Recipes From Land to Table
by Tim Porter and Farina Wong Kingsley
Just north of San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge, sits an Eden of organic farming known as Marin County. With organic roots reaching back more than 30 years that are grounded in the post-sixties values of clean living, community, and collective effort, Marin is considered the birthplace of the organic farming movement. Its close proximity to food-oriented San Francisco and preponderance of eco-literate residents have made Marin a modern utopia of local consumption and environmental sustainability, as well as a model for the nation. Organic Marin illustrates the journey of local crops and pasture-raised animals from the soil to the tables of the Bay Area's finest organic restaurants. In the process, it profiles sixteen of the region's most esteemed organic farms and features 50 recipes contributed by dining establishments which incorporate Marin's locally produced ingredients.
Appropriately, the recipes are organized by season and guided by nature's bounty. Spring brings recipes like MarketBar San Francisco's fava bean bruschetta, which incorporates Marin Star Route Farm's young, tender fava beans. Summer stone fruit stars in grilled pork tenderloin and nectarines with bacon vinaigrette, contributed by Picco in Larkspur. Hearty fall choices include butternut squash gratin from Greens Restaurant in San Francisco and orecchiette with sausage ragu and broccoli rabe from Piatti Ristorante and Bar in Mill Valley. Unique winter selections include Fork Restaurant in San Anselmo's carrot flan with peppercress and mustard vinaigrette, as well as braised short ribs with candied Meyer lemon gremolata from AVA restaurant in San Anselmo. Desserts range from the light spring panna cotta with fresh strawberries, contributed by San Francisco's Scott Howard, to the decadent winter double chocolate bread pudding, courtesy of Buckeye Roadhouse, Mill Valley. Though reading about these dishes may inspire you to hop a plane to the Bay Area for some food tourism, Organic Marin offers the promise of creating a slice of Eden in your own home kitchen.
Butternut Squash Gratin
Greens Restaurant, San Francisco
Parmesan Bread Crumbs
1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup fresh bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 pounds (5 cups) butternut squash, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup half-and-half
For the Parmesan bread crumbs: Melt the butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Stir in the bread crumbs and toast, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the heat, let cool, and toss in a small bowl with the Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
Preheat an oven to 375 F. Butter a 9-by-13 inch baking dish. Put the squash in a large bowl. Stir in the garlic, butter, flour, salt, and pepper. Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish and pour the half-and-half on top. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the Parmesan bread crumbs. Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, until golden brown and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve.
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish.
Reviewed by Rachel Levin
(Updated: 12/16/08 SB)