Visiting a farmers’ market always inspires me to get into the kitchen. I spend most of my dining time (and money) eating out – oh the perils of being a food critic! But, last Sunday, we kicked off the tail-end of Summer with a trip to the Channel Islands Harbor Farmers’ Market in Oxnard, California where I not only scored some incredible produce, cheese, seafood and beef, but had an incredible lunch at the Scratch food truck that was conveniently parked at the market. Read what I had to say about Scratch and what Chef / Owner Tim Kilcoyne thinks about cooking and eating the farm-to-table way here.
Farm-to-Table (also known as farm-to-fork) is easy to do at home, when you’ve got access to farmers’ markets like we have here in California. The Golden State is pretty much one very large farm, spanning about a thousand miles, so I’d say we’re spoiled here.
I plotted and I planned, and expected to make a phenomenal dinner on Tuesday, but those plans were preempted by a call from Paula Deen that lasted a lot longer than either of us expected. You can read more about that surprise call here.
I’ve mistakenly told everyone that I made this London Broil with Niman Ranch beef, which I’ve always favored, but it’s actually Novy Ranches grass-fed beef. I just discovered this ranch recently at the farmers’ market, and gave them a try. So far, what I’ve seen and tasted have actually been superior to Niman. According to their website, “the ranches are the ongoing life work and commitment of Dr. Lowell Novy, a veterinarian, whose interests in conservation, cattle-ranching and animal welfare have influenced his decision to turn away from “traditional” feedlot cattle production by developing an entirely grass-fed program that is healthy for the land, cows and people.” Novy dry ages their beef so it’s incredibly tender and flavorful.
Another note, grass-fed beef is much leaner than grain fed meat and thus, is less forgiving of overcooking. The unsaturated fats in grass-fed meat melt at lower temperatures and more quickly than the saturated fats of grain fed cuts. A rule of thumb is that grass-fed beef needs about 30% less cooking than conventional beef. I always aim to cook to medium rare, but I only achieve that about 70% of the time. I usually overcook more than under. Timing is everything, and grass-fed beef cooks faster than grain fed both on the grill and while it’s resting.
I paired the beef up with an orange cauliflower, which basically looks and tastes like a slightly sweet white cauliflower, and it has more vitamin A. I made a creamy puree with the cauliflower (the perfect replacement for mashed potatoes, keeping it low-carb), some Parmesan cheese, garlic, pepper and a little chicken base. Then, I marinated and grilled some kale and beets and served them on the side. It all came together in about 20 – 25 minutes, but there was prep time, too. I marinated the beef for around six hours and the beets for an hour before grilling it all up. So I made the marinades earlier in the day. A few minutes before dinner, I mixed up a strawberry / blueberry sangria with $10 bottle of La Vieille Ferme Rose’ wine, some blueberry lemonade, ginger ale, a little sugar and fresh sliced strawberries to go with it. It just takes a few minutes to stir it up in a pitcher, and it provides a refreshing whimsy and lightness to the meal, I think.
Marinate the London Broil
5 large garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 pounds top-round London broil
Mince the garlic to a paste, then place in a blender.
Add salt, red wine, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and honey to the blender, and blend thoroughly.
Place the London broil into a Ziplock bag, then pour the marinade into the bag. Push the air out of the bag, and seal it. Put it in a shallow baking dish, and allow it to marinate for at least 6 hours. I prefer to marinate meats on the counter top.
Marinate the Beets
About two hours before serving time, prepare and marinate the beets.
6 large whole beets
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon dry basil leaves
1/8 teaspoon dry oregano
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup vegetable oil
Cut the leaves from the tops of the beets then put them in a large sauce pan. Fill the pot with cold water, completely covering the beets.
Bring the water to a boil then let the beets simmer for 10 – 15 minutes or until a knife will slide through easily.
While the beets are simmering, combine all ingredients in a large bowl or baking dish. Mix well and add vegetable oil.
Strain the beets in a colander under cold running water, then let them cool for about 15 – 20 minutes.
While running under water, rub beets with towel to remove skin.
Slice beets into 1/2-inch rounds, and place into the marinade.
Toss sliced beets then let them marinate in the refrigerator for an hour.
Prepare the Orange Cauliflower Puree
Prepare the orange cauliflower puree about 30 minutes before removing the beets and beef from their marinades.
1 medium head cauliflower
1 tablespoon cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon straight chicken base or bullion (may substitute 1/2 teaspoon salt)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Set a stockpot of water to boil over high heat.
Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces.
Boil the cauliflower for about 6 – 10 minutes, or until well done.
Drain well then immediately place the cauliflower in between layers of paper towels and gently pat them dry.
Puree the hot cauliflower with the cream cheese, Parmesan, garlic, chicken base, and pepper until smooth in a food processor.
Keep covered until served.
Grill the Beef and Vegetables
Preheat the grill to high.
Remove the London broil from the Ziplock bag, and grill 5 – 7 minutes on each side for medium-rare.
Transfer steak to a cutting board and let stand 5 – 7 minutes.
Lay the marinated beets on the grill, and grill for 2 – 3 minutes.
Brush the beets with marinade then turn them over and grill for another 2 – 3 minutes.
Place the grilled beets into a large bowl, and toss with a splash of the marinade if desired.
Prepare the Kale Marinade
3/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 bunches kale, washed and spun dry
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, vinegar, zest and juice of lemon and kale.
Season with salt and pepper and gently toss until the kale is evenly coated.
Carefully lay the kale side-by-side in a single layer on top of the grill and grill about 2 minutes or until crispy.
Turn over and grill on the other side for another 1-2 minutes.
Lay the kale out in a pile on a serving platter or board.
Mix the Sangria
1 Bottle (750 ml) of Rosé wine
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups blueberry lemonade
1 cup sliced strawberries
2 cups ginger ale
Pour wine in a pitcher and add sliced strawberries.
Next add sugar, blueberry lemonade, ginger ale and stir gently.
To serve, fill a tall glass about halfway with ice, then pour the sangria over it. Scoop in some sliced strawberries.
Scoop about 3/4 cup of the orange cauliflower puree onto the center of the plate and flatten.
Place four slices of the London broil on top of the puree.
Lay six kale leaves beside the London broil, then place 4 – 6 slices of beets on top of the kale.