From the Market: Week 1

Kofta with Spinach & Arugula Salad

The Ringwood Farmers’ Market opened this weekend, and not one minute too soon! I’ve been craving their fresh produce since the weekly market closed last November; winter market (new this year) only took place once a month, and the pickings were slim. It was winter, after all.

But now we’re back to greens, berries, honey and meats from small local farms, so let’s dive in.

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What I missed most about the early markets was the amazing spinach and arugula from Bialas Farms, not to mention the rest of the veggies and fresh herbs that always make up the bulk of my shopping experience on weekends. Because I was impatient to try the first haul, I made brunch as soon as we got home — a quick pesto with the spinach and arugula, some walnuts and grated locatelli, all smoothed out with a Ligurian olive oil. The pasta was a gluten-free selection from Fontanarosa’s, which I only visited for the first time this weekend. I now plan to shop there all summer long.

[About the gluten-free thing: I cut out the major sources of gluten about a month ago after reading The GenoType Diet. I’m highly suspicious of any diet at all (and definitely didn’t try this to lose weight — so don’t worry, those of you who know me), but thought I’d give this one a try since a lot of what the author said about my type rang true, given my experience. Anyway, I can honestly say that the mild-to-moderate joint pain I’ve had for the past few years has completely disappeared since I cut the out the gluten. (Other things I won’t go into here have cleared up as well.) Maybe it’s all unrelated, and I hope it is, but we’ll see how I feel when I re-introduce regular pastas and whole-grain bread into my meals.]

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Even though we were invited to a BBQ Sunday afternoon, I had to get in a little grilling of my own this weekend, so I threw together a quick-ish lunch. The appetizers were inspired by this post at Smitten Kitchen and I was thrilled with the way they turned out:

That’s a lot of good stuff packed into a couple of bites, and it came together with almost no effort on my part. I just grilled 1/2-inch-thick slices of homemade bread till they were toasted, smeared them with loads of truffle butter, some room-temperature robiola (one of my favorites, but you could try whatever you like here), and topped them off with ribbons of asparagus, crunchy fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper.

To make the ribbons, just grasp the tip of the spear and use a vegetable peeler to shave down the length of the asparagus.

Our main course was a kofta salad. The spinach and arugula made another appearance here, tossed with tzaziki sauce for the salad base. I had a few extra asparagus ribbons from the appetizers, so I threw them on as a garnish. But the real draw was the kofta made with ground lamb from Snoep Winkel Farm. I used the recipe that’s become my standard, substituting walnuts for pistachios since those were, um, about 18 months out of date. Oops.

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And then we went to a BBQ where I consumed lots of steak and delicious veggie skewers, so I was pretty meated- and veggied-out by Sunday morning and took it easy with a little goat’s milk yogurt with fresh strawberries, blueberries and honey. (Sadly, the blueberries were store-bought since they aren’t quite in season here, but the The Orchards of Concklin‘s strawberries are as perfect as ever, and their peonies aren’t half-bad either. I’ll bring my camera next time we go so I can show you just how popular Rufus and Otis are with the proprietor. The honey is local, too — from Nina’s Red Barn Farm, where we buy our fresh eggs and where I’m evidently known as Rufus’s mom.)

gluten-free

Hope everyone had a safe and relaxing Memorial Day Weekend.

Flan flan flan flan…

When Gil and I visited Milan last year, we had quite a few memorable meals, as you can imagine, and most of them were within walking distance of our hotel. The pizza at a nearby trattoria (run by Chinese immigrants in the dead-after-dark financial district) was leagues better than anything we’ve ever tried in the States, and the revelatory salumi at Osteria del Treno still makes it challenging for us to completely enjoy local cured meats (though I do have my eye on a couple of mail order purveyors). But my favorite dish of the trip, the one I recall with a sigh, had to be the parmesan flan at Joia.

The soft, cakey exterior of the flan spilled its secret as I cut my first bite and discovered a pool of parmesan flooding out to greet me. Much like the moment of piercing a poached egg yolk and realizing there are only a few fleeting seconds to truly enjoy the sensation at its finest, it filled me with delight and longing. But the ephemeral joys of these dishes are part of the reason we love them so, aren’t they?

Cooking Light published a recipe for parmesan flan in their most recent issue and I considered making it, but didn’t think it’d come even close to what I remembered, so I hit the interweb looking for a better more sinful recipe. I found it at Weir Cooking in the City. I did like CL’s idea of using fresh tomatoes as a topping, though, so I prepared a few heirloom tomatoes from the farmers’ market in my favorite summery way — doused with fruity olive oil and balsamic vinegar and shot through with minced garlic and slivered basil, with salt & pepper to taste. It’s simple and delicious as a bruschetta topping, on crackers, as a topping for fish or pasta, or even eaten on its own in great spoonfuls. Yum.

I forgot that convection ovens cook a little faster than regular ovens do, so the flans were a little crusty on top, but still completely delicious. I’ll keep looking for a recipe that duplicates that glorious parmesan flood, but until then, this flan is staying in the rotation.

recipe after the jump

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