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Organic produce isn’t always better, argues the Los Angeles Times’ Russ Parsons.  The organic versus conventional debate is more complex than it seems.  Eugenia Bone teaches us about canning and preserving food in small batches.  Plus, sommelier Stacie Hunt tells us about new wines from some very interesting producers.  The wines are included in two wine flights Stacie put together for Good Food subscribers.  And Amelia Saltsman shares a recipe for Eggplant Caviar.

Guest Interview Market Report 7 MIN, 56 SEC


Amelia Saltsman is the author of the Santa Monica Farmers Market Cookbook.  Eggplant is in season right now and Amelia is making a Roasted Eggplant Caviar.  Wrap the caviar in basil leaves for a bite-sized serving.

Roasted Eggplant Caviar in Basil Leaf

2 medium globe eggplants, about 1 pound each
2 to 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and cut in slivers
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup flat parsley leaves
2 Tablespoons capers
4 tsps red wine vinegar
24 to 30 medium-size basil leaves, washed and dried

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 2 globe eggplants crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Make 2 parallel slits about 1-inch long in the center of each slice. Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil in bottom of large baking sheet with sides. Place eggplant slices snugly in pan(s) (a little overlapping is okay). Insert 1garlic sliver into each slit. Drizzle remaining oil overall and season with salt and pepper.  Roast until soft and bottom sides are browned, about 30 minutes. Use a spatula to turn slices and roast until quite tender, about 10 minutes more.

Pile eggplant in a deep bowl to steam. Stir vinegar into empty pan, scraping up any brown bits and add to bowl. Coarsely chop parsley and capers together on cutting mat. Add eggplant to cutting mat reserving any juices in bowl. Chop very fine, return to bowl, and stir to blend.

Allow to stand for 1 hour before serving to let flavors blend. Taste and add vinegar, pepper, or salt as desired. May be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature to serve.

Serve with a mound of whole basil leaves. Place about 2 teaspoons of caviar on basil leaf, wrap, and pop into your mouth.

Makes about 2 cups eggplant caviar, enough for 24 basil-wrapped bites.

Note: This is lovely with all sorts of basils—lemon, cinnamon, purple, or Italian. Also, try this with lemony sorrel leaves.

© 2009, Amelia Saltsman.  From The Santa Monica Farmer's Market Cookbook: Seasonal Foods, Simple Recipes and Stories from the Market and Farm


Alvaro Bautista grows dates organically in Mecca, CA, out in the Coachella Valley. 

The khadrawy date tasts like brown sugar.  To harvest these soft dates, they have to pick them one by one from the trees.  If you’re planning on stuffing them, freeze them for about an hour first.  Stuff them with cheese or peanut butter.  The medjool dates are better suited for wrapping in bacon.  He’ll have medjool dates beginning next week.

Honey dates are a very soft and sweet variety. They are too tender to sell in the supermarket and can be found only in farmers markets.

Guest Interview Organic vs. Conventional 6 MIN, 25 SEC


Russ Parsons is the food and wine columnist for the Los Angeles Times.  He argued in a recent column that "organic" doesn't always mean the best flavor.  He even goes as far as saying "I don't believe in organic."  Understandably, Russ got a lot of emails from readers.  Read his response.

Russ Parsons is the author of How to Pick a Peach.

How to Pick a Peach

Russ Parsons

Guest Interview Wine Flights 6 MIN, 45 SEC

Sommelier Stacie Hunt has put together two wine flights for KCRW subscribers.  The first is a two-bottle package featuring an '07 Fattoria San Francesco Ciro' from Basilicata, Italy and an '07 Reuilly from the Loire Valley in France.

The four-bottle wine flight includes:

'07 Malat Steinbuhel Reisling - Palt, Austria
'03 Aglianico Del Vulture Riserva, Allegretti Barile Vecchio - Calabria, Italy
'07 Treana - Paso Robles, California
'06 Cavas Valmar Tempranillo - Baja California, Mexico

A special thanks to Stacie, Splash Productions, Du Vin Wine & Spirits and the producers of these incredible wines.  Last week on Good Food, Stacie talked about the characteristics of each of the wines.

Guest Interview Small Batch Preserving 7 MIN, 27 SEC

Well-PreservedEugenia Bone is the author or Well-Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods

Well-Preserved is the September selection for the Good Food Cookbook Club.  Join KCRW as an Angel and receive a cookbook every other month, chosen by Evan Kleiman.


Eugenia Bone

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