Thursday, May 27, 2010

so now i've joined a cooking club?...and a recipe for rainbow chard frittata

i have never been a "joiner". never belonged to groups or clubs...nothing that required meetings, or schedules, or commitments. working a zillion hours a week in my former corporate squeezing in time for board service for non-profits...left me with zero desire for anything else.

so here i am...blogging about my book club, my blogger cookbook club and cooking club. what has happened to me? well, first of corporate life (yeah, yeah ,yeah)...and second...i keep meeting the coolest people here in napa that i instantly love! best of all, they all seem to adhere to the "no rules" rules way of life.

i have blogged a number of times about my fabulous book club....this month we are reading the widow clicquot... our meeting is next week...and i cannot wait to tell you all about it...but today i am introducing my cooking club. a few friends (different from book club friends) and i realized that we all are very similar in the way we cook, eat, shop for food, explore restaurants, visit farmer's markets...etc. we thought it would be fun to create a "no rules" rules club as an excuse to ensure we get together at least once a month to eat, talk and catch up. so...the napa cooking club was launched. we decided that we would meet at one of our homes every other month and have a pot luck. the hostess decides the theme, everyone makes a dish..and we sit around drinking wine and eating! that's rules, no work, no structure. just good friends and terrific kind of club. i told you we do this every other easier...the "off months", we meet at a cool restaurant...still terrific food, wine and conversation...just no cooking this time.
i look forward to sharing our menus with you each month....for our first meeting we decided to have a "fresh from the farmer's market" theme. our napa market opened this month and we were silly enough to imagine a warm may evening (of course, the weather being what its been this year, it was cold and pouring rain for our inaugural meeting! whatever...) we had frittata on green salad, steamed asparagus with parmigiano-reggiano & pancetta, a fresh corn and edamame salad with jalapeño, red bell pepper and lemon juice, and a delicious coconut panna cotta with macerated strawberries and rhubarb/ginger compote. everything was was supberb...and new friends got to know each other a bit better. how cool is that?
i contributed the frittata/salad combo. my csa boxes have been chock full of spring onions, green spring garlic and leeks. the same farm (hudson ranch, more about them next post) sells amazing, beautifully hued organic araucana eggs so i have been buying them all spring. i found gorgeous rainbow chard at the farmer's market, along with fantastic lettuce for salad. don't you find cooking delicious meals is pretty simple when you have perfect ingredients on hand? frittata is one of those dishes...easy, delicious, works hot, warm or room temperature, incredibly versatile with countless ingredient combination possibilites...i serve for breakfast or brunch or lunch or appetizers or for get the point. i have written my technique for making frittatas....if you have a favorite, please share in the comments section of this post

rainbow chard frittata1 bunch rainbow chard
2 stalks spring onions (or 1 med sweet onion)~chopped
1 leek~chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 organic eggs
1 tsp
aglio olio peperoncino (or pinch of red pepper flakes)
grey sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1 tbsp italian parsley, chopped
white cheddar cheese, shredded (about a cup)

cut the leaves off the chard stems. slice the stems in very thin (about 1/4 inch) pieces and set aside. stack 4 chard leaves on top of each other. roll up into a cigar shaped cylinder. slice into very thin strips...this is called a chiffonade. continue with another 4 chard leaves until the entire bunch is cut. separate the pieces and set aside.

add 1 tbsp of the olive oil to a large pan. when warm add the spring onions and leek and sauté over med heat until the onions are translucent(about 4 minutes). add the sliced chard stems and continue cooking until the stems are just beginning to soften (another 4 minutes or so). add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, along with the chard leaves chiffonade and the minced garlic. season to taste with salt and pepper. cook, stirring frequently, until the leaves soften (about 2 minutes).

place a clean tea towel on a plate. (use and old towel because this next step will stain...just make sure it is clean). turn out the cooked vegetable mixture onto the towel lined plate. roll up the towel and squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible. set aside.

crack the eggs into a medium sized bowl and beat. add the vegetable mixture, 1 tbsp olive oil, the aglio olio peperoncino (or red pepper flakes), a pinch of grey salt and black pepper and the parsley and beat again till everything is incorporated.

add the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil to a 9-10 inch skillet. warm over medium heat and pour in the egg mixture. cook until the top looks fairly dry. while it is cooking, every so often take a spatula and lift the edges of the frittata to let the uncooked eggs run to the bottom of the pan. when the top is almost dry, take a dinner plate and place over the top of the skillet. hold the plate (wear oven mitts) and flip the skillet so the frittata is on the plate. place the now empty skillet back on the heat and slide the frittata back in the pan. the former bottom of frittata is now on top. continue cooking for another minute or two and then slide onto a serving dish. sprinkle the white cheddar cheese on top. serve warm or at room temperature.

i love serving frittata slices either on a salad with champagne vinegar/honey mustard vinaigrette or on top of bruschetta rubbed with garlic and drizzled with an excellent extra virgin olive oil. **note...we ate everything before i remembered to take these pictures are sans the salad, asparagus and dessert...we ran out! trust me everything was beautiful & delicious....** whoops!

hope you all have a wonderful memorial day holiday weekend. be safe, have fun and eat well!~and, if you have a minute, please join our new facebook fan page...your best way to stay on top of all the napa farmhouse 1885 events (and special offers just for fans)


diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style™ "
do you like us? really like us? then please join our facebook fan page
& follow me on twitter
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Monday, May 24, 2010

what's happening with Studio-Store?

so last october i told you about our temporary "pop-up" shop in downtown napa called Studio-Store . my friend, the artist valerie raven, and i moved into a vacant storefront @ 1144 main street, napa ca 94559. the plan was to be there until the landlord leased as a long term we could have been there a month? a year? who knew?...but you have to be creative in this economy. well....8 months later....the space has been leased. i am very happy for our landlord...she has been fantastic to work with....but a bit torn regarding my feelings for this development. on one hand, the napa farmhouse 1885 collection is now being carried by a few very cool shops throughout the napa valley and beyond. making the product and filling wholesale orders, along with website orders, is keeping me very busy...thank you very much. on the other hand, i have so loved meeting all the customers of the shop and hearing their comments, feedback and suggestions. and it has been so cool to showcase the product and merchandise the entire assortment together.

so valerie and i are announcing that Studio-Store is going on hiatus. we are closing down the end of june so the new tenants can take possession of the space july 1st. then we will take a few months this summer to decide if we want to "pop-up" somewhere else.

in the interim, the entire napa farmhouse 1885 collection, along with cool art from valerie , is available for, please come and visit. we are open wednesday through saturday from noon to five (sometimes six!)

sign up for our mailing list and we will keep you posted on the status of Studio-Store. lastly, thank you so much to all our customers...especially the regulars. it has meant so much to hear your kind words.


diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style™ "
do you like us? really like us? then please join our facebook fan page& follow me on twitter
to receive special offers only available to our preferred customers, please sign up for the mailing list on the right hand side of this post...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

a stir-fry honor of jamie oliver?

so i became a huge fan of jamie oliver's the food revolution. have you heard about this movement which is chronicled in a tv show? if it is in a nutshell. jamie oliver is a pretty famous chef from great britain. he emphasizes the importance of using fresh, in-season, excellent ingredients for everyone from professional chefs to home cooks. earlier this year, he filmed a tv show in huntington, west virginia (supposedly the unhealthiest city in america) where he set objectives to improve the food served to children in the public schools and to teach the locals how to shop and cook using fresh food with a massive reduction in processed foods.

he also has created a website which chronicles his progress and includes a petition which states: "I support the Food Revolution. America's kids need better food at school and better health prospects. We need to keep cooking skills alive." oliver plans to tally the final numbers, send to president and mrs obama and ask for their help and support in improving school lunches. how cool is that? to date over 592,000 americans have signed the petition. if you are interested in additional info...or would like to sign the here

regular readers know my food mantra is "the ingredients really do matter" and that i emphasize the use of local, in season, organic or sustainably grown food....and then try not to muck it up with overly complicated, to me, jamie oliver is preaching to the choir. i am so impressed with his entire concept...start with one town...move on to the next and the next and the next...and soon transform every school in the country. i mean c'mon...have you looked into what they serve at schools these days? scary!

i think "buzz" can be so powerful. the food revolution movement has been discussed in the news, social networking sites, blogs, food clubs etc. i had the pleasure of attending the recent napa local food forum (more on that in future posts)...and was so pleased to hear that our local napa schools have begun to change the way our kids eat in school...whole wheat bread, salad bars, no carbonated sugary drinks, etc and...while there is still a long way to go...progress is a good thing.

for my part, i wanted to introduce the movement to my readers, encourage everyone to learn more about the food revolution...and ask you to share with me ideas, suggestions and examples of progress being made in your city or town. maybe we can all learn from each other?
but a post from me is not complete without a recipe. and, since you can't watch an episode of the show without hearing about a stir-fry, stir-fry it is....inspired by jamie oliver with ingredients i love....what could be better than that?jamie his own words:

"My philosophy to food and healthy eating has always been about enjoying everything in a balanced, and sane way. Food is one of life's greatest joys yet we've reached this really sad point where we're turning food into the enemy, and something to be afraid of. I believe that when you use good ingredients to make pasta dishes, salads, stews, burgers, grilled vegetables, fruit salads, and even outrageous cakes, they all have a place in our diets. We just need to rediscover our common sense: if you want to curl up and eat macaroni and cheese every once in a while – that's alright! Just have a sensible portion next to a fresh salad, and don't eat a big old helping of chocolate cake afterwards.

Knowing how to cook means you'll be able to turn all sorts of fresh ingredients into meals when they're in season, at their best, and cheapest! Cooking this way will always be cheaper than buying processed food, not to mention better for you. And because you'll be cooking a variety of lovely things, you'll naturally start to find a sensible balance. Some days you'll feel like making something light, and fresh, other days you'll want something warming and hearty. If you've got to snack between meals, try to go for something healthy rather than loading up on chocolate or potato crisps. Basically, as long as we all recognize that treats should be treats, not a daily occurrence, we'll be in a good place. So when I talk about having a 'healthy' approach to food, and eating better I'm talking about achieving that sense of balance: lots of the good stuff, loads of variety, and the odd indulgence every now and then."

cool, yes? now, on to the stir-fry....
i make stir fry all the time...the ingredients vary depending on what is in season...and the measurements depend on what i have on hand. please be as creative as you wish with the vegetables you use...just cut/slice everything about the same size so it all cooks evenly. this is one of those techniques where the prep takes longer than the actual cooking time, so slice and measure everything before you begin to cook.
our spring stir fry (inspired by jamie oliver)

8 oz whole wheat pasta, any shape you like
6 ounces boneless pork chops
1 piece of fresh ginger (about 2 inches)
2 spring onions (or 1/2 red onion)
2 stalks spring garlic (or 2 cloves garlic)
1 bunch asparagus
2 big handfuls of sugar snap peas
small bunch of fresh cilantro
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp grapeseed oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
1/4 cup excellent quality organic teriyaki sauce
2-3 tbsp excellent quality soy sauce (organic if you can find it)
1-2 tbsp ground fresh red chili paste

1 lime

cook pasta according to package directions. drain and rinse in a colander and set aside.
slice the pork into generous bite sized pieces. peel and slice the ginger, onions and garlic. trim the asparagus and slice into 2 inch pieces. separate the cilantro leaves from the stalks. finely chop the cilantro stalks.

to a large bowl add the ginger, onion, garlic, asparagus, sugar snap peas and cilantro stalks. add the sesame oil and mix everything together.
heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat. add 1 tbsp grapeseed oil to pan and, when hot, add the sliced pork and stir-fry 3-5 minutes until just cooked through. remove from pan with slotted spoon, place on a plate and set aside. add the second tbsp of grapeseed oil to the pan or wok and, when hot, add all the chopped vegetables. stir-fry for 2 minutes stirring constantly. the vegetable should still be crunchy. add 1/2 the teriyaki sauce, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and the juice of half a lime, stir. add the pork and 1 tbsp chili paste, stir. add the pasta & the rest of the teriyaki sauce and quickly stir everything together. taste and adjust by adding the additional soy sauce and chili sauce to your preference. sprinkle the cilantro leaves over top...give a quick stir and serve with a squeeze of additional lime juice. (i like spicy food, so i add additional chili sauce on the side )

do you stir-fry? what are your favorite ingredient combinations? please share in the comments section of this post....have a good week!

diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style™ "
do you like us? really like us? then please join our facebook fan page & follow me on twitter
to receive special offers only available to our preferred customers, please sign up for the mailing list on the right hand side of this post...