Happy Febrrrrrr-ary to you all! Wow, have we had our share of winter these past few weeks!
I know I am a bit delayed in getting this blog post out from our January market (our February market is only a week away!!) and I attribute it to my recent move. Three weeks of packing and scheduling and moving and unpacking and my brain was just toast! 🙂 I am thrilled to say that I am back in Wakefield and just loving it! I am re-charged and have LOTS of ideas for our upcoming summer market so stay tuned!
Our combined winter market has been such a great opportunity for me to meet so many people and catch up with old friends. It makes me incredibly happy to share the food love with everyone and I give a HUGE thank you to Wendy and Cindy for their efforts in orchestrating the market. And thanks to all of our amazing vendors as well. What a terrific mix of local foods and products we have available to us!
You know I love bringing fresh ideas to you all and I was feeling particularly inspired last month. A walk around the auditorium brought cheeses, carrots, leeks and parsnips, apples and honey, flatbread, pickled beets and a few other sundries back to my table. As always, it is my goal to introduce new flavor combinations and make the prep as quick and easy as possible. I think I succeeded with this one!
I made three dishes: 4-Ingredient Yogurt Dip, Carrot & Parsnip Puree and Toasted Apple & Cheese Sandwiches. All with 5 ingredients or less and the maximum amount of flavor!
So for the recipes….
4-Ingredient Yogurt Dip
1 pt plain yogurt (from The Roasted Granola)
1 container marinated goat cheese (from West River Creamery)
1 container pickled beets (from West River Creamery)
A few handfuls of spinach (from any of the great produce vendors)
This dip is so quick and easy and just pops with flavor! Combine the yogurt and about ½ the container of goat cheese in a bowl and mix them until they are creamy and well-blended. I added about 10 pieces of pickled beets, chopped fine, to the mix. Rinse the spinach well, pat dry and chop into small bits. Add that to the bowl. Stir well to combine and give it a taste. You may want to add more goat cheese or a few more pickled beets, to your liking. It may need a little salt & pepper. This is terrific as a dip with veggies, a spread on bread or toast and would be awesome as a filling for stuffed mushrooms. Get creative and see what you come up with!
Carrot & Parsnip Puree
4-5 medium carrots, washed and scrubbed
1 large parsnip, washed and scrubbed
1 medium leek
Salt & Pepper
Most of our produce vendors had carrots and parsnips. The parsnips from Red Fire Farm were GINORMOUS and I used only one. As I was prepping the veggies, one lady asked if I peeled my carrots & parsnips or not. A great question! I do not. I scrub them well and use them as Mother Nature brought them to me. So many of the nutrients are in the peel! Cut the carrots and parsnips into bite-sized pieces (all of roughly the same size so they would cook evenly) and set aside.
I used about ½ of the leek (1/3 if it is especially large). You can use right up to the light green part of the leek. Just cut off the darker green top and the root end, then slice the leek down the center, horizontally. Since leeks are generally grown in sandy soil, they tend to contain a lot (or sometimes just a bit) of sand. The easiest way to clean them is to lay the cut sides down and slice them into half-moons. Place the sliced leeks into a bowl of cool water and swish the around. Let them hang out in the pool for a bit and then lift them out into a strainer. All the dirt and sand will sink to the bottom of the bowl.
Place the carrots, parsnips and leeks into a pot and with enough water just to cover them. Cover and bring them to a boil, then turn down the heat a bit and cook them until they are very tender (just about 15 minutes or so depending on the size of the pieces). Drain them well and place in a food processor (if you don’t have a food processor, a good old-fashioned hand masher works just as well!). Add a few pats of butter, a good drizzle or two of honey and salt & pepper to taste. Give them a whirl until they are coarsely pureed. Taste for seasoning and readjust as needed.
There were a lot of “yums” for this one! Try it and see what you think. The carrots and parsnips both have a natural sweetness that pairs so well with many things (roasted chicken, fish, pork, beef) and I find the kids really dig this one.
2 firm, sweet-tart apples (Farmer Dave’s had some Gold Rush apples that I used)
Smoked cheddar cheese (from West River Creamery)
Regular or whole wheat flatbread (from Samira’s)
These are super simple and totally yummy – both kids and adults were gobbling them up!
For the apples, Elyse at Farmer Dave’s introduced me to their Gold Rush apples (they look like a golden delicious with a firmer texture to them). She likened them to an Asian Pear and she was pretty right on. They are juicy, just sweet enough and have a crisp, firm texture to them. If you don’t have access to those, really, use your favorite apple. Slice them thinly and set aside while you get the rest of the ingredients ready.
You can either grate/shred the cheese or slice very thinly. I cut the flatbread into quarters and then opened each quarter up (kind of like splitting a pita open). Scatter some of the cheese on the bread, lay the apple slices on top and drizzle with the honey (many of our vendors had local honey with them). Cover with the top of the bread and pop in the toaster oven (or regular oven at 375) for about 7-8 minutes until the bread begins to get crispy and golden and the cheese is melty. A perfect after-school or snowy afternoon snack!
Hope you enjoy these! Do try them out and let me know how you do! I love to hear about kitchen adventures.
Our next market is Sunday, February 15th and I’ll pay homage to Valentine’s Day with some sweet treats and love.
Until then, my friends, eat well and nourish your souls!