Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It's in the Bag!

From lower left, honey nugget tangerines, Oro Blanco grapefruit,yellow peaches, zucchini, white pepper, red oak lettuce, Sierra gold potatoes, Sanguinelli Blood Oranges

 Somewhere between Friday morning and today, life has gotten in the way, and I didn't post anything about our amazing Specialty Produce Farmer's Market Bag class at Great News.  Last week's bag was equal amounts produce and fruit, which made it fun to work with and I coae up with a great menu for the students.  We did breakfast, with a Denver omelet casserole, Amaretto Peach French Toast,  Crispy smashed potatoes with goat cheese, scones with Oro Blanco Grapefruit and Sanguinelli Blood Orange Marmalade.
Truth be told, I've never been a fan of grapefruit, but the Oro Blanco's are sweet and delicious, and the size of Bocce balls! 

Orange Upside Down Cake

This delicious cake can be made with your favorite orange, but blood oranges look spectacular in this presentation. 

Serves 10

    1/2 cup unsalted butter
    3/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar   
    2 Blood oranges, peel and pith removed, and sliced 1/4-inch thick

  1. Coat the interior of a 10-inch cake pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan on medium heat, then add the brown sugar and stir for a few minutes until the brown sugar is completely combined and melted. 
  3. Pour the butter/brown sugar mixture over the bottom of the cake pan, and arrange the orange slices on the sugar syrup.  Set aside while making the cake batter. 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon orange oil (optional)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 cups heavy cream, whipped stiffly for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla, orange zest and oil, if using.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Mix the sour cream and orange juice together, add with the flour, baking soda and salt, and beat until the mixture comes together and is smooth. 
  5. Transfer the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 45 to 55 minutes until a skewer inserted in to the center comes out clean.
  6. Transfer the cake pan to a rack and allow to cool for EXACTLY 10 minutes.
  7. Turn the cake out onto a serving platter, and serve at room temperature. 
  8. Refrigerate any leftover cake, and re-warm before serving, garnish with whipped cream, crème fraiche or vanilla ice cream.    
 Blood Orange and Oro Blanco Grapefruit Marmalade

Makes about 3 pints

2 grapefruit
5 to 6 blood oranges
3 cups water
6 1/2 cups sugar
One 1 3/4-ounce package pectin

Using a swivel peeler remove the zest from the fruit, and cut the zest into 1/4-inch pieces.
Add the zest to a saucepan with 3 cups of water, and bring to a boil. 
Simmer for 30 minutes.   
While the zest is boiling, cut the ends off the fruit, and remove the pith (white membrane) from the fruit. 
Slice the fruit into segments, dropping the segments into the water and zest.  Squeeze any juice from the membranes into the pan. 
Add the sugar to the fruit, and zest cooking liquid, and bring to a boil, the marmalade should reach 220 degrees on a candy thermometer.  
Add the pectin, and remove from the heat.  
Skim any foam from the top of the marmalade, and stir gently. 
Transfer to heat-proof containers, cool to room temperature and refrigerate for up to 1 month.
The marmalade can be canned, in canning jars if desired. 

Cook's Note:  You will need 4 cups of fruit pulp; so think of using this same recipe with lemon/lime/orange/grapefruit, any citrus combination.  When you are successful with one, you might want to add flavors: fresh ginger, mint simple syrup (in place of the sugar) to kick things into high gear.  The citrus right now in San Diego is amazing and Specialty Produce has got your citrus needs covered!  Since blood oranges only have a short season, stock up and juice them, or make them into marmalade.  The juice and the marmalade will freeze well in airtight containers.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Farro: Rome's ancient grain

Farro is an ancient Roman grain, often confused with emmer (wheat) or spelt.  Grown for years in Lazio and Umbria, it went out of favor until some hot shot chef decided to include it on his menus, and the rest is history.  Small farmers in Umbria began growing farro again, and it has now made its way across the pond and we are seeing it in salads, sautes, desserts (think rice pudding) and even 'quasi' risottos.  Not only is it the "it" grain, it is also really good for you, whether you add it to soups, or vegetable dishes or use it in place of riso for risotto, its antioxidants, and minerals are all building blocks and should be part of your diet.
You can buy farro in specialty markets, I bought mine at Mona Lisa here in San Diego, an Italian grocer, or you can order it online from here.

Simple to cook, I will cook 2 cups of farro in boiling salted water for 12 minutes.  It has a nice resistance at that point, and can be added to other dishes to become a bit softer.   Any leftover cooked farro freezes, and you can have it on hand to make any number of other dishes, or dress with good olive oil and toss in some fresh herbs for a side dish.

Farro with Kale
Serves 6
This recipe is inspired by one from Lynn Rosetto Kasper's The Splendid Table website  
I've tweaked it a bit to fit my family's preferences, but you can add and subtract here as you wish.  I like to serve this at room temperature.  

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
One 1/2-inch slice pancetta, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup (about 1 small) onion finely chopped
One bunch kale, tough stems discarded and finely chopped into ribbons
1/4 cup white wine
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 cups cooked farro
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

In a large skillet, heat the oil and saute the pancetta, until it is crispy.
 Add the garlic and onion, and saute until the onion begins to turn golden, about 5 minutes.
Add the kale and wine, cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the kale is wilted, add the farro, raisins, and pine nuts, tossing to combine and heat through.

Taste for seasoning adding salt or pepper if needed. Serve the farro as a bed for grilled anything, or as a side dish at room temperature.
Cook's Notes: 
  •  If you would like to use another green, collards, Swiss chard, or spinach will all work here. 
  • Any leftovers are great tossed with a bit of vinaigrette to serve alongside some grilled veggies for dinner.
  • If you would like to have a vegetarian farro, omit the pancetta, and use a bit more olive oil for sauteing.