Posts from ‘Farmer’s Markets’
A few weeks ago, a foodie website that I love hosted a recipe contest that I couldn’t resist. Food52 is a fabulous source for recipes, and interaction with fellow food-nerds. Amanda and Merrill, the ladies behind the genius, are not only established writers and cooks but they also share the same kitchen values that I believe in. That cooking is like a religion, a demonstration of love and respect.
Every week, a different ingredient is called upon and the competition begins. When summer squash was up to bat, I couldn’t resist. I didn’t win, but I did make something delicious for a few people I love. Let’s be honest….what says love like a deep-fryer and ranch dressing?
Parmesan-Panko Fried Summer Squash with Buttermilk Ranch
Growing up in the Michigan, summertime was the luxurious season of eating from our garden. Every year, my mother lost control when planting the garden, and planted too many summer squash plants. With a bumper crop and neighbors who weren’t squash fans, she found many ways to cook the abundant summertime vegetable. This recipe is my updated version on an old family favorite.
Panko-Parmesan Summer Squash:
- 3-4 summer squash (zucchini and yellow squash)
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
- 3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 eggs (whites only)
- 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- Removing ends, slice squash into 1/4 inch disks.
- Add next three ingredients in small bowl and mix.
- Separate egg whites into their own bowl, and buttermilk as well, respectively.
- Dip disks into buttermilk, then egg whites, and finally panko crumbs/cheese mixture. Get aggressive with your dredging to make sure squash disks are at their panko-max.
- Heat 3/4 cup of vegetable oil in a heavy skillet. When hot, carefully add squash disks. Turn when browned, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove and drain on plates covered in paper towel. Do in batches, and cover finished squash to keep warm. Add more oil if necessary.
- 2 tablespoons buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt 2%
- 2 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons fresh black pepper
- salt to taste
- Pulse first four ingredients in food processor. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pulse once or twice more (if you lose control and over-pulse, dressing will be green.)
This week shopping the Greenmarket was a lot like shoe shopping. I was overwhelmed by the selection, and reverted into the cheetah-stalking-her-prey method that can be commonly witnessed at footwear meccas like DSW, Nordstrom, or the Barneys Warehouse Sale (where things really get out of control).
The method is always the same: First, she thinks and establishes an idea of what she’s in the mood for. Her palette could be very specific, or open to a few types of specific footwear. Once prey is established, the hunt begins. She efficiently stalks through the aisles, looping through until pausing for the Clearance section. Then the prey is spotted: a pair of camel leather wooden wedges with gold hard wear. Two aisles over. Limited sizes. Petite brunette who appears of similar height is scanning the boxes. You can’t let that bitch get your shoes.
This week at the Greenmarket in Union Square, my experience was very similar, however there was plenty of produce to go around and no need to refer to anyone as a bitch. I arrived without a clue of what to cook for dinner. I stalked the North-South aisle…pacing until a decision was reached. Asian or Italian? The fishmonger had mussels $6/3lbs or squid $5/lb. With a droopy one pound bag of squid, I walked away with strict instructions that it had to be cooked either very quickly over high heat, or very slowly in a stew.
The Asian vs. Italian debate was solved with the unavailability of Thai basil (available in two weeks according to an herb vendor). Italian it was. The basil looked fresh and delish, as did the arugula, and even some decent tomatoes were pillaged after sniffing the fruit of three different vendors. (I always feel bad when I sniff a few tomatoes and walk a away. A real kick to the groin for a farmer I suppose.) A huge stem of fresh garlic in it’s most natural form along with some Italian parsley rounded out my spree. And of course, a french baguette.
After sharing a bottle of Sardinia white and trying on outfits, this is what I cooked for my favorite little Chaldean friend (who admitted that upon waking up this morning, her very first thought was calamari).
Stir-Fried Calamari with Basil and Garlic
Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in wok. When hot, toss in 1 lb of squid (rinsed and dried). Stir and fry. When color begins to change from opaque to white, add a handful of basil leaves and garlic (4 cloves of fresh garlic, sliced in addition to chopped green stem (can sub leeks or scallions for stem)). Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and a few chopped sun dried tomatoes for sweetness. Finish with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
Arugula and parsley dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper
Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella with Basil Vinaigrette (Chopped basil whisked with olive oil, salt and pepper)
This dinner was simple, local and cheap…$20 for a feast for two. Booze not included.
Farmer’s Markets can be overwhelming.
Between wanting to buy 8 pounds of every available option, feeling guilty for forgetting my organic cotton tote bag and instead requesting (gasp!) plastic bags, and accepting strawberry samples from hot farmer-tanned rural-hipsters in farm t-shirts…it’s a lot to manage on a personal level. And it’s only May, so if the market conditions are a lot to handle now, then by August I could lose my mind.
Last week I picked up the above selection…spinach, asparagus, chives, leeks, garlic and shallots. Along with some seafood, frozen peas and pasta…the delicious dinner for my friend Morgan was whipped on on a rainy weeknight.
Prepare pasta…al dente.
Sauté minced garlic and shallots in your oil of choice, with salt, pepper and a dash of red pepper flakes. When soft, push to the outside of the pan and add a small pat of butter to the middle. Sauté shrimp until pink and scallops until slightly browned (seasoned with S & P). Remove and set aside. Add thinly sliced leeks and asparagus (1/4 in dice)…and allow to hang out for a few. Add about a cup of vegetable or chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Scrape the bits off the pan. After stock is cooked down, add spinach, frozen peas and sun dried tomatoes. Finish off by mixing in about 2 oz (half of small log) of herb goat cheese. Return sea creatures, pasta and top with chopped chives.
If you get irritated with the lack of detail in recipes posted…I apologize. Everything is eyeballed and made up…which explains why I’m such a shitty baker. In the above recipe, I used 4-5 stalks of asparagus and probably 3/4 cup of peas…heavy on the veg and easy on the pasta. Opening weekend of flesh season is upon us, after all.