Archive for the ‘Produce’ Category
At our house, we go through phases where we make smoothies every morning. When bananas start to turn brown, we throw them in the freezer, so we can use them in a smoothie later. We have an entire shelf in the freezer devoted to frozen fruit. There are the bananas we’ve rescued, bags of frozen fruit, and even bags of frozen spinach. There are strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and… peaches.
Of all of the smoothies we make, this one is my favorite.
1/2 container peach yogurt
1/2 10 oz bag of frozen peaches
1/2 cup orange juice
Put all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.
Did you know that 90% of the nation’s avocados are hand-grown by farmers in California? Many of the California avocado groves are multi-generational and family operated. Randy Axell is one of those growers. As a third generation avocado grower, Axell and his wife, Joanna, have raised their family on 40 acres of land in Santa Paula, Calif. called Rancho Rodoro. It is named from a combination of Axell’s parents’ names, Ross and Dorothy. Axell feels privileged to have grown up on a farm and to have provided the same opportunity to his children.
“I love being able to spend every day on a farm and in the groves. It’s very satisfying to be able to grow something from a tiny seed to a full tree,” explains Axell when asked about his favorite part of being a California avocado grower.
Randy’s passion for growing California avocados is clear in the quality of his trees and the fruit he harvests each season. His farm is operated to the standards of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification, a program that requires Randy to document everything he does on the farm as well as implement the best possible management practices to aid in preventing food safety issues. He sees these practices as a natural thing to do, to focus on food safety and sell the perfect piece of fruit.
To view videos of Randy Axell sharing his stories of growing California avocados, visit his page at the California Avocado Commission website.
Axell Family California Avocado Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Recipe created by California avocado grower Randy Axell for the California Avocado Commission, used by permission.
Prep Time: 5 minutes; Cook Time: 5 minutes
4 slices cheddar cheese
8 slices whole wheat or honey wheat bread
1 ripe, fresh California avocado, peeled, seeded and sliced
1 medium tomato, sliced
4 slices red onion
Chili sauce, to taste
4 slices pepper jack cheese
Olive oil cooking spray
On each sandwich, place a slice of cheddar cheese, a layer of avocado, tomato, and onion slices. Add chili sauce to taste. Top with pepper jack cheese, and finish with remaining bread slices.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Spray skillet with olive oil cooking spray. Place sandwiches in skillet and cook until bread is browned. Turn and cook until cheese has melted. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Information Per Serving: Calories 350; Total Fat 18 g (Sat 6 g, Trans 0 g, Poly 1.5 g, Mono 6 g); Cholesterol 25 mg; Sodium 610 mg; Total Carbohydrates 33 g; Dietary Fiber 7 g; Protein 19 g;
Summer marks the peak season of California avocados, when the fruit is readily available and at its most delicious. So what better time than now to learn more about two of the nearly 5,000 California avocado farmers who take pride in growing the delicious fruit and their favorite avocado recipes.
Ninety percent of the nation’s avocados are hand-grown by farmers in California, all of whom take special care in growing premium avocados. Many of the California avocado groves are multi-generational and family operated.
For example, California avocado grower Mary Bergen’s parents bought a ranch in Ojai, Calif. in 1957 – Rancho dos Rios. As a young child, she spent her time roaming the avocado groves and disappearing into the hills, which she says allowed her to gain an appreciation and love for the land. Mary took over the operations of the ranch in 2000 and with the help of other avocado growers, she has become knowledgeable and found a community. “I’m more connected with the community here than I ever was in the city,” says Mary. “It’s wonderful to grow something people love. It’s great to grow something outstanding.”
To view videos of Mary Bergen discussing her life as a California avocado grower, visit her page at the California Avocado Commission Website.
Here is her recipe for Shrimp, Endive and California Avocado Salad.
Mary Bergen’s Shrimp, Endive and California Avocado Salad
Recipe created by California avocado grower Mary Bergen for the California Avocado Commission.
Prep Time: 45 minutes, including chill time; Cooking Time: 5 minutes;
2 cups water
1 cup dry white wine
2 tsp. coarse salt
1 dried bay leaf
1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 Tbsp. crème fraîche
2 Tbsp. finely chopped shallot
2 Tbsp. minced fresh chives
2 small Belgian endives
1 ripe, fresh California avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
1 small head butter lettuce
1. Bring water, wine, half the salt and the bay leaf to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add half the shrimp and cook until opaque, about 1 minute. Transfer the shrimp to a plate with a slotted spoon. Cook the remaining shrimp, transfer to the plate and let cool. Cut into 1/4-inch pieces.
2. Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar and remaining salt in a medium bowl. Pour in olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Whisk in crème fraîche. Fold in shallots, chives and shrimp. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
3. Separate endive leaves and thinly slice crosswise. Fold endive and avocado into shrimp mixture. Make a bed of lettuce on each salad plate and add a generous spoonful of the shrimp mixture to each plate and serve.
Nutrition Information Per Serving: Calories 480; Total Fat 30 g (Sat 4.5 g, Trans 0 g, Poly 3 g, Mono 15 g); Cholesterol 225 mg; Sodium 1520 mg; Total Carbohydrates 17 g; Dietary Fiber 12 g; Protein 29 g
Pumpkin is kind of an obsession for me, so let me start by proclaiming Pumpkin Month on StreamingGourmet. Some of you may remember 31 Days of Pumpkin from last year. Well, since then, I have found even more pumpkin recipes that think outside the pie, starting with Pumpkin Bolani. Stayed tuned throughout the month.
Recently, I was at the Whole Foods in Mill Valley (the new one), and I wandered over to the cold case looking for something to bring home for lunch. I stumbled onto Bolanis (sometimes spelled, Bulani or Boolawnee). They are similar to Indian paratha, ie, they are flatbreads stuffed with yummy things. Typically Afghani Bolanis are stuffed with leeks, but the ones available at Whole Foods from the company, Bolani: East and West Gourmet Afghan Food, come in four different varieties: Spinach, Lentil, Potato and… wait for it… Pumpkin.
I brought home the pumpkin version and absolutely adored them. They didn’t have that pumpkin pie flavor at all. There was quite a spicy kick, in fact. They are incredibly low in fat and calories, very filling, and happen to be vegan. All pluses for me.
They are available from Bolani: East and West Gourmet Afghan Food. The company is based in Concord, CA, which is just across of San Francisco in the East Bay. You can order their products online and they will ship anywhere in the US. Perishable products are shipped in insulated styrofoam-lined packages and filled with ice packets.
I decided I had better try to recreate them at home and I am here to share with you the results of that endeavor. This does not represent the East and West Gourmet Food recipe (I have not been in contact with them).
Makes 4 Bolani
For the pastry
2 Cups All-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup cold water
1 tsp olive oil
For the pumpkin filling
1/2 of a 15oz can of pumpkin purée
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 Tbsp finely diced onion
1/4 tsp (I used 1/2 tsp) minced Jalapeño or Serrano Chili pepper
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp ground coriander
Fresh ground black pepper
Olive oil for frying
1. Mix the flour and salt together in the mixing bowl of a stand-up mixer (if you have one) or just a large bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the water slowly. Add the teaspoon of oil and mix the dough together, kneading it a little until it forms a ball. If the dough doesn’t come together in a ball, add a little bit more water. Once the dough is formed, using the dough hook of your stand-up mixer (or doing it by hand), knead it for 10 minutes. Cover the dough with a cloth and let it rest for 1 hour.
2. In the meantime, prepare your ingredients for the pumpkin filling. Mix together all of the ingredients either in a bowl, or in a food processor to ensure that they are fully blended.
3. Once the dough has rested for an hour, divide into 4 balls. Flour a large, wooden cutting board and roll out the dough into a flat disc with a rolling pin. It should be about 10 inches in diameter and as thin as you can make it. Spread 2-3 Tbsp of the pumpkin mixture on one half of the dough circle, leaving a small border around the edge and the other half empty. Fold over the dough and press it together to form a seal. Repeat for the remaining 3 balls.
4. Heat about ¼ cup of oil in a 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Make sure that the pan is just hot enough so that the bolani will sizzle when it hits the pan. Brown the bolani about 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. They can either be served immediately, or for a party, you can slice them into appetizer slices and serve them a little warmer than room temperature.
For over 80 years, the Thrasher’s French Fries stand at 401 South Atlantic Avenue, in Ocean City, MD, has served as a kind of gatekeeper to the famous boardwalk. At Thrasher’s, the potatoes are cut fresh, fried twice, doused with vinegar, and served in buckets. Big buckets. With only three sizes available (16 oz, 32 oz and 53 oz buckets), the smallest serving you can buy is a pound. But, there is something about these fries that makes them so addictive that a pound often is not enough and Thrasher’s fans are adamant. These are the best fries on the planet.
With more than eight decades of frying and over 22,000 fans of the unofficial facebook page, who’s to argue? In 1933, Thrasher’s weathered a hurricane that not only destroyed vast sections of the boardwalk, but actually severed off Assateague peninsula to create the now-famous Assateague island across the inlet. Thrasher’s then went on to survive the Great Depression, two World Wars, Reaganomics, and the “freedom fries” era. Featured in countless magazine and newspaper articles, like the Woman’s Day 8 Best Boardwalk Food in the U.S., and inevitably found in the comments section of any web article about the “best fries,” these fries inspire a fanaticism usually reserved for politics and religion.
So, when I was heading back to my native Maryland Eastern Shore, I knew that it was time to make a pilgrimage to the place where I first learned what a French fry is supposed to taste like. Sure enough, there is something irresistible about these fries. They aren’t particularly crispy, but the flavor is pure potato. In fact, Thrasher’s is so proud of the fresh potato flavor, they don’t provide (or even allow) ketchup.
Katherine Bunting-Howarth of Delaware remembers using so much vinegar once, she soaked a hole through the bottom of the bucket and she’s not the only who considers the vinegar to be an essential element of the Thrasher’s experience. 939 people on facebook have “liked” the Thrasher’s facebook update, “[...] diggin’ the Apple Cider Vinegar with no ketchup!” and dozens more have added their two cents.”
After returning to California, more than 3000 miles away, I began to wonder. Can I recreate true Thrasher’s French Fries at home? I know the basic ingredients: Russet potatoes, peanut oil, salt and vinegar. But can I get that same balance of tender and crispy? And can I reproduce the rich, potato flavor? I set out to find the answer. But it would not come directly from the source. Thrasher’s is part of the Bayshore Development Corporation which also owns the Jolly Roger amusement parks. My attempts to reach someone at Bayshore willing to talk about Thrashers Fries were unsuccessful. Buddy Jenkins, chair of the board of the Bayshore Development Corporation, has always been secretive about the magic of these fries. According to a 2004 Washington Post article, Jenkins said, “We have a process that I certainly don’t intend to divulge,” but that the secret involves a “recipe and cooking times.”
Well, a recipe and cooking times were just what I set out to develop. I knew that part of what makes boardwalk fries, boardwalk fries is that they are soaked in a brine solution before they are fried twice, so I knew that I would try brining the potatoes as part of the solution. But how hot should the oil be? How long should the fries, well, fry? To find some answers, I turned to The Food Lab at SeriousEats.com. In May, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt set out to determine what makes a McDonald’s french fry so darn good and I have applied some of his learnings to this project. But Thrasher’s French Fries are not like McDonad’s French Fries. They’re thicker for one thing, and they’re served in buckets; they’re never frozen, and, must I say it again? They’re eaten with vinegar, not ketchup. But, they do need to come out with a crispy exterior and a fluffy, fully-cooked interior and that is where the “recipe and cooking times” come in. In his article, Lopez-Alt discovers that McDonald’s actually blanches its fries in nearly-boiling water before frying them, so I decided to add this step to my process as well. Blanching them at 170˚F rinses off excess sugars and starch which in turn prevents over-browning later. It also strengthens the cell walls of the potato so it doesn’t completely lose its structure during the frying process. Again, Lopez-Alt explains all of this really well here.
Following the multi-step process of brining, blanching, frying, cooling, frying meant that I could enjoy something approaching a bucket of Thrasher’s French Fries without having to leave the state of California. And that, my friends, is worth a day’s effort. Are you with me on this one? If you are, read on for the complete recipe.
My best attempt at recreating
Thrasher’s French Fries at Home
Serves 2 (or one, really)
4 Russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 3/4-inch thick slices
Peanut Oil, enough for fries to be submerged
Apple Cider Vinegar (or malt vinegar, if you prefer)
For the brine
2 quarts water
1 cup salt
I don’t have a lot of deep-frying tools in my kitchen. No wire basket, no electric fryer. But the one instrument that is indispensable for this recipe is a Candy/Deep Fry Thermometer, like the one pictured here:
1. Mix the water and salt in a large glass bowl. Stir to dissolve salt. Add potato slices and allow to sit for 30 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse.
2. In a large stock pot over medium heat, bring a bath of water to 170˚F. Remember, the boiling point of water is 212˚F, so you don’t want to let it boil. There will just be a few bubbles. Add the potatoes and let them sit in this warm bath for 17 minutes. Continue to check the temperature periodically to ensure that you are spot on. Remove potato slices to a paper towel-lined cutting board or cookie sheet and allow them to dry. They must be completely dry before submerging them in the hot oil, so do what you need to do to ensure that they are dry.
3. In a dutch oven or heavy-bottom pot, heat the peanut oil to a whopping 400˚F. Beware. Hot oil is hot. Wear protective clothing and make sure you do not allow any drop of water to fall into the hot oil bath. It will splatter and burn you. Don’t ask me how I know this. Carefully lower about 1/3 of the potato slices into the oil and allow them to fry for 80 seconds. Make sure they are not sticking to each other during this process. If you notice them starting to turn brown, remove them immediately. During this stage of the process, they should only just begin to take on a golden color. Remove them to a paper-towel lined surface and repeat with two more batches. Allow the oil to come back to the proper temperature between batches. This is what they look like after the first frying session:
4. Allow the fries to cool for at least 30 minutes. Then, bring the oil back up to a temperature of 375˚F. Again, in batches, allow the fries to cook for 3 – 4 minutes. Watch carefully so that they don’t get too brown. Remove them to a paper-toweled lined surface and salt immediately. They can be kept warm in a 200˚F oven on a parchment-lined cookie sheet while you are frying the other batches, but I found it wasn’t necessary because everything moved so fast.
5. Serve in paper-lined cups (I used tall coffee cups) and sprinkle with salt and, of course, cider vinegar! Enjoy immediately.
What are your memories of Thrasher’s French Fries? What tips do you have for making the best fries at home? What boardwalk food do you love the best? Share your memories, tips and opinions in the comment section below.
If you liked this article, please become click “like” on StreamingGourmet facebook fan page.
For great cooking videos like this one introducing you to French fry techniques, check out Rouxbe.com:
A few weeks after the amazing California Avocado Commission dinner at One Market, I flew to the south of Spain for a family wedding. We stayed at a small inn about 45 minutes west of Malaga called Hotel Rural La Paloma. Owned and operated by an Italian couple, Philippo and Elena took amazing care of us.
The menu at the inn’s restaurant was a great mix of Spanish and Italian-influenced dishes. They were incredibly accommodating as well. My husband is a vegan, and they were happy to prepare separate, off-the-menu dishes for him. While I am moving towards a vegan diet, I took the opportunity to taste a few dishes on the menu that contained dairy and seafood. One of my favorites was “Aguacate relleno de pulpa de cangrejo gratinado,” or “Puréed avocado stuffed with crab au gratin.” We’ll call it Avocado-Crab Gratinée.
I couldn’t wait to come home and try to prepare the dish myself. Elena was nice enough to share the recipe with me and both avocados and dungeness crabs happen to be in season right now. This dish is so easy to prepare, you could easily whip it up for weeknight treat for two.
- 1 ripe California Grown Avocado
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
- 2 oz lump crabmeat
- 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the broiler. Cut the avocado in half. Discard the pit, but reserve the skins. Empty the flesh into a microwave-safe bowl. Mash it with a fork it and add salt and pepper, combining well. Add the heavy cream and the crabmeat and mix well with a fork. If the mixture is too thick, add additional heavy cream.
- Warm the mixture in the microwave for 1 minute. Add the grated Parmesan cheese to the mixture and stir it in completely. Spoon the mixture either back into the two empty avocado halves or into one or two small oven-safe dishes. Sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese on top.
- Bake under the broiler for a couple of minutes until the cheese has browned slightly. Serve immediately.
Over the past six days, I’ve shared each course of a five-course dinner I cooked for my husband’s recent birthday party. Looking at the array of photos below, would it occur to you that this is a collection of vegan, gluten-free recipes? Think of it. No cheese. No pasta. No fish or fowl. If you had asked me on my husband’s birthday last year whether I could (or would even want to) make a dinner like this, I would have answered, “no,” flatly. Now, I can barely imagine eating any other way. Well, almost barely.
|Marinated Olives with Fennel||Cucumber & Avocado Ceviche||Artichoke Velouté with Black Truffle Carpaccio|
|Roasted Asparagus w/ Grapefruit & Lemon Oil||Saffron and White Wine Braised Spring Vegetables||Strawberry Sorbet|
Yes, we are happily joining the national craze of eating in a sustainable, healthful way. In fact, just yesterday, I planted a whole pallet of seeds which means we’re joining the garden-at-home craze too. Count on a whole host of blog entries about this new adventure. When I was on the outside looking in at this fad, I thought it was a bit of overblown malarky, and, well, just a fad. Now that I’m joining in, I can feel myself transforming into an evangelist. I guess 38 per cent of Americans (the number of people who had a vegetable garden last year) can’t be wrong. Well, sometimes they can, but not this time.
I absolutely must thank Viviane Bauquet Farre for her inspiration and help on this birthday dinner project. If you haven’t seen her blog yet, you are really missing out. You can find her at food and style and please, go “Like” her facebook fan page. Viviane creates the most original and beautiful recipes. She also produces some of the highest quality cooking instructional videos on the web. See them all on StreamingGourmet.com. It took me months to figure out that her recipes are vegetarian, so they will appeal to you whether you are a vegetarian, a vegan, an omnivore or someone determined to subsist on truffles and scotch. Seriously. Thanks again, Viviane!
It’s day six of my blogging event: “How to host an elegant, flavorful, vegan, gluten-free dinner party” in which I feature recipes created by the wonderful Viviane Bauquet Farre of food and style. With husband and friends avoiding meat, dairy and gluten, I knew I needed to turn to my friend Viviane if I was going to pull off an elegant birthday celebration. Not all of her recipes are vegan or gluten-free, but she consistently uses fresh, seasonal produce to create inspiring, yet simple dishes. Today’s installment features the final course: dessert.
Strawberries are in season again in California so I was able to purchase an entire flat of strawberries at the Mill Valley Farmer’s Market for $20 bucks. That’s 12 pints, people. Love it. So I made strawberry sorbet, strawberry ice cream, strawberry sandwiches, you name it.
To make the sorbet, I had to take a plunge I’ve been contemplating for years. I bought a Cuisinart ice cream machine.
I’ll be able to make sorbet, ice cream, frozen yogurt and other frozen desserts (remember sherbet)? This is going to yield fun all summer long. And I can’t wait to make pumpkin pie ice cream next fall.
But back to the sorbet.
I learned a few things about my new ice cream maker. The insulated “chilling chamber” needs to be in the freezer overnight before using it. The model I purchased (click on the photo above) came with two chilling chambers and at first I thought, “What do I need two for?” Well, as it turns out, it’s helpful to have two because if you use one to make ice cream, then it’s at least a day before you can use it again. Even still, I thought, when am I going to need to make more than one batch of ice cream in a 24-hour period? Well, for the dinner party (12 guests), I felt compelled to make two batches and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the extra chilling chamber.
Viviane demonstrates how to make the sorbet in this video. She uses a food processor to purée her strawberries, but I did it in a blender.
I held off on adding Grand Marnier. The flavor of the strawberries jumped out of the dish all by themselves. The maple syrup made it just sweet enough. I served mine with a little piece of dark Sharfenberger chocolate: the perfect complement.
makes 3 to 3 1/2 cups
1 1/2 lbs ripe strawberries – washed and hulled
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
2/3 cup maple syrup (grade A or B)
Mint leaves as garnish
1. Place the strawberries, lemon juice, Grand Marnier (optional) and maple syrup in the bowl of a food processor (I used a blender). Process at high speed with a steel blade until ingredients are very smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours to overnight in the refrigerator or 45 minutes in the freezer.
2. Pour the chilled strawberry purée into the ice-cream maker and freeze according to the instructions of your ice-cream machine.
3. Scoop sorbet in glass bowls or cocktail glasses and top with fresh mint leaf. Serve immediately. (Or put in an airtight container and store in the freezer. You may need to allow the sorbet to soften for about 10 minutes for trying to scoop it and serve).
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