News From The Ranch

APRIL 2013
EVOO with Fresh Herbs
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Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Congrats to Linda Orellano, who posted this photo on our Facebook page. Linda said she made the cake for her family, who loved it. The recipe can be found online at Linda has won a bottle of oil. You can win this month's contest by sending us a photo showing how you use our oil. Put "Fan Photo" in the subject line and send it to the email address below, or post it on our Facebook page. 
La Tartine Gourmande

Go On a Food Journey

Béatrice Peltre, our featured food guru, released her first cookbook in February 2012. La Tartine Gourmande features nearly 100 recipes. Though Béa's style is largely inspired by her native France, you'll find an array of influences as she brings creative twists to classic recipes - all while remaining effortlessly healthful and balanced. 

 Click to see the book
Asparagus courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

We're heading into what we call our "spring push." The olive trees have woken up from winter. Our orchard teams are watering the trees and doing some light pruning to prepare them for the growing season.

It's similar to what's happening in home gardens and farms as spring gets underway. While in our kitchen, we look forward to the bounty spring has to offer. It's evident in backyard gardens. And it's  especially evident at the local farmers' market, where bins overflow with green vegetables including avocados, asparagus, artichokes, and more.

"Spring arrives at the farmers' market on a wave of green," Janet Fletcher writes in Fresh From the Farmers' Market (Chronicle Books, 2008).

"First come young garlic shoots with their pale green shanks, followed by asparagus spears, standing soldier-like in upright bunches," she adds. "Soon there's green at every turn: plump artichokes with fresh, moist stems; heaps of English peas; velvet-skinned fava beans and ivory cauliflowers wrapped in green veils."

Back in the kitchen, we steam our asparagus and give it a drizzle of our Limited Reserve or Arbequina. Or we toss it with olive oil and roast it in the oven until caramelized. We  steam our artichokes and then dip the tender leaves in good olive oil. We brush slices of cauliflower with olive oil and roast them in the oven until browned. And we slather fresh avocado on toasted artisan bread and give it a drizzle of olive oil.

Below are recipes that let you capitalize on the green veggies spring has to offer - be they from your own garden, or the market. Either way, grab the veggies and the olive oil and get cooking!
Our Favorite Spring Vegetable Recipes
Spring Green Vegetables and Soft-Cooked Eggs
Spring Greens with Soft-Cooked Eggs This dish, from our featured food writer and blogger  Béatrice Peltre of La Tartine Gourmande, combines asparagus, leeks, and snap peas which are then dressed with a vanilla-flavored vinaigrette. It's topped with a soft-cooked egg. Beatrice notes this dish is "full of vitamins, taste and color." You could prepare the dressing using our fruity Arbequina oil.

Click here to see the recipe
Roasted Asparagus Salad with Citrus-Ginger Vinaigrette
Asparagus Salad With Ginger-Citrus Vinaigrette This salad combines oven-roasted asparagus with Valencia oranges, snow peas, baby arugula, and sesame seeds. It comes together with a ginger-citrus vinaigrette. Viviane Bauquet Farre - of food & style - created this dish and aptly calls it an "exotic and massively flavorful salad." Viviane recommends using our Everyday Fresh oil for roasting the asparagus and our Everyday Fresh or Miller's Blend oils for the vinaigrette.

Click here to see the recipe
Tagliatelle with Peas
Tagliatelle with peas An ideal spring pasta. You can use fresh peas ... or frozen. The recipe comes from Thirty Minute Pasta (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2009), by Giuliano Hazan. The dish originated at a restaurant in the Italian town of Verona. The secret to the dish: "Once the peas are tender, half are pureed until creamy and mixed back into the sauce," Hazan writes. You could use our Everyday Fresh oil to prepare the pasta and then give it a finishing drizzle of our fruity Arbequina oil for added flavor.

Click here to see the recipe
Avocado Mash on Multigrain Toast
Avocado Mash on Multigrain Toast We love avocados. So do Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, who wrote Canal House Cooks Every Day (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2012), where this wonderfully simple recipe appears. "These toasts have served us well for a late-morning breakfast, lunch, or a quickly made supper," they write. "But we could find an excuse to eat them anytime." Use our robust Limited Reserve or Miller's Blend oils to prepare the toasts.

Click here to see the recipe
Green Couscous
Green Couscous Famed London chef Yotam Ottolenghi calls this "a good-looking and even better tasting side salad. It has strong flavor and is extremely healthful but still feels light and comforting." It combines couscous with an herb paste as well as pistachios, green onions, a green chile, and arugula. The recipe appears in Ottolenghi's vegetarian cookbook Plenty (Chronicle Books, 2011). Try our peppery Miller's Blend oil to make the herb paste.

Click here to see the recipe
Baby Artichoke, Parsley and Celery Salad
Baby artichoke, parsley and celery salad "Artichokes and celery are wonderful together," Jesse Ziff Cool writes in her book Simply Organic (Chronicle Books, 2008), where this recipe appears. "This light and refreshing salad is the perfect accompaniment to pasta dishes." The salad is dressed with a combination of fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and a dash of Tobasco. Use our robust Arbosana oil to prepare the dressing.

Click here to see the recipe
French Food Writer, Stylist and Photographer
Béatrice Peltre
Béatrice Peltre of La Tartine Gourmande
Photo by White Loft Studio
Béatrice Peltre, a native of rural northeast France, is a food writer, stylist and photographer who lives in Boston. She pens the award-winning food blog La Tartine Gourmande, which features luscious recipes and photos. Béa, as she is known, also is a regular contributor to the Boston Globe Food Section, and her work has appeared in many publications such as Saveur, Food & Wine, Fine Cooking, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, the Huffington Post, the Washington Post, and  the New York Times Diner's Journal. We caught up with Béa via e-mail while she was traveling recently in France.

What are some favorite dishes that you can recall you and your family ate while growing up in the French countryside?

There are so many: from ratatouille in the summer to cherry clafoutis, stuffed zucchini, vegetable tian, fish papillotes, and my mother's potato salad. (I can still not make it as she does!) My  mother also always made a variety of vegetable tarts - always with a green salad on the side.

It sounds like your mother did the cooking in your home. How important was food in your family, and how was that expressed - family meals, people coming over, etc.?

Very important. It is surely a way of being. A favorite conversation. We still talk all the time about food: what we ate, what we cooked, and what we will eat next. My mother has a vegetable garden and I grew up helping her, my grandmothers, and aunts preserving fruit and vegetables.  

Was there a particular event that inspired your interest in food and cooking?

Not necessarily one event. I always wanted to do something with food because since I was a young girl, I really loved to cook. When I was in college (I was 17 then), I taught myself more how to cook since I lived in an apartment by myself and I really wanted to eat well. When I don't eat well (and by  this I also mean a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, grains, fruit, and proteins) I am not the same person! My mother taught me to express love with food. This is one way she had to show us she cared. Like her, I love to make people happy and inspired with food. Food really is a connector: to people, and to a place. I love to build memories around food.

How would you characterize your approach to cooking and eating?
Tarragon-flavored fava bean and green pea tartine
Photo by Béatrice Peltre La Tartine Gourmande

Colorful. Healthy but not in an extreme way. I believe in balance. And moderation. I'm a happier and better person when I eat well and I feed my favorite people delicious healthy foods. My cooking is obviously French-inspired, because this is what I know the best. But it's also largely influenced by my extensive travels around the world. I love to explore foreign cuisines. It's loaded with vegetables and grains.

What do you like to eat when you're too tired to cook?

A large bowl of mixed salad (arugula, mesclun salad, fennel, orange, apple, radishes) with lots of fresh herbs, lemon juice, and olive oil. A bowl of quinoa, a poached egg, and slices of smoked salmon. That makes a perfect and quick lunch or dinner.

What's in your fridge?  

Always a variety of vegetables and fruit like carrots (always in need of a bowl of French carrot salad), leeks (for the spontaneous dish of risotto), arugula, apples, and radishes when they are in season. Eggs. Milk. Yogurt. Goat cheese, Petit Basque cheese, and Comté cheese. Smoked salmon or prosciutto.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I grew up in a small village in the French countryside so I really love the outdoors and nature. I run, walk, hike, and swim. And then I spend lots of quality time with my daughter Lulu and husband Philip.  We love picnics, so we often look for a special spot to have one.