Posts tagged ‘zucchini’

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

February 22, 2011

Two Salads and a Mandolin

Fresh Zucchini Salad with Avocado, Toasted Almonds and Feta

Fennel, Orange and Walnut Salad with Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette

I haven’t always liked the mandolin; it scared me, for the obvious reason – it can seriously hurt you! One of my first positions out of culinary school was at an amazing restaurant in Los Angeles. I dreamed about working at this place. I started in the pantry station (salads, hot and cold appetizers, pretty much the bottom of the brigade, but boy was I happy to be there!). One of the first jobs the Chef gave me was to slice a case of Brussels Sprouts. That’s probably the equivalent of the entire display at the grocery store, and I was to use a mandolin, gulp.

But why couldn’t I have just used my knife? “No, they need to be shaved extremely thin, like only a mandolin can do.” Surely this must have been a test. She could have easily given the job to one of the more experienced Chefs, who could do the job in a fraction of the time, blindfolded. This was one of those defining kitchen moments that would determine my destiny. If I’d failed, I’d have been humiliated and sentenced to peeling potatoes and chopping mushrooms for the duration of my stay.

So there I was, the newbie, and the only female on the hot line, sweating, not from the extreme heat but because of all the eyes fixed on me, giggling to themselves. They probably had bets going to see how long it would take me to get rushed to the hospital, quit, throw something or even worse – cry! Did I mention this was a non-paying internship?

Well, failure wasn’t an option, so I put on a triple layer of latex gloves, took a deep breath, put my head down and shoveled through the case, one by one. I survived with only minor injuries, which I kept to myself.

I’m not big on kitchen gadgets, I use very few of them. But the ones I own, I use all the time, and the mandolin is one of them. It’s a time saver that makes beautiful, uniform slices and ribbons of any size, from paper thin radishes for salads to potatoes, perfect to scallop or fry into chips. Few of us can manage this with a knife, and for the rest, there’s a mandolin. If you’re not already using a mandolin, I encourage you to pick one up. You may consider getting a pair of cut resistant gloves, because you can never be too careful. In my opinion, the Japanese Benriner is the best, it’s scary sharp, lightweight and for $20, the price is right! (click here for more info)

I received this amazingly fresh Zucchini and Fennel in my CSA share this week, and immediately knew I wanted to use them in salads, uncooked. These are bright, summery salads, and judging by the horrific weather a lot of you are having this winter, I hope it brightens your day a bit.

Fresh Zucchini Salad with Avocado, Feta and Almonds:
I was so excited to unwrap the ginormus, New York Times Cook Book for Christmas. One of the first recipes I flipped to was called “Zucchini Carpaccio,” it sounded perfect. I’ve adapted it a bit. I didn’t have pistachios or the oil, but I did have slivered almonds and almond oil, and thought a firm salty feta would be a nice addition. I also added the Thyme to the Zucchini as it marinated, I wanted the Thyme to have a chance to marry with the rest of the flavors in the dish, instead of adding it at the end as the recipe suggests. I have to say, this is one of the best salads I’ve had in a long time.

Fennel and Orange Salad with Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette:
I used the Tangelos and Lemons from my share, but any orange or tangerine will work great. If you don’t have a lemon, white wine or champagne vinegar will do the trick. I added the fennel fronds and fennel seeds to bring out the full flavor of the fennel. The smokiness of the Paprika plays well with the sweet tangelos and tart lemons.

February 13, 2011

Getting Comfy with Your CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)

Hi and welcome to my first post! I thought I’d kick things off with a series featuring my CSA shares (for more info. on all the great reasons to join a Community Supported Agriculture group click here).

If you already belong to a CSA, are thinking of joining one, or have shamefully quit due to defeat by the overwhelming amount of Brussels Sprouts that kept showing up in your box, this will be a fun series of posts to follow. I’ll chronicle my next several shares, writing recipes based on what I get. So, follow along with your shares, or pick up some seasonal veggies at your farmers market, local grocery store, or just check in to see that the heck I’m going to do with all the Brussels Sprouts. I promise I’ll figure out a way to make them taste great.

A peek inside box #1

(Local Florida Strawberries, Eggs, Blueberries, Local Minneola Tangelos, Fair Trade Bananas, Purple Potatoes, Lacinato Kale, Zucchini, Spaghetti Squash, Romaine Lettuce, Fennel, Garlic and Oregano)

Upcoming Menu, stay tuned.

Brown Butter Roasted Strawberries
Blueberry Scones
Fennel, Orange and Walnut Salad with Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette
Fresh Zucchini Salad with Avocado, Toasted Almonds and Feta
Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Parmesan, White Truffle Oil and Gremolata
Purple and Sweet Potato Hash with Garlicky Kale and Soft Eggs

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