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Archive for the ‘Farmers’ Market’ Category

Years ago, during a stay in London, I had a memorable meal at Roast, which overlooks Bourough Market, the foodie mecca of farmers’ market stalls and specialty food and drink vendors.

Leaving Roast, I spied a chalkboard sign advertising chorizo, rocket (arugula) and paquillo pepper sandwiches. The stand was closed but I did not forget the craving that sign ignited in my traveler’s belly.

This week I was again in London and on the trail of that sandwich, which had since achieved Oz-like status in my memory: Does the sandwich actually exist? Did I dream this sandwich?

My quest landed me back at Bourough Market where, after a few laps through the stalls, looking for people with smiles on their faces and chorizo grease on their brows, I had yet to rediscover the sandwich of my fantasy. Until, in another’s grip, I spotted what looked pretty close to the image concocted in my mind and pled, “Where did you get that sandwich?”

It was wonderful. Maybe I will call this the London Traveler’s Sandwich, close cousin to the Hitchhiker Sandwich.

LONDON TRAVELER’S SANDWICH

Make a sandwich out of:

1) Two slices of grilled ciabatta  or ciabatta-like bread, drizzled with olive oil.

2) One or two spicy andouille sausage(s) cut in half and grilled well. *A note about the sausage: The chorizo used in the Bourough Market original is neither the soft Mexican nor the hard Spanish variety. After consulting with a master of flavor and good judgment, my Uncle David, I offer his suggestion to substitute andouille sausage. It will give the right consistency and spice.

3) Arugula

4) Roasted Red Peppers

I guarantee this is a great alternative to typical grilling fare this summer. Beach, picnic, backyard, cricket tourney. Yes, please. And not bad with a batch of Erin’s refreshing drink suggestions. Not bad at all.

Some scenes from Bourough Market….

EAT HERE:

St. John Bar and Restaurant

Fergus Henderson’s nose-to-tail dining temple promises you a great meal. The space is a one-time smokehouse, turned Marxism Today headquarters, turned hip bar/bakery/restaurant.

What else can you ask for?: A lively, inviting place to linger over a delicious meal. And shhhhhh!!!!…I spied my favorite, favorite, favorite film director dining and doodling on his paper tablecloth.

Don’t Miss –

Roast Bone Marrow with Parsley Salad

Braised Rabbit

Madeleines baked to order and served warm from the oven. Heaven.

Take-away madeleines make a great midnight snack.


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I hear it all the time:
Is this a beet?
It’s sooo good!
I even didn’t think I liked beets!

Well, I’ve got news for you people, the beet is your friend. It is your friend not only because it is nourishing to your body, beautiful to look upon but (dun, dun, DUN!) easy to prepare. Oh, and lest I forget (!)… it’s also a permanent two-for-one-deal.

I know, I KNOW… you’re still picturing a buttered beet side dish that came out of a can served to you by Great Aunt Hilda. Delete that from memory bank immediately and permanently because beets are pretty, well sexy.

Picture bright half moons of earthy sweetness in a salad with your favorite fixin’s like blue cheese and walnuts, lobster and avocado or oranges and mint. Even just served sliced and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, they make an elegant side dish. This is all easy-peasy when you have some roasted beets on hand in the fridge.

My beet protocol is something like this: Buy beets at the farmers market. Preferably smaller ones but I look most intently at the greens attached making sure they are bright and healthy looking. On that day or the next, when I happen to have the oven hot for something else I snip the greens from the root, leaving about an inch of stem attached to the beet and then prepare as described below and toss into the fridge for use throughout the week. Featured in salads usually or always a nice addition to the plate when you need a bit of color to round things out.

Now for this two-for-one bit I mentioned earlier… don’t throw away those greens! Once snipped from their bulbus counterpart remove the green part of the leaf from the pinkish stems and wash throughly. Then just treat like spinach (or any soft green): sautéed lightly in olive oil, garlic and chile is the most straightforward way.

So if that, all that, is not enough beets also make a delightful raw salad. If you were to tell me to shred a couple of pounds of root vegetables on a box grated I would likely give you a sour look. Fortunately beet salad can be prepared entirely in the food processor, then transferred to a salad bowl with dressing ingredients thrown on top and just mixed in. Once prepared it’s stunningly beautiful, perfect for summer potlucks. As a recent diner at our house commented, I’m pretty sure it makes you healthier just looking at it. The taste is so simple and delicious it will leave you feeling great about yourself and the food you just made.

Also, short notes on color for beginners: Handling cooked red beets may leave you looking like you had a run-in with your kitchen knife. Not to worry, washing as soon as possible will likely remove all red juice. The same goes for your cutting board. If it is being stubborn though you may pour some kosher salt on your hands making a paste with water, this exfoliant should get the last of it and leave your flanges nice and soft. Internally your body has a similar dilemma and you may notice some coloration when you use the bathroom. Please do not call your doctor frantically as my co-worker did.

Roasted Beets

1 or 2 bunches beets, preferably of similar size

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Trim stems, leaving about one inch attached to the root. Wash beets.
Lay beets on a large square of tin foil and drizzle lightly with olive oil. If using different colors of beets, be sure to wrap in separate packages.
Wrap foil tightly around beets and place in hot oven.
Bake for approximately 60 minutes, they are done when you can poke with the tip of a knife and meet little resistance. Smaller beets take about 45 minutes, larger ones can take closer to 90 minutes.
They’re pretty gracious little buggers though so don’t fret too much about the exact timing.
Remove from oven, when cool skins slip easily away.
Beets can then be served or stored in the refrigerator.

Raw Beet Salad
Adapted from Mark Bittman

1 1/2 pounds beets (approx.)
1 large shallot
1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, or to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry or white vinegar
1 sprig fresh herbs like tarragon, mint or thyme (optional)
1/3 cup chopped parsley or cilantro

Peel beets and shallot, place in food processor and pulse until chopped but not pureed. You could also shred with a box grater or mince by hand. Mix in a bowl with remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste.

Ultimately, it’s not your grandmothers beet.
But, it should be yours, you just might like it.

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A friend gave me some kale cut right from her backyard and I really wanted to eat it that night. I usually just lightly saute the greens in garlic, olive oil and dried red chile. The only catch was that I had planned on making homemade pizza for some friends we were having over to watch the basketball finals. And, unlike the classic Celtics-Lakers matchup, pizza and sauteed kale just didn’t sound like a good combination. I wanted a fresh salad. So, I concocted this raw kale version which was fantastic.

The key is to dress the salad 30 minutes or so before you eat so that the kale absorbs the dressing a bit. Which makes it perfect to toss together when entertaining. In fact, I think you could dress the salad an hour or more before you ate it and it wouldn’t get soggy at all. This vitamin-packed dish is so good for you and delicious. Everyone gobbled it up.

And just because this salad is green doesn’t mean those wearing purple and gold won’t enjoy it.

Do this:

1) Wash and remove stems from:

1 large bunch of fresh dark green kale

2) Roll leaves and cut the rolled bundles into 1/2 inch strips (chiffonade).

3) Add a handful of:

dried sour cherries, or other dried fruit

4) Toss kale and dried cherries to taste with:

extra virgin olive oil

dash balsamic vinegar

squeeze of lemon

small drizzle of honey

salt and pepper

Riffs:

You could also add sliced, roasted beets to this salad. To roast the beets just trim leaves from  5 or 6 beets, leaving the tops, bottoms and skins on. Wrap loosely in foil. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until pierced easily with a knife. Cool. Peel and slice beets.

Add toasted nuts and cheese and you practically have a meal. Might I have found one answer to Erin’s lunch dilemna?

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Inspiration: I recently read an article about how cooked radishes are the new new thing. The next week, I enjoyed a delicious meal in a restaurant that featured a tapas portion of roasted radishes with blue cheese and saba. Later that week, I received a bunch of pink beauties in my CSA box.

In my family, radishes get sliced over a salad. That’s it. I hear in French families radishes are served alongside creamy butter and salt for an elegantly rustic bite. I’ve done that too. What to do? How about follow the trend and experiment with cooking radishes? I accepted my own challenge.

This is what I did:

Cut trimmed radishes into quarters.

Heated some olive oil in a saute pan.

Added radishes to saute for a few minutes to brown them.

Stirred radishes and continued cooking until they were as soft as I wanted them – a few more minutes.

Salt and pepper.

Takeaway: Cooking radishes mellows out their flavor. They end up tasting a little like a turnip. A good alternative to slicing them for a salad if you’ve got a bunch on hand.

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I had family in town this week and while many things about that make me very happy, one is that I give myself free rein to buy whatever I want from the farmer’s market. A couple of meals for six people or a few for four means I can use a whole lot more stuff… hence the purchasing of afore-mentioned stuff. I like this. Here’s what our table looks like this week:

It’s not just that I like buying all the extra food, it’s also nice to have other people helping me prepare the food. It’s amazing how much three people can do in a day and (bonus) it’s more fun too. My mom is an eager sous chef, always wanting to shop or peel or dust or roll or whatever seems to need doing. (She’s also keeping the conversation going and balancing a glass of wine). Though her years in the kitchen far outweigh mine, we have different styles and she is always graciously checking with me about how I would like things done. Which is why I should not have reprimanded her for taking slices out of the peeled oranges meant for a salad. I think I said “now how will they be perfectly round when we slice them?!” and was disgusted at how that whiney teenager voice (I thought I left behind) sounded. I guess the sound of despairing over trivial things never changes. On the other hand, my sister is diligent and focused. She is quiet and determined. If you want all of your dices to be exactly the same size, you call her. Just as in life, she is organized and tidy. These are my weaknesses and I am so grateful to have them compensated for by two lovely, lovely and vibrant women.

As for the food:

The butternut squash I can’t help but buy almost all year round because the farmer calls it ‘bucket O butternut’ (which I find hopelessly funny) and charges five dollars for the whole darned thing. Hard squashes to me are sort of half way between a fresh vegetable and a pantry item. They keep for ages, cutting one open is almost as easy as opening a can and you can just roast the halves. It’s magical!

The artichokes were pretty good, though I think they scared my midwestern grandmother. She seemed to overwhelmed to get near them. They were trimmed, parboiled and then stuffed with a bread crumb mixture which was good in theory however I must admit that I did not use fresh bread crumbs and was disappointed in myself. They would have been really good with fresh. Let that be a lesson to me (read “us”)… always use fresh bread crumbs, especially when it counts.

The blooming arugula was an impromptu purchase based on a recommendation at the farmers market. It was presented by an eager farmer as a recipe with sliced oranges, fennel and beets. Dress with olive oil, salt and pepper. Sounded easy and I pictured it looking elegant with the edible white blossoms. This was bad. Actually, everything was good except the arugula. It was like eating a weed. It’s one thing to make this kind of mistake on my own, but I served it to guests and being that my grandmother declared this her last trip to California, my last opportunity to show off on my home turf. So, I will forever be in elderly memory the crazy granddaughter who eats (and serves) weeds.

Enough about the challenges, let’s talk about the winners.

Roasted Green Onions

2 bunches (or more) green onions or spring onions

olive oil

salt and pepper

1 lemon

This is so simple, but unbelievably delicious. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Trim a couple inches off the green end of the onions so they fit lengthwise in a glass baking dish or cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil to coat, salt and pepper. Toss. Roast for about 20 minutes. Squeeze the juice of half of the lemon over. Adjust seasoning and serve. People will think you are a genius. This is a great side dish or accompaniment to anything, especially chicken. The temperature and time can be adjusted too if you have something else in the oven….

Butternut Squash Risotto

1 large or 2 small butternut squash

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup shallot, diced

2 ounces pancetta, diced (optional)

1 1/2 cup Arborio rice

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

3/4 cup dry white wine

6 cups vegetable stock, preferably homemade or 4 cups store bought low-sodium mixed with 2 cups water

1 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel squash and cut into 3/4″ pieces. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and spread onto a baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes or until tender. Set aside.

Meanwhile, dutch oven or pan melt butter over medium heat. Add shallot and pancetta, if using. Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice and saffron, stirring to coat. Continue to toast grains for one minute. Pour in wine and cook until almost evaporated, 2 minutes. Stir in one cup of stock, stirring occasionally until almost dry then adding another cup of stock. Repeat until no stock remains (about 35 minutes) and rice is al dente. Remove from heat and stir in squash and parmesan.

FYI: These dishes can be served in the dish they were prepared in, which is great for when you don’t have a sister to clean up after you.

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I’m not an advance-planner of meals. I fly by the seat of my pants to call of the hunger in my belly. Only when I’m entertaining or aiming to impress do I marshal my culinary forces and construct a plan of attack. As it happens, my work/life schedule tends to be unpredictable, so it helps if my cooking and shopping are, if not predictable, then at least thought through to the best of my ability. I’ve been working on it.

I’m fascinated by people who strategize their cooking week. I’ve found, when I take the time to plan ahead, bellies get filled with minimal stress. A pot of soup that I doubled and threw half in the freezer is welcome on the night I work late and can’t stand another meal on the run. A bunch of root vegetables roasted and tossed with balsamic vinegar on a Monday night make a fabulous salad to nibble throughout the week.

Do you strategize your week food-wise? How do you execute your plan? I want to know!

When I have failed to meal plan having the following foods on hand ease my week considerably:

1) SEASONAL MIX OF PRODUCE: For this, I rely on my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). I pick up a box of fresh organic vegetables and fruits biweekly. This box provides the base for the week and gets me cooking with produce that I might not choose on my own. This week I received:

Parsnips (pictured below)

Carrots

Strawberries

Cilantro

Rosemary

Lettuce

Chinese Cabbage

You can see a picture of my CSA summer loot here.

2) FROZEN WILD SALMON – I order frozen wild salmon filets from Vital Choice. This source of wild seafood is recommended by Oceana – an organization dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans. So, my frozen salmon is sustainably caught and all that. I ignore the sticky fact that my shipment is flown in from Alaska and that I live a block from an ocean, which is chock full of seafood; I never promised moral perfection. The good news: I can come home, put the salmon in some water to defrost, and by the time I’ve changed into my comfortable clothes, the fish is ready to cook. About 10 minutes later – delicious wild salmon for dinner. And I mean delicious.

3) FROZEN BROWN RICE –  Thanks to my mother-in-law for this suggestion. I buy the above version at Trader Joe’s but this guy says you can also find frozen brown rice at Whole Foods. Microwave for 3 minutes and you have enough rice for two-plus people. I’ve been making a brown rice and leafy greens combo for a quick, healthful lunch or a great dinner side. See my “recipe” for 3 Minute Brown Rice and Greens (co-created by my husband, Mr. Order Envy) at the end of this post.

Coming soon…..”Planning” Breakfast – Or, My Attempt Not to Eat Dessert for Breakfast.

EASY RECIPE: 3 Minute Brown Rice with Greens

1 package frozen brown rice

1 bunch of dark leafy greens (Kale, Chard, Mustard Greens etc…), rinsed and tough stems removed.

1 clove garlic, sliced thin

1 chile de arbol or a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Salt and Pepper

Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat until hot. Add garlic and chile de arbol or red pepper flakes. Let sizzle 30 seconds. Do not let the garlic turn brown. Add greens to the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute greens until wilted to your taste.

Serve over cooked brown rice.

Any ONE of the following you may enjoy sprinkled on top of the rice and greens, but this hearty, healthy side is delicious by itself:  hot sauce, squeeze of lemon, soy sauce, left-over peanut sauce from last night’s Thai food take-out dinner.

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I must admit that it’s not all it seems. Yes, I entertain fairly often. Yes, I’ve been known to do an intimate dinner for 40. Yes, I bake my own bread.
But then there’s the salad.
Each week from my CSA box I receive a head of lettuce so beautiful that I want to photograph it or turn it in to an elegant centerpiece. Lettuce so amazing that it deserves a vase in a central location. Instead the precious leaves are slated for the most degrading of spaces as to be tucked into the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Most humiliating of all… it then sits there, neglected. Though, in principle, I believe in serving a simple salad with every meal… I envision myself doing so, yet rarely do. Not because of the time it will take to clean the vibrant ruffles but because of the conflict of what to put on it.
Yes, my friends, I’m scared of that little condiment known as salad dressing.
I know the most economical answer is an easy one made here on my counter and I’m determined to find it. So, bottles of the pre-made stuff are out in my book. That, and, the idea that if I can master execution of complex recipes, I should (blindfolded) be able to drum up something to slather on a salad. I’ve been known to throw on a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar at the last-minute. I’ve followed recipes both straightforward and involved… but I’ve never taken joy in the outcome. Persevere though I may, I’m still really lacking. Most salad nights, I wait until the very end to make a dressing, and if I’m lucky Amanda will show up and, while filling me in on the contents of her day, effortlessly put forth something delicate and delicious. Those nights when she doesn’t show I am left to my own devices. Yes, I know that mustard is a great emulsifier and that shalot is lovely and that, and that, and that, and that…
YET, I failed again tonight. My vision was to serve the lasagna with a huge bowl of lightly lemoned greens, I referenced a cookbook for a simple vinaigrette. It emulsified beautifully with the addition of a small bit of warm water (thank you Mark Bittman) and looked stunning: glossy, healthy looking greens in a deep wood bowl. Eagerly served onto my plate, I was deflated after the first bite. The lemon was too sharp in a way and the olive oil tasted somehow green. Theoretical Erin makes a jar of dressing a couple nights a week and confidently drizzles it on the salad. Real Erin fears the salad and opts not to serve one at all. So, I say to you: I am weak, help me. That’s the first step, right? Knowing that you have a problem.
My name is Erin and I have a problem making salad dressing.
I plan to start my recovery by speaking to my mom, who is known in the potluck world for her salads (and their dressings), then to read up on Evan Kleinman‘s recent workshop on the topic of mixing ones own salad potions… after that, I’m lost. Can you help me? Comments welcome.

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