Friday, August 20, 2010

Pizza with Garlic Paste & Pine Nuts

Pizza with roasted garlic puree, fresh mozzarella and pine nuts
  • 8 cloves Garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 Tbl. Cento Olive Oil
  • 2 pc. Doris' Fresh Pizza dough 
  • pinch Chili flakes
  • 3-1/2 cups Swedish fontina cheese, grated (loosely packed)
  • 20 slices Red onions, sliced very thinly
  • 2 medium Vine ripened tomatoes, sliced 1/4" thick
  • 20 each Cherry tomatoes
  • 1 each Buffalo mozzarella, about 6 oz., cubed 1/2"
  • 2 Tbls. Parmesan cheese, grated very finely
  • 2 Tbls. Pine nuts 2 Tbls. Chopped basil
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 500 F. and place a baking stone or tile in to
    heat.
  2. Heat a small saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil
    and the unpeeled garlic cloves.
  3. Saute, stirring regularly, until the garlic skin begins to caramelize.
  4. Transfer to the oven and roast until the cloves become uniformly golden brown. Remove and cool.
  5. When cool, remove the roasted garlic from the skins and place into a small
    bowl.
  6. Mix thoroughly with a spoon to make a paste.
  7. Roll the doughs into roughly 10" rounds using a pie pin or by
    pounding and stretching the dough.
  8. Sprinkle a light cutting board or pizza peel with cornmeal or
    semolina and lay the doughs down on it.
  9. Spread the garlic paste over the doughs then sprinkle the chili flakes evenly and spread the fontina cheese over the dough, leaving a half inch rim without cheese.
  10. Next distribute the sliced tomatoes followed by the onion
    rings.
  11. Arrange the cherry tomatoes evenly over the cheese and onions and
    sprinkle the fresh mozzarella and Parmesan cheese over the top.
  12. Bake for ten minutes or until the edge of the crust becomes
    golden brown and the cheese bubbles in the center.
  13. Remove from the oven and place on a cutting board. Sprinkle the
    chopped basil over and cut into six or eight pieces. Serve immediately.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

How to Store Produce Without Plastic

The Berkeley Farmers Market has put together a huge list of ways to store produce without plastic. The market went plastic-free last year and is doing everything it can to encourage customers to not only bring their own bags and containers but to skip the plastic when they get home as well. The information is listed below. And here is a printable PDF version of the flyer, HowTo Store Fruits and Vegetables: Tips and tricks to extend the life of your produce without plastic (PDF).

How to Store Vegetables Without PlasticAlways remove any tight bands from your vegetables or at least loosen them to allow them to breath.
  • Artichokes‐ place in an airtight container sealed, with light moisture.
  • Asparagus‐ place them loosely in a glass or bowl upright with water at room temperature. (Will keep for a week outside the fridge)
  • Avocados‐ place in a paper bag at room temp. To speed up their ripening‐ place an apple in the bag with them.
  • Arugula‐ arugula, like lettuce, should not stay wet! Dunk in cold water and spin or lay flat to dry. Place dry arugula in an open container, wrapped with a dry towel to absorb any extra moisture.
  • Basil‐ is difficult to store well. Basil does not like the cold, or to be wet for that matter. The best method here is an airtight container/jar loosely packed with a small damp piece of paper inside‐left out on a cool counter.Beans, shelling‐ open container in the fridge, eat ASAP. Some recommend freezing them if not going to eat right away
  • Beets‐ cut the tops off to keep beets firm, (be sure to keep the greens!)by leaving any top on root vegetables draws moisture from the root, making them loose flavor and firmness. Beets should be washed and kept in and open container with a wet towel on top.
  • Beet greens‐ place in an airtight container with a little moisture.
  • Broccoli‐ place in an open container in the fridge or wrap in a damp towel before placing in the fridge.
  • Broccoli Rabe‐ left in an open container in the crisper, but best used as soon as possible.
  • Brussels Sprouts‐ If bought on the stalk leave them on that stalk. Put the stalk in the fridge or leave it on a cold place. If they’re bought loose store them in an open container with a damp towel on top.
  • Cabbage‐ left out on a cool counter is fine up to a week, in the crisper otherwise. Peel off outer leaves if they start to wilt. Cabbage might begin to loose its moisture after a week , so, best used as soon as possible.
  • Carrots‐ cut the tops off to keep them fresh longer. Place them in closed container with plenty of moisture, either wrapped in a damp towel or dunk them in cold water every couple of days if they’re stored that long.
  • Cauliflower‐ will last a while in a closed container in the fridge, but they say cauliflower has the best flavor the day it’s bought.
  • Celery‐ does best when simply places in a cup or bowl of shallow water on the counter.
  • Celery root/Celeriac‐ wrap the root in a damp towel and place in the crisper.
  • Corn‐ leave unhusked in an open container if you must, but corn really is best the day it’s picked.
  • Cucumber‐ wrapped in a moist towel in the fridge. If you’re planning on eating them within a day or two after buying them they should be fine left out in a cool room.
  • Eggplant‐ does fine left out in a cool room. Don’t wash it, eggplant doesn’t like any extra moisture around its leaves. For longer storage‐ place loose, in the crisper.
  • Fava beans‐ place in an air tight container.
  • Fennel‐ if used within a couple days after it’s bought fennel can be left out on the counter, upright in a cup or bowl of water (like celery). If wanting to keep longer than a few days place in the fridge in a closed container with a little water.
  • Garlic‐ store in a cool, dark, place.
  • Green garlic‐an airtight container in the fridge or left out for a day or two is fine, best before dried out.
  • Greens‐ remove any bands, twist ties, etc. most greens must be kept in an air‐tight container with a damp cloth‐ to keep them from drying out. Kale, collards, and chard even do well in a cup of water on the counter or fridge.
  • Green beans‐ they like humidity, but not wetness. A damp cloth draped over an open or loosely closed container.
  • Green Tomatoes‐ store in a cool room away from the sun to keep them green and use quickly or they will begin to color.
  • Herbs- a closed container in the fridge to kept up to a week. Any longer might encourage mold.Lettuce‐ keep damp in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Leeks‐leave in an open container in the crisper wrapped in a damp cloth or in a shallow cup of water on the counter (just so the very bottom of the stem has water).
  • Okra‐ doesn’t like humidity. So a dry towel in an airtight container. Doesn’t store that well, best eaten quickly after purchase
  • Onion‐ store in a cool, dark and dry, place‐ good air circulation is best, so don’t stack them.
  • Parsnips‐an open container in the crisper, or, like a carrot, wrapped in a damp cloth in the fridge.
  • Potatoes‐ (like garlic and onions) store in cool, dark and dry place, such as, a box in a dark corner of the pantry; a paper bag also works well.
  • Radicchio‐ place in the fridge in an open container with a damp cloth on top.
  • Radishes‐ remove the greens (store separately) so they don’t draw out excess moisture from the roots and place them in a open container in the fridge with a wet towel placed on top.
  • Rhubarb‐wrap in a damp towel and place in an open container in the refrigerator.
  • Rutabagas‐ in an ideal situation a cool, dark, humid root cellar or a closed container in the crisper to keep their moisture in.
  • Snap peas‐ refrigerate in an open container
  • Spinach‐ store loose in an open container in the crisper, cool as soon as possible. Spinach loves to stay cold.
  • Spring onions‐ Remove any band or tie and place in the crisper.Summer
  • Squash‐ does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut.
  • Sweet peppers‐ Only wash them right before you plan on eating them as wetness decreases storage time. Store in a cool room to use in a couple a days, place in the crisper if longer storage needed.
  • Sweet Potatoes‐ Store in a cool, dark, well‐ventilated place. Never refrigerate‐‐sweet potatoes don’t like the cold.
  • Tomatoes‐ Never refrigerate. Depending on ripeness, tomatoes can stay for up to two weeks on the counter. To hasten ripeness place in a paper bag with an apple.
  • Turnips‐ remove the greens (store separately) same as radishes and beets, store them in an open container with a moist cloth.
  • Winter squash‐store in a cool, dark, well ventilated place. Many growers say winter squashes get sweeter if they’re stored for a week or so before eaten.
  • Zucchini‐ does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut. Wrap in a cloth and refrigerate for longer storage.
    How to Store Fruit Without Plastic
    • Apples‐ store on a cool counter or shelf for up to two weeks. For longer storage in a cardboard box in the fridge.
    • Citrus‐ store in a cool place, with good airflow, never in an air‐tight container.
    • Apricots‐ on a cool counter to room temperature or fridge if fully ripe
    • Cherries‐store in an airtight container. Don’t wash cherries until ready to eat, any added moisture encourages mold.
    • Berries-Don’t forget, they’re fragile. When storing be careful not to stack too many high, a single layer if possible. A paper bag works well, only wash before you plan on eating them.
    • Dates‐dryer dates (like Deglet Noor) are fine stored out on the counter in a bowl or the paper bag they were bought in. Moist dates (like Medjool) need a bit of refrigeration if they’re going to be stored over a week, either in cloth or a paper bag‐ as long as it’s porous to keeping the moisture away from the skin of the dates.
    • Figs‐ Don’t like humidity, so, no closed containers. A paper bag works to absorb excess moisture, but a plate works best in the fridge up to a week un‐stacked.
    • Melons‐ uncut in a cool dry place, out of the sun up to a couple weeks. Cut melons should be in the fridge, an open container is fine.
    • Nectarines‐ (similar to apricots) store in the fridge is okay if ripe, but best taken out a day or two before you plan on eating them so they soften to room temperature.
    • Peaches(and most stone fruit)‐ refrigerate only when fully ripe. More firm fruit will ripen on the counter.
    • Pears‐ will keep for a few weeks on a cool counter, but fine in a paper bag. To hasten the ripening put an apple in with them.
    • Persimmon–Fuyu‐(shorter/pumpkin shaped): store at room temperature.–Hachiya‐ (longer/pointed end): room temperature until completely mushy. The astringentness of them only subsides when they are completely ripe. To hasten the ripening process place in a paper bag with a few apples for a week, check now and then, but don’t stack‐they get very fragile when really ripe.
    • Pomegranates‐ keep up to a month stored on a cool counter.
    • Strawberries‐ Don’t like to be wet. Do best in a paper bag in the fridge for up to a week. Check the bag for moisture every other day.
    (source: fakeplasticfish.com)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Is Biodynamic Agriculture the Same as Organic Agriculture?

WHAT IS BIODYNAMIC?
Biodynamic agriculture was introduced by Rudolf Steiner in 1924, and preceded all organized systems of organic farming. Steiner is best known as the inspiration behind Waldorf schools, but his contributions to society span such vast realms as architecture, medicine, and the arts. A prolific writer and prominent speaker, Steiner was approached by farmers who were already concerned about crop and seed decline in the early twentieth century. Steiner’s response was a series of eight lectures which are known as The Agriculture Course. Biodynamic agriculture is characterized by an awareness of both the visible, material world, and influences streaming from the invisible world. Steiner is often quoted, “…matter is never without Spirit and Spirit is never without matter…” The Biodynamic method shares many of the same practices associated with organic agriculture, such as composting, cover cropping and crop rotation. However, Biodynamics strives to articulate the “individuality” of each farm, and recognizes the myriad subtle influences of the cosmos on the soil and plant growth including rhythms of the day and seasons of the year, and the effects of the sun, moon and planets on biology.

This diagram illustrates a Biodynamic Whole Farm Organism as the basic concept for the Baltic area and European Agriculture. The goal is, by promoting a high degree of recycling, reduced use of non-renewable energy, and use of the best known ecological techniques in each part of the system, to reduce consumption of limited resources and minimize harmful emissions to the atmosphere and water and promoting the fertility of soil (Granstedt 2002)

Other sources about biodynamic:
www.biodynamics.com
www.organicconsumers.org
www.biodynamic.net

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Gelato versus Ice Cream

Gelato is gelato and ice cream is a totally different thing: it is easy to fall in the trap of thinking that actually one is the synonym of the other but in all truth they are two different things.
With the arrival of summer we all experience an uncontrollable desire for something cold and sweet yet not too fattening so gelato and/or ice cream immediately come to mind. Refreshing and thirst quenching they are ideal to fight against the humid heat of the city and the scorching sun of the beach.
Gelato is made with fresh and genuine ingredients, it is lighter because it contains less butter fat and less air. Its main ingredients are fresh milk and egg yolks mixed with sugar and cream. We already said that the ingredients used are of top quality but what is even more important is that who makes gelato takes into serious consideration the correct balance of all the solid components of the various ingredients. The right balance is what makes gelato softer and creamier. These solid components are stabilizers of the emulsion water-fat, binding thickeners of water and the skim solids of milk.

Ice cream is made with different ingredients: powdered milk, fruit juice concentrate, and additives such as coloring agents, sweeteners, emulsifiers, stabilizers and aromas. Ice cream is made in large batches and kept frozen for long periods of time while gelato is made daily in small batches with fresh ingredients. Indeed if it is frozen for too long it looses its silkiness. Gelato's density requires a slightly higher serving temperature, the perfect point between firm and hard, soft but not melting. Ice cream instead can be stored at arctic temperatures. It is produced several months in advance thanks to air – it increases its volume. More air makes for a lighter ice cream, less air makes it richer and creamier.Here are a few basic rules to figure out the quality of the gelato or ice cream you are about to eat. If it is a high quality cream ice cream (meaning chocolate, hazelnut, stracciatella) it should not be too liquid nor too thick, the creamier it is the less noticeable the ice clusters are. If the ice cream is flaky or wrinkly it is likely that something went wrong during the process of preservation.
If either one is too sweet it could be hard to digest. The cause could be the excessive presence of sugar or vegetable fats that have a higher fusion point as compared to animal fats.

Colors tell a lot too: if they are too bright (i.e. almost fluorescent green for pistachio) it means that the ingredients used were not 100% natural but were enhanced by chemical components. This is even more evident in fruit gelatos: the color should be similar to the color of the fresh fruit itself. If there are pieces of fresh fruit that is a sign of quality too. Last but not least, if the gelato does not melt quickly, especially if it extremely hot outside, it means that it contains hydrogenated vegetable fats... simply avoid it!
There also are sorbets. These simple refreshments are all about fruit, sugar and lemon juice with no addition of milk, cream or eggs. The secret is to use fresh fruitas the ones made with cooked fruit taste like cold jam. Sorbets are generally eaten at the end of a meal to cleanse the palate, but they can also be a lightest choice for a hot day.

Natasha Lardera



(source: altacucinasociety.com)

La Linea: Episode 116