As we near the end of the spring semester at Bay Leaf Kitchen, we have been focusing on foraging for our food. At our last community dinner, we discussed all the bounty the Bay Area offers us naturally along with safe, respectful ways in which to gather and enjoy such treats.
We think it's so important to teach that nourishing, fresh, whole foods should be the ones occupying plates most often. In northern California, we are lucky to be surrounded by beautiful farms and bountiful produce, reminding us that food shouldn't just come from a box in a grocery store. It may seem obvious to some, but there are so many people, kids especially, that don't have access to the knowledge of how to connect their foods with the land it came from. We love local, seasonal food, and highlight those ingredients each and every time we break bread together. We use produce that's been grown with love, treat it with care and respect, and end up wth the most delightful meals.
This week, we used locally foraged ingredients like dandelion, mustard greens, and nasturtiums to make a zesty pesto to serve with David Little's precious potatoes. We fired up the smoker, with help from Ted Wilson of Fine & Rare for a fiddlehead fern and sea bean salad with applewood bacon. Chickpeas and great northern beans were hand-smashed with spinach and plenty of locally foraged greens to make tasty fritters. We used herbs freshly picked from the garden to flavor a wild mushroom and asparagus farrotto (farro- risotto), which was a huge hit. Plus, a local seaweed and kale salad to energize us for the rest of the day. Lest not we forget, the beet oatmeal raisin cookies in honor of our dear friend and board member Alexis who was celebrating her birthday abroad! We were surprised that cookies lost their rosy hue when baked, despite being full of beets. After a little post meal digging, I learned that natural colors react to pH, temperature, exposure to light and other conditions. If the beets lose their color, turning back to normal looking cookies, the base is probably too acidic so just a pinch of baking soda will help bring back their ruby glow. Lots of great teamwork lead to some seriously delicious creations at the dinner table as we came together as a community, sharing food from right outside our door.