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Rose Water Panna Cotta with Fresh Strawberries

Panna cotta can seem daunting to make because it contains gelatin. Once you become familiar with the way the ingredient works, however, this dessert becomes one of the most simple and delicious things you can make. Gelatin needs reconstituting, or blooming, before use, which simply means it must be soaked in cold water for a couple of minutes before adding to any recipe. The other important thing to note about gelatin is that it only dissolves in warm/hot mixtures. Once you understand these two facets of gelatin use, you’ll be off into the wonderful world of panna cotta. This traditional Italian spoon dessert can be flavored with anything from herbs and spices, to chocolate and coffee, much like ice cream. It is basically just a sweetened and set cream, which I like to use as a backdrop to fresh, seasonal fruit. Here is a recipe for rose water panna cotta which goes so wonderfully with juicy red berries, my favorite being strawberries. Ingredients: 4 cups cream ½ cup sugar 1 vanilla bean 4 sheets gelatin …

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Sunchoke Soup with Roasted Mushrooms & Dungeness Crab from Terrapin Creek

Andrew Truong, friend of Peter Lowell’s and co-owner of the highly acclaimed, Michelin-starred restaurant Terrapin Creek in Bodega Bay, was kind enough to share this recipe for a delicious sunchoke soup that’s easy to make at home. Ingredients: 8 oz sunchokes 2 oz shallots, sliced ½ oz garlic, sliced 2 tbsp butter 2 tsp kosher salt ¼ cup dry white wine 2 cups water ½ cup heavy cream Garnish: Dungeness crab meat Roasted Pioppini mushrooms Lemon juice Extra virgin olive oil Chives, chopped Instructions: 1. Clean the sunchokes in water to remove any soil. 2. Cut into quarter size pieces, toss in oil, and roast in a 350F degree oven until golden brown. 3. Melt the butter in a pot. Add the shallots, garlic, and salt to the butter and cook until lightly brown. Turn down the heat and cover the pot with a lid to continue cooking. 4. When the onions and garlic are soft, turn up the heat and add the white wine. Cook until the wine has evaporated. 5. Add the water …

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Local Honey Producer Paradox Farm

Dawn Heumann, our fearless photographer, and I recently spent some time observing beekeeper David Benefiel (our honey supplier) at his Sebastopol property Paradox Farm (David and his wife are both physicians). We had originally planned for Dawn to document only the act of inspecting the hives, which involves smoking them so that the bees become docile. But as soon as we arrived at the farm, David informed us that there was a change of plans. A huge mass of bees had gathered near the top of an apple tree in what David said was the first swarm of the season. To remove the swarm, David put on a mask, a white jacket (bees are attracted to dark colors), climbed up a ladder, and sprayed the swarm with sugar water. He then took a bucket and shook the tree so that the swarm would fall into the bucket. He also used his gloved hands and a soft bee brush to get most of the remaining bees into the bucket. The last step involved dumping the bucket …

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A Visit to Green Star Farm

It was a beautiful early spring day in rural, southern Sebastopol, and slowly driving down a long driveway there were chickens to my right and sheep to my left. The grassy fields were a lush, dark green. It was idyllic. At the end of the driveway I parked my car, got out, and took in the fresh, breezy air. After briefly taking in the scenery, I was warmly greeted by Marc Felton and shortly thereafter Sarah Silva, co-owners of Green Star Farm, a picturesque animal farm on 47 acres of pastureland that supplies eggs to us at Peter Lowell’s. The farm is divided among several sections of pasture, each housing a number of different animals, including chickens, hogs, goats and sheep. The chickens, numbering somewhere in the neighborhood of two thousand, are the heart of the operation. With about 400 to 500 per flock, the birds live in mobile coops that are frequently rotated from one section of pasture to another. Sarah and Marc mentioned that they’ve been making the transition from wooden to metal …

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Sausage Stuffed Morels

This recipe is merely a starting point for a variety of different sausages that do not necessarily have to contain chicken. The meat can be replaced with pork, beef, duck or any other protein you want. One variable must remain the same, the fat. Fat is essential to making any sausage in order to keep it moist and flavorful, and let’s be honest, fat is just plain delicious. Roughly 1/4 of the protein by volume should be fat. If you are working with particularly lean meat it is important to add fat to the recipe, usually in the form of pork fat. When we break down chickens at the restaurant, we remove the tenders and as much skin and fat off the carcass as possible. The skin and fat off a whole chicken, along with the tenders, is a perfect ratio of fat to lean. When grinding any meat, it is very important to keep your meat and grinder very cold, almost frozen. The meat should be partially frozen so that it has a “crunchy” …

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In Celebration of the Mighty Salmon

Salmon fishing in Bodega Bay has been slow this season. Really slow. It’s evident for us here in at Peter Lowell’s when the menu continues to feature Salmon from Alaska with the occasional appearance of Bodega Bay Salmon tartare with crème fraîche & dill. Friends that head north every summer to work the fishing boats in Alaska are also returning home with stories of lack – not as much fish means not as much fishing means not as much pay. A typical month of Salmon fishing in Alaska could garner $12,000 easily and crews are coming home with half of that.