last week i had the pleasure of visiting hudson ranch, the farm that grows the delicious produce found in my weekly csa box. hudson invited all the csa members to a tour of the ranch/farm and then we were asked to stay for dinner. what an amazing experience...and one of those opportunities where i am smacked in the face with the realization of how incredibly fortunate i am to live in this beautiful place called the napa valley. the weather was perfect, the food was amazing, the other csa members were interesting, fun and very passionate about cooking/eating and...most of all, the process of walking through the garden to see the fruit and vegetables that would be added to my csa box that day....to hear about the heirloom varieties & the organic growing principles...to pick & immediately taste peas, beans, corn while standing in the field...this was truly living the "farm to food" experience many of us are seeking. can you tell that i had a blast?
i just want to take a minute to thank our host for the evening, lee hudson, of hudson ranch. lee lead us on the tour and i had the opportunity to spend some time with him asking questions and hearing about his philosophy regarding farming, ranching and wine making. (and thanks so much for the pie dough tips!!) a bit about lee from the hudson ranch website:
"The peaceful, bucolic setting of Hudson Vineyards belies the energy, intensity and passion of proprietor Robert Lee Hudson. Foresight and extraordinary diligence transformed the land into today’s highly esteemed vineyard. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Lee received his B.S. in Horticulture at the University of Arizona. He then worked with the esteemed Jacques Seysses of Domaine Dujac, in Morey St. Denis, Burgundy; learning that great grapes from hallowed vineyard sites produce truly world class, fine wines. Lee returned to the States to continue his studies in viticulture and enology at University of California at Davis, where many of his classmates are now his clients. Lee searched for property from Santa Barbara to Mendocino, before deciding on the Carneros property, founding Hudson Vineyards in 1981."
photo of lee hudson at hudson ranch
one of the dishes we had at the csa dinner was a white bean puree served with toasted pita crackers. the beans were delicious...subtly flavored with garlic & rosemary and made with fresh beans...so the cooking time was much shorter than if you started with dried. i was inspired to go home and make the puree but could not find the fresh cocoa bianco variety...hopefully they will be in our csa boxes soon...in the interim, i substituted dried heirloom beans. any white bean would work in this recipe...i used runner cannellini beans from rancho gordo. one last tip...hudson ranch did a bit of a rough puree...there was texture and the beans were not completely smooth. i liked it that way...and made mine the same way...but you should puree to the consistency you like. final note...i did not have hudson's recipe...made this one up based on my memory of the taste. if i get their recipe...and there are substantial differences...i will post that one too...enjoy!
8 oz dried white beans such as cannellini, navy or white kidney ( or cocoa bianco if you can find them)
1/2 small white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
freshly cracked pepper
check beans for small pebbles or other foreign matter...discard and then rinse in cool water. place beans in large stockpot and cover with two inches of water. soak for 4-6 hours.
meanwhile, sauté onion and rosemary in olive oil until soft...do not season. once beans have completed their soaking time add onion mixture to the stockpot. add additional water if needed so that beans are covered with about an inch of liquid. bring to a boil for five minutes and then lower heat to simmer. cook until soft (this can take between 1-3 hours). once beans are soft...season to taste with the sea salt and pepper.
drain beans but keep the soaking liquid. place 1 cup of beans in a food processor (keep the rest for another use). add the garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes and 2 tbsp bean soaking liquid and pulse until you have a smooth paste. season to taste with the sea salt and pepper. add additional soaking liquid if needed to achieve desired consistency. serve with pita chips, crackers and/or a crudités platter. the dip is also really good spread on toast with your favorite sandwich makings.
so there you go...my contribution for this week's summer fest...a recipe with beans & herbs...two out of three isn't too bad. as always...much thanks to margaret roach
and deb puchalla for coordinating summer fest 2010.... and i know i still owe you the grilled corn recipe from last week. soon...i promise!
best and happy cooking!
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