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. 

lunch for one. tomato and celery salad with shaved baby fennel and dill flower.

I am working from home today, and found myself making my go to summer salad for lunch. It is super similar to theone I made a few weeks back but tastes surprisingly different with just a couple substitutions. There really is no recipe, it is just thrown together based on whatever I had in the house. I can't seem to get away from this tomato celery combo this season... it is so good! This salad was a melange of  tiny summer tomatoes. I picked up a couple of mixed quarts of them at the Union Square Green Market along with some fresh dill flower, baby fennel and my favorite red celery. I went to my trusty mandolin for perfectly thin celery and fennel. It is my favorite kitchen tool hands down.  I have a really good French mandolin but I prefer a simple Japanese one (I use one fromMUJI) I use it through all the seasons! You can also find nice Japanese ones at a Japanese hardware store or a Japanese Mart.  I hope you are inspired to get the Greenmarket and make a version of this salad. Add a little fresh goat cheese if you would like to make it a bit more substantial.

x

Lunch For One ; Tomato and Celery Salad with Shaved Baby Fennel and Dill Flower.

A 1/2 quart of mixed cherry tomatoes

One stalk of red celery ( I used the nub end as all my celery was previously devoured.)

One baby fennel bulb

A couple sprigs of fresh dill flower

Juice of half a lime

Good Extra Virgin olive oil

crunchy sea salt

METHOD

Chop the tomatoes into halves or quarters depending on size

Shave the celery over the tomatoes with the mandolin

Shave the fennel bulb over the celery with the mandolin

Add the sprigs of dill

Squeeze the 1/2 of lime over the salad

Douse with some extra virgin olive oil

Top off with a little crunchy seas salt and toss the whole salad.

EAT. SMILE. EAT SOME MORE.

heirloom tomato and celery salad.

07.24.12

The first of  summer's tomatoes have arrived at the markets. Green Market stalls are  filled with piles of gorgeous and unusually shaped heirlooms in purples, stripes, blacks, whites, deep reds, orange and yellows. I love the wabi sabi-ness of heirloom tomatoes. I particularly like the ones that look as though they have been carelessly stitched and scratched like a beautiful Lousie Bourgeois sculpture. 

Tomatoes are one of those foods that are in my blood. If I were on a deserted island I  could get by if I had stockpiles of my great grandmothers marinara sauce.  When I think about the things I love to eat most... they almost always involve this diverse fruit! Foccacia with cherry tomatoes sunk deep into little wells of crunchy bread and pools of olive oil...marinara with a punch of garlic and hint of basil, Panzanella a delicious bread salad, a BLT with a  thick chunky slice of  a fresh garden tomato, tomato soup and grilled cheese, the ultimate in comfort food or a very simple summer salad of tomato and basil, olive oil and a little sea salt or in this case some crisp shaved celery. Just give me a piece of crusty Italian bread to soak up that juice and I will be in heaven!

More tomato love to come 

 Heirloom Tomato and Celery Salad (for two)

This is sort of a non-recipe. It is just an inspiration! As with most summer salads they just kind of get thrown together!

4 large heirloom tomatoes

1 stalk of celery with leaves

A handful of fresh basil

Really good olive oil

Sea salt

Cut the tomatoes into pieces and put in a large bowl

Shave the celery stalk into ultra thin slices with a mandolin and scatter on top of the tomatoes

Tear the celery leaf and basil into small pieces and add to the salad

Add a pinch of really good crunchy sea salt

Douse with an extra virgin olive oil 

Toss and Devour!

As simple as that and DO NOT forget some crusty bread lest you waste that amazing tomato juice!