Friday, July 19, 2013

More Market Munchies...

Today is my final post extolling the virtues of The Third Place Commons Farmer's Market in Lake Forest Park, WA.  It has been a small sample of the bounty that is the market.  There are many more vendors I can't get by to visit every week but I am very grateful for them all.

Linda Khandro giving the boys a little harp lesson.
     Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards sells DuChilly hazelnuts, which I mention here often.  They are huge like almonds and taste sweeter and crunchier than the average hazelnut you'll find in a grocery store.  I love the sugar coated ones frozen as a little sweet snack after the boys have gone to bed (shhh... don't tell!)

     Uncle Eyal's is in its second year at my market.  They make the delicious mint garlic sauce I've told you about, as well as a super spicy version, beet hummus, and lots of other tasty sauces.  This year, they have added falafel to the menu.  Place your order, and you've got a hot falafel patty or two sitting on a delicious salad or wrapped in a tasty flat bread in a matter of moments and topped with one of their super fab sauces.  It's a huge meal and it's delicious.

     Social Ice Cream is the closest to home-made ice cream I've ever had.  Tracy comes up with some unusual flavors that are beside themselves with awesomeness.  Pictured above, is Roasted Strawberry.  It makes the berries even more "strawberry" if that's possible.  She uses products she sources locally as much as possible, including milk and berries from farmers at the Third Place Commons market.  Her vanilla ice cream needed nothing to make it perfect, but I gilded the lily a tiny bit with a sprinkle of wild berries from my yard.  Nothing beats a dish of cold ice cream on a hot afternoon.

Vanilla Ice Cream and Wild Black Raspberries

     I'll be honest.  When I got down to these last three, I wasn't sure how I was going to pull this off.  How do hazelnuts, baba ghanoush and ice cream go together?  That's a bit of a trick question because ice cream doesn't really go with baba ghanoush and it's kinda awesome on its own, but I did find a fantastic way to combine hazelnuts and baba ghanoush.

     I had many, many ideas, but finally this morning, I stumbled upon a cracker recipe in a book my husband bought me for Mother's Day.  Brown Butter-Hazelnut Crackers from Crackers and Dips: More than 50 Handmade Snacks by Ivy Manning pp 36-65.  Gluten-free and pretty darn delicious with savory or sweet dips.

 Brown Butter-Hazelnut Crackers and Baba Ghanoush with a sprinkle of Sage

Brown Butter-Hazelnut Crackers
2 1/4 C/295g Hazelnuts
3 Tbs unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 Tbs sugar
1 tsp fine sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C/gas 4.  Cut two pieces of parchment paper to fit your baking sheets.  Place the nuts on an unlined baking sheet and bake until they are light brown, their skins have cracked, and they smell nutty, 10 to 15 minutes.  Set the nuts aside to cool and maintain the oven temperature.

In a small sauté pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Once the foaming subsides, the butter will begin to brown.  Continue to cook the butter, swirling the pan frequently, until the butter is light brown (the color of light brown sugar), about 45 seconds. Do not overcook the butter or it will give the crackers a burned flavor.  Pour the butter into a small glass bowl and chill it for 10 minutes.  Collect enough of the clear liquid fat to measure 2 T and discard the dark solids.  Whisk together the brown butter and the eggs in a small bowl and set aside.

Rub the nuts together in a clean dish towel to remove their papery skins; discard the skins.  Place the hazelnuts, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse until the nuts look like fine cornmeal, about 45 one-second pulses. (Be careful not to overprocess the nuts or they will begin to turn into nut butter.)  With the machine running, gradually add the butter and egg mixture through the feed tube until the mixture comes together into a moist ball of dough.  (You may not need all of the egg mixture.)

Divide the dough into two portions.  Center one portion of the dough on a piece of parchment paper.  With moistened fingers, form the dough into a rectangle measuring 4 by 6 in/10 by 15 cm, cover with a piece of plastic wrap, and roll the dough out until it is 1/16 in/2 mm thick, lifting up the plastic now and then to make sure there are no creases in the dough.

Remove the plastic wrap and transfer the dough on the parchment paper to a baking sheet.  Using a pastry wheel or pizza cutter, cut the dough into 2-in/5-cm squares.  Any unattractive or partial segments of the dough can be scraped up with a bench scraper and added to the second ball of dough.  Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the second ball of dough.

Bake the crackers until they are light brown around the edges and firm when poked, 12 to 15 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets once from top to bottom and from back to front while baking, and watch carefully the last few minutes-they can go from perfectly cooked to burned in a matter of seconds.  If some of the crackers are done before the others, transfer them to a cooling rack and return the undone crackers to the oven for a few more minutes.  Cool the crackers on a rack and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Cracker Tip:  Don't panic if you spy a layer of white foam forming on the crackers as they bake-this is from the natural fats in the hazelnuts heating up.  The foam will settle back into the crackers as they finish baking.

  • I used Sucanat instead of white sugar in these.  
  • I baked these DuChilly nuts for 25 minutes and never did get the skins to come off.  I started with frozen ones, so that may be why, but at any rate, I ground them up and used them anyway, and the flavor is totally fine. 
  • The book recommends serving these with blue cheese and fig preserves or a slice of pear, which would be gorgeous, but they would be just as welcome with hummus or a savory dip, a little cream cheese with a drop of honey, or dare I say it?  A little homemade Nutella.  
I hope you have enjoyed the posts this week!  On your next visit to the farmer's market take a moment to let your farmers know you appreciate what they do!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fresh and Fast...

Today, I've got three vendors I mentioned in my last post.  They are still three of my very favorites!

     The farm I probably mention most often here is Garden Treasures.  I get my bulk canning tomatoes from here as well as most of my produce.  They are even carrying mushrooms now which makes me ever so happy since the forager who came two years ago has apparently gotten out of the business.   Their produce is consistently beautiful and top quality.  And they carry purslane which I am helplessly in love with.

Roasted Strawberry and Black Pepper, Spiced Rhubarb, Lavender and Lemon, and Fleur de Sel Caramel Macarons.

      Lilli-Pilli is still going strong selling fabulously creative French macarons, and she has branched out into jams and jellies as well.  She never seems to run out of ideas for interesting new flavors and is inspired by the fruits and flowers of the season.  Rhiannon sources her berries and fruit from farmers at this market.  I love it when vendors support each other!  She has opened her own kitchen operating out of her house and I think they are even better than they have been in years past!

     I mentioned Patty Pan Cooperative last time.  We still visit this stall regularly for their veggie quesadillas.  When they've got vegetarian tamales in the freezer we pick a few of those up, too.  They are so great for a quick meal when I'm too tired or brain-dead to make dinner happen on my own power.  They also source many of their veggies from farmer's market farmers. 

     As it happened, last night, I went out with a group of friends and left the hubby home with the boys to fend for himself.  Squash blossom and smoked Gouda tamales with a side of vegetables for dinner with a lovely little macaron for dessert filled the bill perfectly!  I cooked the veggies ahead of time so all he had to do was pop everything in the microwave.  Beats the pants off a meal from a box.

Sauteed Vegetables 
(serves 2)
1/2 C chopped onion
1/2 C chopped tomato
1/2 C mushrooms
1/2 C purple pepper (green is OK)
1 C sliced zucchini
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4-1/2 C deglazing liquid (I used beer, but you could use water or stock)
Oil for the pan
Salt and pepper

Heat oil over medium high heat until it shimmers.  Add onion, zucchini, and mushrooms and cook until browned.  Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds until scent blooms.  Deglaze the pan, scraping up all the lovely brown bits off the bottom of the pan.  Add peppers and cook for about a minute and then tomatoes and cook until just warmed through.  Peppers should still be crunchy and tomatoes should hold their form.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with your favorite tamale and you might as well go ahead and finish off that beer, too!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I Do Not Think it Means What You Think it Means...

     When I was in college, I went to an art show during which the artist gave a long speech detailing her inspiration behind each piece.  She used the word "serendipitous" a lot.  Like a whole lot.  Like maybe she had just learned the word and enjoyed how it felt in her mouth.  It became clear that what she often meant was "spontaneous."  It didn't detract from her work, it was just a funny little quirky thing that makes people human.  And it made me think of Princess Bride, and that's always a good thing.  The meal I served last night was genuinely entirely serendipitous.

     Wilson Fish Markets is our favorite place to buy fish.  They catch it and sell it almost immediately.  Last week, my family feasted on a coho salmon the leftovers of which became salmon cakes.  They will stab each other with forks for salmon cakes made with Wilson fish!  This week, the market was super busy and by the time I got there, all they had left was smoked salmon.  I thought, why not?  So I picked my guys up a section of maple smoked salmon.  Serendipity.

     Whitehorse Meadows Farm specializes in blueberries.  Especially things made out of blueberries!  They are new to the market this year.  I've got a bag of their frozen blueberries in my freezer that I'm judiciously doling into smoothies and a couple of weeks ago I bought some of their Blueberry Mango Chutney.  This little lady here, serendipitously suggested serving it with fresh salmon, which of course, I had just bought from Wilson.  My husband said it was a perfect pairing.  Since he was first introduced to Indian food in the late 1990's he has been looking for the perfect mango chutney.  He said this was the closest thing he's ever had to the original one he fell in love with all those years ago!  I do believe they have found a loyal customer!

     Maharlika Farms is a great place to get unusual produce like long beans, and Chinese okra as well as the normal market produce fare.  They also carry chicken and duck eggs.  She is always ready with a recipe for unusual ingredients.  She looks at you a little suspiciously and says, "You know how to cook this?"  I love it.  She wants everyone to appreciate her produce to the point of making sure they prepare it properly.  She's the one who taught me how to cook Chinese okra, something I will be forever grateful for because that stuff is awesome!  It was finally ready this week and I bought some.  For the dinner I had planned for today, I was thinking I'd like some long beans, but she was out (busy market and all) so I settled for regular green beans instead.  Serendipity.

Maple Smoked Salmon with Blueberry Mango Chutney and Cilantro Green beans

And so begins the winding and serendipitous tale of the cilantro green beans:
     When I was plating this up for pictures, I thought the beans needed a little something to fancy them up a bit.  (Now, here's a little food photography secret for you: Not everything you see in pictures is what you think it is.)  When I was plating it and deciding it looked boring, I thought a little dill would be the ticket since it typically pairs so well with beans and fish.  But I didn't have any dill.  As it happens though, in my garden, I am growing cilantro for the first time.  You may know how much I disliked cilantro when I first started writing this blog, but recipes like the Thai Curry Soup and Garlic Herb Sauce have been slowly changing my palate over the last couple of years.  When cilantro is about to go to seed, the leaves change and become frilly, delicate little things that look a lot like dill leaves.  So I thought, "Well, it looks like dill, it'll probably taste OK, I'll just tell 'em it's dill."  I don't like doing that sort of thing, because usually what you see is exactly what you get in my photographs, so I hope you'll forgive my momentary lapse.  After I did my shoot, I started thinking... Hmmm... cilantro might actually be pretty good with the curry in that blueberry chutney... So I tasted the beans.  And I didn't hate it.  And I tasted them again.  And I liked it.  And I tasted them again and I ate the whole thing with my fingers before I even put the plate on the table!  Cilantro goes really well with green beans!  Who knew?  And cilantro green beans apparently go super well with maple smoked salmon and blueberry mango chutney!  My husband loved it!  So there you go, if it hadn't been for you lovely people out there in Internetland, I literally never would have made this!  SeRenDIPityyyyyyyy! And here it is...

Cilantro Green Beans
1 lb fresh green beans
1 sprig cilantro seed shoot (or two regular cilantro leaves), minced
1 pat butter

Wash and prep green beans (all I did was pinch off a few stems).  Steam beans until tender but not smooshy, about 5-10 minutes.  Plate and top with a little butter and sprinkle with cilantro.

I hope you have a serendipitously wonderful day today full of spontaneity and inconceivable deliciousness!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Little Wine, A Little Cheese...

Sometimes you have a day when you want a little wine at brunch.  Well, sometimes you want a little at breakfast, but let's assume this is a wine at brunch sort of day.  I love the idea of wine and cheese for brunch with a little fruit.

     Collins Family Orchards was a new addition to the market last year.  They bring the best plums I have ever eaten.  It's not quite plum season yet, but I am salivating just thinking about them.  Lots of stone fruits and apples from this farm have passed through our family fruit bowl over the past two years!  The peaches are so prefect right now, I had to hide one from my husband so I'd have one left for the shoot today!

      Wine is relatively new to the market, too.  I've kind of developed a thing for Lopez Island Vineyards.  In fact, I may have a bit of a hoarding issue going on...  Their Siegerrebe is one of my very favorite white wines.  I may or may not have an obscene number of bottles in my kitchen.  Whether you are imagining them empty or not reflects your opinion of me... :) 

This is Siegerrebe.  It is lovely.  It's a lightly sweet, subtly bubbly wine which is great with dinner, but light enough for a cheese tasting, too.  The bottle I opened for this shoot is even organic, though I don't think all their wines are.

     Golden Glen Creamery used to be where we got all our milk until they quit selling milk last year and moved on to butter and cheeses.  I was very disappointed until I tasted the cheese!  They have gotten even better this year.  The grownups in the CotC house love the River Cheddar and the boys really like the milder curds.

     Today, I made myself a mini cheese tasting and matched the Siegerrebe from Lopez Island with River Cheddar and Very Old Gouda from Golden Glen, and a selection of stone fruits from Collins: bing cherries, peaches, and nectacots.  It was a divine way to start the day.  If you've never made a cheese tray, it is best to serve cheeses at room temp to get the full flavor of each. The River Cheddar is creamy and sharp, a little crumbly, and melts seductively on the tongue.  The Very Old Gouda leaves your run of the mill grocery store Gouda in the dust.  It's creamy, pungent, and so far from the bland, plastic stuff in the grocery store, it's hard to imagine they are in the same family. I served myself the wine at room temp, but it is wonderful cold, too, the way you're supposed to serve white.

     Considering I've never done a cheese plate before, I love the flavor combinations, and that's not just the wine talking.  I want to do it again sometime!  What kinds of wine and cheese combinations do you like?  Do you serve fruit with it or crackers?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Good Morning...

     Welcome to my new series featuring my favorite vendors at the Third Place Commons Farmer's Market in Lake Forest Park Washington.  What better way to start off than a lovely breakfast?

     A familiar face at the market has a new name.  Anthem Farm was previously called Five Acre Farm, but has grown so much they had to come up with a new name.  I couldn't be happier for them.  This year they are selling beautiful pasture-raised eggs by the truck load besides all the beautiful produce they bring!  Today, I'm featuring an egg laid by one of their lovely ladies, and some jam I made using their luscious strawberries.

     New to the market this year is Shen Zen Tea.  These guys take tea seriously.  I bought their Masala Chai tea (pictured at top) and it has got to be one of the most wonderful teas I've ever had.  A couple of weeks ago, on one of the hottest days of the year so far, they ingeniously debuted tea soda.  You can tell when you taste it how dedicated they are to their craft. 

     And finally, another new addition this year, R Heritage Farm.   When the Third Place Commons announcement went out about this farm, I looked them up immediately.  What I found nearly made me cry.  I'm not kidding.  I had little happy tears dancing in my eyes for, like, 30 minutes.  I told everybody I knew about this farm, in fact, I may have even stopped some strangers on the street.  They raise pigs, chickens, and turkeys and get this: the animals live outside.  The pigs root around in actual honest to goodness dirt.  The chickens eat bugs.  The turkeys are brown, for Pete's sake!  I had never cooked a heritage breed bird before, and all the meat is in the "wrong" place!  The legs are long and firm, the breast is much smaller, and the back has a lot more usable meat.  I am debating trying to get a Thanksgiving group together this year just so I can make a turkey.  They're taking down payments already!  I can't say enough about this farm.  I really like these two, I like the way they run their farm, and I'm happy to buy their meat.  And I'm a vegetarian, so my husband feasted on a lovely bratwurst this morning! 


I modified Rachel Saunders Children's Strawberry Jam recipe from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook (p. 177) to make my 

Strawberry Rhubarb Cherry Jam with Thyme

3 1/2 pounds hulled large strawberries
2 large rhubarb canes (about 3 oz)
 2 oz pitted cherries
4, 4 inch sprigs thyme
2 pounds 10 oz white cane sugar
3 2/3 oz plus 2 2/3 oz strained freshly squeezed lemon juice

Place a saucer with five metal teaspoons in a flat place in your freezer for testing the jam later.

In an 11 or 12 quart copper preserving pan or a wide nonreactive kettle, combine the fruit, rhubarb, and thyme with the sugar and 3 2/3 oz of the lemon juice.  Place the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula.  After a few minutes, as the juice starts to run and the mixture begins foaming a little around the edges, gradually raise the heat to high, stirring often.

Boil the mixture vigorously for 20-30 minutes, gently scraping the bottom of the pan every minute or two with your spatula to be sure the jam is not sticking.  If it begins to stick, decrease the heat slightly, being sure the jam continues to cook at a rapid boil.  Continue to cook, stirring and scraping frequently until the foam subsides, the mixture acquires a darker, shiner look, and the berries appear softened and saturated with liquid, about 25 minutes total.

At this point, stir in the remaining 2 2/3 oz of lemon juice, continuing to stir frequently.  Fish out the thyme sprigs.  If necessary, lower the heat slightly to prevent scorching.

After 3-5 more minutes, your jam should look shiny and thickened.  At this point, remove from the heat and test for doneness, using a stainless-steel spoon to carefully scrape all the white foam off the top of the mixture while you test.  Do not stir.  To test for doneness, carefully transfer as small representative half-spoonful of jam to one of your frozen spoons.  Replace the spoon in the freezer for 3-4 minutes, then remove and carefully feel the underside of the spoon.  It should be neither warm nor cold;  if still warm, return it to the freezer for a moment.  Tilt the spoon vertically to see how quickly the jam runs; if it runs slowly, and if it has thickened to a gloppy consistency, it is done.  If it runs very quickly or appears watery, cook it for another couple of minutes, stirring, and test again as needed.  This jam, while spreadable, has a relatively loose texture, Pour the jam into sterilized jars and process according to the manufacturer's instructions.  (Ball's book on home preserving says to process jam in a water bath for 10 minutes.)

This jam is a little looser than most jams, but is still pleasantly spreadable.  The rhubarb really shows through and the herbiness of the thyme is my favorite little last minute finish on the palate. 

I hope you enjoy this series as much as I am already.  I love these guys...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Change of Plans...

 All week I have been working on a post about my favorite farmer's market, the Third Place Commons Farmer's Market in Lake Forest Park.  Ya'll know how I feel about it.  It was going to be like my previous braggadocios post, and it turned out really long and sort of annoying.  I realized by the end that I had highlighted exactly 15 vendors.  

You know what happens when a blogger sees a number divisible by 5?  That's right, a week's worth of posts!  I have decided to try to cook my way through next week using only vendors from my market  I will cook, photograph, and post on the same day.  It's salutes the freshness of the season, I think.  Or the insanity of the brain...  I'll highlight three different vendors every day and endeavor to make something beautiful out of it.

Though maybe not as beautiful as a little red-haired girl in fancy red boots playing an alto flute to raise money for a local animal shelter...  I don't think there is anything more beautiful than that.

Monday, July 1, 2013

What to Eat When it's Too Hot to Think...

     Summer came right on schedule here to the Pacific Northwest which really never happens.  It's blasting its way through the entire West coast actually, with record high temps everywhere.  Summer in my house means reviving the ritual fan dance twice a day.  In the morning, the moment the house is one degree cooler than the outside, we turn the fans in all the windows to face out, and in the evening, as soon as it's cooler outside, we flip em' around.  And we turn on our thoroughly ineffective wall-unit air conditioner in the vain hope that throwing money and electricity at the situation will improve it somewhat. The end result is that by dinnertime there's no way in Jose's Purple Jumpsuit that I am going to prepare anything involving heat inside my house.  And that is where this salad comes in...

     Cold cucumbers and wet, juicy watermelon are just the ticket during the hottest days of Summer.  I top them with an herbed yogurt dressing for a lovely side dish or a nice, cool lunch.

Watermelon Cucumber Salad with Herbed Yogurt Dressing
1/2 small seedless watermelon (about the size of a cantaloupe)
1 cucumber
2 Tbs plain yogurt
1 tsp ea. chopped Mint, Thai basil flours, and Dill
Salt, optional

Peel the cucumber and slice it with a mandolin.  Slice the watermelon as thinly as you can and cut off the peel.  Cut into wedges.  Combine the yogurt, herbs, and optional salt and toss into the cucumbers and melons.  Serve immediately.

I listed the salt as optional since a little goes a long way in this.  Some people don't like salt on watermelon, so it's up to you!

The mint, yogurt, cucumber, and dill are cooling, while the slight licorice flavor of the Thai basil adds a soothing note.  The kids thought it was all weird and wanted the cucumber and melon plain (and separate), but the adults loved it and I suspect I will be making this many more times this year.
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