eat real festival

Recipes

Eat Real And Purslane

eat real

eat real

As a chef, it’s hard to cooking something you don’t like eating.  It sucks in fact.  You want to be excited about what you’re serving, and when you just can’t quite wrap your lips around a certain ingredient, it’s hard to love your dish. You always have to taste your dish, and you don’t like the taste of a certain ingredient, it’s difficult to do. That said, people do it every day. There are legions of vegetarians working on meat-heavy menus, broccoli haters that need to add that dreaded vegetable to their dishes.  Despite our own culinary biases, we still need to make it work because we know (at least intellectually) that people have different tastes.

Kitchen Purslane

Kitchen Purslane

For me, that ingredient is purslane. Purslane, known to botanists as Portulaca oleracea, is a native of the old world that has become naturalized in the U.S. Many consider it a weed (like most wild foods), but it is very high in Vitamin C and Omega 3’s (probably what gives it it’s slimy taste).

Although I haven’t seen it in SF, this wild edible is abundant up in Northern California. It looks beautiful in salads – I’ve seen it prepared picked and thrown into salads, as well as sautéed, and people seem to really like it. However, I just can’t get myself to like it. I want to like it. To me, it tastes like okra, which is another plant I’ve never loved. It’s the slime that gets me.  Not to put off your stomach (because, believe it or not, this post will include a recipe), it feels like someone spit in my mouth.  People say it’s because I haven’t had it cooked correctly, which might be true, but as of now, I’m not a fan.  Sure, you can fry it, but that seems like a cop out (although I did do that in one of the dishes I prepared for the Eat Real Festival last weekend).

Held at Jack London Square at the end of August, the Eat Real Festival is a three-day food fest that features chefs, farmers, artisans and street food and really great presentations on everything from sourdough bread baking to animal butchering. If you haven’t gone, you should.  It’s a lot of fun, and they really seem to have gotten it down this year. This was my second time at Eat Real –a year ago I sold sea beans I had foraged up north (or more correctly, gave away samples, people didn’t really know what they were). It was really great for me, my first time really getting forageSF out into the public, which gave me an amazing amount of exposure.

This time around I was doing something a little different.  It was a program called The Urban Farmstand. The idea was to partner a chef with a farm, the chef would use the farms make a dish or two, and the farm would sell the produce. Cool idea, needs a bit of tweaking if they’re going to do it next year, but overall a good thing.  I like the way it shows people what can be done with the raw ingredients that are being sold right next-door.  I think the signage they had was confusing. Although we were all independent vendors, the signs made it seem like we were associated with eat real.  I had several people come up to me and ask if we were doing a cooking demo.   Overall good though, and as someone who organized events myself, I was impressed, especially by the workshops and demos, which were in large part organized by my very own girlfriend, one ms. Valerie Luu.  I partnered with Heirloom Organics, who can be found at the Ferry Building Market as well as other farmers markets.  “WAIT,” you say, “Aren’t you a forager, you shouldn’t be getting anything from a farm?!”

Well, that’s where purslane comes in.

chioggia_beets

chioggia_beets

There are several wild veggies that grow on farmland, without any help from the farmer (and often in spite of their ideas for the land), and purslane is one of them. It moved in a couple years ago at Heirloom, and now they have hundreds of pounds each year.  With this, I talked to Grant from Heirloom and decided that purlsane was going to be wild ingredient. I also used Heirloom Organics blue potatoes, salad greens, broccoli, red, gold, and chioggia beets, and baby corn (which is just corn picked when its small).

I made two dishes: one was a salad with spring greens, a duck gelee vinaigrette (gelee is what you have left over after making duck confit, a good way to think about it is as essence of duck), It’s a gelatin that has this great savory, salty flavor that’s amazing in dressings, or even on its own, pickled, as well as raw shaved, golden, red and chioggia beets, and the afore mentioned cheat, fried purslane.  This was a nice dish (if I do say so myself). The raw beets paired really nicely with the tart pickles, and the duck pulled it all together.  The sad fact is that people don’t really want to eat salads at street food events though, so we didn’t sell too much.

The second dish I did was duck confit and duck fat fried blue potatoes, with sautéed purslane, broccoli, and baby corn. People seemed to respond well to this. My idea was to cover up the sliminess of the purslane as much as possible with the savory duck, starchy potatoes, and finally, the crisp baby corn (which I blanched quickly to give it some tenderness).

So overall a good weekend. Too much prep for too little sales, but I learned a few things, which are:

  1. simple is best at street food events

  2. you can't really go wrong with duck confit

  3. duck gelee is a wonder ingredient on par with anchovies for adding flavor

Here’s the recipe for the duck dish I did, hope you like it. The hardest part is making the duck confit, but you’ll be well rewarded:

You’ll need:

-1 lb blue potatoes

-1 cup duck confit, picked from the bone (here’s a good easy recipe for duck confit. Takes some time, but its worth it. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Duck-Confit-102313)

-1 lb broccoli rabe

-1/2 lb purslane (you can find this at the farmers market)

-3 ears baby corn (heirloom is the only place I’ve ever seen this fresh, they’re at the ferry building farmers market)

heirloom-tomatoes

heirloom-tomatoes

-1 sprig thyme

-1/2 lb heirloom tomatoes

  1. Get two pots of boiling water going, well salted (like the sea), as well as two bowls filled with ice water (also salted)

  2. Scrub the potatoes, prepare the broccoli, and shuck the corn

  3. When the water boils, throw your potatoes in one until nearly cooked through (about 10 minutes for the small ones), and throw your corn into the other.

  4. Mince garlic and thyme, dice tomatoes

  5. After about 3 minutes, remove corn with a slotted spoon and place in ice bath. Repeat for broccoli, cooking until just under done, 4 minutes or so.

  6. When potatoes are done, put them in the second bowl of ice water

  7. Quarter potatoes, dry other ingredients

  8. Heat large sauté pan to medium high with reserved duck fat from confit

  9. Fry potatoes until they start to brown, add garlic and thyme, add purslane, cook 4 minutes, add broccoli, cook 3 minutes, adding oil as needed. (If it looks like your garlic is about to burn, you can throw in a small squirt of water to cool down the pan). Salt and pepper to taste. That’s about it. Plate then garnish with tomatoes and corn on the side, feeds four or so.

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Eat Real

[gallery columns="2"] My Eat Real marathon weekend of sea bean proselytizing is over.  It was great to get out and talk to people about what we're up to, and really exciting to see how into people are.  Foraging is often a lonely pursuit, and I get the feeling that people are often a bit confused about just what it is we're trying to do at forageSF, so getting face to face with people and answering questions about what we're about was great.  So great in fact that I'm going to start a push to get into some local farmers markets. It was originally my intention, but the focus moved a bit over the last year, and it got put on the back burner.  The problem with selling wild food in a certified market (meaning that everyone there is the primary producer) is that no one actually produces wild food.  We forage it, so we are as close to producers as any human gets, but not close enough.  It's a pretty funny situation to be in, what makes the food so interesting to me and to others is the exact reason it can't be sold.  I talked to a couple farmers market managers who seemed to think we could find some common ground, so I'm optimistic.  So look for us at your farmers market soon!

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August CSF

boxpic This months box:

Dried Porcini and Morel Mushrooms (Mendocino/Humboldt Valley)

Dried Mushrooms, left to refresh in water for about 20 minutes, can be cooked just like fresh. It takes about 10 lbs of fresh wild mushrooms to make 1 lb dried.  Drying actually concentrates the flavor of many mushrooms, such as the bolete.  The Boletus edulis mushroom (bolete) was first described in 1783 by the French botanist Pierre Bulliard and still bears its original name. The Porcini, or King Bolete, is always an exciting find in California since they’re rare and delicious. Porcini are great sautéed with a little (or a lot) of butter.

Orange and Foraged Lemon Juice

Foraged in our own backyard, these lemons were rescued from certain rotting.  We got some fresh squeezed OJ and added foraged lemon juice to give it a good sour bite.

Sea beans (Bolinas)

Pickle weed is a small succulent, with leaves that are waxy on the outside and full of moisture on the inside. Its leaves are long, thin, and round, like little fingers. Pickleweed flowers between April and September, but its tiny yellow flowers can only be seen upon careful examination. Pickle weed grows in the low- to middle-tide zone in the marsh, which means that it gets covered up by water some of the time.  It’s delicious fresh as a garnish, or if you want to get creative in the early morning hours, check out the recipe below.

Wild Foraged Bay Leaves

The very same bay laurel leaves that you see (and smell) all over California, can be used in cooking. The aroma is a bit stronger than store bought, so use sparingly in your favorite soups.

Wild Foraged Blackberries

That’s right, collected just yesterday…they’re delicious.  We had to exercise some serious self control not to eat them all as we picked.  These blackberries come from Mendocino county.

Seabeans Sauteed with onions

This week we wanted to give you an idea of a good way to cook those seabeans you get so often in your box. Here they are, sautéed with some onions, garlic, pepper, and just a pinch of sugar to cut the saltiness. Hope you like them.

Wild Foraged Mint

Use this just like regular mint, the taste is a bit more intense with the wild variety.

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Seabeans four ways

sea beans 4 ways In lead up to the Eat Real festival next weekend, where forageSF will be selling in the marketplace (come visit!), I'm doing some recipe experimentation. We're going to be there on Saturday and Sunday, near the Embarcadero st entrance to the marketplace (not sure if that's a good location, never been to Jack London Square).  We are also going to be there on friday for the foraging/canning exchange, where I will give a seabean cooking demo, as well as have wild food experts on hand to answer all your urban edible questions.

Eat Real is letting eat vendor sell one product, and since sea beans hold a special place in my heart (and since I'm going foraging next week for them) I figured I'd go with that. I'm going to be selling both fresh and packaged, and I'm trying to decide what the perfect recipe is.  Today I did...Seabeans with garlic, seabeans with garlic and lemon juice, seabeans with garlic, ginger and sesame, seabeans with garlic, ginger, sesame, onions and porcini.

I settled on the porcini.  It's great how the mushroom and onion flavors mingle with the saltiness of the sea beans, and it also makes it more of a dish, adding the veggies and fungi. Here's what I did....

Since it's the off season for local mushrooms, I used dried porcini.  I actually prefer porcini dried in some instances, the dehydration really concentrated the flavor.

1 oz dried porcini

2 shallots - sliced

2 cups sea beans

butter

olive oil

2 cloves garlic - minced

1 inch plug ginger - minced

First, soak porcini for 15-20 minutes in cold water, then slice thin.Heat a mixture of butter and 1 tbsp butter over medium heat, then add onions, cook until onions start to caramelize, then add garlic and porcini, stirring often to make sure garlic doesn't burn. A line cook trick is to throw a small splash of water into the pan if you see the garlic starting to brown.  Now you add the sea beans, stir to incorporate, and then turn heat to low, cover, cook 8 minutes. take off cover, turn heat up to cook off any liquid. serve. easy and delicious, good as a side.  Sauteing seabeans is a great way to eat them, because it takes away some of that intense saltiness, and lets the other flavors creep in.

If you want to see how I do it, come check it out, friday at 6 pm at jack london square...check the Eat Real site for exact address.

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forageSF and the Eat Real Fest

ForageSF is teaming up with the Eat Real festival to organize a series of guided forages, a wild food dinner with Radio Afrika to benefit La Cucina, as well as a foraging identification/canning exchange in Jack London square. There will be two sets of walks, one sometime in early August that will end in a dinner focused on wild foraged food.  Walk around the city learning what plants are edible, then get to eat a delicious meal made with those very same plants. The second set will be on Friday August 28th.  We’ll all go out, forage around for a couple hours, then meet in Jack London square to identify/exchange/can what we found.  I’ll also be giving a talk on forageSF, and wild food in general.  Should be a good time.  This is all still in planning, but check out http://eatrealfest.com/ in a couple weeks for more info.