Eating locavore for the holidays in the Bay Area
The husband and I had Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner by ourselves. We're hibernating, like big antisocial bears — he's hanging drywall and I'm organizing my files. But don't pity us: we couldn't be happier. I hadn't really planned out what we were going to eat, simply going to the farmers market Saturday and loading up on whatever looked good, but I ended up cooking a lot — so much so that we'll be having leftovers 'til New Year's. I don't often post what I cook here, because it's relatively simple and thus to me boring. However, I'm worried y'all are getting the sense that we live on extreme-eating dishes like boiled tongue and head cheese, so I thought I'd show some of the more or less everyday cooking that happens here at the Ethicurean's Oakland/Berkeley location. Plus, the husband has a new camera that he was eager to try out.
Christmas Eve dinner was 95% local and while delicious, also tragically un-photogenic and thus unrecorded: Clark Summit piglet shoulder braised in Bernie's Best apple cider (farmers market) with garlic, thyme, carmelized onions (all FM) plus rosemary (foraged from the neighborhood on an earlier walk); steamed kale (FM) with rice vinegar (not local) and tangerines (foraged, an exciting find!); and yellow Finn potatoes (FM) sliced thin and fried 'til crispy in butter (FM).
For Christmas dinner, we had crab cakes for the first course. I cleaned the boiled Dungeness crab (FM) and, since it had cost me a whole $20, made stock from the shell bits. More or less following a recipe from Mark Bittman's indispensable "How to Cook Everything," I chopped and tossed the crab with a Soul Food Farm egg, red onion (FM), red peppers (frozen from the summer, which apparently does not work too well as they were watery), parsley (foraged), a few TB of panko, some mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper (all nonlocal). I breaded the cakes in panko and fried them in a mixture of butter (FM) and safflower oil (organic, nonlocal). They turned out splendiferously crunchy and oh so crabby.
Salad was Happy Boy Farms assorted beets, roasted and tossed with shaved fennel (FM) and parsley (foraged), on a bed of arugula (FM) dressed with California olive oil, lemon juice and zest (foraged), and shallots (FM).
For the main course, I tried to recreate a Jewish friend's Hannukah brisket that had tempted my downfall into carnivorism several years ago. As advised by this this recipe (which I highly recommend; it's apparently adapted from a Williams-Sonoma one), I slow-cooked our Marin Sun Farms brisket on Christmas Eve and then reheated it and reduced the sauce the next day. I used a can of nonlocal San Marzano tomatoes from Italy because I had them in the cupboard from ages ago and I'm hoarding the tomatoes we canned this summer, along with onions (FM), Smit Ranch dried cherries, and wine (a leftover California pinot). It was incredibly tasty: rich, fatty, and not overly sweet. For our mandatory vegetable, I steamed broccoli (FM) and then sauteed it in olive oil with garlic slivers (FM), lemon zest (foraged), and white wine (not local). I also roasted some of the Finn yellow potatoes in olive oil with rosemary, thyme, and garlic.
I had planned to make tarte tatin for dessert, and got as far as making a tart crust (Full Belly flour, butter, and home-rendered Clark Summit lard) and refrigerating it, but fortunately I ran out of time and we ran out of appetite. Maybe tonight … or tomorrow.
I shall leave you with a gratuitous cat photo. I let them have the gills from the crab, and they were in heaven.
P.S. Before you tell me that my cat is obese, he's under 10 pounds — just very fluffy.
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