My Sister’s Local Meal

So, my sister pops up in the blog every so often; she bought us a dehydrator, and made really beautiful ceramic bowls that we use.  Well, after much talk about local food, she wanted to try out making a local meal of her own and hoped I might be able to share it.  She lives in San Fransisco, and so you can imagine certain elements of locavore eating comes easier than others.  She made a lovely meal for herself and her husband over last weekend and has shared her recipes and pictures.  I now share them with you.  Maybe this could serve to inform local eating on your next vacation….. I mean, come on, figs…… worth traveling for……

Laura’s Sister’s San Francisco Treats

  • Arugula Salad with goat cheese, strawberries and oven grilled figs
  • Stuffed tomatoes
  • Veal Cutlets with tomato sauce
  • Roasted fingerling potatoes

    My sister's California local meal

I’m Laura’s sister, Gretchen, and I live in San Francisco, California.  We thought it might be fun for me to contribute my thoughts on a local meal of my own to her and Theresa’s blog.

For me food is infused with memory and place.  When I cook and eat, I remember family and friends with whom I prepared and consumed similar dishes.  The imprints of climate, geography and culture, both past and present, also fill my experience of eating.  The meal I made for Laura and Theresa’s blog showcases memory and place for me.

Just about now is the height of tomato season where I live, so I can’t get away from wanting to include tomatoes in most of my meals.  And the stuffed tomatoes I made are one of my Italian-American Grandmother’s specialties.  When I eat them, I think of all the times my Mom and I selected big ripe tomatoes from Grandma’s garden, and took them into her kitchen for her to prepare with this simple recipe (below).  Making this recipe marks late summer for me each year. Please note that Grandma’s actual recipe has no measurements; all amounts are flexible depending on your tastes!

Stuffed tomato and roasted fingerling potatoes in the back, and Veal Cutlets with Tomato Sauce in the front

Ingredients:

  • 6 softball sized tomatoes—ripe!
  • 2 C fine bread crumbs (I used whole wheat bread.)
  • 2 cloves garlic pressed
  • +/-2 tbsp each of fresh basil & parsley
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary
  • ½ onion grated super fine
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • ¼ C grated parmesan cheese (I used dry Monterey Jack.)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash and core tomatoes.  Dig out a big hole in them for stuffing—but leave enough tomato so they are still sturdy. Keep only ¼ to ½ of the pulp to mix with the breadcrumb mixture.  (Use the rest for something else.)  Finely chop the pulp you are going to put in the recipe.
  3. Use a food processor (or your knife skills) to chop the herbs and onion very finely.
  4. Mix everything but the hollowed out tomatoes together.
  5. Place tomatoes in an uncovered baking dish (with their cavities up) and spoon in stuffing until they are filled.
  6. Bake for about 30-45 minutes. When the breadcrumbs are browned, you can insert a fork very easily into tomatoes and they smell yummy, they are ready to remove and serve after cooling for 5 minutes or so.

The rest of the meal is more emblematic of California.  The arugula salad features fresh figs—only available for a short time at the end of summer/early fall each year.  They are something (along with persimmons) I rarely encountered when I lived on the east coast. Additionally, northern CA has many varieties of regionally made goat cheeses and Humboldt Fog is my very favorite.  I also put strawberries in the salad because they are yummy, and are so plentiful here as to have become a staple for me.  (Strawberries are in season here for +/- 9 months of the year!)  To make the figs, I simply put the oven on broil and cooked the halved darlings open side up for about 20 minutes. To make the salad, I tossed all of the ingredients except the figs + cheese in some olive oil and vinegar with salt and pepper.  I then arranged the figs on top.  I used a local Meyer lemon infused olive oil—a nice contrast to the sweetness of figs—but you can use any dressing you like.

Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese, Strawberries and Figs

The potatoes were easy.  I crudely sliced them into a baking dish and slathered them with olive oil, chopped parsley and salt/pepper.  I baked them at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

The last part of the dish may seem horrifying to some readers.  Veal can indeed be a cruel meat when commercially produced.  However, I belong to the Clark Summit Farm CSA, and they assured buyers that their veal was humanely treated like all of their other meats. I generally only get pastured eggs, chickens, pork and beef from them, but the veal seemed like a real treat so I got it and prepared it simply:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb thin veal cutlets
  • ½ C flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • +/- 10 tomatoes (I used rich dry farmed early girls—tasty!) (Good place for the leftover tomato pulp from the stuffed tomato recipe)
  • 4 tbsp chopped basil
  • ½ onion diced
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • Some cooking oil
  • 2-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Mix the flour with the salt and pepper to taste, and pour it onto a dinner plate.  Set aside.
  2. Cut up the tomatoes into 1 inch cubes.
  3. Heat ½ of the oil and the garlic and onions in a frying pan over medium heat until soft.
  4. Add the tomatoes and sauté for about 5-10 minutes—until the tomatoes are soft stewed—not yet too saucy.  Remove from heat and stir in the olive oil + salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  5. Coat the cutlets with the flour by pressing them into it on all sides.  Set aside cutlets and discard any remaining flour mixture.
  6. Heat oil in a fresh pan and add cutlets.  Sautee each side until golden—3-5 minutes total.
  7. Place the cutlets on a plate and pour the tomatoes over them.  Serve immediately.

Where I Got the Food and/or Who Makes It:

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