honey honey. food for the bees. westwind orchard.

Last weekend on our way upstate with our friend chef Camille Beccera we made a stop to visit friends Laura Ferrara and Fabio Chizzola who own and operate Westwind Orchards. I remember when they bought the farm in 2002. At the time it was a bit of a defunct apple farm and Fabio brought the trees back to life one by one.  When we heard Fabio was going to be spinning honey that weekend we decided to head up.

I have known Laura and Fabio for quite some time. He is a fashion photographer and she a fashion editor and stylist. How they manage to run this amazing farm and a busy commercial work load is a  mystery! I know they both have farming and food culture in their roots so I easily see that for the most part they do it for the love of it and to share it with family. They are both Italian and that strong food culture runs deep. They are the kind of people who put a meal in front of you effortlessly and without you quite knowing what happened when your intention was to just stop by and pick up some eggs! The farm continues to grow in so many different ways. A wood fired pizza oven is in  process and a beautifully curated farm store is in the works and somehow they always seem so composed. Laura wears farm wear like no one else! total chic. Anyway, I really can't say enough about these two, they are simply inspiring in every way!

 

On they way upstate we talked about food because it seems we are always hungry and it always comes around to food in one way or another. Camille brought out a little bag with an octopus in it and we decided then  to make a lunch using the new honey. It was a great impromptu afternoon.

Below you can find the recipes. They were super simple and you can adapt them easily to use the honey and the citronette on other things. You can also easily make the heirloom tomato salad without the octopus. Now is the moment for tomatoes. We used fresh coriander seed that we found in the garden for the tomato salad and it was amazing.

We also made a coriander salt for the squash blossoms.

This is one of those easy summer days we hope will inspire you!

Grazie Mille Laura and Fabio!

xx

 

Notes from Camille:

 

 

Tomato and Octopus Salad

 

Start with a flavorful court bouillon and cook octopus till tender, depending on its size and type this can take 1/2 hour and up to 1 1/2  hours.  Once tender, remove from the pot and when it becomes cool enough to handle cut the tentacles from the body.  Cut an array of tomatoes and line them on a platter along with some fresh herbs.  We came across some coriander in the garden that had just gone to seed, they were green and the flavor subtle and used them as our fresh herb element.  Drizzle the tomatoes with half of the dressing.  To finish the salad get a pan, preferably a cast iron gripping hot and sear the tentacles, season with a little coarse sea salt.  Slice the tentacles and arrange them on the platter.  Drizzle with the remaining honey-chili citronette.

 

Honey Chili Citronette

 

This is not a recipe but a blueprint that's easy to remember and whip up.  Start with lime or lemon juice, add thinly sliced fresh or dried chilies then slowly add the honey, stopping every so often to incorporate well and taste.  Once it tastes like sweet lemonade start whisking in a neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed.  Whisk in a fairly rapid motion and add the oil in a slow steady steam until the dressing has body, pay close attention to it's gradually progression.  Adjust and balance at the end, you'll need to season with salt, maybe some more chili or a little extra honey or citrus juice depending on personal preference.  

 

 

 

 

Frito Misto Of Squash and Herb Blossoms 

 

Collect some herbs that are blossoming, we used basil and fennel.  

 

Carefully stuff the squash blossoms, we used goat cheese for its tart flavor and tight consistency.  

 

Gradually heat some canola oil in a sturdy pot, an enamel cast iron works great.  While your oil is coming up to temperature get your batter ready, in a large bowl add some rice flour and slowly incorporate sparkling water till you have the desired consistency.  A loose batter will give you a delicate coating were as a thicker batter will give you a hearty crunchy one.  Somewhere in the middle is perfect we feel.  Play around by adding more rice flour or sparkling water.  Carefully dip the stuffed blossoms and herb blossoms and fry till golden brown.  As soon as they are removed from the oil, sprinkle with salt, arrange them on a platter and drizzle liberally with chili honey.  Best eaten warm.

 

Chili Honey

 

Slice some fresh or dried chills as thinly as possible, mix with honey and allow to sit for at least 1/2 hour so that the flavors develop.  Usually one medium size chili like a jalepeno or 5 small ones like chili de arbol to 2 cups honey.

 

 

You can visit Westwind Orchard in Accord New York. They have a u-pick it season. You can find the times and produce available through the website. They are in the midst of building a wood fired pizza oven for those who get hungry while visiting the farm.The pizza oven will run on weekend through October. 

where the wild things are. rosa rugosa ice cream.

For a while now, I have been thinking about making  wild rose ice cream. We have a tiny house upstate circled by dense woods. Lately with this temperate summer things have gone a bit rogue up there but I love it. The house is surrounded by an ever thickening bramble of blackberries and wild roses. We planted some Rosa Rugosa when we bought the house a number of years ago. I wasn't sure how it would fare in the elevated colder climate but it has thrived and has  taken over some of the other roses. I have always loved the Ragosa which grows wild along the New England coast. They remind me of the rugged coast of Maine where they dot the shore to form a dense wind break between the long the sea grasses and the ocean. The Rosa Ragosa is a single petal rose. For such a wispypy rose it gives off some serious floral perfume that is both a little spicy and salty. Maybe I imagine the salty part because I associated it so much with misty foggy days and salty sea spray. I could never resist these not even as a kid even though they are terribly riddled with tiny sharp spiky thorns. This past weekend Chef Camille Becerra came up to hang out in the woods and we decided to make some rose ice cream (amongst other things..but more on that in another post!) 

I would only do this with roses that are one hundred percent organic. NO PESTICIDES! 

I believe there are places where you can order organic rose petals for cooking but I will have to look into it and post  some info on that later.

 

The ice cream was so lovely and really well balanced. We decided to use a local maple syrup from our friend Dan Finn who sells his Moonshine Maple at his farm in Delhi and at Table On Ten in Bloomville., instead of sugar and the combination was really complimentary.

This is a subtle ice cream it is not for those of you who need abig flavor punch, it is mellowice cream, kind of like a foggy day at the beach. xx

 

Rosa Ragosa Ice Cream

 

4 cups heavy cream

4 cups offresh organic rose petals washed but not wet.

2 cups whole milk

1.5 cups maple syrup

2 good pinches of grey celtic sea salt

8 large egg yolks ( preferably from super happy chickens!)

 

I collected some Rose petals first thing in the morning when they seemed to be most fragrant.

In a large bowl gently bruise the rose petals by crushing them just a bit with a wooden spoon

Combine the rose petals and the heavy cream in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and heat to a simmer. remove from the heat and let the roses steep in the cream for thirty minutes or so.

 

In another pot, combine the milk and 1 cup of the maple syrup and bring to a gentle simmer.

Remove from the heat and set aside while you whisk the eggs.

In a bowl whisk the egg yolks and the remaining half cup of maple syrup.

Whisk until the yolks start to ribbon.

Add the hot milk to the yolks gradually whisking throughout to temper the yolks.

 

Return the mixture to the saucepan and gently heat until the mixture evenly coats the back of a  wooden spoon. Do not let the custard boil!

Set aside.

 

Strain the rose petals from the cream now that it has infused for a good while.

Press the petals against the mesh/strainer to release any remaining oil in the roses.

Discard the petals at this time.

Stir the infused cream gently into the custard and place in the fridge until it is good and cold all the way through.

At this point you can run your mixture through an ice cream machine. 

 

My opinion on ice cream makers is the better the machine the better the ice cream. I have made some good ice creams with my freezer bowl/ Cuisinart maker but now I really see the difference that a better machine makes.

I will include a link to a couple below.

So that is it! just garnish with a few rose petals and you are set to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tofu part 2.

I know some of you asked where to buy a tofu mold. Williams Sonoma sells a nice one here, complete with non GMO soy beans.Here is another source for a tofu making kit and nigari, the natural coagulant we used to make our tofu.

Below is part two of our Tofu post complete with Camilles's  recipe notes. Part one is here.

Tofu Skins

follow below recipe from previous post until you reach the part pertaining to the Tofu Skins

TOFU

11.2.13

1 ½ cups of high-grade soybeans

14 cups total spring or filtered water, room temperature

1 ½ teaspoons dry nigari

Tools:

Blender

Large heavy bottomed pot

Muslin

Large strainer or colander

-Soak soybeans in 5 cups water for at least 12 hours. 

-Heat 6 cups of water in a heavy bottom pot.   In a blender, puree beans and their soaking liquid in 3 batches for 2 minutes each time, you may risk burning out your blender if you puree it all in one shot.   Add the puree in batches to the hot water and mix thoroughly after each time.  Allow to come up to an almost boil on a medium-low setting.  Stir frequently to avoid soybean pulp sticking to the bottom and scorching.  Keep your eyes on the mixture making sure it doesn’t boil over.  Remove from heat, cover and leave to cool for ½ hour.

-Make sure mixture is cooled enough to handle then strain using a muslin lined strainer or colander.  Grab corners of the muslin and twist to press out all the soymilk.  The leftover parched pulp is called okara and in Japan it is often times cooked with vegetables.  Clean muslin out of all the pulp well, we will be using it again.

-Rinse pot out well and add the drained soymilk to it.  Warm gently on low till the temperature reaches 175 degrees this process will take about an hour. 

Tofu Skins

 Yuba, the skin that forms on the surface of hot soy milk is a favorite amongst the Japanese.  These  thin, egg-like sheets are delicious served simply with a dashi or soy sauce and wasabi.

-Warm soy milk gently on low till the temperature reaches 175 degrees this process will take about an hour.  You will see the skin form as the soy milk reaches desired temperature. 

-Using chopsticks gently pull out the yuba and roll it on a plate.  Once you remove the skin another one will soon form.

The tofu skins or Yuba are served room temperature. They have the consistency of a super thin omelet. It takes some time to accumulate enough yuba for a few people to eat. We added some micro greens  and herbs on top of the Yuba for a bit of crunch and hit it with some soy. You can add a  little gomasio if you would like.. The tofu skins can be made ahead of time and stacked between pieces of parchment paper.

Seaweed +Sesame  Gomasio

2 tablespoons toasted sesame

1 tablespoon toasted seaweed

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Hemp Seed Gomasio

2 tablespoons toasted hemp seeds 

1 tablespoon toasted seaweed

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

-In a mortar add the ingredients and pound till desired coarseness.


Tofu Custards

2 cups freshly made soy milk, chilled

3/4 teaspoon dry nigari

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

-Dissolve the nigari into 1/2 cup filtered water.

-In a large measuring cup stir together the soy milk with the nigari solution and pour it into ramekins (we used 8 ramekins that held approximately 2 ounces). 

-Place the filled ramekins in baking pan and fill the pan with room temperature water, enough so that the water comes half way up the ramekins.  Cover with foil and steam in oven for 15 minutes or until the tofu is set to the consistency of a creme brulee, depending on the heat, type of nigari and the concentration in the soy milk this may take longer than the 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, cool until just warm and serve.  Can also be served at room temperature or cool and topped with sweet topping.  Will stay in the fridge for up to two days.

Mushroom Broth

4 cups filtered water

1 1/2 cup dried shitaki

soy sauce, to taste

-Boil water and pour over the mushrooms.  Allow to steep overnight.

-Strain and heat to a simmer.

-Add soy sauce to your desired preference.

We added some soba noodles and steamed pumpkin to our both along with a cube of fresh soft tofu. We garnished it with some cilantro and a bit of chili oil.

thank you April and Camille. awesome collaboration.

tofu part 1.

On a recent trip to Nepal, I was obsessed with eating fresh homemade tofu from a tiny Japanese restaurant near our hotel. The owner of the restaurant was a Japanese woman who had been living in Nepal for many years. I had never eaten anything quite like it. We ate it both fresh and lightly fried with a spicy gingery peppery dipping sauce. The owner found it funny that we came every night to eat the same thing, but some times when you are traveling and shooting, exhaustion takes over and what is simple is best. She didn’t mind me pestering her about how she made it and after a slew of questions and some broken English, and lots of smiles I vowed to add it to my repertoire. Once home, time slipped away quickly, I forgot about the tofu until a conversation one day with Chef Camille Beccera and prop stylist/ and amazing girl about town April Flores. Camille told us that after culinary school in her early twenties, a friend told her abut a cooking position in A Zen monastery in Southern California. Being from the East Coast, she jumped at the chance to go. At the monastery, where she was just one of two girls, she both studied and cooked. She made huge batches of fresh tofu every week.  Thus, this tofu making collaboration was born.

It took us a while to get around to it but when we finally did we had a great time and I saw how incredibly easy it is.

Fresh tofu is nothing like what you buy in the stores. It is light and a little sweet with a delicate flavor of the soybeans. Commercial tofu is much more dense and not at all as subtle in flavor. Fresh tofu is best eaten the same day you make it or within a day or two of making.

Once we established that we were going to make tofu we set about thinking of a few other recipes. (more to come)

Everything we made was a bi-product of the tofu making process.

Making tofu is a lot like making a simple cheese, the process is similar to making fresh ricotta.

Thank you April and Camille for an awesome day!

Below are Camille’s notes. From our day of tofu!

 

 

TOFU

1-½ cups of high-grade soybeans

14 cups total spring or filtered water, room temperature

1-½ teaspoons dry nigari

Tools:

Blender

Large heavy bottomed pot

Muslin

Large strainer or colander

-Soak soybeans in 5 cups water for at least 12 hours. 

-Heat 6 cups of water in a heavy bottom pot.   In a blender, puree beans and their soaking liquid in 3 batches for 2 minutes each time, you may risk burning out your blender if you puree it all in one shot.   Add the puree in batches to the hot water and mix thoroughly after each time.  Allow to come up to an almost boil on a medium-low setting.  Stir frequently to avoid soybean pulp sticking to the bottom and scorching.  Keep your eyes on the mixture making sure it doesn’t boil over.  Remove from heat, cover and leave to cool for ½ hour.

-Make sure mixture is cooled enough to handle then strain using a muslin lined strainer or colander.  Grab corners of the muslin and twist to press out all the soymilk.  The leftover parched pulp is called okara and in Japan it is often times cooked with vegetables.  Clean muslin out of all the pulp well, we will be using it again.

-Rinse pot out well and add the drained soymilk to it.  Warm gently on low till the temperature reaches 175 degrees this process will take about an hour.  The skin that forms as the soymilk slowly reaches desired temperature is called yuba.   Yuba is a favorite amongst the Japanese.  Using chopsticks gently pull out the yuba and roll it on a plate, it’s classically served with soy sauce and a bit of wasabi.

-Dilute nigari into 1 cup of water.  Stir the milk in a zigzag motion a few times and while the soymilk is still moving add half of the nigari solution allowing the existing motion to transport the nigari throughout, do not stir after you add nigari.   Wait 2 minutes then gently add the remaining nigari solution around the perimeter and over the top.   Cover and let sit for 15 minutes to coagulate.  You should see the whey, a clear liquid when you gently move the curd from the side of the pot.  If not make a 1/4 batch of the nigari solution, bring milk back to 175 degrees on very, very low heat and sprinkle throughout the sides and top, do not stir, remove heat.

-Once your soymilk has coagulated line a tofu box with the clean muslin.  Set box in the sink or over a bowl.  Transfer the curds and whey into the box, do so with a large ladle so as not to break up too much of the curd.  Wrap excess muslin over top, place top part of box over muslin and use a one-pound weight to press for 30 minutes.

-Remove tofu after 30 minutes from the press and muslin.  Submerge tofu block in water for at least ½ hour and for up to two days.

beans. before and after soaking.

beans. before and after soaking.

 heating the pureed soy bean and water mixture. 

 heating the pureed soy bean and water mixture. 

straining the puree

straining the puree

 squeeze all the soy milk from the solids. 

What is left over is called okara. you can stir fry it with vegetables.

What is left over is called okara. you can stir fry it with vegetables.

reheated soy milk and nigari. should start to separate and look like this before you pour it in the tofu mold

reheated soy milk and nigari. should start to separate and look like this before you pour it in the tofu mold

pour the soy milk into the mold over the sink. once most of the excess liquid has drained, place a weight on the mold to press remaining liquids

pour the soy milk into the mold over the sink. once most of the excess liquid has drained, place a weight on the mold to press remaining liquids

finished tofu ready to eat.

finished tofu ready to eat.

use this for the following fried tofu recipe 

 

FRIED TOFU

1-pound tofu

¼ cup cornstarch

¼ cup neutral oil (canola, grape seed, etc.)

Cut tofu into 1-½ inch cubes.

Warm oil in a small to medium frying pan, make sure it doesn’t get so hot it begins to smoke.

In batches dredge tofu in cornstarch and fry till very light golden on all sides.  Adjust fire so it cooks evenly throughout.

Transfer onto a paper towel.

Serve with chili oil and soy sauce.