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  Current recipe focus: salbitxada and piment basquaise®
   
SPRING SEASONAL SALBITXADA FOR CALCOTS
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 small garlic clove, finely grated
1 tsp piment basquaise
1 tsp pimenton, bittersweet
1 tblsp red wine vinegar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
5 large carrots, chopped


Pulse pine nuts, garlic, and 1/4 cup olive oil in a blender or food processor to a coarse paste. Add pepper spices, carrots, vinegar, and water. Process, to a coarse purée; and drizzle in remaining olive oil while blending. Season with sea salt, and more vinegar, if desired.

Serve at room temperature with calcots. Store in refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 days.

 

 

 

 

VIRIDIAN FARMS PIMENT BASQUAISE®

Espelette is not only the name of a pepper that plays a signature role in Basque cooking, but is also the name of a small village tucked away at the base of a mountain in the French side of the Basque region, lined with winding streets decorated with bright red chilies that have been tied by hand, one at a time, onto strings. They are hung as garlands on the eaves of white farm houses so the chilies can get a little sun before being heated in a furnace and ground into powder.

Cultivated in this part of the Basque country for centuries, the peppers were first used to flavor a unique chocolate recipe. It was originally in the 17th century when espelette peppers were used to spice chocolate in the kingdom's leading chocolate producer, Bayonne.  Later on, in the 18th century, it started to be used to season the famous "Jambon de Bayonne" (Bayonne hams) and some other charcuterie items such as paté, sausages and pies. Today, it is used in many basque recipes such as piperade – and most often used in place of regular black pepper. If you are ever traveling in this region, you’ll notice small dishes of ground piment d’espelette at restaurant tables. You may also see it in stores as a paste, cream, or pickled whole. Piment d’espelette is prized among many chefs in France and around the world.

At our farm in Oregon, we grow these peppers from seed we personally sourced in the French Basque region, and market them as "piment basquaise®" -- to avoid any confusion with the AOC-protected espelette. The process to produce piment basquaise is long, taking at least 8 months. Following the traditional Basque methods, we start the peppers from seed in February, plant them in the fields in May, and harvest them when they turn a brilliant red in October. The peppers are then slowly dried in the sun for up to 6 weeks, and finished in a commercial dehydrator. Later, we grind the dried peppers to a coarse powder.

Use piment basquaise on thinly sliced cured ham, egg or seafood dishes, or in one of the many traditional French/Basque recipes, including desserts.

       
LAMB AXOA WITH PIMENT BASQUAISE
1/4 cup olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 green bell peppers, finely chopped
2 red bell peppers, finely chopped
1 ½ pounds lamb, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 tablespoons Espelette pepper powder
1 ½ cups beef bouillon
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

 

Lamb axoa is a recipe typical of the Basque region, prepared in the same fashion as a stew. Serve with a crusty French bread and red wine. If you wish to make this more of a stew, add two potatoes, finely chopped, and double the bouillon.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Sauté the onions and garlic for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the bell peppers and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the lamb and sauté another 5 minutes. Add the piment basquaise powder, the bouillon, and bay leaves, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes. If using potatoes, simmer until the potatoes are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves: 4 to 6

 
CHICKEN BASQUAISE
WITH PIMENT BASQUAISE PIPERADE

½ cup olive oil
4 medium onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic
4 green bell peppers, seeds and stems removed, chopped
2 red bell peppers, seeds and stems removed, chopped
4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons Espelette powder, or more to taste
Pinch of thyme
1 chicken, cut up
Salt and pepper to taste
 

Piperade is a colorful pepper sauce that is only spicy when made in the Basque region. This simple but delicious dish is often served at the Celebration of the Peppers. Serve it boiled potatoes and green beans.

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large sauté pan and sauté the onions and garlic for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the bell peppers and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and piment basquaisepowder and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the thyme, salt, and pepper and transfer to a bowl.
Wipe out the pan and heat the remaining 1/4 cup of oil. Brown the chicken in the oil until golden, turning often. Pour the Piperade over the chicken, reduce the heat, cover and simmer until tender, about 30-40 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4 to 6

 

CATXITOS DE CHOCOLATE
CON PIMENT BASQUAISE
- 2 sticks butter
- 7oz good-quality dark chocolate
- 1¼ cups sugar
- 5 eggs
- 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- up to 1½ tsp ground piment basquaise -- adjust to your taste

 

Here’s an easy recipe for piment basquaise chocolate mini bites.
(Yields 72 mini bites, and can be prepared a day ahead)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Melt the butter with the chocolate in a small saucepan, or in a bowl in the microwave. (If melting in the microwave, be sure to do it slowly, blending with a spoon between each pass). Transfer into a mixing bowl, add in the sugar, mix with a wooden spoon and let cool a little. Add the eggs one by one, mixing well with the spoon after each addition. Add a rounded tablespoon of flour and the chili powder and mix well.

Pour the dough into petit four molds, and put into the oven to bake for ten to twelve minutes. The top should look set, but the inside should still be on the soft side. Let the mini bites cool down enough to unmold them, then turn them out on a rack to cool completely while you cook the other batches. Store in a plastic container, refrigerate, and take out about an hour prior to serving.

 

PIMENT BASQUAISE - CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
7 ozs of semi sweet chocolate
2 ozs of butter at room temperature
2 eggs, separated
½ cup of cold whipping cream
1 tsp of piment d’espelette, ground into a powder
2 tbsp of icing sugar

 

Whisk the cream until thick and peaks forms and reserve in refrigerator. Place the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler on low heat. Slowly melt the chocolate, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and let it cool down a little bit. Whisk the butter in the chocolate and the piment basquaise powder. Mix in the egg yolks. Next, whisk the egg white with a pinch of salt and the sugar until firm and peaks form. Mix it delicately with the cooled down chocolate. Fold in the whipped cream, and pour in ramekins. Level the surface and put it in the fridge for 2 hours. Sprinkle with the icing sugar before serving. Serve with a cigarette russe or your favorite cookies. Serves 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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