The Frontera Farmer Foundation benefit was a huge success. Between the on-line auction and the day long event, we raised $115,000, 100% of which will go to fund next year's grants. All expenses associated with the event were covered by either our underwriters or by us.
We'd like to thank everyone who attended the event, all the farmers who participated, our sponsors, and last but not least, all our employees who put so much time and effort into making this event such a success.
Rick's latest cookbook "Fiesta at Rick's" has started shipping, and he's gotten great reviews by both the New York Times and Publisher's Weekly. There was also a great write up in last week's Chicago Tribune along with two recipes. This book is geared to entertaining your family and friends, no matter what size party you want to throw. I've added two new recipes from the book to the web site. Check out the Recipes from the Test Kitchen section below for the links.
We're in Mexico for our annual staff trip to Mexico. This year we're spending it in Mexico City and it's always amazing to see how much we can cram into four days. Our trips are not only focused on the food, but also on the culture and history, because they play such an important role in how the cuisine evolved. All the chefs have been taking elaborate notes, since we'll be creating new dishes based on what we experienced during this trip.
A flan is just a flan, is just a flan, can't be said if you've ever eaten one of Mel's (Frontera's pastry chef) flans. This month's selection is a Mexican Vanilla Honey Flan paired with a Mulberry Lime Flan. Since I've never had mulberries before, I sampled this dish and loved the play between the pop of the berries against the velvety smoothness of the flan. It's really an exotic experience and well worth saving room for dessert.
Rick's Upcoming Events
July 14th - Rick will be appearing on Good Morning America during the last half hour of the show.
July 14th - Listen to Rick's new show "Fiesta at Rick's" exclusively on SIRIUS XM on Martha Stewart Living Radio, SIRIUS channel 112 and XM channel 157. Get a FREE* 30 day online trial to hear Rick's new show. The show will air on Wednesday nights from 7-8 pm for five weeks starting with tonight's show.
July 27th - Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville is hosting a book signing and demo at 7 pm. They're located at 27 at 123 W. Jefferson Avenue in Naperville. Call 630-355-2665 for more details.
Stay tuned to Rick's twitter feed where he'll announce contest details on how you can win an autographed copy of "Fiesta at Rick's".
Six of this year's grantees participated in the indoor market portion of the benefit. They donated products from their farms that were used in the dishes served at their stations. As a thank you for not only their products, but also their time, I wanted to feature each of them in this section of the newsletter. Over the next six months you'll get a chance to meet each of these amazing farmers. Eric and Samantha Sexton are up first.
Both Eric's grandparents and parents grew up on farms, but they had moved back to the city before Eric was born. In 1999, his parents bought a farm in Wisconsin and Eric worked alongside his dad that first year, getting as he put it a crash course in raising livestock.
This was the spark that fired Eric's determination to buy his own farm and raise animals without the use of hormones and/or antibiotics. Their cattle graze on a diverse blend of pasture plants during the summer, and are fed hay harvested from their pastures during the winter. Their chickens, turkeys, and pigs are never caged and are pasture-raised.
Eric and Samantha realized their dream in 2005 when they purchased their farm. They spent the first two years getting the farm into shape and buying and raising their livestock and poultry. They started selling their meats 3 1/2 years ago. The first year they sold primarily to family and friends, the second year Samantha convinced Eric to try selling at a farmers market, and last year they expanded to a total of three markets, and added naturally cured bacon and artisan sausages to the products that they sell.
They applied to the Foundation for a grant to purchase an upright commercial freezer. They had eight home freezers spread out between their basement and garage and even with that much freezer space, they couldn't hold all the meat that they were producing. That lack of freezer space was having a negative effect on their growth. The grant enabled them to take a huge leap forward, and they're well on their way to fulfilling their dreams.
Nature's Choice Farm is located in Grant Park, Illinois. They sell directly from the farm by appointment, or Saturdays at the Homer Glen and Bolingbrook Farmers Markets, and Sundays in Frankfort. You can contact them at 815-472-2934, or check out their web site for more information.
Kitchen Gadget Adventure
I discovered this OXO silicone basting brush three years ago, and I've used it exclusively ever since. It's the design that sets this brush apart from the rest. It has multiple layers of silicone bristles with a row of flat bristles in the middle. These flat bristles have a series of holes which allow them to hold on to liquid, whether it's a sauce, marinade or oil. The brush is heat resistant up to 600 degrees, is odor resistant, and dishwasher safe. It comes in two sizes, although I prefer the longer handle since I use it when I grill. The longer handle also makes it easier to find in my tool caddy. The basting brush is available nationwide wherever you find OXO products.
New from the Test Kitchen
If you love chocolate as much as I do, these Chocoholic Chile Brownies should make you very happy. It uses four kinds of chocolate and freshly ground pasilla negra chile powder. They're not super spicy - the chile brings out the depth of flavor from the chocolate and adds just a hint of heat.
I also wanted to share a couple of recipes from Rick's new cookbook, "Fiesta at Rick's." Rick demoed Roasted Beet Salad with Red Onion, Poblano and Lime last week at the Green City Market in the rain. We didn't think that anyone would show up, and we ended up with over 100 people. The second recipe is a Watermelon Mojito which is a perfect drink to serve during the summer.
Charity Guide is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting flexible volunteerism. The web site is geared to matching people with volunteer projects. The site is organized by interests and by the amount of time you'd like to commit. They have volunteer opportunities that will take you as little as 15 minutes, to several hours, or even projects that you can build a vacation around.
One of the 15 minute ideas is called BookCrossing. You buy a book, register it on this site, follow the direction for labeling and leave it somewhere for a child to find. He or she "captures" the book, reads it and then leaves it for another child to find.
There are many more volunteer opportunities, so check out the Charity Guide web site.
Our Bags Are Packed, We're Ready To Go ...
Remember, our restaurants will be closed from July 4th through July 7th due to our Mexico trip. We'll reopen on July 8th. See you then.
See you next month.
Test Kitchen Director/Web Site Culinary Director
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