What's Tasty at Sigona's Farmers Market

June 27, 2012

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.

Raw California Whole, Jumbo Pistachio Meats on Sale at Sigona’s

John Sigona’s Pick of the Week

California Whole Raw (Jumbo Size)

Pistachio Meats

Regularly $6.99 

On special right now for $3.99 (6 oz. container)

Raw pistachio meatsOur raw pistachios are coming from a family owned and operated farm in Terra Bella, California. These pistachios are of the finest quality in the world. They’re jumbo sized and picked at full maturity to assure excellent flavor.

Raw pistachios are full of extraordinary nutritional benefits. Here are some of the reasons why they are so good for you:

A (1) oz. serving of raw pistachios provides 10% of the daily value for:

  • Dietary fiber
  • Vitamin B6
  • Thiamin
  • Phosphorus
  • Copper

Raw pistachios are rich in:

John outside with produce

John Sigona is the dried fruit & nut buyer for Sigona’s Farmers Markets in Palo Alto and Redwood City, Calif.

  • Phytosterols, which directly aid in lowering cholesterol levels
  • Monounsaturated (healthy) fats
  • High quality plant source of protein, providing essential and non-essential amino acids

Try raw pistachios in:

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

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: cherries, peaches & nectarines

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: What’s New

This week:

  • We have in our famous, local Bing cherries from Andy Mariani’s orchard in Santa Clara Valley…just south of us in Morgan Hill. They’re huge, deep burgundy and extremely sweet. They arrive at Sigona’s within hours of being picked – Uncle Paul picks them up at 10 a.m. and brings them to Sigona’s!
  • On another note, Paul Buxman, our local, certified California Clean grower, will soon be in with white and yellow peaches and white and yellow nectarines. It’s all going to be real good, but I expect the Diamond Bright yellow nectarine to be excellent! It’s one of the best varieties of the year.

Robbie Sigona is our produce buyer. He works with local farmers and scours the market for the very best in fresh fruits and vegetables — some you won’t find anywhere else.

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!

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s Featuring Local Halibut

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s Featuring Local Halibut

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. This is a delicious fish and we know  you’ll enjoy the recipes!

Fish Tacos with Cabbage-Jalapeño Slaw

This is absolutely my favorite way to eat local halibut. It’s simple, healthy and delicious. For this recipe I’ve done a quick job on the marinade and not taken the time to let marinate. All the flavors come together just about the same, especially when you’re in a hurry. Recipe adapted from Food Network’s Anne Burrell. Serves 4.

My favorite dish of summer: Fish Tacos with Cabbage-Jalapeno Slaw. Recipe adapted from Food Network’s Anne Burrell. Photo from Food Network.

Fish:

  • 1 pound local halibut or white seabass
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 tsp Spanish paprika (also known as pimenton)
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 cup Sigona’s Fresh Press Arbequina extra virgin olive oil (it has a fruity-buttery flavor)
  • Kosher salt

Slaw:

  • 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 3 green onions, sliced thinly on the bias
  • 1 jalapeño, minced, optional
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 TBL Honey Hole Honey Co. honey, either the wild apricot or blackberry honey
  • 1/8 cup Sigona’s Fresh Press Arbequina extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

For serving:

  • 8 flour or corn tortillas
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted and flesh sliced

Fish: Cut the fish into strips. Combine the fish with the lime zest and juice, paprika, garlic, oil and salt, to taste, in a medium bowl. Let sit at least 20 minutes. This can be done a day ahead, covered and refrigerated.

Cabbage: Combine the cabbage, carrots, green onions, and jalapeño, if using, in a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, honey and oil. Add to the cabbage mixture and toss until well dressed. Season with salt, to taste. If using within a couple of hours let it sit at room temperature, if making this ahead, refrigerate until ready to use.

To cook and assemble: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap the tortillas in foil.

Put the fish strips on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Put the fish and tortillas in the preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

While the fish is in the oven, taste the cabbage for seasoning and adjust, if needed.

Remove the fish and tortillas from the oven. Put some fish in the center of a tortilla, top with a couple of avocado slices and finish with some of the cabbage slaw. Repeat with remaining ingredients and serve.

Carmelo’s Halibut in a Parchment Pocket with and Ginger, Green Onions and Jalapeno

This dish practically prepares and cleans up itself! Throwing ingredients in a parchment pocket is one of my favorite ways to prepare summer dishes, plus baking in parchment melds all the ingredients together making for a flavor-packed dish. Serves 6. – Carmelo Sigona

  • 6 portions (about 5-6 oz. each) local Halibut
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 piece of fresh ginger (2 inches), peeled and julienned
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (do not cut – should be removed before eating)
  • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped
  • 1 small-medium jalapeño, julienned (remove the seeds to lower heat intensity or leave out the jalapeno completely)
  • 1/4 cup Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil
  • Gluten-free soy sauce, for drizzling, such as organic Tamari by San-J
  • 6 17-inch long sheets of parchment paper
  • 6 lime wedges (for serving)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 400F. Place a piece of halibut in the center of each sheet of parchment. Season lightly with sea salt.

Top each piece of halibut with an even amount of ginger, cilantro, garlic, green onion and jalapeño (if using). Drizzle each with a little of the olive oil and a little soy sauce.

To make the packets, bring the long ends of the parchment together and fold down at least three times to touch the top of the ingredients, making a seam. Fold or twist the ends up to meet the ingredients. Secure with a bit of string if the packet needs help staying folded shut.

Place the packets on a baking sheet (you may need more than one baking sheet) and bake at 400 for 13-15 minutes or until the packets are puffed up and fish is cooked through.

Serve each packet with lime wedges. Be sure to inform your guests to remove the garlic clove before eating and also advise them to use caution when opening the packets – the steam that escapes can be very hot!

Pan-fried Halibut with Mango Salsa

Pan-fried Halibut with Mango Salsa. Recipe and photo courtesy of the food blog Teczcape – An Escape to Food.

Another nice summer dish, do you think so? It’s simply divine when you use local, fresh-caught halibut and fresh fruits for the salsa. Recipe and photo courtesy of the food blog Teczcape – An Escape to Food. Serves 2-3.

Homemade Mango Salsa:

  • 2 Mango, cut into small cubes
  • 2-3 kiwis, cut into small pieces
  • 10+ some water chestnuts, cut into small cubes
  • handful of cilantro leaves, chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • Fresh-squeezed lime juice from 1 lime

Directions: Just mix all the ingredients and set aside in fridge.

Pan-fried Halibut with Mango Salsa:

  • 2 fresh local halibut fillets
  • salt and pepper
  • Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil, for sautéing
  • mango salsa prepared earlier

Directions:

1. Dab dry the fillets and season with some salt and pepper

2. Heat some olive oil in sauté pan at low-medium heat. Pan-fry one side of the halibut for about 5-6mins (Note: DO NOT turn the fillet while sautéing one side.)

3. After 5-6mins, turn the fillet over and pan-fry for another 4-5mins

4. While pan-frying the other side, spoon the mango salsa on the already cooked top-side. Use a aluminum foil to cover top-side of fillet that is topped over with salsa, while pan-frying the other side.

Note: The salsa need not be cooked. Covering with the foil circulates the heat of frying within the fillets while frying and warms the mango salsa simultaneously, so that the entire dish – fish and salsa – is served warm. The flavors also meld a bit more.

5. Serve immediately

Lazy Cioppino, a San Francisco Seafood Stew                       

Recipe and photo courtesy of Zest Bakery (a gluten-free hotspot) in San Carlos. The Zest crew notes, “Cioppino is a classic San Francisco stew featuring fresh shellfish and fish. I’ve always loved lightness of this tomato-based soup, and it’s probably the easiest soup I’ve ever made and the easiest soup to eat.” Total time: 40 mins. Serves: 6-8.

Lazy Cioppino, a San Francisco Seafood Stew. Recipe and photo courtesy of Zest Bakery in San Carlos.

Ingredients

  • 3 TBL olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small (or 1/2 large) fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand, juices reserved
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
  • 1 pound skinless local halibut (or local white seabass) cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 pound mussels, scrubbed, debearded
  • 1 pound large uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined (or frozen king crab legs, thawed)
  • For serving: a gluten-free baguette – find them at Zest Bakery in San Carlos!

Directions: Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, fennel, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion and fennel are soft, about 12 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes with juices, wine, clam juice, and 1 cup water. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring often, until flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Stir in fish, mussels, and shrimp and bring to a simmer.

Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Cook until mussels open and seafood is cooked through, about 5 minutes (discard mussels that do not open). Serve with toasted bread.

Note: try one of Zest Bakery’s baguettes (they’re gluten-free!) toasted it with a little garlic, olive oil, and parsley salt. YUM.

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.

Medjool Dates on Sale at Sigona’s

John Sigona’s Pick of the Week

 

Best Price Ever!

California grown, jumbo

Medjool Dates

A 15 lb. box for just $3.27 per pound – that’s only $49.00 – an unheard of, excellent sale price for these dates.

Sale ends June 25th so load up now!

Medjools store excellently in the refrigerator (up to 3 months) or in the freezer for up to 8 months.

Try eating them directly out of the freezer – excellent!

Some Nutritional Facts

  • High fiber: six grams per three oz. serving
  • Good source of potassium, iron and copper
  • Excellent source of magnesium (10% per three oz. serving)
  • Medjool dates consist of 2% protein

Storage:

  • Room temperature—good for at least (2) weeks
  • Refrigeration—good for 2-3 months
  • Freeze—good for 6-8 months
John outside with produce

John Sigona is the dried fruit & nut buyer for Sigona’s Farmers Markets in Palo Alto and Redwood City, Calif.

Eat ‘em up! Medjools are an excellent, healthy alternative to sugar or honey when diced and mixed with:

  • Oatmeal
  • Cereals
  • Muffins
  • Cookies
  • Trail mixes
  • Fresh fruit Smoothies
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage cheese

Stuff Medjools with cheese and enjoy! It’s easy: simply slice lengthwise, remove the pit and add in a slice of:

  • Soft goat cheese (my # 1 favorite!!)
  • Cream Cheese
  • Monterey Jack
  • Sharp cheddar
  • Blue cheese
  • Or dice any of the following and mix with cheese before stuffing:
    • Spicy jalapeno peppers or any hot pepper of you choice
    • Granny Smith apples
    • Any favorite raw nut—like almonds, walnuts or pecans

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.

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