7 Insider Tips to Our Peach Party!

Each July, our mission is to bring the ultimate peach experience to DLM where the peach will be king. We scour the U.S. for a tree-ripened peach with the highest brix to be found. This year our search took us back to California, where the Gerawan family grows Prima® Peaches. We love its sweet flavor so much, it inspires items throughout DLM, such as the BLPeach, a sweet take on the traditional BLT, and mouth-watering Peach Salsa.

The longer a peach remains on the tree, the higher the sugar content and the better the flavor. The peaches are hand selected for DLM and placed into a small, round-bottomed bucket that protects the fruit from bruising. Our peaches are hand packed on the same day they’re harvested and handled with the utmost care to protect these marvelous fruits. DLM Prima® Peaches will have a brix level of 11 or above ensuring that the peaches bring that sweet summertime flavor.

Each morning our produce managers will use a refractometer, a device used to measure the brix level of the peach. The daily brix will be written on a sign to let you know how sweet our Prima® Peaches are tasting that day! As July continues, these peaches will just keep getting sweeter and sweeter as they reach their peak. Come to the “party” and be prepared to enjoy one of the sweetest, juiciest peaches around.

7 Insider Peach Party Tips

  1. The longer a peach can rip en on the tree, the higher the Brix. All Peach Party Prima® Peaches have a Brix level of 11 or greater!
  2. Once a peach is harvested, it is also graded. A very small percentage of peaches will make the cut to be sent to our Peach Party.
  3. Once the tree-ripened peaches arrive to DLM, our Produce managers carefully inspect the fruit and measure the Brix. Check the Brix sign to see what it is today!
  4. Look for “Ready Today” and “Ready Tomorrow” signs on our Peach Party display so you can plan your peach feast accordingly.
  5. You can tell when a peach is perfectly ripe by using your full hand and not just fingertips. The ripe peach will yield to gentle pressure.
  6. Peaches are perfect as-is. But they’re also great cooked (try poaching, baking, and even grilling). When cooked, the sugar caramelizes resulting in an even sweeter peach!
  7. Look for recipes throughout DLM during our Peach Party featuring this sweet summer fruit!

 

Let Summer Be-Gin!

I am not a Scotch drinker nor am I really a Bourbon drinker, but I can appreciate a well-made Old Fashioned or Manhattan every once in a while. So when planning our last vacation to Scotland, I knew my husband would be extremely happy enjoying the local spirits. The Scots aren’t known for wine and not being a beer drinker I thought I was going to be “Debbie Downer” at the pub. But, I had no idea how much the UK was into gin and other non-Scotch-based cocktails.

I found something to drink there and it was so crisp and just plain refreshing! I had no idea that it would take a trip to Scotland to make me realize just how good a well-crafted tonic could be! Almost every pub and restaurant we went to had not only amazing Scotches to choose from, but a HUGE selection of gin. The variety of mixers was incredible but the one that was most recommended to me to was Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water. I was pretty familiar with that brand name although this particular flavor was one I never had in the States before. It’s a little hard to describe in flavor. Reminiscent of a salty ocean breeze, it has a slightly herbal component to it that kind of reminds me of rosemary or herbes de Provence. Plus, I didn’t even need to add the gin! (But I did—more than a couple of times.)

What I can describe is how easy it is to make a simply stunning and refreshing drink. Cut a thin slice of grapefruit, lime, or orange and place it in the bottom of a glass. If you happen to have some fresh herbs handy, throw in a small sprig of rosemary or a basil leaf (thyme will work too).  Add ice and pour a bottle of Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water to the rim. Muddle or stir, and voila! Or, do like the Highlanders do and add a little gin. Perfect summer drink!

Get Your Kicks with These 8 Recipes from Route 66

The ultimate road trip in America has got to be driving Route 66, spanning eight states with iconic comfort foods along the way. Although it was officially decommissioned in the 80s, it continues to attract tourists, road warriors, and food lovers looking to taste pure Americana. Today the historic route boasts vintage motels, nostalgic roadside attractions, and some really good road food.

After the Great Depression, folks finally had a little extra cash so they piled into the family car and embarked on a road trip of a lifetime with destination spots like the Grand Canyon or Disneyland Park in mind. Even great movies, songs, and books were inspired by the open road and aura of Route 66. For many, this road trip is also about the iconic flavors, like home-style baked goods, spicy chiles, BBQ, and all-around good country eating!

Buckle up and take a bite out of these eight recipes representing the eight states along Route 66!

1. Chicago Dog

2. Kansas BBQ Rub

3. Country Fried Steak

4. Buttered Pecan Blueberry Cobbler

5. Cowboy Steak

6. Easy Sticky Buns

7. Chicken Posole

8. Fish Tacos with Lime Crema & Cabbage Slaw

5 Easy Breezy Fresh Fruit Recipes

Sometimes life is like a bowl of cherries, and we hope this summer will be sweet and simple for everyone. But with a little thought, why not go beyond the bowl and branch out a bit? With all of these big, ripe sweet cherries we have right now from California, it’s hard not to think of all the fun ways to eat them! Here’s one of my favorites:

Fresh Cherries and Yogurt

Smear a little of your favorite vanilla yogurt across a plate or platter, scatter some washed and pitted cherries on top, and garnish with a little chocolate crumb. For the “crumb” I like to use crumbled Tate’s Double Chocolate Chip Cookies or the classic thin chocolate wafers that aren’t too sweet.

Dessert isn’t the only way I like to eat my cherries. Here are some suggestions for utilizing these beautiful berries!

  • Added to a green salad for a pop of sweetness.
  • Fresh component of a cheese or charcuterie plate. Cherries pair wonderfully with a nice and mild creamy blue or fresh goat cheese.
  • In a sauce or reduction accompanying poultry.
  • Plopped on top of oatmeal with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of crunchy granola.
  • On top of a toasted piece of DLM Classic 10 Grain Bread smeared with creamy ricotta and finished with a drizzle of local honey.

Looking for other ways to enjoy the bounty of fresh fruit this season brings? Check out some of my go-to recipes below!

French Blueberry Loaf with Mascarpone and Lemon Curd Sauce

Strawberry Oatmeal Cookie Tart

Grilled DLM Pound Cake with Blackberries and Caramel

Strawberries Romanoff

Chef Carrie Cooks: Lobster Cooking Tips

First off, it’s Lobstermania this weekend at DLM (sale starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday and once they’re gone, they’re gone)! But we actually kick it off with our sold out Lobster 101 cooking class event Friday night at the DLM Culinary Center (hint: buy your tickets early next year). On Saturday, you can procure fresh, live Maine lobster for $15, which is quite a deal for such quality of lobster weighing in at 1.25 lbs or larger. You can buy them already steamed fresh or you can do it at home with no Annie Hall freak-outs, I promise! Follow my tips below for steaming or boiling live lobster, and before you know it, you’ll be serving up a couple for dinner alongside corn-on-the-cob and some of our Bakery’s Herb Cheddar Biscuits!

To start, if you have never handled a live lobster, keep the bands on. Also, the lobster doesn’t “scream” when you start cooking it. If you do hear a noise it’s just the steam escaping from the shell.

Lobster Boiling Tips

Boiling a lobster is easy and probably the best way for cooking 4 or more at one time. Get a big pot and fill with fresh water about 2/3 full. Add 1 to 2 Tbsp of salt per gallon of water. Bring to a boil and add lobsters. Start the timer when the water comes back to a boil. You can figure 6-7 minutes for a 1.25-lb lobster, 7-9 minutes for 1.5-lb lobster, and 10-12 minutes for a 2-lb lobster.

Lobster Steaming Tips

Steaming lobster works great and tends to yield a more tender, less messy cooked lobster than boiling. Fill a large, deep pot with 2-3 inches of water. Bring to a boil, add the lobsters, cover, and steam, about 8 minutes per lb.

How do you tell when it’s cooked? Remember, sometimes the lobster may be undercooked even if the shell is entirely red. Double check that the meat is a creamy white color with no translucent areas. Give a good tug on one of the antennas and if it pops off, the lobster is done You can also insert an instant read thermometer into the underside of the tail. It should read 135-140°F.

5 Things to Know About Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. The 80- to 90-lb wheels of cheese designated as Parmigiano-Reggiano must only be made by approved producers. They are made by traditional methods that have been used for more than nine centuries.

2. We choose to have our Parmigiano-Reggiano aged for 24 months—longer than most. We think this has the best balance of flavor, texture, and aroma. The wheels are carefully aged in special rooms where they are cleaned and kept at specific temperatures and humidity.

3. As the cheese ages, peptones, peptides, and free amino acids form. When these crystalize, they give Parmigiano-Reggiano its distinctive, slightly crunchy texture, as well as making it a healthy, easy to digest food.

4. After aging for one year, professional cheese testers from the Parmigiano-Reggiano Consortium scrutinize each wheel for maturation, aroma, color, consistency, and internal structure. After passing inspection, the wheel is branded with the Consortium’s symbol and finishes aging.

5. Once a wheel is opened, it’s susceptible to oxidation, like a fine wine, and should be wrapped in clean plastic wrap. Store in the warmest part of the fridge and never freeze.

 

DLM’s Todd Templin, front right, visits the aging room for Parmigiano-Reggiano and takes in the wonderful aromas of a freshly split wheel.

 

DLM Food Explorer Viva Italia

On my first trip to Italy some years ago, I was surprised to learn that Tuscans largely ignore balsamic vinegar, and Milanese favor rice over pasta. And right in between Milan and Tuscany you find many recognizable delicacies from lasagna to Prosciutto di Parma to balsamic vinegar in the region of Reggio Emilia. Hazelnuts are a big deal in the north and hot peppers in the south.

You learn that when speaking of Italy’s great food culture, it’s impossible to describe it without putting it in a regional context. Maybe it’s the Italian connection to the land, a long culinary history, or simply local pride. In any case, discovering the regional foods of Italy is both educational and incredibly fun. Over the years, so many of us at DLM have traveled to Italy to discover its food treasures, and we’ve made it a point to bring a number of those back to you.

You see Italy’s influence at DLM in the Italian products themselves, like our Vera Jane’s Extra-Virgin Olive Oil hailing from the hills of Tuscany or our Parmigiano-Reggiano from Modena. Other times, you’ll find its reach in the form of a technique we’ve learned from studying with Italian masters that we then replicate here, such as our DLM Handmade Mozzarella, Naples-Style Pizza, and Tuscan butcher-inspired specialty prepared meats, to name a few. As you can imagine, we could write a book on our passion for Italian food, but for the purpose of giving some focus, we are spotlighting a few regions of Italy that have inspired us the most: Tuscany, Campania, Emilia-Romagna, and Southern Italy, mainly Calabria and Sicily.

We’ll be celebrating Italy all month culminating with our Food Explorer Day taking place May 18. Join us for great fun and good Italian eating on our next stop as Food Explorers…buon appetito!

TUSCANY

FOOD

Vera Jane’s Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (GROCERY), Pane Toscano (BAKERY), Pecorino Toscano (THE DLM CHEESE SHOP), Italian Oven-Ready Meats (MEAT)

WINE

CAPPONE CHIANTI CLASSICO – Count Sebastiano Capponi is a dear friend to DLM, hailing from his lovely Tuscan estate that’s been in his family since 1524! This young-vine Chianti is named for the first ancestor of Sebastiano. It’s 100% Sangiovese, brimming with beautiful fruit and richness.

VILLA CALCINAIA CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA – 100% Sangiovese from the best blocks of old vines near Greve in Chianti. It’s a well-structured wine that’s full of rich black fruits, leather, spice, cigar box notes, and supple tannins.

FONTALEONI VERNACCIA DI SAN GIMIGNANO – A wonderfully dry, minerally, and extremely pleasing white wine from the surrounding vineyards of the hilltop town of San Gimignano.

CAMPANIA

FOOD

Naples-Style Pizza (DLM WASHINGTON SQUARE & SPRINGBORO), San Marzano Tomatoes D.O.P. (GROCERY), DLM Handmade Mozzarella (THE DLM CHEESE SHOP)

WINE

COLLI DI LAPIO ROMANO CLELIA FIANO DI AVELLINO – A white wine from the Avellino province and a varietal the Romans called Vitis Apiana, vine beloved of bees. It’s dry, lovely, and has hints of pear and hazelnut, floral tones, and a hint of minerality.

EMILIA-ROMAGNA

FOOD

Prosciutto di Parma (DELI), Mortadella (DELI), DLM Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (GROCERY), Lasagna (GOURMET TAKEAWAY), Parmigiano-Reggiano (THE DLM CHEESE SHOP)

WINE

CASALI ROSA DI ROSA RED SPARKLING WINE – Perfect chilled with a plate of charcuterie enjoyed al fresco with its bright raspberry/blueberry fruit and soft bubbles.

LO DUCA LAMBRUSCO REGGIANO – Lambrusco does not exactly excite most after we’ve suffered so many terrible mass-produced and exported representations of this wine. However, Lo Duca is bright, semi-sweet, and has a naturally carbonated essence. Try it in a cocktail.

SOUTHERN ITALY (CALABRIA + SICILY)

FOOD

Cannoli (BAKERY), DLM Gelato (FROZEN), Scalia Anchovies (GROCERY), Marinated Anchovies (SEAFOOD BAR)

WINE

VILLA POZZI NERO D’AVOLA – The Pozzi family is a fifth-generation winemaking family located on the island of Sicily.

DONNAFUGATA ANTHILIA BIANCO – An amazingly crisp, minerally, and vibrant white wine blend from Sicily that’s perfect for light seafood dishes, salad, or poultry.

 

The Treasures of Tuscany

Over the years we’ve had the great fortune to travel to Italy several times to find new and exciting foods to bring back to DLM. Often, our home base is Tuscany. Our good friend and partner Alex Zanetti has graciously hosted us at his villa in the small medieval town of Lucignano. The rolling hills of this part of Tuscany are home to the olive trees that produce our signature Vera Jane’s Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. Made exclusively of Tuscan olives, it’s virgin pressed and bottled within a few miles of the olive groves. Its distinctive peppery notes are indicative of Tuscan oils and makes it our go-to olive oil for vinaigrettes, sauces, or simply drizzled over grilled meats or pasta dishes.

A trip abroad a few years back took several DLM food explorers, left, to Tuscany. One stop was at the estate of Count Sebastiano Capponi, right, whose beautiful wine we carry.

Not far from Lucignano is the better known town of Montepulciano. On our last visit, we enjoyed strolling through the street market, sampling pici (long cut pasta that is significantly thicker than spaghetti), pork sandwiches, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Some of the pictures on this page are from that trip. It’s a pleasure to be able to share some of our food finds with you this month.

The olives used in our Vera Jane’s Extra-Virgin Olive Oil are grown on the Zanetti family’s estate. This olive oil has flavor, balance, and a peppery kick. Middle, Alex Zanetti shows DLM’s Scott Achs the olive grove.

Campania

The Italian Renaissance is widely known for a rebirth of art, culture, and literature. During that time period, Naples, which is located in the region of Campania, is largely credited for the modern birth of one of the quite arguably most popular foods—pizza. So beloved, Pizza Margherita was created by a Neopolitan pizza maker to honor Queen Margherita. Today, we love to create this flavor at our Naples-Style Pizza Station using those signature ingredients with our homemade red sauce, DLM Handmade Mozzarella (another handmade Naples favorite we make at DLM), and whole basil.

When we first sought to bring an authentic pizza-eating experience to DLM, we looked no further than the pizza-making style of Naples. We believe that to master this style, these components need to be just right: The dough (which is Made Right Here), a pizza oven to yield a crispy crust with chewy interior, correct technique when working with the dough, and the quality of ingredients as well as manner that they are applied.

Truly Toscano

For me, Tuscany is where Italian cooking begins. Low-lying hills with clean, graceful curves and a forest of vineyards make the countryside a temple of beauty. When I traveled there in 2001, my assignment was to study in an Italian butcher shop and bring knowledge home of these oven-ready specialty meats that have made the area famous.

Even now, the memories of sharing a bottle of Chianti Classico with Stefano Falorni in the Piazza Matteotti seems like just yesterday. Stephano and his brother Lorenzo are the fifth-generation owners of the Antica Macelleria Falorni located in Greve, the heart of the Chianti district. I spoke six words of Italian and they bested me by speaking seven words of English. Yet, the language of great food made with superb ingredients is universal. So when you see these gorgeous oven-ready meats in our Meat case, we can all thank our friends in that family-owned butcher shop.

MONTASTICI

Boneless eye-of-round beef thinly sliced and rolled with mozzarella cheese and prosciutto.

ARISTA PRONTA DA CUOCERE

Pork roast seasoned with fresh rosemary and garlic.

PORCHETTA

Boneless pork rolled with fresh pork belly.

PORK CUTLETS SIENNA

Thick-cut pork chops pounded into cutlets and breaded.

POLLO RIPIENO

Boneless chicken stuffed with ground pork, veal, and bread crumbs and seasoned with rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic.

FAGOTTINI DI POLLO

Boneless chicken thighs seasoned with fresh rosemary and garlic.

PETTO DI TACCHINO

Boneless turkey breast stuffed with fresh basil, garlic, and fennel.