I'm here to let you know about our new Spicy Tomato Preserve! This new savory preserve really showcases our Comapeño chile powder and is a versatile spread/sauce that you might just eat straight from the jar until it is empty (yes, we have already watched friends do this).
As always we put together a list of what we're cooking and even added a short 20-minute documentary we think you should watch. The chile harvest season has started our a bit weird, but we're rolling with it. Scroll on to learn why.
We're totally in love with the new Spicy Tomato Preserve. It's chunky. It's rich. And it's got the right amount of heat from the addition of our Comapeño chile powder. Honestly, we're not sure what else this is like on the market - and we think that's a good thing! It's much different than a tomato sauce, ketchup, or sweet tomato jam. It's spicy, incredibly tomato-y, and we keep finding new things to spread it on.
Here's some ideas to get you started:
- Slather it onto a piece of crusty bread for the perfect appetizer!
- Spoon it over a piece of pan-seared fish!
- Put it under a fried egg on a piece of toast!
- Add it to a charcuterie board!
- Spread it on a grilled cheese sandwich!
- Swirl it into a bowl of pasta!
This preserve is made with peak season early girl tomatoes from Windrift Farms in Petaluma and does have a bit of sugar in it (not too much!). Other ingredients include apple cider vinegar, pectin, and Comapeño chile powder.
A little more about Comapeño chiles.
Originally from the Veracruz Mountains in Mexico, Comapeño chiles are similar in heat to chiltepin chiles. As far as we can tell, we’re the only folks in the U.S. that grow Comapeño chiles! The chile powder is bright and citrusy with a burst of heat that subsides as you eat it. You can use Comepeño chile powder instead of Cayenne or any other hot chile. Check out What We're Cooking, below, for an ode to the Comapeño.
As you can see, these chiles are very very small. The plants themselves do not get as large as most of our other chiles and harvesting each chile individually would be an absurd task. Instead, we cut down the plants whole and then, with small hand rakes used for harvesting olives, we rake the chiles off the plant. Later, we still have to take off the small stems from the chiles. It's an absolute labor of love, but we think the flavor of these chiles is too good to not grow them.
A different start to the 2022 harvest season.
In the past 2 weeks we've seen our weather range from a high of 116 to lows in the 50s with an early rainy season weekend. After a cool summer that delayed the ripening of basically all crops here in Anderson Valley (chiles! beans! tomatoes! grapes!), it's been a bit difficult to gauge where we're at.
The intense weeklong heatwave did manage to get our chiles ripening (yay!) but definitely had a major impact on our dry beans that weren't quite mature. It will take a few more weeks to see what kind of crop loss we have with the 5 varieties of beans still in the field. Though! We have harvested and threshed the Zolfini, Sorana, and 2 new beans and they look great.
Last week we harvested the first batch of Sugar Rush Peach chiles and have plans to harvest Espelette peppers for Spicy Piment d'Ville this week. While it feels like a really slow start, soon the greenhouse will be full of chiles and my legs will feel less bad each morning we harvest. While we're out in the fields, just a reminder that our web store is stocked with the bounty of our farm. Maybe there's something there you still haven't tried...
What We're Watching.
I moved to the Anderson Valley twelve years ago to work at the Boonville Hotel. There I had the chance to learn how to cook from the chef/proprieter Johnny Schmitt. Each month, as the weather shifted and new vegetables and fruits came into season, I'd learn how to make more and more of Johnny's mom's recipes. Sally was a quiet force in the California culinary scene and became one of the first true cooks of California cuisine. From The Vintage Cafe, to the Chutney Kitchen, to The French Laundry, Sally helped put Napa Valley on the map for good food. Sally and her husband Don settled at the Apple Farm in Philo (here in Anderson Valley) after selling The French Laundry to Thomas Keller in the 90's.
Sally passed away earlier this year on the eve of the publication of her cookbook entitled "Six California Kitchens." It reads part memoir part cookbook and is an incredible ode to her family and the impact she had on California's food scene. I sat down and read the book cover to cover in April and learned so much.
This week, in conjunction with the New York Times and director Ben Proudfoot, Sally's story was brought to life in a truly special 20 minute documentary entitled "The Best Chef in the World."
Sally was never looking to be the best chef in the world. Instead, she was looking to make people happy by cooking them good food and strove to live a balanced life that allowed her to focus on her family. It's an incredible tribute and we hope you'll watch it.
On a more personal note, I'll never forget cooking Sally's 80th birthday dinner for the entire Schmitt family. Sally requested Malfatti, a spinach and ricotta gnocchi that I had never made before. I was terrified and pretty unsure it was going to come together. It ended up being a lovely evening that included a successful plate of malfatti.
What We're Cooking.
With the new Spicy Tomato Preserve, my brain is focused on all things Comapeño chile powder. Here are a few favorites.
- Egg on toast with a spread of Spicy Tomato Preserve
- A big bowl of Comapeño Butter Spiked Beans
. Start with dry beans or canned beans (We are on the dry bean train but use what works best for you!) and finish the beans with a chile butter, tomatoes, and vinegar.
- Hot Honey Comapeño Chicken Wings
as the weather shifts and it feels like an appropriate time to use the oven.
- Comapeño Carne Adovada
. This might be the best recipe we have on hand. It's a simple braise of pork (but still works with chicken, beef, or mushrooms!), tomatoes and comapeño chile powder that is incredibly comforting in a tortilla.