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.