Plan to Plate has relocated! The new blog site is http://plantoplate.com/blog/ .
Please visit me there!! My new site is much easier for you to navigate and search. Yeehaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!
Plan to Plate has relocated! The new blog site is http://plantoplate.com/blog/ .
Please visit me there!! My new site is much easier for you to navigate and search. Yeehaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!
This past weekend kicked off November 2011- also known as Fun Times USA in my book. This month is already filled with invitations to pig roasts, birthday parties, girls’ brunches, grand openings, bon fires, small gatherings, and other opportunities for good old fashioned FUN! I am stoked!
The first weekend of Fun Times USA set the bar pretty darn high with the ninth annual Chomp & Stomp, which took place in Cabbagetown Park, Atlanta. The well-attended festival included a 5K run, bluegrass music all day long, and a chili cook-off. And I must say, there could not have been a bluer sky
nor a more perfect day for the event. Somehow, Adam and I missed the first eight Chomp and Stomp partays, and we committed to rectifying that situation this year. Our friend Robbie needed extra hands to help sling his Kraken Chili,
and we were excited about becoming part of the action.
Miraculously, we found parking fairly close to the event, and walked on into the glory of a fall festival in Atlanta. We could hear the bluegrass from blocks away, and we knew we were in for some serious fun.
Right off the bat, we spotted folks playing Cornhole,a sure sign of a good time.
A SweetWater Brewing Company truck was the first in a long line of local vendors offering their goods to the crowd.
The festival planners had their priorities straight- ice cold beer is necessary to wash down all that chili!
The grounds were already packed by about 11:30, and the vibe was one of laid back happiness and anticipation. We navigated our way down the row and noticed the Mercantile was represented.
I love that place- a great little neighborhood market with all kinds of homemade meals, sandwiches, and delicious chicken salad.
Publik,next door neighbor to the Fabulous Fox Theatre
and a relative of Baraonda restaurant, had a table too. We’ve never eaten there but may need to check it out next time we’re heading to the theatre.
One of my absolute favorite eateries in town, Home Grown,
was kindly offering vegetarian Sloppy Joe’s to the handful of meat-free eaters present at this mostly carnivorous event.
And then I knew it was a bona fide festival when I spotted this sign.
Because, how could anyone throw a festival without funnel cakes and hand dipped corn dogs?!?!?! Impossible! The smell was intoxicating, as I’m sure you can imagine.
I turned to my right and realized that I was in THE hip spot, because King of Pops was selling their yumalicious pops
to a long line of people that did not dwindle all day long.
At this point, we crossed over into “The Amateur Zone”, the area where everyday folks were eager to share their chili-tastic concoctions with the community. I truly appreciated the creativity that dominated this section. As we walked through, we could really feel the calm before the storm…
They were wearing lab coats!
Korean BBQ Chili and Garam Masala Chili. Very cool.
Ah, I’ve been wondering who controls the Universe. Now I know.
Yay! That’s our friend, Robbie, tweaking his Boot Strap Chili! We had reached our destination. (And never made it over to the “Restaurant Chili Section”, but I’m not mad about that at all.)
Kraken Chili- home of the Doom Bringer- apparently bringing the doom = bringing the boom. But that is neither here nor there. Time to roll up the sleeves and get ready for the judges.
Of course, I started organizing the table right away. To my surprise, a couple of Robbie’s buddies were also serving chili under the Kraken tent. Four chilis under one tent! Woot! I set out cups, laid out our four pans so we could coordinate spacing for service, and spread out the Kraken Chili buttons that Robbie had pressed by hand for the masses to take away. I also made sure that the cow bells were strategically placed around our table- to provide easy access to cow bell ringing!
In just a few anxious moments, a couple of fellas arrived to let us know it was time to package up each chili, fasten a ticket to the bottom of each cup, and walk them down to the judges- who were waiting (hopefully with stomachs made of steel) at the community center in Cabbagetown. I helped Robbie wipe chili off the sides of his cup, trying to make it look as inviting as a styrofoam cup of chili can possibly appear, and he and his cohorts headed to judgement.
While they were gone, the crowds just became thicker,
and lines started forming in front of our table. And suddenly, it was time!!! Someone opened the flood gates, and we started serving chili, and ringing cowbells, and hootin’ and hollerin’. So much fun!!!!!!
There was Holy Mole’ chili.
The Green Pig-
that’s the one I was serving!
The Triple Threat-
which Miles kept asserting was the best of the four.
And the Boot Strap Chili- with bacon!
Honestly, all were delicious pots of goodness.
For the next 40 minutes, we filled tiny little cups with meat, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and love. 40 minutes to pour 40 gallons of chili. I am not kidding.
Our systems for refilling pans and keeping the excitement going seemed to fall into place very early in our serving game. There must have been eight or ten folks, plus two children, behind the table making things happen. And we were loud and rowdy! Even Brock- who must be about 2 years old, was ringing a cow bell and smiling his little face off.
And when that chili was gone, it was just gone. There was sort of a lull,
clean up time, and a handful of sad folks carrying spoons who came too late to even taste any chili. But then I noticed some action going down at the next table.
I suppose that once the chili slinging was over, our friends next door started offering habanero peppers to anyone crazy enough to eat them. This guy ate two or three of them, and I am certain that he did not feel well by the end of the afternoon.
It was time to move along. The leader of our pack felt content with our showing, especially considering it was only the second time he had ever entered his chili in any sort of contest. We said our good-byes to Robbie and friends and headed on down to enjoy some more of the blue grass in the sunshine. We passed some roof-sitters along the way.
They had a great view of the action! Wonder if we can work that out for next year.
On our way back to the stage, I stopped to chat with Sarah from The Little Tart, one of our favorite vendors from the Grant Park Market. She was selling her beautiful pastries
as well as caramel apples!
I’m kicking myself for not grabbing one of those.
As the afternoon wore on, we ran into a great many friends, and met some new ones, saw a little girl walking a tight rope,
and basked in the glory of the High Strung String Band picking away in the sun.
And to cap off this fabulous day of fun, the announcers began to name the winners of the Chili Cook Off. I could not believe my ears when I heard Kraken Chili Company!!! We won The Spirit Award!!!
And Robbie gets to keep this great little gnome
as a token of his hard work and a memory of the good times we had at the 2011 Chomp and Stomp.
Adam and I may have been first-timers this year, but you can bet your sweet bippies that we’ll back next year for more Chomp and Stomp fun!
Today may just be the most beautiful day in America! The sun is shining and there’s a slight breeze blowing, making the leaves sparkle like sequins in the trees. I am thankful for a day to catch up on my writing and reflect on all of the festivities that have been going on around here. I want to start with some highlights from the Halloween Market, take you through our first ever Chomp and Stomp Chili Cook Off, share photos from the most recent Grant Park extravaganza, and wind down with a simply delicious Greek inspired salad full of local goodness. One step at a time…
The leaves have been changing and falling like it’s their job or something,
blanketing the streets and sidewalks in a tapestry of color. And Grant Park’s Halloween Market was full of fall excitement.
I saw a giant Jack-o-Lantern walking by
holding a smaller version of himself. And there were kids decorating pumpkins in their own special ways.
Even the vendors were embracing the holiday spirit.
H & F was being run by Snow White, the Evil Queen and one little dwarf. The breads seemed untouched by the Halloween mischief, however.
Their table was brimming over with carb-tastic delicacies, including these beautiful cinnamon twists,
which smelled amazing! We felt compelled to take home two of these mini-baguettes,
reminiscent of traditional hoagie rolls from home. They were so crunchy on the outside, and light and airy on the inside…as if the water from New Jersey had been funneled all the way down to Georgia to make the ultimate bread for a sandwich. The kind that cradles the meat and cheese, rather than pressing the insides of your sandwich out while you desperately try to hold it all together. What a treat!
Mary, from Decimal Pace Farms looked warm and toasty
in her ensemble from another time.
I also spotted some costumed hula hoopers-
sporting roller blades!! That is a feat!
Mountain Earth Farm’s table, run by a jovial older gentleman, was overflowing with all kinds of fresh produce.
You know I had to purchase some of these gorgeous tomatoes!
We also took some of these delicious sweet onions.
Their cucumbers and green beans looked beautiful too.
We stopped by the Oakleaf Mennonite Farm table and grabbed some of these great-lookin’ peppers
to incorporate into our meals throughout the week.
Next up, the Hoopin’ Farmers were actually both in their booth at the same time- neither hula hooping-a rarity.
And as we walked up, Scooby spotted his brother, Scooby- along with the whole crew- Shaggy, Velma, and the lot. Our Scoobed-up farmer went running over to greet his people, and there was a very animated exchange of hugs and salutations, as if they hadn’t seen each other since the early 80s. So funny.
But seriously, the Hooping Farmers offered a vast array of freshly grown gems.
Root veggies galore-
complete with a yellow fall souvenir. Jerusalem artichokes,
also known as sunchokes, look like ginger root, but taste more like creamy potatoes.
Speaking of…they also had loads of sweet potatoes,
radishes, turnips of multiple colors and shapes,
Often called “white radish”, daikon typically looks like a long white carrot. This smaller variety has a much more spicy flavor and can be used in soups, for pickling, or straight up in stir fries or roasted with other root veggies. For some radish ideas and more radish love,
check out this blog from Love is Love Farm.
There are still plenty of green onions to go around,
and you should really try them while the gettin’ is good!
The flower arrangements always makes smile-
as did the news that Ned, one of the Hooping Farmers, will continue to grow vegetables throughout the winter, utilizing greenhouses. His goodies will be available at Home Grown on Memorial Drive in Atlanta, most likely on Saturday mornings, but nothing is set in stone yet. Not that I NEED another excuse to go to Home Grown…their fried chicken and biscuits with eggs is unbelievably delicious and has converted more than one Notherner to the down-home side of breakfast.
We stopped by to see Nazifa, and to purchase more of her special nan bread.
My clients are raving about the pizza recipes I planned for them utilizing nan as the canvas- claiming they will never go out for pizza again. Woah. That’s serious. We chose Nazifa’s spinach spirals for our brunchy bite this week.
Um- so incredibly excellent! Spinach, cottage cheese, and eggs married together in a portable party for your mouth. Moist, savory, scrumptious.
Other highlights of the Halloween Market include The Little Tart’s picture perfect brown sugar almond cake,
and The Spotted Trotter’s cooler full of meaty treasures.
I’m pretty sure we’re quickly becoming their best customers. We bought a package of hot dogs- um, not your average dog even in the slightest- and a pack of their new chicken chorizo, which we have yet to try. And just for kicks, Kevin threw in a package of their Spiced Lamb and Pork Sausage Crepinettes. I will brag all about them later, don’t you worry.
Patchwork City Farm delighted my visual sense with baskets of rainbow colored tomatoes.
And this collection of baby tomatoes.
For some reason, I would like to swim in there. That’s not normal is it?
The smiley pasta guy had Halloween Ravioli,
but I hadn’t saved enough of my pennies to take any home. He assured me there will be another batch available on November 13th. I am intrigued!
Turtle Bend’s awesome spread of naturally grown vegetables included perfect collard greens,
which my clients have been enjoying in salads, soups, and pasta dishes-
long Shunkyo radishes,
and one of my fall faves, lacinato kale.
Right next door, I finally visited the gentleman who makes boiled peanuts.
I was totally sucked in by this pumpkin! Doesn’t look like it’s covered in peanuts? So cool! His boiled peanuts are actually quite delicious- which is really saying something for me. Boiled peanuts are one of those Southern traditions that I just haven’t been able to embrace…the slime factor gets me every time. But these particular nuts are not so slimy, and the salt level was just right. I am open to change. It’s happening every day.
At the end of the line, just past these handmade soaps,
was the Crack in the Sidewalk Farmlet. Isa collected these unbelievable mushrooms
and also had a basket full of pretty purple eggplant.
And that, my friends, ended our time at the Halloween Weekend Market at Grant Park. We hauled our huge bags back to the car and marveled at our good fortune when we unloaded our bounty in the kitchen.
Oh, Turtle Bend, you never cease to amaze me. That bibb lettuce is so tender and wonderful. The kohlrabi and turnips greens were braised to perfection and those sweet potatoes are unreal. Lucky us!!!!!!!!!!
The rest of our loot was not too shabby either.
Celebrating the seasons with locally grown fruits and vegetables and artfully crafted breads has become the second love of my life- second only to Adam Price, of course. From the perusing of the market, to the creating of menus and recipes for dinner, to the transformation of raw ingredients into symphonies of flavor, I am completely smitten. I am going to soak up every last minute of the local market while it lasts- and there are only a few short weeks left. So, if you haven’t been taking advantage of what is literally at your fingertips, you have a couple chances left. Don’t miss out!!!
More tales to share ahead…
Happy cooking and eating to you,
It’s raining yellow leaves in my yard as I type and the little birds are flitting about chirping like maniacs. Such a welcome sight! This week has been true to form for Georgia fall- chilly in the mornings, strip down to t-shirt midday, and layer back up in the evening. People watching always cracks me up this time of year, because some folks are still sporting shorts, while others have committed to their winter coats and scarves for the duration. Good thing I’ve got skills in the kitchen to fog up the windows in my little house when the chill calls for it and embrace the last of the beautiful lettuce during the warm spells.
Last Sunday, we took our time getting to the Grant Park Market, so it was gorgeous when we arrived.
I followed my ears to the park, pleasantly surprised to hear a band playing, providing a soundtrack for one of the Hoopin’ Farmers to do his thang amidst the pumpkins.
A big smile took over my face, and I hadn’t even crossed the street yet. I love this place.
The kids in town were getting a jump on Halloween, already in costume and chillin’ on pumpkins half their size.
First things first, we were starving, of course, and needed a bite to eat. The Little Tart’s table was dead ahead and these pastries caught our attention.
Apples are still ruling the world and this tray of pastries, so I figured either choice would be a seasonally appropriate way to appease the rumbling belly. We opted for the apple cheddar turnover. Come on, cheese makes everything better.
The flavor of the crust was sweet and savory- thanks to the salty cheddar- and I appreciated the texture. Though the butteriness came through, the whole pastry didn’t crumble all over my face at once. Bonus! It kept its shape and provided a sturdy vehicle for the soft, scrumptious apple filling to be transported to my happy taste buds. Yay!
While sharing our breakfast-tizer, we noticed a new and exciting booth filled with handmade pottery of many shapes and sizes.
Ally Built is a small business run by artisan Allison Kruskamp,
a modest and creative sort, pouring her heart into her art. I don’t know about your town, but Decatur has gone growler crazy, with more than a handful of stores now offering giant jugs to be filled and refilled with any number of delicious beers. Allison’s growler has such personality, I thought it would make a perfect gift for a friend. I look forward to seeing more of her ideas transform into handheld, functional masterpieces.
Since we’d lollygagged on this particular Sunday morning, the pickins were slim at some of the market tables. H & F had been mobbed throughout the morning and only had a few items left. The emptiness was strange to me,
but I bet that lone Irish Soda Bread rocks.
Mercier Farms apple table was actually still crowded with folks and loads of apples,
so much so, I could only snap a photo of one basket full of perfect apples.
Oakleaf Mennonite Farm had given much of their produce to the star Chef of the week, Eric Ottensmeyer of Leon’s Full Service, for his cooking demonstration. An honor, I’m sure. Take a look at their ginormous sweet potatoes.
The one on the right looks like an old-school phone, and I had to restrain myself from picking it up and pretending I was blabbing with a girlfriend. I’m sure Adam would have been mortified.
They also had some beautiful baby mustard greens,
which I took home with me. Too cute to pass up, really.
And this was my favorite moment of the day- so quintessential Grant Park Market. As I was standing there, chatting with the farmer, a guy rolled up on his bicycle with a backpack full of basil. He informed the farmer that he and his wife had grown entirely too much basil to use- and would the farmer like to take this bundle off his hands?
Of course, the farmer obliged the bicyclist, and off the man rode- lighter and full of good karma. This is the vibe at Grant Park, and the reason I feel so at home and inspired there.
Tomatoes are still kickin’ here in Georgia, thankfully, saddled right up next to heaps of summer squash
and butternuts too. I wonder how many tons of summer squash were produced in Georgia this year. Lord knows, I have eaten copious amounts of it in every manner imaginable to man.
Since I pretty much tore through my Tulip Poplar honey over the last few weeks, it was time for us to decide on our next honey purchase. Adam did not complain about tasting the sweet, sticky varieties once again.
And he deferred to my pick last time, so the choice was his to make. I assumed he was going with the watermelon honey, because he’s commented on its delightfulness before. Yup. That was the one.
The super fun honey girl only had a large watermelon honey bear left, and Adam was a-okay with that. Not a bad problem to have in the scope of things.
Right next door to Hidden Springs is the Hooping Farmers’ booth. A very happy place to be.
These awesome red velvety looking flowers sold for five bucks, including the hand painted can! What a deal!
And beneath the flowers, I spotted a huge crate full of peppers.
I was told to help myself- to whichever ones i wanted for a whopping two dollars. Woohooooo!!! Yes, please.
The Hoopin’ Farmers also had okra and peas,
and radishes, of course.
Who knew radishes were so plentiful in Georgia this time of year? The Radish Party has been going on for weeks now!
When I turned around from the table, manned by one Hoopin’ Farmer, I spied the other one.
He kindly posed for me after hooping up a storm, impressing the children who watched him with wide eyes. These guys are too cool.
Next, I was thankful to find a momentarily idle Nazifa, a warm and wonderful woman, eager to share her nan, falafel,
and special spice mixture with the community.
I liked her immediately, and was glad to have the opportunity to give her positive feedback about the pizzas I made using her amazing nan. It is evident that her heart is in her work, something of an epidemic around these parts, and she instructed me not to ever cook her spice rub. It is to be used strictly as a finishing touch or a flavoring for cold or room temperature oils or sauces. I trust her.
We actually sprinkled our homemade croutons with the spices - after they were cooked!
Mmhmm. Thank you, Nazifa!
Our next stop was at the Spotted Trotter’s booth- because we just can’t walk on by.
As Kevin was sharing the list of items he had left in his cooler, the words “Pork Belly Bacon” came out of his mouth. Adam and I looked at each other and nodded our heads in agreement. I was eyeballing those words on the sign myself, but hearing them out loud confirmed my need to try it out. Sweet, salty, rich and delicious. So glad we did.
And that brought us to Turtle Band Farm’s table full of beautiful leafy greens like red russian kale,
This week, I cooked those greens with my collard greens, as they have quite a similar texture and appearance. As for the bulbs (a cross between an apple and a turnip in my mind), I empluyed them in a Mexican mixed green salad with roasted pepitas and cilantro lime vinaigrette, a Japanese inspired quinoa salad, and a tasty slaw.
Their Scarlet Queen Turnips were looking good,
as well as their eggplant.
Talk about a long growing season! Lucky that we can use eggplant in so many different ways!
Towards the end of the row of vendors, Crack in the Sidewalk Farmlet’s table was festive with a diverse collection of seasonal goodies.
Again, their beautiful herbs drew my attention, and I walked off with a lovely bag of bright basil leaves.
Lastly, we got to grab a few ripe tomatoes
at Ivabell Acres. Funny, I started tomato season off buying her tomatoes,
and she’s still got some beauties now.
The simplicity of this bouquet made me smile once more before we headed out of the market.
That’s my second to last bag of joy from my CSA with Turtle Bend for the season.
Thinking about the end really makes me want to cry…so I’m not gonna talk about it just yet.
Back at the old house, we took stock of our bounty
with gratitude and excitement,
and got ourselves prepared to cook up a Japanese inspired meal: Teriyaki Grilled Chicken with Black Quinoa Salad and Hot Apple- Pineapple Relish in Lettuce Cups.
Did you know that teriyaki sauce is just a mixture of tamari or soy sauce and Mirin? It’s true! I’m not sure why I’ve never made my own before this week, but I know it won’t be long before we do it again!
We marinated our chicken, breasts and legs,
in the teriyaki sauce, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes
for about two hours in the fridge while preparing the other components of the dish.
First, we whipped up a quick dressing for our quinoa salad.
2 T sesame oil, 4 T mirin, 2 T low sodium tamari, 1 t dijon mustard, the juice of a lime, several cloves of garlic, a nice hunk of ginger, and a good pinch of red pepper flakes.
We whirred it all together in our little food processor, streamed in olive oil while we blended, and created a dressing that definitely felt Japanese to me.
The dijon mustard almost lent a wasabi sort of sensation to the profile. Nice.
Next up, our hot apple- pineapple relish.
This idea came to fruition because of the affinity that pineapple and teriyaki have for one another. Rather than just make a pineapple salsa or chutney, we wanted to incorporate our fresh apples as well.
Knowing that the relish would come together quickly, we got our mise en place in order before heating our pan.
We started by sauteing minced shallot in a bit of olive oil.
Shallot has a subtle flavor that worked incredibly well in this instance to create a savory base.
Once softened, we added
our apples, pineapple, and a pinch of salt and pepper. We let the fruit cook down a few minutes
before adding garlic, tamari, and Sriracha sauce.
Mmmhmm. Good things happening. After just another couple of minutes, it was time to add the finishing touches-
fresh local jalapenos, scallions, and cilantro. Spicy and sweet, this relish had serious flavor,
and I knew we were building in layers of goodness that would be well worth their weight in the end.
With the chicken out of the fridge, coming to room temperature, we got to work on our quinoa salad.
First, I soaked the quinoa in cold water for about 15 minutes.
We rinsed our beautiful bok choi,
and chopped the stems and leaves, placing them in separate bowls.
We chopped the kohlrabi into little cubes, diced up our sweet peppers nice and small, and made matchsticks of our radishes.
Then, I strained the quinoa and added it to a pot over medium heat.
I like to toast the quinoa for a couple of minutes before pouring in the broth.
The quinoa to broth ratio is just the same as with rice: one cup of quinoa to two cups of broth. I added a pinch of salt and pepper, a clove of minced garlic, and brought the liquid up to a boil. Then, I turned down the heat, covered the pot, and let it simmer for about 25 minutes. If you’re using white quinoa, it won’t take quite as long to cook.
In my wok, I heated a bit of olive oil and added one clove of minced garlic to set the stage for the remaining vegetables.
We added the kohlrabi and bok choy stems
and stir fried them for just a couple of minutes so they would be crisp tender.
I transferred the hot quinoa to a large bowl where my bok choi ribbons were waiting,
and I tossed them together, wilting the bok choi gently. Then, we added the remaining salad ingredients,
drizzled our dressing over the top, and tossed it all together.
I was so pleased with the flavors and textures in this salad. I knew it would complement our teriyaki chicken perfectly.
Speaking of, after getting a good scald over the charcoal,
we used our hands to pull the juicy meat apart. And we may or may not have enjoyed some of the skin while we performed that task…
Ready to plate! All we needed was our fresh, local, amazing lettuce from Turtle Bend and a couple more radishes.
And this makes for a very fun, interactive meal. We laid out all of the components,
and then built each little lettuce cup to our liking.
Quinoa salad on the bottom, chicken, relish, and a little radish on top. Each and every bite was refreshing and crunchy, spicy and sweet, surprising, and distinctly Japanese in flavor. The way the relish mixed with the savory quinoa salad was magical. Every peanut was like a prize from a cereal box. The bok choi and kohlrabi were just cooked enough to be soft on the inside with wonderful crunch on the outside. And the chicken was so tender and lovely in the middle of the cup. The fresh, local ingredients were vibrant and satisfying. This dinner was a home run.
Please feel free to try out any or all of the components of this dish, or switch up the ingredients based on what you’ve got on hand. The quinoa salad is totally versatile and works well as a side dish in just about any situation- just alter your ingredients and dressing to reflect the mood of the meal. Maybe you’ll create your own lettuce cups focusing on an entirely different culture of cuisine. Or, you could marinate shrimp in the teriyaki sauce and grill them up while the weather holds and serve them over rice. Whatever you’re cooking up in your kitchen this week, I hope you’re pushing your boundaries a bit, embracing the fresh, seasonal gifts around you, and sharing with your loved ones.
Happy cooking and eating to you,
Hello, friends. It’s official. The hats and scarves have reared their ugly heads, and although folks around here are all talking about much they LOVE the cold weather, the streets were empty as a ghost town after I delivered meals to my Veggie Wednesday clients. It wasn’t terribly late, just cold, and I believe people were hunkered down under blankets enjoying soup. Or wishing they had some. I made soup twice Wednesday and twice Thursday! I think I’m turning into veritable soup fanatic or a soup whisperer or something. Give me ingredients and broth, and I will give you soup. The yummy kind.
My Veggie Wednesday treats included Curried Coconut Carrot Ginger Soup with a fresh green salad of local lettuce, red watercress, curried toasted garbanzo beans, and orange vinaigrette. Plus, I made the Spanish rice wrapped in Red Russian kale from last week’s post with fresh local cilantro yogurt sauce.
Upon delivery, I watched my client devour about 2 Cups of my Local Everything Including the Kitchen Sink Slaw with apples, turnips, purple cabbage, and broccoli. I also implemented my fabulous Turtle Bend sweet potatoes in a sweet Vanilla and Honey Spiked Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potato dish topped with pecans. It felt like Thanksgiving when I was crumbling the pecans, and I guess we’re really not that far off…
As we walked down the street to the Grant Park Farmer’s Market last weekend, I heard and felt lots of crunching beneath my feet.
‘Tis the season to wear a hard hat when leaving the house to protect yourself from the bajillions of acorns falling from the sky with serious velocity.
Pumpkins of all shapes and sizes
and festivities abounded at the market,
and I was there, big shadow and all, to soak up the loveliness.
There were kids performing
and folks sitting on bales of hay enjoying the show. I think that girl on the left is sporting a mini witch’s hat on her head. October is a time when you can wear just about anything and get away with it.
I love that there are always surprises at Grant Park. What will it be next week? A band? A show? A gigantic walking peach? A parade? So much fun!
And then, there are some things you CAN count on seeing. Like H & F’s insanely wonderful breads.
New to their stand this week,
picture-perfect biscotti. Makes you want a big mug of coffee or hot cocoa, doesn’t it?
And these rolls that
had people caving in one after the other. Way to keep the carbs alive H & F!!!
King of Pops was selling out of flavors quickly,
but I appreciate the timely offering of the Pumpkin Pie pop. I’m sure it’s delish. I’ve had a tangerine basil pop before, and it was outstanding.
We grabbed some feta cheese from Decimal Place Farm,
and it is creamy and tangy.
There was plenty of butternut squash to go around, which is never a bad thing.
And that takes us to the Hoopin’ Farmers’ booth.
A radish party?!?!? How wonderful!
As reported last week, these guys know what they are doing.
From sweet potatoes,
to pak choi,
and beautiful flowers
in jars and coffee cans, their tables delight my senses. This week, we absconded with zebra tomatoes,
citrus-y and different, along with green onions and the bright cilantro shown above. No sooner had we walked away from the table when we literally saw a Hoopin’ Farmer in action!!
Next, we stopped by Nazifa’s Bakery again to purchase more of her whole wheat naan bread. We did end up making pizza using naan as the crust, as promised.
It was so righteous, I decided to make pizzas for my clients this week. When I stopped by my Monday client’s house on Tuesday, he said, “Oh, sorry about my pizza breath. I can’t stop eating it!” : ) Perfect. That’s the kinda feedback that keeps a girl doing what she’s doin’!
Nazifa also has baklava,
falafel, and her very own spice rub. Maybe I’ll try out the rub next week.
We headed back past the middle, stopping for a moment to check out the Wood Fire Pizza menu.
Their knack for utilizing the vendor’s fresh goodies on their pizzas is fantastic. If I had my druthers, I’d take the squash pizza, for sure. Sounds like it’s right up my alley.
Then, to my nose’s extreme pleasure, I smelled sausage. Not just any kind of sausage, Spotted Trotter’s breakfast sausage.
And really, aside from its “best sausage in America” qualities, how could you say no to this face?
To add one more layer of fabulous to this scene, Prince was blaring from behind their table. I like the way these guys roll. We purchased the breakfast sausage, as it was irresistible, and we enjoyed one delicious brinner this week!
En route to Turtle Bend’s table to pick up our veggies, I had to stop and take a look at these little nuggets.
The baby eggplant from the Global Growers practically jumped into my bag on their own.
Gotta love a farm with a mission to spread goodness through food. They also had African eggplant,
which I’ve never seen before.
Turtle Bend’s table was next, and Nate had our bags all prepared.
This week, the Lowes’ farm boasted beautiful leafy greens- collards,
Red Russian kale,
Lacinato or Dinosaur kale,
along with kohlrabi,
(I think the bulb is like a cross between an apple and a turnip. And you can use the greens as you would turnip greens.)
They also had a few cool-lookin’ peppers that we snagged.
Almost time to head home, but I had to see what was at the end of the lane. So glad I did!
Crack in the Sidewalk Farmlet had parsley just waiting for me,
and a basket full of color.
And the Oakleaf Mennonite Farm had these.
Sweet little bunches of baby collards!! I fell in love. They actually made their way into our omelet too! Quick cooking and so tender and tasty! When I told the farmer that it looked like one of the collards had a bite taken out of it, he grabbed the leaf, ripped off a piece, and ate it himself. That totally tickled me.
Last but totally not least, apple season is in full swing and we are reaping the rewards left
It’s wonderful to see such a wide variety of apples and to have easy access to amazing natural apple cider from Mercier Farm in Blue Ridge, GA.
I noticed that Your Dekalb Farmer’s Market is also offering this cider right now. Which works out perfectly for me in providing brining recipes for my clients to prepare their meats for greatness.
This week’s cooking extravaganza features ribs brined in apple cider and served with a smoky apple barbecue sauce. Using the fruits of the season in creative ways is the name of the game for Adam and I.
Once again, our bounty required two photos.
Our Turtle Bend goodies,
and our other finds too.
So much to be thankful for!!!
The brining process started early in the day.
Two cups apple cider and two cups water, a couple pinches of both salt and sugar, pink peppercorns, coriander seeds, garlic, and bay leaves.
Adam pulled the membrane off the back of the ribs,
cut them in half, and placed them in a glass dish.
Then we poured the brine over the ribs and filled up the rest of the space with extra apple cider.
They sat in the fridge for a good three hours- but you can let them soak up the brine all day long, really.
Adam prepared the grill and soaked some applewood chips in water before placing them in a foil pouch over the charcoal.
Next it was time to make the spice rub.
Basically- a tablespoon of everything, with an extra scoop of paprika, chili powder, and dried mustard.
We transferred the seasonings into the coffee grinder my brother and sister-in-law got us as a gift,
and blended them well.
Once the ribs were out of the brining liquid, we dried them off, patted the rub onto both sides,
and got them onto a low grill where they stayed for hours- like 6.
Next up, we smoked some peppers to add to our apple barbecue sauce. Hey- if you can make a peach barbecue sauce, why not an apple bbq sauce?
A red bell, a Georgia Cubanelle, and a red frigitello from the farm.
Once the peppers were charred, we covered them for five minutes, peeled off the skin and diced them. Then, we chopped apples and tomatoes from Turtle Bend, along with onions, and garlic.
And we got our onions into the pot!
As soon as they were soft, we added the remaining ingredients and stirred them all together.
We added simple salt and pepper, and let the ingredients meld.
Meanwhile, we had collards to tend to. Now, I must add a disclaimer here, knowing that Turtle Benders would be receiving collards next week, we purchased some at the Dekalb Market.
Um, that’s about five bunches. They must have been thinking of some pretty large families when they bundled them!
You’ll notice cane syrup in this photo. These collards are inspired by a childhood dish Adam recalls enjoying- hashbrown style potatoes with kielbasa and cane syrup. When he was telling me about that dinner, I thought it would make a perfect flavor profile for collards. So we rocked it out.
This heap of collards made for two huge bowls…
so feel free to alter the seasoning to suit your amount if you choose to make ‘em like this.
We started by browning off our kielbasa, which Adam had chopped into little cubes.
When the kielbasa was nice and brown, we removed it to a bowl and added our onions, cute little guys that we had picked up at the market last week.
Garlic and peppers were not far behind.
Next came the wilting of the greens.
As you can imagine, this process took a while. But I just kept turning those collards until there was room to add more. And turned and wilted and turned and wilted. I assured myself that my biceps would be so much better for it.
When all of those greens were finally in the pot and looking respectable, we added
3 teaspoons of cane syrup, and large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and the browned sausage.
Once it was well-incorporated, we added enough chicken broth to cover the greens with room to spare. And we just put the lid on and let them cook down.
On the barbecue sauce front, it was time to blend our apples and veggies.
With a quick whir of the machine, we were in good shape.
Odd color for a barbecue sauce, you say? Hey, nobody said that being creative would lead to all things “normal”. Back in the pot it was time to add the more typical barbecue flavors-
3 T grainy mustard, 3 T vinegar, 3 T wor-chester, just a 1/4 Cup of ketchup, brown sugar, and salt, and pepper, and brown sugar-I’d start with 2 heaping tablespoons. If your apples and tomatoes are real sweet, you may not need any more sugar. Instead of adding water to the pot, we opted for apple cider- keeping within our Ode to Apples theme and boosting the flavor. We stirred the pot and let the sauce simmer.
The collards were cookin’ down,
the ribs were all wrapped up in foil, and it was time to whip up our quick sweet potato dish. These sweet potatoes from Turtle Bend are so sweet and flavorful. You don’t have to do a whole lot to ‘em.
Simple. I chopped the potatoes into cubes
and Adam heated up the pan with a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil.
We added the sweet potatoes to the hot pan
and let them brown for a minute before tossing. I wanted the potatoes to gain color on all sides more evenly than I find I achieve when I cook little cubes like this in the oven. And I did not want to play Flip Every Little Cube of Sweet Potato Six Times. I think you know what I mean…
Once the potatoes had a golden brown shell to them,
we added the minced garlic and rosemary.
After tossing the potatoes in the aromatics, we put them in a 375 degree oven, just to cook the middles of the potatoes through- no longer than 5 - 7 minutes.
And then it was time to plate!
It was a fall festival on a plate. Of course, we left the sauce off the ribs, rather than tossing it on, as is quite common in these parts of the barbecue world. The ribs had a big bark and a perfect bite. The sugar in the dry rub caused the crust to blacken quickly, but I promise- there was no burnt taste anywhere close to my palate. What I tasted was almost bacon. Not kidding. The pork was salty, smoky, and the applewood flavor from the chips really penetrated the meat. The texture- it was exactly what you want from a rib. Take a bite, and the meat comes off perfectly, leaving the rest on the bone. Then, you can kind of press the soft, tender meat against the roof of your mouth and it just spreads out and melts. Yes. Next time, we’ll try covering the ribs with foil a bit earlier in the slow-cooking process to improve the presentation. We cook, we eat, we learn.
The sweet potatoes were exactly what you imagine the most perfect sweet potato flavor tasting like. I appreciated the subtle savoriness that the garlic and rosemary added. The collards were remarkably delicious. I could not get enough of them. And I was chuckling at the fact that a few years back, I would have told you that I did not even like collard greens. Adam’s kielbabsa/ cane syrup pairing balanced so wonderfully against the tang of the vinegar and the slight bitterness of the greens themselves. Oh! And the sauce! Smoky apple barbecue sauce is brilliant. Loved the smokiness of those peppers. It shined through the sweet and tart combination of the apples, cider, and tomatoes, versus the vinegar and mustard. Success!!
It all started with a chat about a Sunday meal- a slow cooked, grilled one… Morphed into a pork meeting- which morphed into a double pork meeting (!!!!) and mixed with conversation of meals from days gone by and the local, seasonal wonders at our fingertips. And then a trip to the market followed by a day-long cooking project. One that makes your house smell completely amazing, even to your neighbors.
Cooking with fresh, local, seasonal treasures is an adventure that I so enjoy. The creative process, the balancing of flavors, and the transformation of ingredients are exciting to me in an exhilarating kind of way. I hope that you will be inspired to try something new and to push the boundaries of “normal” cooking in your kitchen this week.
Buy local. Experience the joy that the markets have to offer. Play with your food and enjoy. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so contemplate putting a fresh twist on a fall favorite.
Happy cooking and eating to you,
I’ve almost forgotten that it is cold and rainy outside as I write, because I have been looking at the beautiful photos from the market this week. Grant Park was alive with color
and personality on Sunday.
And I was in an extra good mood, because it was our first wedding anniversary weekend! Adam and I had tons of fun reminiscing about our special day and all of the folks who shared it with us. We even had a little picnic lunch by the lake where we got married- complete with flowers, champagne,
and lunch from Sawicki’s, the awesome little shop that catered our wedding. I’ve never had a wedding anniversary before- but this one was very festive and lovely. I would do it all over again- the wedding and the anniversary!
While we sat by the lake reflecting, I realized that Georgia is not quite as far along this year as it was last year. This yellow tree
hasn’t even begun to change colors yet. Maybe that’s why there are still so many tomatoes hanging around these days, which is great for me. I’ll take ‘em as long as I can get ‘em!
New to the market this week was a huge apple stand.
They had several different kinds of apples
plus their own apple cider,
which is delicious. And if you know my husband, you know he’s a sucker for a fried pie. So we had to try one STAT.
A little pocket of perfection,
filled with fresh local apples, was gone in a matter of seconds.
Once again, I was eyeballing H & F’s bagels.
They put paprika on their Everything bagels. I did ask if they had cream cheese, but, no such luck. Instead, I opted for a loaf of their tasty Asiago cheese bread.
I wonder how early they begin baking each day, because the sheer volume of their offerings is unreal.
Next, my eyes wandered over to the Oakleaf Mennonite Farm’s table.
Beautiful mixed greens,
colorful peppers, and Chinese spinach were on display along with some fabulous flat leaf parsley that I had make my own.
And who could resist this Thai basil?
Not this girl. I even put some in my anniversary bouquet!
Next, we found ourselves seriously ogling the produce at the Hooping Guys Farm stand for the third week in a row.
The farmer shared with us that he and his girlfriend, who grows as well, spent some time out in California learning from the farmers about the best ways to showcase freshly harvested foods. I can tell you from personal experience, that their methodology is working! I pocketed some potatoes and onions, which made their way into a slow-cooked pot roast, as well as my third bunch of heirloom green onions.
and baby bok choy also tempted me.
Their arugula, flanked by root vegetables, looks delightful too.
On the other side of their booth, colors popped
and the okra was bountiful. And check out the size of these pods!!
That’s some sort of super okra, I think.
And they even had pretty flowers to boot.
I’m gonna have to take out a small loan before going to the market next week- and maybe get a bigger family to eat it all!!!!!!!!!
Next, we had a run-in with the hilarious honey girl from Hidden Springs- who requested specifically not to be photographed in her awesome airbrushed sweatshirt- and I found out she’s a Jersey native too!
After tasting all of her interesting varieties of honey again, and exchanging some laughs,
we decided on the tulip poplar. It is spicy and sweet, and I’ve secretly been hoping to run out of honey for weeks now, so I could try it. Finally, it happened!
As promised last week, I stopped my Nazifa’s bakery stand and bought some of her naan with my last two dollars.
The woman was very friendly and cheerful, and shared stories of other market-goers utilizing her naan for pizza dough and enjoying it. Naan pizza is coming soon to my kitchen too.
Out of cash, and short on time, I drooled as I walked by The Little Tart’s stand.
Heirloom tomato tart…mmmmm….
And we found Nate manning Turtle Bend’s table. I was very pleased to see this Red Russian kale, because I had a grand idea about a new way to appreciate its broad green leaves.
They also had dinosaur kale, otherwise know as Lacinato or Tuscan kale.
I’ve been using that in salads and soups a lot lately. I just remove the ribs, cut the kale into big ribbons, and blanch it in boiling salted water for a few minutes. Then I stop the cooking by dunking the leaves in an icebath, before squeezing out the water and chopping it finely. This week, I incorporated kale this way into an Italian inspired black quinoa salad, an Asian couscous salad, and a quick- cooking Miso soup. Apparently, I have turned into a kale fanatic. Love it. Any way you slice it.
Also on Turtle Bend’s table…
Bok Choi- of which I am a huge fan,
broccoli- so much more flavorful than the store-bought variety,
Tropicana lettuce- crisp and gigantic,
and crunchy red radishes, which have also been making appearances in all manners of soups and salads over the last few weeks.
An abundance of fresh, local, food grown with love and care. Reasonably priced and beautifully displayed with a serious feeling of community and happiness. Fifteen minutes from my house. It’s like candy for my eyes and my belly and my soul. I am thankful.
Back at home, we couldn’t even fit all of our bounty into one photo.
So we had to take two.
It’s not a bad problem to have. But I couldn’t use it all in one sitting, so I had to focus.
Knowing that Turtle Bend’s CSA members would have more kale this week plus acorn squash, I planned to showcase both with this meal: Agave chipotle glazed grilled salmon with Manchego dusted roasted acorn squash and kale wrapped Spanish rice.
Let’s begin with the rice because it takes the longest to prepare.
I chose to use long grain brown basmati rice, but you could easily employ white or yellow rice in this recipe.
First, I diced my onions and minced my peppers and garlic
so I could get the onions into my medium sized pot.
I used a healthy amount of olive oil here, because I needed to have ample oil to toast up my rice. A good coating along the bottom of your pot will work fine.
Once the onions were soft, I stirred in my peppers and garlic.
After another minute, I slid the veggies over to one side and added my rice.
You want to basically fry your rice in the oil for about a minute or two. You will smell it getting toasty.
Then, I stirred it all together,
added a tablespoon of cumin and about half a tablespoon of chipotle powder.
I seasoned with salt and pepper, and stirred well to combine the flavors.
Next, it was time to add 1 and 3/4 Cups homemade chicken broth and 2 tablespoons of tomato paste to the pot.
Then, just as you would cook any other rice dish, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer. It took about 40 minutes for the liquid to be absorbed. And then I let it sit another 10 minutes covered.
Meanwhile…we had lots of other little jobs to do.
I am a lover of all things squash, and I’m always open to new ideas. So when I saw a recipe in Real Simple magazine for sliced and roasted acorn squash, I was excited about adapting my own.
We cut the squash in half lengthwise,
scooped out the seeds, and then placed it on the cutting board, flat side down. Then, I cut slices about 3/4 inch thick.
They don’t have to be perfect, but I did use a paring knife to cut out some of the stringy middles that remained.
Next, we tossed the squash with a good sprinkling of salt, pepper, cumin, chipotle powder, and finely grated Manchego cheese.
I lined them up on my pan,
Adam grated a little extra cheese over the tops, and we roasted them for about 18 minutes at 400 degrees.
On to the fish!
We made a simple glaze using agave nectar, the juice of half a lime, and chipotle powder, granulated garlic, salt and pepper.
A quick flavor booster for our Alaskan salmon.
The salmon only takes a few minutes to cook, so we heated up the grill, and finished up in the kitchen.
With the rice steaming on the back burner, I needed to turn my attention to my kale.
I removed the ribs and washed the leaves in cool water, being careful to keep them all in tact.
Next, I cooked them in a big pot of boiling, salted water for about 5 minutes.
I was sure to lay the leaves flat, and I used a spoon to gently push them into the water now and again, since they kept rising to the top.
Then, I pulled out the leaves and let them dry on paper towels.
Ready to wrap, I laid out one leaf of kale and transferred my rice into a bowl (after tasting it and adjusting the seasoning, of course).
I used a tablespoon to scoop some rice onto my kale,
and then I wrapped it up like a burrito or a spring roll. I repeated that process until I had all of my kale leaves encasing a bit of spicy, tangy rice.
I love how green they are! Little green presents.
While Adam grilled our glazed salmon on a well-oiled grill,
I whipped up a yogurt sauce to act as a cool component for the dish.
Just a few ingredients.
All I had to do was chop the cilantro and add it to Greek yogurt, lime juice, and a squeeze of agave nectar with salt and pepper.
I mixed up, tasted and adjusted the seasoning to my liking,
and we were ready to plate!
A delicious fall and Spanish inspired meal. The acorn squash was totally delightful! The flesh was tender and tasty, and the rind was a crispy treat. The Spanish cheese added a mildly salty edge to the spices. The kale-wrapped rice gifts were just that- I heart them, really. The tangy, spicy rice was almost creamy inside of the tender, green, very slightly bitter kale, adding something subtle and special to the rice. I was glad to have the yogurt to cool my mouth down in between bites. The salmon was soft and supple in the middle, which I love. And I feel super healthy eating salmon, because I know it’s extra good for my body! Next time I make it, I will be a bit more aggressive with the spices to make it even more flavorful. Honestly, I think the words, “I could be a vegetarian,” came out of my mouth because I was so enjoying the kale and rice and squash. But, that was a fleeting moment! Bacon, you know I would never leave you.
Overall, I am very pleased with the way this meal transformed from an idea bubble in my head, to a creative conversation with Adam, to a market shopping experience, to a cooking whirlwind, to an actual Spanish/autumn extravaganza dancing on my taste buds. Makes me wonder what else I can wrap up inside of kale. And how can I spice up acorn squash differently? A good meal always leaves me wanting more…wheels turning inside of my head.
I hope you’ll be inspired to try something new this week with your fall veggies. If you see an idea you like, think about how you can tweak it to make it your very own. Most importantly, embrace the wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables available to us now…while they last!
Happy cooking and eating to you!
Hello, friends! I am so grateful to have time to sit and write this morning while the smells of bubbling chicken broth waft in from my kitchen. Monday and Tuesday were twelve hour work days for me, and Wednesday was pretty long too. Each day began with a massive planning session, followed by a visit to the largest indoor farmer’s market in the world- AKA my office, and a cooking extravaganza in my kitchen. I enjoy each segment of the day for different reasons, but the very best part of the day is always Food Fairy time. When I deliver homemade meals or prepared ingredients with recipes specifically created for each client, the joy on their faces is something that delights me to no end. Hearing about their successes in cooking from the week before or tales about how much they loved a dish makes me giddy. And proud. The thankfulness pours out of my clients, and I know that I am doing something incredibly special. So, despite some long hours, my job rocks.
Of course, since I was actually able to sleep in a little bit today (total weakness of mine, which I thought I was supposed to grow out of…), I was wide awake before 8am, and ready to start the day. An odd occurrence for me. I chatted with my mom and enjoyed coffee on the porch- wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket. I really appreciate when I am able to begin my day talking with my mom. Makes me feel grounded and full of love. She has always been my biggest supporter as I strive to grow and change and become better.
Lately, I have been trying to accept the cooler weather with grace. Knowing that it will only get colder and darker and rainier makes my heart hurt. Not being able to work on my screened porch in the morning because of the cold bums me out, as I am a girl made for sunshine and warmth. That said, I am basking in the loveliness of midday and being mindful to celebrate the goodness that comes along with the dropping temperatures.
It’s pumpkin time!!!!!! We went to Grant Park on October second, and there were pumpkins and crazy gourds to greet us.
Lit up my face with a big, fat smile. Folks don’t waste any time decorating for Halloween or autumn around here. As soon as October comes, it’s game on.
There’s even a pumpkin carving contest you can enter at the market that will take place on October 30th!
I’m sure that will be an awesome day to be in Grant Park. I promise to take lots of pictures.
H & F bakery’s booth is front and center each week, bursting at the seams with deliciousness.
I should have added one of those pecan batards to my take-home loot, but I was distracted. I gave in to my South Jersey/ Philadelphia roots and bought myself a pretzel.
In Philly, you can buy soft pretzels in a brown paper bag- three for a dollar- on street corners. I have to hand it to H & F.
While they executed the chew factor of a Philadelphia pretzel perfectly, they bumped it up a notch with a tantalizingly buttery exterior and a moist quality that almost made me not want mustard. Nice work, H & F.
Other highlights of the market this week include the Hooping Guys Farm stand. The farmer was knowledgeable and friendly, and the vegetables were beautiful. Their heirloom green onions are sweet and subtle,
so I grabbed my second bunch to take home. I also was intrigued by their twisty Puerto Rican sweet potatoes
and African blue basil.
As I got out my cash to pay for these treats, the farmer mentioned a sack full of shitake mushrooms- promised to another market shopper who hadn’t shown up to claim them. Fresh, local mushrooms you say? Why, yes, thank you. I think I will.
They’ve been waiting for this day…to become an integral part of a Thai coconut soup that I’m making this afternoon. Yesssss!
Also at the market this week, Nazifa’s Bakery.
I tried some of her delicious naan bread dunked in herby olive oil,
and I’m going to take her up on the idea of a naan pizza. A Middle Eastern crust with Italian ingredients made in a southern cast iron skillet. Sounds about right to me.
Speaking of…the pizza oven was blazing this week,
and I saw lots of people devouring pizza as they walked around.
The Spotted Trotter was out in full effect- giving away samples of their tasty sausage and jerky,
and offering a slew of Kevin’s wondrous concoctions.
Things are really taking off for The Spotted Trotter, as they’ve got a solid date for their retail store front opening (November 3rd) and they were recently contacted by Bon Appetit magazine regarding a possible upcoming feature. Better get in on the sausage goodness before those Outzes get so famous you can’t even get in the front door! Cheers to their continued success!
These cool tomatoes caught my eye,
and I bought a biggun on my way to Turtle Bend’s table.
Fabulous jalapeno peppers were available by the handful, as well as frigitellos.
And they had a great assortment of kale.
Mixed bunches of Tuscano and Siberian. Plus full bunches of the Red Russian kale.
Who would’ve guessed I’d become such a sucker for a bunch of kale?!?
They also had a basket of eggplant
and more crisp radishes.
We graciously accepted our big brown bags, weighed down with lots of apples, and headed on home.
White yams, broccoli, and green beans rounded out our glorious bounty for the week.
Our post-market conversation was focused on how to spotlight broccoli, and the weather led us right to lasagna. The plan was to warm up the house with a simple red sauce and a different twist on an old classic. We decided to make broccoli lasagna rolls.
Thankfully, we were able to abscond with a bunch of tomatoes from Tennesee to make our sauce (since, despite my own recommendations, I do not have any tomato sauce in my freezer).
Usually, I add tons of veggies to my red sauce, but we really wanted to broccoli to shine in this dish. So we opted for a roasted garlic tomato sauce with very few ingredients.
Adam cut off the top of one head of garlic, put it in a foil pouch,
drizzled it with a touch of olive oil, and roasted it in a 350 degree oven until it was soft and sweet. Meanwhile, we starting building the sauce.
We browned off the ground beef first.
While the meat worked, we brought a large pot of water to a boil and crossed my tomato skins with a pairing knife.
(Not the cherry tomatoes- they’re too small too worry about skinning.)
Once the water was boiling, we placed the tomatoes in the pot and let them swim
for about 2 minutes. Next, we plunged the ‘maters into an icebath.
and easily slipped off the skins.
Then I chopped those beauties up, cut my cherry tomatoes in halves quarters (depending on size), and diced a yellow onion.
Once the ground beef was cooked, we removed it from the pan, leaving the fat behind.
Adam seasoned it up with a pinch of dried Italian seasoning and salt and pepper, while I added one yellow onion and a pinch of salt to the pot and let it soften and mingle with all of the brown bits on the bottom.
We added the tomatoes to the pot
along with a pinch of dried Italian seasoning (parsley, basil, oregano, thyme), salt, pepper, and a couple of tablespoons of sugar,
so they could begin breaking on down.
This gave us time to build the ricotta mixture.
One container of part skim ricotta, plus a half cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, the zest of a lemon and half of the juice, 2 cloves of minced garlic, a small handful of both fresh flat leaf parsley and my African blue basil. Also, a pinch of red pepper flakes, dried Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. I mixed it up and tasted it, adding an extra pinch of salt, before adding two eggs.
With the cheese sauce complete, and the garlic out of the oven,
it was time for us to boil our whole wheat lasagna noodles until al dente,
(I drizzled them with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking.)
and finish up the sauce, which was bubbling down nicely.
We squeezed about ten cloves of roasted garlic into the sauce, let it simmer a few more minutes, and then broke out our immersion blender.
We tasted the sauce and added a few ingredients to round out the flavor-
the juice of half a lemon for brightness, about a tablespoon of tomato paste to bring forth a bolder tomato presence, and a pinch of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. We incorporated those flavor boosters, and then finished the sauce off by adding the beef back to the pot, along with fresh parsley and basil.
We let it sit on the burner over low heat while we got busy on the production line.
The goal was to let the naturally grown broccoli stand on its own two feet and be a star in the dish, so we simply chopped it into small bits, tossed it with the juice of half a lemon and a drizzle of olive oil, and seasoned it with salt and pepper.
Time to build.
Rather than depositing a pile of cheese and broccoli on one end of the noodle and rolling it up, I decided that I wanted to spread the love across the entire length of the noodle.
Then, we sprinkled broccoli bits over the cheese, like so, and we were ready to roll. Literally.
The last touch for the sauce was adding a sweet heirloom green onion.
Adam ladled some of the meat sauce into the bottom of our baking dish,
so the rolls had a safe place to land.
We fit six lasagna rolls in one dish,
and four in a small loaf pan. Then, we sauced them up,
and sprinkled some good quality part-skim mozzarella cheese over the top.
Does this look like it could turn out badly?
I don’t think so.
Into a 350 degree oven they went for about 45 minutes, until the cheese was browned and lovely.
We let it set a few long minutes before employing a sharp paring knife to cut through the cheese between the rolls. And then I carefully scooped out heavenly spirals of deliciousness.
And I could not wait to dig in and taste our lasagna rolls.
Oh my goodness. Yum!!! The sweetness of the roasted garlic tomato sauce with savory bites of beef, the saltiness of the mozzarella cheese, the wonderful flavor of fresh local broccoli, and the creaminess of the ricotta all added up to something incredibly comforting and exciting at the same time. The pasta was done to perfection- no mushiness, and not too much of it. I’ll be honest- I went back for seconds. I ate one and half rolls before I could call it a night.
And then, I was able to package some up for lunch, and freeze several rolls individually for easy meals in the future. Success!!!!!
I hope that you are enjoying the cool fall weather and beginning to cook your own heart- and belly-warming dishes. Maybe this year, you’ll put a new spin on an old favorite. I encourage you to let one ingredient shine sometimes, really spotlighting that one flavor, like we did here with the broccoli. Make large batches of dinner over the weekend, so you’ll have easy, go-to meals midweek or on a cold night when you’re too frigid to cook. ‘Tis the season.
Happy cooking and eating to you.
This week is Adam’s birthday week, so we’ve been celebrating and reflecting on years past for days. We went to the Marietta market on Saturday to pick up our goodies before I indulged Adam in watching Georgia Tech football at one of our favorite local restaurants, Twain’s. They’ve recently changed chefs, and the food there is now all homemade and incredibly tasty. If you live locally, and haven’t visited Twain’s in a while, you should really go by and enjoy lunch or dinner. You will be pleasantly surprised- and very full.
It was a beautiful day for the market, and there was a lot happening on the Marietta Square.
People were crawling all over that place! I think it was a reading festival, complete with groups of singers and performers. We walked on by to make a quick sweep of the market and, of course, I loved what I saw.
Healthy, green basil plants
and colorful potted flowers, which would only die in my home…I have the black thumb of death when it comes to growing plants. So I just admired them and kept on going.
A lovely older gentleman had a great stand where he was selling his homegrown goods including this crazy Upo squash.
I guess he got tired of answering the question “What IS that?!?!” over and over again, and now he just points to the sign.
He had beautiful baby bok choy that I simply could not resist buying
along with several of his fresh cucumbers.
Next to his booth was Turtle Bend’s spot, and I must say, their table was rockin’ this week! They had picture perfect radishes,
and loads of fabulous peppers.
They also had a basket full of delicious eggplant,
and lots of their fragrant garlic,
which is the tantalizing perfume I wear most all the time.
There was a basket of green tomatoes,
at least two of which will become party to fried green tomato sandwiches at our house.
And the dinosaur kale looked so inviting.
We grabbed our bags and headed on out of the market with quite the bounty for such a quick trip.
In thinking about utilizing this batch of kale (which looks a little crazy above from the flash), I wanted to do something different. I’ve already made kale chips, braised kale, Italian wedding soup, veggie and lentil soups with kale, and boiled and sauteed kale. With all reminiscing we’d been doing, my brain went straight to the Oki Diner in Kauai, Hawaii.
Two summers ago, Adam and I took the trip of a lifetime and spent 5 days in Kauai, the most lush place on Earth.
It was truly a magical experience, and I could tell you about it all day long- but, I’m just going to focus on one of the best breakfasts I have ever consumed in my 35 years. The eggs and bacon with fried rice at Oki Diner is a plate full of super rich, flavorful fried rice, full of smoked Linguica sausage, cabbage, and carrots. It was served with crispy bacon and perfectly runny eggs, and it was insanely delicious.
I’ve been doing some research and experimentation with jasmine rice and fried rice, and I knew it was time to take a stab at our our rendition of “Chinese Breakfast” using fresh, local kale and radishes.
It’s all starts with the jasmine rice- day old jasmine rice is best.
To cook the rice, I recommend rinsing one cup of it several times in a strainer. Then, place it in a small to medium sized pot and cover the rice with water or broth by about 3/4 of an inch. Bring the rice to a boil, cover the pot, and turn the heat down to low. Let the rice simmer for about 7 - 8 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Then turn off the heat, and let the rice sit covered on the burner for another 10 minutes or so. Fluff it and let it cool down. Then, refrigerate your rice overnight. On day two, rinse the grains of rice with water, ridding them of excess starch, and spread them out in a colander to dry.
Now, my research has shown that people make fried rice in many different ways. So this is just one approach for you to try.
Most importantly, the stir frying process moves really quickly, so you want to have all of your ingredients prepared before getting started.
I removed the ribs from half a bunch of kale and chopped the leaves into thick ribbons.
Next, I boiled the kale in salted water for about 3 minutes, just to remove any bitterness from the greens.
Next, we plunged the kale into an icebath in order to preserve its lovely greenness.
Meanwhile, we chopped our carrots into a small dice, minced our ginger, garlic, a red jalapeno, and a green frigitello pepper. We also sliced our crisp radishes into discs. I defrosted some frozen organic sweet peas to add to the fried rice as well.
And we made a simple sauce: 1 T tamarind paste (very sour), 2 T brown sugar, 3 T low sodium tamari. Usually I add chili paste- but we had the red jalapeno for heat.
After many fruitless searches for Linguica sausage, the type utilized in my dream breakfast (which is apparently popular in Massachusetts, California, and Hawaii…nowhere close to my shopping destinations), we decided to opt for Chorizo- another smoky, cured sausage made with paprika. We chopped it into little cubes, lightly beat up three eggs, and we were ready to begin.
We got our wok super hot, added a bit of peanut oil and then added our eggs to the pan.
I stirred them quickly, and once they were scrambled,
I removed them from the wok. Next, I added the sausage to brown the edges and extract some of the tasty oils to build a flavor base.
I remove the sausage to the bowl with the scrambled eggs and slid my diced carrots into the wok with a bit more peanut oil.
When the carrots were tender, I went ahead and added my rice.
The goal here is to brown the rice a bit. But, if you don’t have an iron wok or a special heating element that fits onto your stove, it is difficult to maintain a high enough temperature consistently through your wok to achieve this goal. No worries. The taste and feel of the dish will still come through. One day, I’ll have a rock star wok and every grain of my rice will be toasty…some day!
After stirring the rice for a minute or two, I added two tablespoons of my sauce and my peas.
Still stirring, I reintroduced the eggs and sausage to the wok
and tossed it all together. I tasted - to make sure the flavor was where I wanted it to be- and then I removed the rice from the heat to a big bowl so I could cook the remaining veggies. I’ve overcrowded my wok before, and it’s not a pretty site, so I wanted to create the fried rice and the additional vegetables separately.
To my crazy-looking, sugared up wok, I added a bit more peanut oil, my radishes, and peppers and stir fried them a minute.
I understand that the real-deal, age-old woks have a super thick layer of “seasoning” along the bottom. So, I did not fear.
Lastly, I added my kale, which I had pressed over the sink to remove any excess water, and garlic and ginger.
Again, I just stirred them for a minute to release the flavors. And then I poured on another two tablespoons of my sauce, tossed, and added the veggies to the bowl of fried rice.
I finished it off with a few leaves of basil, cut into ribbons.
Yes!! When I turned around, my handy photographer/ husband was frying up our eggs. We left out the bacon this time around…but the runny egg was a must.
I plated my fried rice,
and then topped it with a gorgeous egg.
And just to really share the goodness with you,
I let that yolk loose.
The level of comfort that this bowl brought to both Adam and I is right up there with spaghetti and meatballs, or chili on a cold day, or my Indian spiced pork over grits and spinach with gingery tomato coconut sauce. Comfort food heaven.
The balance of sweet, sour and salty was met quite nicely. The vegetables tasted so fresh and tender- not over cooked or mushy. Each grain of rice was coated with flavor and the texture was just firm enough. The kale was subtle, the peas and carrots sweet. I loved the radishes- they sort of acted like water chestnuts do, with that crisp-tender crunch- except that they aren’t from a can (the only way I’ve ever used water chestnuts as an ingredient). Of course the yolk of my egg made the whole dish that much richer and more delicious. The cured Chorizo brought saltiness to the dish, but we actually felt that it was a little overpowering in this capacity- a little gamey. Not quite like the linguica sausage in my dreams…but that’s okay. One day, we will head back to Kauai and hopefully, the Oki Diner will be waiting for us.
You could really use any kind of sausage here. I think an uncured Chorizo or a mild pork sausage might work even better in this situation. You’d have to cook the sausage first, in link form, and then slice it. Alternately, you could skip the sausage altogether and opt for any type of meat you’d like- or go strictly vegetarian or add tofu. The possibilities are really endless when it comes to stir fry.
I hope you will be inspired to take out your own wok, or a really big pan, and give fried rice the old college try. You will be rewarded with a mouth full of happiness. And the leftovers are unbelievably delicious too. Stir fry offers another avenue for utilizing your fresh, seasonal ingredients in a fun and yummy way. If I knew how to say Bon Appetite in Chinese, I would do that now.
Happy cooking and eating to you!
Last weekend, Adam and I got a double dose of Farmers Market goodness. And you know that made me happy! We sort of eased on in to our Saturday morning, enjoying our coffee on the porch. Then, the sweet husband fixed breakfast for us-reminding me of yet another reason I married that man- he truly understands the art of the over easy egg, even though he’s an Over Medium man, himself. So, by the time we got all the way up to Marietta, the market was less than an hour from closing up shop. No worries, our goal was to bask in the glory of a weekend together and move at our own pace. Which is never very fast.
Crammed onto a side street due to an art festival on the Marietta Square, we navigated through the narrow passageways of the Farmers Market, spotting treasures all along the way.
A basket full of freshly baked bread lit up my eyes first, and I knew we were on the right track.
Jalopy Jelly was passing out samples of their candied jalapenos
served on crackers with cream cheese. Yum! Those peppers were an excellent balance of sweet and spicy. Super like.
We saw beautiful bell peppers,
and tender bibb lettuce
before we got to Turtle Bend’s table, which was brimming with fall goodies.
A lovely mixture of greens for braising, plus peppery arugula,
lots of spicy, pungent garlic,
and two kinds of sweet potatoes- Japanese sweet potatoes and white yams.
Although I was loaded down with a giant brown bag full of naturally grown fruits and vegetables (thanks to the Lowes), I managed to take in the rest of the market-
some pretty purple flowers
giant, smiling pretzels,
and homemade bread.
This is a beautiful loaf of Tuscan tomato and rosemary bread that actually beat out a loaf of Jewish Rye in my taste test. So I took it home with me!
Bounty: Day one. A lovely fall assortment.
To further our thirst for fresh market goodness, we headed to Grant Park on Sunday. It was our first time visiting in a few weeks, and I was really starting to miss the in-town market. I just love the vibe. It does good things for my soul. To my delight, there were old favorites and some new additions to the row of vendors this week.
Welcome, Native Juice Bar. I love you, even though I just met you.
This happy gentleman presses all kinds of goodies in that futuristic juicer. We tried a lemon ginger shot
big enough for the two of us to share. Wow! So spicy and invigorating and exciting in my mouth! Perfect for a grey Sunday morning, that juice got my blood flowing.
This kid was very taken with the honey. He was tasting each variety with pretzel sticks as we walked down the lane.
We saw vibrant bouquets of flowers
and some great lookin’ vegetables.
I’ve never tasted a watermelon radish, but I am intrigued, for sure! The green onions were too perfect to pass up. I’ve been snipping those babies into just about everything I cooked this week.
There was a colorful collection of heirloom tomatoes
alongside these fiery red jalapenos.
The kind vendor sent us home with three for free, just to try. They are awesome! Hot and sweet and full of flavor.
On our walk back towards the center of the market, I caught this boy
doing a little honey dance! His mama was trying to haul him away- but he wasn’t buying what she was sellin’, so to speak.
Then, I saw your favorite yogurt guy and mine,
looking especially dapper on this Sunday morning. He’s about to go traveling around sharing his yogurt with America, so this was his last market for a while. I wished him much luck and happiness on his journey. Atlanta Fresh yogurt is about to go viral, y’all. I’m pretty sure he’ll remember his roots.
Speaking of small businesses gone wild, I want to give a shout out this week to King of Pops.
What started as a pipe dream - three brothers, raised on fresh fruit smoothies, imagining a life selling pops like the ones they enjoyed on a visit to Central America- turned into reality. One brother was laid off from his corporate gig and decided to put his whole self in (and shake it all about)…and what happened is remarkable.
The first cart sold pops on a busy street corner in Atlanta, and did phenomenal business. Eventually, the demand for the King’s pops had multiplied to such a state that more carts, hands, and locations became a natural progression. Now, they have a strong presence here, and can be spotted at festivals, markets, and town squares all over the Atlanta metro area. They even have locations in North and South Carolina.
Those brothers make an excellent product- fresh, natural, delicious, and refreshing. There are so many different flavors to try too! And I always feel like I’m where the cool kids are when I stumble upon one of their carts. Props to those guys.
Moving on down the line…
H & F was represented in full force this week with their impressive array of freshly baked breads and pastries. I’d like to crawl right inside of that basket of bread and just breathe real deeply. Yum!
And I’ve been eyeballing their bagels for weeks now. This Jersey girl is going to have to break down and try one on my next time around.
Back at the middle of the market, sort of the crux, a band was playing. Hooray!
Stringed instruments in my happy place?!?! The music was great and added another layer of wonderful to the market’s ambiance. Fab.
This was about the time I smelled sausage.
Yup, Kevin Ouzts from the Spotted Trotter was cookin’ up some samples of their rabbit and pork sausage, which was stellar.
Their cooler was full, as is their schedule these days. They’ve got some very exciting things happening, including making hot dogs for Richard Blais’s new Atlanta spot, HD1. Good for those Ouztses!
We took home some of their new Chorizo sausage and a second round of the Toulouse as well.
Our second breakfast came from the Little Tart.
I had a hard time choosing between the tomato, cheddar, and thyme tart and the goat cheese, corn and basil tart. But we went with the latter. It was almost like a custard- so creamy. The flavors mingled beautifully together - the sweetness of the corn against the tartness of the goat cheese, with basil singing through- and that pie crust is divine.
Winding down, I grabbed the whole lot of these pretty little tomatoes.
And then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw these!
Oh, my! Laura, from the Little Red Hen has surely outdone herself with these. They looked so decadent, and I was so full…I had to resist the urge, but Adam was drawn to her donuts in an “I. Must. Have. One.” sort of a way.
And let me tell you, the one bite I had did not disappoint.
This donut put Krispy Kreme to shame. Not too sweet, light and airy, but with a cake-y edge. Mmm. That donut + coffee= something extraordinary.
And on that sweet note, we walked on outta there with giant smiles on our faces,
with Bounty: Day 2, armed for a serious week of cooking.
What did we do with all of that inspiration, you ask??
For starters, we made apple and sausage stuffed pork tenderloin with braised turnip greens and sweet potatoes. Sounds Southern and fall-ish, right? It totally is.
We chose to use our Toulouse sausage,since it is flavored with nutmeg, mace, and allspice- a perfect pairing for the apples.
That’s the first thing we did. Got that sausage into a pan and browned it.
Mmmm. Good things happening already! Meanwhile, I went to chopping. I diced up my apples, pulled the thyme leaves off the stems, smashed my garlic cloves to get the paper off, chopped up my green onion, and set them out with my golden raisins and toasted Florida pecans that I brought home last week.
I went ahead and squeezed that half a lemon over my apples and tossed them so they wouldn’t brown. Then I pressed my garlic and combined all of the stuffing ingredients together.
I gave them a quick toss, sprinkled them with salt and pepper and let them sit while we prepped the pork.
Now, the pork tenderloin we got this time around was sort of split, so we just pounded it out a bit to make it even and flat.
But the first time we did it, Adam used more of a “slice and roll” sort of method,
starting from one side of the pork, slicing, and rolling it out like a cinnamon roll.
After seasoning the pork on both sides, we laid the stuffing right down the middle.
We had soaked some cooking twine in water to prevent it from burning,
and we used it to wrap our pork.
This really took all four of our hands. Adam pulled the edges toward the middle, and I wrapped the string around the meat. Alternately, you could cut the twine into smaller pieces and tie off 5 or 6 spots with those pieces.
Now that my counter was clear of pork products, it was time to bring out the greens.
And one more pork product. Just one little ham hock. There are never too many kinds of pork on one plate, right? And they’re turnip greens! They are so southern, only a ham hock would do.
I got out a nice, big pot and got my garlic cooking in some olive oil.
I cut my greens- stems about 2 inches long and then the leaves- about 3 inch ribbons.
I added them to the pot when the garlic was fragrant.
I stirred them around a bit, helping the leaves to wilt, and then I added the rest of my apples to the pot.
That may sound odd to you, but here’s what I figured: I only used about half of the apples I cut for my pork stuffing. And folks always put sugar in their greens…so I thought I’d use the fresh, natural apples as a sweetener instead. The greens cook so long, I knew they’d just melt right in anyway.
I let the apples and greens cook a few minutes
before adding my dried ancho chili pepper, for extra smoky flavor, my ham hock,
and about 4 cups of homemade chicken broth. I also poured a healthy splash of vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper, and those greens were ready to simmer
down. I’d say we let them go a good thirty minutes or longer before we started tasting them. You want the greens to be tender without any piercing bitterness. Some people cook them all day long. It’s totally up to you.
When we knew the greens were approaching the good zone, we put our sweet potatoes in the oven and heated up a large oven-safe skillet, along with a bit of olive oil, for our pork. We seared the pork for a couple of minutes on all sides to create a golden crust and seal in the flavor.
Then we transferred the pan straight into the oven and let it cook another 10 minutes or so until the pork had reached 145 degrees on an internal meat thermometer. We took it out of the oven and let it rest about ten minutes before slicing.
This allows all of the juices to redistribute within the meat, rather than running out all over your board.
Finally, we scooped our greens out of the pot, leaving any remaining liquid, the big pepper, and the ham hock behind,
and we were ready to plate.
Now the baked Japanese sweet potato from the farm was a test run for us. Straight up baking this guy did not bring out its finest qualities. It was super starchy. I have learned that a boil and mash method does those taters justice.
But the apple and sausage stuffed pork tenderloin was juicy and delicious. The flavor combination of the apples and the sausage was a sweet and savory spectacular. The raisins lent a bit of extra sweetness and moisture, and I loved the texture that the pecans brought to the dish. The thyme, often used in French cooking, really connected the French sausage and other stuffing ingredients to the pork in its subtle herbacious way. The only change I might make next time, is to add a small handful of breadcrumbs to the stuffing to help it stick together a bit better.
The greens were the best turnip greens we’ve ever cooked. Soft, but not mushy, boasting a lovely balance of sweetness, smokiness, and tang. The apples worked like a dream.
I hope that you are enjoying the fall air and the fruits and veggies of the season. Get creative with your apples this time around. Get on out to your local markets while they last and scoop up some of the amazing ingredients that are available. Think about balancing sweet and savory, crunchy and soft, salty and spicy. Fatty and lean. Enjoy your time in the kitchen.
Happy cooking and eating to you,