We just had a fantastic heat wave on the central coast. We could not ask for better weather this spring. One of my favorite things about spring is the start of berry season. Strawberries are the first to really get into swing followed by raspberries and our prized olallieberry. The self pick farms are just about to open up so you are sure to find beautifully ripe berries. Try this simple recipe for a granita. Think of it as a home made icee. Wonderful with a splash of sparkling wine in the bottom of the glass for a dessert.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 1 cup of simple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 pound of fresh strawberries cut into quarters
  • 1 pound of raspberries
 Method:

Start by making the simple syrup. Combine 6 ounces of water with 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. Place on medium heat and whisk occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Add the orange juice to the simple syrup to cool slightly. Place the berries in a blender and add half of the syrup orange juice mixture. Pulse a few times to slightly blend the berries. Add the rest of the syrup mixture and blend until smooth. Strain to remove any remaining seeds. Put mixture in a glass baking dish and place in the freezer. After a  half hour remove the dish and scrape the mixture with a fork, creating a snow cone type texture. Repeat every half hour for about 4-5 hours. Once all of the mixture is shaved with a fork place plastic wrap or a lid over the granita and store for at least another 12 hours. Place in glasses and serve.

 

Welcome to Spring! The days are longer, the weather is nicer, and I am thankful that I no longer live in the Northeast, where spring was greeted with a massive snowstorm!

We have had a few exciting things going on in the last month, including “Zero Waste Week” at Stevenson School and the news that Bay View Academy Charter School had their charter renewed for five years and they will be expanding to a K-8 School! Congratulations BVA!

Zero Waste Week at Stevenson was organized by the Ocean Guardian team, and the focus was on reducing the amount of waste produced at lunch time. Students and staff members were encouraged to bring their lunch in a reusable lunchbox or bag, use reusable containers instead of plastic and Ziploc bags, and fill reusable water bottles. The students and staff did a great job, and I am excited to see them continue to reduce waste in other innovative ways. AQUA TERRA Culinary is proud to provide lunches with little waste – our trays, hot containers, and silverware all get washed and reused every day. We are also getting involved in a food scrap collection program and will hopefully be able to extend that service to the Carmel Campus to help them in their composting efforts!

In other news, as we continue to work on our menus, we are looking for ways to add more beans. Here are some great recipes for meals that include beans from the New York Times health blog, “Well.” http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/22/eat-your-greens-with-beans/?ref=health. What type of bean-based dishes do your kids like to eat? Share your ideas on our facebook page and maybe one of your recipes will make it onto our school lunch menu!

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Please contact me directly at susan@aquaterraculinary.com with any feedback about our kids! lunch program.

If you are interested in learning more about food, check out this month’s recommendation: I am currently reading a book called The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II. The more I learn about the so-called “American diet,” the more I am pushed to educate people, especially our youth, about the connections between food and health!

 

Spring has arrived, and along with the delightfully longer days and warming sunshine, this is the time of year when we see the farmers markets bursting with fresh produce. Things to look for this month are strawberries and rhubarb (a classic combination!), green peas, which make a delicious addition to pastas and salads, and leafy greens like spinach, chard, and kale.

Leafy greens are rich in vitamins A and C, and are a one of the best sources of vitamin K, which is important for healthy bones and aids in blood clotting. They also contain compounds called flavonoids, which act as anti-oxidants and may prevent certain types of cancer. Leafy greens are a great addition to any diet, and it’s no wonder that they are often referred to as a “super food.”

I recently had the opportunity and privilege to present at the annual Stevenson School Symposium. This year’s theme was “The Ocean: An Environment That Connects Us All.” I was able to share my knowledge and passion for local and sustainable food by preparing rock fish that was provided by Local Catch Monterey Bay for several groups of students.

As you may know, overfishing is a major environmental concern and the ocean is not as limitless as it may seem. That is why we work to ensure that Point Pinos Grill is a partner of the Seafood Watch program, and another reason that we are looking forward to this year’s Cooking for Solutions event at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The upcoming months have some big announcements in store for us, so stay tuned and be well…

Chef Dory Ford

 

April brings us an abundance of asparagus. One of my favorite things to use asparagus for is asparagus vinaigrette. You can use to dress salads, drizzle over poached eggs, serve along grilled steak or even use as a dip for grilled asparagus. This technique is super simple and delicious. Give it a try.

  • 1 ea shallot
  • 8 each asparagus spears
  • 2 oz high quality olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 Tblsp lemon juice
  • 1 pinch of sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Peel and dice the shallot. Cut the rough fibrous ends off of the 8 asparagus spears. Cut the remainder into small 1 inch pieces. Place the asparagus pieces in a medium sautee pan along with the shallot, olive oil and the water. Cook over medium heat about 4 minutes. The water will steam the asparagus rendering it tender. At the same time the water will evaporate and the asparagus will be stewing in the olive oil. Place into a blender and quickly puree on high to make a smooth paste. Transfer to a small bowl and season the puree with the mustard, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper. Enjoy!

 

Our May lunch menus are now posted online! Check them out today and be sure to try our great new menu items!

Stevenson Families: To view the menu, click here: kids menu May 2013. To place your order, visit www.aquaterrakids.com.

Bay View Families: To view the menu, click here: BVA kids menu May 2013. To place your order, visit http://bva.schoollunchchoice.com.