Thursday, June 24, 2010

how about a recipe for spicy braised baby artichokes?

i have been loving my weekly csa bounty...and totally enjoying the way i now "menu plan". every thursday i pick up my box, which is loaded with the most amazing organic fruit and vegetables, come home to sort everything out, and then think about delicious ways to prepare. i am a huge proponent of stocking the pantry with amazing ingredients...think extra virgin olive oils, lots of different types of vinegars, high quality mustards, seasoning blends, rice, beans, grains/flours, jams, marmalade, chutneys, dried name it. then...coupled with a fridge full of fruit and vegetables, organic & free range eggs and selection of artisan cheeses...wonderful meals are always possible without needing to leave home. (except, perhaps, for a quick trip out for freshly baked bread...happily there is a terrific bakery just a few minutes from my home)
there have been artichokes in the box the past few weeks. the cool thing about being this close to the farm is that you can experience the progress of each crop. the first week, the artichokes were tiny..only a couple of inches long. the next week they were a bit bigger..bigger the next week...and today some are almost large. that is the reason the quantities needed in the following recipe are a bit vague...use as much or as little as you like depending on the yield of the prepared artichokes. as long as you keep liquid in the braising step you really can't screw this up! :)so here we go...spicy braised baby (or small, or medium or large) artichokes. i created the recipe when they were baby sized and the name stuck....enjoy!

spicy braised baby artichokes
8-12 or small or 4-6 medium or large
2 lemons
ice water
1 leek, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, shredded
extra virgin olive oil
splash white wine
1/2 cup water
1-2 tbsp chili paste (1 use a brand called chili sauce)
grey salt
freshly cracked black pepper

have ready a medium sized bowl of ice water. cut each lemon in half, squeeze the juice into the water bath and add the used lemon halves...set aside. prepare artichokes by turning each artichoke onto its side and, using a sharp knife, cut off the top 1/3 of the leaves. pull off all the dark green leaves of each artichoke. this step is very need to remove everything until you get to the light green leaves. you will probably feel like you are discarding most of the worries! those dark green leaves will never soften enough to be edible. cut each artichoke in half lengthwise and then in half again into quarters. peel the stem using a paring knife and then scoop out the tough thistley part of the center or heart called the "choke". as soon as you finish preparing each artichoke, place it in the lemon water bowl. this will help prevent browning.

add a tablespoon of the evoo to a large sauté pan and warm. add the leeks and onion and sauté until soft and translucent. add the garlic and carrot and continue cooking until the onions just begin to turn brown and caramelize. add another tablespoon of evoo. drain the artichokes and add to the pan (discard lemon halves). sauté for a couple of minutes and then add a pinch of salt, pepper, the wine, water and 1 tbsp of the chili sauce. stir. cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the artichokes give easily when pierced with the point of a sharp knife. when tender, remove from heat and taste. add additional chili sauce if you want a bit spicier dish. correct seasonings if needed, but do this step last. chili paste/sauce often contains a lot of salt so you may not need to add any more.

serve as is for a side dish...or add to hot, cooked pasta with a bit more olive oil if needed...delicious! (also, terrific on grilled bread as a bruschetta topping.)

best, and happy cooking!

diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style™ "

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

what is "Thinkfood"?

so, i have been working on the coolest project...but was sworn to secrecy (not my best thing)... i managed to stay quiet until today and am now allowed to tell you that i have a recipe published in an incredibly cool cookbook called Thinkfood, recipes for brain fitness. how cool is that? is this not the most beautiful cover ever? i was honored to be invited to submit a recipe for this project.

Thinkfood is a cookbook sponsored and published by posit science ...the leader in brain training interactive software programs which help people think faster, focus better and remember more. (i am so signing up!!) posit science takes an integrated approach to brain health that includes brain training and now brain healthy eating...check them out, they are doing some really cool things. so the company decided to create a cookbook, Thinkfood, which features 50 brain-healthy recipes from bloggers around the globe. the cookbook has snacks, appetizers, sides and salads, main courses and desserts all featuring a "brain healthy" ingredient. the cookbook will be available in hardcover in stay tuned and i will keep you updated.

for me...the coolest part of the project is the "recipe of the week" component, which is an email campaign that will run for 50 consecutive weeks. if you sign up you get one recipe from the ThinkFood cookbook emailed to you every wednesday...and, best of all, the recipes are free!

i have checked out the list of bloggers...i know of many of i know the recipes will all be amazing. the photos are beautiful...and you can print the recipe for ease of use.

to sign here it now, because the launch is today, june 16th...and today's recipe is for very delicious sounding banana oatmeal chocolate chip cookies from tina haupert of carrots 'n' cake . (will have to try these very soon!) once you sign up you will get one recipe every wednesday for the next 50 weeks.
i cannot tell you about MY recipe until my week...which does not happen for a while...but i will talk about the cookbook as soon as i get my hands on one...(i am so excited) the interim...sign up for the recipes...i think you will be very glad you did.

best, and happy cooking!

diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885™"live a green life of style™ "
do you like us? really like us? then please join our facebook fan page
& follow me on twitter
to receive special offers only available to our preferred customers, please sign up for the mailing list on the right hand side of this post...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

fruit & marmalade bruschetta? easiest ever appetizers for summer

it has been an absolutely crazy couple of weeks. i was a vendor at the three day napa home & garden show a few weeks ago and then was invited (via foodzie) by sunset magazine to be an exhibitor for their celebration weekend event last saturday & sunday. both events were a lot of fun...a lot of work...and resulted in terrific exposure for our company. it was amazing to meet so many cool people, offer tastes from our "farmhouse food" assortment and get real time feedback. hello to everyone that i met...and thank you for your kind words about napa farmhouse 1885™...both the company and this blog.

so i was exhausted on monday....and my body felt like it had been hit by a mack truck (i carried billions of cases back and forth setting up and taking down the booth and, yes, i am getting very whiney ha!). my friend linda from the cordair gallery in downtown napa phoned and said..."hey, how would you like to make the food for this month's tweet up event on wednesday night? it would be a great opportunity to feature your food". linda has been hosting monthly parties for twitter users since the beginning of the year...and each month she focuses on a different type of wine. price of admission is a bottle of that wine so, in addition to meeting terrific people, you get to sample many wines. and...since this is napa after all... many of the guests are from the wineries producing the wine so you have subject experts there to answer all of your quetions...really fun. june was "rose" month. so there i was...torn between wanting to do NOTHING for a day or two...or "cater" a party. ok, i am so not a caterer...but making food for the party won. just could not pass up the opportunity...or refuse to help a friend...

now, my food assortment is primarily jams, marmalade, granola, chutney and seasonings . i thought creating appetizers would be a massive challenge. but i had just spent two weekends passing out samples of my preserves on bread and figured you can't really go wrong with bread and jam right?

introducing my "farmhouse food bruschetta" selection. 4 quick and super easy recipes for summer (or anytime really) entertaining. actually "recipes" may be a bit of a stretch. i should just say "combination suggestions". here is the menu:

"farmhouse preserves" bruschetta selection
~persimmon & jalapeño jam with organic cream cheese on crostini
~meyer lemon marmalade with organic strawberries and fig/balsamic reduction on crostini
~orange & ginger marmalade with whipped marscapone cheese on walnut toast
~fig & grand marnier jam on whipped marscapone cheese with applewood smoked bacon crumbles on walnut toast

here are the details for each one. i am not going to provide quantities because it just depends on how many you want to make...i was preparing for 100 people so i bought a lot of bread :) also, while i use my products in all of my recipes, i never want you to feel you have to...there will be links to my webstore if you are interested, but you can always use whatever brand you like...just ensure it is the best quality you can find. with something this simple, the ingredients really do matter.
i used french baguettes for the crostini and a walnut loaf boule for the other two. (fyi, both were purchased at model bakery in napa). i preheated the oven to 350 degrees, sliced the baguettes into crostini on a diagonal about 1/2 inch thick, sliced the walnut bread into 2-bite pieces the same thickness and toasted in the oven until crunchy and just turning golden (about 10 minutes) you can make your bread whatever size you wish.

once the bread is ready, take out of oven and let cool...from there you just assemble and serve.

for the persimmon & jalapeño crostini i spread the cream cheese on 1/2 of each piece of bread and spread the jam on top of the cheese. how easy is that? the sweet of the jam, with a bit of heat from the jalapeños is really nice married with the cream cheese.

for the meyer lemon marmalade option i sliced organic strawberries lengthwise about 1/4 inch thick. i layered 3 pieces of strawberry (with the ends overlapping) on each crostini. i spooned a small amount (about a teaspoon) of the meyer lemon marmalade in the center and drizzled some of the fig/balsamic reduction over the top. * note, i make the balsamic reduction each year during fig season and have shared the recipe before but if you don't have any...or can't find figs...a regular balsamic reduction...or even a high quality, aged balsamic would work really well.

the orange-ginger option couldn't be simpler...just spread the marscapone (as much as you like...i use about 2 teaspoons per piece) over the walnut toast and top with the marmalade. then i sprinkle chopped mint over the entire platter.

and, last but certainly not least because this one involves bacon!!, the option featuring our fig & grand marnier jam. i cook thick-cut applewood smoked bacon until very crispy, drain on paper towels and chop. i spread marscapone on walnut toast, top with the fig jam and sprinkle the bacon pieces over everything. all night i kept hearing people say "bacon!"

so...the next time you are looking for easy appetizers that are a bit different from the norm...try a couple (or all) of these suggestions...they taste really good...hold up well...and are just different enough to get people talking. feel free to take these ideas and experiment with your favorite flavor combinations...i would love to hear about your recipes...please share in the comments section of this post...
happy june! (oh..and thanks to my friends from paupaiz for taking these photos and posting via twit pics...i always forget my camera!)


diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style™ "
do you like us? really like us? then please join our facebook fan page
& follow me on twitter

to receive special offers only available to our preferred customers, please sign up for the mailing list on the right hand side of this post...