Friday, April 27, 2012

Sorrel Pesto

I love the vibrant lemony flavor of fresh sorrel.  It grows well in Southern California.  My plants stay green and thick all year.  The easiest way to use sorrel is in a salad.  Tear up some sorrel, arugula, and lettuce for a bright and spicy salad mix.  A classic sorrel dish is cream of sorrel soup.  However, my favorite sorrel recipe is sorrel pesto.

Sorrel pesto is a cinch to mix up and has myriad uses.  It's wonderful as a sauce for grilled shrimp, salmon, or chicken.  It's a great garnish for boiled, sliced potatoes.  And you can toss it with hot pasta and mild goat cheese to make a delicious and creamy entree or side dish.  I particularly like using orecchiette or shells, but you can use shape you wish.

4 C loosely packed sorrel (about 12-14 medium leaves)
1/2 small shallot
scant 1/4 C toasted walnuts
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1/4 t salt, or to taste

1.  Wash the sorrel leaves well.  Remove the stems and chop the leaves coarsely.  Measure 4 C chopped leaves.  Set aside.

2.  In a food processor with the motor running, drop the 1/2 shallot and walnuts into the work bowl through the feed tube.  Process until finely chopped.

3.  Scrape the corners of the work bowl to loosen any nut mixture that's stuck there.  Add the sorrel leaves and process using an on-off technique until chopped.

4.  Then, working quickly with the motor running, add 1/4 C olive oil through the feed tube and process until a green paste forms.  Add a little more oil if desired.

5.  Add salt and process for 1-2 seconds to mix.

If you don't have a food processor, you can make this pesto with a mortar and pestle.  It's just a little more labor, but well worth the effort.

Today's bounty included:

From Weiser Family Farms:  French baker potatoes;

From Jaime Farms:  Radishes, golden beets, green scallions, free-range eggs, hot-house peppers, dill, basil, Tuscan kale, and mint;

From JR Organics:  Sugar snap peas and sorrel;

From Sage Mountain Farm:  Red sails lettuce, spinach, strawberries, and mustard.



Friday, April 20, 2012


Today's recipe has been several weeks in the making. Sauerkraut is cabbage fermented in brine made with salt and cabbage's own juices. Fermentation is a natural process that results from encouraging desirable bacteria to grow in foods.

Sauerkraut is made by encouraging the growth of naturally occurring lactic acid-producing bacteria. The bacteria consume the sugars in cabbage and produce lactic acid which causes delicious changes in taste, texture, and appearance.

These bacteria are anaerobic, which means they prefer an environment free of oxygen, so it's important to keep the chopped or shredded cabbage submerged during the fermentation. Strands of shredded cabbage exposed to air are good vehicles for introducing undesirable bacteria into the mix resulting in a product with off flavors.

Sauerkraut can be made in many different types of containers. Ceramic crocks are traditional. However, a large glass jar, such as a two-quart, wide-mouth canning jar allows you to observe the changes in the cabbage over time. Food grade plastic or an unchipped, enamel-lined pan will work as well. What's important is that you can weight down the cabbage so that it stays submerged.

I've been using an airlock lacto-fermentation kit made by Le Parfait which is available at the Farmer's Kitchen near the Hollywood Farmer's Market.

Today's recipe comes from Chef Ernest Miller at the Farmer's Kitchen. It's a basic sauerkraut recipe that's flavored with rich caraway, spicy mustard, and sweet celery seeds. Of course, you can use whatever seasonings you like, or none at all. Just be sure to start with the freshest cabbage and use a scale to measure the cabbage and the salt.

For a 3 liter or 3 quart vessel, use the quantities below. For a 1.5 liter or 2 quart container, cut these quantities in half:

3 lbs shredded or thinly sliced cabbage
1 oz canning, pickling, kosher, or sea salt (do not use iodized table salt for fermented products)
2 t caraway seeds
2 t yellow mustard seeds
1 t celery seeds

You may need a little extra brine which can be made by bringing 1 oz of salt and 1 qt of water to a boil.

1. Discard the outer leaves of the cabbage. Rinse the head under cold running water and drain.

2. Cut the cabbage in quarters and remove the cores. Shred or slice the cabbage thinly.

3. Put the shredded cabbage in a large mixing bowl and toss with the salt and spices using clean hands.

4. Pack the cabbage firmly into your clean jar or other fermenting vessel until the salt draws the juices from the cabbage.

5. Place a clean weight on top of the cabbage to force the water out of the cabbage and keep it submerged in its own brine. You can use a clean jar filled with brine or a plastic Ziploc bag filled with brine as a weight. Just be sure that all the cabbage is submerged. If the cabbage hasn't exuded enough liquid to cover itself, then add enough brine to cover the cabbage.

6. Cover the jar and twist on the airlock. Add a little brine to the airlock. Keep at a temperature of 70-80 degrees F for 2-4 weeks until fully fermented. Kraut stored at 60-65 degrees F might take a little longer. Kraut stored at temperature below 60 degrees F may not ferment.

It's normal for the sauerkraut to produce some bubbles during fermentation. 

Today's bounty included:
From Weiser Family Farms: Russian Banana potatoes; 
From Jaime Farms: Cabbage, celery, radishes, hot-house zucchini, free range eggs, hot-house red peppers, romaine, cilantro, and parsley;
From Sage Mountain Farm: Scallions, green onions, spinach, spicy greens mix, and rainbow chard; From JR Organics: Baby carrots abd Red Russian kale.



Friday, April 13, 2012

Carrot and Spring Onion Pancakes

Most people think of pancakes as a sweet breakfast treat, but savory pancakes can be just as delicious. They're versatile, too. Not strictly relegated to breakfast, you can serve savory pancakes with a salad for a light and tasty supper; or as a side (instead of potatoes or rice) with roast chicken or beef. I like to dress up these Carrot and Spring Onion pancakes with creme fraiche and snipped herbs and top them with a thin slice of gravlax for an elegant brunch dish.

For 7-8 3-inch pancakes, use the quantities below. You can double this recipe to make approximately 15 3-inch pancakes.

2 large eggs
1/3 C flour
2 T olive oil
2 T water
1/4 t salt or to taste
pepper to taste
1/2 C grated carrots
1/2 C chopped spring onions
vegetable oil for frying

1. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs lightly.

2. Stir in the flour, olive oil, water, salt and pepper until combined.

3. Stir in the grated carrots and chopped spring onions until evenly distributed.

4. Heat 1-2 T oil in a medium skillet (coat should coat the bottom of the skillet).

5. Drop large spoonfuls of batter in the hot skillet. Lightly spread each spoonful of batter to make a round pancake. Cook until the bottom is browned; flip and cook until the other side is browned. Depending on the size of your skillet, you make have to fry the pancakes in batches. Add a little extra oil, if necessary, for each batch. Serve hot.

Today's bounty included:

From Sage Mountain Farms: Carrots, spring onions, red sails lettuce, broccoli raab leaves, arugula, purple Italian fresh garlic and loose spinach;

From JR Organics: Red carrots and red butter lettuce;

From Rancho Santa Cecilia: Golden Nugget mandarins and Hass avocados;

From Jaime Farms: Cauliflower, dill, cilantro, broccoli, and leeks;

From Drake Family Farms: Chevre.



Friday, April 6, 2012

Beet, Mandarin and Feta Salad with Nasturtiums

Today's recipe uses several items from this week's bounty to compose an attractive and delicious salad. Make a little for a side dish, or make a lot for a main course salad.

Use the quantites below for two generous side dish servings:

1 C roasted beets, peeled and cubed

To roast beets: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Trim off greens (save for another use). Wash and dry the beets. Wrap in foil (optional). Roast in the oven until a fork or skewer can easily pierce the beet. Cool to room temperature.

2/3 C crumbled feta cheese
2 nugget mandarins, peeled, trimmed of pith
1/4 C nasturtiums, stemmed and torn into pieces
1/2 - 1 t olive oil
1/2 t balsamic vinegar, or more to taste
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place the roasted and cubed beets in a bowl with the crumbled feta.

2. Pull the mandarin sections apart and cut in half or cut the peeled mandarin sections into supremes. [See the recipe for March 16, 2012 on how to cut citrus supremes.] Add to the bowl with the beets and cheese.

3. Add the torn nasturtiums. Toss the salad.

4. Add a small amount of olive oil and balsamic and toss again.

5. Serve by spooning out onto a a salad leaf or two, such as a red butter letuce leaf or a few large leaves from the salad mix. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, if desired.

Today's bounty included:

From Sage Mountain Farm: Blue Scotch kale, salad mix, Shiraz beets, green purple Italian garlic, and spring onions;

From JR Organics: Golden chard, mustard greens, and red butter lettuce;

From Weiser Family Farms: Rutabaga;

From Rancho Santa Cecilia: Hass avocados and Golden Nugget mandarins;

From Jaime Farms: Brown onions, mixed bell peppers, free range eggs.

And assorted herbs and nasturtiums from Silver Lake Farms.