Posts tagged ‘heirloom tomatoes’

June 12, 2012

Baby Heirloom Tomatoes with Sorrel, Avocado & Yogurt Puree, Marinated Fennel, Brazil Nuts

Summer is in the air, and I’m California dreaming……

It’s just about time to shutter up the house, pack our bags, our little dog, and head to the West coast. How blessed are we, to be able to spend the summers with our much missed family and friends, and in my opinion, in one of the best places on the planet – Santa Cruz, CA! Ok, I may be a little bias, considering this is my hometown and all. So, dust off those winter lists girls (you know who you are), we have lots of exciting things to see, eat, smell, discover ~ and most importantly, enjoy our time spent together.

I’d like you to meet Bailey Sterling…

Baby Heirloom Tomatoes with Sorrel, Avocado & Yogurt Puree, Marinated Fennel, Brazil Nut Powder

Now, about this amazing salad.
I know, I know… it’s not quite summer, but I couldn’t resist these beautiful baby heirlooms. By layering the salad, not tossing it with the dressings, you get to enjoy all of the components; each bite is slightly different from the last. The subtle sorrel – avocado puree pools the bottom of the platter, allowing you to coat each tomato as you go. I made the marinated fennel slightly acidic so it wakes up the entire dish as it runs through the tomatoes. The sweetness of the brazil nut powder ties everything together.

September 1, 2011

My Summer Favorites – Heirloom Tomatoes, Padron Peppers & Burrata

Method Finely chop 1 bunch of basil with a clove of garlic and a few glugs of good quality olive oil (just
to moisten to basil)
. Slice tomatoes, sprinkle with sea salt and a few cracks of black pepper serve with
Brrata Cheese, basil oil and toasted Sourdough baguette.

Padron Peppers

MethodHeat a large saute pan over high heat. When the pan is very hot, drizzle with some olive oil and
add the
peppers all at once (stand back a little, they might spatter). When the skins begin to blister, squeeze
in some
lemon juice and a generous pinch of sea salt. Remove from pan and serve.

I want to share a few of my favorite farmers market must-haves. Every week a few heirloom tomatoes and a basket of Padron Peppers make it into my bag. I’m enjoying them as much as I can in these final weeks of summer. When fruits and vegetables are this perfect, at the peak of their season, you don’t want to do anything that masks the sun-kissed flavor. A pinch a salt, a drizzle of olive oil and maybe a splash lemon is all they need–if anything at all.

Heirloom Tomatoes are a favorite every year, and every year I’m astonished at how good these are with all the vibrant colors,  different textures and tastes. My favorite is green zebra, what’s yours?
(Actually, green zebra isn’t an heirloom, they are bred from 4 different heirloom varieties…go figure).

Padron Peppers are new to me this year (where have I been!). Mostly mild and sweet, but occasionally you’ll get a hot and spicy one in the batch. I noticed this weeks peppers were more spicy than the early summer ones – apparently they get spicier towards the end of summer. But not to spicy to thoroughly enjoy!

Another thing I’ve been enjoying is Burrata Cheese, I’m seeing it on a lot of menus around the Bay Area this summer. Burrata is a fresh Mozzarella that’s stuffed with a mixture of cream and mozzarella, giving it a beautiful, soft inner texture while having the familiar, firm outer shell. This is best served at room temperature.


August 13, 2011

A full belly at Full Belly Farm

Happy Chickens, or shall I say happy “Mobile” chickens, they’re moved from plot to plot enjoying leftover grains and seeds.

Red onions drying and sweetening in the California sun.

Apricots, Nectarines and Plums, these were the best dried fruits I’ve ever eaten.

Herb garden.

Flowers drying while hanging from the ceiling – I wish you could have smelled these!

First Course – Perfectly ripe figs with aged cheddar and balsamic.

Second Course – Fresh zucchini salad with shaved red onions and herbs. Great wine too!

Third Course – Fettuccine (made with happy eggs), farm-made bacon and ricotta, golden tomatoes and a touch of sweet cream.

Forth Course – Wheat Berry salad with heirloom tomatoes and speckled with goat cheese and herbs. Long cooked pork (below) with onions and preserved lemon. Simply Heaven.

Sorry, no pic of the wonderful Apricot Tart with fresh cinnamon ice cream – it went so fast that I didn’t have a chance to snap a shot…delish!

Full Belly Farm is a 300-acre certified organic farm in the Capay Valley, Northern California. That’s about 2 1/2 hours Northeast from us here in Santa Cruz. With over 80 different crops of vegetables, herbs, nuts, flowers, and fruits, the farm operates year round. They also have chickens, sheep, goats, several cows and a few adorable dogs.
Ursula (aka: Chef extraordinaire and long time friend) and I have been planning this trip since the spring and have been looking forward to this dinner for weeks. The day finally rolled around and we excitedly load up the car with our better halves and hit the road.  It took us all of about 30 minutes to tear into the “mobile picnic” that Ursula packed for us. It made the drive through the east bay traffic a lot more bearable. Actually… that lunch would have made driving through east Los Angeles, at night, in a convertible, more bearable. Ham and cheese sandwiches on sourdough bread, fresh berries, pretzels and shortbread cookies, “just a little something she threw together” – thanks Ursula!
We arrived at the farm a tad early which gave us the opportunity to unwind from our mini road trip and soak in some country living. We sat under the walnut trees watching the other dinner guests slowly trickle in, smiles on their faces and as full of anticipation as we were – is it time yet?

When everyone arrived, (25 total) we headed off on a walking tour of the farm. Judith Redmond passionately guided, educated and inspired us through the fruit and nut orchards, we met some friendly chickens and goats, ending up down at the river. Once cooled off we continued out past the herbs and vegetables, to the rows of onions and stone fruits basking in the sun (did I mention how wonderful these were?!). Then back around through the grape vines gradually making our way back to a beautifully set table where we chatted with one of the owners Paul Muller and other guests. Chef Amon Muller and Jenna Clemens (btw, congratulations on your wedding!) greeted us with wine, fresh-baked bread and our first dinner course. Everything we were offered, from the lemon verbena infused water to the wine, the fruits and veggies bursting with freshness to the “farm”made bacon, was grown and produced right there on the farm. I can’t put into words what it feels like to eat pasta lovingly made with the same hands that gathered the eggs (from the happy chickens) that we had met a short time earlier. Or to eat an apricot tart after just walking through the orchard from which they were grown and picked just before being sliced and placed in the oven. This is food that speaks to you without the use of words, with each bite. This is how food should taste, this is how the land is meant to be treated. This is a day and meal that I won’t forget.
To the wonderful people at Full Belly Farm – thank you for filling my soul (and my stomach).


How to contact Full Belly Farm
Main Office
Telephone: 530-796-2214
FAX: 530-796-2199
Mailing address: P.O. Box 251, Guinda, CA 95637

CSA Information
Telephone: 800-791-2110
FAX: 530-796-2199
Mailing address: P.O. Box 220, Guinda, CA 95637

Where to buy this farm’s products:
Full Belly Farm CSA
Berkley Farmers’ Market
Palo Alto Farmers’ Market
Marin Farmers Market at the Thursday Civic Center

Restaurants that serve products from this farm:
Adagia, Berkeley, CA
Boulette’s Larder, San Francisco, CA
Camino, Oakland, CA
Chez Panisse, Berkeley, CA
Flea Street Café, Menlo Park, CA
Lalimes, Berkeley, CA
NOPA, San Francisco, CA
Oliveto, Oakland, CA
Pizzaiolo, Oakland, CA
Quince, San Francisco, CA
The Fatted Calf, Napa, CA
The Waterboy, Sacramento, CA
Zuni Café, San Francisco, CA

March 23, 2011

Nicoise Salad and Quick Pickled Cucumbers

click on recipe to enlarge

Julia Child, what a true inspiration. It was her that made the Salade Nicoise famous here in America and was one of her favorite main course salads. The classic has tomato wedges, boiled new potatoes, hard boiled eggs, leafy lettuce and canned tuna. I’ve changed it up to suit my taste (and to use what came in my CSA share). I used sweet potatoes, soft boiled eggs, baby spinach, heirloom cherry tomatoes, fresh seared tuna and I added the olives and anchovy to the vinaigrette. My version may be debated by purists and not considered a true Salade Nicoise (sorry Julia), but I think she would have approved of this one. “Bon Appétit!”

I pickle anything and everything I can get my hands on. Beets, green beans, cabbage, carrots, jalapenos – sour, sweet or spicy, it doesn’t matter, it’s all good to me. At this moment I have beets, radishes and jalapenos in my fridge patiently waiting to be added to burgers, salads, a sauce or cocktail. I find myself pickling the fresh vegetables I can’t seem to eat quick enough. You know how it is to have a fridge full of beautiful vegetables knowing that it’s not humanly possible to plow through them all before you start having casualties, or to have no choice but to make yet another Ratatouille or soup surprise. So I pickle them to enjoy later – no pressure, no guilt.

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