What's Tasty at Sigona's Farmers Market

July 25, 2012

The Joys of Melon Season: Part I

The Joys of Melon Season: Part I

Nutritional Value and How to Select Them

By Robbie Sigona

I honestly love this time of year. The weather is warm and fantastic every day, the San Francisco Giants are battling for first place and the first melons of the season are arriving in our stores.

And let me just say this: they are tasting really, really good right now.

We get our melons from Turlock Fruit Company in, you guessed it, Turlock, CA. Owner and grower Don Smith is a second generation melon aficionado who decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. 94 years after his dad first started the company, the family business is as strong as ever. Heck, there’s even a third generation (Steve) and fourth generation (Alec) Smith continuing the legacy that started back in 1918.

We’re going to dig a little bit deeper in the unique history of Turlock Fruit Company – as well as their rare heirloom melons – in the next installment of our e-newsletter. For now, let’s focus on the deep nutritional value of melons and what to look for when you’re buying them the next time you visit Sigona’s Farmers Market.

Honeydew

Let’s start first with honeydew. Our honeydew that’s tasting magnificent right now is packed full of vitamin C, which of course is great for giving your immune system a turbo boost. This orange-fleshy goodness is a mighty anti-oxidant and provides your body with potassium (essential for proper cell function). You might be surprised to know that folks with high potassium levels typically have blood pressure lower than their peers, hence another reason to go melon crazy this summer.

My person favorite right now is the orange flesh honeydew. While it looks somewhat similar on the outside to typical honeydew, the inside color, taste and smell is actually more reminiscent of cantaloupe. Find one with a cream-colored rind and sugar-packed aromas and you’ll be enjoying yourself in no time.

Cantaloupe

If you’ve been disappointed with cantaloupe up until now you can’t miss with our current crop. This is truly the time of year to go for it.

Cantaloupes are a classic fruit loaded with vitamin A and C. The vitamin A will help you to keep your visor laser-sharp; for women who are pregnant, it will assist with developing and growing the little tike inside of you.

Cantaloupes are also a good source of:

  • Vitamin B6
  • Folate
  • Niacin
  • Fiber

Speaking of fiber, did you know that the average American only consumes around 14 grams per day? This falls far short of the recommended daily intake of 20-38 grams. With fiber so essential to digestion (and preventing not-so-fun issues such as constipation, hemorrhoids and inflammation of the digestive tract), why not get your daily dose through delicious and healthy tasting cantaloupes!

What to Look For

Something we see every now and again in the store are folks who aren’t exactly sure which honeydew or cantaloupe to select. They know these fruits and healthy. They know they taste sugary-delicious. But sometimes they all look pretty similar. If you don’t know what to look for, it can be like sticking your hand into a fish bowl, pulling out a random raffle ticket and hoping it’s a winner.

That’s why if you stick to these basic tips the next time you’re in the store, you’ll be going home with a prize every single time:

  • Melons should have just a slight give when you squeeze them. Are they hard as a bowling ball? Move on and look for another.
  • Look for ones that are as blemish-free as possible.
  • A sugary aroma should waft into your nostrils as you smell them.
  • Once home, run the melons over cold water to clean off any dirt.
  • It’s smart to store them in the fridge right away. Cover them in plastic and consume within three days.

With melon season looking so phenomenal right now, we’ll be talking in our next e-news about heirloom varieties you won’t find at just any grocery outlet. You’ll learn how Turlock Fruit Company has kept these amazing fruits popping out of the ground for decades on end and why you need to try them as soon as humanly possible.

In the meantime, don’t forget to try out our recipes for Sweet Local Orange flesh Honeydew with a Drizzle of Reduced Balsamic as well as Local Melon Red Wine. We’ll guarantee you’ll be in melon heaven!

July 24, 2012

The Benefits of Breakfast

Filed under: Feature Articles, Healthy Living tips — Tags: , , , , — Sigona's @ 9:18 am

Tips for Healthy Living

Geri Wohl is our latest and greatest Tips for Healthy Living writer. Geri is a Bay Area-based Certified Nutrition Consultant and Educator with extensive training in holistic and whole foods nutrition focused on emphasizing positive lifestyle changes. Her articles are sure to educate, engage and entertain. Feel free to contact her over at Better Eating Coach. – Carmelo Sigona

The Benefits of Breakfast

By Geri Wohl

Do you start your day with a bowl of cereal? Maybe it’s a bagel and cream cheese. Some people may begin with pancakes or French toast. Perhaps your breakfast begins with a cup of coffee and nothing else. Or are you part of the 44% of the US population that has no breakfast at all?

What’s in a good breakfast? Are there ways to start our days with vigor? While some of us don’t pay attention to our morning meal either because we’re not hungry or we lack time, we all need to jump-start our metabolism by providing our bodies with the fuel needed to be more effective at work or school. Breakfast provides fuel after an 8-12 hour fast.

Eating breakfast signals the body that the day is beginning and the appropriate hormones and enzymes need to get ramped up for the day ahead. As the brain is highly dependent on glucose (sugar), carbohydrates which break down to sugars are an important component of our morning meal. But having a heavily carb-rich meal will result in blood sugar spikes. Have you ever wondered why you’re ravenous at 10:00 am after eating a bowl of cereal? Sugar is used by the body as a quick source of energy. But once it is used, the body craves more sugar, resulting in continued hunger. In addition, sugar requires insulin to bring it into the cells. With increased consumption of sugary foods, the body may eventually develop insulin resistance.

Geri Wohl

Geri Wohl, Certified Nutrition Consultant

Skipping this meal can be just as problematic as having a carbohydrate-rich breakfast. No food signals the body to go into “starvation mode.” Without nourishment,the body tries to hoard every calorie possible until the food crisis has passed. Just like bears and whales put on fat and blubber to deal with the winter months of little food, so too our bodies have an inherent mechanism to protect us from periods of minimal food. The end result is extra fat and weight which most of us would rather avoid.

Eating a balanced breakfast has been shown to help with weight loss. Wholesome breakfasts help reduce hunger throughout the day. When people eat only two meals per day (lunch and dinner), they typically will eat more calories because those hunger pangs are so strong.

So what should be in that morning meal? I always recommend to my clients to start the day with a balanced breakfast including some form of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.

So what are these different pieces? Proteins are broken down into amino acids, the building blocks for cells, hormones and enzymes. Proteins also help regulate blood sugar to prevent blood sugar highs and lows. In addition, they provide us with longer periods of energy so that we don’t get as hungry. Examples are eggs, vegetarian protein like lentils or beans, tofu or tempeh, fish, poultry or meat. Carbohydrates are any food that breaks down into sugar. Complex carbs are those that take longer to break apart, and are better for you as they have more dietary fiber. Vegetables, grains, legumes, and fruit fall into this category.

Eating foods that break down into simple sugars too quickly – which is what most Americans eat for breakfast – provide little nutritional value because they are “naked” carbs with none of the necessary fiber, vitamins or minerals. Part of your meal should contain high-fiber and low-glycemic value foods so that your blood sugar remains at a relatively constant level. If you want more information about fiber-rich and low-glycemic foods, please contact me through my website, www.bettereatingcoach.com.

Finally, fat should be included. You don’t need a lot and small amounts of the right fats won’t necessarily make you fat. But you do need to choose quality fats. Some examples of healthy fats are olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds and avocados.

I want to address one food that has been controversial – eggs. Some of us are very concerned about cholesterol. Some new research has shown that consuming eggs in moderation is not responsible for high cholesterol levels. According to the American Heart Association, healthy people can eat an egg per day. One egg has about 70 calories. If you buy pastured eggs, these eggs have many wonderful nutrients that are anti-inflammatory and rich in protein as well. For a delicious vegetable frittata recipe, visit my website, www.bettereatingcoach.com/recipes.

So remember to begin your day right and allow your body to be at its maximum potential! Bon Appetit!

July 18, 2012

snackLets Provides Next-Generation Snacking

Filed under: Coupons, Feature Articles — Tags: , , , , — Sigona's @ 12:59 pm

snackLets Provides Next-Generation Snacking

By Andy Coffaro

An Interview with snackLets co-founders Laura Woo and Gina Song

snackLets

Laura Woo and Gina Song, co-founders of snackLets

Americans have long turned snacking into an art form. Let’s be honest here. If snacking were an Olympic sport, we’d be the favorites to bring home gold in London this summer.

The problem, of course, is the poor snacking choices we typically make. From processed cookies to greasy chips, there’s a reason why 36% of Americans are obese. Thank goodness we have Gina Song and Laura Woo, co-founders of snackLets, working tirelessly to create one of the most nutritious and best-tasting snacks you’ll ever devour. To achieve this, they naturally started with … kale?

“Both Laura and I are super passionate about food,” said co-founder Gina Song from their headquarters in Menlo Park. “Whether it’s preparing it, eating it or even watching the Food Network for hours, we’ve always gravitated toward food.”

These lifelong friends that have known each other since their middle schools days in Korea had a mutual friend in Los Angeles making amazing vegan kale chips they adored. Although Laura was in finance at the time and Gina was running her own doggie daycare business, they decided to perfect their own kale-licious recipe and go into business together.

Although only in business since early 2012, snackLets constantly receives praise and compliments from customers that devour their three flavors of kale chips (BBQ Giddy Up!, Double O Cheesy and Spicy Chili-lata). Considering the entire Sigona’s marketing team spent half of a meeting last month scarfing down these delicious bite-sized nuggets of nutrition, it’s not difficult to understand how they’ve come so far in such a short amount of time.

They’re Sneaky Good

American adults aren’t the only ones struggling with obesity. Recent research has childhood obesity rates soaring as high as 20%. snackLets is doing their part to chip away at this frightening stat.

“I have a two year-old boy and he hates any food the color green,” said Laura. “But these have been a huge hit because they taste so good. He eats them by the bag.”

snackLets BBQ kale chipsLaura continued, “The kale chips are also really good for him because he’s allergic to milk. Because these are 100% vegan, his favorite flavor is still the cheese.”

For all the parents out there, snackLets Kale Chips are a great way to feel good about your child’s snacking habits. Kale is a superfood loaded with vitamin K, A and C – not to mention fiber. The masterminds at snackLets use a dehydrator to cook the kale at an extremely low temperature to ensure the nutrients don’t burn off. By adding their top-secret spices – and a dash of TLC – you’re presented with an unbelievably tasty snack that’s incredibly good for you. Heck, you can even sprinkle them on your salad for that extra crunch!

Looking Down the Road

When I asked our fearless entrepreneurs if they have any new flavors or products in the works, they said that while they do have a few new snacks hidden up their sleeves, they’re incredibly focused right now on their three flavors of kale chips.

“We do have a lot of fun things in the pipeline, but we want to grow carefully and be smart about it,” said Laura toward the end of our conversation.

For now, the local outfit is focused on provided Bay Area residents with one of the most unique, healthy and flavor-packed snacks on the market. Come snag a bag the next time you’re in the store. We’re positive you’ll love ‘em. (They’re free between July 19-26 when you spend $30 or more in the store.)

And feel free to contact Gina or Laura with any questions and comments. As Gina said, “The great feedback is what keeps us going.”

July 11, 2012

Home Sweet Home Ranch

Home Sweet Home Ranch

Sweet Home Ranch farmer Paul Buxman places nature and family first to provide you with the sweetest, most perfect stone fruits in the entire Bay Area!

By Robbie Sigona

Sweet Home Ranch farmer Paul Buxman

“You know how I stay cool all day on my tractor in 100-plus degree heat,” Paul Buxman asked me from his Sweet Home Ranch in Dinuba, CA just south of Fresno. “I place a towel under my hat and fill it full of ice every hour. The cold water just drips down onto my head and shoulders. Sometimes I’m cold even when it’s 112 degrees out!”

The only things more delicious and sweet than Paul’s humor are the nectarines, peaches, plums and additional stone fruits his farm grows on his 55 acre ranch.

That’s because unlike fruit that may be stored for up to three weeks and picked green, produce from Sweet Home Ranch is plucked from branches at the peak of ripeness. Then, in the blink of an eye, it’s delivered and placed on our shelves here at Sigona’s for you and your family to enjoy. With produce that fresh, no wonder it’s bursting with so many exquisite flavors.

Having forged a close friendship with Paul over the years, I know one of the things he prides himself on the most are his growing techniques. Every piece of produce from his farm is certified California Clean. In a nutshell this basically means that all his succulent fruits are grown sans organic or synthetic pesticides. While Paul’s produce may not be certified organic, his unique and intricate growing techniques are still environmentally friendly and yield the best-tasting fruits you’ve ever had.

Before I could practically finish asking Paul his opinion on which stone fruits are looking especially good right now, he exclaimed excitedly, “The Diamond Ray nectarines! It’s packed full of calcium, zinc and additional minerals that your body craves.”

Having tasted these beauties myself, I can personally attest that you’ll want to try one the next time you’re in the store. I’d also highly suggest the Snow Princess and Ice Princess peaches as well. These fragrant white-flesh peaches possess floral notes with a touch of honey and rose.

Paul says that his peaches are about as perfect as they can be right now due in large part to ideal climate conditions. “While they’re roasting out there in the Midwest and the East, we’ve had a relatively mild summer here so far with only a few days over 100. All early ripening fruits prefer 90-degree weather, which we’ve had, and this allows for 2 to 3 more days on the trees to give them those flavor profiles that people expect and love.”

Sweet Home Ranch is constantly striving to attain the perfect peach, plum, nectarine and more. From tweaking watering patterns to pruning techniques, Paul leaves no leaf unturned.

Paul is equally attentive and dedicated to creating a nourishing family environment for his workers. This enables them to live and thrive as vibrantly as the peaches that are eventually picked from the trees.

“There’s a huge labor shortage in the farming industry right now. This is because the system currently requires six to eight weeks of hard labor, but then workers are laid off. That’s no good,” Paul stated emphatically. “So we find ways to have our employees working year-round – along with two months of vacation for them to travel and visit their families.”

To counter those days of “dead time” when most employees would be laid off, Paul and his wife Ruth diversify their peachy portfolio by making precious preserves. This off-season work increases the amount of days his employees can be compensated for their efforts.

Along with providing his employees with a steady stream of income, Sweet Home Ranch also makes sure its valued workers are surrounded by a safe environment. You might be astonished to know that when it finally gets just too darn hot out there, Paul sends his workers home – paid! “What’s more important: the loss of a few peaches or the potential for heat stroke? Without our workers we’re nothing.”
Sweet Home Ranch now has employees that have been with the company for over two decades. Many of these loyal folks now have kids working for the company. (Hey! That sounds just like Sigona’s Farmers Market!)

As Paul so eloquently put it, “It really is heaven on earth here, except for days when it’s 110 degrees out.”

We look forward to seeing you in the store this summer for the best stone fruit you’ve even tasted. And don’t forget to check out our recipes, including Honey Vanilla Fromage Blanc and my Uncle Carmelo’s Simple Stone Fruit Salad.

June 27, 2012

Eating with the Season

Filed under: Feature Articles, Healthy Living tips — Tags: , , , , — Sigona's @ 10:15 am

Tips for Healthy Living

I’m incredibly excited to announce Geri Wohl as our newest Tips for Healthy Living writer. Geri is a Bay Area-based Certified Nutrition Consultant and Educator with extensive training in holistic and whole foods nutrition focused on emphasizing positive lifestyle changes. Her articles are sure to educate, engage and entertain. Welcome aboard Geri! – Carmelo Sigona

Eating with the Season

Health and Environmental Benefits of Eating with the Season

By Geri Wohl

In our global economy, when we can buy anything at any time, is there any good reason to eat seasonally? In fact, there is.

Buying seasonal fruits and vegetables is more economical. Have you ever looked at the price of asparagus in the fall and then in the spring when it’s in season? Obviously spring is the time to buy those tender stalks.

Local, seasonal produce provides us with optimal flavor and maximum nutrients. The reasons are multifold:

  • The produce is harvested when it’s at its peak of readiness. The ripened produce has the full complement of vitamins and minerals that allow our bodies to thrive! In contrast, food grown remotely has to be picked well before ripeness to account for extra transit time. By picking too early, the produce doesn’t develop its full array of nutrients.
  • The length of time for food shipment affects the vitamins and minerals by allowing break down. Once produce arrives at a typical supermarket after being shipped across the country, it has lost about half of its vitamin C levels, as an example.
  • Seasonal foods taste better. Have you ever bit into a tomato (shipped from South America) in the winter? It has no taste and it’s usually mealy. Compare that to local tomatoes picked at the height of summer when their natural flavors are at their maximum. Delicious! The reason is the same as before — produce picked too early hasn’t had the time to develop all hte nutrients. These nutrients give the produce the flavor that we all cherish.
  • Buying seasonally and locally allows us more variety of plants species. We can buy varieties that are optimized for flavor and nutrition rather than transit robustness.
  • When we buy in the season, we reduce our carbon footprint. Food harvested locally doesn’t need to be shipped across the country and refrigerated extensively; each of us is in effect reducing the emissions into our environment.
Geri Wohl

Geri Wohl, Certified Nutrition Consultant

Our bodies are designed to obtain the maximum benefits of eating foods that are in season. Have you ever noticed that you crave certain foods during certain times of the year? Our family loves all the summertime fruits (right now) that are sweet and juicy. But usually during winter, we want warming foods that can be classified as “comfort foods.” Let me explain:

  • As the seasons rotate, so too do our bodies need to adjust. Before refrigeration, our ancestors had to rely on what was seasonal because they had no means of storing foods for long periods of time.
  • During the fall (which is a transition period), the body is preparing for winter. The body will start to transition to wanting more warming foods (think soup for those cooler nights). You will most likely be eating fruits and vegetables that are orange or yellow in color. These foods, high in vitamin A, will support our immune systems for the upcoming winter colds.
  • Winter is a time when the earth takes a rest. With the cold temperatures, our bodies look for warming foods (i.e. stews and hearty soups). Most fruits are not as available. Root veggies (carrots, potatoes, turnips, and parsnips, for example) are at their peak and provide us with their stored energy supplies.
  • With spring comes the rebirth of the earth, and to a degree, our own rebirth. The body needs to be cleansed of the heavier winter foods. Fortunately, the springtime bounty is full of light, green, leafy veggies (examples include lettuces, kale, spinach, chard, and dandelion greens) that will cleanse us and prepare us for the coming hot, summer months.
  • And finally we have summer. The warm summer days encourage us to be outside. Foods that will nourish us are ones that are refreshing and have a high water content. These replenishing fruits and veggies will cool us down from the hot summer days. It’s also the perfect season to enjoy fruits and veggies in their raw states, which will provide us with a full complement of nutrients. So now that the summer solstice has just past, stock up on your favorite summer produce and enjoy. For a few summer recipes, click on the link http://www.bettereatingcoach.com/recipes.

In future columns, I will focus on various aspects of good and wholesome food ranging from specific foods to generalized nutrition tips. A whole foods diet provides us with the building blocks to health and wellness.

© Geri Wohl, Better Eating Coach

Get Grillin’ with Local, Fresh-Picked Corn

Get Grillin’ with Local, Fresh-Picked Corn

Shuck it, grill it, put it in a salsa — one of the summer favorites is arriving daily at our stores and it doesn’t get any sweeter than fresh-picked. Plus, get a free tote of corn just in time for the 4th of July!

By Robbie Sigona

Ah, summer. Barbeques send swirls of mouth-watering scents through the air, kids run through sprinklers, you favorite fruits are now coming from local growers and iced tea is brewed in the summer sun. Speaking of barbeques, did you know you can cook almost anything on the grill? This includes corn on the cob. There is no reason to heat up the kitchen more than it already is by boiling a large pot of water. Just throw those cobs on the barbie!

Corn is fantastic when grilled, whether it’s left on the cob or sliced off to be used in salsas, salads or other dishes. We have some delicious corn recipes on the blog, including Green Beans with Roasted Corn and Green Onions inspired by Food Network’s Guy Fieri.

Let’s Get Corny

Did you know that a stalk of corn only produces one good ear? It’s true! Our local farmer John Spina only harvests the biggest and best ear from the stalk. Or how about this: did you know you really only need to let corn swim in boiling water for about 2 minutes if that’s the cooking method you choose? Well, corn doesn’t really need to be cooked at all before you eat it – in fact, if you’re in the employee room during corn season, you might just see a Sigona peel back the husks and start eating an ear of corn as is…no cooking required.

There’s nothing like fresh-picked corn on the cob, either dressed up with a smear of butter and a dusting of salt & pepper, or grilled and incorporated into a summer salad. Judging by the popularity of our corn display the majority of you agree. We get daily deliveries of white corn from our friend John Spina of Spina Farms in Morgan Hill. The corn is picked in the morning and delivered to our stores in the afternoon so we have fresh corn every day.

Such a quick turnaround is significant because fresh corn is sweeter. This is because once picked, the sugars in corn begin converting to starch. Same with asparagus. Moral of the story: corn is best eaten as fresh-picked as possible.

One of the biggest myths about corn is that it needs to be cooked for a long while before it’s edible. Even the freshest ear, when cooked too long, can taste starchy and stale. Grilling corn allows its natural sugars to caramelize, which adds another layer of flavor and makes for a more chewy texture. Again, just don’t keep it on the heat for too long. Slice the grilled corn off the cob and incorporate it into a citrus-based salsa and you’ll be the talk of the town!

Meet the Farmer

We’ve worked with the Spina family – John, his father and his son (all named John) – for nearly 40 years. They have a small produce stand of their own in Morgan Hill, too, and used to buy some items from us at our old roadside fruit stands along Old Monterey Highway…back when we were called Coyote Berry Acres. A lot has changed for us since then, but our relationships with farmers have stayed the same. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for our local farmers.

John Spina

John Spina of Spina Farms

Corn got a late start this summer, just like most California produce, but John says the stalks are doing well now and should be in steady production until November.

“We have 150 acres on which we’re growing a few different varieties of white corn this season,” said John. “We grow different varieties each year to find which respond the best to the conditions and farming techniques. Quality is very important to us and we pick only when the corn is at its peak so Sigona’s and its customers get the best.”

In general, white corn is more tender and sweeter than yellow corn, which has a more chewy texture and hardy corn flavor. My Uncle Carmelo remembers when white corn was a rare find in markets; it wasn’t until the 1970s that the demand for white corn grew and farmers began planting more white than yellow. Until that time, yellow corn was the norm – Golden Bantam was popular in the 1950s and Golden Jubilee was the rage in the late 1960s.

In addition to white corn, Spina Farms grows peppers, tomatoes, beans, squash, Indian corn and 67 (yes 67!) different varieties of pumpkins and gourds, many of which you’ll see decorating our stores come fall.

The Spina family also operate the Spina Farms Pumpkin Patch on their farm in the fall, featuring train rides on the Spina Pumpkin Express, hay ride tours of the pumpkin patch and Indian corn field, pumpkin decorating and more. It’s a great destination for the family in the fall and it’s open beginning the last weekend in September through the month of October.

Remember to take advantage of the coupon we’re offering this week…just in time for your 4th of July celebrations! Bring in your coupon and when you spend $30 or more you can walk away with a free tote bag full of corn. Also make sure to check out our recipes for corn, such as Sautéed Corn with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil and Fresh Corn Salad with Black Beans, Tomato and Cilantro.

June 26, 2012

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s Featuring Local Corn

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s Featuring Local Corn

Fresh-picked corn lends itself to a corn-a-copia of delights…sorry, couldn’t resist! Whether on the cob or shaved off and stirred into a dish, don’t miss out on one of summer’s sweetest foods.

Grilled Corn Salad with Lime, Red Chili and Cotija

Grilled Corn Salad

Grilled Corn Salad with Lime, Red Chili and Cotija. Recipe and photo courtesy of The Food Network.

I absolutely love grilled corn in a number of dishes. What I love about this one most is that it’s all done on the grill! No mess to clean up in the kitchen. Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay of The Food Network.

Ingredients

  • 8 ears fresh corn, silks removed, husk on, soaked in cold water 30 minutes
  • Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil, such as Arbequina
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 TBL ancho chili powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup grated cotija cheese
  • 1/4 cup Queso Fresco, for garnish

Directions: Heat grill to high. Grill corn until charred on all sides, 10 or so minutes. Take off the grill and remove the kernels with a sharp knife. While you are cutting the corn, put a cast iron skillet on the grill to heat.

Add the corn and the remaining ingredients to the hot pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until creamy and heated through.

Sprinkle with crumbled Queso Fresco once the dish is plated.

Green Beans with Roasted Corn and Green Onions

green beans corn and tomato

Green Beans with Roasted Corn and Green Onions. Photo and recipe courtesy of The Food Network.

The simplicity of this dish makes for an easy weeknight side or potluck dish for your next summer get-together. Recipe adapted from Guy Fieri of The Food Network.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups fresh green beans, such as Blue Lake beans, ends cut
  • 2 corn on the cob
  • 2 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil, such as Arbequina
  • 1 red onion, large, cut in 1/8-inch rounds
  • 1/4 cup white wine, such as chardonnay
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 3 TBL butter
  • 1/4 cup diced, seeded Roma tomatoes
  • 3 TBL grated Sigona’s Bio Parmesan cheese

Directions: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add green beans and blanch for 3 minutes. Remove from water and put into an ice water bath. Drain.

Heat grill or gas burners. Place cleaned corn on the cob on the grill or burner. Turn corn and lightly brown all the way around. Let cool and slice the kernels off the cob.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add oil, after 45 seconds add onions and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, add green beans, corn, and garlic. Sauté for 4 minutes, deglaze with wine, season with salt and pepper, and butter.

Garnish with Roma tomatoes and Parmesan.

Fresh Corn Salad with Black Beans, Tomato and Cilantro

corn cilantro salad

Corn Cilantro Salad

Delicious with tortilla chips or as a salsa to top grilled Tilapia, local halibut or white seabass this salad is always a hit. Courtesy of Laura H., a Sigona’s fan. Serves about 4.

Ingredients:

  • Juice from 2 limes, about 4 TBLs
  • 4 TBLs olive oil
  • 2 clove garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • A 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Kernels cut from 1-2 ears of white corn (about 1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cups tomatoes (use an assortment of halved cherry tomatoes or use 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped)
  • 1 red onion, minced
  • Half a bell pepper, seeded and diced (look for an orange one to add color to the dish)
  • 3 TBLs minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (add more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (or to taste)
  • Optional: top with diced or sliced avocado when ready to serve.

Directions: In a bowl whisk together lime juice, oil, garlic and salt to taste. Stir in remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Let salad stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, to let flavors develop. Laura recommends making it the night before.

Corn Ice Cream

This recipe comes from Frontera Grill in Chicago, one of the nation’s best known Mexican restaurants, owned and operated by Rick Bayless who’s widely respected as one of our countries premier chef’s and an expert of Mexican cuisine. Makes about a quart.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 (1.5) cups corn kernels
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 (.5) cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 (.5) tsp vanilla
  • 1 pinch of ground cinnamon

Puree the corn with the half-and-half until as smooth as possible. Push the puree through a sieve or strainer to remove big chunks. Put corn puree, sugar and yolk in top of a double boiler and whisk together, cooking and stirring until thickened and starting to steam, about 180ºF. Do not boil. Remove from the heat and cool. Stir in cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Chill until cold and then churn in an ice cream maker according to directions.

Sautéed Corn with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

A summer staple in my house that is incredibly easy to throw together and a great side dish to grilled meat or fish. Serves 4. Adapted from “Joy of Cooking.”

Ingredients:

  • 2 ears of corn, shucked
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (use a variety of tomatoes for added color)
  • A few leaves of basil, sliced thin (use scissors to snip)
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 TBL butter
  • 1 TBL cream, optional

Cut the corn from the cob. Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the corn kernels and cook for 1 min. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for another minutes until juices start to run. Stir in salt, pepper, basil, and cream. Serve.

Keep it on the cob.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

For an impressive presentation, peel back the husk – don’t remove it – to remove the silk. Pull the peeled husk down to the bottom, creating a handle. Take one of the outer husk leaves off and trim it to a thin strip. Use the strip to tie the peeled back husks together with a bow.

Heat grill to medium heat, oil the grates and place the ears directly on the grates. Turn several times as the corn cooks. Keep it on the grill for about 10 minutes or until the husks are charred and are beginning to peel. Serve corn immediately along with butter, salt and pepper. You can also use spiced or herbed butters. Recipes follow.

Boiled Corn on the Cob

  • Use about 1 quart of water per ear of corn
  • Salt

Directions: Bring salted water to a boil. Add the corn and cook for 2-4 minutes. Remove corn using tongs and shake off the extra water. Serve with butter, salt and pepper.

Not-So-Plain Corn on the Cob

Following are a few fancy butter spreads that add fantastic flavor to corn on the cob. Each ingredient combination is enough for about 4 ears of corn.

Herb’s Favorite

  • 3 TBL butter, softened
  • 1 ½ TBL of fresh herbs, such as a combination of parsley, basil, tarragon, chives, sage and chervil

Directions: Combine all ingredients, blending well. Store in a covered airtight container in the refrigerator.

Honey Butter

  • 3 TBL butter, softened
  • 1 TBL Honey Hole Honey Co. honey or organic Agave nectar

Directions: Combine all ingredients, blending well. Store in a covered airtight container in the refrigerator.

Chili Butter – Or – Chili-Lime Butter

  • 2 TBL butter, softened
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • For chili-lime butter, add grated peel of ½ of one lime. Add more if desired.

Directions: Combine all ingredients, blending well. Store in a covered airtight container in the refrigerator.

Lemon & Dill Butter

  • 3 TBL butter, softened
  • 1 tsp fresh dill weed or ½ tsp dried
  • Grated peel of 1/2 lemon
  • Pinch of white pepper

Directions: Combine all ingredients, blending well. Store in a covered airtight container in the refrigerator.

June 13, 2012

Healthy, Quick, Delicious: Local Halibut and White Seabass

Healthy, Quick, Delicious: Local Halibut and White Seabass

Carmelo Sigona with a fresh-caught, wild, local seabass.

These local, line-caught beauties are now at Sigona’s in Redwood City! Come in today for fantastic fillets and more, delivered daily. 

By Carmelo Sigona

This time of year is always my favorite. Not only are we on the verge of being inundated with local, farm-fresh produce delivered within 24 hours of being picked, but it’s also time for the best, most flavorful bounty of the sea to come into season.

It’s local halibut and local white seabass season and we’ve got fresh, wild and line-caught fish fillets at our Redwood City store now! These beauties are locally line-caught and delivered to our store the next day. Wild king salmon is still here too; it’s coming from the Oregon coast for a few weeks – it’s still caught in the morning and flown down to us so we have fresh wild salmon the next day. Our local commercial salmon season reopens June 27th.

Both of these white fish, the halibut and the white seabass, are outstanding, but the white seabass is my favorite. For starters, there is nothing more simple, healthy and delicious than white seabass fish tacos with cabbage-jalapeño slaw. You just marinate the fish in a combination of lime zest and juice, paprika, garlic, oil and salt for a few minutes…the fish soaks up the flavors and presents a huge wow factor in every bite.

Oh, man! I know what I’m having for dinner tonight!

Halibut has a snow-white flesh, firm texture (sometimes called the steak of seafood) and a mild flavor so easily takes on the flavors of other ingredients with which it’s cooked. It’s also naturally lean, packed with fatty Omega-3s to help break down cholesterol and is nutrient-dense. It’s an excellent source of high quality protein, and is rich in selenium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium, all of which are essential in maintaining a healthy, functioning body. Halibut is a popular choice for Cioppino, a seafood stew which has roots in San Francisco. We have a recipe for it,  courtesy of Zest Bakery in San Carlos, as well as other local halibut recipes on our blog too.

Now, the local white seabass. The most important point to note here is that local white seabass is NOT striped bass or Chilean seabass. Not only is it from a different area, it’s from a different family all together. The Monterey Bay Aquarium notes, “The white seabass isn’t a seabass at all – it’s a member of the croaker family and the largest croaker in the Pacific Ocean.”

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has also noted that the local wild, line-caught white seabass is a “Best Choice” sustainable seafood choice, meaning it’s abundant, well managed and fished or farmed in environmentally friendly way. The population of the white seabass has recovered after previous overfishing and is a best-choice alternative to white seabass caught with gillnets. Furthermore, the aquarium encourages people to avoid Chilean seabass as illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing has depleted some populations of Chilean seabass.

Eating-wise, local white seabass is a meaty fish (striped bass, on the other hand, is a soft fish). It has more oil than halibut so it’s more moist; plus it’s more forgiving…it’s likely to still be tender and juicy if overcooked.

You can make a fish lover out of nearly anyone by searing white seabass so it has a nice crust. Pair that with a nice sauce and you have a fancy-pants meal on your hands…er…plate. I have go-to verblanc sauce that’s absolutely fantastic over seared or grilled white seabass. It’s easy to make with only five ingredients, one of which being wine…you can’t go wrong with a wine sauce for fish!

White seabass, just as the halibut, is an excellent source of selenium, which acts as an antioxidant, especially when combined with vitamin E. The fish is also a wonderful, light and lean source of protein. Be sure to check out our other white seabass recipes, including one for Grilled Miso-Marinated White Seabass from local food blogger Jean Pope of Lemons and Anchovies.

Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter posts to know when the freshest deliveries of local white seabass and halibut arrive at our Redwood City store. You’ll love these local, wild fish!

Seven Sensational Scientifically Supported Suggestions to Seek Summer’s Super Fruit (Part 2)

Tips for Healthy Living

We’ve partnered with Dr. Doug Husbands of Holistic Health Bay Area to bring you a new set of Tips for Healthy Living. Dr. Husbands is a functional medicine doctor, clinical nutritionist, anti-aging health practitioner and doctor of chiropractic. I appreciate that he encourages visiting the doctor to focus on staying healthy instead of only visiting when you’re sick.– Carmelo Sigona

Cherries Should be Enjoyed with Great Gusto

Scientifically-Supported Suggestions to Seek Summer’s Super Fruit (Part 2)

By Dr. Douglas Husbands

In the previous edition of Healthy Living Tips, we reviewed three of the seven health-promoting reasons to enjoy cherries. Those three reasons we discussed are below. In this edition, we’ll look at four more sensational scientifically supported suggestions to seek summer’s super fruit. — cherries!

  1. Anti-Inflammatory/Pain Relief Effects
  2. Very Powerful Antioxidant Effects
  3. Promotes Deep Restful Sleep and Brain Cell Repair
  4. Anti-Cancer Compounds: Cherries also contain ellagic acid. Ellagic acid is a naturally occurring plant phenolic known to have anti-carcinogenic/anti-mutagenic effects. Research studies presented in John Boik’s 2001 book titled “Natural Compounds in Cancer Therapy” indicate that ellagic acid may be the most effective way to prevent cancer. Cherries are also high in perillyl alcohol (POH). POH is an extremely powerful substance decreasing the occurrence of all types of cancer (1). POH inhibits cancer cell growth by depriving them of the proteins they need to grow.
  5. Protection of Arterial Walls: A “side benefit” of the powerful antioxidant effects of cherries is you get decreased oxidation of the “bad” cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL). Oxidation of LDL (oxoLDL) cholesterol leads to the damaging effects on the inner walls of the arteries which induces plaque formation, with narrowing and hardening of the arteries (2). The importance of decreasing oxidation of LDL cannot be overemphasized, as it is one of the fundamental processes involved in heart disease development and progression (see article “The Case Against Lowering Cholesterol For Decreased Risk of Heart Disease”). With an Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of 3622 for either 8 ounces of cherry juice or 1 ounce of cherry juice concentrate, the high ORAC accounts for the decreased levels of oxoLDL.
  6. Improved Athletic Recovery and Performance: Researchers at the University of Vermont gave 12 ounces of unsweetened, tart, cherry juice or a placebo twice a day for eight days to 14 college men. After 4 days the men were instructed to perform a strenuous weight lifting exercise of 2 sets for 20 repetitions each. Loss of strength after exercise was 22% in the placebo group, and only 4% in those drinking the cherry juice. Post-exercise pain was also significantly decreased in those who drank the cherry juice. The researcher’s conclusions: “…consumption of tart cherry juice before and after eccentric exercise significantly reduced symptoms of muscle damage.” (3).
  7. Healthy-Aging: When you have a food that provides powerful anti-inflammatory effects, anti-oxidant properties, promotes deep restful sleep, anti-cancer compounds, protects the arterial walls, and improves athletic recovery and performance, consuming that food as much and as often as possible will give you healthy-aging effects.

So while cherries are in season during these summer months, eat-up abundantly of this summer super fruit!

References

1. Greenwald P. Clinical trials in cancer prevention: Current results and perspectives for the future. J Nutr 2004;134:35075-35125.
2. Atherosclerosis 2010;208:396-405
3. Connolly D, McHugh M, Padilla-Zkour O, et.al. Efficacy of tart cherry juice in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage. Br J Sports Med 2006;40:679-83.

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May 30, 2012

Sexual Chocolate 2010: Just Enjoy It

Sexual Chocolate 2010: Just Enjoy It

by Andy Coffaro

An Interview with Marketing Guru Bo Silliman of SLO Down Wines

By now the story of Mark Zuckerberg’s creation of Facebook from his Harvard dorm is the stuff of legend and, literally, a movie. If marketing mastermind Bo Silliman and his cast of calculatingly brilliant juvenile cronies at SLO Down Wines continue their current meteoric rise, they just might find their own story appearing on the big screen someday.

Bo, along with fellow vino lovers Brandon Allen and Chip Forsythe, started SLO Down Wines as a bootlegging operation on the campus of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo around eight years ago. As their reputation grew on campus as the go-to dudes for booze, they started to take the venture a bit more seriously and eventually mastered the magnificently decadent Sexual Chocolate 2010, which is now available at Sigona’s Farmers Market.

sexual chocolate 2010

Sexual Chocolate 2010’s wine labels, featuring No. 2 pencil writing, makes it to track down in the store

Sexual Chocolate 2010 is a blend of 75% old-vine Zinfandel from Napa’s Howell Mountain and 25% Santa Barbara Syrah. “It features really, really deep and dark fruit. It has a velvety mouth feel, is super smooth and pairs well with another bottle of Sexual Chocolate, which then pairs well with yet another bottle,” Bo joked with me over the phone this week. When I told him both my girlfriend and I were feeling pretty darn warm and fuzzy after only one glass this past Friday night, Bo said, “That tingling means it’s working!”

The god of wine himself, Bacchus, would be proud.

Standing Out Amongst the Grapes

The first thing you’ll probably notice in our store when you visit the Sexual Chocolate display is the bottle’s label. It looks as if it were written by hand with a number 2 pencil and features poetic prose such as, “We started making wine knowing it would be used for late night drinking, and that the French are annoying; We came up with this full-bodied red that pairs well with Wednesday nights and pizza.”

Spend just a few minutes on their company blog and you’ll instantly realize that these guys are all about having a good time, making people laugh, great wine and breaking down the preconceived notions of what it means to market in the wine industry. Even the name of the wine itself comes from the 1988 classic “Coming to America” featuring Eddie Murphy (you know, back when he was actually funny).

“Everything we do, whether it’s jokes on our website or the wine in the bottle, is very calculated. Combined we have over 15 years of branding, marketing and packaging experience. At the end of the day, we wanted to strip the intimidation factor off of the wine. We want people to be able to actually pronounce it.”

I could hear and feel Bo’s fierce passion flooding through the phone. “The wine is genuine. That’s why we don’t get lumped in with other gimmicky wines out there. We know what’s relevant, which is why the people that get it, love it!”

Getting Away with It

“The only reason we can do this kind of funny stuff is because the wine is good.” Bo couldn’t be more correct. (Or maybe he could. I don’t know. Sounds like it would take math to figure that out.)

Sexual Chocolate 2010 is a full-bodied red that practically makes your head explode with joy just by smelling it. The 14.5% alcohol content is by no means overpowering, but I can personally attest that when you reach the end of your first bottle you might weep with despair like an infant if another isn’t standing nearby for instant consumption.

What really impressed me while talking with Bo is that he doesn’t really seem to care about fancy adjectives and ridiculous alliterations to describe his wine. At one point he bluntly stated, “Punch it with a screwdriver and drink it while camping.”

This is the beauty of Sexual Chocolate 2010. One could very easily use fancy language to describe all the elements of this blend. But who cares. Order a pizza, snag some burgers, call up a few friends (or have it on-hand for date night) and just enjoy it. Save the bourgeois B.S. for pretentious and overpriced wine tours in Napa.

The “Oh Crap!” Moments

Before Bo and his close friends were slinging wine like bootleggers during Prohibition, he was studying premed at the University of Louisville. I asked him if he ever had any “Oh crap! What am I doing?” moments when he left school to swan dive directly into the epicenter of the wine universe.

bo with wine

Bo delivering wine to the thirsty masses

“Of course I did. I would be a complete fraud if I didn’t say I had those moments. But at the same time, Brandon and I were recently drinking beers with Dave Phinney [considered by many in the wine industry to be a total rock star] and he told us he loved our wine and that we’d be super successful with it. That helps to wash away those ‘What am I doing?’ moments.”

“Most of my friends are married. They’re having kids. They’re buying homes. But at the end of the day, I still don’t have that ‘Oh crap’ moment – probably because I’m drunk off my own wine, which is pretty cool!”

What’s on Tap

Bo said the 2010 Sexual Chocolate vintage is pretty close to selling out. Since there’s only 3-4 more months left of this wine, you might want to snag a bottle or three inside Sigona’s before it’s too late.

In terms of what’s on the horizon for Bo and his cast of SLO Down merry men, he said we can expect the 2011 Sexual Chocolate to hit the shelves possibly by this fall or early 2013 at the latest. He also mentioned that they’ve been doing some barrel sampling for a small production of a new cab blend called LoveHammer. “It pairs well with lamb and big cheeseburgers,” he said.

“We’ll also be rolling out a Chardonnay blend so be on the lookout for it. It’s going to be called …”

After telling me the name of this new white, but confessing that the moniker hadn’t been trademarked yet, Bo said while laughing, “Put that name in your article and I’ll punch you in the face!”

Dully noted Bo. If anything, that will make for a hilarious scene in the SLO Down Wine movie that no doubt will be playing soon in a theater near you.

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