Thursday, March 4, 2010

The famous Chez Panisse Cafe serves up a delicious Little Gems Salad.

Good luck getting a table unless you call a month in advance. This trendy and historic restaurant in Berkley, CA, is known as the birthplace of California cuisine and has launched the careers of many prominent chefs. So of course it would be up to date on the latest food trends! It serves Little Gems lettuce with green goddess dressing and beets. Reviewed by as "Simple but very good. Very fresh greens and tart beets tossed with a light dressing."

Update! Chez Panisse has also offered this Little Gems Salad with smoked Alaskan salmon, creme fraiche and tarragon. Yummy!

Cameron Mitchell’s marquee restaurant, "M", featured it's signature Little Gems Salad at a Tastecasting sampling event. Wish I was invited.

M's Little Gem Salad with Roquefort Cheese, Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette, and Candied Pistachios! Wow! Now that sounds delicious.

Who is Cameron Mitchell? He's the famous American director best known for Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Shortbus. He owns several upscale restruants around the country with his marquee restaurant being "M" in downtown Columbus, Ohio. recently commented. "Dining at M, is definitely a feast for the senses. From the enchanting ambience, to the colorful lighting, eclectic interior, and extraordinary views, M is the perfect place for a romantic dinner. Tastecasters recently sampled some dishes from its new menu, featuring fresh, seasonal ingredients, rich flavors; and all artistically presented." (

Little Gems becomes part of Coi's famous Taste and Scent extravaganza.

Daniel Patterson's Coi isn't just a restuarant, it's a flavor and scent mind trip. The New York Times writes:
"With the first course came an unusual instruction: I was told to dab some perfume on my wrist. Not perfume exactly, but an oil made with pink grapefruit, tarragon, ginger and black pepper, all ingredients in the appetizer before me, which I would experience first as a scent and then as a taste, the sequence underscoring the way these senses work in tandem...There’s a lingering appreciation — at times, reverence — for the meticulousness with which the chef, Daniel Patterson, approaches his cooking, the ambition he lavishes on it."

Food Snob Blog writes: "Plat Principal 3: Bellweather Farm baby lamb; English peas, spring onions, little gems, flowering thyme. Slow-roasted with mirepoix and thyme, the tenderloin and neck from a baby lamb, were served, each upon a slip of pea purée, drizzled with lamb jus vinaigrette and teamed with little gem lettuce, spring onions and more peas. The loin, layered with a little juicy fat atop, was succulent and toothsome, but the leaner cut of neck was unfortunately a tad dry and chewy. The vegetables were all well-cooked: the moist lettuce, crispy; sweet peas, crunchy; and the spring onion shells, firm to bite. Thyme-flavoured jus had a nice spicy twang to it." Click here to see the other dishes. This really looks like magic for the mouth. 

Little Gems Chargrilled chicken Salad with roasted tomatoes, avocado, peas and mint By Delicious Magazine

Debbie Major from Delicious Magazine, Gives us this great Little Gems Recipe. Thanks Debbie! :)

Little Gems Chargrilled chicken Salad with roasted tomatoes, avocado, peas and mint
Serves 4 | Takes 30 minutes to make, plus marinating | Rating 5 Stars

1 tsp olive oil
11/2 tsp lime juice
500g skinless chicken breasts
200g cherry tomatoes on the vine
100g frozen or freshly-shelled peas
4 Little Gem lettuce hearts, leaves separated
30g wild rocket
Handful fresh mint leaves
4 spring onions, very thinly sliced
1 small, ripe but firm avocado
For the dressing
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Good pinch of caster sugar

1. Whisk the oil, lime juice and some seasoning together in a shallow dish. Add the chicken breasts, turn to coat, then leave to marinate for 15-30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6. Roast the tomatoes in a non-stick roasting tin for 4-5 minutes, until the skins just burst. Remove from the oven and cut into small sprigs. Set aside.
3. Drop the peas into a pan of salted boiling water, bring back to the boil, then drain. Refresh under cold water and drain well. Set aside.
4. Scatter the lettuce, rocket, mint and spring onions over 4 plates.
5. Heat a non-stick griddle or frying pan over a high heat until smoking hot, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook the chicken for 6-8 minutes each side, until cooked through. Slice and place on the salad.
6. Halve, stone and peel the avocado, then slice over the salad. Add the tomatoes and scatter with the peas.
7. Whisk the dressing ingredients together, season and spoon over the salad. Serve immediately.

Wine Recommendation
Choose a fairly ripe, rich French Chablis.

Little Gems Salads become part of a fancy LA wine tasting event.

Wine buyers, sommeliers and media types got to feast on this tasty Little Gems Salad expertly paired with several different wines at a recent event at Tavern restaurant in Los Angles. Lucky! Once again LA beats us. NYC needs to hurry up and start offering Little Gems. :)


"Our first course from the set menu was an absolutely of-the-moment salad of sweet shrimp, lump crab meat, fresh-cut avocado and little gem lettuces treated judiciously with buttermilk dressing.

Grahm paired the salad with three different white wines: 2008 Ca’ Del Solo Albarino, which he described as “spare, lean and acoustic,” 2008 Ca’ Del Solo Muscat - “herbal, wilder than Muscat blanc,” and 2007 Le Cigare Blanc a biodynamic wine using 60% Roussanne, 40% Grenache Blanc grapes, from Beeswax Vineyard in Arroyo Seco. The crisp minerality of the Albarino paired especially well with the seafood." (–-los-angeles-ca-–-june-9-2009/)

BBC's Good Food Showcases a Simple and Delicious Little Gems Wedge Salad. - "Dressed Little Gems"

Liven up lettuce with this vibrant and healthy side salad.

4 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar , white or dark
4 Little Gem lettuces , cut into wedges
50g parmesan shaving

Serves 8
Preparation and cooking times
Ready in 10-15 minutes
Mix the oil and vinegar with a generous pinch of salt (preferably flakes) to make the dressing.
Pack the lettuce into a plastic food container with ice to keep it fresh. Take the dressing and cheese into smaller containers. Arrange the lettuce on a platter, drizzle with the dressing and scatter with the cheese.

Chef Gwen Talks about Little Gems, her favorite new lettuce, and shares two delicious recipes! :) Great Video.

Chef Gwen from Harvest Sensations in Los Angeles talks about her favorite new lettuce, Little Gems! She calls it a great combination of three lettuces: sweet butter, romaine, and iceburg. And, she loves how beautiful it is on the inside. It's "crispy and gorgeous... and the flavor is just wonderful," she says. We agree with you Gwen, we love it too! 
Below, she does a grilled Ceasar Salad that looks breathtaking. She says, "We are one of the only countries that does not cook our lettuce (USA), so if you've never tried grilled Ceasar Salad, give it a go, because the lettuce turns nutty and complex, and it's just a wonderful new variation. You're guests are sure to love it." In the video below she also uses Little Gems to make a European herbal salad, "This is a salad you might see in France or Austria, it's just delicious."

Sweet Gem "Little Gem" lettuce - Harvest Sensations from J. Kings Food Service on Vimeo.

Wow. I really need to make this! Talk about blowing away your dinner guests with something fancy. Thanks Gwen!

Little Gem Lettuce on Foodista

The English Kitchen shows us a Little Gems Salad with a Creamy Basil Dressing

Marie, over at The English Kitchen, tells us why Little Gems are her favorite salad leaves and gives us a great recipe for a basil Little Gems Salad. Great work Marie! Thanks. :)
"One of my favourite salad leaves to use, are the baby gems. I love them sliced into quarters and dressed with a simple vinaigrette, or a tasty blue cheese dressing . . . fabulous along with a scattering of sliced spring onion. The little inner leaves make perfect little cups to hold a multitude of fillings, creating wonderful little hors oeuvres. I especially like a chicken caesar salad filling in them. With teeny weeny toasted croutons on top they can be a bit messy to eat, but oh so very fun to eat and quite popular with the guests where I work."
*Little Gems with a Creamy Basil Dressing*
Serves 6
1 cup good quality mayonnaise (I use Hellman's or French)
8 finely chopped spring onions, both the white and the green parts
1 cup of chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup of fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
the juice of two lemons
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup creme fraiche
3 large heads of little gem lettuce, halved
a large hand full of cherry tomatoes, halved

"Place the mayonnaise, spring onions, basil,parsley leaves, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper into your blender or the cup of a stick blender. Process and blend until smooth. Add the creme fraiche and pulse once or twice to combine. Cover and chill until you are ready to use it. Cut each head of lettuce in half and arrange one half on each of six chilled salad plates. Scatter the tomatoe halves around and drizzle with some of the dressing. Serve. Pass any extra dressing at the table. This dressing will keep for several days, stored covered and in the refrigerator."

"I love this dressing. It has a beautiful colour and flavour. You can also use it on blanched vegetables such as broccoli and asparagus. It's very tasty!" - Marie


Wow, here's another recipe for Little Gem Lettuce and Tabouleh

1 x Al’Fez Tabouleh
2 x ripe tomato
½ x cucumber
2 x spring onions
100g x feta cheese
2 x little gem lettuce
Handful of fresh mint and extra for garnish
Salt and ground pepper for seasoning
Olive oil to drizzle

Prepare Al’Fez Tabouleh as instructed on the carton. Peel, deseed and dice cucumber, chop spring onions, ripe tomatoes. Fold in tomatoes, cucumber, onions and chopped mint into Tabouleh. Add small broken pieces of feta cheese and season. Arrange separated little gem lettuce leaves onto a platter and spoon small moulds of the salad style Tabouleh and feta onto lettuce leaves. Serving Suggestion: Garnish with mint and drizzle with olive oil.

Genius Idea! Video shows how to make delicious Little Gems Lettuce toped with Tabouleh Salad as a very healthy hors d'oeuvre or snack.

Wow what an interesting concept. Little Gems Lettuce as a healthy "chip" for Taboule dip. Thats a genius of a snack idea! Thank you Mariete! I think I would plate my Little Gems Lettuce with some Taboule in each. What a great hors d'oeuvre!

Little Gem Lettuce on Foodista

The Village Vegan's 5 minute Little Gems Salad

Here is a 5 minute salad Anna posted on her blog The Village Vegan. It features chopped little gem lettuce,  mandarin orange segments, leftover brown rice and caramelized lemongrass tofu, with sesame-soy dressing.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Little Gems Lettuce, Watermelon, Feta and Cashew Salad Recipe!

Wow. This looks delicious! :)
Little Gem Lettuce on Foodista

Little Gems Lettuce featured in Nutrition Unplugged's post: Top Dinning and Restaurant Trends for 2010

Janet from Nutrition Unplugged recently showcased this stunning Little Gems Salad, served at The Publican in Chicago, IL.

"Little Gem Salad" with pig ears at the Publican. Flickr, JoeM500
Little Gem Lettuce on Foodista

BBQ Little Gems. Interesting idea!

On his blog, Lloyd Griffiths writes: "I can think of nothing more fitting than to make the little gem the star of a meal by cutting the crunchy hearts in half and searing them on a barbecue. Wonderfully sweet, delicious."(

Serious Eats' Little Gems Ceviche Recipe: Shrimp and Black Olive Orange and Lime Ceviche in Little Gem Lettuce Cups

Shrimp and Black Olive Orange and Lime Ceviche in Little Gem Lettuce Cups
"Traditional ceviche is made from raw fish, but to ensure the bright orange color of the shrimp, you need to start with cooked shrimp for this recipe. Unauthentic, perhaps, but it is good for those who cannot eat raw fish, don't like to make it at home, or just want to cut some corners. The shrimp is marinated in the juice and zest of oranges, with lime, shallots, and bright black olives. The flavor is citrus-sweet and briny, and served in little lettuce cups, the whole thing is fresh and lively"

-makes 6-8 small lettuce cups-

1/2 pound jumbo shrimp, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
The zest of 1 orange
The juice of 1/4 orange
The juice of 1 small lime
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon very finely diced shallot
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 medium to large pitted black olives, preferably black Cerignola, roughly chopped
2 to 3 heads of little gem lettuce (baby cos), leaves separated

1. Toss the shrimp in a bowl with the zest, citrus juices, olive oil, shallot, and salt and pepper. Cover with plastic, and leave to sit in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours.
2. Just before serving, toss in the black olives. I find that they tend to stain the shrimp, and diminish the orange and black look, if they are allowed to mingle with the shrimp for too long.
3. Separate the large leaves of the baby lettuces, and make cups from 2 of the larger leaves. Then, spoon some of the shrimp into the double-lettuce cups.

About the author: Kerry Saretsky is the creator of French Revolution Food, where she reinvents her family's classic French recipes in a fresh, chic, modern way. She also writes the The Secret Ingredient and the French in a Flash series for Serious Eats.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

San Fransico Salad Envy - Apparently you can find Little Gems everywhere?! Not Fair.

Well would you look at this. If you live in San Fransico, you get to sample a wide variety of little gems recipes from top chefs at top restaurants! Come on NYC, you can't let yourself be shown up like that! :) Some of the salads below sound delicious, Take a look. 

It's easy to determine when certain foods are in season or becoming popular ingredients because they start making appearances on multiple restaurant menus. While little gem lettuce seems to be available year-round, it's been a common addition to top-flight San Francisco restaurants over the past year.

Little gem is a cross between romaine (crispy) and butter lettuce (sweet), and has small leafs on the outside and a crisp heart inside. It's usually served cut in half and presented lengthwise, often accompanied by cheese and/or nuts which complement its taste and texture.

Blue Plate's take on little gems includes pink lady apples, spiced pecans and wisconsin buttermilk blue cheese, and is an excellent representation of what a good chef can do with this ingredient. The Mission's Conduit has had a little gem salad on its menu since opening a little more than a year ago; the original was an amazing version with hazelnuts, shaved radish and a light ranch dressing, and the current incarnation is a tasty twist on a caesar salad. 
Other notable San Francisco restaurants that have little gem salads on the menu lately include 
BoulevardNOPA and Universal Cafe, and across the bay in Berkeley, Chez Panisse.
The Verdict:
I'm usually not a big restaurant salad person, but I haven't met a little gem I haven't liked so I'm a fan.
Little Gem Lettuce on Foodista starts a Little Gems Movement

Dana Velden over at sister site to the popular apartment therapy website, recently wrote a lovely review of little gems with a call to action for all little gems fans. Keep asking for it! I have a dream that one day ill be able to walk to my local grocery store and find it smiling there at me on the shelf! :)

"Little Gems are a bit hard to find in the grocery store but I’ve had great luck at farmer’s markets. And we all know that if you keep asking for something, eventually someone will catch on and make it available. Trust me, Little Gems lettuce is worth nagging for.

Little Gems look like tiny versions of Romaine lettuce, with a crisp, crunchy texture and a sweet flavor. My favorite way to serve them couldn't be easier: simply cut in half and drizzled with a nice lemon-shallot vinaigrette. Occasionally, I'll sprinkle on some thinly sliced radish or a few capers, but mostly I let them shine straight up. Guests really enjoyed the knife-and-fork experience of being served a whole lettuce and when I could find them in the market, I always bought a few. But this week I tried something new." - Dana Velden


Little Gem Lettuce on Foodista

What Is Little Gems Lettuce?

Here's a great description of Little Gems from Coleman Farms

"Little Gem, is a small lettuce often described as 'a combination of Butter and Romaine'. It is crisp, like Romaine, and sweet, like Butter, but the texture and the flavor are still its own. While Romaine has a heavy very crunchy central stalk and thin crisp leaves, classic Little Gem, as in the photo, has a thinner stalk and thicker leaves which seem juicier and more substantial than any part of Romaine, and are more uniformly crisp. Butter is similarly substantial, but uniformly soft. Butter has a slightly mineral taste with hints of apple, and can have a forward sweetness, while Little Gem tends toward a nutty flavor - walnut in particular - and a sweetness that is more reserved.

Little Gem works well in mixed salads, and in sandwiches. The size and texture of the leaf particularly suit it to the open-faced sandwich. A classic use for this lettuce is cut it in half lengthwise and serve each half, dressed, as a salad. With care, a tight head of Little Gem can be cut into six or eight 'fingers', which would be suitable for dipping; a bowl of separated leaves could also be put out for this purpose: the ruffled texture will pick up any dip or dressing.

The use of lettuce in cooked dishes is often overlooked in the U.S., but Little Gem has a role here too. You might take a head and slice it crosswise at about quarter inch intervals, and add this to a stirr-fry just as it's taken off the heat or float it on a soup at serving, where it's cool crispness will serve as an accent. It could be similarly added to a dish of mixed steamed root vegetables, or to a warm potato salad (steamed or boiled potatoes cut in chunks and given a rudimentary dressing, along with olives, chopped pepper, or whatever strikes the fancy).

Depending on the weather and its degree of maturation Little Gem can vary in appearance from 'I can't believe it's not Butter Lettuce' to 'heart of Romaine'. The texture will change a bit also, with the more Buttery heads having thinner leaves. Heads which are used without separating will have to be really clean, so it's best to wait until after the rains to try these suggestions."