What's Tasty at Sigona's Farmers Market

July 24, 2012

Free Wild Persimmon Honey

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July 11, 2012

Free Local, Farm Fresh Pastured Eggs from Wattle and Comb in Pescadero, Calif.

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July 3, 2012

Sigona’s Fresh Press Olive Oil of the Month: July 2012

Sigona’s Fresh Press Olive Oil of the Month: July 2012

July means sunny skies, celebrating our independence on the 4th and summer barbeques with friends and family. And what barbeque would be complete without a piece of mouth-watering, extra-virgin-olive-oil drizzled bread adorning your plate?

That’s why we’re excited to let you know that our fresh pressed extra virgin olive oils from the southern hemisphere have just arrived in the store. The first oil we’re going to feature is Empeltre from Chile. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to drink a salad, taste a sample the next time you’re in the store – just be careful of that peppery goodness on the back end.

Sigona’s July 2012 Olive Oil of the Month

Empeltre (from Chile)

This oil:

  • Is like eating a salad
  • Boast notes of celery, fresh lettuce and additional vegetables
  • Delivers a jolt of throat-closing pepper on the back end
  • Packs a robust polyphenol count of 398

Try this recipe from Veronica Foods

Super Robust Olio Nuovo Empeltre EVOO Focaccia with Rosemary & Caramelized Shallots

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups all purpose, unbleached flour
  • 2 cups lukewarm water; filtered if possible
  • 1 cup cooled, unseasoned, mashed russet potatoes
  • 1/3 cup + 1/3 cup + more for drizzling of Sigona’s fresh pressed Empeltre EVOO
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 medium shallots thinly sliced
  • 1 package active dried yeast, or 2 1/4 teaspoons
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves rough chopped
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Sea salt to taste

Directions:

If making the dough in your bread machine, follow its instructions for the order of adding ingredients. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, sugar and yeast. Allow the yeast to bloom for about 5 minutes. Add 1/3 cup of olive oil, mashed potatoes and sea salt. Mix to combine.

breadWith the mixer running on the lowest speed, begin to add the flour, cup by cup, until the dough has come together and becomes elastic and just slightly tacky. Reserve any leftover flour for rolling the dough out.

Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for one hour.

On a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment, gently push the dough to the edges, using fingertips to stretch it and make dimpled indentations. Cover and allow the dough to rise for another hour in a warm place.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Distribute the thinly slices shallots and rosemary evenly over the focaccia. Drizzle with the remaining 1/3 cup of Sigona’s fresh pressed Empeltre EVOO. Add a sprinkle of fresh ground pepper and sea salt.

Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes until golden brown. While still hot out of the oven, drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil to taste. Serve warm and enjoy.

Click here for more great recipes!

June 13, 2012

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s Featuring Local White Seabass

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s Featuring Local White Seabass

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has noted that 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. It’s a better choice than Chilean seabass, which is often a victim of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

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. We hope you enjoy the variety of recipes!

Grilled Miso-Marinated White Seabass

Grilled Miso-Marinated Sea Bass. Photo and recipe courtesy of local food blogger Jean Pope of Lemons and Anchovies.

Grilling gives the fish a little crust that sears in the juices and makes for a nice, flavorful and delicious fish. Serve this with a flavor-infused rice or cous cous. Recipe courtesy of local food blogger Jean Pope of Lemons and Anchovies. Serves 2.

Ingredients:

  • Two large white seabass fillets
  • 3 TBL miso paste
  •  Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 TBL rice vinegar
  • 2 TBL kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
  • 6 TBL oil

Directions: To prepare the fish, combine all the ingredients above from the miso paste to the oil and marinate the fish for at least a couple of hours.  Grill on both sides according to your preferred doneness.

Seared Local White Seabass with a Parsnip-Carrot Puree

Local fish served with pureed veggies seems to be all the rage at local restaurants this time of year, and it’s a simple dish I’ve recreated at home many times. I love adding wine to my purees as it adds another nice dimension with a little citrus twist. Serves 2. – Carmelo Sigona

Puree:

  • 2 parsnips, peeled and evenly chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and evenly chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine, such as a citrusy sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio (or use chicken/veggie stock)
  • Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

White Seabass:

  • 2 white seabass fillets (about 5-6 oz. ea.)
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest (from about half a lemon)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil

Directions: bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the carrots and parsnips and cook until fork tender. Drain and puree in a food processor or blender along with the wine, olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the puree back in the pan and keep warm.

Preheat non-stick sauté pan on medium high heat for at least 1 minute. Season the white seabass with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add the olive oil to the pan and then add the fish. Let it sear on one side, without moving, for 2-3 minutes or until golden. Repeat on the other side. Cover and allow the fish to finish cooking through, about 2 minutes more.

Serve fish atop the pureed veggies.

Carmelo’s Go-To Verblanc Sauce

This sauce is easy to make and goes deliciously with white seabass or other white-flesh fish. It’s my go to for any fish, whether it be local wild king salmon, local halibut or local white seabass. Oh, my mouth waters just thinking about it! Simple drizzle the sauce over grilled, baked or pan-seared fish. Makes enough for 2 servings. – Carmelo Sigona

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 2 TBL cup lemon juice
  • 2 TBL capers
  • 1 chopped parsley
  • 1 TBL cold butter, cubed

Directions: to a small sauté pan over medium high heat, add the wine and lemon juice. Reduce by half and add the capers and the cold butter. Turn the flame to medium low, stir constantly. The sauce will start to emulsify itself as the liquid from the butter steams out so the sauce will thicken naturally. Stir in the parsley as the sauce finishes then drizzle over prepared fish and enjoy.

Steamed White Seabass with Tomato Confit

Steamed White Seabass with Tomato Confit. Recipe and photo courtesy of Michael Gardiner of San Diego Food & Travel.

Recipe courtesy of Michael Gardiner of San Diego Food & Travel who notes he prefers “food prepared simply but with care using marvelous ingredients at the height of freshness.” Michael originally made this dish with halibut but says you can’t go wrong with either fish. Serves 4.

For the Tomato Confit:

  • 12 Roma tomatoes
  • 1/4 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For the White Seabass:

  • 4 fillets of white seabass, about 1/4 lb
    each (Halibut would work too)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 4 large spinach leaves

For the Garnish:

  • Sigona’s Traditional Balsamic
  • Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil
  • Steamed baby zucchini (optional)
  • Finishing salt (such as Himalayan or Hawaiian)

Tomato Confit: Bring a kettle of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, score the tomatoes on the end opposite the stem. Place the tomatoes in a large bowl and pour the boiling water over the tomatoes. Let them sit until the skin peels easily – about fifteen to twenty seconds. Drain tomatoes and cover with ice. Peel when cool and cut into quarters. Place in a small saucepan with thyme, oil, salt and pepper.  Bring to an ever-so-brief boil over high heat, then reduce a simmer. Simmer until they have completely lost their texture (for about one hour).

Fish: Bring about three inches of water to a boil in a pot to which you can fit a steamer basket. Briefly rinse the fillets under running water. Dry them, season them with kosher salt and pepper and place the fillets over a piece of spinach in the basket of a steamer. When the water in the pot reaches a rolling boil place the basket over the pot and steam the fish for ten minutes or until they just flake.

Plating: Place a white seabass fillet on each plate, topped with some of the tomato confit.  Sprinkle some finishing salt on top of the tomato confit.  Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic around the plate to be incorporated with each bite of the fish. Serve with steamed baby zucchini (optional).

White Seabass with Coconut, Lime, & Lemongrass Curry Sauce

The white seabass goes deliciously with the curry broth, which has flavors of lemongrass, coconut, and lime. Plus, it’s surprisingly light, refreshing, and not soupy in the slightest. Recipe courtesy of Heather Wetzel of the food blog Chik n’ Pastry. Serves 4.

White Seabass with Coconut, Lime, & Lemongrass Curry Sauce. Recipe and photo courtesy of Heather Wetzel of the food blog Chik n’ Pastry.

Sauce:

  • 1 TBL butter
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, thinly sliced
  • 1-inch knob ginger, roughly peeled & thinly sliced
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves (optional; see lime juice*)
  • 1 TBL curry powder, such as Madras
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 can canned coconut milk (do NOT use light here)
  • 4 cilantro sprigs
  • sea salt, or kosher salt, to taste
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 TBL fresh lime juice (*or more if not using kaffir leaves – use 1 TBL for each leaf)

White Seabass:

  • 2 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil, such as Arbequina
  • 4 (7 oz. ea.) white seabass fillets, 1 1/2 inches thick, skin on
  • salt and pepper

Veggie side :

  • 1/2 stick butter (can omit or add less)
  • fine sea salt
  • 4 heads of baby boy choy, divided in half
  • kosher salt

Starch:

  • 7-8 oz. vermicelli style noodles

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 F. Start a large pot of salted water and butter to boiling. This will be for the baby bok choy.

To make the broth for the fish, melt butter in a separate medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, lime leaves, and curry and sweat until tender and with no color, about 5-6 minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk and cilantro and simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Strain through fine strainer and set aside, keeping warm. Stir in 1 TBL lime juice.

Put 2 TBL of oil in one large (oven-safe) skillet, or if using large fillets, divide it into 2 skillets. Place over high heat until hot. Season white seabass on both sides with salt & pepper. Place in skillet (skin side down) and sauté until golden brown and crusted on the bottom, about 2 1/2 minutes. Turn and sear on the other side for 30 seconds. Put pans in the oven and roast until a metal skewer can be easily inserted in the fish and the fish is cooked through, about 6-7 minutes.

To the pot of boiling water and butter, add bok choy and cook until crisp and tender, about 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a sheet pan in the fridge to “shock” and stop cooking, retaining the bright green color. SAVE THE WATER and bring it back up to boil.

While the fish are roasting and the boy choy is in the fridge, add the noodles to the boiling water and remove the pot from the heat. Let sit for a few minutes until noodles are soft. Drain.

To plate, add a small mound of noodles to the bottom of a large bowl. Place fish on top and 2 halves of bok choy around. Pour 1/4 of broth over the fish. Squeeze a little lime juice on top (~1 TBL for all 4 bowls). Voila!! Serve and enjoy.

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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June 12, 2012

Fresh Cherry Cobbler with Pasta Frolla and Mascarpone Ice Cream

Fresh Cherry Cobbler with Mascarpone Ice Cream

Fresh Cherry Cobbler with Mascarpone Ice Cream. Recipe and photo courtesy of Luisa Ormonde of Luisa’s Catering in San Carlos.

A dish perfect to celebrate the local cherry season! Recipe and photo courtesy of Luisa Ormonde of Luisa’s Catering in San Carlos. Luisa says, “I love traditional cherry cobbler but wanted to give it an Italian twist! Here is my version with a Pasta Frolla crust (Italian-style Shortbread), a brandy and cinnamon laced cherry filling and a homemade mascarpone ice cream.”

Mascarpone Ice Cream (makes about 1 quart):

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 egg yolks (we recommend local Wattle & Comb pastured eggs, sold only at Sigona’s!)
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Pasta Frolla:

  • 1 whole egg (we recommend local Wattle & Comb pastured eggs — if using the PeeWee eggs, increase to one more)
  • 1 egg yolk (we recommend local Wattle & Comb pastured eggs)
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 8 TBL (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and diced
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated

Fresh Cherry Filling:

  • 1 lb. fresh cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 TBL unsalted butter, melted
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2 TBL cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • splash of brandy

For the mascarpone ice cream: In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until fluffy and lighter in color. Set aside. Combine the milk and cream in a medium saucepan and just bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

While beating the egg yolk mixture, pour in a small spoonful of the hot milk mixture and continue to beat. Repeat process with a larger spoonful, while beating, then repeat. Next, scoop all the egg yolk mixture into the hot milk mixture. Return heat to medium-low. Cook about 8-10 minutes longer, stirring frequently with a spatula to scrape all corners of the bottom of the pot. Do not let boil. The custard should be just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, but have no lumps.

Chill the custard 4 hours or overnight. Blend in the mascarpone and vanilla until smooth in texture. Follow your ice cream maker’s instructions to churn into ice cream. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for 2 hours to firm up.

For the pasta frolla*: In a food processor or standing mixer, pulse ingredients until a ball forms. In a mixer, use the paddle attachment to mix ingredients until a ball forms. Wrap dough in parchment paper. Flatten and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Open up parchment paper to reveal dough, dust with flour and flip over. Lightly dust top of dough with flour, and roll dough about ¼-inch thick (this might make more than you need for the cobbler so it’s a great time to make cookies with the scraps!)

To complete: Preheat the oven to 350°.

Pour cherry mixture into a 1-quart casserole dish. Top it with pasta frolla dough. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and cherries are bubbly.

Serve with mascarpone ice cream and garnish with powdered sugar, cinnamon, fresh cherry (or lemon twist).

*Pasta frolla by hand: Work all ingredients in a bowl with your hands, smashing butter pieces with the tips of your fingers. When the dough starts coming together, transfer to a work surface, and knead for 30 seconds. Wrap dough in parchment paper. Flatten and refrigerate for 1 hour.

June 4, 2012

Sigona’s Fresh Press Olive Oil of the Month: June 2012

Sigona’s Fresh Press Olive Oil of the Month: June 2012

Since the last time we chatted, the sun has been shining brightly over the Bay Area, our San Francisco Giants have been gaining ground on those pesky Los Angeles Dodgers and the Facebook IPO was about as underwhelming as a stale cracker.

Fledgling stocks aside, June is the ideal time to dust off that BBQ, call up a few friends and enjoy delicious dishes created with Sigona’s fresh produce. That’s why we’ve provided you with a truly astounding pizza pie that will have your friends and family “oohing” and “ahhing” with pleasure. It’s even the perfect dish for dad on Father’s Day.

With that said, here is June’s extra virgin olive oil of the month from Sigona’s Farmers Market that will have your pizza tasting fantastic

Sigona’s June 2012 olive oil of the month

Nocellara From Argentina

This oil:

  • is buttery and light up front while possessing a fruity middle
  • has a slick kick of pepper on the finish
  • contains a polyphenol count of 223

Try this recipe from Veronica Foods

Grilled Thin Crust Pizza With Fresh Fava Bean Pesto & Arugula Salad with Gremolata Vinaigrette

Fresh Fava Bean & Goat Cheese Pesto

  • 3 pounds fresh fava bean pods
  • 2 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup Nocellara Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Argentina
  • 1/3 cup fresh goat cheese (If you don’t like goat cheese, we have some awesome French Bries on sale this week that would work well)
  • 1/4 cup really good quality Pecorino Romano

Directions: Have a medium bowl of ice water prepared. Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to boil. Shell the fava beans and add to the salted water. Blanch the fava beans for 2 minutes and then add to the bowl of ice water. Allow to cool. Slip the peel off each bean and place in to a food processor with all the other ingredients. Pulse until pureed and creamy. Adjust seasoning to taste and reserve. This pesto sauce can also be used over pasta, on bruschetta, or as a dip for veggies.

Thin Crust Nocellara Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Argentina Pizza Dough

  •  4 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 cups warm 110 degree spring or filtered water
  • 1/3 cup Nocellara Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Argentina
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Note: A quickie alternative you’ll find in our stores is Vicolo organic corn meal pizza crust and Lomonica par-baked pizza crust. Both are excellent.

Directions: If using a bread machine follow the instructions for adding ingredients to the machine. If mixing in a mixer or by hand, combine the sugar and water and yeast in a large bowl or mixer bowl. Allow to sit for five minutes. Add the olive oil and salt. Begin mixing in the flour. It will be fairly wet but avoid the temptation to add more flour. Knead for approximately 3 minutes until the dough is relatively smooth and cohesive. Allow to rise for 1 hour covered in a warm place. Divide and shape or roll the dough in to two large thin crust pizzas or three medium thin crust pizzas. Makes enough dough for 2 large or three medium thin crust pizzas

Simple Arugula Salad with Gremolata Vinaigrette

  • 5 cups baby arugula, washed and dried
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup Gremolata Olive Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper to taste

Directions: Just before the pizza is ready to be taken off the grill, combine the lemon juice with the sea salt. Whisk in the gremolata olive oil and season with pepper. Adjust seasoning and gently toss the arugula with the vinaigrette.

Grilled Thin Crust Pizza With Fava Bean Pesto & Arugula Salad With Gremolata Vinaigrette

  • Prepared pizza dough above
  • Fava Bean Pesto
  • 1 pound fresh buffalo mozzarella fresca, thinly sliced
  • Simple Arugula Salad with Gremolata Vinaigrette

Directions: Add approximately 1/3 cup of pesto to each medium pizza or 1/2 cup to each large pizza. Add a layer of mozzarella, season with a little sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Grill or bake at a minimum of 500 degrees, preferably on a preheated pizza stone, or on a large, inverted, preheated cast iron skillet. Depending on how hot you can get your oven or grill, the cooking time will be anywhere between 5-10 minutes. You are looking for golden brown crust and bubbling cheese. Remove from the oven and top with the prepared Simple Arugula Salad and serve immediately.

Serves 6-8

May 30, 2012

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s featuring Cherries

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s featuring Cherries

Cherries are delicious eaten on their own, but they add new level of flavor to savory dishes and grilled meats, such as pork. One of our customers even replaces tomatoes with cherries in their homemade salsa! Remember, cherries have pits in the middle so be careful when biting into them.

Smoked Turkey and Cherry Salad with a Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette

This salad recipe, inspired by this one on the California Cherry Advisory Board website, is a great way to use fresh cherries and our cherry balsamic. Serves 4.

For the salad:

  • 1 head Romaine lettuce, medium-chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup diced green onion, some green included
  • 2 small mandarins, oranges or tangerines, segmented (all skin and membranes removed)
  • 1 cup smoked turkey, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2/3 cup California Bing cherries, washed, halved & pitted

For the balsamic vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 cup Sigona’s Fresh Press extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 TBL Sigona’s Cherry balsamic
  • 1 TBL stone-ground mustard
  • 1 tsp honey or organic Agave nectar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions: Toss all salad ingredients together, except cherries, in a large bowl.

Add all the vinaigrette ingredients, except the EVOO, in a small bowl and whisk to mix. Slowly drizzle in the EVOO and whisk quickly to emulsify the mixture.

Reserving 1 TBL, drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to coat. Add the cherries to the reserved vinaigrette and toss to coat.

Arrange salad on individual plates, sprinkle with cherries and serve immediately.

 

Balsamic-Drizzled Summer Stone Fruit over Creamy Gelato

Stone fruits are just coming into season, and though I prefer to eat them out of hand, they’re delicious when roasted, drizzled with balsamic (especially an infused balsamic) and served over ice cream or gelato. Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 12+ cherries, halved with the pit removed
  • 2 other stone fruits, such as peaches, apricots, plums or nectarines, quartered with the pit removed
  • 1/2 cup Sigona’s cherry balsamic
  • 1 pint of Vanilla Bean gelato (we recommend Gelato Massimo; it’s made in Watsonville!)
  • 4 mint leaves, for garnish (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare fruits as directed.

Place fruits in a baking dish and drizzle with Sigona’s cherry balsamic. Roast fruit for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, scoop gelato into four dessert bowls. Place equal amounts of roasted fruit in the bowls and drizzle with more balsamic (leftovers from the baking dish and/or a drizzle of more from the bottle). Place a mint leaf in each bowl (optional) and serve immediately.

 

Local, Wild King Salmon Alaskan Salmon with Roasted Cherries and Pistachios

Wild King Salmon with Roasted Cherries and Pistachios. Recipe and photo courtesy of Danielle Krupa, owner and founder of Wellness Made Natural, LLC.

Cherries and local, wild salmon seem to have made a pact to come into season around the same time. The two paired together make for an outstanding flavor combination! Recipe and photo courtesy of Danielle Krupa, owner and founder of Wellness Made Natural, LLC.  Danielle says, “I can’t stress enough the importance of using a cherry pitter for this recipe.  Unless of course you like having pink fingers and high frustration levels.” Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound (about 3 cups) cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme
  • 2 teaspoons chopped oregano
  • 4 (4-6 oz.) wild king salmon fillets
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, chopped

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, toss together cherries, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, agave nectar, thyme and oregano. Arrange salmon skin-side down on a large parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Scatter cherry mixture over and around salmon and bake 12-15 minutes.  Switch oven to broil and cook an additional 3 minutes until salmon is just cooked through and cherries are juicy and caramelized, (you want the thickest part of the fish to reach an internal temperature of 131 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer). Remove the salmon from the oven and allow to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Drizzle arugula with remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice, olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper; divide among 4 plates.  Top greens with salmon fillet and 1/4 of the cherries.  Make sure to spoon out some of the cooking juice and drizzle over salmon.  Sprinkle 1/4 of the pistachios over each dish and serve.

Raw Cherry Pie

Raw Cherry Pie recipe and photos courtesy of Monika Soria Caruso of Windy City Vegan.

Sometimes baking things is just too much work! Why not opt for a raw cherry pie – not only does it save you time and keep your kitchen cool, but keeping the ingredients raw maintains the integrity of  the ingredient’s nutrients, such as the beta carotene in cherries. Did you know cherries contain 19 times more beta carotene than blueberries and strawberries? Recipe and photos courtesy of food blogger Monika Soria Caruso Windy City Vegan and Chew on This.

Crust:

  • 2/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup sweet sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup alt milk, preferably unsweetened
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups pitted cherries (do not drain!)
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 2 scant TBL kudzu starch
  • 1/4 cup cold filtered water
  • optional: agave, sweeten to taste

Go ahead and have a slice or two! Photo courtesy of Monika Soria Caruso of Windy City Vegan.

Directions: Lightly grease your pie or tart pan (standard size for a round pie, or 8″ square) and set aside. Combine all of the crust ingredients in a large bowl and stir vigorously until completely mixed. The dough will resemble wet sand. If you need to soften your coconut oil, do so using a warm water bath or double boiler method. Do not place the oil over direct heat. Turn the dough out into your pan and pat it into place. Transfer the pan to your refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Combine the cherries and strawberries in a small bowl and set aside. In a small cup, combine the kudzu and water and stir to make a slurry. In a small saucepan, slowly heat the slurry until it begins to thicken. If you are keeping this recipe 100% raw, use your sense of touch to ensure the slurry remains lukewarm (or use a candy thermometer to keep it just under 115 degrees F). It will take 10-15 minutes to start to thicken. If you aren’t opposed to heating the starch briefly, then raise the temperature until the slurry is not quite at a simmer – it will thicken almost instantly. Allow the slurry to cool to room temperature, then combine with the fruit. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours and it will thicken nicely.

After a 2+ hours have passed, pour the pie filling into the crust. Continue to refrigerate for at least another hour before serving. This is best if eaten within 48 hours – after that the filling will begin to seep into the crust.

Scientifically-Supported Suggestions to Seek Summer’s Super Fruit (Part 1)

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 1)

By Dr. Douglas Husbands

Cherries are a summer treat that should be enjoyed with great gusto. Not only for their sweet and tart juiciness, their deep dark and bright reddish colors, and their versatility for use in salads, pies, other desserts, but also for their myriad of health benefits.

In fact, cherries have so many health benefits, listing them will require a 2-part article. In part 1 of this 2-part Sigona’s Tips for Healthy Living article, I’ll give you three of the seven health-promoting reasons to enjoy this super fruit.

  1. Anti-Inflammatory/Pain Relief Effects: If you suffer from any joint or muscle pain, including arthritis, muscle pain or gout, then tart cherries are the fruit for you. The Montmorency or Balaton species of cherries are the more tart ones. The sweet Bing cherries also appear to have anti-inflammatory effects. A study (1) performed at UC Davis found that when healthy women ate about 9 ½ ounces of Bing cherries after an overnight fast for 6 days, they showed a 15 percent reduction in uric acid levels and C-reactive protein levels for 5 hours after eating the cherries. C-reactive protein and uric acid are objective markers of inflammation seen on laboratory tests. Other studies seem to confirm the findings of the anti-inflammatory effects of cherries.
  2. Very Powerful Antioxidant Effects: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial studies using the tart Montmorency or Balaton cherries have indicated they provide very powerful antioxidant effects. In a study featuring older adults between 61 and 75 years old, they drank 8 ounces of a commercially available cherry juice twice daily for 14 days. This resulted in a significant decrease in oxidative stress (2). One of the objective indicators for decreased oxidative stress in the study, 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine, is an indicator for DNA oxidative damage. The study showed decreased 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine levels in the cherry juice drinkers. The significance of this finding is that in only 14 days of drinking an 8-ounce glass of  tart cherry juice twice a day, older adults showed a statistically significant decrease in the damage to their DNA! As I’ve written about in other articles, what you eat affects your genes!
  3. Promotes Deep Restful Sleep and Brain Cell Repair: Cherries, in particular the Montmorency and Balaton species, are high in the antioxidant hormone melatonin. Both these species contain significant amounts of melatonin, but according to an article published in the October 2001 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Montmorency cherries contain 6 times the amount of melatonin than Balanton cherries. Research studies confirm that melatonin is readily absorbed by our body when taken by mouth. Melatonin is not only an important powerful antioxidant for our brain, but also it also regulates our ability to attain restorative and deep sleep. It helps repair our brain during sleep as well.

As you can see from just these three reasons, cherries are a super fruit you should take advantage of, especially while the fresh fruit is in season. I recommend you buy only organic cherries, because they hold onto pesticides very tightly compared to some other fruits. I also recommend you consume fresh whole cherries more so than the juice alone because of the fiber and other components in the whole fruit that can be missing in the fruit juice.

Stay tuned for the next Sigona’s Tips for Healthy Living issue to find out what the other four “sensational scientifically-supported suggestions to seek summers super fruit” are! Or if you can’t wait, and want to find out more tips to improve your specific health issues using a Functional Medicine approach, contact my office at 650-802-8700 extension 0 to schedule.

References:

  1. Jacob R, Spinozzi G, Simon V, et. al. Consumption of cherries lowers plasma urate in healthy women. J Nutr 2003;133:1826-29.
  2. Traustadottir T, Davies S, Stock, A, et. al. Tart cherry juice decreases oxidative stress in healthy older men and women J Nutr 2009;139:1896-1900

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May 16, 2012

Last of Springtime’s Local Artichokes

Free Bag of ‘Chokes

Last of the local springtime artichokes available now — plus, get a bag free this week.

By Robbie Sigona

There are many reasons why I love artichokes. The flavor of locally grown artichokes – baby or regular-sized – is unmatchable, but the reason I love them the most is because of how a few simply steamed chokes brings everyone to the table for a fun appetizer.

To celebrate this incredible vegetable, we’re offering a free bag of four ‘chokes this week (May 16 – 22) with your coupon when you spend $30 or more!

There is nothing better than watching children peel off a leaf, choose their favorite dip, scrape off the artichoke meat with their teeth and toss the used leaf in the dump bowl – they love it! It’s one of those hands-on dishes where it’s ok to be messy and share a laugh together.

Artichokes are available year-round, but the best time of year for fantastic artichokes is now. Nearly 80 percent of the artichokes grown in California come from Monterey County, home to Castroville, the “Artichoke Capital of the World.” The climate in Monterey County is perfect: the warm and cool air masses meet there, creating summer fog and cool, not-so-dry weather. Artichokes love it.

One of the best-known farms in Castroville is Pezzini Farms. It was founded in the 1930s and is still run by the Pezzini family. We’ve partnered with Pezzini Farms for years to bring in fresh-picked artichokes that are picked, packed and delivered to our stores in less than 24 hours!

If you drive along Route 156 in Castroville, you’ll still see the original farm stand, which has been in operation just about as long as the farm has. Some customers return generation after generation, making it a family tradition to visit the Pezzini family farm stand. There’s just something really special, especially for children, in going right to the farm.

Tony Pezzini, who runs the farm with his dad Guido, says they’re a relatively small operation, so they exert greater control over the harvest.

“We put a lot of care into it. We really baby the plants and artichokes – and we’re able to do that because of the smaller size of our operation, and I wouldn’t want it any other way,” said Tony.

Pezzini farmers pick in the morning and call it quits no later than 1 o’clock in the afternoon. Then the artichokes are taken directly to the cooler, where they are packed inside. That’s what’s different about Pezzini’s artichokes. Some of the bigger farms have to harvest all day long, leaving the harvested artichokes in the field, only to be scooped up at the end of the day for hydro-cooling. By then they’ve been in the sun and have lost some flavor and nutrients.

A quick turnaround from field to pre-cooling helps stop the breakdown process brought on by ethylene gases, which are released by harvested fruits and vegetables. It also helps lengthen their shelf life. Picking in the cool mornings is a natural way to pre-cool the artichokes before they’re moved to the cooler to finish the pre-cooling process.

Artichokes are rich with fiber, potassium, vitamin C and magnesium. In fact, with one medium choke containing about 10 grams of fiber, the FDA has rated artichokes an excellent source of fiber.

Now, back to the baby artichokes. Besides being absolutely adorable, they’re all-edible. Baby artichokes are basically all meat as the inside hasn’t begun to sprout its fuzzy blossom. Babies also haven’t grown thorns yet so there is no reason not to enlist the kids’ help in preparing baby artichokes. My uncle, Paul Sigona, makes the best baby artichokes I’ve ever tasted. His secret…no parboiling, just sautéing after they’ve been striped down to the tender part. We have a few baby artichoke recipes on our blog too.

There are many ways to cook artichokes and even more ways to enjoy them – dip them in butter, mayo or aioli, stuff them with bread crumbs, garlic and olive oil, or eat steamed artichokes plain with a squirt of lemon– no dip necessary! Check out our artichoke recipes, including one for: Grandma Pauline’s Traditional Sicilian Stuffed Artichokes.

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