Category Archives: Recipes

“You learn what to cook so you don’t have to be a slave to recipes. You get what’s in season and you know what to do with it.” – Julia Child

Fruit Pizza from Our Pizza Oven

Cooking again on the pizza oven at IL Fiorello.  We hosted 12 guests for a corporate luncheon and served our homemade pizzas on the back patio. The day was sunny, warm, beautiful, and it is November by the way. I love being in California. I spoke to my friend in Boston this morning and it was snowing! Yikes!  pizza

Anyway, I digress, this pizza oven is marvelous. Cooks pizza in 2 to 3 minutes! Gets up to 450° to 500° C. (842°F to 932°F) in less than an hour. Thank you to our Chef Marvin Martin who found this wonderful oven for us to use here. Amazing. It is a wood burning oven with convection. Very efficient to use.

While we waited for the guests to have lunch, Lani, our support Chef, and I were bored. So out to the garden, harvested eggplants and zucchini, roasted them in the oven and made roasted soup for service in the tasting room. Pretty cool.

Although you may not have a pizza oven with this capability, pizzas can be made
on the backyard grill or in a regular oven.

PEACH AND SWEET RICOTTA PIZZA
WITH PEACH BALSAMIC VINEGAR REDUCTION

INGREDIENTS

PIZZA DOUGH

2 cups “00” flour
2 cups AP “all purpose” flour
2 packages instant rise yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil mild
Warm water at 160° F about a cup (more if needed to make the dough)

RICOTTA CHEESE

1 quart ricotta cheese
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup heavy cream (optional)

FRUIT
Fresh peaches, pears, or apples. The fruit should be soft to melt into the pizza.

WHITE PEACH BALSAMIC VINEGAR REDUCTION, IL FIORELLO OLIVE OIL CO

PROCESS

For the dough

Place the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and olive oil into the bowl of a mixer.
Add the warm water slowly until the dough comes together and is just slightly firm
Roll into a ball and place in a stainless steel bowl cover with a light coating of oil and then clear kitchen wrap.
Put in a warm draft free place to rise for about 1-2 hours until at least doubled.
Punch down measure out each individual pizza amounts and let rise again.

For the Ricotta Cheese

Place the quart of ricotta cheese, the powdered sugar and vanilla extract into a mixing bowl and whip until almost doubled in size. Sometimes adding ½ cup heavy cream makes it whip more easily. Do this at the last minute to maintain the fluffiness of the cheese.

For the fruit

Halve the peaches, remove the stone and slice the peaches into eights

ASSEMBLY

Roll out the pizza dough into a personal size dessert pizza or larger if you are inclined to share.
Spread the fluffy ricotta over the pizza
Carefully place the sliced peaches in concentric circles to almost cover the ricotta

COOK

Place the pizza into the pizza oven for about 2 minutes, more or less depending on the heat of the over. Ours cooks well at 450° to 500° C. (842°F to 932°F).
Drizzle on the White Peach Balsamic Vinegar Reduction after cooking.

Serves about 10 large slices.

 ©IL Fiorello Olive Oil Company

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What’s Cooking at Il Fiorello: Calabrian Beans

At the Green Valley Farmers Market and at IL Fiorello we presented a beautiful dish of Cici Beans, or chick peas, cooked with a soffrito and olive oil. This recipe was presented to a group of Chefs from the Michael Mina Group restaurant RN74 during a comparative oil tasting. We paired the dish with a very robust Mission Olive Oil and it was very well received.

We wanted you to have the recipe. Feel free to change up the ingredients to suit your taste profile.

Begin with soaking dry cici beans in lots of fresh water over night, at least 12 hours.

In the morning rinse the beans thoroughly with fresh water.

Next chop a white onion, a red onion, celery, garlic, and gently sauté in olive oil until the vegetables are translucent. Add salt and pepper to taste. This is called a soffrito in Italian and a mirpoix in French. The amounts are about a cup of each of the onions and celery and 2-4 heads of garlic or more to taste.

The next step is to combine the soaked cici beans with the soffrito, add more olive oil to cover and let cook in a crock pot for at least 10 hours or until tender but not soft. Serve in bowls with a sprinkling of herbs or cheese or cut fresh tomatoes. This dish gets even better the next day as the herbs have time to soak into the dish.

 

Enjoy!

What Do You Eat When You’re Alone!

I collect cookbooks and one of my favorite books is What We Eat When We Eat Alone, Stories and 100 Recipes by Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin. Deborah Madison is the author of many cookbooks; all are very good. Deborah is the former owner of Greens Restaurant in San Francisco and a Chef who, when we were talking about cooking, described herself to me as a vegophile.

This book was published in 2009 and the forward reads “This book is dedicated to all who find themselves alone at the table. May your solitary meals be delicious and the company just as good.” What a wonderful statement! Madison goes on to say, ”Our relationship with food is one of the defining and intimate relationships of our lives; it says a lot about who we are and how we live.” This book is a sneak preview into the private lives of people, all kinds, some who cook and some who don’t, but the book is more of a thoughtful, funny, presentation of human behavior surrounding food. The illustrations are wonderful and done by her husband Patrick McFarlin. This is a really good read, not unlike another favorite author MFK Fisher. But I will write more about MFK Fisher and her tangerine segments on the radiator in another blog.

So why am I eating alone?

Last week Mark went to a private financial meeting in San Francisco and I got to eat alone. Rather, sort of alone, but for the company of 8 cats and one dog, all of whom follow me everywhere. But the crew aside, I do love a solitary evening just to relax and think and cook. Just follow the pictures and you will have a nourishing dinner. So away you go into my solitary meal. Enjoy.

Take Three ingredients out of the pantry.

Take three ingredients out of the pantry.

And a very good olive oil!

And a very good olive oil!

Don't forget the good wine to also keep good company while boiling the water and cooking the pasta

Don’t forget the good wine to also keep good company while boiling the water and cooking the pasta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the pasta is cooking make a salad or just have perfect tomatoes for a snack.

Delicious speckled trout lettuce gift from a friend

Delicious speckled trout lettuce gift from a friend

Fresh tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now back to the pasta

Open the cans and get the bowl ready

Open the cans and get the bowl ready

Drain the pasta and add the two cans, have a sip of wine

Drain the pasta and add the two cans, have a sip of wine

Add the seasoning, salt pepper, basil, parsley and red pepper flakes OR NOT!

Add the seasoning, salt pepper, basil, parsley and red pepper flakes OR NOT!

 

 

 

 

 

Toss together add cheese if you so desire

Toss together add cheese if you so desire

Sit down enjoy dinner in silence or dance to the music of good food and good company

Sit down enjoy dinner in silence or dance to the music of good food and good company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Cooking at Il Fiorello

The garden is in full gear and we need to use some of the Bright Lights Chard and fresh sweet tomatoes: add goat cheese and life is good.

IL Fiorello hosted Keith and Kathy, Kathy’s Mom, and Brandon for a visit and tour on Sunday. Keith and Kathy are friends of IL Fiorello and we have been San Francisco Symphony partners since 1981. A long time. They live and practice ENT in the peninsula area where they grew up. We first met at UC Davis when Keith was in the ENT residency program and we worked very closely together. They have heard all the stories about the olives and the mill, so an actual visit to our Olive Farm was long overdue.

Sunday brunch is such a fun meal where everyone is relaxed, happy, and can drive home early to watch baseball, play golf in the afternoon, or in teen age Brandon’s case play computer games. After a walking tour of the hospitality center, the groves, the culinary gardens, and our new olive mill, everyone needed food. As Kathy says exercise is for people who want to chow. Yes! Yes! Yes! We agree.

We began brunch with Girl on the Hill Malbec Rose’ perfectly chilled light and fresh. This wine is my definition of a classic summer Sunday Brunch wine. We served puff pastry tarts, with goat cheese. One tart had chard and leeks and the other fresh very sweet tomatoes from our culinary garden. The chard and leek tart was finished with our International award winning Frantoio oil to balance the tartness of the chard. The tomato tart was finished with our other award winning Leccino oil. Not a crumb was left and everyone was satisfied.

Dessert was vanilla ice cream with strawberry-rhubarb compote finished with our Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar Reduction. This is an easy sweet and tart combination that works with any fruit and our balsamic vinegar reductions.

 

Bright Lights Chard and Leek Tart

Pre boil the sliced leeks until tender, about 6 minutes.

Sauté the Chard in the olive oil until tender.

Prepare the goat cheese the same way as for the tomato tart

Spread it on the pre- baked puff pastry

Add the leeks and the chard and bake at 425 F for 22 minutes or until leeks and chard are tender.

 

As I was making quite a few tarts and the oven was hot, I just added all the extra left over ingredients into a tart for my dinner. After a long day at the Olive Farm coming home to a lovely dinner and a glass of crisp white wine is the prefect ending to a perfect day.

Beyond Bread and Salad

More innovative uses of IL Fiorello Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 

We all love dipping fresh bread in olive oil with a little vinegar. We all love olive oil and balsamic vinegar as a fresh salad dressing. But think beyond bread and salad and expand the uses of bread, olive oil and vinegars.

Try toasting slices of bread in the broiler or outside over the hot grill, rub with a raw garlic clove and sprinkle with olive oil. When we are milling olives, we always have a fire in the outdoor grill and dinner is toasted bread and fresh oil. If we are lucky Joe from across the street joins us with his wine and roasted chestnuts. Other options are a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil Italian variety on red or white gazpacho or Tuscan bean soup. Or just bake or sauté beans and drizzle with oil at table.

We all love extra virgin olive oil on salads but let us think beyond salad greens. Try sprinkling olive oil on freshly grilled zucchini or tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil over a fresh avocado, sprinkle with salt and a drizzle of mission lemon oil and a sprig of fresh thyme.

Sauté spinach or collard greens with lemon and garlic and drizzle with Mission variety oil at the table. See the recipe section for how to do this dish in ten minutes.

At the end of a long day just cook spaghetti, drizzle with olive oil and the zest and juice of one lemon. Open a bottle of Girl on the Hill Red Wine blend and enjoy life. Simple, easy, healthy and delightful.

Saving the best for last is olive oil ice cream made for us by Executive Chef Marvin Martin. We especially like his vanilla bean made with Leccino variety oil and chocolate with tangelo. Just melt in your mouth wonderful.

Think beyond just dipping bread in oil and expand your horizons to further enjoy the many uses of extra virgin olive oil. Look ahead in the next blog for expanded uses of balsamic vinegars beyond just salad greens.

Irish Soda Bread for the Irish in All of Us

Il Fiorello took a walk through history on Sunday (which also just happened to be St. Patrick’s Day) when Ann gave cooking demonstrations on Irish soda bread. Guests had a treat as they tasted the different breads Ann made.

She made raisin with Irish whiskey, walnut, dried cherry and oat bran. Later in the day, cranberry soda bread came out of the ovens of Il Fiorello’s Kitchen in the Grove.

It was a fun way to celebrate an Irish tradition that actually didn’t begin with the Irish, according to historical documents.

“Just like the bagpipes weren’t invented by the Scots, the chemical reaction that makes Soda Bread what it is wasn’t invented by the Irish. The earliest reference to using soda ash in baking bread seems to be credited to American Indians using it to leaven their bread. Pearl Ash was used prior to 1800 to make cakes by combining it with an acidic ingredient in the dough. However, as the Scots have made the bagpipe their instrument, the Irish have made Soda Bread theirs. Not by choice, but by a state of poverty that made it the easiest bread to put on the table,” according to the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread.

No matter the history, we enjoy the wonderful texture and flavor of Irish Soda Bread. In case you want to give it a try, we are giving you our recipe. Enjoy!

 

IRISH SODA BREAD WITH AN ITALIAN TWIST

Ingredients

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (half all purpose and half whole wheat is also good)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ teaspoons salt

2 cups buttermilk

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

 

Directions

Pre-heat over to 375F

Grease a 12” by 18”baking sheet

Put flour, baking soda, salt in a medium bowl and mix with a whisk or fork to blend

Add the buttermilk and stir until the dough comes together.

Turn out the dough on to a floured work surface e and kneed gently until the dough comes together.

Pat the dough into a round about 6 inches across and slash the top in an X or Cross

Place the dough onto the greased pan

Bake for about 50 minutes.

Wrap into a moist towel until ready to serve.

Serve with fresh Irish butter

OPTIONS: Add Currants, dried cherries, or raisins

IL Fiorello Olive Oil Co. 2013

Get Ready for Valentines Day: Make a Pink and Purple Soup!

After the hectic holiday season where one event is quickly superseded by another, a constant rearrangement of decorations, gift wrap, and cookie trays, it is time to take a restive recess from over the top dinners and decadent dishes. This colorful concoction is easy to prepare, vegetarian, and healthy. No artificial food coloring in this soup! It benefits from natures artistry and sciences subtly to create a fun Valentines Day themed soup appropriate for any age. Try wooing your loved one with some food that not only looks festive but is fun to prepare. Relatively inexpensive and non labor intensive this soup can even be made the day before to ensure you have plenty of time to attend to your loved one on Valentines Day.

Cauliflower is most commonly found in its white form, but can come in orange, green, and purple at many local produce shops. The color in the purple cauliflower is caused by the presence of the antioxidant group anthocyanin which can be found in red cabbages. The neon pink drops in this soup comes from an acid base reaction between the soup and lemon juice. This is a perfect fusion of science and food!

 

Ingredients

1 large head purple cauliflower

1 bulb fennel

5 cloves garlic

2 tspn ginger

½ onion – diced

5 cups vegetable stock

2 cups 2% milk

½ cup red wine

1 tspn cayenne

¾ cup Il Fiorello Olive Oil – Amici

Salt and pepper

1 lemon

Fennel greens

4 cups cubed fresh bread

½ cups shredded parmesan

 

Directions

Set oven to 350° F.

Roughly chop 1 bulb fennel and purple cauliflower and lay out on a baking sheet.

Season with salt and pepper and drizzle 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, mixing well.

Wrap 3 cloves of garlic in a small tin foil pouch and add to baking sheet.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until cauliflower stems can easily be punctured by a knife.

 

Once vegetables are removed from the oven:

Add 1/2 onion diced, 2 cloves minced garlic, and 2 tspns minced ginger and saute in oil in a large pot.

Once onion becomes translucent add roasted vegetables, roasted garlic, 4 cups vegetable stock, 1 cup 2% milk, and 1/2 cup red wine.

(The remaining 1 cup stock and 1 cup milk should be used to adjust viscosity of the soup to your preference)

Season with cayenne, salt, and pepper.

Let simmer with lid on for 10 minutes.

Carefully transfer soup to a blender (do this in batches if you blender is not large enough) and puree for 3-4 minutes, or until there soup looks very smooth. (You will likely need to add more stock for blending).

Return puree to large pot, add the zest of one lemon, and juice from 1/2 of a lemon. (and watch science occur!)

Let soup simmer for 10 minutes.

 

Turn oven to broiler setting.

Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over 4 cups of cubed fresh bread

Spread evenly over baking sheet and put under broiler for 3-5 minutes

Once bread cubes are out, sprinkle with grated Parmesan while still hot

 

Taste and season soup before spooning into bowls.

Top with Parmesan bread crumbs, and garnish with fennel greens.

For the final touch squeeze droplets of lemon juice on the soup to add those neon pink accents, and a punch of flavor.

 

Enjoy!

Pickling for Holiday Feasts

Chef Marvin Martin has shared his recipes for beautiful pickled vegetables that will go great for holiday meals. Chef Martin already showed Il Fiorello customers how to pickle during a cooking demonstration here at the Kitchen in the Groves. If you don’t have time to pickle, you may come to Il Fiorello and we have some of Chef Martin’s pickled vegetables for sale for $5. Quantities are limited so come soon!

 

Here are Chef Martin’s recipes:

 

PICKLED VEGETABLES AND SEASONINGS

PEARL ONION

Blanch in salted water

Red Pepper Flakes

Bay Leaf

Cover with Pickling liquid

 

CAULIFLOWER

Blanch in Salted water till slightly crisp

1/8 teaspoon yellow toasted Curry

2 All Spice berries

6 Fennel Seeds

 

CARROT

Blanch in salted water

Thyme branch

Fennel pollen one pinch

Toasted Coriander

 

GREEN BEANS

Green and Yellow to choice

Blanch in salted and shock in ice water and drain

Black pepper corns

Red peppercorns

¼ tsp. Harissa

 

BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Cut in half and trim

Blanch in salted water

Black pepper corns

Smoked Paprika

Toasted coriander seeds

 

BEETS

red and yellow to choice

Roasted and peeled

Fennel pollen

Black peppercorns

 

RED ONIONS

Sliced thin NOT blanched

1 ½ cups red wine vinegar

¼ cup sugar

 

Prepare pickling liquid and keep very hot to pour over prepared vegetables

Have jars and lids very clean and very hot

Keep vegetables refrigerated for up to 8 weeks or water bath 15 minutes for longer use.

 

STARTER PICKLING LIQUID

2 Cups White Wine or Champagne Vinegar

1 Cup Sugar (Decrease to ½ Cup If Desired)

1 Cup Water

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

10 Whole Black Pepper Corns

Combine all ingredients in a noncorrosive saucepan.

Bring liquid to a rolling boil while stirring to dissolve sugar and salt.

Remove and cool to room temperature.

Use hot when pouring over vegetables.

 

OPTIONAL PICKLING FLAVORING INGREDIENTS

Bay leaves

Curries

Smoked Paprika

Red pepper flakes

Herb sprigs- thyme, rosemary, oregano

 

VEGETABLES TO PICKLE

Carrot – Baby or regular size

Cauliflower

Fresh beans – green beans and yellow wax beansPearl Onions

Red onions

Turnips

Red and Yellow Roasted Beets

Radishes

Celebrate Bastile Day with French Green Lentils

Ann and Mark made a gorgeous French green lentil salad and shared it at the Farmers’ Market in Green Valley on Bastille Day (last Saturday). Lucky folks at the farmers’ market got to enjoy fresh Il Fiorello extra virgin olive oil with their lentil salad.

Ann shares her recipe for the salad below. Enjoy!!!!

 

French Green Lentil Salad  (serves 8)

In honor of Bastille Day French Independence July 14

 

Ingredients

1 lb French Green Lentils (2 cups)

6-8 cups of water

½ cup bell pepper finely chopped

½ cup onion finely chopped

½ cup fresh parsley finely chopped

½ cup celery finely chopped

1 cup hard cheese finely chopped

½ cup tomatoes finely chopped

2 tbsp finely grated lemon rind

½ cup Leccino Extra Virgin Olive

½ cup lemon juice (or amount to taste)

Salt and Pepper to taste

½ cup Leccino Extra Virgin Olive Oil for finishing the dish at table.

 

Directions

Sort and wash the lentils.

Place in a large pot filled with the 6-8 cups of water.

Cook until tender about 20 minutes.

Drain and cool the lentils.

While the lentils are cooling chop the vegetables into lentil size pieces.

Place cool lentils into serving bowl and mix with all the above seasonings.

Garnish with fresh parsley sprigs.

Drizzle the lentils with the remaining olive oil and serve as a salad with crusty French bread.

 

Enjoy!

Ah, Fava Beans!

Every spring we grow favas. We eat them fresh from the garden when the beans are very young and very little. But the best is to let the pods grow and harvest them when they are about 6-8 inches long and still green. There are many ways to prepare the beans. At the Kitchen in the Groves we pick, wash, de-pod, blanch, and peel the beans. Here is how to do it easily. Many hands in the kitchen save time and make it fun. For measurement about one pound of un-peeled beans will give you roughly 1/3 cup of favas. These beans also freeze well for use in soups or fava bean puree.

 

METHOD NUMBER 1: POACHING FAVAS

Remove the beans from the furry pods by pulling the string (like peas), and then running a finger up the seam of the pod, split it open and remove the beans. There are about 4 to 5 beans per pod. Save the pods for use in the compost pile for extra nitrogen for your soil.

All fava beans have a thick cover skin around them which also needs to be peeled off. Place the fava beans in boiling salted water to blanch for 3-4 minutes. Remove the beans from the boiling water and submerge them in ice cold water to stop the cooking process. This step softens the second skin, making it much easier to remove.

With your fingers, squeeze the bean out from its skin or use a paring knife to cut a slit in the jacket and pop the bean out.

Toss the beans in a fragrant olive oil, salt and a very little pepper and serve over fresh cheese.

Or add the beans to any dish that needs color and texture to heighten the appearance and taste, like a simple grilled fish with lemon and olive oil or crostini with garlic and olive oil.

 

METHOD NUMBER 2: GRILLING FAVAS

Toss the pods in extra virgin olive oil and coarse Trapani sea salt and place them on the grill. Cook for 4-6 minutes. Flavor combinations make this dish better using harissa spice or crushed red pepper flakes. When the pods are roasted, add a splash of lemon juice and lemon zest for a lovely acidity and finish to the taste. The key is just the right temperature with the goal for the beans to steam in their pods before the pods char.

Serve the whole pods at table, open the pods with your fingers, slip the bean from their outer cover and enjoy. Save the pods for the compost heap for next year’s fava growing season.

Fava beans are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. They are a great source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Phosphorus, Copper and Manganese, Folate.