Trading Post Restaurant’s Aaron Arabian boosts flavor with fermentation

Peach Shortcake with Poached Peaches from the Trading Post restaurant in Cloverdale. Head chef Aaron Arabian takes the dish beyond the standard recipe with chantilly cream infused with peach leaves. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

Peach Shortcake with Poached Peaches and Peach Leaf Chantilly

Makes 8 to 10 shortcakes

600 grams flour

30 grams baking powder

5 grams baking soda


100 grams sugar

Zest of 2 limes

200 grams butter, cold

400 grams buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and lime zest. With a cheese grater, grate the cold butter into the flour, making sure to break up the chunks as you go and distribute them evenly in the flour.

For about 30 seconds, using your fingers, squeeze together the butter and flour mixture. The pieces of butter should be pea-size. Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla.

The dough should be loose and shaggy. Turn out onto a floured surface. Press flat and fold it onto itself like a book. Repeat this twice more (this gives you nice layers when you bake it). Roll it to 1 inch thick and cut to desired shapes for individual shortcakes.

Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Serve topped with Poached Peaches in Plum Wine and Peach Leaf Whipped Cream (recipes follow).

Poached Peaches in Plum Wine

4 – 5 white and yellow peaches, preferably a little firm

1 cup plum wine (can substitute white wine)

1 cupsugar

ยฝ cup water

ยฝ cup plum vinegar (can substitute white wine vinegar)

Cut the peaches in half and remove the pits. You can, if you like, lightly grill the cut side for extra flavor. Mix together the plum wine, sugar, water and plum vinegar. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to the lowest setting. Add the peaches and barely simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Allow to cool in the poaching liquid.

Spoon poached peaches onto each shortcake and top with a dollop of Peach Leaf Chantilly cream.

Peach Leaf Whipped Cream

ยฝ quart heavy cream

1 handful of peach leaves โ€œborrowedโ€ from your neighbor’s peach tree

50 grams sugar

Squeeze the peach leaves to release their aroma and submerge them in the cream. Leave in the fridge for a couple of days to infuse. Strain and whip with the sugar to form medium peaks.

โ€œThis recipe from Chef Alejandro has quickly become one of our most popular dishes. Achiote is an ingredient out of Yucatan, traditionally used in cochinita pibil (a slow-roasted pork dish),โ€ Arabian said. โ€œWe mix it with homemade tepache and serve with mild peppers and potatoes. Our regulars order this every time they come in to eat!โ€

Trading Post staff brine the chicken overnight to ensure juiciness and seasoning throughout. You can find achiote paste in Latino markets.

Achiote Chicken

Makes 4 servings

1 organic chicken

Achiote Marinade (recipe follows)

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 – 4 shishito and Padron peppers

3 Bodega red potatoes, cooked in water


ยผ cup white wine

1 tablespoon butter

ยผ cup olives

Lemon vinaigrette

Make the Achiote Marinade and set aside momentarily. Cut out the backbone of the chicken with heavy kitchen shears, and then cut through the breastbone to separate into two halves.

Marinate in Achiote Marinade and leave in the fridge until ready to cook.

Roast the marinated chicken in a 425-degree oven, skin sides up, for 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over high heat, add the oil and toss in the peppers and potatoes with flaky sea salt. Cook the peppers until blistered and the potatoes have browned a little and everything heats through. Stop the cooking by adding the white wine and butter and toss to glaze. Plate the chicken over the vegetables and garnish with olives and lemon vinaigrette.

Achiote Marinade

1 packet of achiote paste

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

ยผ cup tepache (a ferment made with pineapple peels, unrefined brown sugar and spices, fermented like a kombucha until sweet and acidic)

Salt, pepper and smoked paprika

Mix all ingredients together until homogeneous.

โ€œIn the summer, we always have a cold soup on our menu,โ€ Arabian said. โ€œGazpacho is usually made with raw vegetables, but grilling everything brings out the summer flavor of the grill while still making a cooling, refreshing soup. Garnish with a little yogurt or sour cream and fresh basil or olives and reduced balsamic.โ€

Grilled Gazpacho

Makes 4 servings

2 pounds Jimmy Nardello sweet peppers

2 medium cucumbers, rough chopped

2 medium zucchini, rough chopped

1 pint cherry tomatoes, stemmed

1 onion, cut in wedges

1 pint vegetable stock

ยฝ cup fermented sweet pepper paste fermented with 5% (of weight) salt, a little water and rice koji (see Note)

ยฝ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon homemade plum vinegar (can substitute white wine vinegar)

1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar (can substitute white wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce)

Grill all the vegetables until thoroughly charred and mostly cooked through. Allow to cool. Using a hand blender or stand blender, blend the roasted vegetables with the stock and the fermented pepper paste. Then, leaving the blender running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to emulsify into a smooth soup. Season with salt and the two vinegars. Serve ice-cold.

Note: Make rice koji at home or buy in dried form at Asian markets. It contains enzymes which break down starches and proteins into sweetness and umami. The paste used here is a variation on the Japanese technique โ€œshio koji,โ€ used as a flavoring or a marinade for meats and veggies.



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