Citrus season is upon us again with plenty of options to choose from. Satsuma oranges are available at most farmers markets along with Meyer lemons. I snagged a couple of bags of both of them impulsively at the Monterey Market in Berkeley last weekend. The original intention was to treat them like preserved lemons, but in the process of researching if anyone else had done that, I came across Nigella Lawson’s Clementine Cake. I liked the way it used the whole fruit and nuts as the basis and decided to use the satsumas this way.
As usual, I tweaked the recipe a little. I used a full pound and a half of satsumas, replaced the almonds with pan-toasted hazelnuts and added a teaspoon of vanilla to the batter. After the cake was out of the oven and cooling, I wanted to find a way to, for lack of a better phrase, ice the cake. I made a quick syrup by boiling the juice and zest of a Meyer lemon with 1 cup of sugar. After using a skewer to poke several holes through out the cake, I poured the hot syrup over the cake and let it soak in over night.
One note. Do not ignore the fruit during boiling and make sure they’re constantly covered in water. My first attempt resulted in several wasted oranges when I got distracted and came back to a blackened dry mess in a pot that practically needed a sand blaster to get clean again.
Despite that, I dropped the cake off in the break room at work and came back at lunch to find the plate empty except for a post-it note that said “Thanks!!” The empty plate was all I needed to see to know it was a success. The post-it note was just overkill.
While running through the Ferry Building Farmers Market this weekend, we stopped into the San Francisco Fish Company inside the building since really have been trying to eat more fish. The issue with fish though can be that many varieties are expensive. We were happy to see that they had fresh sardines available since we’d been wanting to use them somehow for a while. The best part was that four whole sardines were only $3.20. We’ve bought cups of coffee that cost more.
Many people only know of sardines out of cans or the occasional feeling like one while jammed into a muni train. Yet fresh sardines are not only a flavorful and healthy additions to your diet (lots of omega-3s), but Pacific Sardines are considered a “Best Choice” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. So you can not only eat them for your health, but also knowing you’re doing the right thing by the ocean.
The hardest part of preparing them is cleaning them. Unlike many fish, fresh sardines come whole with heads and innards still intact. The bodies are delicate and it requires a gentle but deliberate hand. Twist off the heads, pull out the internal organs and then push the body open and and remove the spine and any pin bones. They also need to be used the same day you buy them since they will go bad very quickly. If you can’t stomach the process, ask your fish monger if they can do it for you. Depending on how you want to cook them will depend on how you clean them. A quick grilling over hot coals means you can leave the heads on. Many chefs toss them in a light batter and deep-fry them. We’ve even seen them roasted and served on top of mixed greens.
This day though, we opted to toss the filets in cornmeal that we had seasoned with salt and old bay. We fried them off in some canola oil for about 1-2 minutes per side and then seasoned them with salt and pepper. We garnished the fried filets with Meyer lemon and dill and happily munch on them while enjoying an unseasonably warm and sunny weather outside. Not bad for a San Francisco winter Saturday afternoon.
This article also appears at http://www.examiner.com/food-in-san-francisco/pacific-sardines-for-a-quick-and-affordable-lunch
If you’re looking for an elegant addition to your Holiday menu, adding a soup course is often an easy way to add something stylish and flavorful. This soup accomplishes that while still being rustic and uses seasonal ingredients easily found at your farmers market.
We spent the morning strolling through the Heart of the City Farmers Market today where we found plenty of varieties of pears available. You want one that is very ripe and juicy for the most flavor, and in this instance we found some Bartlett pears just ready for the taking.
We were also really happy to see chanterelle mushrooms the size of a fist that we were told came right out of Marin County. While not cheap, we wanted a creamy nutty mushroom to balance the rest of the flavors we were planning on using.
The other nice thing about this soup is that you can make it ahead, chill it to let the flavors meld together and then reheat the day of your dinner. In fact, it’s a great soup for any festive occasion when pears are in season.
This recipe makes enough for at least 6 people.
- 3 pounds Yukon potatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 large Bartlett pears, cored and diced
- ½ tsp thyme
- ½ tsp sage
- 2 tblsp butter
- 4 large chanterelle mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 2 tblsp butter
- ½ cup cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bring the stock to a boil and add the potatoes. Cook until a knife easily inserts into them.
- While potatoes cook, sauté onions and garlic in butter. Season with salt and pepper and herbs. Add pears when onions are translucent and continue to cook over high heat until pears begin to disintegrate. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook until potatoes are done.
- Add pear mixture to potatoes and then puree with a stick blender. Add cream and blend well. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Return to the stove over low heat for at least 20 minutes.
- Melt butter in a sauté pan and then add chopped chanterelles. Sauté until just beginning to brown. Keep an eye on them because they will burn quickly.
- When ready to serve, portion the soup into bowls and then sprinkle mushrooms on top.
Fall in the Bay area means an abundance of beets at the farmers markets. Recently, we found some softball-sized specimens at the Ferry Building that we roasted off for a salad. Afterwards, we had three large roasted beets left over and wanted to use them in a way that was different. We started with the idea of mashing and eventually came up with the idea to put them in a soufflé.
Soufflés have a reputation of being impossible to make but with a deliberate and careful approach, aren’t that hard. Ours produced a hot pink batter that baked off to a beautiful vermillion. The earthiness of the beets really paired beautifully with goat cheese and the parmesan topping produced a satisfying crunchy crust. To finish, we mixed some horseradish with crème fraiche to serve on top.
3 large roasted beets
3 tablespoons butter plus more as needed
3-4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
3 large beets
1 leek, ½” slices
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz plain goat cheese
3 oz grated parmesan
3 tablespoons flour
1.5 cups heavy cream
5 eggs, separated
Olive oil as needed
Salt and pepper as needed
½ cup crème fraiche
3 tablespoons horseradish
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Butter inside of 3-quart straight sided baking dish and then coat with breadcrumbs.
- Sautee leeks and garlic in olive oil until fragrant and beginning to brown.
- Pulse leeks, garlic and beets in food processor until a loose paste forms.
- In the same pan as you cooked the leeks, melt butter and then whisk in flour until a paste forms and turns a pale blonde color. Lower heat and add cream and whisk until it thickens. Whisk in goat cheese in pieces until fully incorporated.
- Remove from heat and then whisk in yolks, one at a time.
- Gently fold beet mixture and cream mixture together in a large bowl. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
- Beat egg whites to stiff peaks.
- Working in batches, gently fold egg whites into beet mixture. Try to get as uniform as possible.
- Pour mixture into baking dish while trying to not deflate the whipped mixture.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until top is golden and body is firm.
- Meanwhile, mix creme fraiche and horseradish together with some salt and pepper. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving with sauce.