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Welcome to Gardens to Tables
Traditional Christmas Tamales from El Pinto Print E-mail
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Written by Ann Shepphird   
Sunday, 18 December 2011 14:25

El PintoOn a recent visit to El Pinto -- the Albuquerque institution known not only for its restaurant (which has grown over the years to the point where they can serve up to 2,700 plates a night) but also for its all-natural green and red chile salsas and sauces (found in markets all over the U.S.) -- I learned a few things of interest to the GardenstoTables crowd: 1. El Pinto partners with a farmer in Hatch, New Mexico, to grow as many of their chiles as possible organically, which are then hand picked and roasted; and 2. How to make traditional tamales, a Christmas tradition in Mexican and New Mexican households. (Seen here in this great video by PilotGirl Productions' Sonja Stark: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFSptE8i-VE).

If you've ever wanted to try your hand at making Christmas tamales, the folks at El Pinto were kind enough to pass along their recipe, which was passed down from the owners' grandmother, Josephina Chavez Griggs. Once you see all that goes into making a traditional tamale, you'll realize why it's only made for holidays: It's a lot of work. And, okay, it's a lot of lard (which you'll see in the video), too. But also filled with good things such as as onions, garlic, chiles and masa. And absolutely delicious. Enjoy.

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Finding Farm-to-Table at the Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews, Scotland Print E-mail
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Written by Ann Shepphird   
Sunday, 27 November 2011 18:44

Old Course Hotel in St. AndrewsThere are a number of things one expects to find in St. Andrews, Scotland: some of the most celebrated golf courses in the world (including the “Old Course” aka the Home of Golf); the beach featured in the iconic scene from “Chariots of Fire” (hum the Vangelis score and it'll come to you); and a certain university where a certain William and a certain Kate met. What is perhaps not as expected is an emphasis on farm-to-table cuisine, but that’s exactly what I found on a recent trip to the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa in St. Andrews (pictured, left).

Chef Marshall of Old Course HotelThe emphasis on sourcing “what’s on our doorstep” comes from Ross Marshall (right), head chef for the hotel’s award-winning Road Hole Restaurant. Chef Marshall says he loves using local suppliers because “you can trace the products that you use and speak to the suppliers and farmers on a daily basis. And you know that when it is local, it’s got to be at its best.”

Some of the local suppliers used by Chef Marshall include wild berries from Brasters Far in the summer and winter cabbages and sprouts from Leaven Larder. In season – and being featured in the kitchen – now are grouse, pheasant, partridge venison, cabbage sprouts, pumpkin and the last of the kale.

Also currently in season are butternut squash and arugula (which is called rocket in the U.K.) and Chef Marshall was kind enough to share the hotel’s recipe for a salad that combines the two with pine nuts and sage and a honey dressing. Enjoy!

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The Story Behind "Iowa Farms, California Tables." Print E-mail
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Written by Lori C. Aronsohn   
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 16:31

Iowa Farms California TablesAlthough I say that the reason I wrote the eCookbook "Iowa Farms, California Tables" was to give me an excuse to purchase an iPad, that is only partially true. 

A transplanted Californian, I frequently take trips down memory lane to my innocent childhood in small-town Iowa. If you’ve been to the Midwest, you know that farm-to-table fare isn’t a recent concept.  This is Heartland America where farm-to-table is, and always has been the rule, the expectation, at the dinner table. Our mother and our Aunt Betty worked at the local Morrell meat packing plant.  Our father drove a truck for Wonder Bread. Our milk was delivered to us from the local Wapello Dairy.   Growing up in Iowa in the 1960s meant sprawling out in the back of a station wagon and watching acres and acres of corn and alfalfa fields whoosh by as Papa and Mother took us to see relatives, sometimes stopping at roadside stands to sample tomatoes that actually tasted like tomatoes or peaches that were so juicy the flesh practically fell off the pit before it made it to our lips. 

In 1968 our parents packed up our things, told us to wave goodbye to our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, and threw us in the car. Destination: Sunny California. It was on this journey that our taste buds were invited to expand beyond American farm fare. As soon as we had crossed from Arizona into California we experienced our first ‘Mexican’ food. The tacos tasted pretty good. We were already fans of ground beef, and the crunchy corn shell wrapped around it and the cheese and ‘salsa’ was a delicious and messy discovery. It was a nice change from the hard-boiled eggs and sandwiches we’d been snacking on from the cooler tucked into the backseat floor on our three-day American road trip.

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Turning Lowly Cauliflower into Sumptuous Risotto at Pinot Bistro Print E-mail
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Written by Ann Shepphird   
Thursday, 13 October 2011 13:12

Pinot Bistro Chef Steven MaryNow that it's fall, the crops we grow in our gardens -- and see at the farmers markets -- are beginning to change. I have to admit that it's always kind of sad to move away from the fun summer crops like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and melons on to the cole crops, which are grown in the cooler seasons and include cauliflower and broccoli. But a dish I recently had at Pinot Bistro in Studio City is changing my perception.

Pinot Bistro's Executive Chef Steven Mary (left) managed to turn the lowly cauliflower into an amazing risotto dish. Chef Mary offered it as part of his summer eating-healthy cooking class. Those interested in upcoming classes or Pinot Bistro's "day in the kitchen" program -- where guests can help prepare a five-course meal for up to seven friends -- can check their website. Chef Mary is a home gardener himself (he included some figs from his tree for one of our dishes) and also volunteers at the Los Angeles County Aboretum as part of their "Roots and Shoots" program, where Leigh Talmo teaches children how to plant and maintain an organic garden and Chef Mary helps them turn that produce into delicious food for their harvest party.

For those who would like to try their hand in turning cauliflower into a rich risotto, Chef Mary was kind enough to share his recipe. Enjoy!

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You Say Tomato, I Say Pesto Print E-mail
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Written by Lori C. Aronsohn   
Sunday, 02 October 2011 11:01

Lori green tomatoIt was a happy overcast and muddy day in March when I visited the Tomatomania event in Encino to browse the rows and rows of heirloom tomato seedlings. This was destined to be a great year for tomatoes at my little house in Valley Village. This year, rather than trying to coax seedlings to reach for the sky and bear luscious fruit confined inside large pots, I’d be spoiling my seedlings in a section of freshly turned soil beneath my kitchen window -- growing in the ground the way nature intended.

I purchased ten delightfully named, heirloom tomato seedlings. I included a “Jaune Flammee,” and a “Snow White.” A “Missouri Pink Love Apple” and an “Old German.” My mouth watered at the thought of plucking real tomatoes from my own garden that tasted like those I picked at roadside stands in Iowa as a young girl.

I fed my seedlings properly with tomato food. They soaked up the sun and sipped on water. And, boy did they grow! As they started to blossom, I put in a nice healthy basil plant and a chili pepper too, anticipating the delicious ways I would combine them to please my loved ones.

I set aside recipes to follow once the harvest was in, but the one recipe I would enjoy the most was quite simple. Fresh tomato, add a little salt, a little pepper, eat!!!

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