Archive | Spring 2011

Swamp Soup

Yield: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, divided in half
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups zucchini, thinly sliced (about 3 whole squash)
  • 2 medium ripe avocados, peeled and with the pit removed
  • ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • A handful of cooked organic black or pinto beans Prepared pesto (optional)

TO PREPARE

In a large saucepan, bring 2 cups of the broth to a boil with the onion, garlic and nutmeg. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, add the remaining 2 cups of broth and the zucchini and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, re-cover and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the lid and allow the soup to cool slightly.

In a blender, purée the slightly cooled soup mixture with the avocado, in batches, until it reaches a smooth consistency. Return the purée to the saucepan, add salt to taste and warm gently. To serve, place a few of the beans in the bottom of the bowl and gently pour in the soup. When you serve it make sure to … Read More

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Grilled Green Garlic

These can be chopped and added to tacos or green salads, folded into mashed potatoes or used as toppings for pizza.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 green garlic bulbs
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

TO PREPARE

Trim the top inch or so of the green garlic bulbs and remove the outermost layer and discard. Place the trimmed green garlic in a baking dish and drizzle with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, turning several times to coat the garlic.

Preheat a gas grill or prepare a wood or charcoal fire. Rub the grill grate with olive oil. When the fire is very hot, place the garlic crosswise over the grate and cook until lightly charred—30 seconds to 1 minute. Then turn over and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove from the fire and chop, slice or use otherwise as you desire.

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Roast Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

This is not for green garlic, but the fully formed but not cured fresh garlic. Yield: 5-6 servings as a main course

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 chicken, about 3½ pounds
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage
  • 2 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 40 cloves of fresh, young garlic, unpeeled
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 to 10 slices country-style bread, toasted or grilled

TO PREPARE

Preheat the oven to 375º. Wash the chicken, pat it dry and rub the inside and outside with salt and pepper. Place 4 cloves of garlic and half of the thyme, rosemary, sage and parsley into the cavity of the chicken. Place the remaining herbs in a pot just large enough to hold the chicken. Add the oil and the rest of the garlic cloves and sprinkle with additional salt and pepper. Roll the chicken in the oil, finishing with the breast side facing up. Roast until the chicken is golden brown and, when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a fork, the juices run clear, about 1 hour and 45 minutes

Remove the chicken to a platter, and surround it with the … Read More

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Risi e Bisi

Yield: 6 as a main course; 8 as a side dish

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • ½ cup finely diced pancetta
  • 1 ½ cups Carnaroli rice
  • 6 ounces crisp white wine
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, to taste
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups freshly shelled English peas, blanched in boiling salted water until just tender
  • ¼ cup Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
  • ¾ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, more for garnish Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

TO PREPARE

In a 3-quart pot, heat the chicken stock to a bare simmer and then turn off the burner. In a straight-sided heavy pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until the fat has been rendered, 2–3 minutes. Add the onion and sauté for 2 minutes, or until translucent. Add the rice and stir to coat completely. Toast the rice for 2–3 minutes, until very hot but not browned. Clear a place in the center of the pan with a spoon, then pour in the wine. Stir for 30 seconds, or until the wine has been completely absorbed.

Add 2 teaspoons of the … Read More

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Notable Edibles

Local Winners of the Good Food Awards

On January 14, the winners of the first annual Good Food Awards were announced in a ceremony hosted by Alice Waters at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Building. A total of 71 artisanmade products nominated from throughout the US were given awards in the categories of beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, pickles and preserves. Judges included Northern California foodie notables Bruce Aidells, Michael Recchiuti and Nell Newman, daughter of actors Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward and founder of Newman’s Own Organics.

For the purposes of the awards, the country was divided into five regions and we are thrilled to report that products from Marin, Napa and Sonoma Counties made up a significant number of the winners chosen from the West region. In the beer category, Marin Brewing Company of Larkspur won for its ESChi beer. In the charcuterie category, The Girl and the Fig of Sonoma won for its coppa. In the cheese category, longtime favorite Cowgirl Creamery of Point Reyes Station won for its Red Hawk cheese and newcomer Nicasio Valley Cheese Company of Nicasio made its presence known with a win for its Nicasio Square cheese. In the pickle category, the … Read More

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To market, To market

Chef Shoberg

TEXT AND RECIPE BY CHEF TODD SHOBERG

PHOTOGRAPHY BY STACY VENTURA

Shopping the local farmers’ markets for produce and other ingredients to use in my cooking as the Executive Chef at Piatti Ristorante in Mill Valley is my number one priority. To me, using what grows locally, in its season, simply makes sense. I consider this philosophy the authentic translation of Italian-inspired cuisine—cooking rustic, flavorful, thoughtful food from the very best ingredients that grow around you.

I am convinced that Marin County and Northern California have some of the best soil on the earth. Being a chef here is a blessing, as we have access to the best of the best, and shopping at the farmers’ markets is how I like to get it. My favorite markets are the Thursday and Sunday morning markets at the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael. This is the highlight of my workweek—coffee and waffles with my sous chef, conversations with other Bay Area chefs, farmers and other frequent shoppers we have befriended along the way and gathering amazing produce and other food items from local producers to take back to our kitchen.

When people catch on from conversations I am … Read More

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Teach Your Children Well

Creating Empowered Stewards for our Planet and All Things Edible

By Robin Carpenter

Kindergartner helping to plant garlic at Paradise Valley Farm in Bolinas.

“In an ideal world… We will not have to ‘preserve’ or ‘protect’ land Because we will have learned what it means to be good stewards…”

—Terry Tempest Williams

“Teaching kids how to feed themselves and how to live in a community responsibly is the center of an education.”

—Alice Waters

I often wish that the children I know could have days of climbing trees and picking blackberries with their friends. As a child, I ran free through the marshes and piney woods where I grew up and fell in love with the land and animals in a joyful, natural way. As an adult, I could never imagine doing anything that would harm my first love.

Over the last 60 years we have lost much of our connection to the land, and, thus, our food. That is true even here in Marin, Napa and Sonoma Counties where we are surrounded by gorgeous cultivated fields and ranches. Thankfully, though, we are also surrounded by a growing number of educational programs that are dedicated to guiding our children toward … Read More

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The Pea Whisperer

POTABLE PAIRINGS

Text, recipe and photo by chef david katz

Ask a bushel of peas how they would prefer to meet their end, and they will tell you, in unison, to lay them down in a bed of toothsome rice, kiss them goodbye with pancetta, toast their martyrdom with white wine and honor their passing with butter and Parmigiano- Reggiano. Aw, heck—now I’m crying.

I have a special reverence for sweet spring peas, which lend themselves to a staggering array of dishes. My favorite way to celebrate spring’s first crop is to make a Risi e Bisi, or “rice and peas” in old Venetian dialect. Risi e Bisi is the traditional festival dish of St. Mark’s day in the Veneto region of Northern Italy. The authentic preparation might almost be classified as a minestra, or soup, rather than a risotto, but I love the same ingredients prepared in modern risotto style.

In the scope of Italian culinary history, risotto is a recent innovation, and subject to more than a few variations and interpretations. Every cook who loves to make risotto invokes gospel tones when describing their particular method of preparation. Usually the words “my grandmother” are woven … Read More

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A Community Rethinks Food

By LINZI GAY

Imagine driving through the Napa Valley 30 years ago. As you made your way down the Silverado Trail, you would pass walnut orchards, fig orchards and fields of wheat interspersed with vineyards. Take the same drive today and you will virtually only find vineyards.

Grape growing is extremely important to the Napa County economy and a huge draw for the tourists that support the county’ s many local businesses. But in the last 40 years, the grape crop in Napa County has grown from 31% to over 98% of the total agricultural output. This represents a significant upward shift in the value of wine grapes over time, but also a drastic reduction in crop diversity that is at the heart of a current countywide discussion around building a sustainable local food economy.

This discussion began in earnest last April when 300 people gathered at the Napa Valley Exposition for a series of panel discussions about the opportunities and challenges involved in developing a strong local food system. The event was called the Napa Local Food Forum and was brought to fruition by Napa County Agricultural Commissioner Dave Whitmer and his staff. “I saw a lot of … Read More

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