The Flavors in the Bulb

The Wonderful thing about Garlic…

…is garlic does wonderful things

it produces a chemical called Allicin

and lower cholesterol it brings…

 

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                Garlic is a keystone of cooking.  Highly valued throughout the ages as a culinary spice, garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. It is a hardy perennial belonging to the liliaceae family. Other members of this family include leeks, chives, spring onions and shallots, all distinguished by their pungent aroma and flavor. Used to flavor broths, sauces, meats, dressings, and the list goes on.  Not only can garlic add that flavor burst into your savory dishes but it has some health benefits as well.  Ingesting garlic daily can lower cholesterol, prevent tick bites, lower blood pressure, and lower blood sugar levels. It is an excellent source of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). It is also a very good source of manganese, selenium and vitamin C. In addition, garlic is a good source of other minerals, including phosphorous, calcium, potassium, iron and copperWe are going to explore the different types of garlic, where it is grown and what it is used for.

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Hardneck Garlic

Hardneck garlic (Allium sativum ophioscorodon) tend to have a stronger flavor than their soft-necked cousins. They're characterized by hard woody stalks (these central stalks are discerning feature) and a long flower stalk (scape) that loops and curls. Hardneck garlic sends up scapes from its central woody stalk when it is growing. A scape is a thin green extension of the stalk that forms a 360-degree curl with a small bulbil, or swelling, several inches from its end. Inside the bulbil are more than 100 tiny cloves that are genetically identical to the parent bulb beneath. Many people call these "flowers," but they are not really blooms. If left on the plant, the scape will eventually die and fall over, and the tiny cloves will spill onto the ground. However, most never make it that far. Cutting off the scapes keeps the plant's energy from forming the bulbil and therefore encourages larger bulbs. But don't throw out the scapes. They can be a delicious ingredient in your cooking, more on these later.

Hardneck garlic generally to have 4-12 cloves in each bulb. Verging on being spicy or hot the flavor is thought to be more complex, and altogether more "garlicky." Hardneck garlic grows best in areas with very cold winters, as they require a longer time of vernalization (in order to bloom in the spring they need a long winter to be dormaint). This hardneck garlic work perfect with gamier roasts, such as duck or venison. Vinaigrettes using hearty ingredients, like mustard or apple cider vinegar are the perfect flavor profile for hardneck garlic. To spot hardneck garlic at your local farmer's market search for the garlic that have a rosy/violet cast to the flesh of the cloves and thinner skin

Softneck Garlic

Softneck garlic (Allium sativum sativum) comprises most of the garlic found in major supermarkets. Lacking the flowering scape of hardneck garlic, it produces many more cloves—sometimes as few as eight, and sometimes getting as high as thirty or more. Softneck garlic is a good all-purpose garlic that works in almost any dish. Softneck garlic is recommended if consuming raw or lightly cooked. For a salad dressing with a strong garlic flavor opt for softneck garlic, having a grassier, plant-like taste and without the bite of its hardneck siblings the garlic notes really shine through.

Most processed garlic foods, like garlic powder and seasoning, come from softneck garlic. Artichoke (the strain sold in supermarkets) and Silverskin (the kind you'll most often see braided) are two varieties of softneck garlic. Silverskin garlic is easy to grow variety has a strong flavor and stores well when dried, it will last nearly a year under the right conditions. Artichoke garlic has a milder flavor and may have fewer and larger cloves than silverskin. You can store it as long as eight months. Artichoke garlic may occasionally have purple spots or streaks on its skin, but don't confuse it with purple stripe garlic, a hardneck variety that has quite a bit of purple coloring.

Creole Garlic

Originally thought to be a variety of softneck garlic, Creole garlic turns out to be in a class by itself. These garlic bulbs tend to have up to 12 cloves and range from a beautiful light pink to an almost purple glow. Unlike the rosy varieties of hardneck garlics, the entire bulb itself tends to be pink/red/purple. Creole garlics are pretty rare and grow better in warmer climates. Creole varietals tend to have a wine reference in their name. Some varietals are Cuban Purple, Ajo Rojo, Burgundy, Creole Red, and Rose du Lautrec. This type of garlic tends to have some heat to its flavor and the pungency varies depending on the variety you buy. Definitely do the sniff test before you purchase—it'll tell you how much bite the garlic contains.

Black Garlic

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Black garlic recognizably garlic at first bite, but it has rich, molasses undertones as well as a hint of balsamic vinegar. It's a little chewy, like good dried fruit, but also soft and spreadable like a fruit paste. It can take up to a month for regular garlic to reach this stage of caramelization/fermentation. A combination of fermentation, dehydration, and low heat is used to cause the Maillard Reaction over a long period of time and turn black.

Black garlic, according to some chefs, adds that rich, meaty umami flavor to dishes that might otherwise lack it. Wonderful if served it by itself as an appetizer or used it as a garnish on salads and meats. It also works well in sauces and vinaigrettes, but it's too expensive to use in anything large-scale, like a marinade. Some people use it in dessert, such as in these Black Garlic Brownies.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allicin

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-garlic

Shannon Clapham

Sous Vide or not Sous Vide Part II

When are we going to actually talk about sous vide cooking?

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In and of its self there are five benefits to sous vide cooking but they apply to the five rules I set out earlier.

Benefit 1: Temperature control:

          Sous Vide, as every modern cook book, vloger and “foodie” will tell you means “under vacuum” in French.  Sous vide cooking, in most household circles, has most commonly been associated with the use of emersion circulators.  The components of an emersion circulator break down to: a small fan, a thermocouple, and a heating element regulated by said thermocouple.  Before I could justify buying a commercial circulator, the construction of a primitive version was necessary. While successful, my experiment resulted in the drilling of holes into otherwise perfectly good coolers and constantly replenishing hot water while making a huge mess and pretty much rendering half our home kitchen useless for two days, not to mention taking apart and putting back together a crock pot…  That poor crock pot still looks at me funny…

Anyways regardless of the chaos that was my first home made emersion circulatory system, I did manage to end with proof of concept so I bought a commercial emersion circulator.  I will not mention which brand but if any brands wanted to get mentioned send us your latest model and we will include it in our blogs, vlogs, and instagram recipe stories… If they work.

Any who, being able to keep your food at a constant temperature is a huge help to those of us who care about properly handled quality ingredients.  Using your classic sear and roast, or broil, and oven finish methods for a nice thick steak, can be delicious, but fuck up your timing and you are left with less impressive results. Cooking sous vide with an emersion circulator will end any guess work

 

          Benefit 2: quick infusion of flavors:

          Conversations regarding sous vide cooking tend to revolve around temperature and how long food is left in the bath, not all that different from conversations about barbeque and the smoking of meats.  I propose that this focus on the length of time food is left to be cooked (i.e. smoker or water bath) is macho posturing. Slow roasting and smoking are both low skill with high reward methods of cooking lesser quality products and have a built in mystique regarding rubs sauces and other low skill high reward elements to the dish.  This is not to say that a true pit master who controls large amounts of proteins in a large cooking vassal for hours on end constantly controlling the temperature and level of smoke isn’t a highly skilled, method trained craftsman.  But next time someone tells you how they worked for twelve hours smoking some sad piece of dried out animal when they clearly have an electric smoker with a digital read out that controls temperature and only requires being fed pellets every couple hours, understand it’s just the low and slow microwave for barbeque.

Sorry, got off topic. 

Infusion of flavor is the original reason for the concept of sous vide.  Much like if you put vodka into a whip cream canister with some grapefruit peel and mint leaf, then activate it with a NO2 canister, the pressure will infuse the vodka with the same amount of flavor as if you spent weeks letting it sit on the shelf with the same ingredients. When you are prepping your food to go into the water bath you can just put the raw ingredients into a vacuum bag or zip lock and be done with it, but as Saint Julia Child said, season every step of the way.  That means adding flavor whenever possible, and to skip this step would be missing a great opportunity to infuse flavors in a way that would take way more time using traditional marinade and cooking methods.  With the addition of herbs salt and pepper not to mention alcohol or vinegar, into a high vacuum environment, your food undergoes a quick infusion of flavors.

 

          Benefit 3: Consistency

As a cook I know that variations in oven temperature pan temperature and other random acts of nature or happenstance will affect the cook of any group of proteins.  In other words if you have six people over for dinner and you want six identical duck breasts, there will be a variation of breasts that are cooked perfectly and those who go a little over, and with traditional cooking methods, the home cook knows there is always one that comes out the least perfect.  The generous home cook will usually reserve that one for themselves so their guests can have the best quality dining experience.  But if all those breasts are heated in a water bath to the exact same internal temperature and seared off after with a properly preheated broiler or using a searzall, every breast will be perfect… Just writing that got me a little excited.

 

          Benefit 4:  Shelf life

Unless all of the proteins you buy are already vacuum packed, doing so, especially with previously mentioned flavor additions, will both extend the shelf life and flavor of your food.  There is however a tipping point when it will start to degenerate.  Simple but important to know.

  Benefit 5: Kitchen temperature and energy use.

I live in Los Angeles, I have all my life, I grew up in east L.A. with no air conditioning and box fans that were loud and sucked energy.  The thought of slow braising tough cuts of meat for multiple hours thus turning our kitchen into an oven and if using an electric oven using hours of high waist power when we were young was absurd.  Even though tough cuts of meat such as the brisket I currently have in the bath, take as long as thirty six hours with the emersion circulator running, the amount of power it uses and the smaller amount of heat it puts out into my kitchen; make it a far superior for both household comfort and wallet. 

Conclusion: Sous vide cook takes some research and a whole lot of planning, but once you get into its procedures, you will find that it not only makes for easier cooking, but also, if done correctly, more precise and flavorful meals as well.

Coming soon…

Vegetables and sous vide cooking.

Sous Vide or not Sous Vide

….that is the question, and we hope to help answer that question and take out the mystery of the sous vide. 

   Sous - vide  (/suːˈviːd/; French for "under vacuum") is a method of  cooking  in which food is placed in a plastic pouch or a glass jar and then placed in a water bath or steam environment for longer than normal  cooking  times (usually 1 to 7 hours, up to 48 or more in some cases) at an accurately regulated temperature.

 Sous-vide (/suːˈviːd/; French for "under vacuum") is a method of cooking in which food is placed in a plastic pouch or a glass jar and then placed in a water bath or steam environment for longer than normal cooking times (usually 1 to 7 hours, up to 48 or more in some cases) at an accurately regulated temperature.

 

We have found this method of cooking extraordinarily helpful when catering large parties that involve temperature sensitive meats.  Some great examples are filet mignon, pork chops, t-bone steak, chicken breast etc. The wonderful thing about sous vide meats is that you can cook it to the perfect temperature every time.  No need to worry about undercooking the chicken or overcooking the steak you can just pop it in the sous vide bath and let it cook.   Of course first you will need to get your set up put together. Some items you will need before you get cooking are:

An Immersion Circulator

A large Lexan or pot

Freezer zipper bags or a vacuum sealer

Plastic wrap or foil to cover the container

Cast iron skillet if you are planning to sear off the meat

Once you have your set up you can begin.  Below is the process of using sous vide technique to cook pork loin to be used in sandwiches.  By using this process we are able to cook the pork loin all of the way through without losing a bunch of the moisture to ensure that our sandwiches are not dry. 

HOLD IT!!!

To truly master the craft of sous vide cooking one must understand that you are still cooking and not using a magic set it and forget it tool for quick and easy meals.  It is true sous vide cooking can when given enough forethought, make for quick day of cooking times but one must adhere to the same rules every professional chef worth their salt should be following:

Rule 1: In regards to high end expensive product, especially animal proteins but this also applies to your expensive farmers market produce, don’t fuck it up!

            Over cooking, over salting, or over spicing (especially when using astringent ingredients) are the worst offences any cook can commit

Rule 2: When considering any cooking method with quality products always think augmentation, not transformation.

            Leave the transformation to the molecular gastronomes.  Flavor enhancement lies in the chemical potential of whatever piece of food you just forked over good money for.

Rule 3: Time and Temperature will make or break you.

            Whether searing, frying, braising or using sous vide, understanding how hot and how long your food needs to be cooked. Whether it is to break down connective tissues over long periods of low temperature cooking or attempting to not damage tender tissues of more luxurious product through short high heat cooking, know your product and if you don’t, do some research.

Rule 4: Solubility is the difference between good food and great food

            Especially with regards to creating new flavor compounds within food without adding any “secret ingredients” respect the fact that every piece of produce you buy has its own unique bouquet of potential flavors depending on how you treat it. Before you start throwing marinades onto your expensive high end, locally grown, grass fed, free range, fair trade, wild caught, beer finished, humanely dispatched, nose to tail butchered, wagyu style tomato, do some research.

            Understanding what components of an ingredient undergo a chemical or molecular change and what the end result of said change tastes, smells, and looks like, regardless of spices herbs or seasoning, depend on its chosen environment in which heat is applied and can mean the difference between making basic ketchup, a wonderful pasta sauce, or the most indulgent tomato bisque just by adding water fat or alcohol to stewing tomatoes.  Adding high acid vinegar will bring out flavor compounds that we have come to identify as ketchup, and if augmented Texas and west coast style barbeque sauces.  Whereas adding alcohol such as wine or vodka to said tomatoes will result in flavor compounds that can only be broken down in the presents alcohol and results in a classic red sauce flavor that we identify with spaghetti sauce.  Cook a batch of heirloom cherry tomatoes low and slow submerged in fat, drain them emulsify them with cream, maybe even an egg yolk if you’re feeling adventurous and you have the most luxurious bisque without having to buy lobster.

Rule 5:  the Maillard reaction: Sear your meat

            With the exception of boiled (i.e. corned beef) or “white” preparations such as risotto or vissysuas most delectable dishes make use of the Maillard effect, which is when either boiled braised or raw proteins are exposed to high heat to cause a reaction between amino acids and reduced sugars produces a browning of the exterior of said protein either before or after the primary cooking method. This produces hundreds of new flavor compounds and textural differences that can take a dish from dinner to fine dining.

What does this have to do with sous vide cooking?

End part 1, part 2 to follow

-Sean Cardamone

SMFM 8.1.18

Santa Monica Farmers Market

7:13am Heading to the farmers market  talking about what many Angelenos talk about as they hop on the freeway, the ever present, ever brutal Los Angeles traffic.

“ we didn’t head out at the worst time, if we had left at 8:15 that would be the worst time. Might get pretty bad once we hit the 10…”

However traveling across town is totally worth it. We source a lot of our ingredients from the Hollywood Farmers Market when doing our Sunday Pop Up, but certain events if you are purchasing on Sunday it just won’t be quite as fresh. Fresh is key so we make the trek out to SMFM because we want to know who our growers and fishermen and Ranchers and the whole community of farmers market goers are.

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7:35am Listening to KPCC “There are wildfires burning up and down California in what has become one of the state's worst fire seasons in recent history.”…. Almost 40,000 people have been temporarily displaced by the Carr fire. Most will be able to go home,

We get down to Santa Monica and after a quick bite we head over to the farmers market. We have a mission and our shopping list is as follows:

- apples and corn for an apple, fennel & roasted corn salad with a virus vinaigrette

- tuna for tuna tartare in wonton cups with a miso crisp

- tomatoes for cheese burgers and pick de Gallo

- pork belly for our house cured bacon

- butternut squash for a mushroom and squash dish served with consume

- leeks for crispy fried leek ringlets

- peaches and goat cheese for a crostini

- sweet peppers for the marinated pepper salad

We start our adventure through the market. The first place that we arrive to is Drake Family Farm for the goat cheese. With several options available we try a couple different styles before coming to the conclusion of which will pair best on the crostini.  The first sample is the Bloomy Rind Glacier, a goat cheese with an a quality that is almost a cross between Red hawk from Cowgirl Creamery and a traditional Camembert. The second Mt. Baldy, creamy with a oozing layer of meltiness against the blue rind. Then we try the Idyllwild with the flavor and texture composition of a Manchego. While the other two cheeses stand out with the creamy texture mixed with a touch of funk, the saltier Idyllwild takes the cake to be paired with the grilled peaches for our tasting menu.

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Off to the peaches!

We find ourselves perusing the stall of Fair Hill Farms. The combination of brightly colored fruits and the fresh aroma of sweet summer air is hard to resist. They carry an array of fruit from nectarines and peaches to plums and apples, all that can be hoped for with the start of a balmy August. Trying the white peach then the yellow and for good measure the nectarine and the crunch of apple, we swiftly determine that we really must have a bag of yellow peaches to pair with that salty goat cheese.  Then for good measure and to add that sweet tart quality to our fennel apple salad we grab a heaping bag of Granny Smith.

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We head over to Tamai Family Farms to grab som tomatoes, corn and sweet peppers  Then venture over to Tutti Frutti Farms for a couple of leeks and a butternut squash. To finish up our trip we seek out two local purveyors of proteins. We swing by Peads and Barnett greeted by Oliver and Madison to pick up our weekly pork belly. Oliver uses English Berkshire pigs exclusively because of their high marbling and he leaves the rib meat attached to the belly for extra meatiness. This belly will be cured and smoked and enjoyed by the masses.

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Last stop for our locally caught seafood directly fresh from the boat Wild Local Seafood.  We grab some fresh ahi tuna for one of our starter courses and then for a bonus we get sea urchin for family meal and a full sea bass head for some fish stock. Now…back to the kitchen.

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Cucumbers

(tiny emerald savory watermelon snack)

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      What is it about the cucumber that makes it so perfect for the summer? It is the non-sweet tooth version of the watermelon.  Providing a cool refreshing burst of hydration with a crunch, and its harvest season in California is from August to Mid-October.  We use these emerald veggies in our chia bowls, by combining the cucumber puree with the almond milk you get an extra flavor a boost of vitamins and it reduces the calories of the bowl (see previous post for recipe).   These little guys are great to cool you down when the weather becomes unbearable and to top it off they pack a punch of nutrition to keep that spring in your step. With the combo pack of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Magnesium, Copper and Potassium adding cucumbers into your daily diet has great health benefits.

1.      Weight Management: you can replace higher calorie snacks such as chips or crackers with cucumbers to keep you feeling satisfied. Rather than chips and dip have cucumbers and dip.  Replacing chips with cucumbers will also lower your sodium intake.

2.      Cardiovascular Health: Both potassium and magnesium; you can keeping your blood pressure under control & improve your body’s neurological function. Cucumbers also contain an anti-inflammatory, lignin, helping to boost your immunity and reducing the occurrence of all the risks associated with cardiovascular disease.

3.      Promotes Detoxification: Cucumbers help the liver to remove impurities, waste, and also helps completely eliminate accumulated toxins from your blood stream and gut. Drinking cucumber beverages speed up the detoxification process.

4.      Stronger Bones, Nails and Teeth: Cucumber contains ascorbic acid and caffeic acid, both important for strengthen your body’s ligaments, cartilage, tendons and bones. Also containing silica, which helps in the formation of connective tissue, eating cucumbers help to strengthen weakened bones; with a bonus of protein, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B5, folic acid and silicon – all good for your bone health.

5.       Repair Hair: If dry and rough hair is your problem than try making some cucumber paste might be just the trick. Check out this page for the recipe and how to utilize the paste http://tohairwithlove.com/will-you-make-this-cool-mask-with-cucumber-for-hair-growth/

6.      Regulates Blood Pressure: The rich amount of magnesium, fiber and potassium makes cucumbers useful in maintaining the right blood pressure. It also helps lowers the pressure in arteries and keeps them hydrated, one of the main reasons why cucumbers are recommended to people battling hypertension.

7.      Good for Your Eye Health: It moisturizes all the skin around your eyes as it contains 95% water. Eating cucumbers on a regular basis helps enhance your vision containing several anti-inflammatory and antioxidants that can reduce the possibility of cataracts. Hyperpigmentation forms dark circles around the skin of your eyes, cucumbers are a great option to reduce the inflammation and pigmentation. The antioxidant present in the cucumber reduce skin irritation. As you know vitamin C in cucumbers lighten your skin tone, so you should incorporate cucumbers in your beauty routine as well.

Here is a couple of easy recipes you can try at home for your eyes https://helloglow.co/eye-masks

Additional Links

Additional Cucumber Recipe Link https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/cucumber-recipes

California Cucumbers https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8050.pdf

Hollywood Farmers Market https://seela.org/

Altadena Farmers Market http://altadenafarmersmarket.com/

More on Benefits https://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-ricci/health-benefits-of-cucumbers_b_8231704.html