Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Little Nawlins for our friends from LA

L.A. as in Los Angeles, not Louisiana! We’ve been waiting for weeks for our friends David and Dana Cremin to visit from LA and have a “homemade CSA dinner” in our apartment. David’s a friend from high school (we went to Dalton on the upper east side in the 70s). He and his lovely wife Dana and their two girls, Eliot and Jessica, are like-minded “light-hearted locavores” too with a strong interested in fresh, nutritious produce, sustainable agriculture and food justice for all.

For a few months, Dana and I have been emailing about local food and sustainable ag and how surprising it is that LA doesn’t have a lot of what New York (or San Francisco) has in terms of farmers markets, community supported agriculture and advocacy to address lack of access to healthy food poorer neighbors. In their honor, I made dinner with food mostly from Chubby Bunny (with the exception of the New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp which was probably shipped frozen from South East Asia/Vietnam and not caught in Louisiana) most of the dinner was from our CSA delivery yesterday with other produce from Green Thumb in Water Mill and our yard.

For hor’ douvres, I served roasted eggplant dip (easy recipe below) and homemade hummus with all local veggies -- peppers, blanched broccoli, carrots and celery.

For dinner we had local and organic chicken with a medley of herbs from my yard. I deglazed the pan with verjus* from Wolffer Estates Winery in Sagaponack, Long Island. The feature entrée was New Orleans style Barbeque Shrimp with French bread for dipping served with roasted red and candy striped beets, turnips, carrots and “conventional” (i.e. factory made) ice cream and bakery-fresh, buttery and flaky “Mouse Ear” Panier cookies from Citarella.

• Verjus is the pressed juice of unripe grapes that is unfermented and non-alcoholic. Pronounced vair-JHOO, verjus has been used in kitchens in Europe and the Middle East for centuries. The taste is mildly acidic and sweet and tart at the same time. It makes a wonderful flavor with cooking or can be enjoyed as a cold beverage. Wolffer’s Verjus is made from unripe chardonnay grapes.

We drank a lot of fermented and alcoholic grape beverages (red and white wines) which were NOT Local and shared lots of laughs and fun stories.

Health Notes:
Beets are a root vegetable and have a fascinating 5,000 year history going back to Europe and the Mediterranean where beets had both culinary and medical uses. Romans used the swiss chard-like greens for wounds and the root, high in fiber, as a laxative and to lower fevers. Beets are rich in folate for cell health and repair (a pre-curser to folic acid which is essential especially for pregnant women) and manganese which promotes brain and joint health and helps regulate blood sugar.

Check out Wolffer’s website for information about events at the winery, buy wines or verjus online or subscribe to their e-newsletter:

Wölffer Estate Vineyard
139 Sagg Pond Road
Sagaponack, NY 11962


Roasted eggplant dip for veggies or pita

1 large Eggplant
1 whole head of garlic
Juice of one lemon
4 tablespoons of olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Paint olive oil on eggplant and grease the bottom of a roasting pan. Reserve the rest of the olive oil. Wrap garlic in aluminum foil. Place eggplant and wrapped garlic in the pan and move to a preheated oven. Roast for 45 minutes or until eggplant is soft. Pierce with a fork to check for doneness. Allow vegetables to cool. Remove peel on eggplant which should be come off easily and put in the bowl of a food processor. Squeeze garlic from the individual cloves into the food processor. Add lemon juice. Puree ingredients on “pulse” until smooth (do not over process). Serve with an assortment of vegetables or pita bread.

Spicy Barbecue Shrimp
Epicurious has wonderful recipes for those (rare) dishes that I know I’m better off following a recipe for. Check out the Epicurious for Spicy Barbecue Shrimp (which is made with butter, Tabasco sauce and Worstershire sauce and not traditional American-style tomato BBQ sauce). For a more complex and spicier version try Emeril's recipe at the Food Network New Orleans BBQ Shrimp

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