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Posts Tagged ‘green market’

OKRA_p8022088

 

I am probably one of the few non-Southerners who loves okra. I usually don’t buy it at the supermarket – only when it pops up at the green market in the fall does it make it to our table. It is such an interesting looking vegetable, particularly when it is the purple variety. When I have time and the price is right, I will pickle a good amount of okra. It makes a great accompaniment to charcuterie or cheese platters. But, as often as not, I will give it a quick stir-fry all by itself or mix it up with some tomatoes and onions. But occasionally – particularly when I’ve made cornbread or have shrimp on hand – I’ll turn them into my version of maque choux, that traditional Louisiana side dish that usually features just corn, bell peppers, and onion. Cornbread makes a good dipping tool and shrimp can turn it into a sorta gumbo. I never cook okra very long as I’m not a fan once it starts to get slimy. Although recently someone told me that if you blanch it for a minute or so, it stays bright green and doesn’t get slimy. I haven’t tried that method so can’t recommend it, but you might want to give it a try.

Maque Choux

Serves 4

2 tablespoons bacon grease (or any fat you like)

½ cup chopped red onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon minced hot green or red chile or to taste

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 cup fresh corn kernels

½ cup chopped red bell pepper

2 cups sliced okra

¾ cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper

½ cup chopped scallions

2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

Hot sauce, optional

 

Heat the bacon grease in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, chile, and thyme and cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes or until the onion is softening. Stir in the corn and bell pepper and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until just barely tender. Stir in the okra and then quickly add the cream, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes or just until slightly thick. Don’t cook too long as you don’t want the okra to start oozing – you want it slightly crisp.

Remove from the heat and stir in the scallions and parsley. Taste and, if necessary, season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce.

Serve hot.

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Red-romaine

 

I bought this red romaine at the greenmarket only because it was so beautiful. I already had 2 heads of lettuce in the fridge, but convinced myself that it wouldn’t go to waste.   So what to do except make a fake Caesar salad for lunch. This is what I do – I make a standard vinaigrette with extra virgin olive oil and champagne vinegar; then I add about ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese and a mashed anchovy or two to the mix. I sliver the romaine and toss it with some herbed croutons (not the kind in a box in the supermarket, please – make your own), drizzle the dressing over the top and then shave more cheese over the top. A perfect lunch.

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Salad

I bought a few sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes) at the green market on Sunday and since I wasn’t up to turning the oven on to roast them – my usual way with them -I turned them into another healthy salad for Steve’s lunch. I used my trusty Japanese Benriner vegetable turner to make zucchini strands which I tossed with shaved sunchoke and finely sliced nectarine. I dressed the salad with some lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and then sprinkled some black sesame seeds over the mix. It immediately became Steve’s new favorite.

A word about sunchokes in case you don’t know them: They are the tuber root of a type of sunflower – not the garden variety – that is a native to America. They are high in protein, potassium, fiber, and iron as well as the inulin which makes them a healthy choice for Type 2 diabetics. They are often used in place of potatoes although they have no starch and are slightly sweet. Nobody really knows where the name Jerusalem artichoke comes from, but the name sunchoke was given to them by Frieda Caplan whose company Frieda’s Finest Specialty Produce has introduced American cooks to many undiscovered vegetables and fruits.

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stuffed-zucchini-blossoms

Zucchini blossoms only appear in the mid to late summer when farmers and gardeners begin to run out of ways to get rid of the myriad numbers of squashes that appear and grow larger and larger by the hour.  The alternative is to nip the produce in the bud so to speak and lovely little packets of bright yellow blossoms make their way to the farm stand or green market.  They are beautiful to look at, but even better to eat.  The problem is that they are messy and time consuming to prepare and disappear too quickly once brought to the table.

We got a particularly nice bunch at the green market on Sunday and I was determined to fix them for dinner.  I had made some ricotta (see post, May 19, 2014) that I had planned to serve with some grilled peaches, but since it is the perfect filling for stuffed blossoms I changed gears.  I combined 1 cup of the ricotta with the zest of 1 lemon, a teaspoon of chopped basil, about ¼ cup of grated Parmigiano, and salt and pepper.  I had Steve help as it was impossible for me to hold the blossoms open and neatly spoon the cheese mixture into the center.  I held open while he carefully spooned about a teaspoonful into the heart.  I twisted the petals closed and laid the filled blossoms out in a row while I made the batter.  (To be perfectly honest if I had some packaged tempura batter in the pantry I would have used it.)

I combined about 1½ cups of all-purpose flour with a teaspoon or so of salt.  I gently stirred in about 1½ cups of seltzer water.  You don’t want to stir to aggressively as you want the batter to have some fizz left.

I heated about 1 inch of canola oil – you could use olive oil – in my favorite Scanpan sautoir pan and when it was hot, working with one piece at a time, I quickly dipped the stuffed blossoms into the batter, allowing most to drip off and gently placed them into the hot oil.  I used tongs to carefully turn the blossoms as they turned golden brown and crisp.  It only took a couple of minutes for them to cook.

I drained them on a double layer of paper towel and served them sprinkled with sea salt and drizzled with lemon —- all my hard work was gone in a couple of minutes.

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Leeks_DSC_6145

The green market is beginning to heat up as more and more veggies make their appearance after winter’s doldrums.  Although leeks usually shine in the fall, I got this beautiful array of baby leeks just the other day – fresh from the ground.  I roasted them to go along with some skate wing – one of the few fish that Steve, my fish-allergy prone husband can eat.  Roasting or braising are the two cooking methods that seem to bring out their inherent sweetness and mellow out any acrid flavor.  This is particularly true for mature, fall-harvested leeks.  For the more mature leeks, you want to slice them, crosswise, before cooking otherwise they can be fibrous.  The baby leeks are not quite so.  All I did was wash them, trim off the dark green part, and toss them with some extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper before roasting them at 375ºF for about 20 minutes.  They were a little brown and crisp around the edges and soft and mellow on the tongue.

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