Friday, March 20, 2009


I roasted the gailan or Chinese brocolli as you would asparagus. In fact, at $1.50 a bunch, it is a very affordable alternative to asparagus. I removed the leaves from the the gailan stalks and rubbed the stalks with La Nogalera walnut oil (available at the Ojai Farmer's Market) and a small clove of garlic...a dash of salt and roasted the gailan in my little toaster oven at 350 degrees for only 10 minutes or until the stalks are tender.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I grew so many chiles and knew eventually I would make a chile powder and so I have. I started by checking Paupered Chef's blog. He is a cook from Chicago who really delves into each recipe explored. I looked at his recipe for chile powder and then I looked at Alton Brown's recipe and sure enough they are almost identical. As is my nature, I too followed along. I started with three kinds of chiles, roasted some cumin seed, added garlic powder and followed that with oregano. I usually like to add ginger or cloves to my chile sauces but thought I would play with that later. By the way... i've planted cumin and Mexican oregano for next years chile powders.
The kitchen was full the day I made my powder, we had Justin, Katy, Erica and Megumi. We all discussed a possible name around our big wooden work table. I thought of calling the chile "handmade" but then Justin came up with the perfect name "hecho a mano" ... not only did we grow the chiles at Mano Farm but we roasted, ground and blended all of the spices by hand. The Spanish translation is perfecto.

I made a chili last night and it almost knocked Steve over, here's the recipe:


1 lb bison or beef steak cut into thin slices
1/2 cup beans, dry ( pintos or white)
2 Tbls olive oil
1 cup onion, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, diced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tbls chile powder
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups water

1. Cook the beans in 4 cups of water for about 1 hour or until soft.
2. Brown the sliced bison or beef in a deep skillet. Remove from the skillet onto a plate (to be added back later)
3. Heat the oil in the same skillet (don’t wash it out), saute the onion, garlic and bell pepper until the onions are lightly browned. Add the salt and chile powder.
4. Add the tomato sauce, red wine and water. Gently simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Add the bison or beef slices and beans back to the pot and simmer it all together for about 5 minutes…just enough to cook the meat.

OPTIONAL ..serve with chopped cilantro, chopped white onion, lime wedges and grated cheddar cheese...leave out the meat if you are vegetarian.


you will need: a saucepan, measuring cups, wire whisk, muffin tins, parchment paper, cheese grater

3 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup organic polenta, dry
2 Tbls organic ancho chile powder
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt

Add salt to the water and bring it to a rapid boil. Add the polenta slowly to the water. Stir with a wire whisk to avoid any clumps. Turn heat down to a very low and simmer for about 20 minutes, stir occasionally. During the last 5 minutes of cooking the polenta will begin to thicken and you should stir continuously. Add the chile powder and the parmesan cheese. Pour into 8 muffin molds. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn out and serve with a saute of vegetables or with chili.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Here is the link to the article that just came out in the Sunday LA Times magazine ...when we were photographed eating a paella, prepared a hungry girl named Lara Zarubin.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Much of cooking is knowing which part of the plant is edible. I can still remember eating my first artichoke, choke and all. Out in field I get a chance to nibble on every part of the plant and note exactly what can be eaten.
you will need: knife, wide shallow pan with a lid, zester or grater, measuring cups and spoons

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil or butter
4 to 6 fennel bulbs, depending on their size, cut into 1/8ths lenghtwise
3 leeks, washed and sliced in quarters, lengthwise
1 tsp whole fennel seed, ground in a mortar or pounded with a rolling pin
1 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, diced
1/2 cup white wine
zest of 2 lemons
4 cups spinach, washed and stemmed

Cut the tops of the fennel bulbs right where they begin to send out branches and trim the smallest amount off of the bottom of each bulb. The bottom core is soft and edible. Discard the outer leaves if they look tough. Cut each bulb into 1/8ths lengthwise.

Prepare the leeks, trim off the root end and about 1/4 inch of the white base. Remove any ragged, coarse outer leaves and discard. Chop the dark green tops off right where they turn light green. Slice each leek half way down the center starting from the root end and soak in cool water to remove all of the soil. Drain and cut into quarters, lenthwise.

Heat up your oil or butter and add the fennel, leeks, fennel seed, garlic and salt. When the leeks are limp add the wine and cover your pan. Braise at a low flame for 30 or more minutes. What you want is for the fennel to be soft and succulent…don’t let it brown and don’t let it dry out. Add some water if needed. Keep on cooking and tasting until the fennel is soft.

At the end, add the lemon zest and 4 cups of spinach. Cook until the spinach is just wilted.

Delicous as a side dish or served with Baja California diver scallops. They can be purchased from Alicia at What a Deal Seafood… you can order the scallops and Alicia will deliver them to you doorstep the next day.