Wednesday, April 18, 2012

need to find a local farmers' market?

our local farmers' market opens the first week of may.  i cannot wait...visiting the market on a weekly basis is one of my favorite things to do.  carrying an overflowing basket of impossibly fresh, beautiful and delicious fruit and vegetables, creating recipes on-the-spot based on what is available, talking with the farmers who actually grow our food, visiting with friends....a perfect, perfect day.  i wish more people would/could support their local farmers' markets.

to do this, you have to know where the markets are located.  last winter i received the following email:

"Hi Diane,

My name is Evan and I'm a senior at UCSB in California who is dedicated to eating organic, locally-grown food. I stumbled across Napa farmhouse when I was researching data for a farmers' market comparison table that I'm compiling. This database of farmers markets can be narrowed down by location, the type of produce sold, forms of acceptable payment etc. I hope my tool will help shoppers access locally-grown or organic foods they are looking for. Please check it out and let me know what you think.

I would really appreciate your feedback!"

how cool is this?  i so love the fact that this is a school project.  it is always such a joy to hear of young adults committed to eating local, organic/sustainably grown food.  check out evan's search tool and please let us know what you think in the comments section of this post.  i will ensure evan receives your feedback.

support your local farmers!

Find a Farmers' Market Near You!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

a recipe for southern greens...napa farmhouse style

i have become addicted to greens .  like eating them every day addicted...either in green smoothies for breakfast, or huge salads for lunch, or as a side dish at dinner sautéed, stir fried, raw, added to pasta sauce, you name it, i probably like it.  i experimented by roasting kale until crisp and seasoned with good grey salt. (delicious).  so it was not a stretch to make greens the main course for dinner last week.

i had read a magazine article talking about a southern greens recipe....full of fatback and ham and bacon fat...probably delicious...but not the healthy dish i was looking for so i created my own version.  this one emphasizes the taste of the greens and is flavored with seasonings, sparkling apple cider for sweetness, honey mustard and balsamic vinegar to balance out the salt/sweet and is made main-dish worthy by the addition of either vegetarian "ground beef" or ground turkey. southern greens are usually a mixture of turnip greens, beet greens, collard, mustard and kale.  you can use whatever you like...just one type or a blend of your favorites.

i serve these greens with a side of corn bread and call it dinner. for non-vegetarians, i sometimes quickly sauté fresh shrimp in garlic and red pepper flakes (i use our aglio, olio, peperoncino) and pile on top of the greens.

i told my good friend brooke about these greens.  she is originally from arkansas and the look on her face was priceless when i told her it was a vegetarian version..."no fat back?"  she cried.  we agreed that the "real version" was delicious as a once-in a-while treat.  the farmhouse recipe can be enjoyed much more often.  aah, the spirit of compromise.  enjoy the greens everyone!

southern greens, napa farmhouse style
1 lb vegetarian ground ground (i like yves brand) or ground turkey
1/2 white onion, chopped in large pieces
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup sparking apple cider
1 tbsp honey mustard
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
14 oz southern greens (mix of collard, kale, mustard and turnip, whatever you like) torn into large pieces, tough center ribs discarded

large pinch aglio olio peperoncinio, or red pepper flakes
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

if using ground turkey, brown meat in large skillet, drain and place on plate for use later. wipe down skillet with a paper towel and add olive oil.  heat over medium heat until oil shimmers, add onion.  sauté until translucent. add the veggie ground round (or reserved turkey if using), the broth, apple cider, mustard and balsamic vinegar.   stir to combine.

add 2 large handfuls of the greens to the skillet.  stir until wilted.  when you have room in the pan, add more greens and, again, stir until wilted.  continue this process until all greens have been added to the pan.  add the aglio or red pepper flakes and a large pinch each of the salt and pepper.  stir.  cover pan, reduce heat to low and cook for 45 minutes.  taste and adjust seasonings.  use a slotted spoon to spoon onto serving plates.  serve immediately.

** sure to keep the reserved juices...called "pot likker" in the south.  this delicious liquid contains a number of essential nutrients.  i always plan to make a big pot of beans the day after i make these greens and use the pot likker as part of the liquid needed. **

ok, southern green fans.  that is my recipe.  give it a try and let me know what you think.  and feel free to post your favorite "fat back, salt pork, ham hock, bacon" version in the comments section.  i don't think you can ever have too many recipes for southern you?


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Saturday, April 7, 2012

it is easter and passover this weekend, need a recipe for roasted boneless leg of lamb?

happy spring!
i spent all day wednesday preparing and serving a seder meal celebration for the local catholic church.  got that?  every time i said that sentence this week i received puzzled looks and loads of questions.  so...long story short.  this church holds a seder each year on the wednesday before easter as a way to honor their history.  i was asked a few years ago to "help".  somehow that became "diane is in charge of this event".  i actually have a really good time, have a ton of people who help, and find the subject matter really interesting.

i blogged about this last year...told you about the menu and posted a recipe for a passover friendly dessert, "caramel chocolate matzo crunch" which has become a new tradition.  i made it again this year...received rave reviews...and was told by many people that this has become one of their all time favorites. (you really should give it a try...easy, quick, delicious...what could be better?)  recipe here

caramel chocolate matzo crunch
i also received many, many compliments for the roasted lamb.  so many people confided that they were hesitant to try to make it on their own...a number said their lamb always turned out tough and dry...many asked for the recipe.  i figured if they had questions, others might also. goes!  a very easy, breezy, effortless way to prepare. i roast the lamb for a bit at high heat and then reduce the temperature to finish cooking.  the juices are used to prepare a wonderful gravy flavored with broth and balsamic vinegar.  served with garlic mashed potatoes and sautéed mixed vegetables, this makes a perfect easter or passover meal.

i cooked the seder dinner for 70 people.  i had every intention of photographing all the lamb roasts...wouldn't that have been a gorgeous photo...all piled up on a beautiful platter?   of course, i forgot to take the picture in the midst of the controlled chaos that occurs when a non-pro like me needs to get that many people served plated dinners at one time.  by the time i remembered, all that was left was a couple of shank bones (used for the seder ceremony) and the carved meat!!  sorry :)

what are you making/eating for the holiday?  please let us know in the comments section of this post.

shank bones, part of the symbolism of the seder plate

35 lbs of roasted lamb...steam trays are never pretty!

roast lamb with garlic and rosemary
1 boneless leg of lamb 4-5 lbs (ask your butcher to hand tie with string)
1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
extra virgin olive oil
8 rosemary branches, 8-10 inches each
sea salt
lamb gravy (recipe follows)

preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  drizzle olive oil over bottom of roasting pan, three passes of the bottle.  place 4 rosemary branches in the bottom of the roasting pan.

using a small sharp knife, cut small slits all over lamb and stuff with garlic cloves. (about 20 per leg). pour 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil over lamb and rub to coat. weave remaining 4 rosemary branches through the lamb's string netting.  generously coat lamb with salt and pepper. place on top of the rosemary in prepared pan. 

place in preheated oven and roast  for 15 minutes.  reduce heat to 350 degrees F, baste with pan juices and continue roasting until cooked to your preference, basting a couple more times during the cooking process.  i think lamb is best at medium or 145 degrees F internal temperature which takes about 30 minutes per lb. at medium the center is light pink and the outer portion is brown. medium well is 155 degrees F and there is no pink. **note, these are the temperatures you want when you take out of the oven.  the roast should rest for 10-15 minutes before you carve and will continue to cook during this time***

carve the meat and serve with the lamb gravy.  i like to carve the meat and put on a big platter with a few ladles of the gravy spooned on top.  additional gravy is served alongside.

seder meal lamb gravy
(i use potato starch instead of flour to thicken the gravy to keep it appropriate for passover.  if this is not a concern for you, feel free to use flour)

pan drippings
3 tbsp potato starch
1 cup water
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
sea salt
black pepper

skim all but one tablespoon fat from pan. strain out any pieces of rosemary.  place pan over high heat.   combine the stock, wine, balsamic vinegar and lamb juices in pan and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes or until bubbling.  in a small bowl, combine the potato starch and water and whisk until smooth.  add to the gravy and cook, stirring frequently,  for 7-8 minutes or until thickened. season to taste with salt and pepper.

happy easter and/or passover everyone!


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