By Sara Hayden and Karla Kane
Dip in mashed potatoes with fresh chives and chard ricotta cannelloni.
Horticultural arugula. Photo courtesy of Jesse Cool.
Winter may not be the first season that comes to mind when you think of fresh garden products, but there are plenty of delicious vegetables to harvest – and consume – during the winter months.
The team at Menlo Park’s Flea Street, who are masters of sustainable cuisine, know this well. Founder Jesse Cool and chef Bryan Thuerk draw inspiration from gardens at home, in the restaurant and in the local community, such as with the Riekes-Cool Garden Project. The team is passionate about sharing this philosophy, celebrating homemade foods and the connections around them.
For decades, Cool has reshaped people’s attitudes toward organic food and direct access to the products they eat. She recalls sneaking into the farmers market in Palo Alto when it was illegal for Californian farmers to market directly to consumers.
“Now everyone goes in with their chef’s coats on,” Cool said in an interview. “There’s a lot more organic. There’s a lot more awareness of regenerative land and collaborative production. There’s a real revitalization left to ‘cultivate the food we eat.’
This is a year-round endeavor, even in the winter months. During this time, the cooler weather brings out the best in a rainbow of ingredients, including orange carrots, beets and bundles of greens.
“My favorite winter vegetable should be arugula. The taste and spice of arugula when the weather is cold stand out far more than in the other parts of the year, ”said Thuerk.
He sent an email with tips to know when the green green with the peppery kick is ready to be picked:
“During the winter, while growing kale, arugula, spinach and bok choy, I make sure the leaves are full-bodied, dark green and (with) firm but tender stems.”
“When the stems become too firm, it means that the plant is older than intended to be eaten, which makes it more fibrous.” But, he said, in that case, “they make good stews or braised vegetables!”
Cool names carrots and beets as some of her favorite crops in cold weather.
“They get sweeter with cooler weather,” she wrote in an email. “We have always welcomed some color and deep, rich earthy sweetness in the winter, where the ingredients are primarily shades of green.”
Cool says she recommends tastings to know when it’s time to pick a crop. “Nibbles of what’s growing lead to innovation and understanding,” she said.
She has also learned from farmers to see what wildlife does in the garden. “When the local creatures start harvesting and eating a crop, it’s ready for us too, so hop on it and turn them to it,” Cool said.
One of Cool’s family favorites is mashed potatoes. For this dish, Cool uses chives and potatoes grown in her garden.
“Plowing onions is easy,” Cool said. “Find a sunny place, big pots, harvest when the cold weather begins, chop and dry for winter use. For me, I can not grow too much chives.”
Cools potato black choice is the yellow potato as opposed to the reddish brown. When cooked, they are naturally moist and require less butter or milk. Harvest the potatoes by the end of November so they can be stored in a cold cellar or vegetable drawer for weeks, Cool said.
When it’s time to cook, Cool gives this tip: “For me, it may take a little longer to push the potato meat through a riser and then whip (the potatoes) with a whisk, but that will prevent them from becoming starchy.” With this method, the potatoes become light and airy. Make a large portion, and do not be afraid of leftovers that freeze well for future use.
For a winter party, check out Cool’s and Thuerks recipes with some of their favorite conservatory ingredients.
Jesse Cool’s family favorite mashed potatoes
– Yellow potatoes, 4 pounds
– Milk, 1 cup or more
– Chicken stock, ½ cup or more
– Cream cheese, 4 tbsp
– Butter, 4 tbsp
Salt and pepper to taste
Lots of chopped chives for garnish
1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into equal pieces. Put in a saucepan with cold water. Bring the pan to a boil. Salt plenty of water. Cook the potatoes until very soft. Test with the tip of a knife.
Meanwhile, heat the milk and chicken stock in a small saucepan. Whisk in butter and cream cheese. Set aside.
3. When the potatoes are cooked, sis. Run cold water over them until they are easy to handle but still very hot.
4. Pass the potatoes through a riser. If using a stand-up mixer, rice in the mixing bowl. If not, use a large bowl that gives you plenty of space when you whip the potatoes.
5. Stir in the warm milk mixture with a spatula or large spoon.
Whisk the potatoes until light and fluffy. Add more milk or chicken stock if needed. Do not make them too souped.
Season with salt and pepper.
Stir in the chives or transfer the potatoes to a dish and garnish generously.
Bryan Thuerks chard ricotta cannelloni with classic béchamel sauce
– 1 cup pureed chard
– 2 cups semolina
– 3 whole eggs
– 1 teaspoon salt
On a clean prepared surface, place semolina in a pile. Use your thumb to make a recess or bowl for the egg and chard puree.
2. Pour the 3 whole eggs and 1/2 cup manold puree and salt into the center of the semolina groats. Use a fork to whisk eggs and chard together while slowly incorporating the edges of the semolina. Once the semolina has been lumped, add the rest of the puree. Start kneading the pasta dough for about 10 minutes. After complete incorporation, wrap the dough in transparent plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for an hour to rest.
Chard ricotta filling
– 5 bundles of chard
– 1 pound of ricotta (Bellwether is Thuerks favorite)
– 5 cloves garlic
– 1 large white onion
– 1 tablespoon red chili flakes
– Salt to taste
1. Start by stalking the chard. Wash the leaves and pat them dry with a clean towel. Roughly chop the manold and set aside. Then cut the onion into cubes and chop the garlic to prepare a quick sauté.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan.
3. When the oil starts to have a little bit of white smoke, add the onion and garlic. Saute for about a minute. Follow with chili flakes and chopped chard.
4. Saute all the ingredients together for about 3 to 4 minutes until all the vegetables are withered and tender. Add the ricotta and mix in the vegetables over heat. Boil all the water left in the manold and inside the ricotta. This will help your pasta stay in shape and not run into a big mess.
5. When fully incorporated, place the pasta filling in a bowl and place it in the refrigerator to cool.
1. When you make the pasta ready to roll, put a large pot of water on the stove over high heat. Later, cook the pasta plates in a rolling pan.
2. Once your pasta is well rested and firm, it’s time to roll it out. Take the paste out of the plastic wrap and put it on a light sanding of the semolina.
3. Cut the dough into quarters with a knife. It is easier to make pasta in batches compared to it all at once.
4. Massage the paste with a pasta grinder until it is thin enough to get through the thickest passage on the machine. If you do not have a pasta grinder, use a rolling pin to reach the pasta thickness needed to roll the cannelloni.
5. On your pasta grinder, move the thickness down from 10 to 1.5. You may get thinner, but you risk the chance of tearing or tearing the cannelloni to pieces. Pasta sheets should be about 5 inches wide and 8 inches long.
Once all your pasta sheets have been rolled out, make sure they are laid flat on top of a thin layer of semolina to prevent it from sticking to surfaces or other pasta sheets.
7. Now blanch your fresh pasta for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Lay the pasta plates flat on an oiled baking sheet.
8. Place the pasta plate horizontally. Add as much filling as you want, along the long side of the pasta, about half an inch in from the edge. Continue rolling the pasta over to form long tubes.
Classic bechamel sauce
– 5 tablespoons butter, unsalted
– 1/4 cup universal flour
– 1 liter of milk
Nutmeg to taste
– Salt to taste
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, stir in the flour until smooth. Continue stirring while the flour boils to a light, golden, sandy color, about 7 minutes.
2. Increase the heat to medium-high, and slowly whisk in the milk until it is thickened by the roux. Bring to a gentle simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer until the flour is soft and no longer tastes gritty, about 10 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and nutmeg to taste.
Serve with the cannelloni.
Loppegade // 3607 Alameda de las Pulga, Menlo Park; 650-854-1226