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A Flair for Caviar - and Asparagus Soup - from Petrossian West Hollywood Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Petrossian caviar saladIf you’ve ever wondered what you would get if you matched an almost 100-year-old purveyor of caviar with a talented young chef, then a trip to Petrossian West Hollywood is in order. Chef Giselle Wellman has not only developed new ways to enjoy caviar -- with dishes such as a salad that uses butter lettuce instead of blinis with caviar, crème-fraiche-dill-lemon dressing, shallots, chives and hard-boiled egg (pictured left) -- but she has also started saving seeds for a small kitchen garden in the alley behind the restaurant.

Although the Petrossian signature menu, which includes faves such as the Egg Royal and high-end splurges such as the Tsar Imperial Caviar Trio ($390), does not change, the rest of the menu changes seasonally to get the most out of local produce. With asparagus season just around the corner, Chef Giselle was kind enough to share her recipe for a particularly yummy asparagus soup (which, as you can see from the photo below, pairs well with Petrossian's hibiscus champagne). Enjoy!

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A Passion for Local, Seasonal and Sustainable at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Chef Andres Jimenez at Ritz-Carlton, Laguna NiguelA childhood in Costa Rica surrounded by farms helped form Chef Andres Jimenez's passion for local, seasonal, sustainable and organic products. It's a passion he's been able to share with others as the executive chef at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. Not only does Chef Andres partner with local farms that include Maggie Farms, Tuti Fruti, Gloria Farms, VR Farms and Aqua Farms (for mussels, clams and oysters) but he regularly takes guests on tours of the resort's own herb garden, put in last year as part of the Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ambassadors of the Environment program. Here is a short video with Chef Andres in the garden talking about how to work with the herbs rosemary, parsley, sage and thyme.  

In a recent cooking demonstration at the resort (on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean no less), Chef Andres shared with us this recipe for pomegranate and bulgur wheat salad (click "read more" for recipe), which is as delicious as it is healthy -- not to mention garden-friendly. He also left us with this nifty tip: If you want to illustrate the importance of buying organic, just taste the difference it makes in butter. 

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Bringing Italy Home with "The Elixir of Life" Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

The Elixir of LifeHappy New Year! I don't know if any of you made resolutions but I just have one: to travel to Italy. It's something I've wanted to do since I took Italian in college at UCLA more than 20 years ago but have somehow never made it. Naturally one of the biggest reasons I'd like to go is the country's great farm-to-table tradition, which is celebated in a great new cookbook called "The Elixir of Life" by Lisa Dahl. Dahl is executive sous-chef and co-owner of Cucina Rustica and Dahl & DiLuca Ristorante Italiano in Sedona, Arizona, and her travels through Tuscany are the inspiration for the book.

Here is just one of the wonderful recipes found in "The Elixir of Life": carmelized onion and garlic soup. Not only is it particularly appropriate for this winter season but the recipe focuses more on getting the most flavor out of the onions and garlic instead of covering it up with a lot of cheese or bread (not that there is ever anything wrong with cheese or bread!). As Dahl says in the book, "A sprinkle of good Parmesan cheese and a handful of croutons can add a nice touch but try it by itself first as pure elixir." Enjoy!

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Kai Market's Kabocha and Fuji Apple Salad Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Chef Darren Demaya of Kai MarketWith a goal of sourcing at least 60 percent of its produce from certified local farms (which it helped certify through its support of Hawaii Farm Bill 1471), the Sheraton Waikiki takes its farm-to-table seriously. Nowhere is that more apparent than in its Kai Market restaurant. Instead of a traditional buffet, Executive Chef Darren Demaya (pictured right) uses recipes gathered from local families and creates dishes using as much local, seasonal produce (including herbs growing out of the wall) as possible. Here's one of his recent recipes, featuring in-season kabocha and Fuji apples.

Ingredients: 
1 5 lb kabocha cut in 1" cubes, cleaned and steamed
3 fuji apples cut in 1" cubes
1 lb tear-drop tomatoes cut in halves
½ lb dried cranberries or raisins
2 cup macadamia nuts rough cut
2 tblspoons madras curry
2 pc lemongrass smahed
½ cup salad oil

Method:
Place all ingredients in mixing bowl except the curry. Take a small sauté pan add ½ cup salad oil and 2 stalks smashed lemongrass and slightly heat up oil. When oil is hot add curry powder and take off the heat mixing the curry into the oil. Use the curry-infused oil to season kabocha salad finish with salt and pepper to taste. 

 
Sourcing Locally at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows on Hawaii's Big Island Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Mauna Lani tomato dishExecutive Chef Sandy Tuason at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows is a man with a mission: to source as many ingredients as possible from within 100 miles of the resort. To that end, he has partnered with local fishermen and farms on Hawaii’s Big Island that include Hawaii Island Goat Dairy, Hawaiian Vanilla Company, Hirabara’s Big Island Babies (for lettuce and greens), Rincon Farm (strawberries), Volcano Island Honey Company, Kona Fish Company, Fresh Island Fish and Hamakua Macadamia Company.

And below is one of the results: his recipe for grilled vegetable gazpacho, with ingredients sourced from Big Island farmers (except, of course, for the V8 juice). To make you want to jump a plane to Hawaii’s Big Island even sooner (and because we couldn’t get a photo of the gazpacho), the photo shown above right is their Hamakua Heirloom Tomato dish, with watermelon, micro basil and sherry vinaigrette -- which looks like wine but is really “tomato basil water that cleanses the palate and brings out the fresh flavors of the dish." (Click "read more" for gazpacho recipe.)

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