Real Dirt on Farmer John; Scavenging; Fish Fridays; Sustainable Seafood; Weird NY Food; Philz Coffee

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Laura Avery chats with David from Redwood Hill Farms. Redwood Hill will be offering creamery tours from 10-am-noon, farm tours from noon-4pm on April 22-23, May 13-14 and June 3-4. David and his wife run a certified, grade-A, humane goat dairy and creamery in Sonoma county where they produce several different types of goat milk cheeses and yogurts. He explains that goats are "seasonal" animals and that his "girls" are kidding right now. He shares this recipe from Laurel Miller of the Oakland Tribute.

Strawberry, Walnut & Goat Cheese Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Serves 4

For vinaigrette:

  • 2 Tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
  • 2 Tablespoons pomegranate molasses (available at Middle Eastern groceries)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tsps red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp finely minced shallot
  • Salt to taste
For salad:
  • 6 cups mesclun
  • 1 cup strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, broken into pieces, toasted, and skins removed
  • 3 ozs soft goat cheese, such as Redwood Hill chevre, crumbled
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Whisk all the vinaigrette ingredients together and set aside. Arrange greens into a mound on four separate plates. Top greens with berries, drizzle with dressing, and add walnuts and goat cheese. Season with a twist of freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.

Laura also speaks with Alex Weiser about his fabulous "heavily savoyed" Bloomsdale spinach, which is wrinkly, thick and sweet, with no aftertaste. He's also offering sprouting broccoli, beets and purple potatoes, and will soon be harvesting the much heralded King Edward potatoes.

Good Food Listener Recipe #2, from Greta Stewart-Cohn of Studio City

Grilled Brined Chicken Breasts
This is enough brine for 2 large, whole, boneless, skinless chicken breasts (12-16 oz each) or 4 half breasts (6-8 oz each)

  • -- cup coarse salt
  • -- firmly packed dark brown sugar (Greta uses light brown)
  • 20 whole black peppercorns (Greta eyeballs it)
  • 1 red chile pepper, thinly sliced (Greta leaves it out)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup hot water, plus 3 cups cold water
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of a cleaver (or some other heavy, blunt object)
  1. Throw everything but the lemon and onion in a heavy duty gallon sized ziploc. Add the 1 cup hot water, zip the bag shut and swish around wildly until the salt and brown sugar dissolve. Add the lemon and onion and then the 3 cups cold water.
  2. Before adding the chicken breasts, pound out to an even thickness with a mallet. Don't go nuts beating them. Just balance them out so that they cook evenly. Chuck the pounded chicken into the brine bag and zip shut. Toss the entire affair into the fridge and brine for no more than 2 hours, as it will rubberize if left to stew in the brine any longer than that.
  3. Brush or spray your blasting hot grill with oil or non-stick spray. Toss the chicken on the grill directly from the brine bag, it needs no additional seasoning. Grill for 4 to 6 minutes per side.
This recipe was adapted from a brine recipe in How To Grill by Steven Raichlen.

Farmer John Peterson is the subject of the feature documentary, The Real Dirt on Farmer John. Filmmaker Taggart Siegel spotlights three generations on an American farm and how he sees the future of farming.

Steven Rinella, writer for Outside magazine, shares stories from his book, The Scavengers' Guide to Haute Cuisine, including his experience gathering "wild boar head cheese, skewered elk livers, and a variety of delicacies poached inside of animal bladders" for a three-day, 45-course feast he felt compelled to recreate from the celebrated 1903 Le Guide Culinaire, written by French chef Auguste Escoffier. Want to hear more from Scavenger Steve? Check out his recent segment from NPR's All Things Considered.

Brian Fagan claims it was not spices but fish that led to the discovery of America, that Columbus' voyage was precipitated by the rapid spread of Christianity across Europe. Fagan's Fish on Friday explains the Catholic practice of not eating meat on holy days and how it created a growing market for fish. In the 1400's, more than half the days of the year were holy, creating an incredible demand for fish. Here's a recent review of Fish on Friday from the Los Angeles Times.

Jim Covel, a marine biologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, talks about the heyday of Cannery Row and the history of California's fishing industry. John Steinbeck's classic novel, Cannery Row, takes place at a time when half-million tons of fish were caught each year at the famed fishery in the Monterey Bay. In the 1930's Cannery Row was the largest fishery in the Western hemisphere. All that changed in the 1950's when sardines virtually disappeared.

On a related note, the Aquarium will host the fifth Cooking for Solutions celebration on May 19-20. Eleven of North America's greatest chefs, including this year's honored chef, Rick Bayless, will share their passion for fine cuisine and environmentally sustainable seafood, organic cuisine and sustainable/organic wine. The event is a benefit for Seafood Watch, the aquarium's program designed to raise consumer awareness about the importance of buying seafood from sustainable sources.

Alan Richman, author of Fork it Over: The Intrepid Adventures of a Professional Eater, is a noted food critic and GQ columnist, who can ear in the best restaurants in Manhattan. For a recent article, he ventured to the other side of New York City dining, in search of the weirdest food in New York City.

Phil Jabar has been called "a coffee genius." The owner of Philz Coffee in San Francisco's Mission District has developed a devoted following. He sells ten blends (available by the pound) that are the result of 25 years of coffee alchemy and invention. Phil and his son, Jacob, spent several months developing each blend. His Tesora or "Treasure" blend is the result of a seven-year search for the perfect combination of beans.