Tag Archives: Sonoma

Organic Blueberry Brown Butter Tarts

19 Jul

I absolutely love fresh berries in the peak of summer and when I see a local farm stand selling them, I can’t resist stocking up! In the winter time, the location of the Sonoma Swamp Blues Organic Blueberry farm stand is under water from the Laguna de Santa Rosa, but in the summer, Blueberries are grown here. We bought a pound of them and when I got home, I started thinking about what kind of dessert I could make with them.

One of the simplest ideas is to make a Compote, which is so versatile and can be stored in the refrigerator for about up to a week. Compotes can be made out of many types of fruit, such as Berries, Apples, Pears, Apricots, and various others.

For breakfast, I especially like to put warm Compote on Pancakes or cold Compote on Yoghurt, with my homemade Granola sprinkled on top (I’ll share that recipe another time).  For a no-fuss dessert, it’s a great topping on Vanilla Ice Cream.

Since I was on vacation when we bought these, I decided to do something a bit more fancy and baked up some Brown Butter Tarts. The Tart Shell recipe is from Paule Caillat. I love it because it doesn’t involve any rolling of the dough. You press it into the Tart pan with your fingers and poke the bottom all over with a fork before baking them until golden brown (see before and after baking photos below). I didn’t have the suggested size Tart pan, so I used four 4.75 inch individual tart pans, which are particularly convenient for individuals or couples, since you can add the filling right before you are ready to eat dessert. The Tart Shells store well in an airtight container for at least a week.

To make the Blueberry Compote, over low heat, cook the Blueberries in a medium pot on top of the stove with a 1/4 cup of water and 1-2 Tablespoons of Sugar (or to taste, depending on the fruit’s sweetness). You could use Agave or Maple Syrup if you prefer. I like to add the zest of 1/2 Lemon or Orange, and a Teaspoon of Cinnamon or Garam Masala spice blend. It’s a good idea to keep your eyes on the pot since it will bubble over and make a mess if you’re not careful.

I spooned approximately a 1/3 cup of the Compote in the Tart Shell, and garnished with a sprig of Mint. Of course, there are many other options for filling the Tarts, like Lemon Curd, sliced Peaches or Plums on a layer of Pastry Cream, or fresh Raspberries on top of a thin layer of melted Chocolate, but this couldn’t have been easier!

Tomatoes from Verdure Farm

9 Oct

Although we had rain last week and our Summer seems nearly over, in Northern California, it’s still possible to find delicious tomatoes such as these from Verdure Farm in Healdsburg, as well as in the local Farmer’s market (and in your backyard if you are lucky!).

If you’re in the North Bay/Sonoma County, take a scenic drive up to 2476 Westside Rd. (a few minutes south of Downtown Healdsburg). I like to take to some empty egg cartons and then fill them up with the tomatoes. They’re useful while traveling, seem to store well in the paper cartons and nicely protected from getting bruised. Verdure Farm also sells squash, melons, eggplants, and pears, depending on what’s ready to harvest.

One of my favorite things to do with the really ripe tomatoes is to cut them in half, through the “equator”, and grate them on a box grater, making a delicious fresh sauce. Or, if you’re not interested in canning or pressed for time when they’re getting too ripe, whole tomatoes also freeze quite well (I’ve heard some people suggest you cut out the stem but I don’t–it’s optional in my opinion). Place 1 or more tomatoes in a tight sealing container or zip top plastic bag. They’ll keep for a couple of months and work perfectly for soups, stews, and sauces. Now is the perfect time to stock up so you’ll have a better option over the tasteless ones in the supermarket.

RECIPE: Into a bowl, grate the cut side until all you have left is the skin (toss that or save in the freezer to add flavor and color to a stock, then strain it or scoop it out). I find that keeping my hand flat while pressing the tomato on the grate helps avoid grating my knuckles. Ouch! Season to taste with fresh garlic (ideally, grated on a Microplane) Salt, Pepper, a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and fresh Basil and/or Oregano (or even minced Jalapeno Pepper if you like a little heat). It’s delicious on pasta like Angel Hair, roasted veggies, scrambled eggs, or adding to a vinaigrette!


6th Annual California’s Artisan Cheese Festival

3 Oct

If you love cheese, block out March 23-25, 2012 on your calendar. Last year, tours of many farms, such as Bellweather Farms, Cowgirl Creamery and others sold out, so best to plan ahead. The link below has more details.

6th Annual California’s Artisan Cheese Festival.

What is your favorite cheese? One of mine is Pt. Reyes Blue Cheese, made with buttermilk. It’s delicious with sliced apples or pears for a healthy snack or even dessert. Blend it with some other cheeses to add extra dimension to a grilled cheese sandwich. Their website (http://pointreyescheese.com) has many delicious recipes (I’m having trouble with getting their site to link so you will have to copy/paste it). Whole Foods is one of their distributors. I’m adding it to my grocery list right now  🙂

Flowers Vineyard & Winery On The Sonoma Coast

2 Oct

Yesterday, we took a drive up the Sonoma Coast, north of Jenner, to an event at Flowers Vineyard & Winery. This link has some photos that includes the typical coastal fog. We could barely see 15 feet in front of the car at times once we hit the top of the ridge! Needless to say, it was a slow drive, but worth it once we hit our destination.

The hosts were warm and welcoming the second we arrived and offered us some of their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir…we prefer Pinot so enjoyed a glass.

We also ate a few delectable Hog Island Oysters on the half shell…both raw and BBQ’d (the latter with a chipotle butter sauce). Yum!!