Working for Good, Clean, Fair Food for All - Slow Food Urban San Diego Convivium of Slow Food International

Pumpkin Padron Bisque

In celebration of Food Day (Week), Alchemy’s Chef Ricardo Heredia made a guest appearance at the Seeds@City Urban Farm stand last Thursday to give a scrumptious cooking demonstration in true Autumn spirit. Scoops of roasted pumpkin, charred Padron peppers, and silky cream filled his bubbling cauldron (stockpot) luring hungry students with the mouthwatering aroma.

A simplified version of the bisque served at Alchemy, he charred the peppers with a blowtorch (“Every poor college kid should have one!” he quipped), threw organic canned pumpkin into his Vitamix, and blended the produce with a generous dollop of heavy cream. Topped with smoked paprika oil and pepitas, students and faculty at City College raved over the free samples and beelined towards the farm stand to buy up the Padrons.

Thanks Chef Ricardo for reaching out to the community! It’s people like you who make Food Day exciting, informative, and delicious!

Here’s his recipe:

Pumpkin-Padron Bisque

Yield 4 qts

  • 3 ea. charred med. *Padron peppers *
  • 4 ea. cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 ea. yellow onion
  • 2 lbs. cooked pumpkin
  • 1 cups sour cream
  • 1 quarts heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons salt


Rough chop the onion and toss with olive oil cook in oven broiler along with the Padrons and garlic until charred and caramelized. Remove the seeds from the Padrons but leave the charred skin on. Puree all ingredients intermittently with one quart of the cream heated. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and smoked paprika oil.

Paprika Oil

  • 1 cup pimenton (smoked paprika)
  • 4 cups rice oil ( or any oil of your choice)


Put pimenton along with one cup of oil in a sauce pan. Cook on medium heat for two minutes stirring frequently until it begins to darken and give off a toasted aroma. Add remaining oil and cook on low heat until it starts to simmer. Remove from heat and let sit until cool approx. 1 hour. Strain through a fine mesh sieve.

** Substitute your pepper of choice**

To make vegan omit the cream and sour cream and use vegetable stock

One person’s junk…

Stinging nettle at Wild Willow Farm

Is another person’s treasure! You’ve heard that one before as you browsed through a particularly fruitful garage sale. A perfectly good bread machine? A ceramic bust of Mozart? A slightly rusty but still totally usable push lawn-mower? What were these sellers thinking? Of course you’ll take it all off their hands…

The same thing happens in the garden. Some of us see weeds, others culinary delights. Where I work at Seeds@City Urban Farm we have our fair share of delicious volunteer plants like dandelions, amaranth, lambs quarters, stinging nettle, and purslane. Some was sown on purpose long ago, some just shows up. Instead of pulling it all and throwing it in the compost pile, we share the nutritional value and delicious uses with our community through the CSA program and farm stand. If you don’t have your own garden to weed (and eat from), ask at the local farmers’ markets for some of those tasty greens.

Here’s a great article from the New York Times about a few of our favorites.

purslane vs snail

In Season: Prickly Pear or Opuntia

All this hot weather, and our canyons are overflowing with vibrant cactus fruit. Slow Food Urban San Diego urges you not not let let this fruit’s vengeful exterior scare you for beneath its prickly shell and among its many seeds lies a cucumber-citrus nectar worthy of your best cocktail and culinary creations. Read below for Prickly Pear Recipes from chef Ricardo Heredia of Alchemy Restaurant and the Mixologists at SnakeOil Cocktail Company.

Squash Blossom Tamales Wrapped in Swiss Chard w/Prickly Pear Sauce
Courtesy of Ricardo Heredia of Alchemy Restaurant

Yield 12 Tamales

Masa for Tamales :

  • 1 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 Tbs. sea salt
  • 1 Tbs. ancho chili powder
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 ½ cups masa harina for tamales
  •  2 ¼ cups warm water or vegetable stock.


Beat shortening, salt, chile powder and baking powder with heavy-duty mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Turn mixer to low, and add masa a little at a time. Turn speed to high, and beat 3 minutes more, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl. Turn mixer off and add 1 1/4 cups water or stock. Turn speed to low, and slowly mix ingredients. Increase speed, and beat masa mixture at least 3 minutes more. Turn mixer off, and add remaining 1 cup water. Slowly increase mixer speed, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl, and beat 3 more minutes, adding more water as needed, until mixture is soft.

Filling :

  • 24 ea. squash blossoms
  • 12 ea. lg. leaves of chard
  • 2 lbs. queso fresco
  • 1 Tbs. sea salt


In a bowl, mix salt into the cheese. Open each blossom and stuff about an ounce of cheese into the flower. Twist the tops and fold under placing them on a ½ sheet pan and hold until assembly. Blanch chard in boiling water for 30 sec. and remove the large part of the stem and place leaves under damp towel until ready to assemble

 For the Sauce :

  • 4 ea. prickly pears
  • 12 ea. dried guajillo peppers
  • 1 tsp. achiote powder or paste
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 Tbs. sea salt


Remove the seeds from the chili’s and lightly toast over open flame for about 20 seconds on each side. Boil water in a pot and submerge the chili’s in the water with the heat turned off and covered with a lid. Let chili’s soak for at least 1 hour. Remove the chili’s and blend them in a blender until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove any skins and reserve. Wash prickly pears in cold water to make sure all fine hairs are removed. Cut into quarters and blend until smooth. Strain through fine mesh strainer. Return both purees to blender and add garlic, salt and cilantro. Blend until smooth; adding a little of the chili soaking water to loosen the sauce if needed. Cook the sauce in a small sauce pan for 15 min on low to bring all the flavors together.

To Assemble :

Place the blanched chard leaves out on a clean work surface. Spread about a half cup of the prepared masa in the center of each leaf about 3 in. x 2 in. place two of the stuffed blossoms in the center of the masa. Fold the leaf over lengthwise so the masa meets the opposite side enclosing the filling. Fold the ends under to form a neat package and hold seam side down. When finished, place in steamer lined with banana leaves, corn husks or simply a towel. Place tamales folded side down and cover with another towel. Steam tamales for 3 hours. Place tamales on plate and cover with sauce and garnish with remaining queso fresco and cilantro.

 Prickly Pear’s Paw
Inspired by the Jungle Book and Courtesy of The Mixologists at Snake Oil Cocktail Co.

1.5 oz. Good Reposado Tequila
.25 oz.Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal
.25 oz. Averna Bitters
.75 oz. Prickly Pear Reduction
.75 oz. Pressed Lime
Splash soda water

Shake all ingredients, excluding soda water. Strain over fresh ice. Finish with soda water.

Serve in a Collins glass and Garnish with a sprig of rosemary

Chef’s notes: If you buy prickly pear from the farmers market, chances are the pricklies will have been removed. If you are looking to harvest the fruit yourself, we recommend gloves, tongs and a paper bag. The gloves, in this case, are an added precaution–use the tongs to remove the fruit from the cactus and place directly in a paper bag. Once in the kitchen, you can use the tongs and a sharp knife to carefully peel off the skin and spines or you can pull out your creme brulee torch and burn the spines off. This will allow you to handle the fruit with your gloved hands. Once you have removed the skins, you are left with a seedy mass: blend the fruit and strain. If you want the cucumber taste to be more pronounced, let the seedy mixture sit over night and strain the next day. The longer the juice stays in contact with the seeds, the more gel-like it becomes. We here at Slow Food Urban San Diego see lots of potential come Halloween for this delicious, blood-red and gelatinous blend…

If the thought of all that work gives you a headache, you can also find Prickly Pear Syrup at Specialty Produce.

If you do take to the canyons, please be mindful to leave some fruit for Mother Nature.