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!
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.
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.