Thursday, September 30, 2010

Recipes with Wine Suggestions: Honeyed Fig Crostatas

Honeyed Fig Crostatas

Serves 8


Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh green and purple figs, each cut into 6 wedges
  • 5 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves, plus small sprigs for garnish
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

Directions

  1. In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the butter and pulse until it is the size of peas. Add the water; pulse until the dough comes together. Pat the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut out eight 5-inch rounds, rerolling the scraps if necessary; transfer to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°. In a bowl, toss two-thirds of the figs with 3 teaspoons of the honey, the lemon juice, thyme leaves and a pinch of salt. Arrange the figs on the dough rounds, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Fold the edges over the figs and brush the dough with the egg wash. Chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Bake the crostatas for 35 minutes, rotating halfway through baking, until the crusts are golden. Let stand for 10 minutes.
    Gently toss the remaining figs with the remaining 2 teaspoons of honey. Transfer the crostatas to plates, top with the figs and thyme sprigs and serve.

Wine Suggestion: Moscato d'Asti (sweet & effervescent)

(source: foodandwine.com)

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Recipes with Wine Suggestions: Triple-Decker Baked Italian Cheese Sandwiches

Triple-Decker Baked Italian Cheese Sandwiches

Serves 8

Ingredients
  • 8 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 2 white Pullman loaves—ends discarded, each loaf cut into twelve 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 pound sliced provolone cheese
  • 1 pound Fontina cheese, coarsely shredded (about 5 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the halved tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake the tomatoes cut side up for 1 1/2 hours, until soft and starting to brown. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves and bake for about 30 minutes longer, until the tomatoes are very tender and slightly shriveled but still juicy. Let cool.
  2. Increase the oven temperature to 375°. Brush 16 bread slices with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil; arrange 8 of the slices oiled side down on a large rimmed baking sheet. Top with the provolone and the unbrushed bread slices. Cover with the tomatoes, 4 cups of the Fontina and the remaining 8 bread slices, oiled side up. Press gently on the sandwiches and bake for about 15 minutes, until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted.
  3. Preheat the broiler. Toss the remaining Fontina with the Parmigiano-Reggiano and sprinkle on the sandwiches. Broil 3 inches from the heat for about 1 minute, until the cheese is melted. Transfer the sandwiches to plates and serve.

Wine Suggestion: Dry Rosé


(source: foodandwine.com)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Columbus Day Giveaway - Win an Espresso Machine



An argument for and against organic...

The debate about the benefits of organic grown foods versus traditional farming has been going on for years now. For some people, they have not yet heard enough from both sides in determining which is the way to go. Here are two excerpts (one for organic, one for non-organic) to help those begin to develop an understanding of the two and maybe help raise questions of their own.

FOR
Protect Future Generations: The average child receives four times more exposure than an adult to at least eight widely used cancer-causing pesticides in food. The food choice you make now will impact your child’s health in the future.
Prevent Soil Erosion: The soil Conservation Service estimates that more than three billion tons of topsoil is eroded from United States croplands each year. That means soil is eroding seven times faster than it is being built up naturally. Sustainable farming builds soil.
Protect Water Quality: Water makes up two-thirds of our body mass and covers three-fourths of the planet. Despite its importance, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates pesticides and some cancer-causing contaminates in groundwater in 38 states are polluting the primary sources of drinking water for more than half the country’s population.
Save Energy: Modern farming used more petroleum than any other single industry, consuming 12 percent of the country’s total energy supply. More energy is now used to produce synthetic fertilizers than to till, cultivate and harvest all the crops in the Unites States. Organic farming is still mainly based on labor-intensive practices, such as weeding by hand and using green manures and cover crops rather than synthetic fertilizers to build up soil. Organic produce also tends to travel fewer miles from field to table.
Keep Chemicals Off Your Plate: Many pesticides approved for use by the EPA were registered long before extensive research linking these chemicals to cancer and other diseases had been established. Now the EPA considers 60 percent of all herbicides, 90 percent of all fungicides and 30 percent of all insecticides carcinogenic. A 1987 National Academy of Sciences report estimated that pesticides might cause an extra 1.4 million cancer cases among Americans during our lifetime. The bottom line is that pesticides are poisons designed to kill living organisms, and can also be harmful to humans. In addition to cancer, pesticides are implicated in birth defects, nerve damage and genetic mutation.
Protect Farm Worker Health: A National Cancer Institute study found that farmers exposed to herbicides had a six time greater risk than non-farmers of contracting cancer. In California, reported pesticide poisonings among farm workers have raised an average of 14 percent a year since 1973 and doubled between 1975 and 1985. Field workers suffer the highest rates of occupations illness in the state.
Help Small Farmers: Although more and more large-scale farms are making the conversion to organic practices, most organic farms are small, independently owned and operated family farms of less than 100 acres. It is estimated that the United States has lost more than 650,000 family farms in the past decade. And with the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicting that half of America’s farm production will come from one percent of farms by the year 2000, organic farming could be one of the few survival tactic left for family farms.
Support a True Economy: Although organic foods might seem more expensive than conventional foods, conventional food prices do not reflect hidden costs borne by taxpayers, including nearly $74 billion in federal subsidies in 1988. Other hidden costs include pesticide regulation and testing, hazardous waste disposal and cleanup, and environmental damage.
Promote Biodiversity: Mono-cropping is the practice of planting large plots of land with the same crop year after year. While this approach tripled farm production between 1950 and 1970, the lack of natural diversity of plant life has left the soil lacing in natural minerals and nutrients. To replace the nutrients, chemical fertilizers are used, often in increasing amounts. Single crops are also much more susceptible to pests, making farmers more reliant on pesticides. Despite a tenfold increase in the use of pesticides between 1947 and 1974, crop losses due to insects have doubled – partly because some insects have become genetically resistant to certain pesticides.
Taste Better Flavor: There’s a good reason why many chefs use organic foods in their recipes – it tastes better! Organic farming starts with the nourishment of the soil, which eventually leads to the nourishment of the plant and, ultimately, our palates.


Excerpted from an article by Sylvia Tawse, marketing coordinator for Alfalfa’s Markets in Boulder and Denver, CO.


AGAINST


'No proof' organic food is better.

There is no evidence organic food is better for you than conventional food, minister David Miliband has said.
The environment secretary said organic food was more of a "lifestyle choice that people can make".
There is no "conclusive evidence either way" concerning the health effects of pesticides, he told the Sunday Times.
The Soil Association, which regulates organic food, said studies show a difference between organic food and food produced using industrial methods.
“ I would not want to say that 96% of our farm produce is inferior because it's not organic ” David Miliband
It was critical of Mr Miliband's suggestion that food grown with the use of pesticides and other chemicals should not be regarded as inferior.
Mr Miliband: "It's only 4% of total farm produce, not 40%, and I would not want to say that 96% of our farm produce is inferior because it's not organic."
He said despite the rise in organic sales being "exciting" for shoppers, they should not think of conventionally-produced food as "second best".
'Extra payment'
Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers' Union, added that he had seen "no evidence" to prove organic food is healthier.
"If there's a small but growing percentage of consumers who want a different product, then that's a great opportunity for members," he said.
"But I have a real problem with conventional methods being demeaned at every opportunity."
According to the Soil Association, organic food sales in the UK increased by 30% to £1.6bn in 2006.
Robin Maynard, the association's campaigns director, said the environment secretary's comments were "slightly disappointing".
"It has been shown over the years that there is a difference between food produced organically and that produced using industrial methods.
"It is not just a lifestyle choice in terms of the environment, organic is better for that.
"Mr Miliband's own government has recognised in the past that organic food can be better for that. In fact organic farmers get an extra payment due to this."
Long-term research
However, Mr Maynard admitted there was a lack of studies showing how organic food could be healthier.
He said this stemmed from the difficulties of pinpointing exactly how such food was healthier and because research needed to be carried out over "tens of years".
The association's website says organic food does not contain many of the artificial additives used in modern food production, and also have more natural vitamins and minerals.
It also argues organic food is better for wildlife because it does not use pesticides or dangerous sprays.
Pressure from shoppers has boosted the volume of organic UK produce in supermarkets, the association said last year.
Pete Glanville, secretary of the Shetland Organic Producers Group, said organic food is about producing local goods that are chemical free.
"You only have to look at the list of things that goes into creating lots of things to realise just how much we are not putting into our bodies by eating organic."
"We are not saying the other 96% which is farmed conventionally is rubbish. We personally are making a choice about what goes into our bodies."


Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/6238227.stm

Friday, September 24, 2010

FYI - Muscadine Grapes

This hearty grape has been around for centuries, and thankfully for us, grows well in hot and humid weather! It’s tough skin requires one bite into it and suck the pulp out, but is also used to make wines and jellies. It’s unique flavor and texture make it a favorite among Florida locavores. If you haven’t tried them yet, treat yourself before they are gone for the season!

These grapes are currently available at select Doris locations for $4.99 (16oz.) Organic!

source: globalorganics.ws

Quando Quando Quando

Grandparents always like to sing songs to their grandchildren. What is so speacial about this is that they tend to sing non-traditional songs. Sure they may sing children songs they knew as a child, which many are in Italian which are so beautiful to hear. But they sometimes sing popular music from when they were younger and have a special meaning to them as well. For example, my daughter has a grandfather sing her parts of "Tea for Two" and a grandmother that sings "Quando Quando Quando". You sould see my daughter go crazy and try to dance when she hears her grandparents sing to her. I thought I would share these songs with you and maybe help you get nostalgic. Enjoy...











Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Red Bananas

RED BANANAS ARE BACK!
These small but tasty and plump little treats are coming to us from Mexico. Their skin is typically light maroon to dark purple, and their flesh is cream colored, sometimes light pink. With a hint of raspberry, they are even considered sweeter than their yellow cousins. Red bananas are a great after school snack, and can also be baked, or fried. As with other bananas, they should not be stored in refrigeration, and will ideally ripen at room temperature.

Check with your produce manager and request them if you don't see them.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

FYI - Blueberries

If you've ever expressed the common frustration that the most crave-worthy things to eat are invariably not good for us, all I can say is you've never feasted on a fistful of blueberries. They're as sweet and sublime as food gets. And they give utter lie to the myth that the most tempting foods are the unhealthiest by being about the most nutritious edibles you can possibly pop into your mouth.
It's true and getting truer as modern science explores the big potential of these little blue wonders: Blueberries are the ultimate superfood, a remarkably potent all-natural miracle that packs more of what we need into a single bite than most other foods can manage at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Fat-free blueberries are loaded with vitamins C and E, fiber, manganese, and are an arsenal of phytonutrients.

Researchers say that these and other compounds found in abundance inside blueberries protect against mental deterioration and loss of coordination; improve motor skills; enhance memory; promote urinary health; lower cholesterol; fight cardiovascular disease; increase fat burning and weight loss; safeguard the brain against stress and environmental toxins; protect against cancer and genetic changes; ease inflammation; improve vision; help prevent macular degeneration; and improve digestion. And that's the short list.
We're talking serious health food here, and to sweeten the pot even further, blueberries have one of the longest harvest seasons in all of fruitdom. That season is August in many parts of the country, and that makes this the perfect time to stock up so that your family can enjoy the benefits of a blueberry-stained diet year-round.
From the grocery store to the farmers' market to local pick-your-own, go forth this weekend and seek firm blueberries with a deep blue-to-purple color and a whitish haze, which is actually a protective natural coating. Berries sold in a container should bounce around and move freely when shaken. If they don't they're probably going soft.

Store your fresh blueberries in the fridge. Check before you chill them, remove any damaged or over-ripe berries, and they'll last for at least a week in a covered container. If you're buying frozen berries, shake the bag a little to make sure they're not stuck together or iced over as this indicates poor handling.
Then it's up to you.

You can freeze 'em whole in season. It's simple, and frozen berries are about as versatile as fresh ones. Don't wash them (you don't want moisture to freeze on your berries, which will toughen their skin), just load them into quart bags and stick them in the freezer. And remember not to stack your bags until they're frozen in order to prevent squashing. Rinse your berries when you're ready to use them and then pile them on pancakes and cereal, and pack them in muffins and smoothies and anything else you can think of.

You can also make jam and compote. Or dehydrate fresh blueberries in a 135-140° oven for 10-20 hours until they get leathery and look a bit like miniature grapes. It really doesn't matter in the end. Fresh or frozen, canned or dried, cooked or raw, a simple half-cup or so of blueberries a day will deliver a nutritional boost it's almost impossible to beat, and they'll make you swoon doing it. They're my family's favorite fruit if not favorite food. And all you really have to do to get your own family to feel the same way about this ultra healthy berried treasure is start serving it!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Eating Local: Big Time - Scorpacciata

scorpacciata [score-POTCH-chee-yatta] n. eating a particular ingredient in copious amounts in peak local season.

Here is Mario Batali explaining this practice....




Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Orange Juice Tzimmes

Orange Juice Tzimmes

Ingredients
  • 8 large carrots
  • 1 cup prunes
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
  1. Place carrots and prunes in a pot.
  2. Cover the vegetables with orange juice.
  3. Bring the melted mixture to a boil, let boil 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in sugar and butter.
  5. Simmer gently for 1 hour or until the liquid is almost absorbed.
  6. Sprinkle with lemon zest and ginger and let simmer another 5 minutes.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Did you know....

Rosh Hashana / Jewish New Year! September 8-10

Did you know?

It is customary, on the second night of Rosh Hashanah, to eat a “new fruit” – meaning one that is in season that you have not yet eaten. Many people are looking for something new to serve. We have the answer! Choose from a delectable and exotic selection of: Apples, Pomegranates, Dates, Figs, Kiwi, and Red Pears. (Don't forget the honey with the apples!)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Pasta with Arrabbiata Sauce

Doris Pasta Arrabbiata

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8 (about 1 ½ cups each)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Doris Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28oz) Doris Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 can (28oz) Petite Diced Tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • ½ tsp dried oregano leaves
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 pound dry penne pasta, uncooked
  • 1 cup (4oz) freshly shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat 1 minute. Add garlic; cook 3 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low; stir in red pepper, oregano and salt. Cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Cook pasta in large saucepan according to package directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the cooking water. Return pasta and the reserved cooking water to same saucepan; stir in ½ cup of the cheese. Set aside.
  3. Stir basil into prepared sauce. Add 2 cups of the sauce to pasta mixture; mix lightly. Spoon onto serving platter; top with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup cheese.

Buon Appetito!