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The Four Flavors of Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving feast

Menu

Stinging Nettle Stuffing

Elderberry Mashed Cauliflower

Chicory/Maple/Harissa Roasted Carrots

Orange/Rosehips Cranberry Sauce

Rosehips/Rosemary and Sage Roast Turkey

Root Vegetable Gravy


I’ve been planning the Thanksgiving meal for this year and decided to include my menu here in this post for those who need inspiration. No meal, in my mind, would be complete without Wild Sea Salt.  To date, I have four flavors for winter which were introduced in October.  With those four flavors in mind, here is a great spread for any table.  I’ve included the recipes below.




STINGING NETTLE STUFFING:

serves 4

4 cups sourdough breadcrumbs. or cubes (homemade is best)

1 onion, small chop

2 celery stalks, small chop

8 oz mushrooms, stemmed and small chop

2 carrots, small chop

handful of chopped stinging nettles, if available - you can also use spinach or any green

1-2 eggs

1-1 1/2 cups chicken stock (homemade is best)

1 teaspoon dried sage

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon Wild Sea Salt, Stinging Nettles (divided)


1.  Heat a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add fat of choice (butter and olive oil, ghee, bacon grease, chicken fat, etc. . . )

2.  Add the chopped onion, celery, mushrooms and carrots and saute until tender - about 5-8 minutes.

3.  Add the handful of stingning nettles, if using, and saute until wilted in.

4.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of Wild Sea Salt Stinging Nettles, remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.

5.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add the sourdough breadcrumbs, eggs, dried sage, garlic powder and additional 1/2 teaspoon of Wild Sea Salt Stinging Nettles.

6.  When cool to the touch, add the sauteed veggies and mix into the breadcrumbs.  

7.  Add chicken stock little by little ONLY until the mixture is moistened and NOT saturated.  This may take only a part or all of the your chicken stock.

8.  Once mixed, dump all into a baking container - 8 x 8 might do it.

9.  Bake the stuffing for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until the top is crisp and the inside is tender.  


ELDERBERRY MASHED CAULIFLOWER (or potatoes):

Serves 4

1 large head of Cauliflower, cut into florets

1 cup 1/2 and 1/2 or heavy cream

1/2 - 1 teaspoon of Elderberry Wild Sea Salt (or more to taste)

1-3 T butter

immersion blender and/or food mill or ricer if using potatoes


1.  Add the florets and 1/2 and 1/2 or cream to a large pot set over medium heat.  Cover and bring to a boil. (if using potatos, omit the cream and boil/simmer them in water)

2.  Once boiling, bring to a simmer and steam until the cauliflower holds no resistance when poked with a sharp knife - approximately 10-15 minutes.  —check the moisture from time to time and add more cream if necessary.  Try not to add too much as this will produce a soupy mash.

3.  When the cauliflower is soft, uncover the pot, and strain off any additional liquid into a measuring cup and reserve.

4.  Add Elderberry Wild Sea Salt and butter to the cauliflower and mash with an immersion blender until smooth.  If more liquid is necesary, add from the reserved strained cream.


CHICORY, MAPLE AND HARISSA ROASTED CARROTS:

Serves 4-6


2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2-3 T olive oil

3 T maple syrup

2 teaspoons harissa paste

1 teaspoons cumin seeds

1/2 - 1 teaspoon Wild Sea Salt Chicory

2 lbs rainbow (or regular) organic carrots, peeled and stew cut

1 lemon, sliced thin, seeds removed and rubbed with olive oil.


1.  Preheat the oven to 450.

2.  Arrange the carrots on a large sheet tray with lip that is lined with parchment paper or silpat.  The carrots should fit in a single layer without overlapping.

3.  Pour olive oil, syrup, harissa, cumin, Wild Sea Salt Chicory over the carrots and mix with hands until all is well incorporated.  Spread the carrots out again in a single layer.

4.  Top with sliced lemons and roast for 30-45 minutes, or until carrots are al dente or soft, depending on your tastes.


ORANGE AND ROSHIPS CRANBERRY SAUCE:

Serves 4


1 - 2 bags of organic cranberries (I like extra cranberry sauce for leftovers so I use 2 bags)

1-2 oranges, one zested and both juiced - if using two

1/4 - 1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon Wild Sea Salt Rosehips


1.  Add all the ingredients to a pot over medium high heat.

2.  Stir occasionally and wait to hear the cranberries pop.  Once they do, the mixture will begin to thicken. 

3.  Cook for approximately 8-10 minutes after all the cranberries have popped.

4.  The mixture will jell as it cools.


ROSEHIPS, ROSEMARY AND SAGE TURKEY:

Feeds 6-8


1 (8-10 lb) Turkey

1-2 T Wild Sea Salt Rosemary 

3 Carrots, peeled and stew cut

2 stalks celery, stew cut

2-3 onions, wedged

any other root vegetables of choice (parsnips, rutabaga, kohlrabi, etc. . .)

1 T rosemary, minced

1 T sage, minced

1 stick butter

3/4 cup apple cider - if desired


1.  The day before cooking, remove the turkey from packaging, remove the giblets from the cavity and pat the entire bird dry with paper towels.  Place it in the vessel it will be cooked in and rub the sea salt all over.  Place the bird in the fridge - uncovered. (This technique is called “dry brining”.  The air inside the fride will dry out the skin and the salt tenderizes and draws out moisture as well.  This will create a lovely crust and thereby keep the inside of the bird tender and juicy).

2.  The day you are cooking, preheat the oven to 375.  Add your chopped veggies underneath the bird - these will replace a rack as the bird will sit up on the veggies.

3.  In a small pot, heat the butter, rosemary, sage and fresh ground pepper.  Heat until just melted.

4.  With a basting brush, brush the whole bird with melted, seasoned butter - inside the cavity and out.  Under the skin too, if you like.

5.  Roast the bird for 1 hour at 375.  Baste and then bring the temperture down to 350.

6.  Roast for another 45 minutes then baste again.  (You can add 3/4 cup of Apple Cider - pouring over the bird - at this point, if you would like your gravy have a sweeter flavor) AND, rotate the pan.

7.  Place in the oven for another hour to 1 1/4 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

8.  Let rest for 30 minutes before carving.


ROOT VEGETABLE GRAVY:

Serves 4-6

3 cups chicken or turkey stock (homemade is best)

Wild Sea Salt Rosehips and fresh cracked pepper to taste


1.  Remove the turkey to a carving board and pour off the vegetables from underneath the bird, draining off the fat - keep the fat in reserve.

2.  With an immersion blender, puree 1 cup of the vegetables - adding a bit of stock to loosen, if necessary.

3.  Place the roasting pan over two burners on the stove and bring to medium heat.

4.  Add the turkey stock to the roasting pan, scraping up the bits at the bottom and bring to a boil.

5.  Add the pureed veggies and taste - adjust the seasoning.

6.  Heat until the desired consistancy of the gravy is made.  I don’t usually strain this out, but if you want a smoother gravy, go ahead and strain before serving.


There is so much to be thankful for and may this meal you share with your family, friends and/or loved ones remind you that giving thanks should be done on a daily basis.


Chef Lisa

Wild Sea Salt


Salt Know-how: Radiation and Pollutants in Salt

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                                 Salt Pond, owned by Cargill on the San Francisco Bay Coast.   The colors are due to algal concentrations

Since I’ve been working the Farmers’ Markets selling Wild Sea Salt, I have had some interesting questions regarding where I source my ingredients from.  The main question is where I purchase the salt.  I did much research in this area and, since I was determined on finding a salt company within the United States, I settled with the company of San Francisco Salt.  The company produces salt for both body bath and artisanal culinary.  They source their salt from the Newark, CA  solar evaporation plant owned by Cargill then mix it with various flavors and techniques at their own plant to make an end result.  In the case of Wild Sea Salt, the end result is the mixing of Cargill salt with certified authentic Hawaiian Alaea Clay.  Why do I not just get the salt directly from Hawaii?  Because it is three times more expensive and is often difficult to acquire.

When people hear that the salt is coming from the San Francisco Bay, many are concerned about radiation exposure due to contaminated waters seeping over from Asia.  I too was concerned about this and, within my research, I made sure that I put these very questions forward to the SFSalt company when I decided to purchase from them.  They were very forthcoming with information which eased my mind with their answers, thus confirming my decision to buy.  Here is, to the best of my ability, is the answer to any concerns you may have when determining which salt is best for you:

Virtually every commercial salt producer, whether artisan or industrial, is regulated, and has to undergo testing. The thing to get straight is that generally speaking, salt is the wrong place to look for contaminants. Fish, milk, produce, livestock can take in certain substances and can indeed concentrate them.  But salt does not bio-accumulate pollution like organic things do.  On the contrary, the nucleation of crystals excludes the bonds with substances other than the crystals being nucleated, making it very difficult for any contamination to get a foot-hold on the crystal.  This is why salts are actually cleaner than the environment from which they are made.  Another thing to consider is how little salt you actually eat. The US Dept. Of Agriculture estimates we each eat 4.7 pounds of food a day with only a quarter to one half of an ounce of that food being salt.  If you are interested in finding a source of pollutants in your diet, look to the foods that bio-accumulate, and which you consume in relatively large quantities.  The last thing I’d add is that salt makers are generally profoundly environmentally conscious. Both the productivity and sustainability of their enterprise depends on intact ecosystems.  As people who depend on the healthy ecology of the seas, they see themselves as stewards of the sensitive marine lands, and are ardent defenders of it against encroachment of industrial and residential interests.  Buying good salt helps preserve some of the environments where other foods can grow naturally.

I hope this outline helps regarding answering questions on radiation and pollutants in salt.  Salt is one of our essential minerals we need in our diet everyday.  Therefore, it would be a shame to use a contaminated seasoning on foods you work so hard to source from clean and natural sources.  I hope this confirms that Wild Sea Salt is worthy of your future culinary experiements and amazing creations, which can only be doubly delicious with a sprinkle of the Wild Salt flavor of your choice.

A walk around my neighborhood

Today, on this blustery October Saturday, kodi, my chesapeake bay retriever, and I decided to go for a walk around my neighborhood to the local park.  During the walk, I noticed all the wild plants I recognized and decided it would be a great blog post to identify as many plants as I could during the duration of our walk.

My neighborhood is nothing special.  Many of the homes have landscaped front yards and my street, which consists of dense foliage and trees, is the main thoroughfare which leads to the less-traveled-by roads winding in a meandering circle pattern totalling about 2 miles to the park and back.   

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         Purple Astors in my front garden

No, I do not consider myself to be an expert in anything, however I do have a well rounded knowledge of many things.  Identifying wild plants is one of them.  I have been lucky to know and work with a true expert in the foraging world, Paul Tappaden, for about 4 years now and everytime I go out on a foraging expedition with him, I learn something new.  In my identification of the plants I happened to see on my walk, I bet there were about 10-15 more that I either could not identify or was not 100 percent sure about.  

But let’s talk about the ones I could identify.  Here is the list of all the wild plants I came across.  In the medicinal department, I found ground ivy, mullein and plantain.  In the edible department, I found wood sorrel, chicory, garlic mustard, dandelion, barberries, acorns, rosehips, puff ball mushroom and wild turkey.  Now, I thought, if disaster struck and I needed to rely on my foraging skills to provide a meal or two with what I found, what could I possibly make?  Well, being a chef, I put together a pretty darn good menu, in my opinion:

Appetizer:  Garlic Mustard Chips

Salad:  Wood Sorrel, Chicory Flower and Puff Ball Mushroom Salad with Rosehip Vinaigrette

Main:  Spit Roasted Turkey with Barberry Sauce and Acorn Biscuits

Dessert:  Dandelion Coffee and/or Rosehip Tea

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         A mushroom (not puff ball) I could not identify. . . but it was kind of cool.

This menu is not one that I could not whip up in a day.  No, it would take me at least 3-4 days to make this meal.  First, I’d have to leach the toxins out of the acorns to make them safe to eat.  I would need water for this and fortunately, there is a lovely little stream that runs through the park we were headed to.  The leaching process takes about 3 days, then the nuts need to be dried and finally pounded into flour.  The dandelion roots also need to be dried and pounded into granuals for the coffee.  On the day I plan to eat this feast, I need to kill, gut and pluck the turkey, which is not my idea of any kind of fun, but remember, this is for upscale survival, so check that one off for the cause.  

On serving day, as I decorate the feasting table with purple astors I picked from my front garden, I decide that there are two options for how the turkey could be cooked.  I could smoke it or roast it over a pit.  I like the pit idea although both would require that I build a fire.  There were lots of birch trees on my walk, so I could start the fire with a bow-drill made from fallen branches and plantain cordage.  The birch bark could be the tinder for my fire along with sticks and twigs gathered from here and there.  With the fire going, I sear off the turkey then let the flames die down and have the embers of the fire slowly cook the turkey to perfection.  Since this will take upards of 3-4 hours, I can start my appetizer.  Taking some fat from the turkey, I render it down in a pot over the fire and then use a bit to rub on each side of the garlic mustard leaf.  The leaves then can be seared in a pan over the fire until they are crisp.  Yum!  Kind of like kale chips, but better.  The salad can easily be assembled raw and the tart flavor of the chicory flowers with the lemony essence of the wood sorrel will be a great pairing.  Puff ball mushrooms don’t have much flavor, so I could use some of that turkey fat mixed with rosehip juice to make a simple vinaigrette.  For the biscuits, I add turkey fat to the acorn flour and then pan fry them like little pancakes.  The barberry sauce would need to be processed in a food mill to rid them of their seeds and the end result is a lovely, red jeweled toned sauce that is remaniciant of cranberries.  With dinner complete, the crowning touch is a warming mug of dandelion coffee.  This is how you live like a king in the wilderness. . . albeit suburban wilderness.

What do you think about on your walks?

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Delicious Rosehips - the red, kind of squishy ones are the best!

Bringing a product to market: Phase one

You know when you have an “ah ha” moment?  Maybe you’ve been wanting to do something for a long time, but just didn’t know where to start.  That was me, back in early spring of this year.  Since becoming a chef, I have always thought it would be kind of neat to have a food product on the market, but I just had no idea of where to start.  In the shower one day, I came up with the very raw concept of Wild Sea Salt.  As my husband says, the bathroom is where we all do our best thinking.  

I had this concept and went to the computer to try and research it.  Being an avid (professional) grocery shopper, I knew I needed a product that would not compete for space in the freezer or refrigeration isles, so it needed to be shelf stable.  It also needed to be something the general public would want to use everyday and, lastly, it needed to fulfill a need in the economy.  Walla!  Salt!

I don’t know if you have noticed, but in the stores these days, the salt shelf is becoming filled more and more with imported, high end products.  Upscale food shops are selling famous chef lines of flavored sea salts infused with wine, coffee, herbs, some smoked and some brined.  Did I come into the sea salt market a bit too late?  I started to get concerned about all the competition I had to face.  Then, it occurred to me.  My salt concept was very different.  I was making a salt seasoning for health, not really for flavor.  I was fullfilling a need in the economy because no one else was doing this kind of thing.  Naural sea salts are being labeled as healthy, but in a side by side comparison to my product, they just don’t stand up.

Now, how do I package it?  I needed to coral my vendors.  I have always felt strongly about buying american made products whenever possible.  So I started to research what states in our country made salt.  I was quite surprised to find that quite a few do!  After weeding through the choices, I settled in with alaea sea salt from Hawaii.  The problem I had was that true Hawaiian sea salt is very expensive.  To remedy this, the salt is sourced from Cargill Corp. in San Fransisco, CA and only the alaea clay is sourced from Hawaii.  The two are then blended together. This was much more cost effective for a tiny little start-up like mine.  Now I needed the seaweed.  That to me was a no-brainer because I already know about Maine Coast Seaweed Company and went directly to them.  As it turns out, there are many different companies in Maine harvesting seaweed so I did some shopping around and found that VitaminSea was the best choice.  They take their seaweed in Maine very seriously.  It is all hand harvested (very sustainably) and air dried.  Next to lobsters and wild blueberries, it’s the next highest grossing crop for the state.  I’m glad I can support the cause!  Finally, I needed the wild edibles.  I searched around and, knowing that Mountain Rose was highly respected in the herbalist community, I was delighted to find wild edibles among their manifest of goods.  My vendors were sourced and the materials were ordered.  But what about packaging??  

On the edge of your seat?  Keep reading this article in Phase Two.

Bringing a product to market: Phase Two


Bringing a product to market: Phase Two

The packaging needed to be unique and recycleable.  I did not want plastic because salt absorbs moisture and if sitting in the sun at a market all day, I was concerned about plastic leaching into the contents - BPA free or not.  I also wanted packaging that was see-through, so everyone could see the vibrant color of the salt.  I was coming up short as all the jars I was looking at were either sold in enourmous quantities or were just too expensive once the shipping was included.  I was told to look in the craft stores, like AC Moore and Michaels.  If I found something I liked, I could order it through the store and save on the shipping!  Awesome!  Packaging done.

I must admit that at this stage I was completely overwhelmed.  I would start to research one thing which lead to another thing which then lead to another.  There was so much to do and I did not have a clue as to which one to takle first.  After a few days of spinning, I realized that I needed to focus on getting the product ready to sell at the Farmers’ Market and with the outdoor seasoning coming to a close, I needed to see if I could get into the last few markets before the winter season.  This put a deadline on things, so I put blinders on and focused on what I needed to do in order to sell my first jar at the market.  Now I could concentrate on the tasks and not get as distracted about all the bigger stuff that I could safely set aside for the moment. 

But I need a license to make the product at home, don’t I?  Yes.  I got in touch with The Department of Agriculture and Markets and applied for a home processors' license.  I have well water in my home and needed to have a water test done to check for coliform before applying.  Phew, it all came back negative.  I am lucky in my choice of product because I fell under the “Cottage Food Law”.  Not all foods do.  If you have a food that does not fall into the cottage food law, then processing cannot be done in your home and must be done in a professional kitchen and or processing center and that is big bucks.  Really, nothing is cheap in the food industry, but having a home processing license, at least in the starting of your food business, saves an enourmous amount of cash.  There are downsides through.  For instance, in the state of NY, I cannot sell my product to any other state and I cannot sell online.  At least not until I move my processing to a professional organization.  For the moment, I think that concentrating on the state of NY will keep me pretty busy for quite a while.  It’s when space runs out in my home due to storage, that’s when I’ll think about making the next step.

Now the fun part . . . design and branding.  I am pretty lucky to know some amazing people who are quite talented in what they do.  Margarita Rudnik of Dtour Design did my logo for my personal chef company, Simple Earth Cuisine, many moons ago and I hired her again to do my logo for Wild Sea Salt.  I was tossed into the whole “how to package a product to sell” arena.  There is an emense amount of information about this on the internet.  It is truly daunting.  Although salt seasoning does not require a complex nutritional label, I did want to have vitamins and minerals listed on mine.  I found a great resource in Recipal.  This is a subscription based website that makes the process so easy.  Customer service is outstanding and the owner, Lev, is available to answer questions and help you every step of the way.  

I did some literal cut and paste with real sissors, real paper and colored pens/pencils to figure out the size and details of the labels.  I guess I’m just old school, but I’m a visual person with very little technical skills, so I get by any way I can.  Now I had the cut and paste, but how do I upload it to the computer?  Margarita, help!  Dtour Design did it again.  She took the information and plunked it into her design program.  That was a great resource worth every penny!

Oh, and while all of this was happening, I also should mention that I was pitching my product to all the best Farmers’ Markets in the area to see if I could sell there.  Criteria for the markets is limiting, but I find that to be a good thing.  Many want vendors with products that are local to a range of 200 miles, others want vendors who make their products themselves or have a very unique product that the customer range would want.  I fell into the last two catagories.  My first market of acceptance was Nyack.  I am shooting for Irvington, Hastings or Chappaqua too.  I know I need to have my product at the Farmers’ Markets for many reasons.  One, I want to build a relationship with my clientel.  They need to know who is behind this product and what my ethics are.  I want to learn about them and their needs and how my products can be of service to them now and in the future.  Also, the markets are a great place to fix any mistakes that I may have made.  Either with the packaging, the product or concept.  People are very forward with opinions and I love to hear feedback - either positive or negative.  Feedback is how I can learn and grow.

Excited about the ending?  Contine reading “bringing a product to market":  Phase Three.


Bringing a product to market: Phase Three

Going through my checklist, I still needed insurance and a website.   Because my personal chef company, Simple Earth Cuisine, LLC was already established with legal representation, I could use my LLC as the umbrella that Wild Sea Salt fell under.  This would mean that Wild Sea Salt would be a division of Simple Earth Cuisine, so I did not need to have another limited liability formed, my LLC covered both, at least in the start-up phase.  I did open a new insurance policy which would cover the company during outside events such as farmers’ markets.  

I decided to save costs and do my website myself.  I already have sandvox, a website buiding tool, in place from building Simple Earth Cuisine’s website, so I just needed content, photos and poof, the website came together in a flash.

At this point, I am starting to feel a bit more relaxed.  I packaged up 300 jars of product, popped the labels on, launched my website and picked up 1000 business cards.  I found a 10 x 10 canopy tent at my local Goodwill (love that store) and had some banners made to make everything look professional.  This all may sound easy, but believe me, it was a full time job - - on top of my already full time job.  I guess when inspriation hits you, you respond.  

As I write this blog, I find that the words just come.  I find that most of the tasks necessary to bring this product to market have just come.  Maybe it’s because it is within a field that I am comfortable with, maybe because it incorporates all that I have been passionate about over the course of my life, it’s hard to say how I came up with an idea in August and in mid October, I am selling a hard form of what was only a concept 2 months prior.   I think all of this just fell into place because the timing is right.  Deep down inside every one of us, we know when we are doing something right, when we are improving our lives and the lives around us.  That knowing is an open door to a vast expanse of opportunity.  Let’s see how far we can go.

Start from the beginning:  Phase One or Phase Two



© Wild Sea Salt established August 2015