2016 Summer Menu

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Beautiful, Bountiful Summer

It’s a wonderful time of year for growing – and cooking and eating! – fresh vegetables. When my workday is done, I love to tend my small vegetable garden. It’s relaxing for me to be outside in the cool of the evening, observing the garden’s day-to-day progress. But the best part of having a garden? Hands down, it’s enjoying all the delicious food it produces – tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, eggplant, lettuces, berries and herbs – at meals with my family and friends.

If you don’t have the room or the time for a garden, be sure to visit your neighborhood farmers’ markets. You’ll be supporting a local farm and, next to the vegetables you’d harvest from your own garden, you’ll take home the freshest seasonal food. Most famers are happy to answer questions about the vegetables they grow and will freely offer tips on how to store and prepare them. You should be able to find all the vegetables and fruits listed in my summer menu at your farmer’s’ market. Enjoy the market, my menu and this bountiful season!

—Chef Rey Hernandez,
Co-Founder and VP, Epicurean Group






  • Cool Cucumber Soup with Jacobs Farm Dill

    2 large Japanese cucumbers, washed
    4 green onions (scallions)
    2 cups vegetable stock
    3 tablespoons lemon juice
    2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
    Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
    3 cups crème fraiche
    Fresh dill sprigs for garnish

    Place all ingredients, except for crème fraiche and dill, into a high speed juicer. Purée until smooth. Pour into a nonreactive bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place in refrigerator to cool for at least !/2 hour.

    To serve:
    Ladle soup into 8 bowls and add the crème fraiche in even dollops across the 8 bowls. Garnish with fresh dill sprigs. Serve immediately.

    Link to recipe: Cool Cucumber Soup with Jacobs Farm Dill

    • *Epicurean Tip
      Non-reactive Pans

      Non-reactive cookware will not react to acid ingredients, such as citrus. When a recipe calls for a non-reactive pot, pan or bowl, use stainless steel, clay, enamel, glass, or plastic.

  • Marchini Ranch Stone Fruit* with Toasted Almonds and Red Oak Leaf Lettuce

    8 cups red oak leaf lettuce, washed and dried
    Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
    2 cups Riesling wine
    2 ounces rice wine vinegar
    4 ounces avocado oil
    4 plums, peeled and sliced
    2 peaches, peeled and sliced
    2 nectarines, peeled and sliced
    1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
    1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds

    Place red oak leaf lettuce in a large salad bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

    Meanwhile, place Riesling wine in a saucepan over medium-high heat and reduce to 2 ounces. Remove from heat and whisk in rice vinegar and avocado oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper to taste.

    Add stone fruit slices to bowl of lettuce, add dressing and toss to coat.

    To serve:
    Distribute onto 8 chilled salad plates. Garnish with goat cheese and almonds. Serve immediately.

    If the fruit is too ripe to twist the two halves apart, similarly, you can use your paring knife to cut wedges of fruit from around the pit.

    Link to recipe: Marchini Ranch Stone Fruit* with Toasted Almonds and Red Oak Leaf Lettuce

    • *Epicurean Tip
      A Trick for Pitting Stone Fruit

      Pitting stone fruit can be tricky. First, cut along the seam of the fruit all the way around, using a serrated knife. Then, gently twist the two halves and pull apart. You should be able to pull the pit out from the fruit half. If not, lay the half with the pit on the cutting board, pit side down and with your paring knife, carefully cut wedges of fruit around the pit.

      If the fruit is too ripe to twist the two halves apart, similarly, you can use your paring knife to cut wedges of fruit from around the pit.

  • Rosemary Smoked R Heritage Farm Pork Tenderloin with Ancho Chile Cream, Toasted Orzo and Boggiatto Ranch Grilled Corn with Adobo Butter

    Zest from 1 lemon
    3/4 cup lemon juice
    8 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped fine
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
    4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    4 pork tenderloins, 1 to 1.5 pounds each
    4 bunches fresh rosemary, soaked in water overnight
    Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

    Mix the zest, juice, garlic, chopped rosemary and Dijon mustard together and rub onto the pork. Season with salt and pepper and let marinate for at least 4 hours.

    Preheat the grill. Brush the grates with oil to prevent the pork from sticking. Remove the pork from the marinade and place on the hot grill. Cook for 5 minutes on each side of the tenderloins.

    Carefully lift the grill grate and pork from the grill and set on ceramic trivets or red bricks. Drain the soaked fresh rosemary and place it directly on the hot coals. Replace the grill grate and then cover on the grill. Leave the lower vents open halfway and close the top vent so you can just see the smoke coming out. Smoke the pork for 15 minutes and then close the vents completely to kill the fire, but keep the pork warm. Let rest for 10 minutes.

    For the Ancho Chile Cream:
    1 cup vegetable stock
    1 dry Ancho chile, deseeded and deveined, toasted over an open flame
    1 1/2 cups heavy cream
    4 tablespoons butter
    Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper

    Bring stock to a boil in a sauce pan over medium high heat. Add the Ancho chile and drop to a slow simmer. Cook until there is only 2 ounces of liquid and the chile is tender. Add liquid and chile to a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.

    In another sauce pan place the cream and butter and bring to a boil*. Drop to a simmer and reduce until it coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in the ancho puree. Add salt and pepper as needed, and keep warm until serving.

    To serve:
    Place the ancho cream sauce on the plate. Slice the pork tenders on the bias and place on the sauce. Serve immediately.

    Toasted Orzo and Boggiatto Ranch Grilled Corn with Adobo Butter
    2 pounds fresh Roma tomatoes
    1 large onion, diced fine
    8 each garlic cloves, chopped and minced
    1/2 cup, plus 3 ounces avocado oil
    6 cups, plus 1 cup vegetable stock
    12 ounces dry orzo
    Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place tomatoes, onion and garlic in a bowl and add 3 ounces avocado oil. Toss until evenly coated. Spread tomato mixture on a sheet pan and place on top rack in the oven. Roast until tomatoes have a nice char.

    Remove from the oven and deglaze the pan with 1 cup of vegetable stock. Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any bits. Place contents in a blender and puree to smooth. Set aside. Heat 1/2 cup avocado oil in a deep skillet over medium high heat until it shimmers. Add orzo and stir. Continue to stir until orzo is evenly browned. Remove skillet from heat and add tomato sauce and the rest of the stock. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place back on stove over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Drop to a simmer and cook until pasta is al dente. Turn off the heat and keep warm.

    Add more stock as needed, before serving so that orzo stays loose and fluffy. Serve immediately.

    Grilled Corn with Adobo Butter
    6 ounces of butter
    2 ounces of adobo sauce (remove the chilies from a can of chipotle adobo and reserve the sauce)
    4 large ears of corn with the husks on
    Kosher salt

    Make the butter the day before you use it and refrigerate so that it becomes cold and solid again.

    Mix 6 ounces of room temperature butter with the adobo sauce until it is well incorporated. Place back in the refrigerator.

    Peel back the corn husks, but not completely. Leave the husks attached to the base of the cob, similar to peeling a banana. Remove all of the silk* and rub each cob generously with the cold adobo butter.

    Re-wrap the ear of corn with the husks to seal the butter on the corn. Use some thin strands of husk to tie the husk closed at the top. Place the rewrapped corn in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

    Preheat the grill and place the ears on the grate. Cook for 3-5 minutes per side until the husks are well grilled, but not burnt through.

    Remove from the grill and place on a cutting board. With a good strong French knife or cleaver, cut the tip and bottom of the ear off, then cut the ear into halves. Place one half on each of 8 plates. Your guests can remove the husks as needed.

    Link to recipe: Rosemary Smoked R Heritage Farm Pork Tenderloin with Ancho Chile Cream, Toasted Orzo and Boggiatto Ranch Grilled Corn with Adobo Butter

    • *Epicurean Tip
      Light Your (Grill) Fire!

      Avoid using lighter fluid to start your coals; it could add an unwanted taste to anything you grill. Better options:

      1. Use a Chimney. This tool takes some practice, but once you figure how many sheets of old newspaper it takes to get your charcoals started, it is very efficient.
      2. Use an electric starter. Several types are available – one type uses an electronically heated coil that you place in your grill and cover with charcoal. Another type, which resembles a hair drier, uses electronically heated coils and a fan that blows an airstream heated to 1256 degrees Fahrenheit to fire up your coals. Another similar lighter incorporates batteries and butane to create a 2600 degree Fahrenheit airstream.
      3. Use a propane starter. Smoker-cooker gurus are using propane fire starters that can deliver 3000 degree Fahrenheit flames to get their coals going. This tool is for those who just can’t wait to start grilling or smoking!
    • *Epicurean Tip
      Keep Cream from Boiling Over with this Simple “Tip”

      To stop cream from boiling out of your sauce pan when reducing for a cream sauce, turn off the heat and place the tip of your finger in the foam. The temperature change will make the foam subside. If you don’t think your finger can “take the heat”, simply blow gently into the foam when you take it off the heat. Remember not to put it at the same heat level once it’s back on the stove top. Start at a lower heat and work up to the proper simmer temperature for an even reduction.

    • *Epicurean Tip
      Removing Corn Silk

      Here are my favorite ways to remove silk from a fresh ear of corn:

      1. If I shuck it completely, I run the cob over the stove flame to singe it off.
      2. If I do not remove the shuck completely, as in this recipe, I use a stiff vegetable brush, brushing lightly to remove the silk. A hard bristle toothbrush will also accomplish the task – but I like my veggie brush!
  • Homemade Cream Biscuits with Driscoll’s Berry Compote and Three Twins Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

    2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon iodized salt
    2 teaspoons evaporated cane juice
    1 1/2 cups organic whipping cream

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

    Whisk the dry ingredients in a bowl until well mixed. Stir in the cream with a wooden spoon until the dough is formed.

    Pour the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 30 seconds until smooth. Roll the dough into a 2 1/2 inch-baton and cut it into 8 even portions. Place the portioned rounds onto the baking sheet and place them on the rack in the middle of the oven. Bake for 8 minutes and then rotate the baking sheet for even baking. Bake for another 8 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown. Remove from oven and cover with a fresh kitchen towel to keep warm.

    For the Berry Compote:
    2 pints organic strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
    1 pint raspberries, washed
    1/2 pint blueberries, washed
    1/2 pint blackberries, washed
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    3/4 cup evaporated cane juice

    Place all the berries into a non-reactive bowl. Add lemon juice and cane juice. Toss together until well coated and let rest in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

    To serve:
    Slice the biscuits in half and place bottom halves into each of 8 dessert bowls. Spoon in some compote with its syrup on top of each biscuit half, then place the top onto each biscuit. Evenly distribute the rest of the compote and juice on top of all the biscuits. Place a 2-ounce scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on the side of each biscuit and serve immediately.

    Link to recipe: Homemade Cream Biscuits with Driscoll's Berry Compote and Three Twins Vanilla Bean Ice Cream