it. Now I have had the pleasure of planting these beautiful and nutrient rich beds (see pic) with our anemone and ranunculus corms. Come Spring, those beds that you worked will be transformed into lush oceans of color. I can't wait for you to see it as you burst with pride for a job well done.

Thanks for all you do and a big welcome to the new volunteers who recently signed up! Please let me know if you have any questions at all.

Faye and Tara

Friday, October 5, 2012

Easy Cheese-y Eggplant Bake

Today's recipe is inspired by that rich classic, eggplant parmesan.  But instead of breading and frying the eggplant before assembling, the eggplant in this dish is sliced and browned in a skillet brushed with olive oil before layering with tomato sauce and cheese and baking.  The resulting dish has more eggplant flavor and is considerably lighter than its classic counterpart.

You can make this dish with full-size eggplant or the smaller Asian eggplant we've been getting in our CSA boxes lately.  Even better, you can cook up the eggplant a day or two in advance and assemble the dish right before baking.

I like to use my Slow-Cooked Tomato Sauce (see recipe in 9/24/10) for the tomato sauce in this recipe, but you can use a store-bought sauce if you prefer.  But remember:  the better the sauce the tastier the dish.

To prepare the eggplant:  Slice 1 lb. eggplant about 1/3" thick.  Heat a heavy skillet (such as cast iron) over high heat.  Brush with olive oil.  When hot, turn the heat down to medium.  Cooking in batches, add the eggplant slices in a single layer.  Brown on one side, then flip and brown on the other side.  Adjust the heat and brush with more oil as needed.  Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the browning eggplant, if desired.

Remove the eggplant slices as they brown and add more until all eggplant is browned.  Eggplant can be used immediately or stored in the fridge for 2-3 days before assembling the dish.

For 4 side servings or 2 generous main course servings:

1 to 1-1/2 C chunky tomato sauce
1 lb. eggplant, prepared as above
1 to 1-1/2 C loosely packed grated mozzarella or provolone cheese
1/4 C grated parmesan cheese

1.  Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.

2.  Spread 2-3 T chunky tomato sauce in a small baking dish, such as an 8" round pie plate.

3.  Layer 1/3 browned eggplant slices on top of sauce.

4.  Spread another 2-3 T chunky tomato sauce over eggplant.

5.  Sprinkle on 1/2 the grated mozzarella cheese.

6.  Repeat steps 2, 3, and 4; then repeat steps 2 and 3 again, ending with the sauce.

7.  Top with 1/4 C grated parmesan cheese.

8.  Bake at 375 degrees F for about 30 minutes, until hot and bubbling.  Serve hot.

Feel free to substitute slices of fresh mozzarella for the grated mozzarella, if you prefer.  To make this dish a little fancier, top with a white sauce instead of the grated parmesan.  You can even stir the grated parmesan into your white sauce.

If you happen to have browned eggplant slices left over, you can marinate them in a balsamic vinaigrette for a nice addition to an antipasto platter.

Today's bounty included:

From Jaime Farms:  Broccoli and carrots;

From Jimenez Family Farms:  Red onions, iceberg lettuce, Romanesco squash, cilantro, dill, assorted peppers, and butternut squash;

From K and K Ranch:  Apples, grapes, eggplant, and jujubes;

From Moua's Farm:  Heirloom tomatoes, yu choy, and kale.



Friday, September 28, 2012

Sweet & Spicy Grilled Corn

Here's a simple and tasty recipe for giving grilled corn a little zing.  Sweet & Spicy Grilled Corn combines sugar, red pepper, and smoked paprika with melted butter to make a brush-on coating that turns ordinary corn on the cob into something special.  Best of all, it's super easy!

Remove the husks and corn silk, but leave the end of the stalk attached to make it easier to hold the corn.

Soak the husked corn in a pot of cold water for 15 minutes.  Weight down the corn if necessary to keep it completely submerged.  Soaking keeps the corn moist during grilling.

While the corn is soaking, heat the grill to medium heat and prepare the sweet and spicy butter mixture.

For 3 ears of corn:  Melt 1-1/2 T butter in a small vessel.  Add 1/2 t brown sugar, 1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes, 1/2 t smoked paprika, and 1/4 t salt.  Stir to combine.

After the corn has soaked for 15 minutes, remove from the water.  Pat dry.  Brush with the melted butter mixture, coating the corn on all sides.  Wrap the corn in foil and grill for 15-20 minutes, turning several times to make sure the corn cooks evenly.  Remove from the heat.  Unwrap carefully.  Allow to cool for a few minutes before biting into the juicy, sweet, and spicy goodness of this fresh-grilled corn.

Today's bounty included:

From Jaime Farms:  Carrots, green leaf lettuce, and Persian cucumbers;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Corn, tomatoes, spinach, dill, and cabbage;

From K and K Ranch:  Asian pears, Bartlett pears, and September King plums;

From Mua Farm:  Asian long beans, ong choy, and bok choy.



Friday, September 21, 2012

Autumn Apple and Pomegranate Salad

I've been loving those super tasty apples we've been getting from K and K Ranch for the past few weeks.  They're crunchy and have just the right balance of sweet and tart.  Mostly, I've been eating them whole.  But today, I decided to make a salad using another of my favorite fall fruits - pomegranate.

This salad is fast and easy to make; and it's a delicious side salad to almost any meal.  Add some goat cheese or blue cheese if you wish to make it more substantial.

For two generous side salad portions:

3 C washed lettuce torn or cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large apple, cored and cut into large dice
seeds from 1/2 medium pomegranate
1 T very thinly sliced red onion
2-3 T candied walnuts or pecans*
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
1-2 T cider vinegar or other fruit vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

1.  In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, apple, pomegranate seeds, onion, and nuts.

2.  Drizzle the oil and vinegar over the salad.  Toss.

3.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve.

*Plain toasted nuts may be substituted for candied nuts, or the nuts may be left out altogether.

Today's bounty included:

From Jaime Farms:  Cauliflower, leeks, green leaf lettuce, cabbage, and celery;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Broccoli, carrots, chard, tomatoes, and strawberries;

From K and K Ranch:  Grapes, apples, and nectarines; and

From Silver Lake Farms:  Mint and thyme.



Friday, September 14, 2012

Summer Rolls

It's too hot to cook.  It was 104 degrees in Silver Lake this afternoon, and it's still 101 as I write this post!  When the weather is blazing hot, I like to make simple and delicious recipes that require no cooking.  Summer rolls are just that kind of dish.

Summer rolls are essentially salad in a wrapper.  And there are so many things to love about them beyond their fresh simplicity.  You make them individually, so make a little or a lot.  They're great finger food -  no utensils needed.  You can make them for vegans, vegetarians, or omnivores.  In fact, you can get quite creative with the ingredients.  You can serve them with a variety of different dipping sauces.  And you can make them in advance, as they keep well in the fridge for hours.

Below is my basic recipe for Summer Rolls.  Do add one or more of the suggested additions that follow the basic recipe.

For each roll:

1 dried rice paper wrapper
1 lettuce leaf, torn into largish pieces
2-3 strips carrot, washed, peeled, and sliced lengthwise
2-3 strips cucumber, washed, peeled, seeded, and sliced lengthwise
3-4 slices avocado
1-2 strips red bell pepper, or 3-4 pieces yum yum pepper
1 green onion, finely chopped
1-2 sprigs cilantro, or to taste
3-4 mint leaves, or to taste

1.  For each summer roll, prepare vegetables as described above.  Set aside.

2.  Fill a 9" or 10" pie plate with warm water.  Working with one rice paper wrapper at a time, dip the wrapper in the warm water until it just begins to soften, just a few seconds.  The wrapper will continue to soften even after you remove it from the water, so take it out while it's still firm.

3.  Lay the softened wrapper on a non-sticky work surface.  Working quickly and starting with the lettuce leaves, arrange the veggies (and other ingredients, see below) in the center of the wrapper.  Fold up the bottom, roll one side of the wrapper over the veggies, then roll it over the other side of the wrapper, leaving the top open.  Alternatively, you can fold up the top, too, if you wish.  Repeat with each wrapper.

Here are a list of ingredients that I like to add to my Summer Rolls:  grilled tofu strips; grilled shrimp; thinly sliced, seasoned and grilled beef, pork or chicken; mango slices, papaya slices, slices of crunchy apple; jicama strips, julienned radishes or daikon strips.

As for dipping sauces:  Ponzu sauce, which is a citrus-y soy sauce is nice.  Peanut sauce is traditional, as is sweet-hot chili sauce.  You can add a little hoisin sauce on the inside of the summer roll, if you like.  Sometimes I sprinkle a few drops of lime juice inside.

To make a quick peanut sauce:  Mix 1/2 C chunky style peanut butter with a few tablespoons of soy sauce and rice vinegar, add a few teaspoons sesame oil and a little agave syrup to taste.  You can stir in a little finely minced garlic, if you like.

Today's bounty included:

From Jaime Farms:  Lettuce, basil, and cilantro;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Zucchini, garlic, kale, tomatoes, corn, and tomatillos;

From K and K Ranch:  Eggplant, yellow nectarines, apples, and natural Thompson grapes;

From Shear Rock Farms:  Tromboncino squash; and

From Weiser Family Farms:  Purple potatoes, yum yum peppers, and beets.



Friday, September 7, 2012

Jalapeno Escabeche and The Magic of Lacto-Fermentation

If you love the pickled jalapenos that many Mexican restaurants serve as much as I do, you'll be delighted to learn just how easy it is to whip them up through the miracle of lactic acid fermentation, also known as lacto-fermentation.

Fermentation is a natural process in which microorganisms such as bacteria convert sugars or carbohydrates in food into delicious byproducts of fermentation.  Wine is grape juice fermented into alcohol.  In lacto-fermented jalapeno escabeche, carbohydrates are fermented by lactobacilli bacteria into lactic acid which gives the peppers a tart and delicious pickle-like quality.

Lactobacilli are everywhere making lacto-fermentation super easy.  All you have to do is create an environment where lactobacilli will thrive while inhibiting the growth of less desirable bacteria.  And all this takes is a little salt and removing the oxygen.

Lactobacilli prefer a slightly saltier environment than many other bacteria.  However, too much salt is not good, so be sure to use the amount of salt called for in the recipe.  Lactobacilli don't like oxygen either, so keeping your fermenting peppers submerged in the brine prevents exposure to oxygen and promotes the fermentation process.

Fermentation works best in temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees F - too warm and the peppers might lose their crunch; too cool and the fermentation process slows or comes to a stop.  I fermented my peppers on my counter for two weeks.  Now they'll keep in the fridge for six month or longer.

To make lacto-fermented jalapeno escabeche:

1.  Make a brine by dissolving 1.6 oz of kosher or pickling salt in 1 qt of filtered or non-chlorinated water.

2.  Prepare enough jalapenos, carrots, and onions to fill a clean 1 qt glass jar with a lid about 2/3 to 3/4 full.  Wash the vegetables.  Slice the onions.  Peel and slice the carrots.  And slice, halve, or leave whole the jalapenos, you're choice.

3.  Put the veggies in the jar.  Cover completely with the brine.  Weight down the veggies so they stay completely submerged.  You can do this with a small plastic bag filled with brine or a small glass jar that fits inside your larger jar, also filled with brine.

4.  Close the jar and set it on the counter for 2 weeks.  Then remove the weight and store the escabeche in the fridge.

A few fermentation tips:
Use non-reactive equipment in good condition.  Scratched and damaged equipment may harbor undesirable bacteria that could spoil your fermentation.  Glass, stoneware, and stainless steel are all good choices.  Copper, brass, and iron react with acids or salts and cause off flavors.

Don't use iodized table salt, as iodine is an anti-microbial and will likely inhibit your fermentation.

Use fresh produce.  Older veggies have tougher skins which may resist fermentation; and spoiled produce already contains undesirable bacteria that may ruin your fermentation.

Feel free to add whole spices such as peppercorns, bay leaves, or rosemary sprigs for additional flavor, but avoid ground spices as they may make the brine cloudy or result in strange color changes.

Some lacto-fermentation recipes call for the addition of a teaspoon or two of whey, which you can get by draining off of yogurt.  This is fine, but not necessary.  Your veggies will ferment with or without whey. The juice from a live-culture sauerkraut will work just as well as whey, if you want to kick-start your fermentation.

Today's bounty included:

From Jaime Farms:  Romaine lettuce, basil, and cilantro;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Patty pan squash, cucumbers, baby swiss chard, tomatillos, fresh garbanzos, mixed peppers, and yellow corn;

From K and K Ranch:  Gala apples and Thompson grapes;

From Shear Rock Farms:  Heirloom tomatoes; and

From Weiser Family Farms:  French fingerling potatoes and shallots.



Friday, August 31, 2012

Fresh Garbanzo Bean Bruschetta

I love garbanzo beans.  Two of my favorite salads include garbanzos and hummus is one of my go to recipes for an easy and versatile dip.  Since I learned to pressure can, I've been canning my own garbanzos from dried organic beans.  But I never had fresh garbanzo beans until today, and what a delicious surprise they are!

It turns out fresh garbanzo beans are more akin to fresh fava beans or fresh peas than to their canned cousins.  When I took the beans home, I thought I was going to make hummus.  But after experimenting with different methods of cooking, most resulting in beautiful, bright green, and slightly nutty-flavored morsels, I just didn't have the heart to mask the delicate sweetness of the fresh garbanzos by adding too many strong flavors.  Hence today's recipe for Fresh Garbanzo Bean Bruschetta.

Before getting to today's recipe, I thought I'd share the results of my cooking experiments.  I started by pulling the pods off the stalks and composting the stalks and leaves.  I hear tell you can make a tea from the dried leaves, but I didn't try it myself.

Most recipes call for cooking garbanzos in their pods.  I suspect this is because it's easier to shell the beans once the pods are softened by the cooking process.  However, I shelled some raw beans and boiled them in a small amount of salted water in a covered pan for 3-4 minutes and they were delicious.  As were the pan juices which I saved to add to soup stock.

Boiling garbanzo beans in their pods causes the pods to soak up some of the boiling liquid making them messier to peel, so steaming the beans over boiling water is a better alternative if you don't want to bother shelling the raw beans.  However, removing the pods of cooked beans is only slightly less work than shelling the raw beans.

I also sauteed the beans in their pods in a hot skillet with a little olive oil.  I cooked them until they were lightly browned, about 5 minutes, stirring periodically.  I allowed the beans to cool slightly, sprinkled them with salt and ate them like edamame, sliding them out of their pods.  They didn't slide quite as easily as edamame, but they were also delicious.

Finally, I microwaved some beans in their pods.  I zapped them in 30 second intervals and thought they were best after 90 seconds.  However, I didn't care for the microwaved beans.  While it was clearly the easiest and quickest way to cook the beans, they were noticeably less sweet and more starchy in taste and texture.  Personally, I wouldn't recommend microwaving fresh garbanzo beans.

By the way, you can eat raw garbanzos.  They're a bit crunchier than cooked, but they have a lovely sweetness.

To make Fresh Garbanzo Bean Bruschetta:

2 C fresh garbanzo beans in their pods
1 T olive oil, divided
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
6-8 thin slices crusty whole-grain bread*
1 clove garlic, optional

*such as Mark Stambler's miche

1.  Wash and dry the garbanzo beans in their pods.

2.  Heat 1 t  olive oil in a cast iron or heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add the beans and saute, stirring occasionally, until the pods are browned.  Remove from the pan.  Cool until you can touch the beans to remove their pods.

3.  Mash the beans with a sturdy folk or a mortar and pestle until they form a coarse paste.  Stir 1 t olive oil into the bean paste.  Season with sea salt (or other fine salt) and freshly ground pepper.  Set aside/

4.  In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 t olive oil and "grill" the bread until crisp and lightly browned on both sides.  If you'd like, slice an end off the garlic clove and rub the clove lightly on one side of the crisped bread.

5.  Spread the garbanzo paste on the crisped bread and serve.

Today's bounty included:

From Drake Family Farm:  Chevre;

From Jaime Farms:  Romaine lettuce, rainbow chard, and eggplant;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Fresh garbanzo beans, mixed peppers, cilantro, and Albion strawberries;

From Sage Mountain Farm:  Summer squash, red Russian kale, arugula, dried garlic, yellow onions, and heirloom cherry tomatoes;

From Shear Rock Farms:  Heirloom tomatoes;

From Sweet Tree Farms:  White peaches and green plums; and

From Weiser Family Farms:  La ratte potatoes.

Have a delicious Labor Day!


Friday, August 24, 2012


Gazpacho is a wonderful cold soup that's full of the flavors of late summer.  Most gazpachos are made with red tomatoes, but there are recipes made with yellow tomatoes, green tomatoes, or no tomatoes at all.  This recipe is a traditional one made with ripe red tomatoes.

There are myriad ways to season gazpacho, and you may want to take liberties with this recipe.  Please do.  But be sure to use the freshest, ripest tomatoes you can find.  Today's box contains many good choices between the beautiful heirlooms and even the cherries.

Some folks like to peel their tomatoes for gazpacho.  Personally, I find it unnecessary.  While tomato peels can become bitter when cooked, gazpacho isn't cooked, and the tomato peels give the soup some texture.  However, if you're striving for a smoother product, peeled tomatoes are more likely to provide that.

I use a blender, as opposed to a food processor, for gazpacho.  But either device is fine.  Just be sure to mix carefully to achieve your desired level of smoothness (or crunchiness).  It takes less than a minute to mix it up in a blender.

You'll be tempted to eat your gazpacho as soon as it's mixed up, but resist temptation if you can.  Gazpacho is better chilled (though not ice cold), and best when it sits in the fridge overnight.  Serve it straight, or garnish with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and chopped parsley or basil, or drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.


1 lb ripe red tomatoes, chopped
1/2 C chopped, peeled and seeded cucumber
1/3 C chopped red bell pepper
1/4 C chopped sweet or red onion
3/4 C tomato juice
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t balsamic vinegar (the sweeter and thicker, the better)
1-2 T fresh lemon juice
2 T fresh parsley leaves
salt and pepper to taste

1.  In the beaker of a blender, put the chopped tomatoes in first.  Then add the cucumber, red bell pepper, onion, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic, lemon juice and parsley.

2.  Blend for about 10-20 seconds.  Check consistency, and blend more until desired consistency is reached.  If you'd like a thinner soup, add a little more tomato juice.  Season with salt and pepper to taste/

3.  Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  Serve cold or cool.  Garnish as desired.

Today's bounty included:

From Jaime Farms:  Red leaf lettuce, kale, basil, and parsley;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Romanesco squash, green beans, and tomatoes;

From Sage Mountain Farm:  Heirloom cherry tomatoes, baby leeks, salad mix, and arugula;

From Shear Rock Farms:  Heirloom tomatoes;

From Sweet Tree Farms:  Yellow nectarines and dino egg pluots;

Weiser Family Farms:  Melons, small sweet peppers, and beets.



Friday, August 17, 2012

Prosciutto e Melone

This week's recipe is a super-delicious, summer treat; and it's so easy you can put it together in minutes.  It requires no mixing, heating, cooling, and only minimal chopping.  Prosciutto, which is a dry-cured Italian ham, is thinly sliced and wrapped or draped over slices or chunks of ripe melon.  The dry, salty pig offsets the sweet and juicy melon perfectly.  And you don't even have to slice the ham, as prosciutto is purchased pre-sliced and packaged or sliced to order at a deli counter.

Prosciutto e melone is a great first course, or make it the main event for lunch or a light supper with the addition of a salad of lightly-dressed mixed baby greens and grilled slices of rustic Italian bread brushed with extra virgin olive oil.  Hungry yet?

I like to drizzle my prosciutto and melon with some very old, thick and syrupy balsamic vinegar and sprinkle thinly cut ribbons of basil or mint on top.  But it's equally delicious au naturel.  This dish travels well, so it's great for a potluck, picnic, the beach, or the Bowl.  You can use other melons such as honeydew if you don't have cantaloupe.

For two first course portions:

4-6, 1-inch slices of melon, rind removed
4-6 ultra thin slices prosciutto

Wrap or drape one slice of prosciutto over one slice of melon.  Arrange attractively on a plate and serve at room temperature, or cold if you prefer.

You can also make neat little appetizers by using a melon-baller to make melon balls.  Then cut or gently tear the prosciutto into pieces or strips that can be wrapped around  the melon balls.  Wrap a piece of prosciutto around a melon ball.  Secure with a toothpick.  Repeat for all remaining melon balls.  No melon-baller in your utensil drawer?  No problem; chop the melon into chunks instead.

Today's bounty included:

From Jaime Farms:  Corn, green beans, basil, and cilantro,

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Squash blossoms and cucumbers;

From JR Organics:  Cantaloupe, red leaf lettuce, and big beef tomatoes;

From Sage Mountain Farm:  Heirloom cherry tomatoes, 8-ball squash, arugula, kale, and baby leeks; and

From Sweet Tree Farms:  White nectarines and king pluots.



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tell Jerry Brown California Needs a Cottage Food Act

AB1616 - The California Homemade Food Act - needs your help today!  

This bill is expected to go to Governor Jerry Brown this month for his signature.  Although it seems to be doing well, there is still considerable opposition to AB1616 from the county health directors and from the California Department of Public Health.  (Did you know that bake sales are actually illegal in the State of California? AB1616 will fix this but only if Jerry Brown hears from YOU.)

So... As activists, including our very own CSA bread baker, Mark Stambler (pictured here), continue to work with county officials to try and incorporate some of their changes to the bill without sacrificing its intent, it's critical that the governor hears from YOU.

AB1616 needs one last effort on behalf of home bakers throughout the state. Now is the time to write to Governor Jerry Brown to urge him to sign the bill when it lands on his desk later this month.
Phone calls and emails won't have an effectIt has to be a letter on a piece of paper, mailed to the following address:
Governor Jerry Brown
Attn: Legislative Affairs Unit
State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

 What follows is the letter that Mark Stambler mailed to Governor Jerry Brown today. Please feel free to be inspired by it as you write your own letter. Of course, it may be counterproductive if all letters are identical.
    "On behalf of the 400 members of the Los Angeles Bread Bakers and the thousands of home bakers across California, I strongly urge you to sign AB1616, The California Homemade Food Act, when it arrives on your desk later this month.
For the better part of a year, the Los Angeles Bread Bakers have been working with home-based food makers from both Northern and Southern California to craft and pass legislation that will permit the sale of not potentially hazardous homemade foods in California.
The bill that is currently making its way through the California legislature is patterned on “cottage food laws” that have been enacted in more than 30 states and that have not resulted in a single case of food-borne illness.
While many of these states have had such laws on the books for decades, it is still illegal to sell any homemade food in California. We feel that a change is long overdue.
There are enough safeguards in AB1616 to ensure that Californians’ health will not be jeopardized by its implementation.
At the same time, we feel that its economic benefits to California and Californians will more than offset any costs that would be incurred in enforcing it.
The law will create a new kind of micro-entrepreneur in California. For the first time, we California home bakers will be able to sell our homemade bread and other baked goods legally in California. Once our very small businesses start to grow, we will look forward to the opportunity to pay our fair share of taxes on them to the state.
We believe that AB1616 is an example of sensible regulation replacing an unwarranted prohibition.
It is a well-thought-out piece of legislation that not only promotes the “eat local” spirit, a spirit that was born in California, by enabling the introduction of a whole range of small-production, locally produced, high quality foods from California’s communities. It also will result in economic benefit for people in all parts of the state, particularly those who are struggling to find additional sources of income to help their families during these tough times.
Again, please sign AB1616 to help usher in a new era of community-based food production that can address a number of challenges that we face as a state."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Relax with a shareholder

One of our CSA shareholders put together this video with her fiance.  We're happy to share this duo's project with you, it's so relaxing to watch her cook.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!  You can find the full recipe on her blog.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Spicy Tomato Preserves

Tomato season is at its peak.  Now is the time to preserve the great flavors of summer to enjoy after the last ripe tomato is plucked from the vine.  I've been putting up pasta sauce and tomato salsa for a few weeks.  Last week, when I volunteered at the Farmer's Kitchen, Chef Ernest Miller had us make these delicious tomato preserves with fruit from the Hollywood Farmer's Market.

We started with 10 lbs of tomatoes, but you can make make the same great preserves with much less fruit, though you'll need to get a few more tomatoes than we got in today's box.  Fortunately, tomatoes are easy to  come by right now.  Perhaps you or your neighbor have some in your garden.  If not, check out one of our local farmers markets for the freshest fruit.

3 lbs ripe tomatoes
2 C sugar
2 t red chili flakes
generous 1/2 t cinnamon
generous 1/4 t nutmeg
1/3 C fresh lime juice
pinch salt

1.  Remove the core and coarsely chop the tomatoes.

2.  Put the chopped tomatoes and all remaining ingredients in a heavy-duty medium saucepan.

3.  Bring to a boil, stirring regularly.  Then turn down the heat and simmer, stirring regularly, until the preserves thicken, 30-60 minutes, depending on the heat of your burner and your taste.  As the preserves thicken, stir them more frequently, as they're more likely to stick to the bottom of your pan and scorch.

4.  When the preserves reach your desired consistency, turn off the heat.  Cool slightly.  Ladle into glass jars and store in the fridge.  These preserves will keep for months in the fridge.  If you prefer, you can process the preserves in a boiling water bath canner to make them shelf-stable.  Use canning jars.  Leave 1/2-inch headspace.  Wipe the rims and seal the jars, then process for 20 minutes for half-pints.

Tomatoes do not have a lot of pectin, so if you want a firmly jelled product, you may have to cook the preserves to the jell point, which is approximately 220 degrees F.  However, these preserves are delicious firm or slightly soft.

Serve the preserves on toast; or make a delicious sandwich with goat cheese, arugula, and spicy tomato preserves.  Puree the preserves (or not) and use them as a much tastier condiment in place of ketchup with French fries or roasted potatoes, on burgers, hotdogs or with sausages.

Today's bounty included:

From Drake Family Farms:  Chevre;

From Jaime Farms:  Eggplant, green beans, basil, and cilantro;

From  JR Organics:  Heirloom tomatoes and watermelon;

From Sage Mountain Farm:  Starship patty pan squash, chantenay carrots, white and yellow onions, arugula, and salad mix;

From Sweet Tree Farms:  Plums, nectarines, and peaches; and

From Weiser Family Farms:  Beets and French fingerling potatoes.



Friday, August 3, 2012

Tarragon Chicken Salad

Tarragon is such a lovely and delicate herb.  Its faintly licorice flavor makes me think of it as anise light.  Tarragon is a truly versatile herb that tastes great in so many different dishes.  It's particularly good with chicken, eggs, and fish; and you can even use tarragon in some desserts, especially those with lemons or apples.

Today's recipe for Tarragon Chicken Salad is great dish for a summer picnic.  You can put it on a sandwich, or scoop it into a hollowed out tomato, or serve it with melon slices.

I like to saute boneless, skinless chicken breast, but you can buy chicken that's already cooked or use leftovers from a roasted or grilled chicken as long as it doesn't have too many other flavors already cooked into it.  I also like to shred the chicken with a fork, but you can cut it into cubes, if you prefer.

To cook up chicken for this salad, take 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  Rinse and pat dry.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.  Heat a heavy skillet with a lid over medium heat.  Add 1-2 T olive oil.  When the skillet moderately hot, put the seasoned chicken breasts in the skillet, cover and turn down the heat to medium-low.

Cook the chicken over medium-low heat for about 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness of the meat.  Do not brown.  Turn the breasts over.  Cover and cook for another 4-6 minutes until a fork pierces the breast easily and the juices run golden as opposed to red or pink.  Turn off the heat and allow the chicken to cool for about 10 minutes.  When the meat is cool, you can chop it or shred it however you like.

Here's the recipe for Tarragon Chicken Salad:

1 lb. cooked boneless, skinless chicken meat, shredded or chopped
1/4 C chopped toasted walnuts
1/4 C chopped dried cranberries
1/4 C finely chopped celery
2 T finely chopped red onion
2-3 T coarsely chopped tarragon
3-4 T mayonnaise, or to taste
1 t horseradish (optional), or to taste
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Toss the chicken, nuts, cranberries, celery and onion in a large bowl until well mixed.

2.  Add the tarragon, mayo, and horseradish and mix well.

3.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4.  Serve or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Substitute small red seedless grapes cut in half for the cranberries for a juicier variation.

If you don't eat chicken, tarragon is a lovely addition to egg salad.  Vegan?  Tarragon goes great with tofu, too.

Today's bounty included:

From Jaime Farms:  White corn, leeks, tarragon, and baby dill;

From JR Organics:  Watermelon, early girl tomatoes, and red leaf lettuce;

From Sage Mountain Farm:  Bag chantenay carrots, romanesco squash, arugula, and salad mix;

From Silver Lake Farms:  Basil seedlings;

From Sweet Tree Farms:  White nectarines and dino egg pluots; and

From Weiser Family Farms:  Melons, baby beets, and laker baker potatoes.



Friday, July 27, 2012

Grilled Corn Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

I've been eagerly awaiting the arrival of our first corn of the season.  So, I was delighted to see three beautiful ears of white corn in today's box.  Corn is best eaten as soon as it's picked.  The sweet sugar begins to turn to blander starch almost immediately after the ear is plucked from the stalk, so always buy the freshest corn you can get and eat it right away.

I've been thinking about corn salads for weeks.  When I came home this afternoon, I turned on the grill, pulled the husks and silk off the corn, rubbed the ears with a little olive oil, and put the corn on the hot grill for about 10 minutes, rotating the ears two or three times during cooking.  Then I took the corn off the grill and let it cool.

In the meantime, I finely chopped a little red onion, pasilla pepper, and fresh chives.  Pasilla peppers can be hot, but the hotness is in the seeds, so use as much or as little of the seeds as you like.  If you prefer something completely mild, you can substitute red or green bell pepper.

I also chopped up some cilantro.  If you don't care for cilantro, you can substitute fresh Italian parsley or basil.

Then I mixed up a simple lime vinaigrette using just 2 T of extra virgin olive oil and 2 T fresh-squeezed lime juice.

When the corn was cool enough to handle, I cut the kernels off the ears into a bowl and mixed in the finely chopped red onion, pasilla pepper, chives, and cilantro.  I poured the vinaigrette over the corn salad and seasoned it with salt and pepper.  And that's it!

Here are the amounts that I used:

3 ears fresh white corn
2 T finely chopped red onion
2 T finely chopped pasilla pepper
2 T finely chopped green chives
2 T chopped cilantro, or to taste
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T fresh-squeezed lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

Follow the directions above and use these amounts to make four side servings.

I nibbled a little corn when I took it off the grill and it was bursting with juicy sweetness.  This corn is so delicious, you don't need to do anything to it.  So, if corn salad is more work than you want for a mid-summer weekend, just cook the corn on a grill or in a pot of water and sprinkle it with a little sea salt, or decadently slather it with butter while it's hot, or squeeze some lime juice and sprinkle some finely-ground hot pepper over the warm ears, or try a little grated parmesan cheese on the hot ears.  It's all good.

Today's bounty included:

From Jaime Farms:  Romaine, chives, basil, white corn, and eggplant;

From JR Organics:  Tomatoes and green beans;

From Sage Mountain Farm:  Patty pan squash, rainbow carrots, arugula, purple scallions, and yellow candy onions;

From Silver Lake Farms:  Basil or squash seedlings;

From Sweet Tree Farms:  White nectarines and flavor king pluots; and

From Weiser Family Farms:  Melons.



Friday, July 20, 2012

SLF CSA Grilled Vegetables

When it's too hot to heat up the kitchen, it's grilling weather at my house.  With the right equipment, you can cook just about anything on a grill.

There are clever, fish-shaped grilling baskets for whole fish, rotisseries for meats, pizza stones for pizza, and skewers for just about anything.  But the single most useful piece of grilling equipment is a grill basket, a sturdy metal pan with sloped sides and lots of small holes.  It sits right on top of the grate.  The holes are perfect for letting juices drip down but too small to lose anything else.  And the pan can get quite hot, so you can get a nice char on whatever you're grilling.  It's ideal for grilling vegetables.

Start with a mix of fresh summer vegetables, cut them into strips or chunks, toss them in a little olive oil, sprinkle them with salt, and grill them in a grill basket, stirring occasionally, like a stir-fry.  Grill them until they're done to your liking, 10-20 minutes depending on how you like them and the heat of your grill.  It's that easy.

Some vegetables take longer to cook than others.  You can deal with this by cutting denser vegetables such as carrots into thinner pieces, or you can grill each vegetable separately until it's at its perfect done-ness.  Personally, I like that some vegetables turn out a little crunchier than others, so I just mix mine all together and grill them until there's a little char on some of the vegetables.

I like a mix of color, but you can go monochromatic if you wish.  Avoid leaves, such as spinach, kale and chard, as they tend to burn long before the other veggies are done.  Herbs are lovely and can add great depth of flavor, but they burn easily too, so add them after you take the veggies off the grill, or stir them in just before you take the vegetables off the grill.  A sprinkle or two of fine balsamic vinegar is another delicious way of dressing up your grilled vegetables.

My vegetable mix uses several of the items in today's box:  green beans, Mexican squash, carrots, and candy onions.  I threw in a little red bell pepper for extra color.  For two generous servings, I used:

1/4 lb green beans
1 Mexican squash
2 carrots
1 medium onion
1/2 red bell pepper
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Heat up the grill and grill pan.

2.  While the grill is heating, slice the vegetables and place in a bowl.

3.  Toss the veggies with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4.  When the grill is hot, pour the veggies into the grill pan and cook, stirring occasionally until done, about 10-20 minutes.

Serve hot or room temperature.

If you have any leftovers, you can toss them into an omelet or make a grilled vegetable sandwich on a fresh ciabatta roll with a little chipotle mayo.  Yum.

Today's bounty included:

From Jaime Farms:  Green beans, parsley, baby dill, and broccoli;

From JR Organics:  Red romaine lettuce and chard;

From Sage Mountain Farms:  Mexican squash, chantenay carrots, red russian kale, purple scallions, and yellow candy onions;

From Silver Lake Farms:  Basil seedlings;

From Sweet Tree Farms:  Yellow nectarines and donut peaches; and

From Weiser Family Farms:  Ogen melon.



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fieldwork for Food ! A Volunteer Work Incentive Program from Silver Lake Farms

Wanna try urban farming?  And get fresh local veggies in return?

Silver Lake Farms is now offering a volunteer work incentive program for urban farming enthusiasts in L.A.

Volunteers will have the opportunity to work with Silver Lake Farms' variety of crops: cut flowers, microgreens, edible flowers, mushrooms, and/or help with food distribution at CSA pickup, help out at farmers' markets, and/or work with seeds, soil and plants at one of our growing grounds located in Silverlake and Glassell Park.

Starting Friday, July 20, volunteer with Silver Lake Farms on a regular basis (set hours weekly or every other week).

After you've logged 20 volunteer hours, your commitment will be rewarded with a free bi-weekly CSA share (pickup every other week on Fridays in Silverlake).  Our CSA bounty comes from local farmers in L.A. and neighboring counties and includes organic fruit, veggies, greens, brown rice, goat cheese and other goodies.  

Volunteer hours musts be logged between 7/20 and 9/21.

contact: for more info.