Posts filed under ‘farmers’ market’

Lemon-Zucchini Salad

Everything good is in season right now, and I have a barbecue to attend this afternoon. So: Farmers’ market for produce, and a big batch of Lemon Zucchini Salad with Tomatoes and Sweet Corn, a fabulously flavorful – and easy! – summer recipe from Lynne Rosetto Kasper’s always-excellent Splendid Table/Weeknight Kitchen. Think “pasta salad” – only with thinly shaved raw zucchini filling in for the pasta, dressed with lemon, basil and garlicky oil. I got this via email subscription a couple of summers ago, and it never fails to make me – and anyone to whom I feed it – happy.

Lemon Zucchini Salad with Tomatoes and Corn

As Kasper suggests, I added More Stuff: cucumber, Kalamata olives, a little diced red onion. My tomatoes were great big heirlooms, chopped in chunks, and I pan-roasted the sweetcorn till it was browned before adding the garlic, basil and olive oil. For the dressing, I went with a 50-50 Greek yogurt-mayo blend, and another half-lemon’s worth of juice to thin it, with crumbled, herbed feta.

I can hardly wait for the barbecue.

(Am I back to blogging? Maybe … this is the peak time of year for the market, and for my garden … and thus my peak time of year for cooking. And my wonky sense of smell continues to improve, to the point where I can just about cook by taste again. Stay tuned …)

August 3, 2013 at 1:02 pm Leave a comment

Peach season

Perfect peachAhhhh, peaches.

The Willamette Valley is not a huge peach-growing region – the season is brief, the potential problems from weather and pests are many, the delicacy of the ripe fruit can make transporting it to and from the markets a challenge. But a few hardy growers make the effort, and when the time comes, I seek them out.

Jeannine and Tom  Thieme at Firstfruits Farm grow 22 varieties of peaches, and I’d be hard-pressed to say which are my favorites, other than “the ones they have at the farmers’ market now.” This week it was rosy Early Lorings and fragrant, white-fleshed Raritan Roses, and I bought a half-dozen of each.

The minute I got home I ate the first one, standing on the back porch, juice dripping down my chin and splattering my toes (really!). Then I turned half of the rest into a quick, easy peach salsa to take to a friend’s barbecue, where even a guy who professes not to like peaches gobbled it up with enthusiasm.

(My salsa was just diced peaches, a couple of diced lemon cucumbers, diced red onion, a few serrano peppers seeded and minced,  dressed with lime juice and a drizzle of honey. But really, you could substitute peaches for tomatoes in your favorite salsa recipe and not go wrong – although I’d use lime juice for any vinegar the recipe might call for).

Today, realizing that the ripe fruit would rapidly turn into overripe fruit if I didn’t do something with it, I made peach cobbler.

Google “peach cobbler” and you’ll find a gazillion recipes. Eliminate the ones based on canned peaches or pie filling (yuck), and you still have a lot to choose from. Some are more like what I’d call a crisp, a crumble or even a pandowdy.

I am a daughter of the South, though; the cobbler I learned at my mother’s knee was sweetened fruit encased in a rich Bisquick batter, tender at the core with a sugary crackle on top. And that’s the the sort of cobbler I still prefer.

Of course, I can’t leave well enough alone. For instance: I’m fond of the affinity peaches have for ginger. So today’s cobbler incorporates lots of ginger, in three forms. It’s terrific – sweet and peachy, with bursts of ginger zing. And I’ve greatly reduced the sugar from the 1-2 cups most cobbler recipes call for to just 1/2 cup, because really ripe peaches are plenty sweet on their own and I want them, not the sweetness of the dough, to star. If you have no local source for ripe peaches and must make do with what’s in the supermarket, you may need to ratchet the sugar back up a bit.

Triple Ginger Peach Cobbler

Cobbler ingredients

Ingredients

  • 4 cups fresh peaches, peeled* and sliced, set in a colander to drain off excess juice (reserve the juice)
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger, diced
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cups Bisquick
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Enough milk to make 1 1/2 cups when combined with the juice from the peaches
  • A handful of ginger snaps, crushed to coarse crumbs (I used Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Snaps because I had them on hand).

Method:

Preheat oven to 350F

Place a large baking dish on a cookie sheet (in case of spills). Place the butter in the bottom and stick it in the oven while you prepare the cobbler.

Combine drained fruit and candied ginger.

In another bowl, combine Bisquick, dried ginger, sugar, peach juice and milk. Stir well to get rid of any lumps.

When the butter is melted, remove baking dish from oven. Pour in the batter. Spoon the fruit-and-ginger on top (the batter will rise up through the fruit as it bakes).

Peach cobbler!Bake for 30 minutes, then sprinkle the crushed ginger snaps on top and bake for another 15 minutes. Test with a knife to make sure the batter is baked through (the knife won’t come out clean because of the peaches, but you should be able to tell if there’s any raw batter left in the middle. If so, give it another 10 minutes or so.)

Serve warm, with or without ice cream. Leftovers, should you have any, make an excellent breakfast.

* You know how to peel peaches, right? Fill a good-sized saucepan with water, bring to a boil and immerse the peaches for no more than 60 seconds. Remove from water with tongs or a slotted spoon, run under cold water and use your fingers to slip the skin right off.

August 8, 2010 at 4:16 pm Leave a comment

It’s been far too long

Crab cakes!… since I posted anything here. But the season of local food is ramping up, and this was so very, very good that I need to share.

Scott Penter was back at the Albany Farmers’ Market yesterday with his traveling chiller and a load of fresh-caught Dungeness crab. After getting his feet wet, so to speak, at last summer’s market, he opened a small business called – aptly enough – Seafood Outlet, off Highway 34 east of Corvallis. It’s evidently been successful enough to make this young fisherman-entrepreneur commit to continuing to try to sell his products inland, because he’s branched out to the Corvallis Farmers’ Market this season, too.

After stopping by to chat with him, I couldn’t leave without buying a crab; he fished me out a nice, vigorous 3-pounder, to the slightly squeamish delight oif a couple of kids who were watching (they were fascinated by the crab once it was bagged up, but ran squealing when Scott tried to show them another up close).

The first best thing to do with Dungeness crab, in my opinion, is just kill it, cook it and eat it, with a little lemon butter for dipping, some good bread to mop up the buttery juices and maybe a nice crisp white wine. That’s just what I did last night, but I could only manage half the crab.

The rest went in the fridge, and tonight I pulled it out, picked all the meat from the shell, and made a batch of tender, crispy  cakes, using a recipe that guarantees you’ll taste more crab than “cake.”

Crispy crab cakes

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • a handful of fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp finely minced lemon zest
  • 1 pound cooked Dungeness crab meat, carefully picked from the shell to avoid fragments
  • 1 cup Panko crumbs, divided in half
  • Neutral-flavored  oil and butter for frying
  • Wasabi mayonnaise (optional: Just stir a teaspoon or so of prepared wasabi into a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise) or aioli.
  • Method:

    In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. Blend in the parsley, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, lemon juice and lemon zest until well combined. Gently fold in the crabmeat and mix well, then add 1/2 cup of Panko crumbs and fold just until mixed. The mixture will be pretty wet.

    Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

    Dump the rest of the Panko into a shallow bowl. Using a couple of large spoons, scoop up the crab mixture and form it into patties; dredge in the Panko. If it falls apart, just press it back together. Slide into the hot oil with a slotted spoon, pressing down to flatten the cakes slightly. You’ll wind up with 6-8 cakes, depending on how large you make them.

    Cook until crisp and brown, turn, repeat to cook the tops.

    Drain on paper towels, and serve with a dollop of wasabi mayo, aioli or just a squeeze of lemon.

    Makes two servings. If, like me, you’re eating alone, save the rest for tomorrow’s lunch!

    I had to have a salad with my crab cakes, because my garden is suddenly producing so much leaf lettuce that I must eat salad daily (poor me!). Since I knew I’d be taking pictures, I framed the crab cakes with the salad, which is so tender and fresh it doesn’t need a dressing at all. Pretty, and delicious.

    Except for the grape tomatoes, the Panko crumbs, the oil and the condiments, everything on my table tonight came from within about 60 miles of home. I like that.

    May 9, 2010 at 8:09 pm Leave a comment

    End-of-the-season stews

    Autumn harvest still-lifeOur farmers’ market is … diminished. With just three weekends left this season, the number of vendors was down sharply this weekend, filling just half the municipal parking lot where the thing is held. It always makes me a little sad, and fills me with “hurry up and buy stuff before it’s all gone” fervor.

    On the bright side, lots of the produce available now keeps well, with a little care. Apples, garlic, hard-skinned winter squash can last for a month or more, unrefrigerated, if you keep them in a cool, well-ventilated place. I’m reminded of the tornado shelter at my grandfather’s north Texas home – I’m not sure he ever used it to shelter from the weather, but his wife called it the root cellar, and stored vegetables and home-canned goods there year-round, because it was dark and cool and dry.

    Root cellars have gone out of fashion, but I’ve kept apples for months by wrapping them individually in newsprint and setting them in a big, shallow cardboard box, not too closely crowded and unlidded, down in the garage that occupies half the daylight basement under my 1908 home. And I don’t think I’ve ever had a winter squash go bad on me, even sitting for 5-6 weeks in the basket on my kitchen counter. They’re pretty much built for storage.

    This weekend, though, I’m focused on the short term, not the winter ahead. I’m in rehearsals through December, which means I leave the house for work at 7:30 in the morning and don’t get home till after 10 at night. If I don’t spend my Sundays cooking, I’ll spend a whole lot more money than I want to eating during the week. So I’m getting back in the habit of preparing good, hearty dishes that reheat well and lend themselves to portioning into containers I can carry to work for lunch and dinner. I try to come up with strong-flavored dishes, packed with nutrition and taste, so I don’t get bored before the week is over.

    Stews serve the purpose – and also lend themselves to slow simmering while I go about my other weekend domestic maintenance.

    Here’s what’s on the stove today: A rich autumn stew of pork, winter squash and apples, and a spicy vegetarian chili that’s quick to make and wonderful served over brown basmati rice or homemade cornbread. The first is almost entirely made with food I bought at the market yesterday; the second uses local turtle beans I put on to soak before bed last night, but could just as easily be made with canned black beans. These are both nutritionally dense, low-fat dishes, and easy to adjust to suit your own tastes.

    The number of servings depends on how hungry people are and whether you’re serving the stew as a one-pot meal or a dinner course.  It looks like I’ll get 6-7 meal-sized servings from of each pot of autumn goodness. With cornbread and rice, I’m set for the week.

    End-of-the-Season Stew

    Ingredients

    • 2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1 acorn squash (or other winter squash of your choice
    • 1 lb lean pork, cut in cubes. Most stew recipes call for pork shoulder; I tend to buy tenderloins (because they’re small enough for one person). But you could just as easily use the meat off a few thick-sliced pork chops. Just trim off most of the fat so you don’t wind up with greasy soup.
    • 2 Tbsp flour
    • 2-10 cloves of garlic, minced (I’m using a whole head’s worth, but I love garlic and got a lot of it at the market).
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 3 cups good chicken stock
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary (or 1/2tsp. dried)
    • 1 tsp minced fresh sage (or 1/2 tsp dried)
    • 2 large potatoes, peeled (if you want) and cubed
    • 2 large carrots, sliced into discs
    • 2 tart apples, cored and cubed

    Method

    Preheat oven to 350F. Cut the squash in half; use a spoon to scoop out the seeds surrounding fiber. Oil the cut halves and place the squash cut-side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until the skin can be pierced by a fork. Remove from oven, let cool enough to handle; peel off the rind (it will come off easily with your fingers) and cut squash into cubes. This can be done the day before.

    In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Dredge the cubed pork in flour and cook in small batches until browned on all sides. Add the garlic and onion, lower the heat if needed to keep it from scorching, and continue cooking until the onion has softened. Add stock and stir to free any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add salt, rosemary and sage, potatoes and carrots. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

    Add apples and squash. Return to a simmer, then cook, uncovered, until potatoes and apples are tender, about 20 minutes more. Taste, correct seasoning, and serve.

    Black Bean Chili

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup applesauce (mine’s homemade)
    • Spices: This is where you get to shine. I like a lot of cumin in my chili, and I like heat; I still have fresh herbs in the garden. You know what you like. If your spice cabinet is modest, a couple of tablespoons of commercial chili powder would work. Here’s (approximately) what I used:
      • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
      • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
      • 1/2 tsp dried ground chipotle pepper
      • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
      • 1 tsp fresh oregano (1 /2 teaspoon dried)
      • 1 tsp fresh rosemary (1/2 teaspoon dried)
      • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme (1/4 teaspoon dried)
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 3 cups black beans, soaked overnight (or two cans of black beans, drained and rinsed)
    • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste (I’m using my oven-roasted tomato goo)
    • 2 -6 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 2 stalks celery, chopped
    • 2 carrots, chopped
    • 1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms (optional, but they add a nice heartiness to the dish. I’m using chanterelles)
    • Vegetable stock or water to cover.

    Method:

    In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, combine the applesauce with all the herbs and spices. Stir until well-blended. Stir in remaining ingredients, adding just enough stock or water to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for at least 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it’s not thick enough for your taste, stir in a handful of cornmeal late in the cooking. Serve with cornbread and your favorite chili toppings (chopped onions, grated cheese, sour cream, etc.)

    As with most chilis, this is better the second day – and I’ve found the heat doesn’t fully develop until then, so don’t get carried away if it doesn’t seem spicy enough to suit your tastes.

     

    November 1, 2009 at 12:39 pm 3 comments

    Short note

    I haven’t been posting much, in part because I haven’t been enjoying food much this month.

    I seem to have aquired a minor, lingering, hopefully temporary sinus problem that has almost robbed me of my sense of smell. Seriously: I can’t even smell the cat box, or the morning coffee.

    What we experience as flavor is as much a matter of our noses as our tongues.  For the last two weeks, I’ve only been experiencing flavor through my tastebuds, which reduces everything to sweet, salty, bitter, and sour.

    This, at a time of year when all the really great local produce is coming to market: Fat, juicy peaches, more tomatoes each week, the first of the sweet corn. …  I tell ya, it’s killing me.

    I’m still shopping at the farmers’ markets and I’m still eating this great food – because I know it’s good for me and good for local farmers to do that. But I can’t say I’m enjoying it much, except on an abstract, “oh, isn’t this head of cauliflower pretty” sort of way. And I’m certainly not experimenting with new recipes, because how could I tell if they turn out well?

    I hope you’re lucky enough to be able to really enjoy the harvest bounty. Tell me what you’re buying and making – I could use some vicarious appetite right now.

    July 29, 2009 at 12:23 pm 3 comments

    It’s hot …

    Marionberries and blueberries… and cooking is the last thing on my mind.

    Thank heavens for the farmers’ market, and for that magic moment at the height of summer when all the berries converge.

    On Saturday, our market still had strawberries – last of the crop, according to the vendor who had sold out by 11. Raspberries were everywhere, the first fat blueberries had arrived, and one vendor even had early Marionberries. Another had ripe, tart red currants, glowing like rubies. I bought some, though I have no idea what to I’ll do with them.

    There were also loads of cherries – this seems to be a bumper year for the cherry crop. I bought a bag of those to take to a barbecue, but I saved the berries for myself, and I’ve been eating them by the handful and the bowlful – mostly just as they are, sometimes with a little cream and (in the case of the Marionberries, which haven’t reached their sweet peak yet) a sprinkle of sugar. I did make an easy cobbler with some of the blueberries this morning, heavy on the berries and light on the sugar. That’s breakfast for the next few days.

    I’d live on fruit alone right now if I could, but my body has a protein habit. Finding a way to satisfy that with a minimum of kitchen time can be a challenge. Not so this week; the young fisherman who’s been bringing live crab to market also had smoked tuna loins. I threw together a simple rice-and tuna dish that’s a distant cousin to the tuna noodle casseroles I grew up with. You don’t need a recipe for this kind of thing, just a general method.

    Last night, after the coastal breezes blew the heat away, I cooked up a pot of brown Basmati rice and put it in the fridge overnight. This evening, I mixed it with some finely diced onion, fresh peas, and about half of the tuna, shredded with my fingers. To boost the smokey flavor, I crumbled up an ounce or so of Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Blue cheese, mixed that in with the tuna and rice. The zest and juice of half a lemon and a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise to keep everything moist, a sprinkle of parmesan and half an hour in a 350 oven and I’ve got dinner (and a couple of days worth of lunch).

    These are the kinds of dishes summer calls for: things you can throw together quickly, filling but not heavy, and full of flavor. Not to mention endlessly adaptable. No peas? Dice up some summer squash, or broccoli, or whatever you find at the market. No rice? Use pasta. Trying to watch the fat content? Moisten the casserole with stock instead of mayonnaise.

    And then have berries for dessert.

    July 5, 2009 at 6:49 pm Leave a comment

    “The season of bounty …

    Mid-Summer Still Life… is here.” That’s how one of the vendors at the Albany Farmers’ Market put it this morning, grinning as she tucked my purchase into my backpack for me. Looking around at stalls brimming with variety, I couldn’t argue: Snap peas and sugar peas, lettuce and leeks on one table, flats of berries and cherries on another; late asparagus over there, jams and jellies and honey over here, fresh-baked bread nearby. We’ve finally reached the season of more food than flowers – not that I have anything against flowers, but they aren’t why I go to the market.

    Never mind that the weather is still cloudy and cool (the farmers don’t). It’s summer. Just look at the calendar: Solstice falls tomorrow, and while we in North America tend to call it the first day of summer, I like the older traditions of people who marked the start of summer and planting season in May, and thought of the solstice as mid-summer. Which makes tonight Mid-Summer’s Eve, a night to frolic and feast and enjoy the longest day of the year.

    Which seems as good an excuse as any to do something special but easy with the gorgeous cherries I brought home from the market today, in a mixed flat with strawberries and raspberries (which will probably get eaten plain, by the handful, if my berry-red fingertips are any indication.)

    Really good fruit doesn’t need much help. A simple preparation that focuses on the flavor (and doesn’t tie you to the kitchen on a summer’s day) is just the thing. I thought about cherry pie, with the ruby-red fruit bubbling up in the interstices of a latticed crust, but that takes work, and who am I out to impress today, anyway? Still: Cherries … pie crust … hmmm… ooh, ooh – cherry galette!

    A galette is just an easy, rustic pie. Instead of laying the crust in a pie pan and fiddling with a top crust, you center it on a baking sheet, mound the fruit in the center and pull up the dough to partly cover the top. The filling needs less liquid than you might use in a pie – otherwise it tends to leak out before it sets. Bake and serve as you would any old pie.

    This recipe makes a small galette – big servings for two, or small ones for four. The almonds and kirshwasser are chosen to punch the pure cherry flavor, and that they do!

    Mid-Summer Cherry Galette

    Ingredients

    • Crust for a single-layer pie. Make your own, or buy it in the refrigerator case
    • 2 pints ripe local cherries, pitted and halved. (A cherry pitter makes this a snap!)
    • 2 tsp kirschwasser (cherry eau de vie) or lemon juice
    • 1/4 cup + 1 tsp sugar, more or less, depending on the sweetness of your cherries. I like to taste fruit, not just sugar.
    • 1/4 cup almond meal. I use Bob’s Red Mill, but it’s easy enough to grind up a handful of raw almonds in the food processor.

    Cherry galette

    Method:

    Preheat oven to 375F.

    Roll out pie crust on a baking sheet (I used a tart pan because it was handy).

    Toss cherries with 1 tsp of the kirsch (or lemon juice, if your cherries are especially sweet).

    Mix 1/4 c sugar and almond meal; toss that with the cherries. I chose almond meal as a binder for the juicy cherries because almond and cherry are well-matched flavors – and because typical fruit pie thickeners – corn starch, tapioca – can result in a gluey filling. Besides, I had almond meal in the pantry.

    Mound filling in the center of the crust; pull up the edges, pleating and pinching as you go, to mostly cover the fruit. Don’t worry if it isn’t symmetrical – galettes are supposed to look rustic!

    Brush crust with remaining kirsch or lemon juice; sprinkle with remaining tsp sugar.

    Bake 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Some juice will invariably leak out.

    Serve warm or cool. Top with ice cream – or creme fraiche!

    Happy Solstice!

    June 20, 2009 at 5:15 pm 1 comment

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