Appetizers

Farmer’s Market Booty

IMG_0564
The waterfowl of Farm Pond had been our alarm clock for over two weeks. We’d been renting a home, built in 1900, with an unobstructed view of Farm Pond and the Nantucket Sound beyond. Early mornings had found us on the wraparound front porch, steaming cup of coffee in hand, dogs snoozing by our side, while we sit quietly and watch the pond’s feathered friends perform for us. It’s how we’d like to begin everyday of our lives, but alas, we had to leave Martha’s Vineyard. 
My goal this trip had been to hit as many of the island farms as possible, and I’m happy to report that I made a sizable dent. The only down side to having so many beautiful/quaint farms at your disposal is that one (being me) tends to over buy. Every piece of produce looks so gorgeous that I have a hard time walking away. A few days ago I picked up way too many ears of fresh corn (they were just picked, so who could blame me?) and I spent days trying to use up all those beautiful kernels. I’d put them in salads, on crostinis, in salsas, inside of omelets, you name it, and I’d put corn in or on it.
Every islander knows about the fantastic West Tisbury Farmer’s Market held in The Grange Hall, on State Rd, every Wednesday and Saturday from June until October (Wednesdays are from June until late August). I’d made several trips during our two weeks and loaded up on a menagerie of artisanal items. You can find blended teas, products made with lavender, soaps, salves, sea salt, herbs, orchids, pies, locally farmed meat, eggs, island made cheeses, and the list goes on and on. Who knew there were so many talented individuals living on one small island?
It being summer on the Vineyard, we had a house full of people the entire time we were on the island, so spent a fair amount of time in the kitchen. I love to feed people, so I’m not complaining, but the name of the game those days was fast and fresh.
After perusing the market last Saturday, I came home with some gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, just picked peaches, fromage frais (a soft creamy cheese, and my latest obsession), freshly laid eggs, basil, bread, sweet Italian sausage, herbs, and some lunch ideas to feed a hungry crowd.
IMG_0568

IMG_0583 

If you’re looking for a fast, nutritious, juicy, wake up your mouth kind of thing, this crostini is right up your alley. Here’s what you’ll need to prepare 10 to 12 crostinis –
1 loaf of fresh bread
1 large heirloom tomato
2 ripe peaches
1 jar of fromage frais (subsitite with fromage blanc or softened goat cheese)
Sea salt
Fresh basil to garnish
Slice your bread thick enough (how much bread depends on how many hungry mouths you’ll be feeding) that it can hold a spoonful of delicious topping without giving way. Lightly toast and let cool.
Dice your heirloom tomato and peaches and place in a bowl. If you have any leftover deliciousness (doubtful) when you’re done feeding your peeps, pop it into the fridge for those late night feeding frenzies. Or you could use it later as a salad. Add a little burrata or goat cheese? Maybe some greens?
IMG_0585
Spread fromage frais on the toasted bread, then spoon a bit of the tomato and peach mixture on top, sprinkle on some sea salt, and garnish with a chiffonade (fancy word for julienne) of fresh basil. So easy and tasty.
Alongside the crostinis I served a frittata and some sweet Italian sausage patties. Here’s the recipe for the frittata –
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees
10 farm fresh eggs
2 baby leeks (white and light green parts only), washed and minced
Fresh goat cheese
2 small waxy potatoes (I used red), diced very small
1 ½ tsp. fresh minced oregano
1 ½ tsp. sea salt (sprinkle on some finishing salt at the end of cooking)
1 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Pour EVOO into a large non-stick skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the potatoes and ½ tsp. of salt. Sauté on medium heat until almost cooked through. Add the baby leeks and cook until soft and fragrant.
Whisk your eggs vigorously in a large bowl until they’re almost frothy. Add the minced oregano and 1 tsp. of salt. Slowly pour the eggs into the skillet with the potatoes and leeks. Dot the top with some goat cheese (the amount is up to you). Cook on medium heat until you see the edges begin to set. Pop the pan into the oven until the frittata is fully set through to the middle. If you’re unsure if it’s done, push lightly on the middle of the frittata. It should be soft, but not liquid-y.
IMG_0586
Every ingredient in the photo above came from the West Tisbury Farmer’s Market. How cool is that?
We are also blessed with a fabulous Farmer’s Market in Laguna Beach and every Saturday as I stroll through the isles, I thank my lucky stars!
Eat well,
April

“We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough.” – Wendell Berry

Harissa Roasted Carrots with Yogurt Dip

 

IMG_9437

I picked up a tube of Harissa Entube (Tunisian chili pepper paste) at a market last week. While there I spotted some ginormous carrots, too. Carrots become uber sweet when your roast them, so they make the perfect veg to slather with something spicy.

IMG_9449

To compliment the spicy carrots, I drizzled a bit of pomegranate molasses over them right before serving (you can find this at a Middle Eastern market like Jordan in Laguna Hills) and mixed up a dip of yogurt and dill to serve on the side. I was thrilled with how they complimented one another. Here’s what you’ll need –

Preheat your oven to 375

IMG_9436

6 large carrots, washed and peeled

1 ½ tbsp. harissa (if you like SUPER spicy, bump it up to 2 tbsp.)

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

2 tbsp. of olive oil

1/2 cup Fage (Greek yogurt)

1/8 cup chopped dill

Juice from ½ lemon and zest from ½ lemon

3 pinches of salt

IMG_9440

Mix together the harissa, olive oil, and 1/4 tsp. of kosher salt. Smear this all over the carrots and slow roast (you don’t want the harissa to burn) for 45 minutes to an hour (all ovens are different). They are done when you can pierce them through with a knife; however, you don’t want them to turn to mush. They should retain their structural integrity.

IMG_9441

While your carrots are roasting, mix the yogurt, lemon, lemon zest, and pinches of salt in a small bowl.

 

This dish makes a great pre-dinner, wet your appetite, kind of thing, and the yogurt dip, plus the drizzle of pomegranate molasses are great cooling elements. The combinations are delish. 

Eat well!

April

“The only difference between the cucumber and water is the moving of the teeth.” – Tunisian Proverb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gougere

IMG_6150

Roger and I returned home last weekend from a glorious trip to Napa. It was a gift given to my hubby over a year ago and I was the blessed beneficiary of his hard work. We’d been delaying the trip until the kids were off to college so we could fully relax and boy, did we relax: an exceptional dinner at The French Laundry, a 20-mile bike ride through vineyards (in 96-degree heat!), countless great meals, and many fabulous tasting room experiences.

IMG_6030

In addition to all of the fun we had, we also saw firsthand the unfortunate aftereffects of the recent earthquake. Many buildings were damaged, but the one pictured above was the most severe. That being said, everyone we encountered was in good spirits and they were very thankful it wasn’t much worse. Roger and I, of course, took advantage of the many bottles left unharmed in the tremor.

Sinskey Vineyards - www.robertsinskey.com/visit

Sinskey Vineyards – www.robertsinskey.com/visit

One of our favorite winery/tasting rooms is owned and operated by our friend, Bob Sinskey, along with his son, Rob, who’s now in charge of the day-to-day operations. Rob’s wife, Maria Helm Sinskey, manages all of their culinary endeavors. Maria was named Food and Wine’s Best New Chef in 2006 and is a well-respected cookbook author. This is truly a family owned and operated winery.

IMG_6100

IMG_6078

Sinskey wine is certified organic and all of their grapes are grown, crushed, fermented, and bottled on property. They use 100% French oak barrels with light to medium toast, and they practice “whole farm” cultivation based upon Rudolph Steiner’s 1928 “Agriculture” lecture.

The Vineyard Garden provides for the kitchen.

The Vineyard Garden provides for the kitchen.

 

IMG_6127

There’s a fabulous kitchen (complete with a wood-fired oven) attached to the tasting room and they serve amazing nibbles to be enjoyed with your wine.

IMG_6107

We toured the caves tunneled into the hillside and poked around the wine “library” that contains at least one bottle of every wine produced on property for decades.

IMG_6110

The bottles in the image above date back to the earliest days of the winery and as you can see, the bottles are covered with dust and mold. Sneezing and coughing began about 15 minutes after entering the cave so we had to make a quick exit.

IMG_6133

We were served some delicious tidbits to be enjoyed with our wine pairings. The salami you see on the plate is a duck salami, made in-house, and it was superb. My other favorite morsel was the gougere (the little round pastry puff pictured in the top right corner) along with their Pinot Noir, Los Carneros, Napa Valley 2011. It was a perfect pairing! A match made in heaven.

Here’s Maria’s recipe for Gougere (yields 40)

1 ½ cups water

6 ounces unsalted butter

1 tbsp kosher salt

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

6 large eggs

2 cups grated gruyere or other firm cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1 tsp. chopped rosemary

2 tsp. chopped thyme

Bring water, butter, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the flour.

Return the pan to medium high heat and stir until the batter pulls away from the side of the pan. Scrape into the bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on and allow the paddle to cool the dough slightly for about a minute.

On a low speed, add the eggs one by one. After each egg is added, increase the speed to medium and beat until incorporated. Beat well after all eggs have been added.

Add the grated cheese and the herbs. Beat well until incorporated.

On a parchment-lined sheet pan, using a pastry bag, pipe the batter into half-dollar sized rounds. The batter may also be scooped into mounds with a tablespoon. Freeze.

To bake, preheat oven to 425-degrees. Egg wash the puffs straight from freezer. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan. Bake for another 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 400-degrees and bake until puffed and golden, 5-10 minutes. Serve warm.

If you’re going to be in the Napa area, be sure and call 707-944-9090 to reserve their “Perfect Circle Tour.” You’ll have an immersive farm to table culinary tour with wine tastings.

Eat well, 

April

“Beer is made by men, wine by God.” – Martin Luther