From Market to Menu

A close friend of mine recently revealed that she is a committed locavore. As I am a new mom the second time around these days, I wondered if the sleep deprivation had kicked in with a vengeance. Locavore? Was that some kind of mentally ill person of Hispanic descent who consumes both meat and vegetables? (Yes, that’s where my brain goes.)

A close friend of mine recently revealed that she is a committed locavore. As I am a new mom the second time around these days, I wondered if the sleep deprivation had kicked in with a vengeance. Locavore? Was that some kind of mentally ill person of Hispanic descent who consumes both meat and vegetables? (Yes, that’s where my brain goes.)

Eating local is cool again, as it rightfully should be. Do we really need to be eating strawberries from Chile in the off-season? They taste all the sweeter when one waits until our own impressive berry bounty hits the markets each spring, and the carbon footprint of long-haul shipping routes is correspondingly and sweetly reduced. I think nothing marks the seasons of Southern California as wonderfully as our local farmers’ markets. My little daughter happily gorges herself on the first of the late-spring peaches, her favorite, while I eagerly anticipate more obscure things like ramps, fiddleheads and favas. Increasingly, our local markets also offer artisanal products like grass-fed beef, a rainbow of fresh free-range eggs, locally baked breads and native California cheeses that remind us all how very lucky we are to live in this great state.

The best of our local chefs are themselves locavores, and we owe them our thanks for the vital support they provide to these farmers and growers. It’s hard to miss these chefs – they’re the men and women who prowl the markets as soon as they open and who are easily recognized by the late-night shadows under their eyes and by the size of their produce purchases. But let’s be honest here. There’s more than a little talent required in order to transform that heap of seasonal bounty into something transcendent; I confess that I am frequently frustrated by my attempts to truly cook seasonally. I mean, does any average home cook know how to properly prepare rutabagas? And if you buy sunchokes or crosnes, how in God’s good Earth can one make them actually taste good? (Likely answer: copious amounts of butter.)

We got to thinking that some professional expertise on our local farmers’ markets would be the perfect way to welcome the spring and summer produce that enriches our diets and our communities. Accordingly, we’ve put together a moveable feast for you — a three-course menu based on local, seasonal produce, which features the talents of three of our top local restaurant chefs. We finagled the recipes too, so you can reproduce these delicious options at home.

From Manhattan Beach’s Café Pierre, we’re featuring Chef Remi Lauvand’s light but flavorful wild striped bass served with springy favas and artichokes. Try this fish course with a white wine that won’t fight the artichokes, always a tough pairing — my suggestion would be the fantastic vermentino made by Tablas Creek in Paso Robles. For a main course, we returned to Chef Michael Fiorelli at mar’sel in Palos Verdes. His spectacular Wagyu beef served with chard-stuffed tortelloni, raisins and baby carrots is not for the timid home cook, but Chef Michael has graciously taken the time to guide our readers step by step in this dish. (Yes, you can make homemade tortelloni. Don’t cop out and buy Buitoni at Vons!) Go big red with this entrée — a structured zinfandel with pedigree like Ridge’s Lytton Springs bottling will balance the brawn of the ribeye with the sweetness of the raisins and the carrots. Lastly, from Paul Martin’s American Bistro in El Segundo, we’re suggesting a heavenly, country-style strawberry shortcake, which needs something bubbly to polish off your meal. Try the sparkling muscat from Benessere Vineyards in Napa — one sip, and you’ll be addicted.

Go ahead and embark on your own moveable feast. Get out those reusable, eco-friendly canvas bags and head to the market. It’s the perfect way to celebrate the season. Cheers!

Wild Striped Bass with Fava Beans

Courtesy of Café Pierre
Chef Remi Lauvand

Café Pierre
317 Manhattan Beach Boulevard,
Manhattan Beach

 1 pound wild striped bass filet
 1 pound shelled fresh fava beans
 1 large artichoke
 1 sprig rosemary
 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
 4 ounces wild arugula

Cut the bass into 1/4-pound pieces and sear gently, skin down. Quickly blanch fava beans in salted boiling water and cool in icy water. Remove the skin. Remove the leaves of the artichoke. Discard the choke from the heart. Slice thinly, then sauté slowly in olive oil with the rosemary until tender. Mix all vegetables and arugula in a salad bowl. Seasoned with olive oil and sherry vinegar. Serve striped bass next to fava beans and arugula; sprinkle a bit of the dressing  around.

Grilled Wagyu Ribeye Cap with creamed chard tortelloni, golden raisins and roasted baby carrots

Courtesy of mar’sel
Chef Michael Fiorelli

6610 Palos Verdes Drive South
Rancho Palos Verdes

1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup orange juice
Cumin Marinade (recipe follows)
1 whole (3-pound) Wagyu ribeye cap steak, trimmed of fat (have your butcher do this)
2 tablespoons olive oil
36 baby carrots
Creamed Chard Tortelloni (please visit
kosher salt
fresh black pepper

Place raisins and orange juice in a medium pot.
Bring to a simmer; turn off heat and allow to
cool at room temperature. Strain the raisins;
discard orange juice and set raisins aside.

3/4 cup olive oil
1 cup soy sauce
8 scallions, washed and rough chopped
6 large cloves garlic
1/2 cup lime juice
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
6 teaspoons ground cumin
10 tablespoons dark brown sugar or Mexican brown sugar

In a blender, combine oil, soy sauce, scallions, garlic, lime juice, red pepper, cumin, and sugar; puree. Generously line a pan with plastic wrap. Cover the steaks liberally with the marinade and wrap tightly with plastic. Refrigerate for one hour.

This will make extra marinade; keep refrigerated for five days for other uses.

1 pounds swiss chard cleaned and chopped
2 ounces olive oil
4 shallots sliced thin
4 cloves garlic sliced thin
½  cup heavy cream
2 ounces Mascarpone cheese
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Salt to taste
Nutmeg to taste

In a medium hot sauté pan, Sauté shallots and garlic in olive oil until soft and translucent.  Add chard and cook until wilted. Remove from pan and drain on a kitchen towel and allow to cool. In the same pan, add cream and reduce by half. Remove the cream from pan and allow to cool. In a food processor, puree chard, parmesan, mascarpone and cream. Adjust with salt and nutmeg to taste. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to form tortelloni.

3 ¾ cups all purpose flour
12 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
3 teaspoons olive oil
3 tablespoons milk

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and mix until a rough dough begins to form. Turn the mixture out on to a clean tabletop and knead by hand for fifteen minutes, sprinkling the table with extra flour as necessary, until dough is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for one hour.

1 recipe pasta dough
1 recipe creamed chard filling
Egg wash (two egg yolks whisked together with one ounce of water
(This recipe is to serve six but you will have both extra dough and filling left over. You can make more tortelloni and freeze them if you like)

On either a manual or electric past machine, roll out pasta dough to the second to the thinnest setting. Using a three-inch round cookie cutter, cut six circles out of the dough and lay them on a lightly floured surface. Spoon 1 ½ ounces of the filling in the center of each pasta circle. Using a pastry brush, cover the outer edges of the pasta lightly with the egg wash. Fold the edges of the pasta over to meet each other, forming a half-moon shape. Using your thumb and forefingers, press the edges lightly to seal. Dab one of the pointed ends of the “half moon” with egg wash and bring both ends together, sealing with your thumb and forefinger, to form the tortelloni.

Portion the cap into 6 (8 ounce) pieces and coat liberally with marinade; let sit in refrigerator for at least 8 or up to 24 hours.Remove steaks from marinade and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.

Preheat a grill to the highest setting. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Preheat oven to 400°. Preheat a large oven-proof sauté pan to medium high.
Place steaks on grill and allow to char, about  5-7 minutes per side.

As soon as the steaks go on the grill, pour one tablespoon of olive oil into a preheated sauté pan. Add the baby carrots and cook on one side without stirring, until dark brown. Transfer pan to oven without turning the carrots and allow to cook for five minutes. Remove pan from oven, add golden raisins and toss to warm. At this point, the carrots should be charred on one side and cooked all the way through, with just the slightest bit of resistance. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the carrots. Set aside and keep warm.

Remove steaks from grill and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

As the steaks are resting, drop the tortelloni into the boiling water for six minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. Coat with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt.

Slice steaks on a bias into 6 even slices. Place each steak on a warm plate with one tortelloni and six carrots; divide raisins evenly among the six plates.

Strawberry ShortCake

Courtesy of Paul Martin’s American Bistro
Chef Paul Muller

Paul Martin’s American Bistro
2361 Rosecrans Avenue
El Segundo

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 ounces unsalted organic butter, diced small (cold)
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
melted butter for brushing tops
sugar for dusting

Mix all the dry ingredients well. Add the butter slowly until you have a loose crumbly texture. Add buttermilk and heavy cream; combine very briefly (over-mixing creates a tough biscuit). Roll into a square; cut into triangles or circles (about 3 ounces.) Place on a paper-lined sheet tray with one-half inch spacing. Brush tops with melted butter, then dust with sugar. Cook for 15-20 minutes at 350°, depending on your oven. Will be golden brown and flaky when done.

2 pints of organic strawberries — washed, stems and leaves removed, sliced or quartered
zest and juice of 1 orange
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (depends on sweetness of berries)

Mix all ingredients and let sit for 30 minutes.


1 pint heavy cream
1 vanilla bean (soak in bourbon to soften … so good!)
sugar to taste (I like less sugar in cream because the berries are sweet)

Split bean and scrape seeds into a mixing bowl with the cream and sugar. Whisk together to form soft peaks.

Cut biscuits in half, 1 per person. Spoon the berries over one half of the biscuit. Spoon the cream on top and then top with other half of the biscuit. Add more fresh strawberries for garnish.


More Stories