Highlights from our annual Farm, Food & Wine Tour from 2017. Thanks everyone for joining us! We’re sold out for this year but save the date for Oct 23-25, 2020.
Spring is nearly here and with it comes lovely artichokes. Artichokes are perennial plants in the same family as dandelions and sunflowers, they are a thistle plant and, in most artichokes, there is a center that’s inedible, the ‘choke’. In cooler climates, such as California’s northern coast they can be grown as annual’s. Spring and fall are times when you can find fresh artichokes in the markets. An easy plant to grow, they do require full sun and will take up a large space, 3 feet or more. Be sure to cut the artichoke before the leaves begin to open and it blossoms into a flower.
When you choose your artichoke, you want to make sure that it’s firm when you press the sides and you’ll often hear a squeaky noise, that’s good. The leaves should be tight and closed. If there is a little bit of brown on the leaves that’s ok, it just means there was a little frost during its growing season but that’s not a bad thing. The inside will be perfectly delightful. You also might want to consider only organic artichokes since you’ll be eating parts of the plant that may have been sprayed with pesticides during its growing season. Pesticides cannot be washed off with water or vegetables soaps, they are oil based and you know what happens when oil and water mix! If you can’t find beautiful California Artichokes in the market, here is a great local source where you can order them, Melissa’s Produce, http://www.melissas.com/Organic-Artichokes-p/1375.htm
To store your artichokes, you could place in a plastic bag and store in the produce drawer of your refrigerator or just pop it into the drawer itself. They will last up to 7 days but best eaten within a few.
Rinse the artichoke under cool water; pull off the lower, smaller leaves and cut the stem at the base of the choke. If you have a nice long stem, you can cook this separately and eat it like you would the heart, it tastes the same. If desired, with a sharp chef’s knife cut across the top third of the artichoke and snip the sticker off the remaining leaves. Even though there are many ways to prepare a fresh artichoke, most people fall back to either boiling/steaming them, although it takes quite a while, up to half an hour or more. You could put them in a microwave bowl or in an Instant Pot adding a cup of water and cook for 10 minutes, cover the microwave ones, or grill them over hard wood. Anyway is fine with me.
Here’s the traditional method:
Put them into a large pot and cover with cool water, squeeze two lemons into the water and a little sea salt, bring to a boil and simmer until you can run a small knife through the bottom part of the artichoke, 30-45 minutes or longer depending on the size of the vegetable. Remove from the water using tongs and picking up the artichoke with the top facing down so not to spill hot water all over yourself, drain and serve with my favorite sauce from Walt’s Wharf in Seal Beach.
Get the recipe here,
Chef Debbi returns to the Rancho! We’ve been waiting a long time to bring our classes back to Rancho los Alamitos. We’ve schedule our first class for Sat. June 8th, we’re going to pickle!
Saturday, June 8, 2019
9:30 am – 12:30 pm
$75 Future member/ $65 per RLA member
Advance Reservations Required, Reservations close 5/27/19
Join us at Rancho Los Alamitos for a hands-on class on the basics of pickling and fermenting vegetables from your garden or the farmers’ market. In this class, you will make two kinds of pickled vegetables and a jar of sauerkraut. (If you think that you don’t like sauerkraut, wait until you try your own!) This is a refrigerator-style pickling where no water bath canning is necessary. Chef Debbi will demonstrate techniques, discuss food safety and the basics of canning pickles in brine. Each participant will prepare and take home three jars of their very own preserved produce.
The class is suitable for adults and interested teens. Reservations are required. Parking is limited at Rancho Los Alamitos, so car-pooling is encouraged and appreciated.
There’s almost nothing better in spring than fresh strawberries (except for maybe asparagus, artichokes and morel mushrooms!
Look for strawberries that are red all the way to the top, those will be tasty, ripe strawberries. Pick organic if possible as strawberries are the number one fruit on the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list to retain pesticides. Pesticides do not wash off, ever. Besides the pesticide residue left on the fruit, the ground is prepared by pumping fumigants into it to sterilize the soil, killing every living creature that lives in the soil. You can read more on EWG’s website.
To prepare your strawberries, do not wash until you are ready to use or eat them. Water is their enemy. I like to slice them up and add a little sugar, macerate or squash them down a little and let them sit for awhile while the flavor develops. I sometimes will add a little Grand Marnier to the mix for an added dose of flavor. Spread them on a biscuit, slice of angel food cake, over ice cream or just eat them out of a bowl. Enjoy your strawberries while the sun is shining. Here’s a little individual cheesecake recipe for you to enjoy.
A quick and easy cake for fall, don’t expect many leftovers! See the list here for which kind of apples are great for baking.
Fall Harvest Tour for Oct 26 – 28, 2018
Now Taking Reservations
Cambria Pines Lodge, Cambria, Ca
Hot Buffet Breakfast Included
Dinner and Culinary Demo with Chef Debbi and the Debettes
Saturday Farm, Food & Wine Tour
Climb aboard with The Wine Wrangler
We’ll travel to the Westside of Paso Robles to Halter Ranch Vineyard & Winery
Experience a private Cave Tour with a Barrel Tasting from 3 Cave Barrels
Private Tasting of Halter Ranch’s available vintages in the new Tasting Room overlooking their fabulous vineyards
Vineyard Picnic Lunch on Halter Ranch’s Patio Deck overlooking the vineyards
Created for you by Chef Debbi & her Debette team
After lunch climb aboard with The Wine Wrangler to travel to
Stepladder Ranch in San Simeon
We’ll visit with their Lamancha goats and taste a variety of cheeses made from their goat milk. This farm is accessible only by invitation and is hidden in the hills above San Simeon and the Pacific Ocean
Our last stop for the day will be a visit (and tasting) at The Hearst Ranch Tasting Room in San Simeon. Step out on the porch for an exquisite view of San Simeon Beach and Harbor
Return to Cambria for late afternoon & evening private time
The Groves on 41 Olive Oil Farm Tour & Tasting
Don’t Miss The Cambria Scarecrow Contest the month of Oct!
Limited Availability, First Come-First Served
Price is Per Person based on Double Occupancy for all rooms
Preferred Method of payment, save Paypal fees by paying by check!
To pay by check:
Please send an email to Debbi @ firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions
A perfect summer salad that you can make ahead; it actually is better the next day! An easy ‘from the pantry’ salad, adjust ingredients to what you have on hand, what you find from the farmers market or your own garden, or even some of last nights grilled chicken or shrimp. Serves 6
Join us at Temecula Olive Oil, Seal Beach for a tasty cooking demo!
Demo Cooking Class
July 13 & 27
6:30 – 8:30 p.m., approximately
By reservation only, see below
Sweet Corn and Balsamic Tomato Salad
Creamy Beef Stroganoff with Morel Mushrooms & Crème Frâiche
Green Beans with Bacon & Caramelized Shallots
Stone Fruit Cobbler
For reservations call
Temecula Olive Oil
I first tasted these at The Santa Monica Farmers Market about 15 years ago when The Two Hot Tamale girls were doing a demo for their restaurant, Border Grill (now closed, sadly). It’s a perfect little snack for an early summer day, zucchini plants are going wild with flowers and are daring to be picked & stuffed. Make sure you pick all male blossoms rather than female blossoms or you won’t have any fruit. To tell the difference look at the bottom of the flower, you’ll see a round little nub or small zucchini attached, this is a female blossom….move on. The male blossoms are attached just by them stem with no nub at the bottom, you’ll be able to tell. Open the flowers gently as there may be a bee inside collecting pollen, he will fly away when you open the petals, be gentle. If you want to wash them use cool water and dry well but do this just before you’re ready to prepare the dish. Or you can buy them at your local farmers market, the blossoms are delicate and will last no more than a day so pick right before you’re going to make the quesadillas.
This recipe is great as a side dish, an appetizer or a light lunch with a salad. It’s easy to make, most of it can be done ahead of time and assembled just before baking. Be sure to use a quality puff pastry dough such as Dufour’s which is made with 100% butter and no preservatives. It’s a little more expensive but if you want real puff pastry, this is it. Be sure to keep the dough refrigerated and if it warms up a little while you are rolling it out, pop it back in the refrigerator until cold. It won’t puff correctly unless the dough is as cold as possible into a hot oven. Be creative and add some chopped (blanched) asparagus to this, it’s a perfect spring time recipe. Enjoy!
Olive Magazine Photo