A fellow said the other day at the shop, “you sell quite a variety of salt” as he stood at the check-out counter while I wrapped his gifts. Why yes we do, I thought. Life is too short to use bad salt, was my other thought. I also, am asked often by customers, what salt we use at home. 2 we sell, the other is a grocery store staple. We have 3 little vintage glass bowls that I keep filled with each variety that is on an open shelf within arms reach of the stove. This allows us to easily access the salt while we are cooking.
The grocery store variety is coarse kosher salt. This is a super fine salt. This I would use when boiling a pot of water for pasta and I want to salt the water. TPS would use this when he is baking. I find this salt to be much more mellower than regular table salt, which can have an astringent and sometimes slightly bitter taste. Even though the box says ‘coarse’ it is really quite fine compared to the other 2 we like to use.
The second variety is something we have carried at Watson Kennedy since we first opened the Home store. It is a French Fleur de Sel. This is the salt I reach for the most often. It is beefier than the first, still has a very mellow taste, but I think it imparts more flavor. Scattered on top of sliced tomatoes, to topping a chicken soon to be roasted, Camargue Fleur de Sel is always my choice. This also makes a great little gift, as it comes in this spiffy little container with a cork top.
And last, but most certainly not least is the fab Maldon sea salt flakes from England. It is chunky. Love this stuff! This is finishing salt in my book. Maldon is what I would use to do a final sprinkling of salt over a bowl of pasta or over veg right out of the oven after they have been roasted. The chunky salt adding an interesting visual, while adding flavor.
Our first shipment of Panevino Grissini (breadsticks) arrived the other day and it was quite hard not to break into one of each of these containers. OK, I did break into one. I was dying to try the Fiscalini Cheddar. They did not disappoint. At all. Actually, it was tough not eating the entire container. A little back story. When we were having our dinner a few Fridays ago with the owners of Grove 45 EVOO, they mentioned these amazing breadsticks that were such a hit down in Napa. We had not heard to them, so Bonnie & Nena, thank you so much for the introduction. David and Mimi Katz own a successful catering company in St. Helena. From what I gather, and I completely understand why, the breadsticks have always been a big hit, so they started packaging them and selling them to shops such as Watson Kennedy. The idea is that they work quite splendidly paired with wine. I can attest that they also work beautifully solo, or with a glass of Perrier. I am crazy about the packaging, as these will become just the perfect host/hostess gifts this Autumn and into the Holidays.
Things have already started to trickle in from orders I wrote at the show just a little over a week ago. I get so excited when new goods arrive. Really excited. So much of retail is that of telling a visual story, so when a new item or two come in that help tell an existing story, I jump at the chance to do a quick re-display. We have sold the famous cork topped Le Saunier de Camargue fleur de sel at Watson Kennedy almost from the minute we began. What arrived yesterday are these very sweet little white ceramic bowls that you can put the sea salt into and have it out on your table. Along with that are beautiful Berard wood spoons that one can use to scoop the salt out of the bowl. The visual story is now complete!
I don’t know what it is, but when the days grow longer and are filled with more sunshine, I tend to make more bread salads. This version can almost be a meal alone, but works perfectly next to a piece of fish or meat. Last night it teamed up with grilled tuna steaks and worked swimmingly as we sat outside and dined, alongside a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
The juice of the tomatoes mixed with sea salt and a good amount of the best extra virgin olive oil you can get your hands on, creates the dressing for this bread salad. I like to cut the juiciest tomatoes I can find first, and let the salt really do its trick by drawing out the natural juices of the tomato. Add olive oil and set aside. Since this is a composed salad, I like to get everything ready first, and mix it all together at the same time. If your baguette is a tad stale, all the better. Ours was not, so I cubed it and mixed the bread with more olive oil, salt & pepper and roasted it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. I still wanted the bread a bit soft, not really crouton like, and hard. This is a personal preference. Your call. Set aside. Now take the skin off an English cucumber, and cut into small pieces. Really any cucumber will do, I just like how English cucumbers have much smaller to no seeds–put those in a bowl. Now cube feta. You will also want black olives without pits, and a handful of basil leaves. It is now time to add all of this goodness together. Add everything into a large mixing bowl, tearing the basil leaves into pieces. Mix and let sit for a good 15 minutes so the juices get into the bread. This 15 minutes can seem like an eternity, as that bread salad just looks too good to not dive into. Your patience will be rewarded. Once it has time to meld all the flavors and juices, go for it. Enjoy!
We love a roasted potato in our household. If those potatoes can be infused with fresh herbs, all the better. If with those herbs a liberal amount of amazing extra virgin olive oil and French sea salt are added–now we are talking. Mister Sive found these gorgeous potatoes last week at the Market, along with some fragrant thyme. He whipped these up, and in no time, the house was filled with the intoxicating scent of thyme.
Here is how we like to roast our potatoes. It could not be simpler, but the result is incredibly satisfying. Turn oven to 350 degrees, and let it heat up while you prepare the potatoes. Give the potatoes a quick rinse in the sink to make sure any dirt is off. Dry well. Layer the potatoes in a baking pan, sprinkling with EVOO, sea salt, and thyme leaves that are just pulled from the stem. TPS uses very little to no salt, and when I make it, I use a generous amount. Your call. That is what I love about most cooking–that there is no set in stone way it has to be done. Give the whole mix a mix around so everything is well coated. Pop in the oven, and cook for an hour to an hour and a half. Check periodically, moving things around so the potatoes get cooked evenly. You really want the potatoes to get nice and soft, which really brings out the sweetness. We generally cook them for an hour and a half, but it all depends on the size of the spuds, so they might be done sooner. Test along the way. Enjoy!
I am playing around with a new camera app on my iPhone, called Camera+. This was my first attempt at it. Look for more in future posts. A relaxing Sunday to all.
A few months back, I wrote about the contents of my Filson bag that I carry with me each day, as requested by a customer. In it, was a small travel tin of Maldon sea salt. It had been a gift from the company that I buy the boxes of salt from for Watson Kennedy. We received so many requests regarding those tins, that said lovely company has decided to offer the travel tins, and in turn, we will now be offering them at the shop and on the website. As I wrote in that post, good salt is good salt. Having a small pinch to add to your meal when you are out & about, far surpasses normal table salt. Founded in 1882, England’s Maldon Salt Crystal Company still draws salt from seawater using traditional long-handled rakes. The result is the world famous chunky, pyramid shaped crystals.
A happy Friday to one and all!
I could not wait to whip up something with the new Grove 45 EVOO we just got in. My goal was to use what we had, and make a simple supper. We almost always have a platter of tomatoes sitting out on the kitchen counter, and we had part of a yummy chunk of French feta sitting in the fridge that we had used for something last week-end. I like to keep a bag or 2 of orzo pasta in the cupboard–I love how quick & easy it is to make something tasty with it. I was off and running.
Put small whole tomatoes, such as grape or cherry, in a baking dish and drizzle with a healthy amount of olive oil and salt. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, till most of the tomatoes have popped and released their juices. Those juices, combined with the olive oil and salt is making the best sauce to later be absorbed into the pasta.
While the tomatoes are roasting, boil a salted pot of water, and cook the orzo pasta. Be sure to not overcook, leaving the pasta al dente. It will continue to cook when you add the hot tomato mixture. Once the pasta is done, drain, and put pasta into a bowl.
When the tomatoes are done, carefully add all of the contents of the baking dish to the waiting orzo. Let sit uncovered, so the orzo can absorb the incredible liquid of the tomatoes and oil, mixing occasionally. Once it has cooled a bit, add the feta, crumbling or cubing. Your choice. I have been really liking French feta recently, as there is a sweetness to it. Really, any feta you use will be fine.
Once you have put the mixture in a dining bowl of choice, add a sprinkling of feta to the top. This is great as a simple meal solo, or perfect next to a piece of chicken or fish.
We just received our first shipment of sea salt soap from Sweden. Not only is the packaging with the little anchor incredibly clever, the soap smells amazing. It has a hint of the sea, that we are big fans of at Watson Kennedy. This is the type of soap that permeates the air in the room that it sits in. It is also the perfect sized bar to slip into a linen closet or drawer to keep things smelling fresh.
Roasting cauliflower in the oven has become my go-to method for preparing it, as opposed to steaming. Roasting at a high heat really helps to sweeten and caramelize the cauliflower. I like to keep the entire head intact, take off any greens, and cut it in big slices.
It roasts up beautifully, and you actually can eat more of the veg, as the stems become sweet, as well as the florets. Plus, I think the whole pieces look really visually appealing on the plate.
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees, while you prepare the cauliflower. Once you have cut the cauliflower in thick slices, lay them on a sheet pan and drizzle liberally with extra virgin olive oil and salt. Turn them over and repeat. Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, turning them over mid process, so both sides get nice and brown. The cauliflower will become caramelized and so incredibly tasty. Enjoy!
We really do try and eat seasonally and locally as much as we can, but one of the things I can’t live without through the year are tomatoes. Besides being healthy for you, they are just plain beautiful to look at. The market the other day had a small box of these lovelies pictured above, from Mexico. They were just too pretty to pass up. This really is the simplest thing to do with tomatoes, and it is also one of my favorite. Just slice them in half, or quarter them if they are larger. I find the smallest tomatoes to be the sweetest, so that is what I search out most. Sprinkle liberally with fleur de sel, or whatever chunky sea salt you have on hand. This will help draw out the juices of the tomato, and make them perfect for serving solo. I like to serve them this way with a sandwich for lunch. They are also great this way as a snack in the late afternoon with a piece of cheese. Simple, simple, but of so yummy.
A happy New Year’s Eve to all of you!