Friday, May 20, 2011

Riverdog Dinner

First shelled fava beans with dragon tongue radish
Midway through the Riverdog Farm tour, guests were given the opportunity to purchase produce, farm fresh eggs and house-made almond butter. I scooped up some dragon tongue radishes and a handful of fava beans. When another enthusiastic guest inquired about how many fava beans to buy, one of the Camino kitchen staff wisely and wearily replied, "with favas, its never enough and its always too much work!".
No truer words were spoken that day. 
Riverdog fava beans
Upon arriving home I realized my paltry number of favas would make but a mere embellishment to whatever dish they were in.
Fresh favas + fresh pasta = favorite spring meal
fresh favas after 2nd shelling; empty pods
Tonight would be a perfect night to christen my new(ish) pasta attachment. I've made fresh pastas for years but much like pizzamaking, my process has improved greatly. This was my first go at a mechanical roller rather than the hand-cranked variety. 
Pros: faster, easier, less hands-on 
Cons: less control (once the pasta sheet is in the roller, there is no stopping it!)
first rolling pasta sheets flat 
then for a spaghetti cut
I opted for whole wheat pasta because 1. its healthier 2. we just ran out of AP flour and 3. I genuinely prefer the taste of fresh ww pasta over white. There's more of a toothiness to it.
spaghetti al limone with fava beans
Spaghetti al Limone (lemon spaghetti) seemed like an excellent compliment to the fresh fava beans. 
poached salmon; radish & avocado toast
DH poached a nice piece of salmon and I toasted the last of Tartine loaf I'd made earlier in the week. We both adore butter and radish sandwiches but in our feeble efforts to be 'healthy', avocado slices replaced the French tradition of butter for these toasts. Strangely, the toasts were the most delicious (and easiest) part of the meal. Why is it always this way??
Bovine Bakery's raspberry marzipan tart
Dessert was tiny slices of a divine raspberry-marzipan tart DH picked up at the Bovine Bakery in Petaluma, CA.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Riverdog Farm Tour with the Camino crew

beautiful barn
Camino is a quintessential 'farm to table' style restaurant located in the Lake Merritt area of Oakland. It was the very first restaurant we ate at upon moving up here (our third day in town!) and remains one of our favorite restaurants in the neighborhood.   
Head chef and co-owner Russ Moore earned his stripes at Chez Panisse for 20+ years, where he built close relationships with the C.P. farms and farmers who now supply to Camino as well. 
Each May, the Camino staff is invited to tour one of these farms and share a pot luck lunch in celebration of the restaurant's anniversary. 
By a strange and serrendipitous sequence of events I leaped at the opportunity to be one of the Camino server's 'plus one'. (well, more like 'plus third', but who's counting!?) 
Riverdog Farm
touring in the rain
This year, the crew trekked up to Riverdog Farm in Guinda, Ca in the pouring rain. I packed the wagon full of fun new gal pals and delicious pot luck dishes and drove 2 hours North of the city into the valley of Capay County.
Riverdog greenhouse
Riverdog Farm is a sprawling 300 acre California Certified Organic farm with boundless produce as well as pastured hogs and hens, both of which has its own adorably dedicated blogs: Hog Spot and Coop Scoop.
grain meals for hog feed
baskets of beets
dragon-tongue radishes
Partners Tim Mueller and Trini Campbell generously spent 4+ hours touring the facilities (greenhouse, chicken coop, hog pastures, ect.) and explaining the processes of farm life.
Riverdog raises baby chicks from hatching to 8 weeks, at which time they arrive at the markets or on our dinner table (yes, 2 month old chickens sounded super young to me too).
Christy with 1-week old chick
2-week old chicks

Casey with 2-week old chick

5 weeks

6 weeks
In addition to the young chickens are several mature egg-laying chickens.
egg-laying chickens in the coop
a make-shift hammock!
The hogs were the highlight of the tour. Upon uploading my digital camera I sheepishly realized I'd taken over 100 pictures of pigs alone! There really is no argument the pigs are the cutest and most fascinating of farm animals!
wild boar
mamma pig about to give birth
baby piglets with mamma; all in a line
grown pigs; again in a line
follow the leader!

that's one dedicated mamma!
For lunch we all piled into the Western Yolo Grange, a modest but charming community center. I immediately envisioned this place hosting some fierce square dancing competitions.

lunch spot
western yolo grange; inside
One can imagine how intimidating cooking a dish for a room full of professional chefs could be, let alone Chez Panisse-trained chefs! I opted for super simple stewed chipotle-black beans with oven-baked Mexican rice dish. Certainly not a stand-out dish but that wasn't really the point.
a bountiful feast
Not only was the food divine but the rose wine was the perfect pairing. 
Most of all, the company was the best part. It truly felt like a celebration and what a wonderful way to celebrate 3 years in one of the hardest industries to last a day! 
Cheers to Camino!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pizza, from an unexpected source...

pizza margherita!
We love pizza. Who doesn't, right? Better said, we love making pizza. Since our very first days together, DH and I have been making pizzas in just about every oven, grill, even campfire for family and friends. It is the one meal we always end  make together and have made more than any other.

As with any kitchen staple, our pizzas have improved greatly over the years. Where we once bought pre-made doughs and baked them on a cookie sheet (still delicious) we now make our own dough and use a baking stone. We have tried just about every pizza dough recipe we can get our hands on and  are constantly ‘researching the market’ for the best pizza around!
Alongside this ongoing pizza-improvement project, I have grown increasingly consumed with the art and craft of bread making. Bread making is fairly easy with a stand mixer and commercial yeast. But with the start of the year and the move to the Bay Area I was determined to successfully ‘grow’ and bake with a natural yeast starter.  After trying and failing what felt like several times, I finally succeeded this week!
tartine's basic country loaf
Working from the ‘Tartine Bread’ cookbook, I managed to cultivate a very active natural yeast starter and bake a delicious country loaf using only flour, water and salt, and a little elbow grease!
Tartine baker and cookbook author, Chad Robertson suggests pulling off a bit of the dough right before baking to use as pizza dough.
bread dough as pizza dough!
 Of course! What a novel idea…why hadn’t I ever thought of this!?
mozzarella w/ hot chili oil
We gave it a try and sure enough, it was some of the best dough we’ve made. Scratch that, it was the best, hands down.
Thin, hearty and slightly tangy, the dough had a perfect tooth to it. I’m also a total sucker for 2-in-1 style recipes.
We made one ‘margherita’ and one with stinging nettles and an obligatory egg.
wild nettles w/ a egg
What a perfect dinner. We look forward to making it for you soon!