The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook


Pardon me if I am a bit biased and excited about this next entry. It’s about a very special person and her very special book about a very special place. Amelia Saltsman, writer, cooking teacher, producer and host of Fresh from the Farmers’ Market, has just written a book titled The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook, Seasonal Foods, Simple Recipes, and Stores from the Market and Farm and I am as giddy as I can be just thinking about it. A California institution, the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market is one of my favorite places (it’s right up there with one of my other favorite spots, La Boqueria in Barcelona) and it’s always a treat to pay a visit to this market. It reaffirms everything I love about California — the produce, the people and our geographical location on this big crazy planet. Amelia, who has a deep connection and relationship with the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, has written a book about all the wonderful things that makes this place so truly special. It’s more than just a cookbook though; it’s a great resource for utilizing the season’s best fruits and vegetables while giving recognition to those who have dedicated their lives in bringing it to us. It’s a worthwhile and commendable effort on the farmers’ and Amelia’s part indeed.


I haven’t had a chance to fully work my way through the book yet (I’m halfway there!) nor have I had a chance to meet Amelia and ask her a few questions;  I plan on doing so in the next few weeks. But I wanted to share the special events that she has coming up during the month of October. And the best part is that she’s not only doing events in Los Angeles but in my hometown of Austin, Texas. How neat is that? Peruse the events, check your calendar and be sure to make it to one of her events. I have it on good authority that they’ll be lovely, informative, delicious and worthwhile. And if you go to Monday night’s event, say hello – I’ll be there!


Monday, October 1, 2007
6:30 p.m.
100 W. Channel Rd.
Santa Monica, CA
For reservations: (310) 454-4544

Brass Cap Restaurant is proud to host author Amelia Saltsman for a signing of her new cookbook The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook: Seasonal Foods, Simple Recipes, and Stories from the Market and Farm, followed by a seasonal farmers’ market dinner with recipes from Amelia’s book prepared by Brass Cap’s Executive Chef Ricky Moreno. 

The evening includes hors d’oeuvres, Brass Cap cocktail, a copy of the book, and four-course dinner with wine. Some menu highlights: Heirloom Tomato, Cucumber and Bread Salad; Farmers’ Market Risotto; and Pork Stew with Seasonal Beans and Greens. 

A longtime advocate of slow food, organic produce, local farmers and farmers markets, Amelia Saltsman’s recipes reflect her love and admiration for the people who grow our food — the farmers.  Joining us at this special event, will be some of the farmers whose produce will be showcased on the menu.  Cost is $98.

“When So Cal Went Ag: Past and Present Stories of Farming and Farmers’ Markets in Southern California”
Panel Discussion & Book Signing
Saturday, October 13, 2007
10:30 a.m.
Los Angeles Central Public Library
630 W. 5th St.
Los Angeles, CA
(213) 228-7201

Back in the day when southern California was prime agricultural land and The Los Angeles Times printed crop reports, Angelenos had local access to a wide array of fresh produce. We lost our way for awhile, but now there is renewed passion for crop diversity and connecting to the source, most often, for us city dwellers, by purchasing directly from the grower at farmers’ markets. What was available here one hundred and more years ago? What was, and is it like to be a farmer in southern California, and why and how did the current and booming certified farmers’ market system develop? Join Amelia Saltsman, author of The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook; Molly Iwamoto Gean, third generation-California farmer and co-owner of Harry’s Berries farm in Oxnard; and Laura Avery, Market Supervisor of the Santa Monica Farmers’ Markets for a lively presentation followed by a reception and book signing including tastes from Molly’s farm and Amelia’s book.

Laura Avery, Market Supervisor of the Santa Monica Farmers’ Markets, has overseen the growth of the city’s market program since she began as the downtown market manager in 1982. She also serves as president of the Southland Farmers’ Market Association Board.

Molly Iwamoto Gean is a third generation-California farmer who comes from a long line of farmers in southern Japan. She is co-owner of Harry’s Berries farm in Oxnard, which sells exclusively at southern California farmers’ markets, and is president of the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers’ Market Association.

Amelia Saltsman is the author of The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook: Seasonal Foods, Simple Recipes, and Stories from the Market and Farm, and editor of The Food Journal, the newsletter of the Culinary Historians of Southern California. Amelia serves on the California Certified Farmers’ Market Advisory Committee.

The Culinary Historians of Southern California is a not-for-profit organization that supports the culinary collections at the Los Angeles Public Library. For more information on the Culinary Historians of Southern California go to

Saturday, October 20, 2007
11:00 a.m. to 1 p.m.
1201 Third Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA
(310) 260-9110

Cooking Demo & Book Signing
Thursday, October 25, 2007
7:00 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Santa Monica Public Library
601 Santa Monica Blvd
Santa Monica, CA
(310) 458-8600

From easy table decorations to simple festive dishes, the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market offers all makings.  Amelia Saltsman demonstrates sustainable decorating ideas and delicious food from her book, The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook: Seasonal Foods, Simple Recipes, and Stories from the Market and Farm.  A book signing will follow the demo and tasting.


Cooking Demo & Book Signing
Saturday, October 27, 2007
9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
4th & Guadalupe
Austin, TX
(512) 236-0074

Harvest Dinner and Book Signing with Boggy Creek Farm
Monday, October 29, 2007   
7:00 p.m.
2905 San Gabriel St.
Austin, TX
For reservations: (512) 474-2905

All photographs in this post ©2007 Hill Street Studios.

Event: Morimoto at the Skirball

The kind folks at the Skirball Cultural Center wanted me to pass on
some information to you, my kind and sweet and culturally-engaged
readers, so here it is!

(plus Evan Klieman is involved and she makes my lil heart all pitter patter when she talks)


Iron Chef Morimoto: The New Art Of Japanese

Sunday, September 30, 4:00 pm

Exclusive L.A. engagement! Since 1998, culinary master and
restaurateur Masaharu Morimoto has
combined his passion for cuisine, competition and performance as Iron Chef on
the wildly popular television shows of the same name. His extraordinary
creations are rooted in distinctive Japanese flavors and aromas, infused with
multicultural influences-from traditional Chinese spices to simple Italian
ingredients-and presented in a refined French style. Join Morimoto for a
demonstration of recipes from his new book, Morimoto:
The New Art of Japanese Cooking
, as well as a conversation with Evan Kleiman, host of KCRW’s "Good
Food" radio program. Tasting samples of prepared recipes and a book
signing will follow the program.


$35 General
$30 Skirball Members
$25 Full-Time Students
Ticket sales end on Thursday, September 27, at 4:00 p.m.

For more information please visit

Man O Man.


I get emails. Stuff like "Can you recommend a good camera for me?" or "Do you know of any restaurants around here?" or "I didn’t raise you to be such a dork — please call your father today." Oops, sorry Mom. Anyway, since a few have asked for personal recommendations of food products and places to go I decided to start blogging about a few of my favorite things over the next few months (thanks for the idea, Oprah… call me!) And why not? The holidays are coming up and it’s always good to be prepared.


The year was 1996. I had just moved to San Francisco from Chicago, finally ridding myself of those long midwest winters and trading them in for even colder summers in the Bay Area. All joking aside, it was an eye-opening experience for me and one that I embraced fully. I absorbed the California experience on every level and tasted my way through the City, spending Saturday mornings at the old farmers’ market before it moved to the Ferry Building and familiarizing myself with local foods and personalities. I grew to love Peet’s coffee (trust me, it took some doing), developed a huge crush on Albert Strauss, became obsessed with Tu Lan and all its horrors and discovered what eating fresh and local was all about.  Somewhere in there I discovered meyer lemons and instantly became obsessed with them. I started buying them whenever I could find them, matching them up with just about anything I could and realizing that while I may suffer from high cholesterol I will never ever develop a case of scurvy. Hallelujah!

With my meyer love affair still in full swing, I remember the first time I sampled a particular variety from O Olive Oil. Hmmm, the label said it was crushed with my lil yellow pals, but could it be good? I knew I didn’t care for "flavored" olive oils, but I took a sip anyway (a strange concept to me at the time but now I realize it’s a great way to get a complete mouthful of flavor) and felt my knees tremble and my toes tingle. I almost felt like fainting (ok I’m being overly dramatic but just go with it, k?) Holy crap, I thought, this is phenomenal stuff. And then I bought some. And them some more. And it went on tomatoes, on bread, on lox,  roasted chickens and even sardines with slices of celery and pecorino. And for 10 years it’s been a staple in my kitchen. And I refuse to be without it – especially when we’re not in peak winter citrus season.

Imagine my delight when I got the sweetest email from a company who was just sending out sweet lil emails to bloggers. But it wasn’t just any company, mind you, but O Olive Oil. Now O Olive Oil needed no introduction from me — they’ve made everyone’s Top Ten, Favorite, or Awards list for several years already. And if you’ve ever tasted their oils you’ll certainly know why. They begin by hand-harvesting ripe olives from Northern California and crushing them with organic meyer lemons, Tahitian limes, blood oranges or organic jalapeños to produce a variety of amazing olive oils. Crushed, not flavored. They’ve saved my butt from dreary dressings a million times, and they always impart that wow flavor to anything I cook. And lest you think I sound like a commercial for them (nobody paid me for this!), remember that I’ve been in food marketing for many years and can tell you the O story backwards and forwards!

So there. Today I’m spreading some California love to one of my favorite products ever. You can find them online or at specialty food stores. And don’t forget their line of vinegars, too. Amazing.

Time For Apples


Last year I discovered that I actually enjoyed apples. I realize they are one of the most basic things on the planet and I won’t even pretend to touch on their historical or metaphorical influence, but let’s just say that the apple never made its way into my list of food cravings or desires.  I never bothered picking any up at the market, I never found them particularly sexy or exciting and I figured as long as I worked on Mac computers I was surrounded enough by them. Then a little thing happened where I tried a new crop Vasquez apple and realized what all the fuss was about. Apart from being nutritional gems, I was pleasantly surprised that an apple could be crisp, non-mealy, pleasant, and provide a happy balance between tart and sweet, or even not so sweet and just overall refreshing. Ok ok, I know what you’re thinking: um, could Matt come to this apple party any later in life? It’s ok, I completely agree. In fact I had never really shared my blasé attitude about them until it was replaced by my love affair with apples.

Now it seems I have random apples wherever I go. They are the perfect snack for me because they are portable, durable, fit in my computer bag and allow me to save those annoying little stickers with the PLU on them and put them on my fingernails and point at things until people notice. Plus they signal the arrival of fall and all the good stuff that is to come. It’s that new-crop versus cold-storage thing, not that I don’t eat the latter. And on rare occasions the apple allows me to observe mother nature’s miraculous break down of plant matter when a stray apple rolls out of my bag and under the passenger seat of my car, scenting my ride with the happy smell of Pink Lady* before giving way to the odor of rotting flesh, its origin alluding me until I take my vehicle to the car wash. And here I thought it was just the smell of Carson, California.

For those moments when I’m not enjoying an apple out of hand it’s also become my favorite in the kitchen. Last week I all but fainted when, on the recommendation of a friend, I added sliced green apple to a sandwich of rye bread and Allgäuer Bergkäse, a full-flavored artisan German cheese (take that, you locovores!) Do I really need to tell you how good life was tasting at that moment? Of course not. Because you already love apples and have for years. However, I haven’t, and I’m thoroughly enjoying my apple epiphany. Appiphany. Epiphanapple. Ok I’ll stop now.

I’m looking forward to all sorts of apples and figuring out their best use in the kitchen. Not just for desserts, I’m seeing a pork tenderloin with some Granny Smiths or even an apple and brie quesadilla — and yes, as dated and fusion-y as that sounds it still tastes good. Plus I’m Mexican-American which gives me an excuse to put anything inside a tortilla.

The following recipes were developed last year by my amazing friend Cindie. She’s not only a talented stylist but also a graphic designer and a real Motorcycle Mama and one of the sweetest gals you’d ever want to meet. Cindie, if you’re reading this on your iphone somewhere on the open road, call me! Or actually put the phone down and just drive. Don’t make me worry about you. Anyway, now that the temperatures have dipped a bit and baking can resume I think it’s a perfect time for tarts and pies and galettes, don’t you? Besides, we have to get our practice in before Thanksgiving. And about this salad: it’s creamy and crunchy and perfect with pork sandwiches. Oh there I go with pork and apples again. Yum.

GalettesmallGreen Apple Galette

Whenever I try my hand at galettes I end up with a rustic (read: messy) irregular shape, but it still tastes just as good. Try this with vanilla ice cream, some sweetened whipped cream or even a drizzle of caramel sauce. And I bet you thought I was going to say dulce de leche.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chilled butter,
      cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5-6 Pippin or Granny Smith apples
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup apricot preserves

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.  Make the crust by mixing flour and salt together in a food processor. Add butter and pulse on and off until mixture resembles very coarse meal. Add half of the ice water and process until moist clumps form, sprinkling more water on dough if it’s too dry. Press dough into a ball then flatten into a disk about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill for 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile peel, core, and cut apples in half. Slice each apple half into 1/8 inch thick slices, keeping apple halves together. Sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent browning and set aside.

Roll out dough on a well-floured surface to 12 inches across. Transfer dough to prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle flour and 1/4 cup sugar dough. Arrange sliced apple halves on top leaving a 3-inch border. Sprinkle remaining sugar on top of apples. Fold edge of dough over and up to make a raised edge. Pinch edge with fingers or a fork to seal. 

Bake in preheated oven 40-50 minutes, or until apples are tender and crust is deep golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

Heat apricot preserves in a small saucepan until heated through. Using a pastry brush, coat top of tart with preserves.

Autumn Apple and Potato Salad

I have a fundamental problem with salads that douse themselves with jarred dressings. However, I’m willing to overlook my snobbiness and just go with it for this recipe. Why? Because it’s delicious–though you can go easy on the dressing if you’d like.

2 lbs small red potatoes, unpeeled, steamed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 large Fuji apples, unpeeled,
     cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup Italian parsley,
     roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups blue cheese or
     ranch salad dressing
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes and once cooled cut into 1/2-inch dice. Toss potatoes with all the ingredients and serve immediately. To prevent discoloration of the apples, toss the slices with lemon juice before adding to the salad.


* The variety, not the musical group. Although I did think they wore fierce outfits and I love their music.

Falling Forward


I’ve always considered myself a warm-weathered kind of guy but I gotta tell you that I am on cloud 9 in anticipation of cooler nights and shorter days. I think the recent national heatwave was a great going-away present, don’t you?

I know what this means for me: I shall reacquaint myself with my oven (perhaps it’s been on 6 times all summer?), look forward to all sorts of braises and stews, jump back into slow roasting and relish all those sweet caramelly flavors of roasted root vegetables and winter squashes.

Man oh man I am totally getting excited!

I’m such a dork.

See you soon, Fall!

Oh, you may have noticed things look a bit different around here. As a designer it’s very hard to not want to tweak things, but since I’ve given this blog a seasonal update I thought it would be ok. I hope you enjoy it.



I know it’s all my own fault for clicking, but when someone sent me a link to a recent Los Angeles Times article (registration required) asking me to weigh in on the topic, I found myself grabbing a pillow and searching for the softest spot under a shady tree I could find. The topic –anonymity, blogging, restaurant critics crying foul, resto-bloggers screaming louder — has bored me almost as badly as the last time I took my car in for servicing and read Field & Stream for over two hours because I was stranded without a ride.

No offense towards hunters meant.

Tell the world who you are. Or don’t. Slather your head shot on your splash page. Or just include your lips, as coy and annoying as that is. Dowhatchalike. I just cannot believe this topic has garnered so much debate and energy and attention — and here I am stoking the flame!

This new fangled World Wide Web is big enough for all of us. Can’t we all just get along?

Mattbites will return to happier, delicious things in the next few days. Thanks for reading my rant.

Book Tour: The Amateur Gourmet


I’ve always been an early adopter and I was thrilled to be asked to participate in Adam Roberts’ Virtual Book Tour. Today The Amateur Gourmet is stopping by this lil old blog to answer a few questions, but damn it if that Ruhlman fella got to the good questions before I did! But never worry, Adam was gracious enough to sit down and humor me with my list of questions that I was hoping wouldn’t be too off the wall.

So have you read The Amateur Gourmet: How to Shop, Chop, and Table Hot like a Pro? If you haven’t, you really should. Out for just a short time it’s already seeing its share of wonderful praise–as it should! it’s an entertaining and personal collection of culinary endeavors that kept me chuckling and laughing the entire time. And then it made me hungry. And then a bit nervous. And then I laughed again. But if there’s one thing I can take away from Adam and this book it’s that life is simply too short to not grab it by the basters and get in the kitchen and try. It’s refreshing, spirited and truly a breath of fresh air.


Q: Adam, a big giant congrats on your book. It’s such a great read and thoroughly entertaining. How’s the reception been so far?

Thanks, Matt! The reception’s been really positive. I’m getting e-mails every day from enthusiastic readers. Plus the mainstream food press has been really supportive: lots of the writers I admire (Michael Ruhlman, Ed Levine, the Lee Brothers) have been really kind to the book. I’m really excited by the reception.

Q: I appreciated the explanation you’ve given on Michael Ruhlman’s  site on the difference between your book and your blog. As you mentioned, good writing is good writing, no matter the format. What were the biggest similarities in writing AG: How to Shop and AG: The blog?  And what were the biggest differences?

Writing the book was like writing the blog in the sense that I kept my "voice"–I wanted to sound like me, not a high-and-mighty food writer preaching from a mountaintop. So in that sense, it was similar. In every other sense it was different: different in how I approached the material, in how I chose the material, in how I worked with the material once it was done. Everything that went into the book had to fit an overall scheme–it couldn’t just be a random tidbit that had no place in the larger story. And story was the driving force behind the book: I wanted to tell a good story. The book allowed me to do that–it had a very clear beginning, middle and end. A blog is infinite, so writing on a blog is like shooting messages into outer space. They get read on their way out of the atmosphere, but then they just float along. It’s a very different thing.

Q: Which 4 historical figures, past or present, would you invite  over for a dinner party? It’s a cheesy question I realize but I had  to ask.

I love this question. I choose:

1. Barbara Walters
2. Joy Behar
3. Whoopi Goldberg
4. Sherri Shephard

Just kidding. In all seriousness:

1. Martin Short
2. Vladimir Nabokov
3. Julia Child
4. Bob Dylan

Wow, what a weird table. But there’s a comedian, a writer, a cook and a musician: my kind of crowd.

Q: Heidi, Shauna, Clotilde, You, I see a trend here. What advice can you give bloggers interested in getting book deals and writing  books? And when is  your next book due? C’mon, you can tell us.

What’s miraculous about blogging is that anyone, even you reading this, can–at any moment–hop on to Typepad or and create a blog. You can do it in a matter of minutes. And everything after that is up to you. It’s a real meritocracy: if you create something worthwhile, people will come to it. That’s what happened to me. So you’ve gotta get your voice out there, you’ve gotta create a brand, you’ve gotta be persistent, you’ve gotta be passionate, and you’ve gotta be unique. It helps to have a hook, but it’s not required. What is required is a level of commitment that most people don’t have. I’d say the large majority of people who start blogs update their blogs every few days or so and then they fizzle out. You can’t fizzle out, you’ve gotta keep going, and not only that, you’ve gotta keep coming up with new ideas, new posts, new stories to tell and new ways of telling them. On my blog I’m constantly experimenting with the form: videos, songs, comic books–you name it, I’ve tried it. Pour yourself into this and the rewards will come. I promise.

No next book in the works yet, but as soon as it happens you’ll be the first to know!

Q: Ok, so I’ve read that you haven’t accepted that many freebies in  the Amateur Gourmet’s career, but being called "World Class Mooch" was a bit much and not fair. Had that been me I would have had my feelings hurt beyond repair and climbed into a hole for about a year. You seem to have handled it just fine. Did it bother you or does it just come with the territory of putting yourself out there and being in the media spotlight?

Yes and yes. It bothered me, but it comes with the territory. That’s the scariest thing about this–putting yourself out there, you’re opening yourself up to scrutiny. You’ve gotta have a thick skin and even then, it can be tough. My boyfriend Craig always tells me to "rise above the fray." And he’s right: I can’t take it personally if people attack me somewhere. Not only that, it makes me look bad to engage them so I have to force myself to let it go and to move on. It’s tough, but I do it.

Q: Being the quintessential Mama’s Boy (and I only use that term about myself in the most complimentary way), I’d be interested to know what your parents think of your success and the book. It seems a completely different path than law school…

It’s so outside the scope of what they know that I may as well have built a ship out of paperclips and sailed around the world. But to say they’re incredibly proud would be a huge understatement. My mom bought out all the copies in the Boca Raton Barnes & Noble and gave them away to the woman who does her hair, the woman who does her nails, the bank teller, the toll booth operator… ok not the last two, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Q: What’s your idea of comfort food?

Pasta. I love love love to make pasta. It’s satisfying, flavorful, versatile—there’s so much you can do with it. Oooh, I want some pasta right now.

Q: What’s on the horizon for The Amateur Gourmet?

Good question! I have lots of ideas in the works. I’m working on a novel, another food book idea, and some new concepts for the website. You’ll just have to wait and see.


Adam, a million thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Visit to get your book if you haven’t already!

War, Peace, and a Very Quick Salad


Several times a week my amazing other half will call me at my office, check on me to see how my day is progressing, and then follow it up with "What would you like for dinner?" Before you think I’m the luckiest man on earth to get that phone call every day (because I am!), please keep in mind that the question should really be "Hi there; What Would You Like To Eat Tonight So That I Can Compare It To My List Of What We Have In The Kitchen Against What I Actually Feel Like Making For Dinner Depending On Several Factors Like Time, Mood, Willingness and Temperature."  We then begin a little phone dance of niceties like "Oh, you know, whatever you want is fine" and "But that really doesn’t help me out, Matt, which is why I called" which gives way to "Whatever we bought Sunday at the Farmers Market isn’t going to last until tomorrow so make something with that" which gets a "Fine. And where will I get a recipe for what you’re talking about" and I’ll respond with "Um, improvise?" which meets a "With TAHINI, A BUNCH OF SAGE AND SHRIVELED PLUMS?!?" to which I’ll say "Oh god, nevermind, really, I’ll eat whatever you want to make. Seriously. I don’t care." Then I hang up, upset with myself that his gracious, loving gesture has turned into a heated debate when all he wanted to do was make sure I’m fed, taken care of and let out into the yard two times to take care of business before bed.

Fifteen minutes or so will pass before we both pick up the phone — and depending on whoever reaches the other party first — and say:

"I’m just going to make/Why don’t you just make/I’m sorry/No, I’m sorry/let’s just have the salad."

Problem solved.

It’s known as the salad that we can always both agree on, the salad that satisfies and placates us both, and it’s something we never get tired of. It’s nothing more than a simple salad of greens, vinaigrette, and a few poached eggs. Perhaps a piece of toast salvaged from the stale loaf we never seem to finish. And it’s the peacemaker after a long day. Close enough to Salad Lyonnaise minus the bacon, I can’t seem to think of anything better when I’ve hit food fatigue but must still eat.

Ok, maybe some extra bacon, but the point of all this was to be easy and unpicky.


Why I love this recipe: because it’s not really a recipe as much as an assembly of very easy things. A poached egg, frisee or any baby lettuce, vinaigrette, croutons or toast and some chopped bacon. See? Easy and delicious. I’ll have extra vinaigrette, please.


P.S. A few folks emailed me about that picture below. It was actually dinner, yes, photographed with a Mamiya 645 film camera. I can’t remember what film I used other than 120, and I did scan it myself. It’s not the best scan but hey, it’ll work for me.