By Sara Hayden and Karla Kane
Dip into mashed potatoes with fresh garden chives and Swiss chard ricotta cannelloni.
Arugula from the garden. Photo courtesy of Jesse Cool.
Winter might not be the first season that comes to mind when you think of fresh garden produce, but there are plenty of delicious veggies to harvest – and devour – during the winter months. .
Champions of sustainable cuisine, the team at Flea Street in Menlo Park is well aware of this. Founder Jesse Cool and Chef Bryan Thuerk take inspiration from gardens at home, in restaurants and in the community, as with the Riekes-Cool Garden Project. The team is passionate about sharing this philosophy, celebrating local foods and the connections that surround them.
Over the decades, Cool has reshaped people’s attitudes towards organic food and direct access to the products they eat. She remembers sneaking into the Palo Alto Farmer’s Market when it was illegal for California farmers to sell direct to consumers.
âNow everyone walks in with their chef’s coats,â Cool said in an interview. âThere are a lot more organic products. There is much more awareness of regenerative soils and collaborative production. There is real revitalization toâ¦ growing the food we eat. “
It is an activity all year round, including during the winter months. Meanwhile, the cooler weather makes the most of a rainbow of ingredients, including orange carrots, red beets, and bunches of greenery.
âMy favorite winter vegetable should be arugula. The flavor and spiciness of arugula in cold weather comes out much more than in other parts of the year, âsaid Thuerk.
He emailed advice on when the leafy green with the peppery kick is ready to be plucked:
“During the winter, when I grow kale, arugula, spinach, and bok choy, I look for full, dark green leaves and (with) firm but tender stems.”
âWhen the stems get too firm, it means the plant is older than expected, making it more fibrous. But, he said, in this case, “they make great stews or braised vegetables!”
Cool names carrots and beets as some of his favorite cold weather crops.
âThey get milder with cooler weather,â she wrote in an email. “We’ve always welcomed a certain color and a deep, rich earthy sweetness during the winter, when the ingredients are mostly shades of green.”
Cool says she recommends testing the taste to find out when it’s time to pluck a crop. âNibbles on anything that grows leads to innovation and understanding,â she said.
She also taught farmers to observe what the wildlife is doing in the garden. âWhen the local critters start harvesting and eating a crop, it’s ready for us too, so jump on it and beat them up,â Cool said.
One of the Cool family’s favorite dishes is mashed potatoes. For this dish, Cool uses chives and potatoes grown in his garden.
âChives are easy,â Cool said. “Find a sunny spot, big pots, harvest when the cold weather starts, chop and dry for the winter. For me, I can’t grow too many chives.”
Cool’s potato variety of choice is the yellow-fleshed potato, as opposed to the redhead. When boiled, they are naturally moist and require less butter or milk. Harvest the potatoes until the end of November, then they can be stored in a cold cellar or crisper for weeks, Cool said.
When it comes time to cook, Cool offers this trick: “For me, pushing the flesh of the potato through a potato masher, then whipping (the potatoes) with a whisk may take a little longer, but it can take a little longer. prevents becoming starchy. ” With this method, the potatoes become light and chewy. Make it big and don’t be afraid of leftovers, which freeze well for future use.
For a winter feast, check out Cool’s and Thuerk’s recipes featuring some of their favorite winter garden ingredients.
Jesse Cool Family’s Favorite Mashed Potatoes
For 4-6 people
– Yellow-fleshed potatoes, 4 lbs
– Milk, 1 cup or more
– Chicken broth, Â½ cup or more
– Cream cheese, 4 tablespoons
– Butter, 4 tablespoons
– Salt and pepper to taste
– Lots of chopped chives for garnish
1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into similar sized pieces. Put in a pot of cold water. Bring the pan to a boil. Generously salt the water. Cook the potatoes until they are very tender. Test with the tip of a knife.
2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the milk and poultry broth. Stir in the butter and cream cheese. Put aside.
3. When the potatoes are cooked, drain them. Run cold water over them until they are easy to handle but still very hot.
4. Pass the potatoes through a potato masher. If using a stand mixer, pour the rice into the mixing bowl. Otherwise, use any large bowl that will give you plenty of space when whipping the potatoes.
5. Using a spatula or large spoon, stir in the hot milk mixture.
6. Whisk the potatoes until light and fluffy. Add more milk or chicken broth if needed. Don’t make them too fluffy.
7. Season with S&P to taste.
8. Stir in the chives or transfer the potatoes to a serving dish and garnish generously.
Bryan Thuerk Swiss Chard and Ricotta Cannelloni with Classic Bechamel Sauce
Swiss chard pasta
– 1 cup of chard puree
– 2 cups of semolina
– 3 whole eggs
– 1 teaspoon of salt
1. On a prepared and clean surface, place the semolina in a pile. Using your thumb, make a dimple or bowl for the eggs and chard mash.
2. Pour the 3 whole eggs and 1/2 cup of chard puree and salt in the middle of the semolina. Using a fork, whip the eggs and chard, gradually incorporating the edges of the semolina. Once the semolina becomes lumpy, add the rest of the mash. Start kneading the dough for about 10 minutes. After fully incorporated, wrap the dough in clear plastic wrap and place in the fridge for an hour to rest.
Swiss chard ricotta filling
– 5 bunches of chard
– 1 pound of ricotta (Bellwether is Thuerk’s favorite)
– 5 cloves of garlic
– 1 large white onion
– 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes
– Salt to taste
1. Start by destemming the chard. Wash the leaves and dry them with a clean towel. Roughly chop the chard and set aside. Next, dice the onion and chop the garlic to make a quick stir-fry.
2. In a large sautÃ© pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.
3. When the oil begins to have a small amount of white smoke, add the onions and garlic. SautÃ© for about a minute. Follow with the chili flakes and chopped chard.
4. SautÃ© all the ingredients together, about 3 to 4 minutes, until all the vegetables are wilted and tender. Add the ricotta and mix with the vegetables over heat. Cook all the water that is left in the chard and inside the ricotta. This will help your pasta to keep its shape and not end up in a big mess.
5. Once completely incorporated, place the pasta filling in a bowl and refrigerate.
1. While preparing the rolling pasta, heat a large pot of water on the stove over high heat. Later, you will cook the pasta sheets to a boil.
2. Once your pasta is well rested and firm, it’s time to roll it out. Take the pasta out of the plastic wrap and place it on a light dusting of semolina.
3. With a knife, cut the dough into quarters. It is easier to make pasta in batches than all at once.
4. With a pasta grinder, massage the pasta until it is thin enough to pass through the thickest passage of the machine. If you don’t have a pasta mill, use a rolling pin to get the thickness of pasta needed to roll the cannelloni.
5. On your pasta mill, lower the thickness level from 10 to 1.5. You can go thinner, but you risk ripping or tearing the cannelloni. The pasta sheets should be about 5 inches wide and 8 inches long.
6. After all of your pasta sheets are unrolled, make sure they are laid flat on a thin layer of semolina to prevent it from sticking to surfaces or other pasta sheets.
7. Now blanch your fresh pasta for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Place the pasta sheets flat on an oiled baking sheet.
8. Position the pasta sheet horizontally. Add as much topping as you’d like along the long side of the pasta, about half an inch from the edge. Continue rolling the pasta to form long tubes.
Classic bechamel sauce
– 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter
– 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 liter of milk
– Nutmeg to taste
– Salt to taste
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, stir in flour until smooth. Continue to stir while the flour cooks until a light golden brown and sandy color, about 7 minutes.
2. Increase the heat to medium-high and slowly stir in the milk until it thickens with the roux. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer until the flour has softened and no longer has a grainy taste, about 10 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and nutmeg to taste.
3. Serve with the cannelloni.
Flea Street // 3607 Alameda de las Pulga, Menlo Park; 650-854-1226