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Archive for August, 2011

A Meal of Unexpected Promise

Photos and Article by Elizabeth Miller 

My son does not like going to the farmers market.  No, let me rephrase that.  My son does not like going to the farmers market with me.  I can’t blame him, really.  When I go to the farmers market, I dawdle.  I examine what is offered at each and every stand, and, once I have made my rounds, I double back and revisit each and every stand, silently compiling a meal list in my mind.  But this weekend, in an effort to entice my son to visit the market with me, I promised him it would be different.  I vowed to make this market visit a surgical strike, to know exactly what I wanted to buy, then blaze in, make my preplanned purchases, and get out.

Good Things Are About to Happen

I knew I wanted to do something with zucchini, it being so prevalent this time of the year, and right away I spotted Converging Creeks Farm offering piles of the abundant vegetable.  Eggs were purchased from the happy ladies at Jacobs Creamery, when, just a few feet away, I noticed that the Sun Gold Farms stand had fresh apples.  Apples!  The first of the season!  I had to buy some.  No matter if they weren’t on my list, I’d find something to do with them.  On my way to the register, I gazed upon a basket of huge summer leeks, their aromatic stalks practically begging to come home with me.  I gave in.  Now there were two items in my grocery bag that I hadn’t intended to buy.  Vowing not to let two impulse purchases throw me off my game, I moved along towards the middle of the hub.
Then, at La Terra Vita’s stand, I spotted what seemed like a long lost wish.  Poona Kheera cucumbers, a vegetable I once grew in my garden long, long ago, and have been unable to successfully grow since, were sitting companionably in a basket, their brown skins smooth and earthy.  Before I knew it, I had bought two, and I was in the midst of discussing with the purveyor of the cucumbers my undying love for them, and my difficulty in finding and growing them.  My poor son, his body growing loose with boredom, stood silently beside me.
I broke free, suddenly realizing I now had to craft a meal plan that would make amends for the many purchases not seen on my list.  Additionally, I would also have to make amends with my son.  Being a person who is well practiced in the ancient skill of bribery, it was clear to me that my amends would have to include dessert.
The weather hot and lovely, I set my sights on a simple, summery meal.  Light pancakes of leek and shredded zucchini, topped with a perfectly poached egg, made for a summery meal that was perfect for eating in the garden.  With a handful of fresh mint from our garden, the crisp cucumbers and ever-so-slightly tart apples were transformed into a bracingly fresh sorbet, a treat that serves equally well as both an after-meal dessert or a between course palette reviver.  Scooped into tiny bowls or blended into a smooth slush with a bit of unsweetened apple cider, it is also highly effective as a mea culpa to a small child who may not yet appreciate the farmers market itself, but certainly appreciates all that it brings to his table.

Little White Sorbet

Leek and Zucchini Pancakes with Poached Eggs
I large leek, sliced in half lengthwise, rinsed of dirt, then sliced into thin half moons
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 cups shredded zucchini (about two medium to large zucchini)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ teaspoon finely grated or chopped lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup olive oil, for cooking pancakes
4 large poached eggs
In a medium pan, melt butter over medium low heat.  Add leeks, along with a pinch of salt, and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove leeks to a large bowl.
Add grated zucchini to sautéed leeks.  Stir to combine, then add eggs, flour, baking powder, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.  Mix thoroughly to combine.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.  Scoop 1/3 cup of zucchini mixture into the hot oil, and flatten the mixture into a thin circle.  Cook 2 pancakes at a time.  Cook pancakes for 3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and slightly crisp.  In between each batch of pancakes, add 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet and allow oil to heat up before adding batter.
Serve pancakes topped with poached eggs and freshly ground pepper.
Serves 4
Cucumber, Apple, and Mint Sorbet
1 ¼ cups water, divided
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, crushed slightly in your hands to bruise the leaves and release their oils
2 cups peeled, cored, chopped apple
2 medium cucumbers, peeled and chopped, seeds removed
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
In a small saucepan set over medium heat, combine 1 cup of water with sugar.  Stir to dissolve sugar, add mint leaves, and allow mixture to come to a light simmer.  Immediately remove from heat and set aside to cool.
In a small saucepan set over medium high heat, combine chopped apples and ¼ cup water.  Allow apples and water to come to a simmer, then cover, turn heat to low, and cook at a low simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
When sugar water has cooled, remove half of the mint leaves.  In a blender or in the bowl of a food processor, combine sugar water, cooled apples, cucumber, and squeeze of lemon. Blend or process until smooth, about 40-60 seconds, scraping down the sides of the blender or bowl as needed.  Strain mixture through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large bowl.
Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker, following manufacturer’s instructions.
Direct from the ice cream maker, this sorbet has a wonderfully soft and slushy consistency.  Left in the freezer for a while, the sorbet hardens quite a bit, so before you plan on scooping it out, allow it to soften by leaving it out at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.

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Mastering the Market

Drew Carney kicks off the friendly competition

It was a battle royale.  This past Monday at the Pioneer Courthouse Square Market, Anthony Cafiero from Tabla, Cathy Whims from Nostrana and Jason French from Ned Ludd went toque to toque, vying for the Master of the Market crown during the COUNTRY Chef Challenge.

The chefs had thirty minutes to shop the market for fresh, local ingredients, then another thirty minutes to prepare a market-inspired dish.

Cafiero working the crowd

Anthony Cafiero, who stayed true to his Mediterranean roots, loaded up his market basket with late summer faves like corn, zucchini and sweet sun gold tomatoes, and turned out a savory buckwheat crepe filled with smoked cheese, resting on a pool of vibrant corn puree and a colorful sautée of vegetables studded with spicy chorizo.

Anthony's Delish Dish

French stays cool under pressure

Jason French, who was also inspired by the embarrassment of riches available at the market, created a dynamic salad and bruschetta duo.  The salad starred lemon cucumbers, peaches, tomatoes and dill and was flanked by a market bruschetta topped with farmstead cheese and showered with a medley of slivered romano beans, baby eggplant and everyone’s favorite bite-sized Spanish pepper, the Padrón.

Jason's Beautiful Bruschetta

Pasta in 30 mins? Sure, if you're Cathy Whims.

Queen of Italian cuisine, Cathy Whims, somehow managed to rock out amazing strands of gossamer thin fettuccine in her thirty minutes on stage, tossing it with sautéed baby zucchini, slivers of salami, fresh squash blossoms and farm-fresh egg yolks, all dusted with generous shavings of market cheese for a silky, seasonal take on pasta carbonara.

Cathy's Pasta Perfection

Judging had its perks

With all this culinary magic happening, it wasn’t easy to be a judge, but Inessa from KINK.fm, David McIntyre from The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Portland and Danielle Centoni from MIX Magazine were up for the challenge.

After tasting and judging each dish on a variety of criteria including creativity, taste and adaptability to the home cook, a winner emerged.

Cheers to Jason and his tiny fan club!

Congratulations, Jason!  Thank you to all three chefs, who are not only superstars in the kitchen but in our eyes as well. Each of them has serious FOM (Friend of the Market) status and all are committed to supporting local farmers and using fresh, local, seasonal ingredients in their restaurants. Bravo!

A special thank you goes out to our celebrity judges and emcee Drew Carney of KGW, who not only kept the crowd on the edge of their seats, but also taught us that the average strawberry contains 200 seeds.

For more photos and copies of the recipes, visit www.countrychefchallenge.com.

Thanks for the memories!

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A Partial List of Market Items

Everything is in season right now, but here is a partial list of things you’ll find at our markets this week: Lettuces, Lettuci, Lettuceses? How about leafy green things like romaine, arugula, spinach, Bibb and red leaf. Green salad too boring? Tomatoes, blue cheese, red onions, mushrooms can all top the salad. Salad without lettuce more of your speed – cucumbers both lemon and english just add red onions and mint toss with feta, salt and pepper.

Market Cukes

And speaking of peppers – bell peppers of every color and Padron peppers. Eggplant or just plain eggs. And speaking of eggs there is bacon, traditional or English style rashers. Lamb, lamb sausage, pork sausage and beef hot dogs all make for easy grilling and grilling is easy to do in this weather.

There are peaches, berries, watermelon, cantaloupe and maybe nectarines and apples to go with the last of summer’s cherries.

Onions, potatoes, garlic if you for whatever reason in the mood for something a little more autumnal.

Green beans, mushrooms, zucchini, summer squash, corn, the aforementioned tomatoes will go well with any or all of those veg.

Bakery fresh bread.

Pretty pretty flowers.

Brassicas – cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, romanesco – the broccoli/cauliflower that looks vaguely like Ankgor Wat  in a vegetabley type of way, turnips, raab and mustard greens.

Blue cheese, wine, hazelnuts and Two Tarts shortbread all of which would make killer appetizers if you are having company, or if you are completely unlike me and just make little snack plates and pour wine for yourself.

Go shop the Market, enjoy the summer while it’s still here.

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Put a Peach on it!

Iron Chef, Chopped, the one where Gordon Ramsay swears at people and occasionally ingredients – these competition/cooking shows are now the mainstay of basic cable.  But I’ve been a fan since a friend brought back 3 hours of the original, undubbed Iron Chef on a VHS tape (For the younger readers that is like a DVR but with extra plastic). Popping that tape into the player, I didn’t understand exactly what I was watching but it was exciting, suspenseful and I was hooked. I’m glad I don’t have cable anymore because I will watch any and all of these shows hypnotically.

Portland Farmers Market and our friends at Country Financial are staging our own Portlandia version of a cook-off: Meaning it will be a politer version of what you see on tv and with better ingredients. Anthony Cafiero from my brother’s favorite restaurant, Tabla will be competing against Jason French of Ned Ludd (who possibly ironically has a webstie), will simultaneously be without his wood fired oven and then has to compete against Anthony and Cathy Whims of Nostrana.

The Country Chef Challenge begins at 11:30 Monday, August 22, at our Pioneer Courthouse Square Market. KGW’s Drew Carney is handling the MC duties, Drew is definitely more Alton Brown than the aforementioned Ramsay but this fits in well with the laid back Portlandia aspect of the Challenge. Danielle Centoni of Mix Magazine, KINK’s Inessa and just to prove this isn’t your everyday panel – the Vice-Chair of the Portland Multnomah Food Policy Council, David McIntyre will judge. They say you can’t account for taste, but these 3 will try.

Market sponsor and Friend of the Market Country Financial has put together the event; having produced similar (annually; 5 and counting) cook-offs in Chicago. An extra bonus for us, our friend Carrie Corson of Country Financial, who was instrumental in making this happen, will be in town for the event. We usually work with Carrie via phone and email – it’s always nice to put in facetime with people. Carrie, who gets to enjoy both the Market and the glory that is Oregon in summer. I grew up a few hours north of where Carrie now lives, so I understand when she says, “Coming from the flatland of central Illinois, it’s not everyday you get to see such marvels of nature.” I’m not sure how much pull she has with the ingredients, but Carrie tells us, “I’m a fan of both peaches and melons, so it’d be fun to see the chefs incorporate them into their dishes. I’m also excited to see them use something I’ve never tried before!”

Come join us Monday at Pioneer Square. Good food, prizes (including a $100 gift card), canvas Market bags, fun, Drew Carney’s energy and a chance to see how some of the best culinary minds in Portland deal with Market fresh, seasonal ingredients and stress.

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Green Day

Green Beans have a messaging issue: For openers green beans aren’t always green. Sure they go by other names,

Beans of Many Colors

but alternate names have their own identity problems: with string beans, certain heirlooms aside, the string was bred out of them at the turn of last century; runner beans aren’t exactly ambulatory; snap beans occasionally go limp; Wax beans = no wax; French bean is an Anglicization of beans introduced to England from France (even though haricot is probably etymologically German) and just to add to the geographic confusion – string beans, runner beans, green beans etc, actually hail from an area that stretches from the Andes to Central America and weren’t known in Europe by any name well into the 16th Century.

Then sometimes beans are Italian even when they are grown locally. Italian beans, also known as Romano beans are like other green beans in that they aren’t always green, but they are always rectangular and flat – owning a deserved reputation for being more chewy and flavorful. They appear for a short time in the summer and like most green beans they don’t like the cold. They can be refrigerated with okay results, but for tender beans, it is best they go from plant to pot as quickly as possible. Romanos can be cooked quickly, but they are also a veg that is very forgiving to the forgetful. Leave them in the fridge for a week? Eh. Forget they were simmering on the stove? They turn from chewy to silken. Like a soup you can eat with a fork.

For those of you that follow the dictate of fresh, local and seasonal you’ll feel there is something fundamentally wrong with what I am instructing you to do. Your doubt will double, possibly triple when the beans change from bright green to drab olive. It’s the flavor and texture you’re after not the color. Serve hot or cold – leftovers are good as a salad or add to cooked penne for a pasta dish.

The Eternal Bean

Silken Romano Beans 

¼ cup olive oil

2-3 oz. hard salami, sliced into small Julienne – I wholly endorse Olympic Provisions’ Chorizo Rioja*

2-3 cloves garlic, smashed flat with knife, ‘paper’ removed.

1 lb Roman green beans, trimmed at stem end, cut into 2 inch pieces

¾ cup room temperature water

Salt & Pepper

*For the meat free option, substitute one big tomato – Instead of salami, add to the olive oil.

Low heat, this will all be done on low heat. Turning the heat up doesn’t make anything cook quicker, it only changes the end result – we are going for texture and flavor, be patient.

Heat oil and add salami, cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and beans, stir together for a minute before adding water and a healthy pinch of salt. This will eventually come to a simmer, stir every 10-15 minutes. After 45 minutes, taste, adjust seasoning. Depending on all the cooking variables – size of pan, temperature of ingredients, gas or electric, size of the burner – it is entirely possible the beans will need another 15 to 30 minutes. Stop cooking when the ingredients taste smooth and silky, like a Michael Bolton song ‡.

‡ Just seeing if you were still reading; nothing is as smooth and silky as a Michael Bolton song – cook until you are happy with the texture.

Just Add Water

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Something About a Grill

Article & Pictures by Elizabeth Miller

I will grill anything.  Breads, cobblers, whole chickens—you name it, I’ll grill it.  With the heat of summer finally making a much anticipated appearance, it seems only fitting that my most recent trip to the farmers market was made with a fervent plan to grill whatever I ended up taking home that day.

Shut the Kitchen Door

Grilling can really bring out the best aspects of any food, and vegetables and fruit, though not generally not thought of as being the stars of the grill, are no exception.  As luck would have it, two of my favorite items to grill—peaches and corn—were available at the first market stands to catch my eye at the Thursday Buckman Market.  Gathering Together Farm, always a surefire winner, supplied me with beautifully taut and sweet ears of corn.  Fortuitously placed right next to the corn was a basket of gorgeous, plump heirloom tomatoes (and I do mean plump—the impeccable specimen I took home with me weighed in at exactly 20 ounces), which sparked a dinner plan when laid down beside a pile of vividly aromatic basil.

Once I tasted a sample of the ripe and beautiful fruit available from Baird Family Orchards, it was impossible for me to leave the stand empty-handed, especially when my mind kept wandering off with thoughts of the peaches and basil mingling together.  It seems as though not enough people are aware of this, but basil and peaches make for an undeniably delicious combination.  Were I to surmise why, my first instinct would point to the inherently minty attributes of basil, and how, combined with sweet, juicy peaches, that mintiness is allowed to really showcase the delicate perfume-like qualities of its partner. Though it might seem overly quaint of me, using a common herb to tie together a grilled meal and dessert plan seemed like the perfect way to really make my grilling plans sing.

And sing they did, the grilled corn made savory and tangy in a decidedly crunchy and summery salad, and the grilled peaches taken to new heights of caramelized glory when drizzled with a lightly sweet basil sauce.  If you’re looking for a way to usher in the spoils of summer, I can think of nothing more appealing.

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Tomato, Basil, and Grilled Corn Salad

3 ears corn, husked and cleaned of any fibers

1 teaspoon unsalted butter, softened

1 lb ripe tomatoes

1 cup firmly packed fresh basil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Heat your grill (gas or charcoal will both work just fine) to a medium high heat of about 400 degrees.  Lightly coat each ear of corn with softened butter.  Placing corn directly on the grill grates, grill corn for 4-6 minutes, turning every minute or so, until kernels have started to char and you can hear the corn popping and snapping in the heat.  Remove corn from grill and set aside to cool.  When corn has cooled, hold each ear on end on top of a flat surface.  Using a large, sharp knife, slice kernels of corn off of the ear, slicing from top to bottom.

Slice tomatoes into large ribs.  Stack the basil leaves on top of one another, roll tightly, then slice the roll of basil into fine ribbons.  Place corn and tomatoes on a large platter, and sprinkle with ribbons of basil.

In a small bowl, combine vinegars and salt and pepper.  Slowly pour the olive oil into the vinegar mixture, whisking as you pour.  When the ingredients have become thick and emulsified, drizzle the dressing over the salad.

Baird Peaches, Post Grill

Grilled Peaches with Basil Sauce

¼ cup sugar

½ cup water

¾ cup firmly packed basil leaves

2 large ripe peaches, sliced in half and pits removed

vegetable oil

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water and allow to come to a simmer over medium high heat, stirring frequently until the sugar has dissolved.  When the mixture just begins to simmer remove it from heat, pour into a separate bowl, and place in the refrigerator to cool.

Heat your grill on high heat.  Thoroughly oil the grill grates.  Lightly brush the cut side of each peach with a small amount of oil.  Place the peaches, cut side down, directly onto the grill grates.  Grill peaches for 2 minutes, then turn over and grill for another 2 minutes until slightly soft.  If your peaches are incredibly ripe, they may not need to be grilled for the entire 4 minutes.  Alternately, if your peaches are underripe, they may need to be grilled a bit longer.  Remove peaches from grill and set aside to cool.

Remove cooled simple syrup from refrigerator.  Combine simple syrup and basil leaves in a blender, and blend for 30 seconds, or until a thick sauce has formed.  The sauce should have texture, but it should not be lumpy.  Continue to blend until no large chunks remain.

 

Slice each peach half into 3 or 4 slices.  Arrange on a platter, then drizzle with half of the basil sauce.   Serve with a small bowl of additional basil sauce on the side.

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Chocolate Zucchini Mud Cake

Hilda Jorgensen is a fan of Farmers Markets. And the author of ‘Triumph of the Lentil: Soy-Free Vegan Wholefoods for all Appetites’. She was kind enough to share this recipe with our blog and let us know this is “a great way to use up all those zucchinis”. I’m a bit of a zuccaphobe, so I am going to take her word for it. If you don’t garden, you can find zucchini at our Markets. You can find out more about Hilda and her book right here

Shhh, Don't tell anyone it's zucchini

Don’t be fooled by the zucchini in the title, this is actually a decadent tasting mud cake.  Made in a bundt pan it is thin and crispy on the outside, and moist and dense on the inside, so much that it doesn’t need any icing or accompaniments, but to make it a bit fancier-looking you could drizzle it with melted vegan chocolate or icing.  This mixture also makes delicious muffins, making 24 medium sized ones.

Kitchen time 10-15 minutes
Baking time 60 minutes

Ingredients
2 cups flour (barley, wholemeal spelt, wholewheat pastry or gluten-free)
1 3/4 cups raw sugar or rapadura
3/4 cup cocoa
3/4 cup chickpea flour (besan)
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
3/4 cup oil (olive, sunflower or melted coconut) or apple purée
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 – 2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method
Preheat the oven to 375f.

Grease and flour a large bundt pan, or some muffin tins.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, chickpea flour, bicarb soda, baking powder and salt.  Break up any lumps and mix until evenly combined.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine the oil, water, zucchini and vanilla.  Add this to the dry ingredients, stirring until no traces of flour remain.

Pour into the bundt tin and bake for around an hour, until the top is firm and the knife comes out with a couple of moist crumbs (not batter!) when put through the middle of it, around 60 minutes.  Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the outside and invert onto a plate.  Leave the bundt tin on top while it cools.  Best served after it has cooled down.

For 24 muffins: bake for 20-25 minutes.

Hilda Jorgensen is an organic gardener and the author of ‘Triumph of the Lentil: Soy-Free Vegan Wholefoods for all Appetites”

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