Archive for the ‘Market Notes’ Category

Market Notes: Season’s Greenings

Friday, June 10th, 2011

aspgreens.jpgWith a long, drawn out spring this year, we’re still enjoying some of the season’s ephemeral greens, such as pea greens and asparagus. Catch them at the farmers’ market while you can, as their appearance is brief and fleeting, and create a meal that satisfies cravings for something tonic and light, but also luxurious.

 

Pea greens, also known as pea shoots, can sometimes be found referenced in European gardening books, but are more widely known as in Asian cuisines. Traditionally, pea greens are the first leaves and tendrils of the snow pea plant, with the small white blossoms or buds sometimes included. When harvested while young, they are still tender enough to be eaten raw, as in a salad or as a garnish. They may also be used in soups, quickly steamed or stir-fried, or barely wilted with a bit of olive oil and garlic.

 

To prepare pea greens, remove any coarse stems, rinse quickly under cold water, drain and spin-dry. Pea greens are extremely perishable; once you’ve brought a tangle of them home, plan to use them within 1 to 2 days of purchasing. Though considered a spring delicacy, pea greens make a return in fall when planted for a late harvest.

 

Tasting very subtly of peas, the greens go well with other delicate flavors. I wanted to make something that brought out their brightness, and improvised a kind of pesto based on this scallion oil. I used the pesto to dress some fresh locally-made pasta (from here or here), and finished the dish with a scatter of toasted pine nuts. Served alongside some simple oven-roasted asparagus and a wedge of lemon from a friend’s indoor tree made for a meal worth waiting all year for!

 

Pea Greens Pesto

4 cups pea greens (about 4 large handfuls)

A couple of scallions or chives

1/3 – 1/2 cup olive oil (determines amount of pesto)

A squeeze of lemon juice or, alternatively, a few leaves of lemon verbena

Pinch of salt

 

- Toss everything in a blender or food processor, and process until silky smooth.

- Adjust consistency of sauce by adding more greens or oil; it should be looser than a traditional basil pesto.

- Keep a light hand when seasoning to keep the flavors fresh. Too much salt will dull the taste, as will adding any cheese.

- This pesto can be made ahead of time, but do use it the same day when the flavors are most alive.

- Next time, try pairing the pea greens with some mint or green garlic in place of the scallions.

 

Note: To oven roast asparagus, wash and break off tough part of the cut ends. Spread the spears on a shallow baking pan, drizzle with some olive oil, and rub it in to make sure the asparagus are evenly coated. Place the pan on a rack set close to the broiler, and broil until the asparagus are tender and starting to get crackly at the tips. To save myself from burning them, I usually roast the asparagus before tackling the rest of the meal, and set them aside once they’re done. For seasoning, a bit of salt, maybe some lemon juice, is really all you need.

 

Via Kitchen Gardeners International, an entire website devoted to pea shoots, with recipes: www.peashoots.com.

Market Notes: Saluting Spring Greens

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

This guest post from Tracey Miller, a health and wellness coach and food educator, will help you in selecting and using some of spring’s long-awaited greens now coming into abundance at the farmers’ markets. Tracey is active in teaching about the benefits of eating locally, and will be leading the upcoming In the Kitchen Workshop: Feeding Families from the Farmers’ Fields. For more information about Tracey, and her new schedule of health and wellness classes based on local food, please visit www.traceymillerwellness.com.

 

chard.jpgWinter is finally behind us and it’s time trade in our meat and potatoes and welcome the deep, leafy greens that spring brings. Greens like Swiss chard, kale, arugula and spinach, offer a powerhouse of nutrition such as calcium and other essential minerals which most Americans lack.

 

The green pigment in dark greens also contains chlorophyll which helps increase our beneficial bacteria and strengthen our blood and respiratory systems. The more bitter the better to help eliminate mucous and prevent colds and allergies. Chlorophyll also helps prevent cancer, purifies the liver, and sweetens the breath!

 

The slightly bitter flavor of greens competes with sweet and savory foods, but you’ll find as you eat more greens, you’ll stop craving sugary treats. Bok choy, dandelion greens, watercress, sorrel, pea shoots are all in season and can be tossed into salads, stir fries or lightly sautéed without much fuss. Here are two simple ways to enjoy some spring greens:

 

Arugula Pesto

This slightly peppery pesto goes great over pasta, on crackers or as a marinade for chicken.

 

Blend 4–5 cups of fresh arugula, ½ cup mint, 4–5 cloves garlic, ½ cup pine nuts, and a dash of salt and pepper in a food processor while slowly streaming in about ½ – ¾ of a cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve. This pesto also freezes well.

 

Spring “Green” Saute

Use Swiss chard, kale, or beet greens in this simple sauté. One bunch of greens will serve 4  people. They key is not to overcook them or they become bitter.

 

First, submerge the leaves into some cold water to clean them. Then, fold the leaves in half, and strip the leaves from the stalks. Coarsely chop the stems and the greens. Saute the chopped stems with 1–2 cloves of garlic until soft. Add the greens and a splash of water. Cook for approximately 4–5 minutes on medium heat until the greens are wilted. To change it up, add a squeeze of lemon, soy sauce, or even a dash of toasted sesame oil.

 

Some other spring recipes from my blog:

• Spring greens with bacon and walnuts

• Asian bok choy coleslaw with ginger dressing

Market Notes: Maple Glazed Ham Steak

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

img_2420.jpgHam — not just for Easter! For my small family, a ham steak makes a perfectly sized dinner any time of the week. A good amount is leftover for another meal or two, and the bone is an added bonus saved for the next pot of soup. I usually look for a nice rim of fat that hasn’t been trimmed off; it adds flavor as well as some necessary moisture, especially when cooking with local farm raised meats. Notching along the fat helps to render it and give it a crackling edge, a technique that works equally well with pork chops.

 

The beauty of this standard recipe is that the ingredients can be locally sourced, and all you need to know is contained within the title. The instructions are just to get you through the first time of making this; once you’ve done it, all you’ll have to remember is the name.

 

Ham Steak Glazed with Maple, Mustard and Cider Vinegar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tablespoon mustard

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 center cut ham steak (1/2″ thick)

 

- Turn on the broiler.

- In a small bowl, stir together the maple syrup, mustard and cider vinegar until well blended.

- Notch the fat end of the ham steak by placing it on a cutting board, and making a series of cuts about 1 inch deep and at 1/2 to 3/4 inch intervals; remove the rind if you have trouble cutting through it. Slip the ham steak into a shallow baking pan.

- Brush or spoon the glaze over one side of the ham. Broil for 3 minutes.

- Flip the ham steak over, glaze the upturned side, and broil for another 2 minutes. Glaze again, then finish broiling for another 1 to 2 minutes, less or more depending on thickness of the steak and desired amount of caramelization.

- Pull it out of the oven, and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes. This will give it a chance to relax and reabsorb the juices.

- Makes 4 servings if you don’t mind sharing. Serve up with a Carrot and Parsnip Gratin and a toss of fresh spring greens.

Market Notes: Spring Forward with Eggs!

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

img_2242.jpgThe countdown to our last indoor farmers’ market of the season has begun! Join us in Exeter this Saturday, April 23rd, when we celebrate the arrival of spring with our featured food of the day, eggs. As a symbol of fertility and rebirth, they’re often the first thing that comes to mind with the approach of Easter. Farm-raised chickens are responding naturally to the lengthening days, and the increased production we’re now experiencing will have 12 farmers bringing fresh eggs to the market.

 

With their delicate casings, eggs come exquisitely packaged upon arrival and, for me, are nature’s perfect convenience food. They’ll hold for at least 4 to 5 weeks stored in the fridge, and I usually keep several dozen put away. Hard-boiled in batches, they’re a reliable source for when I’m in need of some quick protein. This basic preparation adapted from Phoenix Hill Farm, though, offers a welcome change of egg scenery. A kind of mini crustless quiche, the ingredients list is short and easily adaptable to what’s in season, in the fridge, or simply left over. The proportions aren’t fussy, it really is one of those recipes where a bit of this or that can be thrown in. Whether nibbled while warm or devoured straight from the fridge, it’s a help to have some stashed away for when time is short, I’m hungry, and still want to eat local.

 

The recipe here has been pared down to its essentials, with measurements included to help you get a feel for it on the first go around. I’ve made this with winter salad greens (sliced into shreds, then barely sauteed), substituted sauteed onion in place of the scallion, and matched it with some leftover homemade goat cheese. Another time, I foraged a handful of last season’s frozen peas (defrosted by a bath of  hot tap water), added diced leftover ham along with some slivered scallions, and finished with the grated tail end of a hunk of Swiss cheese. You get the idea… soon you’ll be experimenting with the possibilities found within your own kitchen.

 

Cheesy Egg Bites

8 eggs

1 cup finely diced vegetables

1/4 cup finely sliced scallion or green onion

3/4 cup grated cheese

salt and pepper

 

- Heat oven to 350°F.

- Cook the vegetables to desired doneness by any preferred method — sauteed, boiled, steamed, or simply defrosted.

- Break the eggs into a large bowl. Grab a fork or whisk, and beat the eggs until well-mixed.

- Stir in the cooked vegetables, scallions and cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

- Pour the egg mixture into a lined or oiled muffin tin, filling each cup about 3/4 full. 8 eggs will fill approximately 10 to 12 medium-sized muffin cups, depending on your dividing skills. A sprinkling of more grated cheese on top of each egg-filled cup will give it a golden, cheesy crust.

- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until puffy and the top looks.

- Remove from tin; enjoy hot or cold. They can also be refrigerated or frozen for later nourishment.

 

For more information about our Spring Farmers’ Market this weekend in “Eggsetah”: www.seacoasteatlocal.org.

Market Notes: Carrot & Parsnip Gratin

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

gratin3.jpg

Here’s another way of enjoying those carrots brought home from the fun-filled carrot fest at last weekend’s Winter Farmers’ Market. Paired with some spring-dug parsnips, this Carrot & Parsnip Gratin is easy to assemble and can be served alongside another vegetable or meat dish, or on its own with a tossed green salad. A gratin is simply a shallow casserole that’s been topped with cheese or breadcrumbs, then cooked in an oven or under a broiler until browned and crusty. Once you learn the basic steps, you’ll be able to adapt this recipe to what’s available seasonally.

 

Carrot & Parsnip Gratin

4 carrots

4 parsnips

Butter

Breadcrumbs (homemade)

Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Salt & pepper

 

- Peel and cut carrots and parsnips into desired shape (matchsticks, rounds or spears)

- Parboil by simmering in salted water until almost tender; drain. Toss with a pat or two of butter, and season w/salt and pepper to taste.

- Spread in a baking dish large enough to hold in a thin layer; sprinkle with a handful of breadcrumbs and Parmesan to cover lightly. Dot with some more butter.

- Broil or bake in 400° oven until golden brown. Makes about 4 servings.

 

Notes: Depending on size, allow around 1 carrot and parsnip per serving. Use all carrots if parsnips are unavailable; try a mix of different colored carrots when they appear at the farmers’ markets. Any number of herbs and spices — such as thyme, tarragon, marjoram, cumin, coriander, or ginger — can be added to enhance flavor.

 

Many thanks to Jennifer Purrenhage and Erin Allgood for making it possible for us to include cooking demonstrations at the Winter Farmers’ Market this season — we hope you found it as much fun as they did! Here’s a link to more recipes featuring carrots from Jennifer and Erin, including ones for “Maple-Glazed Carrots with Sea Salt” or “Carroty Candy”, and “Raw Sweet Carrot Salad.” We also want to thank the vendors who generously donated food for demonstrating: Meadow’s MirthNH Cider WorksNew Roots Farm, and Riverside Farm. The results were delicious and disappeared fast!

Market Notes: Rutabaga Quick-Kraut

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

root1.jpgThe featured vegetable at last weekend’s Winter Farmers’ Market in Rollinsford was rutabaga—a  round, yellow-fleshed root vegetable with an earthy, buttery flavor that sweetens up in cool weather. A cross between a cabbage and a turnip, this winter staple can be eaten raw or prepared steamed, boiled, braised, baked, deep-fried, sauteed, roasted, mashed or pureed!

 

Our wonderful Winter Farmers’ Market demo team, Jennifer Purrenhage and Erin Allgood, showed a variety of ways to use this versatile vegetable, including their very own recipe for Rutabaga Quick-Kraut. After peeling the rutabaga and grating, the dish comes together quickly, resulting in a sweet-and-sour tangle punctuated by dots of crunchy mustard seeds. The beauty of this recipe is how easy it is to make from all local ingredients, with everything adjustable to taste.

 

Storage: Keep in a cool, dark place or refrigerate for up to a month in a bag or container to prevent moisture-loss.

 

Preparation: The thick, tough skin should be removed before cooking. To peel, cut off one end to create a flat surface to keep it steady. Cut off the skin with your knife, following contour of the bulb. Or use a vegetable peeler and peel around the bulb a couple of times to ensure all the fibrous skin has been removed and to get to the moist, crisp interior.

 

Rutabaga Quick-Kraut

 

We were playing with rutabaga one day and got inspired (by our love of sauerkraut and mustard) to make this yummy side dish. We’ve never seen anything like it in cookbooks or our favorite blogs. If you like sauerkraut or stoneground mustard, we think you’ll like the flavors in this “quick-kraut.” Give it a try.

 

What You’ll Need:

• 2 cups rutabaga, grated (about 1/2 lb trimmed)

• 2 1/2 teaspoons honey

• 2 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

• 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

 

How to Make Your Quick-Kraut:

1. Heat honey, apple-cider vinegar and mustard in pan to combine (over medium heat).

2. Add grated rutabaga to pan.

3. Sauté on med-high heat until rutabaga is tender and lightly browned.

4. Add in small amounts of oil as needed to keep rutabaga from sticking to the pan.

 

Local rutabaga, honey and apple cider vinegar can all be found at our Winter Farmers’ Market. For mustard, vendor White Gate Farm offers a maple one; also Provincial Palate in Gilmanton, NH, makes a honey-crunch mustard; and Raye’s Mustard of Maine carries several whole-grain styles, including Old World Gourmet Mustard.

 

Jennifer and Erin have generously made their hand-out of rutabaga recipes available online. For more information, recipes and food tips, Jennifer can be found at www.getwellgrounded.com, and Erin at www.allgoodeats.blogspot.com. Our next Winter Farmers’ Market is in Exeter, March 12th, when the featured vegetable will be cabbage. Jennifer and Erin will then be back when the Winter Farmers’ Market returns to Rollinsford, March 26th, featuring carrots and parsnips. Make sure to stop by for more samples and recipes!

Market Notes: Crunchy Oven-Roasted Potatoes

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

crunchy1.jpgcrunchy2.jpgcrunchy3.jpg

A recent trip to Southern Italy yielded many dishes that adapt readily from their local ingredients to ours, and have become weekly favorites, including this one for patate sabbiose or sandy potatoes. Essentially potatoes roasted with breadcrumbs, this combination of humble ingredients results in potatoes that are crunchy and caramelized on the outside, and soft and steamy on the inside. These add welcome texture to a winter meal, and are addictive enough to be enjoyed on their own or, if you find yourself inventing excuses to make them, go with most anything.

 

Like most simple recipes, this one is easily tweaked to suit your own way of cooking. The potatoes can be waxy or starchy, peeled or unpeeled, and the breadcrumbs left plain or seasoned with herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, savory or sage. A more local version might substitute rendered goose fat or lard for the olive oil. I also imagine trying this recipe with other root vegetables, ones that readily take to roasting, such as parsnips, carrots, rutabaga, and maybe even onions.

 

Sandy Potatoes

Potatoes, washed, and peeled (optional)

Olive oil

Dried breadcrumbs, finely ground

Salt and pepper

 

- Preheat oven at 400°F.

- Cut potatoes into wedges. Toss wedges with enough olive oil to coat well. Season with salt and pepper.

- Coat bottom of large roasting or baking pan with additional oil. Add potatoes to pan, and toss with enough breadcrumbs to coat lightly. Arrange wedges in one layer, pressing cut ends into breadcrumbs on bottom of pan.

- Roast 30 minutes. Remove from oven and turn each wedge over, this allows second side to brown. If needed, sprinkle with more breadcrumbs or oil. Finish roasting another 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.

- Check for seasoning and serve hot.

 

Homemade breadcrumbs: With so few ingredients, this dish benefits from using homemade breadcrumbs. Leave pieces or slices of bread out to dry; once completely dry, grind in food processor or blender until it resembles, well, breadcrumbs. Alternatively, wrap bread in kitchen or tea towel, and use a rolling pin to crush bread into crumbs. Make sure the breadcrumbs are dried thoroughly before storing in an airtight glass jar.

 

Hints: Depending on size of potato, allow 2 or 3 per person. Potato wedges should not be cut too thin; thick and thin ends will contribute to having different textures. It may seem fussy but arranging potatoes in one direction in the roasting pan will make it easier to turn them later.

 

Many thanks to Silvestro for his generosity in sharing his kitchen with us in Puglia — non vediamo l’ora di tornare!

Market Notes: Winter Squash

Friday, January 21st, 2011

squashy.jpg“Winter squash is for winter. So use it now,

through March at the latest — while it’s most appealing.”

— Deborah Madison

 

The featured vegetable this Saturday at our Winter Farmers’ Market in Rollinsford is the wonderfully versatile winter squash. There will be recipe cards available, as well as a cooking demonstration — Jennifer from Get Well Grounded and Erin from Allgood Eats will be showing you how to peel and cut, as well as simple, basic preparation methods for a variety of winter squash. Make sure to stop by with your cooking questions!

 

Popular varieties of winter squash include: acorn, delicata, spaghetti, butternut, true winter squash (buttercup, hubbards, red kuri), and pumpkin. Nutritionally, winter squashes are a source of complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber; also potassium, niacin, iron, beta carotene (converts to vitamin A); vitamin C, manganese, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B1 and B6.

 

Storage: Keep winter squashes in a cool, dry place with good air circulation; refrigerate cut pieces, but the refrigerator is too humid for whole squash. The best way to store whole squash is in a single layer with fruit not touching to minimize the potential spread of rot.

 

Preparation: Thin-skinned varieties (acorn, butternut, delicata, sweet dumpling) can be peeled with a parer or peeler. Larger varieties (hubbard, turk’s turban) should be placed on newspaper and using a sharp cleaver split the hard rind open, or use chef’s knife with a mallet to drive blade into the squash. Don’t be afraid to drop onto the floor to break a particularly large and hard squash open. Once split is cut, squash can be banged on a hard surface and pulled apart; pieces are easier to peel than the whole. Leave the peel on if baking the squash and spooning out flesh.

 

Cooking: Place unpeeled pieces cut sides down on a shallow baking dish, bake at 350°F for 30+ minutes; check for doneness by piercing with fork or skewer; remove from oven when tender and let cool; spoon out flesh and mash. Cut and peeled pieces may be boiled or steamed until tender, a faster method but trades off the roasted, concentrated flavor from oven baking. Cooked squash freezes well; pack into containers and freeze for up to one year.

 

Here are some recipes to get you started with cooking winter squash — look for more delicious recipes at the Winter Farmers’ Market!

 

• Stuffed, Roasted Winter Squash

• Pumpkin Fondue

• Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Maple Syrup

• Pasta with Kale Pesto and Roasted Butternut Squash

• Raw Butternut Squash Salad with Cranberry Dressing

• Butternut Squash Wheatberry Risotto

• Dessert Wonton with Squash Filling and Chocolate Dipping Sauce

Market Notes: A Week’s Menu for 4 for $70

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

workshop.jpgFor those who missed this month’s workshop, “Shopping & Cooking from the Winter Farmers’ Market,” we are featuring information from the instructors given out during the class. Previously, we posted Erin Allgood’s “Tips for Shopping & Cooking from the Winter Farmers’ Market.” Here we have Jennifer Purrenhage’s sample 1-week dinner plan to help you budget:

 

7 Nights of Dinner for a Family of Four for $70!

 

A common concern of people who are new to shopping farmers’ markets is that they won’t be able to feed their family on a budget by shopping local. One important step in shopping local (or anywhere, for that matter!) on a budget is to plan ahead. Here’s a sample 1-week dinner plan (with shopping lists and recipes) to get you started. Follow this plan to Feed Your Family of Four Dinner for 7 Days for only $70! If your family is smaller than that, you can freeze half of each dish and feed 2 people dinners for 2 weeks for only $70. It’s easy to drop $70 on one dinner out at your favorite restaurant (and you should do that once in a while), but you can also spend that money on healthy local food for 1–2 weeks of dinners!

 

Saturday – White Bean/Sausage-Kale-Mushroom Soup with Mixed Greens Salad

 

Sunday – Stuffed Winter Squash with Mixed Greens Salad

 

Monday – White Bean/Sausage-Kale-Mushroom Soup (leftovers from Sat.) with Radish-Apple Salad

 

Tuesday – Stuffed Winter Squash (leftovers from Sun.) with Radish-Apple Salad

 

Wednesday – Rice and Beans with side of Sautéed Greens (Kale/Chard)

 

Thursday – Roasted veggies with baked tofu/fish 

 

Friday – Rice and Beans (leftovers from Wed.) with Mixed Greens Salad

 

 

Shopping List for the Winter Farmers’ Market 

 

 

Cost 

 1 lb Sweet Italian Sausages (optional)

 $9.50

~15 small sweet onions

$5.50

dried white beans (you’ll use 1/2 the bag)

$1.50

dried black beans (you’ll use 1/2 the bag)

$1.50

4 winter squash (e.g., delicata, acorn)

$4

1 small bulb garlic

$1

2 bunches leafy greens (kale, chard, collards)

$6

Mixed salad greens (~18+ oz, or 16+ cups)

$12

2 small watermelon radishes

$1.50

6 med-lg carrots

$4

2 apples (optional, for salads)

$1

2-3 c mushrooms

$6

1 med sweet potato

$1

potatoes (~3-4 redskins or 1/2 lb fingerlings)

$2

1/2 small bunch turnips

$1.50

2 med parsnips

 

$1.50

Shopping List for the Grocery Store 

 

1-2 lg (~26oz+) can whole, diced or crushed organic tomatoes – Eden & Muir Glen are great brands

$5

1.5 cups (dry) brown rice, organic

$1.50

1/2 cup (dry) quinoa, organic

$1

firm tofu, 1 pkg

 

$3

Total Cost 

 

$70 

 

Complete hand-out, including recipes, is available here >

 

You can find out more about Jennifer at her website, Get Well Grounded. Thanks go to Jennifer for allowing us to post this here!

Market Notes: Tips for Cooking from the Winter Farmers’ Market

Friday, January 14th, 2011

wfm.jpgOnce you get the food from the farmers’ market, what do you do with it? Here are some tips to get you started!

 

• Buy staples like carrots, onions or potatoes to start, and then try one new vegetable each time you shop for food.

 

• Talk to the farmers about how they prepare various veggies.

 

• Use your local foodies — Seacoast Eat Local volunteers are available at every Winter Farmers’ Market to help you shop and hand out recipes!

 

• Invest in a couple of good cookbooks:

- How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman (a vegetarian edition is also available)

- Eating Well in Season — The Farmers’ Market Cookbook by Jessie Price

- Almost Meatless by Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond

- Greens Glorious Greens by Johnna Albi

 

• Utilize the internet:

Eating Well

Epicurious

Food Network

 

Thanks go to Erin Allgood for allowing us to reprint her handout from this month’s workshop, “Shopping & Cooking from the Winter Farmers’ Market“. You can visit Erin at her blog, Allgood Eats. For more information about our Winter Farmers’ Markets as well as others in the Seacoast, please visit www.seacoasteatlocal.com. If interested, we also have a resource page for cooking classes.

 

Up next: Feeding Your Family of 4 for 7 Days and $70!