Farmers Market Update: SF Snow Day

by | Feb 27, 2011
Arugula Blossoms

Arugula Blossoms

Somewhere I heard a rumor that SF was supposed to have its first snow in 35 years this weekend. This struck me as odd for a few reasons. First, I’ve lived here 14 years and it has snowed at least twice. Second, though it is very cold, it’s amazingly beautiful outside.

Spring Leeks

Spring Leeks

Not surprisingly, instead of snow today it was one of the most beautiful farmers market days of the year. +1 global warming.

Spring Radishes

Spring Radishes

In fact, the sun was so bright I could barely capture any decent photos. The long shadows and high contrasts that come with sunshine are usually buffered by the sky in foggy SF. Not today!

Arugula

Arugula

But the good news is that spring is everywhere. I think what I’m most excited about is all the delicate salad greens. As much as I enjoy the kale and cabbage we’ve had the past couple months, it hurts my soul to go too long without fresh spinach, arugula and treviso.

Treviso

Treviso

If you aren’t familiar with treviso, it is a bitter green (sometimes purple) similar to radicchio. And today at Capay Organics it happened to look like a bunch of roses.

Artichokes

Artichokes

And speaking of vegetables that look like flowers, the artichokes are also looking fantastic. I didn’t get any this time, but will have my eyes out for them next week.

Kale and Chard

Kale and Chard

Of course I also stocked up on my obligatory kale and cabbages. They were just too beautiful to ignore, and I know this is the best time of year (especially for the cabbages).

Pretty Cabbages

Pretty Cabbages

The best part of all? Winter and spring vegetables are some of the most affordable of the year. Since a few people have asked about cost I’ve started keeping better track of the money I spend at the market. For the second time in a row, I came in under $20.

Today’s purchases:

Market quote of the day: “Yep, every house needs limes. Especially on weekends.”

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For The Love Of Food

by | Feb 25, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week we finally have definitive proof that the Biggest Loser and Dr. Oz are pure evil. It was just a matter of time. Also, a thought provoking piece on food prices, more condemning news for diet soda and a new recipe search tool from Google.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete list of my favorite stories check out my links on Digg. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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Dosa’s Rasam “Fire Broth” Recipe

by | Feb 21, 2011
Dosa's Rasam

Dosa's Rasam

I’m absolutely delighted to be sharing this top secret recipe from the kitchen of one of my favorite restaurants, Dosa. I recently highlighted this recipe in an article I wrote about lentils and their health benefits for Edible SF, where you can read more about the soup.

Dosa owner Anjan Mitra is very protective of his recipes and I am eternally grateful to him for sharing this one for rasam, a spicy lentil soup. If you have a minute please stop by and thank him on Twitter (@dosasf) and Facebook.

If you’ve never explored Indian cooking, it’s a fantastic way to familiarize yourself with new spices and feel like a culinary badass. These recipes never cease to impress, and as much as I adore (and rely on) simple recipes, it’s fun to try something a little more challenging every now and then.

The hardest part of this recipe will be tracking down some of the more elusive ingredients. While the majority of the spices can be found at a regular grocery store, a few ingredients may require a trip to an Indian grocery or specialty store. For more info on the ingredients, check out my last article on rasam ingredients.

A few notes before you begin:

  1. You’ll need a spice grinder. A coffee grinder will work, but you’ll need to clean it well before using it again for coffee.
  2. Curry leaves are not necessary if you can’t locate them, but do not attempt to substitute curry powder.
  3. The better quality tomatoes you use, the better the recipe will turn out.
  4. This is meant to be spicy, but you can adjust the spice level depending on your tolerance by switching up the type and number of chilies you use.
  5. The lentils and the tamarind each require a 1 hr soak before cooking, so plan accordingly.
  6. Since some of the ingredients are difficult to find, once you have them you can make a large batch and freeze the rest in quart-sized containers.

Dosa’s Rasam “Fire Broth” Recipe

© DOSA May not be copied or distributed without prior written permission

Approximately 8 portions.  Naturally vegan & gluten-free.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. Toor dal (lentils) aka Pigeon Peas, available at most Indian grocery stores
  • 4 Organic red tomatoes cut and blended
  • 1 1/2 sq. inch Tamarind pulp (usually sold in blocks)
  • 1/2 Organic lemon
  • 1/4 c. Chopped cilantro
  • 6 Cloves of garlic
  • 5 Dried red chilies
  • 6-8 Fresh curry leaves (leave out if you can’t find them, do not use “curry powder”)
  • 4 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 3 tsp Whole black peppercorns
  • 4 tsp Coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp Asafetida (This stuff is very potent so don’t overdo it. Gluten-free versions with rice-flour are available.)
  • 10-11 c. Water
  • 1-2 tbsp Oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt

Preparation:

Tamarind

  1. Soak the tamarind in 1/2 cup of water for 1 hour.

Toor dal

  1. Soak to the Toor Dal in 1 cup of water for 1 hour.
  2. Add 5 additional cups to the Toor dal and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes on a medium flame or until grains are very soft and blending with the water. (Note from Darya: this took closer to 30 minutes for me)
  3. Let it cool for 5 mins, then blend the Toor dal with the water. (Note from Darya: a hand blender works well)

Garlic

  1. Crush whole garlic and grind into a paste (Note from Darya: use mortar and pestle or back of wooden spoon)

Powdered Spice Mixture

  1. Grind cumin, peppercorn and coriander seeds. It can stay relatively coarse, but should be fine enough to drink in the soup.
  2. You can use a coffee grinder, however, be sure to clean it thoroughly after use.

Tomatoes

  1. Cut and blend the tomatoes into a pulp. (Note from Darya: use a food processor or blender)

Cooking:

**Have all your ingredients ready since some of these steps are relatively quick

  1. Add a minimal amount of oil to coat the bottom of a soup pot.  Turn to medium-high heat.
  2. When the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, dried red chiles and curry leaves.
  3. Keep stirring for about 2 minutes. You’ll get the aromatic flavors of these ingredients.
  4. Add asafetida and keep stirring for another 30 seconds.  This has a very strong aroma of onion and garlic so make sure you don’t add too much.
  5. Add turmeric and crushed garlic paste. Lower the flame slightly and keep stirring to ensure the garlic doesn’t burn. Stir for another 2 to 3 minutes or until the raw garlic flavor has dissipated.
  6. Add the fresh tomato pulp.
  7. Add tamarind pulp with the water in which it’s been soaking.
  8. Stir and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes on a medium flame.
  9. Add the powdered spice mixture.
  10. Cook for about 5 to 6 minutes on a medium flame.
  11. Stir intermittently. You’ll notice the aromatic flavors of the spices.
  12. Add the blended Toor dal (lentil) and stir.
  13. Add remaining water about 2 to 3 cups. You can add more or less water depending on how thin or thick you would like the soup. It’s flavorful enough to be served relatively thin.
  14. Add cilantro.
  15. Add salt.
  16. Squeeze 1/2 an organic lemon.
  17. Simmer for 10 minutes and stir intermittently. Do NOT boil or cook. When it starts to froth you’re done.
  18. Check salt and add to taste if needed. (Note from Darya: I added an extra 1/4 tsp to get the same taste as at the restaurant)

Serving:

  • This nutritious and flavorful soup has a grainy and coarse texture as a result of the coarsely blended spices.
  • Stir the pot before ladling the soup into a cup as the spices will settle to the bottom.
  • Serve hot and garnish with cilantro.
  • It can be drunk straight from a cup or even eaten with rice.
  • You won’t even notice it’s vegan and gluten-free!

HUGE thanks to Anjan and Dosa for sharing this amazing recipe.

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Rain Day: Jai Ho Indian Grocery

by | Feb 20, 2011
Rasam Ingredients

Rasam Ingredients

The rain didn’t let up yesterday, so rather than face the cold wet farmers market I decided to visit the Jai Ho Indian grocery store to pick up some ingredients I can’t find at my normal spots.

Jai Ho was recommended to me by Anjan Mitra, a friend and owner of San Francisco’s premier South Indian restaurant Dosa. I’m a huge fan of Dosa and recently interviewed Anjan for an article about lentils and their health benefits I wrote for Edible SF.

Indian Groceries

Dry Goods

Jai Ho Indian Grocery

Jai Ho Indian Grocery

I’m delighted to report that Anjan was nice enough to share his amazing Rasam “fire broth” recipe for lentil soup, which I’ll publish here at Summer Tomato tomorrow.

Today I want to share some of the ingredients that go into the soup, since they may not be familiar to those of you who don’t have experience cooking Indian food.

Toor Dal

Toor Dal

The soup is based on a type of lentil (“dal” in Hindi) called toor dal, or pigeon peas. Toor dal are medium sized yellow lentils that fall apart easily when cooked through. You should be able to find them at any Indian grocery store.

The recipe also calls for wet tamarind pulp, the kind sold in blocks. The one I got actually had chunks of stems in there, which I had to pick out.

Asafetida

Asafetida

Wet Tamarind

Wet Tamarind

Asafetida is a potent smelling herb that comes in powder form. This was the first time I had worked with it so I had to check Wikipedia to see exactly what it is. Apparently asafetida is also known as “devil’s dung” but, ironically, is a known antiflatulent. How have I never heard of this stuff?

Turmeric

Turmeric

The only other ready ground spice used in the recipe is turmeric, which some research suggests may help in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. You can find ground turmeric at any grocery store.

Dried Chilies

Dried Chilies

As you might expect, the soup calls for several sources of heat. The first are dried red chili peppers. I used my own Thai dragon peppers I dried last summer, but any form of red chili works here.

Whole Black Peppercorns

Whole Black Peppercorns

Some of the heat also comes from a generous portion of black peppercorns, which are ground together with several other spices that form the main flavors of the soup.

Cumin Seeds

Cumin Seeds

The other spices in the mixture are cumin and coriander seeds. Mustard seeds are also called for, though these are added whole and are not ground with the other spices.

Coriander Seeds

Coriander Seeds

One of the hardest to find ingredients for the recipe is fresh curry leaves. The recipe is very explicit that if you cannot find them you should leave them out and under no circumstances substitute ground curry powder. I was able to find fresh leaves at Jai Ho, and their flavor was more subtle than I expected.

Fresh Curry Leaves

Fresh Curry Leaves

And of course, don’t forget your garlic.

Garlic

Garlic

Stay tuned tomorrow for Dosa’s rasam recipe.

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For The Love Of Food

by | Feb 18, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

In case you missed it, be sure to check out the first episode of Summer Tomato Live and vote on our next show topic. Voting closes tonight at midnight, PST.

(BTW, Summer Tomato Live is now on iTunes. If you have time to leave a review I’d be deeply grateful.)

This week: why vegans have more heart risks, McDonald’s new “healthy-food” chain, what Donald Rumsfeld has to do with Diet Coke, and more bad news for people who think exercise will solve their weight problems.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete list of my favorite stories check out my links on Digg. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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Summer Tomato Live – Episode #1 – The Four Hour Body [video]

by | Feb 16, 2011

Last night was the first episode of Summer Tomato Live where we discussed the new best-selling book, The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss. Thanks everyone for watching and submitting your questions, the show was a huge success and we had a great conversation.

[note to self: get haircut]

The entire show is available above. Normally the videos will be available a week after the live broadcast, but for this first episode I want to give everyone a chance to see what the show is about in case you’re interested in subscribing.

I’ve partnered with Foodzie and Zürsun Heirloom Beans to provide free samples of Zürsun cranberry beans (great for Slow Carb Dieters) as well as a free Foodzie Tasting Box ($20 value) to the first 150 subscribers. Spaces are filling up quickly, so sign up soon if you want the bonuses (for more info about the show and newsletter read this). US shipments only.

Subscribe to Summer Tomato Live ($3.99/mo)

The next live show is scheduled for Wednesday, March 2, at 6:30pm PST. The reason I’m choosing a different day of the week is so that Tuesday night karate class or any other regularly scheduled activity won’t be a barrier to subscribing. If this system doesn’t work for you, please let me know. If a fixed day is better for most people, we can try to make that happen.

Wondering what the next show is about? Me too! Please vote for the next Summer Tomato Live topic (if you’re reading this in an email, please click over to the blog post to vote in the poll):

[poll id="8"]

Poll closes Friday at midnight PST.

Show notes from episode #1:

The book: The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss, a #1 New York Times best-seller.

Slow Carb Diet: How to Lose 20 lbs. of Fat in 30 Days… Without Doing Any Exercise (note: In the book there is one extra rule than is listed in this original post, “Don’t eat fruit.”)

Recommended pressure cooker: Fagor Splendid 6-Quart Pressure Cooker

Useful links:

Please add any tips or suggestions you have about the show in the comments. Thanks!

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A caveman and a vegan walk into a bar…

by | Feb 14, 2011

Photo by Andrew Feinberg

Caveman Bob: Wow I’m starving, wanna grab some grub?

Vegan Kate: Sounds great, I wonder if this place has quinoa…

Caveman Bob: What the hell is keen-wah? We don’t have that where I’m from.

Vegan Kate: No way! It’s so awesome, plus it’s a complete protein so if you can’t find beans it’s no problem.

Caveman Bob: Beans? Complete protein? Stop talking crazy. If you want protein why don’t you just eat some delicious cow? Cow is delicious. And it’s chock full of lysine. Beans-shmeans.

Vegan Kate: Oh no, no no no. I could never eat an animal or animal product. Not only is it cruel, it’s unhealthy. Animal fat causes heart disease and animal protein causes cancer. Everyone knows that.

Caveman Bob: That’s silly. I don’t have heart disease or cancer and I eat animals for a living. You should see my blood work, it’s pristine.

Besides, I haven’t even evolved to eat those weird cereals and beans you speak of. I’ve been told they’re the reason people have all these crazy diseases of civilization. Thanks, but I’ll pass.

Vegan Kate: What do you mean you haven’t evolved to eat them? We’re physiologically the same and I eat them all the time. I don’t have any of those diseases either, and my blood is also impeccable.

I’m certain it’s because I don’t eat animals.

Caveman Bob: Well I’m pretty sure you’re wrong.

Vegan Kate: And I’m pretty sure you’re wrong.

Caveman Bob: Hmm. Sounds like at least one of us is wrong. Can I get you a drink?

What don’t you eat?

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Farmers Market Update: Springtime!

by | Feb 13, 2011
Tulips

Tulips

There’s no denying it, springtime has hit SF! I know it’s February, we’re all confused. But whaddaya gonna do?

Fava Greens

Fava Greens

Not only do we now have tulip and fava greens, today I spotted the first tomatoes!

Love Apples

Love Apples

Granted they weren’t particularly impressive. There were just a few and they were probably grown in a greenhouse. But crappy tomatoes are the first step toward real, legit summer tomatoes. They’re right around the corner.

Green Garlic

Green Garlic

Tomatoes weren’t the only sign of spring this weekend. Green garlic and spring onions are making their first appearances. It’s all very exciting. (BTW, here’s some info on how to tell the difference between green garlic and green onions).

Satsuma Mandarins

Satsuma Mandarins

Of course none of these announcements should overshadow the real stars of the farmers market this week. The oranges, grapefruit, clementines and kiwi are ridiculously good. Seriously ridiculous.

Pile Of Blood Orange Slices

Pile Of Blood Orange Slices

The last few weeks I’ve been focusing on clementines and mandarins, but this week the grapefruit and oranges were the sweetest option. I also brought home a huge pomelo. Yum.

Leeks

Leeks

Another thing I noticed this week was that leeks are becoming more common, another sign of spring. Leeks are generally unappreciated. Their flavor is amazing and I sometimes eat them alone sauteed in olive oil with a sprinkle of sea salt.

Romanesco

Romanesco

I also spied some beautiful romanesco at the market today. Who could resist buying nature’s fractal? Their flavor is like a mixture of cauliflower and broccoli, only more delicate. I like to roast it in florets so they keep their beautiful shape. This roasted cauliflower recipe works well.

Carrots and Kale

Carrots and Kale

And of course we still have the late winter carrots and kale, that I’ve been subsisting on for the past few months.

Cardoons

Cardoons

A few other notable, more exotic items I found this week include cardoons (an artichoke relative that resembles celery and tastes a bit bitter), walnuts (also walnut oil, which is amazing) and fresh bay leaves.

Walnuts

Walnuts

Fresh Bay Leaves

Fresh Bay Leaves

What did you find at the market this week?

Today’s purchases (~$20):

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For The Love Of Food

by | Feb 11, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

If you haven’t yet, please vote at Quirky to help us pick the final look of my farmers market bag. We’re almost done!

Great reading this week about why the case against saturated fat isn’t as strong as you thought, the role of fish in vision maintenance and the importance of childhood nutrition.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete list of my favorite stories check out my links on Digg. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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Introducing Summer Tomato Live! – February 15 @ 6:30pm PST

by | Feb 8, 2011

I’m thrilled to announce my latest project Summer Tomato Live! Catch the first episode 1 week from today, Tuesday February 15, at 6:30pm PST.

What is Summer Tomato Live?

Summer Tomato Live is a new live online show for Summer Tomato readers. My goal this year is to give you guys more direct access to me so I can answer all your food and health questions that come up day to day.

Summer Tomato Live will be like an online classroom, where each episode I discuss a reader-selected topic and give you the chance to ask questions and get immediate answers from me in real time. Questions can be submitted live on the show as either text or video call-ins. Video calls are a great way to have a real discussion and dig deeper than a typical Q&A.

How often will you broadcast?

Summer Tomato Live will broadcast every other week beginning next Tuesday. Though the day and time will vary each episode, the show will typically be on weeknights at or after 6:30pm PST.

If you can’t make the live show but have a question you’d like answered, feel free to ask it in the comments on this post and we’ll do our best to cover it (a recording of the show will be available later on iTunes).

What will we be talking about?

I’ve had literally hundreds of people ask me what I think about The Four Hour Body, the new best-selling book by Tim Ferriss. Tim has certainly given us a lot to talk about, so the first show will be dedicated to discussing his Slow Carb Diet, as well as the other food and health advice from the book.

If you aren’t familiar with Tim’s work, here’s a brief primer on the Slow Carb Diet.

How do I participate?

The first show will be open to everyone and you can tune in here at Summer Tomato next Tuesday, February 15, at 6:30pm PST. If you can’t make it to the live broadcast, it will be available afterward as a podcast on iTunes.

Future shows will require a password for live participation. The password will be emailed to subscribers of the new Summer Tomato premium newsletter, Tomato Slice.

What is Tomato Slice?

Tomato Slice is the new premium newsletter from Summer Tomato. Subscribers will receive access to Summer Tomato Live during the broadcast where you’ll have my full attention for the duration of the show, and I’ll answer anything you’d like to know on the topic at hand. Subscribers can also submit questions in advance via email, which will get preference over non-subscriber questions.

In addition, Tomato Slice will be an email forum for education and discussion. Still have a question about our topic after the show? You’re probably not the only one. Send it in and I’ll answer it, sharing the most interesting points with the group. I will also periodically share answers to questions that I think are of value, but not broad enough to be the subject of an entire show or blog post.

Don’t worry, you will not get a zillion new emails. I will also serve as an email filter providing only the most relevant, interesting and popular questions and answers. You can expect no more than 1-2 emails per week.

I anticipate Tomato Slice will evolve over time to best suit subscribers’ needs. My goal is to give you direct access to me, and provide an additional educational tool for those of you who are dedicated to eating well and being healthy.

The subscription fee for Tomato Slice is $3.99/mo.

Sign up here

Why are you charging?

I realize people expect online content to be free, and I generally agree. That is why you will always have free access to Summer Tomato Live after it is released to iTunes a week after the live show.

But Tomato Slice is more than just web content, it is direct access to an expert who is offering her time and energy to help you with your own specific food and health questions.

I intentionally set the price point very low so it would not be a barrier to anyone interested. I spent 6 years as a graduate student (poverty) living in San Francisco (not cheap) and I could have easily budgeted $1/week for a service like this. So while the newsletter is accessible to virtually everyone it will filter for those who are serious about food and health, people who will follow the conversation and ask thoughtful questions.

Tomato Slice is also a way to support Summer Tomato. I’ve poured thousands of hours into creating and maintaining the quality content you find at Summer Tomato every week. So far it has been a labor of love (Foodbuzz ads don’t pay squat), and so I’ve been limited in how much of my time I can realistically dedicate here. But three weeks ago I quit my job so I could devote my full attention to this site, therefore another purpose of the fee is to make sure I can continue to pay my student loans (and hopefully one day afford healthcare).

Just to be clear, the podcast is free so long as you do not want to watch it live or have the ability to ask me questions in real time. Articles on Summer Tomato will continue as usual, and simple questions will still be answered for free in the Ask Me section of the site. Tomato Slice is just a bonus service for those of you who want more direct access to me and my overly-educated gray matter.

Still want to subscribe? Do it here

Bonuses

I’m happy to announce that the first episode of Summer Tomato Live is being sponsored by Foodzie and Zürsun Heirloom Beans. Foodzie will be sending free samples of Zürsun heirloom cranberry beans (dry beans) and giving you a chance to receive one of their coveted Foodzie tasting boxes for free ($20 value) for the first 150 subscribers to Tomato Slice.

Free Foodzie tasting box! That’s worth 5-months of subscription right there, plus you’ll get some of the most delicious foods on the planet. What have you got to lose?

Lastly

I’m really excited about the show, I’ve run a few tests with my Twitter followers and the feedback has been awesome. For those interested, there will be one more little sneak peak (our final software test) tonight at 7:30pm PST, right here in this blog post. I’ll be answering questions about the new show and newsletter, along with anything else you’re curious about.

Hope to see you there!

p.s. If you’re planning to call in, please have earbuds and a microphone ready (the headset that came with your iPhone is fine). Also try and use a hardwired internet connection rather than wifi.

Enter your email address to subscribe to Tomato Slice ($3.99/mo):

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