Category: Recipes
Posted by: Sam Edelman
By now, if you're a farmers market regular, you've probably tried the delicious fresh cheese available from Spring Hill Cheese. But if you haven't tried the farm's amazing cheddars, jacks, curds, quarks or award-winning Old World Portuguese, you don't know what you're missing. What a difference it makes to have fresh estate cheese (cheese that is manufactured from a single location) available at your fingertips. The cows eat lush green grass and their milk is used to make cheese right there in the cheese-making room. It is then aged, cut and packaged for distribution, all on the same Sonoma County dairy, then brought as fresh as possible to the local farmers markets. A herd of 400 Jersey cows provides the milk for Spring Hill Cheese's growing line of farmstead cheeses. Smaller than Holsteins (the typical black-and-white cow), which produce a greater yield of milk, Jersey cows' milk contains more butter fat, resulting in a rich, creamy flavor. Because of its low-quantity yield, the Jersey cow is no longer common in most commercial dairy operations.

Spring Hill Cheese owner Larry Peter began his dairy in 1987 and started producing his product in 1998. The cheese is made entirely from the milk of pasture-grazed Jersey cows. The difference in taste is unbelievable!

The number of Spring Hill cheeses available at the farmers markets is impressive, with something for every culinary use -- from rich, creamy quarks, ideal for bagels, to award-winning sage and sharp white cheddars, perfect for roast beef sandwiches, to soft teleme jack, just right for quesadillas. You can find other cheeses -- and butters -- at the Tuesday Santa Barbara, Thursday Goleta, Saturday Santa Barbara and Sunday Camino Real farmers markets.

All Spring Hill cheeses are produced with all-natural, 100 percent cultured Grade A jersey milk; salt; and enzymes. That's it! No artificial hormones! The fresh cheeses are aged from three to five weeks; the jacks, three to six months; and the cheddars, six to nine months.

If you're planning on hosting a party anytime soon, Spring Hill Cheese is a must. Your guests will be blown away by the flavor and selection if you put out a spread of the cheeses. Another great idea for a party is fondue, particularly in these cooler months. There are endless recipes for fondue, but one of my favorites incorporates aged cheddar, fresh asparagus, spinach and, of course, a little bacon. Served with fresh bread and sliced apples from the Creekside Apple Ranch in Santa Ynez, also at the market, you can't go wrong.

For a full list of cheeses available from Spring Hill Cheese, as well as more information on the farm, go to www.springhillcheese.com.


» Read More

Category: Recipes
Posted by: Sam Edelman
Ground beef

Locally raised meat is perfect for one of my favorite Super Bowl foods: beef sliders, the Fix of the Week on page D8. Full of flavor, it's also great in tacos, Bolognese sauce and meatballs. Free of hormones and antibiotics. Available from Rancho San Julian and Rocky Canyon Ranch at the Tuesday Santa Barbara and Saturday Santa Barbara farmers markets, just in time for the big game on Feb. 1. About $4 to $5 per pound.

Alfalfa and clover sprouts

It's amazing the difference a pinch of sprouts can make when added to your favorite sandwiches, salads, wraps and burgers. This live food from Ojai Valley Sprouts provides crunch and a refreshing flavor to meals. Fresh sprouts are extremely nutritious as they are a good source of vitamins A, B, C, D, E, F, and K and are rich in many minerals as well as enzymes needed for digestion. Available at the Tuesday Santa Barbara, Wednesday Solvang, Thursday Carpinteria, Saturday Santa Barbara and Sunday Camino Real markets. About $3 for 6 ounces.

Leeks

Fresh leeks are popping up all over area farms. With onions starting to phase out, leeks are taking their place. They make a great addition to soups and stir-fry dishes. Leeks are surprisingly nutritious -- actually supplying more vitamins and minerals than an equal serving of onions or scallions. It's a good idea to soak chopped leeks in a bowl of water before use, as the sediments from the field tend to get trapped inside. The water will allow the leek to float to the surface, leaving the sediment behind. Certified organic available at most markets. About $1 to $2 per bunch or pound.

Category: Recipes
Posted by: Sam Edelman
If you have ever planted mint in your garden, you are aware of just how hearty the herb can be. It can quickly dominate your grounds if a close eye isn't kept on the new shoots that seem to sprout up almost daily. For this reason, home gardeners often choose to plant it in large pots rather than directly in the ground to keep it contained. Thriving in the moist soil and ideal temperatures seen in Southern California, fresh mint does extremely well year-round locally, and has especially flourished in the recent warm weather. Whether harvested from your garden or purchased at the farmers market, it offers a refreshing finish to meals. There are several varieties you can plant in your garden (usually during early spring, when the threat of frost is gone and ground temperatures have warmed), offering distinct flavors of apple, pineapple, orange, lemon, ginger, and one of my favorite ice cream toppers -- chocolate mint. While these varieties are commonly found potted at nurseries and oftentimes at local farmers markets, there are two main ones: spearmint and peppermint.

They are the best for cooking purposes. The large, bright green leaves are loaded with flavor. Bite into one and you'll see how refreshing it is. The flavor translates well in salads, sliced fruits, desserts, jellies, as well as grilled meats and veggies. I prefer using spearmint, which is a bit sweeter, especially in a fruit salad or dessert.

Fresh mint is a healthy addition to meals as it is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. It is a good source of thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, phosphorus and zinc, and also contains dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, riboflavin, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese. Not only does it pack in the flavor, it packs in the nutrients.

With such warm weather last weekend, I decided to pull out the barbecue and make some tasty mint-marinated chicken skewers loaded with onion, local mushrooms, bell pepper and canned pineapple, offering up a great balance of fruit, veggies and protein. If a barbecue is not available, this can easily be done in an aluminum baking dish under the boiler, about 5 minutes per side.

Sam Edelman is general manager of the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market Association. His column appears every Thursday. E-mail him at food@newspress.com.

Super Bowl Sliders

January 15, 2009

Category: Recipes
Posted by: Sam Edelman
After catching the playoffs last weekend, it was time to start gearing up for the Super Bowl festivities on Feb. 1. A spread of great munchies and finger foods is a necessity. While you could go with fresh veggie sticks and sliced fruit, something about it just doesn't seem right. It's nice to be able to splurge a few times a year on fried, cheesy, salty foods that we work so hard to resist. Still, you can incorporate some healthy ingredients without guests suspecting a thing. Sliders are among my favorite Super Bowl foods. These mini burgers are simple to make, easy to eat and actually not all that bad for you. The patties can be prepared in advance and either cooked to order or pre-grilled and kept in the oven warmer to be enjoyed throughout the game. A condiment station allows guests to pick their own toppings.

We are fortunate to have locally raised beef at the Tuesday Santa Barbara and Saturday Santa Barbara farmers markets. It makes for some of the juiciest sliders or burgers you can imagine. Rancho San Julian and Rocky Canyon Ranch produce some of the cleanest and most delicious ground beef I have ever tasted, raised naturally, free of hormones and antibiotics. Just by looking at the color of the meat in the package (deep red) you can tell the difference between farm-raised beef and what's often found on a large scale at grocery stores.

Because of their size, sliders are a lot of fun to make. They should be about a third the size of a regular patty. I season the beef quite a bit to enhance the flavor, but if you have a basic burger mix that you are fond of, that will work great. For the buns, I prefer using the healthier mini wheat roll, which is available from Creekside Apple Ranch at the Tuesday Santa Barbara, Wednesday Solvang and Saturday Santa Barbara farmers markets. Otherwise, most grocery stores sell slider buns in the fresh bread section.

Game on!

» Read More

Category: Recipes
Posted by: Sam Edelman
The Jimenez family has some pretty interesting things going on at their Santa Ynez Valley farm these days. When the couple first began selling at local farmers markets, they offered a bounty of fresh beans, lettuce, herbs, carrots and heirloom radishes, along with a few seasonal fruits. As their customer base started to increase, owner Marcie Jimenez decided to go back to her previous specialty -- pie making -- and began to sell her exceptional berry pies filled with farm-raised blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. In the winter, pumpkin pies were added to the mix, produced directly from pumpkins grown on the farm. The past couple of years, Marcie and Gus Jimenez decided to expand their product mix even further by offering farm-raised lamb and goat meat -- again, raised directly on their farm. Feeding on summer and winter squash, greens, corn and fruit from the leftover harvest, the stock eats well. It is also free of hormone and antibiotic injections. The quality is instantly noticed in the meat -- the best I've tried. The farm has taken it one step further with the newest addition, fresh pork.

photoNow available at the Tuesday Santa Barbara, Wednesday Solvang, Saturday Santa Barbara and Sunday Camino Real farmers markets, this meat is as good as it gets (you can also get exceptional pork from Rocky Canyon Ranch at the Saturday Santa Barbara market). With a vast range of cuts ready for pickup each week, you will surely be able to find what you're looking for, with everything from stew meat to pork tenderloin and ribs. Upon opening the vacuum-sealed packaging, you notice the quality.

When many people think of eating pork, bacon in particular, fat comes to mind. While all forms of meat have their heavy and leaner cuts, pork is one that is actually exceptionally lean, which is why it's often referred to as "the other white meat." A 4-ounce cut of pork tenderloin contains only 5 grams of fat, with 2 grams of carbohydrates and about 20 grams of protein. Combined with seasonal veggies, you have a healthy meal.

Pork is a versatile meat, perfect for grilling, roasting, frying and braising. With so many cuts to choose from, it is difficult to know where to start. I recommend the tenderloin cut if you want the cleanest finish, free of any bone and surrounding fat.

For this week's Fix, I decided to go with sirloin steak cuts (two steaks per package). They have a small bone running through the center, releasing exceptional flavor into the meat. The surrounding layer of fat (which cooks off quite a bit) also enhances the flavor and tenderness of the cut, which is delicious when roasted in the oven and finished under the broiler. With the aromas of fresh garlic, thyme and honey pleasantly filling the kitchen, your taste buds will be jumping.

Sam Edelman is general manager of the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market Association. His column appears every Thursday. E-mail him at food@newspress.com.

» Read More

Warm Lima Bean Salad

January 01, 2009

Category: Recipes
Posted by: Sam Edelman
Freshly dried lima beans from this past fall harvest are available in abundance right now from local Carpinteria area farmer Tom Shepherd. Commonly referred to as "butter beans," this variety is renowned for its distinct nutty flavor and thick creamy texture with every bite. This bean is extremely hearty, making for a sufficient meal base, delicious when combined with fresh seasonal veggies. Whether enjoyed hot off the stove, or as a cold bean salad chilled in the refrigerator, the flavor can't be matched with this local favorite.

Dried lima beans are an extremely nutrient packed food, providing an exceptional diversity of vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber. In a 1-cup serving of prepared dried lima beans you are delivered more than 35 grams of dietary fiber, and 39 grams of protein. In addition, prepared dried lima beans provide an abundance of calcium, iron, potassium, thiamin, folate, vitamin B6 and 12, zinc, copper, magnesium and phosphorus.

When selecting your lima beans at the farmers market, look for those that are free of wrinkles, soft spots and discoloration. The outer surface should be smooth and portray a vibrant white color across its hard shell. Dried lima beans tend to average about the size of a quarter, and about one-eighth of an inch thick, when reaching peak maturity and flavor. Once home, dried lima beans should be stored in an air tight container in a cool dark location. They store extremely well when they are free of any exposure to moisture, easily lasting more than six months.

Like all dried beans, the trick to getting them just right always comes down to the amount of water and whether or not to pre-soak. With these beans, I found a 2 1/2 to 1 water-bean ratio works best when brought to a boil and reduced to a simmer. Total cooking time averages about 2 hours, with no pre-soaking required for a delicious finish. They will just about double in size when completed.

For this week's Fix, I went for a simple Warm Lima Bean Salad served with a side of freshly steamed broccoli.

» Read More

Category: Recipes
Posted by: admin
Last weekend, I came across beautiful shrimp, live on ice at the farmers market, just caught in local waters. One of many seafoods available at the market, I couldn't pass these up, especially at only 5 bucks a pound, so I grabbed a couple pounds to enjoy throughout the weekend. One reason some people are hesitant to buy fresh shrimp is the preparation involved. While there is indeed a little work, it is more than worth the effort and often much more simple than many think. I typically start by gently popping off the head; it should come off easily if you hold the shrimp at the tail and simply fold back the head. Next, remove the digestive tract, often referred to as the vein. Simply make a shallow cut lengthwise down the curve of the shell, allowing the dark ribbon-like vein to be removed with a pointed utensil (although I usually pinch it out with my fingers). If the tail has been detached, the vein can be pinched at the tail end and pulled out completely with your fingers. Now remove the shell. The shrimp is then rinsed under cold water before being prepared.

Although the shrimp at the farmers markets are good to go, raw shrimp, in general, should be firm and have a mild odor. The shells should be translucent, free of blackened edges or black spots, a sign of quality loss. Once cooked, the meat should be firm and have no unpleasant odor; the color should be white with red or pink stripes.

» Read More

Kabocha Pumpkin Squares

October 23, 2008

Category: Recipes
Posted by: admin
With the first signs of fall in the air, the shorter days and cooler evenings bring with it an array of winter nullsquash, which are loaded with flavor and nutrients to get you through the season. From the more common butternut to the delicious Buttercup, there are quite a few varieties to try. But there is one in particular that I go back to time and time again: the Sunshine kabocha squash. Also called a Japanese pumpkin, it has a rich flavor and smooth texture when slowly roasted in the oven, making it an extremely versatile squash. Whether used to make soups, pies or simply roasted and seasoned with a little salt and pepper to be enjoyed as a side, you can't go wrong with this one. As this dense, small, round squash begins to roast in the oven, its bright orange skin begins to soften. The skin is so thin, in fact, that it can be eaten; the texture resembles the flesh.

This hearty fall and winter staple is loaded with essential nutrients to keep you healthy through the cooler times of the year. Due to its deep orange flesh, kabocha squash is loaded with the essential antioxidant beta-carotene, enough to supply almost 150 percent of the daily value in just 1 cup of cooked squash. Kabocha squash is also a very good source of dietary fiber and supplies vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, and a good amount of potassium.

» Read More

Baked Quince

October 16, 2008

Category: Recipes
Posted by: admin
As the local fall crops begin to arrive at weekly farmers markets, it's time to gear up for a new round of fresh produce to enjoy for the season. From persimmons, pomegranates and winter squash to an array of hearty greens, such as kale and bunches of rainbow chard, there are quite a few ingredients to work with this time of year. One of them, available only October through December, is quince, which you're probably less familiar with. At first glance, this member of the apple and pear family may resemble a cross between the two. But if you've ever tried to bite into one, you likely discovered a much different flavor. Cultivated for more than 4,000 years in Asia and the Mediterranean, quince serves its major function when cooked, where it takes on flavors similar to its relatives. Its acidity and astringent properties are too intense to be enjoyed raw, which is why the quince is mostly used in preserves, pies and sauces.

When selecting a quince at the market, ask the farmer to assist you. The quince varies in shape and size, but resembles what you may expect if a pear and apple were spliced together. When purchased fresh, it has a green to yellow skin that turns more yellow when ripe. It will, however, remain firm, so do not expect it to soften (if it does, discard). Any brown spotting on the outside is completely normal, and will not affect the flavor. Once home, the quince should be stored at room temperature on the counter until ripe. It can then be refrigerated, lasting two weeks or more.

» Read More

Category: Recipes
Posted by: admin
October is always an exciting month for me, as I am a major enthusiast of local seafood. Growing up in the Santa Barbara area, I have, over the years, gained a great appreciation for what our local waters have to offer and the hard work that goes into bringing the sea's fresh offerings to our kitchens. Just like with produce, getting your seafood as fresh as possible makes all the difference when it comes to quality and results. Local fishermen J.R. Gorgita, Sam Shrout and Bernard Friedman regularly supply the Saturday farmers market in Santa Barbara, bringing in their freshly caught goods.

This month marks the opening of lobster and shrimp season. Also in the mix this time of year are freshly harvested local mussels, brought in weekly by Mr. Friedman. I tried these mussels for the first time last weekend and they were, without a doubt, the best I'd ever tried. Unbelievably tender for mussels and loaded with natural flavor, these will regularly be on my shopping list.

Fresh mussels are quite nutritious. While they do contain cholesterol, they are packed with protein and iron and contain hearty amounts of vitamins C and A and calcium.

Mussels, which may be cream to dark orange in color, are amazingly sweet and are usually steamed and served in their deep black shells, baked with a crumb topping or used in salads. But they're also great when served over thin pasta noodles and topped with a garlic, lemon grass and heirloom tomato sauce.

Sam Edelman is general manager of the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market Association. His column appears every Thursday. E-mail him at food@newspress.com.

» Read More