Eat Good Food, Preserve the Season

Make Your Own Pickled Okra

pickled okra

Pickled okra saves the summer’s tastes for months to come with the happy additions of garlic, dill, and hot red peppers.

The pickles are crisp, tasty accompaniments to burgers or barbecue, and also wonderful served as part of an appetizer or charcuterie platter.

Look for firm, springy pods, free of bruises and dark spots, and no more than three inches long.

Pickled Okra

3 pounds (2 ½ to 3 inch) okra pods
3 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
⅓ cup canning-and-pickling salt
2 teaspoons dill seeds
5 garlic cloves, peeled
3 small fresh hot red peppers, halved (optional)

Sterilize five pint jars and prepare lids.

While jars are boiling, wash okra and trim stems, leaving caps intact. Combine vinegar, salt, dill seeds, and 3 cups water in large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil.

Place 1 garlic clove and, if desired, 1 hot pepper half in each hot jar. Pack okra pods tightly in jars, placing some stem end down and some stem end up and leaving ½ inch headspace.

Cover okra with hot pickling liquid, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.

Seal and process jars for 10 minutes.

Remove jars from water, and let stand, undisturbed, at room temperature 24 hours.

To check seals, remove the bands, and press down on the center of each lid. If the lid does not move, the jar is sealed. If the lid depresses and pops up again, the jar is not sealed.

Store properly sealed jars in a cool, dark place for up to a year. Refrigerate after opening.

Learn more about okra.

Eat Good Food

New Orleans Red Beans Recipe

red beans rice

Red beans and rice was traditionally prepared in New Orleans every Monday, on laundry day.

Grown in Colonial America, kidney beans were cultivated by Acadian farmers in Louisiana in the late 1700s. Perfect for simmered dishes, red beans hold their shape during cooking, and are commonly featured in chili as well as many Indian dishes. When combined with rice, red beans are a complete protein source.

This classic recipe for New Orleans red beans and rice comes from Camellia, the Louisiana-based producer of dried beans, peas, and lentils.

New Orleans Red Beans

1 lb Camellia Red Kidney Beans
½ lb ham or seasoning meat
8-10 cups water
1 onion, chopped
1 head garlic, chopped
2 tbsp celery, chopped
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 large bay leaf
Salt, to taste

Rinse and sort beans. In a large pot, add beans with water. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes.

In a separate skillet, brown meat and set aside, reserving fat drippings. Sauté the onion, garlic, parsley, and celery in the drippings.

Add meat, vegetables, and bay leaf to beans. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until tender.

For creamier consistency, when beans are soft, crush some of the beans against the side of the pot with a large spoon.

Preserve the Season

How to Make Herb Infused Vinegars

So many different herbs lend themselves well to making infused vinegars. It’s fun and easy to grow your own herbs but we also like the freshest bundles from the farmers’ market.

Tarragon, dill, and basil are all classic flavorings, but you can also use more unusual herbs such as lovage, fennel, opal basil, shiso, lemon verbena, chervil, chive flowers, or salad burnet to flavor vinegars.

To make herb-infused vinegar, put a few sprigs of your favorite herb into a jar or bottle.

Top with good quality vinegar variety such as Champagne, white or red wine, or cider. Let the herbs and vinegar steep for two weeks, then taste.

When the vinegar is ready, strain and re-bottle it, replacing the original herbs with fresh sprigs.

Due to its acidity, your vinegar will easily keep for six months to a year.

Herb vinegars do not need to be refrigerated but are best stored in a cool, dark place.

Eat Good Food

Easy Hors d’oeuvres for Home Entertaining

hors d'oeuvres

The French word hors d’oeuvres literally translates to “apart from the work” and essentially describes a small dish served before a meal. The time to traditionally serve hors d’oeuvres is during the cocktail hour.

Two or three refined bites, hors d’oeuvres are often served with various aperitifs or wine, and are meant to pique the appetite, not fill you up. From crostini to oysters, here are some of our favorite ways to part from work.

CROSTINI

One of the simplest, most versatile types of hors d’oeuvres is crostini, which are toasted or grilled slices of bread with tasty toppings. These bite-sized hors d’oeuvres can be crowned with rich ingredients such as brandade, egg salad, or chicken liver paté, but they can also incorporate such leftovers as smashed beans or sautéed greens, or such larder items as cured fish, pickles, charcuterie, or cheese.

Here are some of our favorite combinations:

Crostini with Charred Cherry Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar Broil ripe cherry tomatoes until they begin to burst and drizzle with aged balsamic to add sweetness.

Crostini with Fig-Olive Tapenade and Goat Cheese A salty-sweet tapenade made with dried figs, kalamata olives, and capers is the perfect foil for mild goat cheese.

Crostini with Smashed White Beans and Kale Last night’s pot of beans can be mashed in a mortar, adding extra-virgin olive oil and salt to taste, then spread on toast. Top with well-cooked broccoli rabe or other greens tossed with minced garlic and olive oil.

Egg Salad and Smoked Trout Mash warm boiled eggs with extra virgin olive oil and salt, top with bite-sized piece of smoked trout, and sprinkle with chervil.

Crostini with Salt Cod Brandade and Chard Add a spoonful of brandade to the edges of toast, brown under broiler for a minute, and top with lemony sautéed chard.

Crostini with Peach, Prosciutto & Ricotta Ripe peaches, served fresh or grilled, and creamy ricotta are the perfect complement to salty prosciutto.

Crostini with Marinated Sardines and Salsa Verde Combine parsley, tarragon, capers, and lemon zest to make salsa verde and top with marinated fresh sardines.

Crostini with Tomato, Garlic, and Olive Oil In this riff onpan con tomate crusty bread is rubbed with garlic and virgin olive oil, then soaked with chopped tomatoes and finished with smoked salt.

SIMPLE PAIRINGS

Letting excellent ingredients combine and shine make entertaining easy. We prefer the focus to be on the company, not the work. Charcuterie, cheeses, and oysters make for marvelous bites during cocktail hour. Ease into the evening!

CHARCUTERIE

Charcuterie, paired with fresh or dried fruits, nuts, or condiments such as pickles and mustard, is a simple way to make easy work of the appetizer course in a meal. Here are some of our favorite combinations:

Proscuitto and melon Slice the melon thinly.

Proscuitto and grilled figs Drizzle with aged balsamic vinegar.

Proscuitto and nectarine wedges Garnish with blanched almonds.

Salami and Manchego cheese Add dried figs and toasted walnuts to the plate for a wonderful combination of flavors and textures.

Pork pate with pistachios Serve with pickled caperberries or cornichons and a smear of good mustard.

CHEESES

A cheese plate can easily start a meal as a balanced and satisfying little plate of flavors and textures. Fruit, both fresh and dried, nuts, and the ever-friendly fennel all have a natural affinity to many types of cheeses. Here are a few ideas:

Warm Saint-Marcellin cheese with roasted cherries Served warm, the combination is creamy and sweet.

Fresh baked ricotta with roasted figs Perfect for smearing on bread or topping crostini.

Savory baked ricotta with herbs and lemon Serve with garlic-rubbed grilled bread.

Reblochon cheese with slivers of raw fennel Nice with raw pistachios.

Pimento cheese on crackers or biscuits Delicious with pickled okra.

OYSTERS

Perhaps the finest and most celebratory way to start a meal is with oysters. Presented on the half-shell, they come in their own serving vessels, making them natural hors d’oeuvres. We like to serve them with the simplest condiments, a squeeze of lemon, or a traditional mignonette.

Learn how to shuck oysters at home and prepare a mignonette.

Eat Good Food

Edible Seaweed (plus a recipe!)

seaweed

Seaweed is abundant on the California coast from May to July. Naturally high in glutamates — which offer the rich umami flavor we crave — seaweed is found in several varieties, colors, and textures.

A miracle of versatility, seaweed can be used to thicken sauces or such stocks as dashi. It can also be used raw, steamed, marinated, fried, or pickled. Yes, you can simply pick it up from the sea and eat it.

Along our Northern California coastline, individuals can gather up to 10 pounds a day of sea vegetables without a license.

The June 9, 2017, full moon offers the lowest tide of the year and the most light for plants to grow, which should translate into an abundant harvest, but any summertime full moon provides a delightful ambiance for coast-walking, hunting down seaweed.

When dried, seaweed will keep indefinitely; fresh, it will keep for 10 days in the refrigerator.

Here is our guide to seaweeds commonly found on the California coast. Many thanks to Heidi Hermann of Strong Arm Farm for her insights!

Bladderwrack
Often used medicinally to treat thyroid disorders, bladderwrack is high in iodine and iron.

Dulse
A thicker, darker variety that turns deep green when cooked. In Nova Scotia and Maine, dried dulse is often served as a bar snack.

Kombu
Kombu is the Japanese name for the dried seaweed that is derived from a mixture ofLaminariaspecies. Excellent with beans, kombu is also used in Japanese cuisine to flavor dashi broth.

Nori
A mild seaweed often wrapped around a small handful of rice, nori grows as a very thin, flat, reddish blade. With a mild flavor, nori can also be crumbled over food as a condiment, or massaged with oil and toasted as with kale chips.

Sea Lettuce
A tender green algae used in salads and soups, sea lettuce is a delicate variety of seaweed. In its sheet form, sea lettuce can be used to wrap fish.

Wakame
One of the most popular and commonly found seaweeds, wakame has a higher fiber content than nori or kale, and is rich in niacin, calcium, riboflavin, and thiamine.

We feature a daily seaweed salad in our SHED Larder and often on our Café menu. To prepare a version at home, here is a recipe from Chef Perry Hoffman.

Seaweed Salad with Shaved Vegetables and Kimchi Vinaigrette
Serves 4

8 oz fresh seaweed (suggestions: dulse, sea palm, ogo, fucas, cat’s tongue, nori, or chain bladder)
1 large watermelon radish, shaved paper thin on mandolin
1 fennel, shaved paper thin on mandolin
1 Japanese cucumber, shaved paper thin on mandolin
2 cups snap peas
2 large handfuls pea shoots
8 oz Hodo Soy firm tofu
20 small basil leaves
20 cilantro leaves
10 padron peppers, raw, shaved thin, with no seed or stems

Kimchi Vinaigrette
1 cup kimchi
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp white soy sauce (shoyu)
1 tbsp golden sesame oil
4 tbsp rice oil

In a blender, add kimchi, vinegar, soy, and sesame oil. Blend until smooth. Drizzle in the rice oil.

Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and serve.

Eat Good Food

Spring Asparagus Risotto Recipe

While asparagus is in season, we like to celebrate it in as many ways as possible. We love asparagus grilled or griddled, sneaked into omelettes and turned into soup, poached for salads, sautéed over rice, and as the very definition of primavera for pasta. But this asparagus risotto recipe is one we faithfully return to each spring.

Risotto is a perfect vessel for asparagus, allowing the vegetable to perfume the dish while making room for other lovely spring additions like fava beans and pea shoots — or whatever good is just coming in at your farmers’ market or garden.

Choose firm, fresh, medium-thick asparagus. All asparagus has the same amount of fiber in it, whether the stalks are small or large. Medium-sized stalks don’t get mushy like the extra big ones and are more toothsome than the tightly bound stalks of the smaller ones.

Spring Asparagus Risotto
Serves 6

1 lb fresh asparagus
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 large shallots, finely chopped
2 ¼ cups carnaroli rice
1 ½ quarts chicken or vegetable stock (for homemade stock), kept at a low simmer
½ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Sea salt and freshly milled black pepper

Boil or steam the asparagus with a large pinch of sea salt for about 6 minutes, or until just tender. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid, and leave to cool.

Melt half the butter in a deep, heavy-bottomed pan and fry the shallots for about 5 minutes, or until soft and translucent.

Meanwhile, cut the cooled asparagus stalks into small pieces, leaving the tips intact. If the end of the asparagus stalk is very tough, peel carefully to expose the tender center and discard the rest. Add the chopped stalks to the shallots and cook together for about 5 minutes, stirring gently to prevent burning.

Add all the rice to the pan and toast, stirring it around, until it is heated through, crackling and shiny.

Pour in a couple of ladlefuls of the asparagus cooking liquid and stir until it has been totally absorbed, then add some more. Add enough to submerge the rice for a moment, but always wait for the rice to absorb the liquid before adding the next batch. When you run out of cooking liquid, begin to add the hot stock.

Continue cooking in this way, gradually adding liquid and stirring, for about 20 minutes, or until the risotto is creamy and the rice is swollen, but still firm in the middle of the grain.

Add the asparagus tips and stir in the Parmesan and parsley. Season to taste. Remove from the heat, cover the pan, and leave the risotto to rest for 4 minutes. Stir again before transferring to a warmed serving platter or individual plates.

Serve immediately.