Oh what a day for our last Saturday market of the season! The weather was perfect, our vendors outdid themselves with the most fantastic products, and we had a terrific turn-out. Lots of friends, old and new, stopped by the cooking tent to say hello and goodbye (sniffle) for the season. I had a great time and hope everyone who came out did too.
As I mentioned in a recent FB post, I am so blessed to be a part of this wonderful market. I love spending Saturday mornings with all of you, sharing ideas and food love. It has been a privilege to get to know you over the past few years. What a joy to do what I love in a community that is vibrant, growing and supportive. I am thrilled that we are sharing a winter market with Melrose this year and am looking forward to continuing to evolve and build our cooking demos and food education program. And you know, I just love an audience! (lol)
There was a cornucopia of goodness on Saturday and I have to give another shout out to Jim at Pour Man’s Coffee for his AMAZING baked goods. He really took it to the next level this weekend with his Maple-Bacon-Bourbon Oatmeal Cookies. I mean, COME ON!! This girl was in boozy, piggie, maple-y heaven! I noodled around in the kitchen today and came up with a gluten free version that I think he would be proud of!
It is so exciting to me to show up at the market on Saturday morning with no idea what I am going to make for the day and then go find inspiration at our vendors. This Saturday there were so many marvelous products that I had a hard time narrowing things down! While cruising by Farmer Dave’s, I saw huge heads of Romanesco (or as Wendy calls it “martian broccoli”) and asked Jillian if they had lots of it (they did) so I thought we could introduce people to something new and move some produce. I picked up onions, leeks and peppers while I was there. Dish #1 was set, on to dish #2. A stop and sample at VT Gourmet and I took away a jar of their Apple-Horseradish sauce. On to Flats for a few bouquets of their GORGEOUS broccoli rabe and then a swing by Bondat for a jar of “Cluck Yeah” seasoning. A final drive-by at our surprise guest, DD’s Dressing and I was ready to roll. And all of that before 9:30 am!
Romanesco! A funny, cone-shaped, tree-like vegetable somewhere between cauliflower and broccoli in taste and texture. It is so cool-looking and I had lots of people asking about it while I was cooking. I love that when I offered samples (raw) just about everyone, including the kids, readily reached for a taste. You can cook it in so many ways, just like you would broccoli or cauliflower. On Saturday I decided to roast it up with some leeks and peppers. I peeled off the outer leaves and then broke off the little “trees”, cutting the larger pieces in half. I tossed those in a bowl with some sliced leeks**(see note at the bottom for tips on working with leeks), diced bell pepper (I used orange, you could use red or yellow if you like) and a few good drizzles of DD’s dressing. I sprinkled two or three big pinches of “Cluck Yeah” on it, tossed it around then poured it onto a baking sheet. Roast it on high heat (oven) – about 425 degrees – for 15-20 minutes. It should be nice and caramelized (golden to deep brown) with a bit of “toothiness” left in it. This is a terrific side dish for chicken, fish, steak, pork chops – you name it.
When I started on the broccoli rabe dish, I had some “are you sure about that?” looks – and I don’t blame anyone 🙂 I like to stretch the envelope where flavor combinations are concerned. I am always inspired and never afraid to try pairings that sound like they have no business being together. One lady at the tent said to me “You never get these things wrong, do you?” Well, yes, there have been some “Well, that didn’t work out so well” instances and it’s a good thing. I take what worked, adjust, re-vamp and try it again. Mostly though, they work out. Maybe it’s because I will them too (ha ha). My message to you is be fearless in creating! Step outside the box and try thing that may not immediately make sense. See what happens!
Broccoli Rabe. A favorite in many Italian households and usually a bit on the bitter side. The rabe from Flats was tender and just slightly pungent. Look for younger, lighter green leaves without the buds if you like your broccoli rabe less bitter. I rinsed the rabe and left some of the water clinging to the leaves and set it aside. I sliced an onion and a red bell pepper (again, feel free to use any color you like) and heated a large skillet (medium heat). I forgot my olive oil and in a conversation with Wendy about which of our vendors might have some, she came up with the GENIUS idea to ask Jane at West River Creamery for some of the olive oil from her marinated cheese. BRILLIANT! So, if you have some of that – use it, if not, swirl some olive oil in your pan. I let the oil heat up and then slid the onions and peppers in (be careful the oil doesn’t spatter). I stirred them and let the onions caramelize a bit, seasoned with salt and pepper and then added the broccoli rabe (twist the bottom 1/3 of the stems off). I cooked it until it just started to wilt and then added 2-3 teaspoons of the Apple-Horseradish sauce. Gave it another minute or two more, stirring to blend the flavors and that was it! Lots of happy faces and yummy noises when I handed out samples!
**a note about leeks: they grow in sandy soil and generally have sand or dirt trapped between their layers. The best way to clean them is to slice them first in half lengthwise, place the halves cut side down on a cutting board then slice them into half-moons. Place them in a bowl, fill the bowl with water and then swish the leek slices around. Let them swim for about 5 minutes or so then lift them out into a mesh strainer (the dirt will sink to the bottom of the bowl). If you are leaving them in larger pieces (halves), hold them under running water and gently fan out the layers to wash the sand away.
OK! I ran long today 🙂 I hope you try these recipes at home and get excited about making delicious meals and dishes for you and your family.
Thank you all for coming to see me on Saturday mornings. Cooking with you is a joy and I am blessed to be able to bring what I love to you. It was sad to say goodbye this weekend, but I am looking forward to seeing you all again throughout the winter! I plan to be at all of our upcoming winter markets cooking away next to the kids from Pour Man’s Coffee, so make sure to mark the dates on your calendars and come see us!
Until then – I send you all the best wishes and heartfelt thanks.
Eat well and nourish your soul!