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Carta da Musica with Baby Greens, Carrots, Radishes, and Edible Flowers

Carta da Musica with Baby Greens, Carrots, Radishes, and Edible Flowers


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Ingredients

DOUGH

  • 2/3 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups semolina flour (pasta flour)* plus additional for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt plus additional for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup (about) olive oil
  • All purpose flour (for rolling out dough)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper

SALAD

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
  • 2 cups (packed) baby arugula
  • 2 cups (packed) baby spinach leaves
  • 2 cups (packed) mixed baby greens
  • 8 baby carrots, trimmed, peeled, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 8 Easter Egg radishes or breakfast radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups stemmed edible flowers** (such as pansies and marigolds)

Recipe Preparation

Dough

  • Pour 2/3 cup warm water into 1-cup measuring cup; sprinkle yeast over and stir to blend. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 10 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, combine 1 3/4 cups semolina flour and 1 teaspoon coarse salt in large bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment; mix to blend. Add yeast mixture and beat on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and beat until dough is smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes (dough will be slightly sticky). Lightly coat medium bowl with olive oil. Form dough into ball and place in oiled bowl, turning to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough stand in warm draft-free area until slightly puffy, at least 2 hours (dough will rise very slightly but will not double in volume).

  • Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Roll out each dough portion on work surface sprinkled with all purpose flour to 8-inch round, about 1/16 inch thick. Cover dough rounds with kitchen towel and let rest on work surface 30 to 45 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, place heavy large unrimmed baking sheet or pizza stone in oven and preheat to 450°F. Just before placing dough rounds on baking sheet, sprinkle baking sheet in oven with additional semolina flour (to prevent sticking). Using tart pan bottom or large spatula, carefully slide 2 dough rounds, side by side, onto baking sheet and bake until dough rounds are hollow and very puffy in center and feel dry to touch, about 10 minutes. Remove dough rounds from oven. Cool 5 minutes. Using serrated knife or scissors and starting at outer edge of round, cut each dough round horizontally in half, completely but gently separating each round into 2 disks. Repeat baking, cutting, and separating remaining 2 dough rounds. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Store disks airtight at room temperature.

  • Preheat oven to 500°F. Arrange 2 dough disks, cut side up, on each of 2 baking sheets. Brush each disk lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle each with chopped rosemary, crushed red pepper, and lightly with coarse salt. Bake until disks are golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining disks. Place disks on platter.

Salad

  • Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon peel in large bowl. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Add arugula, spinach, baby greens, carrots, and radishes to dressing and toss to coat. Divide salad among baked disks. Sprinkle edible flowers over and serve.

Reviews Section

Review: the united colors of napa…

the SPRING FLOWER POT ubuntu, Napa, California Every now and then, a restaurant experience up-ends my life in the best possible way. My meal at ubuntu is the latest to join that short list of memorable meals. Undeniably, ubuntu is a vegetarian restaurant. People seem to make sure that’s the first thing you know about [&hellip]

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the SPRING FLOWER POT
ubuntu, Napa, California

Every now and then, a restaurant experience up-ends my life in the best possible way.

My meal at ubuntu is the latest to join that short list of memorable meals.

Undeniably, ubuntu is a vegetarian restaurant. People seem to make sure that’s the first thing you know about it. No meat or meat derivatives are used in any of Chef Jeremy Fox’s or his wife Deanie’s cooking.

But ubuntu is not just an extraordinary vegetarian restaurant.

ubuntu is an extraordinary restaurant full stop.

I was, for a time, skeptical.

The restaurant’s praises have been sung from coast to coast.* Everyone I know who has eaten there emotes excessively about it. Even friends abroad have claimed it to be the best of the Bay Area.

Quite a few perennially praised restaurants I’ve visited have turned out too good to be true.

ubuntu, thankfully, did not.

Fox and his team are producing some of the most refreshing food I’ve encountered in a long time.

It’s not as weighty or serious as the food at – say – Manresa, where Fox had worked for a few years (ironically, he was celebrated for his whole pig dinners there). The food at ubuntu doesn’t feel as precise.

Fox’s style is more carefree and impressionistic. His food is organic (in more than one way) and free-rambling, very much a living conversation dictated by the garden.

With hints of Michel Bras (Fox offers his own version of the famous “gargouillou”), ubuntu is more approachable than l’Arpege yet far more interesting and unique than Blue Hill at Stone Barns. It’s a lot cheaper too. Most of the à la carte dishes are situated in the lower teens. I don’t recall a single lunch item coming within hitting range of the $20 mark.

My recent meal at ubutnu in late May was a milestone in my dining life.

I pause to disclose two important factors:

First, a bias: if I were to be abstractly characterized as an animal, vegetable, or cheese according to my preferences, I would be a vegetable.


carta da musica, our crisp Sardinian flatbread
ubuntu, Napa, California

While I find it absurd that Michael Pollan’s now-famous, seven-word catch phrase, “Eat food. Mostly vegetables. Not too much.” needs to be a cultural revelation, I have to remind myself – having been born, bred, and raised in the Heartland – that many people in this country (and around the world) do not approach diet in this way. Sadly, many aren’t able to approach diet in this way.

My upbringing involved gardening and an emphasis on vegetables. (Does that make my parents enlightened?)

So, know that my enthusiasm for vegetables is probably much higher than the average omnivore’s.

My second disclosure: I went to ubuntu with two friends who are well-acquainted with Jeremy and Deanie Fox. One of them called ahead and arranged for Chef Fox to assemble a tasting for us.

Here is what the kitchen prepared for us. Items in CAPS are from the ubuntu organic, biodynamic garden. Inevitably, our wandering eyes got the best of us, and a couple of menu items were supplemented (with a kind accommodation of the kitchen) into the progression, neither of which managed to find their way onto our bill (*comp disclosure*). CLICK HERE to see all of the photos, or on each course for the individual photos.

1st Course

vellutata selvaggio

(enriched with NETTLE, BORAGE condimento, foraged SORRELS, BLOSSOMS, etc…)

2nd Course

spring BRASSICAS and mushrooms a la grecque

(LION’S RUN “bordelaise,” BORDEAUX SPINACH, preserved lemon)

3rd Course

2x shucked peas and GOLDEN SHOOTS in a consommé of the shells

(white chocolate, ‘CHOCOLATE’ MINT, macadamia, PURPLE PEAS in the pod)

5th Course

carta da musica, our crisp Sardinian flatbread

(topped with ubuntu SPRING GARDEN, truffled pecorino)

6th Course

‘PURPLE HAZE’ CARROT crudité with mimolette

(spiced “crumble” of dried carrot pulp, peppery NASTURTIUM salad)

7th Course

‘REDHEAD’ RADISH stew, roasted & raw

(LEMONGRASS & creme fraiche broth, SOI RABE, sweet HERBS)

8th Course

a savory expression of ‘ORION’ FENNEL

(scented with our vadouvan, ‘DELFINO’ CILANTRO, local citrus)

9th Course (Supplemented)

cauliflower in a cast iron pot

(roast-puree-raw, our vadouvan, ‘DELFINO’ CILANTRO, brown butter toast)

10th Course

arbuckle grits, our goat ricotta and the whey, “midnight moon”

(napa strawberry soffrito, FRAISE DE BOIS, assorted BASILS)

11th Course (Supplemented)

strawberry pizza “margherita”

(napa strawberry soffrito, burrata, assorted BASILS, saba)

12th Course

a sweet expression of ‘ORION’ FENNEL
(the garden’s first 2009 HONEY, yogurt whipped with MEYER LEMON)

13th Course

Chef Fox unlocks the world of vegetables with astounding facility. He sees in vegetables what the common do not and, in a manner that’s easily digestible (mind the painful pun), brilliantly passes his insight along to his diners through his cooking.


vellutata selvaggio
ubuntu, Napa, California

For example, he draws a seemingly intuitive, yet unexpected connection between the natural, caramel sweetness in carrots and Mimolette (“‘PURPLE HAZE’ CARROT crudite with mimolette”). The marriage seemed so obvious (I mean, there IS a relative known as “carrot cheese”), I was left wondering why I hadn’t thought of or encountered the couple before. I loved the fact that the entire presentation was edible, from the log-like carrot stand to the baby carrots “sprouting” from it – a more organic way of presenting vegetables than at Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

The radish – that ever-awkward root – Fox makes noble by roasting them and serving them with an intensely fragrant and spicy broth (“‘REDHEAD’ RADISH stew, roasted & raw”).

Of all the dishes we had, this one left the deepest impression.


‘PURPLE HAZE’ CARROT crudite with mimolette
ubuntu, Napa, California

The thick broth was fragrant with lemongrass, herbs, and lime zest complex packed with flavor and boldly spiked with an aggressive heat that was cleverly balanced out by a quenelle of crème fraiche that slowly dissolved into the soup. It was like Southeast Asia distilled into a bowl.I asked Fox if any thickener was used in the broth he said there wasn’t. I was a little surprised given its viscosity.

The interaction between the flavors in the broth and the roasted radishes brought out savory, sweet, and bitter flavors I never knew existed in radishes.


vellutata selvaggio
ubuntu, Napa, California

And nettles, that obstreperous spring weed, Fox tames by using it to enrich a creamy, savory sage velouté (“vellutata selvaggio“). That intensely flavorful soup – our first course – was brightened with fresh sorrel and borage.

My online colleague ChuckEats has questioned the seriousness of some of Fox’s food. Finding them “boring,” he discounts Fox’s pizzas and pastas as “standard, safe vegetarian fare.” He considers others, like the beet “’blood sausage’ slider,” as retarding meat-mimickry that restrains the restaurant’s potential.

While I agree with ChuckEats that the most magical dishes were the ones he described as showcasing “Napa seasons,” I disagree with his outlook with regard to the rest of the food. (And here I must note that I am not disagreeing with ChuckEats’s assessment of the specific dishes that he had, for (a) he has been to ubuntu many more times than I and, therefore, is much more qualified to come to conclusions that I dare not, and (b) I have not had many of the dishes he may be referring to, including the beet “blood sausage.”)


‘REDHEAD’ RADISH stew, roasted & “raw”
ubuntu, Napa, California

For one, I don’t think that the recreation of the meat-eating experience with vegetables necessarily does a disservice to their estimation.

Meat mockery (as in imitating) is a highly respected form of art in some culinary traditions. The Chinese Buddhist monks, for example, are celebrated for their ability to recreate the texture, taste, and physical appearance of meat with vegetation. Done well, mock chicken and mock pork products are some of the most mind-bending and mouth-watering creations I’ve had. The seamlessness of the conceit is truly amazing. For those who crave meat, yet are anchored and committed to a belief that prohibits killing animal life, it’s an incredible gift.

Perhaps in the American culture, which seems to place a higher value on meat, such exercises are viewed as degrading treating the conceit as a pitiful attempt to masquerade something lesser as its nobler kin. You’d think it’d be the other way around – that valuing vegetables more would make the conceit seem like an insult. But it’s not: the conceit always “seems” cooler the other way around: beet blood sausages get dismissed, but Kobe beef stuffed with foie gras and truffles on a sesame bun gets applauded walnut mushroom loaves meet upturned noses (I’ve had very good ones), yet “scoops” of chopped salmon on a conical tuiles are celebrated. When something we deem ritzy slums, it’s considered cute. When something we see as prosaic tries to be something other than it is, we laugh. That seems hardly fair.


2x-shucked peas and GOLDEN SHOOTS
ubuntu, Napa, California

It is true that not all of the dishes I encountered struck me as having the sophistication of that radish dish. And I concede that ChuckEats is probably right in hedging that some of the more recognizable fare helps the restaurant attract and keep the less-adventurous eaters. At the bottom line, ubuntu is a business.

But none of the dishes I tried seemed like throw-away compromises or accommodations. Rather, I found them to be wonderfully made-over classics.

For example, polenta is a standard vegetarian dish. But Jeremy Fox’s polenta (“arbuckle grits….”) is anything but standard.

He uses Matthew and Erin Sweet’s stone-milled, locally grown corn. He asks them to grind it with a coarser pass than what the Sweet’s normally use for retail. But you’d never know it. Fox whips in homemade goats’ milk ricotta, whey, and “Midnight Moon” cheese, a slightly aged goats’ milk cheese from Cypress Grove. Mounted with butter, the polenta is smooth, velvety, and surprisingly light.


arbuckle grits
ubuntu, Napa, California

You’d think it’d be a bit funky with the goat dairy (not that I would mind, I like a little funk). But it’s not.

At first glance, the dish seemed petty and precious, dotted with tiny fraises du bois and pink petals. A tangy quenelle of what I imagine to be crème fraîche nestled to one side. A line of pink petals ran along the other side, strung along with shavings of Midnight Moon.

But layered beneath the polenta was an unexpectedly intense, sophisticated, and savory-sweet strawberry sofritto studded with impossibly soft, braised pine nuts. It had a back-of-the-throat after-tang that favored reduced balsamic, yet a mesmerizing, complex, and savoriness that compelled me to return to it.

And this is what Fox does best. He coaxes flavors out of vegetables one never knew they had. He ingeniously shows you how interesting and wonderful they can be in different contexts. He proves their versatility by making them great in something as commonplace as a pizza – the “strawberry pizza ‘margherita’” – and as elegant as the “2x shucked peas and GOLDEN SHOOTS in a consommé of the shells,”


strawberry pizza “margherita”
ubuntu, Napa, California

I’ll admit that the “strawberry pizza ‘margherita’” wouldn’t be my first or even fourth pick from the ubuntu menu if I were to return. But that’s more a function of my tastes than the worth of the pizza itself. Was it a throw-away crowd pleaser? A pizza is almost guaranteed to cast a wider net than many of the other items on the ubuntu menu, but it certainly wasn’t a second-class citizen because of it.

This pizza paralleled the arbuckle grits format almost one-for-one. Instead of goat ricotta, burrata instead of grits, crust. In this “Margherita,” Fox cleverly trades tomato sauce for that same strawberry sofritto that came with the polenta (remember, we asked for this supplement, so the duplicity was by our design, not the chef’s). The soffrito worked incredibly well, and, I might say, was an improvement on the old marinara.


strawberry pizza “margherita”
ubuntu, Napa, California

While the concept and flavors were great – especially the drizzling of saba, which was a brilliant accent to the strawberry – the pizza faltered on other points for me. As far as the Margherita triumvirate is concerned, it wasn’t very balanced: the cheese (burrata, but I’m almost positive some mozzarella was necessarily a part of it) suffocated the sauce, which was the true star, and there wasn’t enough basil. And the crust was too thick for me. (I acknowledge that someone who likes doughier crusts would probably take well to this pizza).

In places, it was bread-like. Given a thinner, crisper chassis and a more thoughtful application of the cheese, this would be one stellar pie in my book.

Even so, I wouldn’t deduct points from ubuntu’s (figurative) scorecard for offering this pizza.


2x-shucked peas and GOLDEN SHOOTS
ubuntu, Napa, California

The “2x shucked peas…,” on the other hand, was nature denuded. It featured a magnificent bowl of silky, double-shucked peas accompanied by golden pea shoots, purple snaps and shucked, but unhulled peas. Toasted bits of macadamia nuts, chocolate mint leaves, and finely shaved white chocolate garnished the peas, and a clear pea consommé made from the shells was poured tableside, along with a drizzle of emerald-green mint oil.

This dish stood at a crossroad in the garden. Fox not only celebrated a traditionally successful marriage – peas and mint – but playfully added to it an unexpected third element: chocolate mint. Fox mirrors nature – subtly – with shavings of white chocolate and a drizzle of mint oil. The white chocolate provided a faint touch of creaminess that steers this dish away from being too watery. Toasted and chopped macadamia nuts, another white chocolate friend, provided textural contrast, along with golden pea shoots, crisp purple snaps, and meaty, unhulled peas.


seven degrees of ‘FORONO’ BEETS
ubuntu, Napa, California

Beet tartare might not be the most creative or original thought anymore – its meat-mimicking witticism is, perhaps, a bit outdated (it’s actually one of my favorite recipes from Vongerichten’s “Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef). But Fox uses it to draw a comparison in “seven degrees of ‘FORONO’ BEETS,” a colorful rock gardenscape of beets that studied the root vegetable’s anatomy and showcased it in various stages of cooking. Cross-sectioned, halved lengthwise, pureed, chopped and molded, and shaved and fried to a crisp, the root vegetables were garnished with their own green tops – Fox’s “nose to tail” background translated to the vegetable: green-to-root.

To complete the landscape, the beets rested on a bed of hazelnut “soil.” Moist, damp, and flecked with crunchy, gritty bits approximating sand, its likeness to earth was uncanny and delicious at once.


a savory expression of ‘ORION’ FENNEL
ubuntu, Napa, California

Fox takes a similar approach with fennel – serving it head to toe – in “savory expression of ‘ORION’ FENNEL.” I counted at least four forms of the vegetable on this plate: the fronds, shaved raw fennel, roasted fennel, and what I call “fennel falafels”: little deep fried nuggets of what seemed like a mix of minced fennel and ground chickpeas.

The entire dish reverberated with vadouvan spice, whose musk was countered by cool, creamy labneh, grassy delfino, and suprêmes of citrus. Orange and musk, why or how it works, I have not a clue. But it does, and wonderfully so. I recall having a salad involving oranges and toasted cumin in North Africa as a child that first taught me this combination. I never forgot it.

The deliciousness of this dish far surpassed whatever higher-level dialogue someone might want to make of it.


a sweet expression of ‘ORION’ FENNEL
ubuntu, Napa, California

The same might be said of Deanie Fox’s desserts. Her answer to the chef’s “savory expression of ‘ORION’ FENNEL” was “a sweet expression of ‘ORION’ FENNEL” that featured honey ice cream and lemony whipped yogurt, using fennel fronds and candied fennel as an accent. It was playful and accessible, as was “the SPRING FLOWER POT,” a clay flower pot filled with creamy, smooth, and subtly-infused lavender custard layered with bee pollen crumble (think graham cracker crust). It’s topped with a thick blanket of whipped cream and crowned with a palette of edible flowers. The arresting presentation aside – the flower pots were nestled waist-high in garden greens – it wasn’t perspective-altering, necessarily. But it was pot-lickingly delicious.


the SPRING FLOWER POT
ubuntu, Napa, California

And isn’t deliciousness what we ultimately seek anyway? When it comes to vegetables, a whole class and category of food that many treat as an afterthought to meat and fault for being boring, isn’t satisfaction crucial?

True: a few of Fox’s dishes seemed to target gustatory pleasure more than intellectual stimulation. But is that such a bad thing?

Sometimes, you want easy comfort, like the “cauliflower in a cast iron pot.” Though it’s the restaurant’s most popular dish, Chef Fox did not include this dish on our tasting menu (this was one of our supplements). I now know why: As the pizza was to the polenta, so this was to the fennel dish same idea and flavors paired with a different vegetable. The pot of porridge-like cauliflower purée contained different forms of cauliflower, including raw, shaved and roasted cauliflower florets. Like the fennel dish, it was spiced with vadouvan and garnished with suprêmes of citrus and fresh defino. It came with a stack of crunchy “brown butter toasts” on which the purée was meant to be spread.


cauliflower in a cast iron pot
ubuntu, Napa, California

Though I adore cole crops – especially cauliflower (which is why I asked to supplement this course) – I enjoyed the fennel dish much more. Whereas the fennel contributed to the flavors in that dish, the cauliflower here was overwhelmed by vadouvan and choked by the richness of the dish there was barely any cauliflower flavor or texture. Not far off from potato puree, this was comfort food that – on the warm spring day that it was – probably would have been better as a one-bite amuse bouche. Tasty though it might have been, it was too rich for the three of us to finish as a shared dish in a multi-course progression (further reinforcing my belief that, if you trust him/her, the chef will almost always make better choices than you will). And, after a bite or two, I didn’t feel that much more could be had from it.


spring BRASSICAS and mushrooms a la grecque
ubuntu, Napa, California

Likewise, my love of crucifers and mustards would suggest that I would have loved the “spring BRASSICAS and mushrooms a la grecque,” our second course. But it fell a little flat for me. Like the cauliflower in the “cauliflower in a cast iron pot,” the purple and green broccoli in this course were barely audible. The mushrooms à la Grecque were the best part, though sadly, they completely back-seated the rest of the flavors, including the Bordelaise and preserved lemon, which I was looking forward to tasting. This was the weakest course of our meal.


carta da musica, our crisp Sardinian flatbread
ubuntu, Napa, California

Some have questioned ubuntu’s presentation style – noting that plates seemed needlessly crowded with flowers and foliage and concerned that the blossoms on the plates might interfere with flavors. I will concede that the abundance of flora on our plates was a bit superfluous.

At times – as with the “carta da musica, our crisp Sardinian flatbread” – it was a little hard to ignore. That crisp, round flatbread – spiked with a kick of spicy heat – was mounded high with a green salad dotted with a rainbow of colors (it had a cowlick!). That’s the only course where I thought that form hijacked function. With thick ribbons of truffle-infused cheese weaving throughout the lettuce, the composition was impossible to disassemble without making a complete mess. As eye-fetching as it was, it might have been more practical to serve the salad in a bowl with the crisp flatbread on top, like a giant sbrisolona crouton (thinner, of course).

But, for the most part, all of the foliage was harmless. I’m very sensitive to gimmickry, and none of it struck me as gimmicky. The flowers didn’t detract from the flavors of the dishes. In most cases, they were complementary. The food was so good that the presentation was just a pretty thing to stop and smell along the way.

Service at ubuntu was a highlight. One doesn’t normally expect such detailed knowledge and professionalism in the front of the house at such a casual restaurant. It’s friendly, laid-back, but extremely focused.


Sake Tasting
ubuntu, Napa, California

Of course, it being Napa, the wine selection at ubuntu ought to be exceptional. But I really can’t say – I didn’t have any wine. All I can tell you is that they offer wines by the bottle, the glass, and “tastes” – half-glasses so you can assemble your own pairings. However, I reveled in their “sake tasting” ($17), a flight of sakes in 2-ounce pours: Akitabare “Koshiki Junzukuri” Junmai, Dewazukura “Dewasansan” Junmai Ginjo, and Chikurin “Karoyaka” Junmei Ginjo. While I heavily favored the salty minerality of the “Koshiki Junzukuri” for drinking (it paired especially well with the peas), the floral “Dewasansan” paired very well with the beet, radish, and fennel courses. The “Karoyaka” was my least favorite to sip. However, sweet and melon-like with a hint of pine, it paired wonderfully with the strawberry soffrito, making it my choice with the grits and the pizza.


spring BRASSICAS and mushrooms a la grecque
ubuntu, Napa, California

Pacing, for the most part, was steady.

But long pauses – especially between dessert courses – which might normally have been irksome, were welcomed (we had a lot of food, and, we tossed in two additional supplements for them to make, including a pizza).

Our 12:30 p.m. arrival time left us walking out near 5 p.m., and I relished every minute of it. Jeremy and Deanie Fox joined us, briefly, after our meal for a chat.

Without a doubt, ubuntu is one of the most exciting restaurants I’ve visited this year. It revived me. Even with the swelling numbers of “farm-to-table” restaurants in the U.S., there really is no other restaurant I’m aware of that is doing the same type of food as ubuntu, not to mention with this high level of thought and care.

Hopefully, my regular readers know that this is a shill-free blog. I’ve made my disclosures do what you will with them. If, for whatever reason, you don’t visit ubuntu, just know that you may be missing out on one of the best restaurants in the U.S. right now. I’m already planning my return.

ubuntu
Executive Chef Jeremy Fox
1140 Main Street
Napa, California 94559

* Frank Bruni of the New York Times named it one of the 10 best new restaurants in America. The James Beard Foundation also conferred the same recognition, nominating ubuntu for their Best New Restaurant Award this past year along with four others (Bazaar, Corton, L20, and momofuku ko, which won).


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Caribbean Sweet Potato Soup at SF Soup Company

In all honesty, I have been feeling a little under the weather. Schlepping to work in my rain boots is not fun. Luckily, the base of my office building has Peet's coffee and SF Soup Company, so you don't even have to go out in the rain to get lunch. If I didn't diligently pack a home lunch, it would be all too easy to just run downstairs and grab a $6 or $7 container of soup served with a hunk of french bread and a pat of butter. And, if I wasn't trying to keep my lunch expenses to a minimum, I would do it too because I loooove their Caribbean Sweet Potato Soup. So, I decided to Lentil Barley Soup while creating a recipe for the Carribean Sweet Potato Soup while also cooking up some Sunday supper of oven-roasted tofu and broccoli.

The soup was a huge success! The result is a silky bisque with the delicious flavors of sweet potato and coconut milk with a last minute splash of lime juice to brighten it up. I don't often use Jamaican jerk seasoning, but for this soup, it is essential and provides a faint spicy kick. I used a blackened jerk seasoning from Cinnamon Bay Foods, which I highly recommend--its a nice blend of pepper, brown sugar, salt, cayenne, thyme, nutmeg, red pepper, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and dried green onion. You should know that a little bit goes a long way.

Oh, and it's vegan and gluten-free.

Caribbean Sweet Potato Soup

2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 medium sweet potatoes
1 large russet potato
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 Tbsp. ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. jerk seasoning
1 can light coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
3 or 4 tsp. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. Molasses

* Wash the sweet potatoes and russet potato, cut them in half and wrap in foil. Bake them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes or until it is fork tender. Remove from the oven and let cool. Peel the skins off and discard them and dice up the sweet potato and potato.
* Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Sautee the onions for 2-3 minutes.
* Add the diced celery and cook for another 5 minutes.
* Add the garlic, ginger, jerk seasoning and carrots and continue cooking, stirring occasionally.
* Add the water and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 8-10 minutes until the vegetables are soft and tender.
* Add in the diced sweet potato, potato and coconut milk and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
* Use an immersion blender or blender to puree the soup until smooth and velvety.
* Add the salt, molasses and lime juice and stir.

I think I once told my friend, Chelsea, that I dreamed of having a freezer stocked with at least ten soups to choose from--maybe some corn chowder, a tomato bisque or hearty carrot soup and definitely some french onion soup.

With a couple of fresh soups in tow neatly portioned away in my freezer, I think I am ready for the week. Good thing it's a short one, because I am headed to Vegas on Thursday!


Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup long-grain white rice
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 pound peeled and de-veined large shrimp, tails removed
  • 6 scallions, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 cups stemmed and sliced collard greens (about 1 bunch) or sliced bok choy
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • Chili sauce, for serving

Cook the rice according to the package directions. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1/2 teaspoon of the soy sauce. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the egg mixture and cook, stirring and tilting the pan, until just set, 1 to 2 minutes. Fold the egg in half and transfer to a cutting board cut into 1-inch strips.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add the shrimp and cook, tossing occasionally, until opaque throughout, 4 to 6 minutes transfer to a plate.

Add the scallions, ginger, and garlic to the drippings in the skillet and cook for 1 minute. Add the collard greens and cook, tossing often, until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the rice, vinegar, shrimp, egg and the remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce to the skillet and cook, tossing, until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with the chili sauce.

Tip: To make this a vegetarian dish, substitute one 14-ounce package of extra-firm tofu (drained and cut into 1-inch pieces) for the shrimp.


New Haven, Connecticut

Italians came to New Haven to work in factories in the late 1800’s and formed a community around Wooster Square. Between 1890 and 1939 the Italian settlement had developed and its major institutions had formed. There were 41,858 Italians in the city in 1930, of whom 14,510 had been born in Italy. One or both parents of another 27,348 had come from Italy. The Italians comprised about one-fourth of the total population and were highly concentrated in the southern and eastern parts of New Haven.

Life was not easy in the first half of the century, but the neighborhood provided its people with all their needs: a live chicken market, Italian banks, bakeries, drug stores and push carts loaded with homemade meats. The founder of Pepe’s pizza rode a wagon through the streets from which he’d sell hot pizzas for 25 cents. In the summer children played baseball in a vacant lot or at Waterside Park, at the site of Long Wharf. Good times were not just for kids the Amendola Brothers had a music store with numerous instruments. Every Sunday morning, after church, there would be some kind of performance. People would gather around the piano and sing. During the summer, the windows were all open, operas would be playing and people would sing along. The bakers in the neighborhood cooked during the night and they delivered on foot at five o’clock in the morning. One baker, known for his singing, would often wake up the entire neighborhood.

Today Wooster Square, nicknamed the Little Italy of New Haven, has preserved many traditions of an old Italian village. The park in the center of the square is framed with precision by an iron fence and with an oval path laid out inside it. Throughout the year the park is filled with festivals and surrounded by parades in honor of patron saints of native Italian towns. The restaurants and pizza parlors along Wooster Street have retained their old family recipes through many generations. And at the heart of the neighborhood, beside the Square itself, stands the oldest Italian church in Connecticut, St. Michael’s, whose gold dome can be spotted from all over New Haven. Along the park at Chapel Street are two major sculptures, one dedicated to the square’s Italian past and another to the neighborhood men who gave their lives in World War II.

This metal arch over Wooster Street welcomes visitors to New Haven’s Little Italy

The most famous contribution to the Italian American culinary repertoire is New Haven-style pizza. In New Haven, Connecticut, a different style of pizza, known as apizza, evolved from the same Neapolitan roots. Frank Pepe opened his pizzeria in that city’s Little Italy in 1925 and today his establishment and neighboring ones still make pies that are thinner, wetter and more heavily charred than most New York-style pizzas. In 1960 Pepe introduced its signature, clam pizza. The locals call their crust Neapolitan style, but it is definitely not like the original Italian Neapolitan style. The dough is more bread like, puffed up along the edges, crackly and slightly charred underneath. Rhode Island Littleneck clams, freshly shucked on the premises, garlic, dried oregano, a dusting of grated Pecorino Romano cheese and good olive oil are the toppings. No tomato sauce. No mozzarella. No sausage or pepperoni.

Pepe’s is one of those “only in America” stories. Frank Pepe was born in 1893 in the village of Maiori on the Amalfi coast of Italy, southwest of Naples. Broke, illiterate and only 16 years old, he made the crossing with many other immigrants in 1909. He worked for a short while in a factory and then returned to fight for Italy in WWI. He married Filomena Volpi, also from Maiori, and in 1919 they moved to New Haven, where he worked for others making macaroni and then bread on Wooster St. In 1925 he started his own business, a bakery at 163 Wooster. Apizza was among his baked goods and it took off. In 1937 Pepe bought the larger building next door, now the main restaurant. The original location with the original oven is still running under the name, Frank Pepe’s – The Spot. Frank, Filomena, and their daughters, Elizabeth and Serafina, lived upstairs. Filomena could read and write and learned English quickly and was essential to operating the financial side of the business.


Learning to listen to your body & respect what it needs from you

We talk a lot about practising mindfulness in our lives but when it comes to our cycles, we’re completely disconnected.

The constant shift in our hormones impacts the way we feel throughout our entire cycle.

At the start of your cycle, when you have a period, hormone levels are low which explains why you may feel a dip in energy levels and an intuitive desire to rest and retreat. Pair that with menstrual cramps and tender breasts and it’s a recipe for pizza in the bath. This is the part when we need to listen to our bodies. If we’re tired, we rest, if we’re hungrier than usual, we eat more calories and if we don’t want to socialise, we stay home and get an early night.

As we move through the first phase of our cycles, oestrogen gradually increases and peaks just before ovulation and this can cause us to feel more sociable, light-hearted and energised. Our behaviour syncs up with our cycles in a way that encourages us to make the most of our fertile window when conception is possible. In the days leading up to ovulation, testosterone is also prominent in our bodies and can increase our sexual desire, motivation and productivity.

Once you ovulate, there’s a hormonal drop off and you may feel completely different from the days when you were transitioning through your fertile window, or you may feel just a subtle difference in your state of being (not everyone feels the changes so acutely).

About a week before your next period is due, you’ll probably feel more interested in your internal world than the external world and this is largely down to progesterone. For the most part, the presence of progesterone in the second half of your cycle has a calming effect on the nervous system and chills you out, though some people may respond to it differently like those with PMDD. This is the time to hibernate and embrace that deep and restful sleep ahead of your next period.

Understanding how the different phases of your cycle affect you in your day-to-day life, whether those changes are subtle or substantial, arms you with the knowledge, self-compassion and awareness of your fluctuating biology and how your hormones may be responsible for everything from your ability to focus, your mood, sex drive and energy levels. From here, you can begin to tune into your feelings, recognise them, own them and harness their power. The more we tap into why we’re feeling a certain way during our cycles, the more we can adjust our behaviour accordingly and go easy on ourselves.

Knowing this information and connecting with the intrinsic wisdom of your cycle in this way is a simple but incredibly effective tool that can make a huge difference when it comes to understanding how every nuance of our cycle affects our ability to work, socialise, concentrate, sleep, eat and exercise. It allows us to make sense of our feelings and channel their energy in a way that’s beneficial for us, which is always going to be conducive to a better, more empowering cycle.


I am confused about this trend. I can’t say I’ve ever thought about wearing sleepwear out of the house apart from a late-night McDonalds drive-thru. But you know I wouldn’t be opposed to being in my jammies all day. I’d probably opt for some kind of co-ord set, with a black top underneath and black accessories and hope people don’t think I’ve literally just got out of bed.


Watch the video: ΡΑΠΑνάΚΙΑ - ΟΛΕΣ ΟΙ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΕΣ!! (July 2022).


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