Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Almond butter salad dressing

Our new employee John came to work today with this salad, and I convinced him to write it down for me. It's his own creation, and I thought it was quite good.

John's Massa Organics Almond Butter Dressing
(serves about 8-10)

¼ cup Massa Organics Smooth Almond Butter
3 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon Sriracha chili sauce
1 teaspoon fresh wasabi
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

John served it on a shredded cabbage, kale, julienned carrot, and cilantro salad. It was topped with our sliced Almonds.

John has two blogs:

Friday, February 20, 2009

Arancini recipe

Below is an article that was recently published in the Hartford Courant newspaper. Arancini are really delicious and fun, and our brown rice works every bit as well as the leftover risotto that he calls for in this article. (By the way, our rice makes a fantastic risotto as well!)

At a 2007 fundraiser for CUESA, the organization that runs the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco, Paul Aranstam of Americano Restaurant made Arancini with our rice. Here we are with chef who was serving them:

Need A New Way To Use Leftover Rice? Try Making Arancini
By J.M. HIRSCH | Associated Press
February 19, 2009
Arancini may sound like a species of spider, but they are an incredibly easy and delicious way to use leftover rice.

The term, which is Italian for "little oranges," refers to small balls of rice that are stuffed with cheese or meat (or both), rolled in egg and breadcrumbs or flour, then fried until crisp on the outside and meltingly soft inside.

Arancini traditionally are served as appetizers, especially as bar food, but also would make a fine side. Cubes of mozzarella are the conventional choice for the cheese, but anything that melts well would be fine. Likewise, just about any cooked or cured meat can be used. Roasted chicken, bits of grilled beef or sausage, crumbled bacon or slices of prosciutto all are great.

Here's how it works — no recipe needed.

Because it is so thick and sticky, leftover risotto is best, but just about any rice will do. If using risotto, use your hands to shape about 1/3 cup of it into a bowl in the palm of one hand. Place small pieces of your fillings inside, then cover with a bit more rice and shape into a ball.

If using plain leftover rice, for each cup mix in 1 teaspoon of softened butter and 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese. Microwave for 15 seconds, or enough to just barely melt the cheese and butter to form a sticky rice. Shape the arancini as described above. If you have trouble getting the balls to hold together, you also could mix an egg into the rice.

Once the rice balls are formed, roll them in a lightly beaten egg, then in either all-purpose flour or fine breadcrumbs. In a large, deep skillet over medium-high, heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil to 365 F. A few at a time, fry the rice balls for about 1 minute a side, or until lightly browned all around. Transfer to paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Arancini are best eaten right away. Keep the batches warm in a 200 F oven as you fry others.

If you don't have leftover rice on hand and decide to make some specifically for arancini, consider adding a few strands of saffron, which is a traditional ingredient that gives the rice balls a bright orange color.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Back in October, Raquel and I had the opportunity to attend Terra Madre, the biennial international meeting of Slow Food International (SFI). The Terra Madre Network brings together food communities, cooks, academics and youth delegates for four days to work towards increasing small-scale, traditional, and sustainable food production. Below is a report we wrote for CUESA, the organization that selected us to attend Terra Madre.


Opportunity for cultural exchange was everywhere at this year’s Terra Madre, which hosted 7000 people from 153 countries. We spoke with rice farmers from Madagascar, India and Thailand, learned about the wild almond groves in Uzbekistan, and ate sausage made near the tiny Portuguese village where Greg's grandfather was born.

We did bring back a few nuts-and-bolts ideas that will be directly applicable to our farm. We learned about some interesting grains that we could experiment with, such as einkorn, one of the earliest cultivated forms of wheat with a more easily digestible form of gluten than modern wheat, and fonio, a small-seeded millet from Africa.

From a philosophical perspective, there was even more to take home — some of it new, and some a confirmation of what we already believe. For example, one of our farm goals is to grow and market our rice without harming small farmers in other parts of the world. This means that we won’t be exporting our rice cheaply, but it also means that we won’t grow Basmati or Jasmine rice, because we wish to avoid stealing the genetic heritage of generations of small Thai or Indian farmers who developed those varieties. Growing those varieties here in California would impact the ability of Asian farmers to export their rice to the more lucrative US market. Our discussions with some farmers from Madagascar who grow pink rice confirmed this for us. Conversely, there are other grains — such as Red Fife wheat from Canada — that are so close to extinction it would in fact be beneficial to grow them and increase the seed supply and demand.

In the minds of some Americans, Slow Food seems to have an elitist membership and message. However, we found the international organization to be remarkably populist. Their mission of “good, clean and fair food for all” resonates with us, though the implementation of that ideal is difficult at best. There is plenty of “good” food at farmers’ markets everywhere. But “clean” food is becoming scarce in today’s globalized food system. Even on a local scale there are problems: we learned this week that a fungicide used on non-organic almonds and grapes in California is directly linked to a higher incidence of Parkinson’s disease. “Fair” food may be the most difficult to achieve, as making good, clean food available at a fair price to everyone in the food chain (including farmers) is a real challenge.

The trip to Terra Madre was a whirlwind — and much too short. We left our five children at home, split between two babysitters, so we had little extra time to spend on vacation! But we feel very privileged to have been part of this “gathering of the peasants of the world.”

We are most grateful to Slow Food San Francisco and CUESA for making our trip possible.

Greg Massa and Raquel Krach
Massa Organics