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Archive for 'locally grown'

December 24, 2014

One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to visit all types of markets. Nothing educates me more on a culture’s cuisine than the local markets where the ingredients are sold. Industrialized production, storage, and shipping of food has pretty much homogenized our food selection in supermarkets. We get food from everywhere in the world, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if I want bell peppers in the winter, but we are pretty much sold the same things all year. On top of that, some of the most interesting fruits and vegetables that don’t travel well get left out of the system because spoilage rates are too high. Going to local markets gives me a pulse on what is grown in the area and there’s always something unique I’ve never seen before.

This is the only floating market I’ve ever seen, but I guess everything is floating in Venice, so it only makes sense.

Crossing the border from Spain to France shows the drastic change in bread making styles. Bread was sold by the kilo at this market in Santiago de Compostella in Spain. Below shows all the classic spices at the same market.

I found that French markets were all merchandized perfectly. Everything was organized, and then systematically reorganized all day as things were sold. Their pride in their merchandize is definitely shown in the details.

Fish markets prove how diverse food is around the world. It’s an awakening experience to see how much fish displays in the US consist mostly of fillets from large fish, while most fish markets around the world consist of smaller fish. Cooking whole fish is one of my favorite things because the flavor from the bones and skin is indescribably good. All my deep sea fishing friends think I’m crazy when I ask them to bring back some mackerel, sardines, or small bi-catch that they use to catch big game fish. Identifying fresh fish is the secret to cooking epic fish, so use your senses to pick the best. Look for clear eyes, a neutral fresh sea smell, firm texture, and a fresh slime coat on the skin. If anything is fishy, don’t buy it. No amount of spices will ever cover up funky fish. If the fish is good enough, cooking it with salt and drizzling it with extremely good olive oil is the only thing you need to do.

In Costa Rica I found this street fruit stand shown below selling Rambutan, and the photo above shows this giant market compound that sell food, fish, meat, and produce everyday.

Some beautiful colors you can’t find in a supermarket found at a farmers market in Santa Barbara, CA.

One of my favorite markets to visit up near Moss Landing, CA. It was kiwi season, so we got 10 giant kiwis for $1. We ate so many, and went back for more.

Below is a market on the streets in Buenos Aires where we got some of the best cheese of my life. Argentina is known for its high quality beef, and from high quality livestock comes high quality cheese.

December 13, 2012

This is the soup I made from the ridiculously cheap squash I got from the farmers market featured in the last post. If I find a deal on any ingredient, I just buy a bunch and figure out how to use it. This keeps me trying new things and new recipes. If your ever confused on what to do with an ingredient, just look it up on google or youtube.

This is a simple recipe that is quick to make and perfect for the holidays. You can use summer squash, butternut squash, or any squash you come across.

Here is the recipe for 4-5 servings:

  • 1 squash (any squash in the 1 lb range)
  • 1 yam
  • 1 cup of cooked white beans
  • 1/4 stick of butter
  • salt and pepper
  1. Remove seeds from squash, rinse, and put in a pan on low. Add salt and a touch of cinnamon.
  2. Cut squash and yam into big chunks and remove skin, add to a pot, and cover with water. Bring to boil and cook till tender (about 20 minutes)
  3. Drain water but reserve 2 cups. Add one cup of water at a time while blending. Check the consistency and add water as needed to get the consistency you want.
  4. Add cooked white beans (either from a can or homemade)
  5. Add butter. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. The squash seeds should be crispy and dry when they are done. They take about 30 minutes on low. You can eat them separately or add them to the soup.
December 11, 2012

Last week I took a trip up to Santa Cruz, CA to chill amongst the redwoods and share some good food with friends. They took us to the most epic roadside produce stand that you could tell evolved over the years into a shanty town of inexpensive local food. It was like a mini swap meet with tons of deals. If you ever find yourself driving Highway 1 between Santa Cruz and Monterrey, look for the signs. You’ll find it.

All the farmlands in this area are filled with either brussel sprouts or artichokes.

They had an epic deal on squash, so I got about 20 because they were about 50 cents a piece! They keep for several months in the right dry cool conditions, and my fiance and I love squash soup which is the easiest thing to make. I’ll put a recipe for this using these squash in the next post.

The kiwis were 10 for a $1. These kiwis were no ordinary kiwis, they were mega kiwis. Some of them were like 2-3 normal kiwis in one. They were almost as big as my whole hand. I got 40. We’ve almost eaten them all. They were delicious.

My first visit costed me only $17 for all the produce you see below. Of course I had to go back to get more squash on my way back home. I’m no rookie when it comes to buying epic produce.

August 28, 2012

Last week I got the invite to a farm to table dinner up in Laguna Beach. Everything on the menu was sourced from local farmers markets in San Diego and Orange County. It was a true testimony to the fact that insanely good ingredients creates insanely good food. If you use the freshest ingredients, you don’t have to mess around with complex recipes to make delicious food. Go find a farmers market, buy quality ingredients, and you’ll see what I mean.

One of the highlights was the assortment of appetizers that were simple but packed with flavor. High quality bread from Louie’s artisan bread with cheddar, honey, and basil. A fresh bruschetta with vine ripe tomatoes and garlic. My favorite one was the Gioia Burrata cheese with peach, tomato, basil, Temecula olive oil, and balsamic. Gioia Burrata is like a very creamy mozzarella cheese.

For dinner there were perfectly cooked prime rib and roast chickens from DaLe farms, Domenico’s Pappardelle with mushrooms from Mountain Meadows Farms, and a killer garden salad from Sundial Farms in Vista, CA. The menu listed all the suppliers from each ingredient, so it was proof everything was from local suppliers.

The dessert menu was so elaborate that I can’t even start to explain it. All I can say is Andrea has some crazy baking skills that can’t be explained.

The moral of the story is to have a dinner party, cook some good fresh food, and enjoy.

 

 

August 5, 2012

I scored a bunch of peaches the other day from someones tree, so I had to figure out what to do with them. My friend told me this recipe, and it works for any berry or fruit. Plus its super easy, and it requires minimal ingredients.

  • 3-5 large peaches (or any fruit)
  • 1.5 cup whole oats
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 TBS cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees
  2. Cut fruit into small chunks
  3. Mix oats, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla together until well mixed
  4. Put fruit on the bottom of an 8 inch baking dish, and sprinkle oat mixture on top.
  5. Bake 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the fruit is soft and the oats are crispy and golden.

 

August 2, 2012

One common thing I hear all the time from people that don’t cook is “I don’t know what to do.” I don’t think its their fault because TV shows and recipe books have over complicated cooking for far too long. It’s not rocket science if you have good ingredients. If you don’t have good ingredients, then your food will be bland. Finding or growing the most flavorful ingredients is my form of cheating (much like wrapping things in bacon – only healthier).

A monkey could prepare this tomato salad, and this was one of the most delicious sides I’ve had in a while. In fact I had something just like this at a restaurant for way to much money. The key was the ingredients. Grown in good organic soil and picked at peak ripeness. The heirloom tomatoes were from my friends garden, and the basil and the yellow pear tomatoes were from my garden. If you can’t get veg from your garden, get it at a farmer’s market. This will only be as good as the tomatoes you use.

Recipe for 2 servings:

  • 4-5 tomatoes (try a few varieties)
  • basil
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar (you can also try flavored balsamics. The one I used was fig balsamic)
  1. Dice tomatoes. Pick basil leaves (finely dice if large). Add oil, balsamic, salt and pepper. Done.
April 6, 2012

My dad hooked me up with some really nice garlic he just picked from his garden. Freshly picked garlic is a whole new world of flavor. Picture what store bought garlic goes through before it reaches your house. First its probably grown in Fresno valley, then put into an open air truck bed and driven to a distribution center. It sits there for a while. Then it finally gets delivered to a store. Then it sits there again until you buy it. Since garlic keeps for a while, your probably buying really old garlic. With that said, freshly picked garlic is better. More flavor. More nutrients.

Plant your own. It’s super easy. Just plant the cloves a few inches apart, water, and wait 4-8 months. If you accidentally let garlic sprout, don’t throw it away – plant it. You can pick it early before it forms a bulb, and the flavor is amazing also.

When I first started making salad dressings I would follow the “rules” for making a proper dressing. The 3 to 1 ratio of oil to acid (3 parts any oil to 1 part citrus juice, vinegars, etc.) is great, and I use it all the time, but now I’m breaking the rules and changing things up a bit. My train of thought is that dressings are simply there to add flavor to salad, so my goal is to come up with ways to accent the deliciousness of salad without blasting and overpowering it. I want more unique subtle flavors that will taste fresh and vibrant – instead of heavy and rich. Just let the ingredients do the talking. Get high quality organic ingredients and enjoy the flavors for what they were meant to be.

Here is a very healthy papaya salad dressing that is light, yet flavorful. It utilizes ginger to add a bit of heat, tangy citrus, and sweet papaya. You can adjust the elements to suite your taste buds.

  • 3 handfulls of diced papaya (or mango)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 4 tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • Salt

Simply juice lemons, cut papaya, add to blender and blend until smooth. Mix dressing in with your greens, and top with finely sliced ginger and papaya if you like.

  • Just saw this recipe on Pinterest and was happy to discover your blog– it’s my kind of cooking and your photography is beautiful. I’ve been experimenting with salad dressings lately, too, but hadn’t thought of using papaya or mango. I can’t have orange, so I’ll have to twiddle with this recipe, but I intend to try it, it looks great.

  • Just saw this recipe on Pinterest and was happy to discover your blog– it’s my kind of cooking and your photography is beautiful. I’ve been experimenting with salad dressings lately, too, but hadn’t thought of using papaya or mango. I can’t have orange, so I’ll have to twiddle with this recipe, but I intend to try it, it looks great.

January 25, 2012

This is one of my favorite salads, and it’s so simple and easy to make. Get some good organic spinach because spinach absorbs chemicals more than most vegetables.

  • 3 handfuls of organic spinach
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup roasted and salted sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • 5 Queen olives
  • 1 mild pepper
  • 1/8 cup balsomic vinegar
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  1. Finely chop spinach and olives
  2. Mix oil and vinegar in large bowl
  3. Add everything and mix
January 24, 2012

I was out in Vista the other day and I ran across a small farm with a fruit stand in front. I stopped in and scored 4 Sepotes, 14 oranges, 14 tangerines, 5 balm red peppers, 8 Romas, one eggplant, and one huge heirloom tomato all for only $6. Everything was grown on their small farm. The tomatoes and peppers were grown in a green house, but everything else was in season. I’m gonna try to find other small local farms to pick up my stuff straight from the source.

I finely sliced that huge tomato with one of the peppers and a little bit of onion to make a sweet tomato salad. It was dressed with one lime and some white balsamic vinegar. Using white balsamic vinegar is perfect for vegetable salads because it doesn’t discolor everything, and it tastes good.