Archive | Fall 2009



Sonoma Wine Auction
September 4-6, throughout Sonoma County. Get your tickets for the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction. Three unforgettable days of celebration! More than 200 world-class wineries and chefs showcase their talents at winemaker lunches and dinners, culminating in a grand auction. 800.939.7666 or .

Moonshine & Wine—CB Ranch Benefit
September 5, 6PM–10:30PM, VIP Reception begins at 4:30PM, Silverado Resort, 1600 Atlas Peak Road, Napa. Benefit for the CB Ranch “After School” Program for Napa’s at risk kids who raise livestock for college and trade school tuition. Incredible food, wine, live and silent auction , and a private concert with country music star Matt Stillwell. $150/ pp General, $250/pp VIP. 707.252.3895 or

David Mas Masumoto
September 5, 7PM, Toby’s Feed Barn, 11250 Hwy 1, Point Reyes. David Mas Masumoto, author of Wisdom of the Last Farmer, Harvesting Legacy from the Land, Epitaph for a Peach and three other books, is a third generation organic peach and grape farmer whose organic farming techniques have been employed by farmers across the nation. Come hear him speak as a part of the “Food for Thought” author series hosted by Point Reyes Books and Marin Organic. 415.663.1542 or

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It’s no news that Marin, Sonoma, and Napa boast a magical alchemy of sun and soil for the edible gardener. Not only does our kind California climate coax a yearround bounty of fruits and vegetables from our very own garden plots, but our mild winters offer a unique opportunity to grow luscious Mediterranean crops like grapes, pistachios, figs, citrus and pomegranates. The star of this group that has it all—exceptional fruit, evergreen good looks, easygoing needs, and mind-boggling historical significance— is the olive tree (Olea europaea).

The olive is one of the oldest crops in the history of humankind. Over 7,000 years ago, people began cultivating these elegant trees. The love affair evidently continues today, as the olive ranks as the single most cultivated fruit crop in the world. Its historical impact is undeniable. The ancient Greeks honored it as a symbol of prosperity and triumph (think victory crowns at the Olympic Games) and Homer regularly cited it as a pivotal plant in the twists and turns of The Odyssey. Olive trees are mentioned over 30 times each in the Bible and the Qur’an. Talk about longevity, these spiritual trees can thrive and produce … Read More

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Across the United States, the pumpkin is the quintessential symbol of autumn, deeply rooted in our celebrations of Halloween and Thanksgiving. Pilgrims, pumpkins, and the first Thanksgiving in the New World are synonymous. Halloween’s Jack-o’-lanterns came to us by way of Irish immigrants. According to Irish folklore, Jack – who made a deal with the devil and then tricked him – was denied entrance to both heaven and hell, but when the devil cast him into eternal darkness he gave him a glowing ember to light his way. In Ireland, All Hallows’ Eve, October 31st, was celebrated by carrying an ember in a hollowed-out turnip. Once in America, Irish immigrants replaced turnips with pumpkins.

Jack-o’-lantern type pumpkins are the earliest of the varieties to appear, but unfortunately, they are quite fibrous and their flavor bland, so they are not the best to cook with. You want a pumpkin that has dense, flavorful flesh for cooking, whether for pies, soups, gratins, or stews. A local favorite is the round “Sugar Pie” pumpkin, ranging in size from 2 to 8 pounds. Its texture makes outstanding pies with a flavor that is nutty and sweet. A French favorite, which I’m … Read More

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1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
1 large egg
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup homemade or canned pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons canola or other light vegetable oil
Vegetable oil for cooking
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, nutmeg, and cloves. In a large bowl, beat the egg, milk, and pumpkin together until just blended. Stir in the oil. Add the flour mixture all at once to the egg mixture and stir until just blended.

Heat a griddle or large frying pan over medium high heat. Coat with vegetable oil. When hot, add the pancake batter 1/4 cup at a time. Cook until the edges pull away slightly from the pan and bubbles form evenly on the top, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn and cook the other side until golden, another 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat until all the batter is used.

Serve at once accompanied by butter, syrup, and toasted pecans.

Makes about 1 dozen pancakes.

Note: Be sure to grind your own spices for the … Read More

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To make your own highly flavorful pumpkin puree, here is what you do:

If you are using a 3 to 4 pound pumpkin, bake it whole on a baking sheet in a 350 F° oven until a sharp knife easily pierces through to the seed cavity, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. When it is cool enough to handle, peel away the skin, cut it in half, remove the seeds and fibers, and mash the soft flesh with a potato masher or process in a food processor. For a larger pumpkin, cut in half or into wedges before baking.

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… tales from a floating foraged feast


A steady afternoon breeze had just died down as we gathered with 28 other eager guests atop a lovely Sausalito houseboat. There was the animated banter and quick bonding characteristic of many Bay Area “underground” dinners. We were hungry and curious, wondering just what would be on the eight-course, mostly foraged feast.

I pitched in and set up an ad hoc prep station next to the communal BYOB wine table, rinsing and draining lettuces off the back of the boat. Iso Rabins, founder of forageSF, was busy prepping things a bit more exotic —wild radish seed pods and an appetizer of escargot-stuffed mushroom caps. While the mushrooms looked farmers’ market familiar, the snails had been more elusive —they had been recently foraged from a number of Bay Area parks and back yards, including mine!

The dinner was graciously hosted by Julie Kahn, an artist and filmmaker who is currently working with Hayley Downs on “Swamp Cabbage, a dark and sweaty documentary,” about what else—wild game and foraging. The two hope to release the film in 2011, but in the meantime they are hosting a series of … Read More

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Knowledge of preserving foods of all kinds through canning, drying, pickling, cellaring, fermenting, and freezing is at the very heart of a sustainable food system. At one time in our nation’s history, most Americans had some knowledge and system of food preservation as a part of their personal and communal food security plan. Today, far fewer Americans understand or practice any of these culinary art forms.

Beyond the practical, there are a whole host of other reasons to put up the harvest – beauty, rhythm, tradition, and the sensory delight of a creative endeavor that culminates in edible art. I fondly remember our annual summer visit to our Italian relatives in western Pennsylvania. They had a five acre homestead with a garden, poultry, and an orchard. They grew, raised, and preserved much of their own food.

I remember our aunts and cousins getting together in the late, hot, summer to drag the big picnic tables and benches under the old apple trees when it was time to pick apples. To avoid the heat in the kitchen, they used some stones and an old wire shelf to make an outdoor hearth and did their canning directly under the … Read More

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Making the sauce

You will need:

5 Pounds of ripe tomatoes
Italian paste tomatoes work well. Heirloom tomatoes have a higher
water content so be prepared to cook them longer. You may continue to
add more tomatoes as the sauce cooks down.
2 red or yellow onions
4 to 5 whole garlic cloves
1 to 2 red, green, or yellow peppers (sweet, not hot)
1 ½ to 2 cups mixed fresh herbs including basil, oregano, thyme and marjoram
(Use less if you only have dried herbs instead of fresh.)
3 bay leaves
Several sprigs of fresh oregano, thyme and marjoram, and a handful of
basil leaves, for adding to the jars at the last moment before sealing
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut out the stem of each tomato and chop into three or four coarse pieces. Peel and cut the onions into halves or quarters. Peel the garlic cloves. Core and cut each pepper into three or four pieces. Coarsely chop the mixed fresh herbs. Place all of these ingredients, together with the bay leaves, into a large, heavy enamel or stainless steel kettle with a lid. Add salt and pepper.

Cover and cook slowly over low heat, stirring … Read More

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When Edible Marin & Wine Country asked us to cook an “Indian Summer” dinner out among the dunes of Stinson Beach, I went to my happy place. There is nothing on this earth as soul-satisfying as a well-made pot of chowder, and nothing as flexible for casual entertaining.

In my native New England, chowder is much beloved, and the source of bitter contention between warring factions. The history of this simple, staple, masterpiece is clouded at best. The word “chowder” is most likely derived from the French “chaudiere,” meaning cauldron. Essentially a French fisherman’s stew, it landed in New England well over two hundred years ago as a coastal staple comprised of cod, salt-cured pork, hardtack (sailor’s crackers), onion and butter. The next century would bring simple but fabulous innovation to the chowder pot, most notably the addition of milk or cream, and sliced potatoes. New England soft shell clams, both plentiful and cheap, also landed in the pot, which in hindsight seems more like divine intervention than innovation.

I am a child of the New England chowder pot. I spent my first fifteen summers in the town of Manchester-By-The-Sea, located on Cape Ann, north of Boston. … Read More

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Serves 8 as an entrée

For the chowder base:

2 tablespoons water
3 ounces bacon or salt pork, cut into lardons
2 medium onions, medium dice
1 leek, trimmed, quartered lengthwise, and sliced about 1/2–inch thick
2 stalks celery, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
5 cups fish stock (or substitute 2 ½ cups clam juice and 2 ½ cups water)
1 tablespoon kosher salt, more to taste
2 bay leaves

To finish the dish:

2 large russet potatoes, sliced in half lengthwise, then sliced into 1/2 –inch half moons
1 ½ pounds white fish such as halibut, cut into two-bite chunks
1 ½ cups heavy cream, or to taste
White pepper to taste
Beer-Steamed Clams (optional, see recipe)

To prepare the base: Heat the water with the bacon or salt pork over a medium burner. Stir occasionally for five minutes, or until the water has cooked off and the pork is golden all over. Add the onion, leek and celery, and stir to coat in the pork fat. Continue to cook for five to seven minutes, stirring often, until the onions are translucent and smell sweet. Add the stock, salt and bay leaves. Bring the pot to a … Read More

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