From the Market — Week 7

Cherries

Well, things certainly have been buzzing around here. Even though I’ve neglected this blog for a while, I want to take a moment to pat myself on the back (gingerly, so I don’t dislocate a shoulder) for getting anything done at all. You see, I’ve been shooting another cookbook! (Not my own!) In my spare time! Which means every weekend! Minus the two vacations we’ve already scheduled! I’m hoping the exclamation points give me a little energy, because it’s a grueling pace, but I’m already so happy with the way things are going that I don’t mind the lack of rest. (OK, that’s not entirely true. My resentfulness does overflow on occasion when Gil’s taking a nap while I’m slaaaaaving away in the kitchen, but it’s what I signed up for, so I just suck it up.)

So in addition to the 2-3 recipes I’m cooking, styling and shooting for the book each day, I try to eke out a little something of my own to share here. This was my most recent stab at something new:

Asparagus and cherry tacos…whaaaa? I know, I wouldn’t have thought of that combination, either, but The Kitchn’s newsletter featured the recipe and made it sound so good, I had to give it a shot. I really should’ve made the asparagus salsa as well, but I was taaaahrd (a Southern kind of tired that hits you deep in the bone marrow) by Sunday afternoon and just couldn’t bring myself to cook one. more. thing. Still…it was quite luscious with just a spritz of lime juice and farmer cheese instead of the queso fresco.

And since cherries were still in the market, I took the opportunity to rework that jam I’d over agar-agared a week before. I still wanted to use agar agar as a thickening agent, because it doesn’t require cooking the fruit — I like the idea of a really vibrant and fresh-tasting jam. Halving the amount called for on the package yielded exactly the consistency I was hoping for, so yay for progress.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “From the Market — Week 7”

From the Market — Week 5

Because it's cherry season!

Gather ye cherries while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying…

Unlike the apple, which you can’t miss because it won’t leave, the cherry is ephemeral, making its arrival much more eagerly anticipated. I’ve been seeing them piled up on fruit carts around the city for the past month or so, but I can’t bear the thought of random street germs wafting over my fruit, so I managed (just barely) to hold off until I could be sure to get local, juicy, pesticide- and city stank-free versions at the market.

Though cherry season is fleeting, we’re blessed with an abundance during that time, which means I couldn’t decide between varieties, so they all came home with me — Queen Anne, sour cherries, and sweet. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the sour cherries other use them for cherry soup, so I googled and got a great idea from Chowhound: I’m now the proud owner of a jar of bourbon-soaked sour cherries, which will be just the thing with a Manhattan for old bourbon-soaked me.

The rest of these babies went into a jam. It was my first attempt at recreating my current (expensive, Whole Foods) favorite — cherry-strawberry-almond jam — and it came pretty close, I’m pleased to say, especially because I just winged it. Though the agar agar I used as a thickening agent went way beyond the call of duty and lent the jam more of a Jell-o texture than the loose jam I wanted, whenever I glanced at the packet I was happy enough to reminisce about my high school biology teacher discussing petri dishes lined with “aaaagah aaaagah” before she cut into a dead frog or fetal pig.

Anyway, after that lovely image, if you want the recipe for this jam, stick around. I’ll give it another go this weekend.

From the Market: Week 5

gluten-free

Right off the bat, I’ll admit that yes, I cheated a little here. Asparagus hasn’t been seen at the Ringwood Farmers’ Market for the past two weeks, but 1) I had a craving and 2) didn’t it make for a pretty — if slightly pornographic — shot?

Because I operate under the assumption that pretty much everything is better when topped with a fried or poached egg (especially the super-fresh ones we get from Nina), I went with a variation on a shaved asparagus salad from the pages of Food & Wine for Sunday’s lunch:

The ricotta salata I substituted for the Parmesan was creamy and subtle, but I think I’ll try the recipe as written next time for even more of a punch.

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Because I eat yogurt with fruit every weekday for breakfast, I like to change things up a little on weekends, so we had gluten-free pancakes before hitting the market Saturday morning. I’m still playing around with flour combinations for breads and pie crust, but this pancake recipe was perfect as written. (By the way, I have no plans to turn this into a blog about dietary restrictions, but if you’re looking into a gluten-free diet, I highly recommend the Gluten-Free Girl blog. It’s an amazing resource.)

But back to the pancakes. I cooked them in only about 1/2 teaspoon of butter each, but they were so rich-tasting and slightly sweet on their own that they only needed a dollop of the raspberry jam I picked up recently from B&B Jams to put them over the top.

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I didn’t really load up on fresh vegetables this weekend because I went overboard last week and still had quite a bit hanging around in my vegetable drawers. I’ve been on a leftover kick all week long, but only yesterday did I finally get around to using up the last bit of the smoked beef tongue (courtesy of Snoep Winkel Farm) I made last weekend. Of course, on that first day, we had it in tacos as we always do, but during the week it made appearances sliced on crackers with Dijon mustard or just nibbled out of hand straight from the cutting board.

But my plan for Saturday’s lunch included my latest favorite way to use leftover bits of meat and vegetables: Vietnamese bun, a refreshing salad served with cold rice noodles, and the perfect thing on a hot summer day.

This was made entirely with odds and ends from the refrigerator: Tatsoi, cabbage, carrots, red bell peppers, radishes, green onions, basil and cilantro, all tossed with a sweet-sour-salty-spicy dressing, funky with fish sauce and garlic. And hit with a lot of Sriracha, naturally. I’ve found that if you get the sauce right (I used the one from this Vietnamese Chicken Salad), the rest of the salad just falls into place.

It’s been a migraine-y day for me, so I have nothing more to offer at the moment, but I’m hoping to get around to an apricot & goat’s milk frozen yogurt sometime this week. Hope you have a great one!

recipes after the jump

Continue reading “From the Market: Week 5”

Jam on it

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There are very few things I fear in the kitchen. Complicated recipes or out-of-the-ordinary ingredients are usually cause for excitement, but canning just terrifies the bejeezus out of me. It isn’t a case of saving face, because let’s be honest, I can laugh at my mistakes after So Much Experience making them — incinerated fries, losing my place in a lengthy recipe, putting a Thanksgiving dish under the broiler then walking away … just to name a few. Ahem. But canning mistakes are a whole other thing — one slip-up, and you can really do some damage. And a hearty laugh just won’t cut it when you’re headed to the ER.

Problem is, I can’t help but dream of homemade jams when I see the heaping boxes of locally-grown fruit at the Orchards of Concklin booth every Saturday. (And the vendor adores Ru, so we spend a lot of time there chatting and browsing her selections.) But I reached a nice workaround this weekend. I’ve had a wonderful Martha Stewart recipe for peach-rosemary jam bookmarked for this very occasion, so I made a half batch and put it in the fridge. It’s thoroughly delicious and should keep for a month, which should be plenty of time to make the most of it.

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After all of the dishes I’ve made with rosemary over the past few weeks, I think the plant is finally under control, so maybe I’ll be able to do something about the sage bush next weekend. And perhaps I’ll take a stab at canning while I’m at it, but don’t hold your breath.