Saturday, August 21, 2010

Farmers' Market and Grandma's Garden

Friday morning = Cupertino farmer's market = me (Patty) buying a lot of food = me cooking a lot of food

My finds: little summer squash, heirloom tomatoes (how can I resist?), plums, english peas and figs. English peas, if you can buy them fresh, are a rare find (in my opinion). So, if I ever find them, I have to buy them. I just love the act of taking them out of their pods, and eating a couple of them raw while I'm at it.

So, some things I cooked with my farmers' market finds: peas with shallots and ham, boiled summer squash, panzanella and (with some stuff from Grandma's garden) a fig crisp.

The peas were simmered with a thinly sliced shallot, thick cut ham salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. The squash was just boiled with a little olive oil and salt on top. I like my vegetables simple (and in large quantities).

The thing I'm most proud about, though, is my panzanella (bread salad). I saw this recipe a few years ago in Martha Stewart (circa summer 2004) and have always been meaning to make it, and I must say, it's pretty darn good. Here's my version adapted from Martha:

9 tbs olive oil
1/2 lb. Italian country bread, in 1/2 inch slices
5 garlic cloves (2 minced, three peeled and halved)
2 large heirloom tomatoes, in half inch dice
1 pint mozzarella balls (any size), in half inch dice
5 slices speck (or proscuitto. I buy speck because it's cheaper)
15 leaves basil, thinly sliced
2 tbs vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Use 3 tbs olive oil to brush on both sides of the bread and then broil in the oven until brown and crusty. Flip until the other side is brown and crusty (I also did some on a skillet, but I think my toaster oven broiler produced faster and more even browning). Rub both sides with the halved garlic, tear into bite sized pieces and throw in your [large] serving bowl.
Tear your speck into bite sized pieces and remove the fat, if you wish (I don't much care for biting into flabby matter, so I cut it off). Toss that into your bowl along with your diced tomatoes, mozz and basil.

Whisk together your remaining 6 tbs olive oil with the vinegar and minced garlic until emulsified and pour over your bread mix. Toss, season with salt and pepper and let stand for 1 hour, tossing occasionally. If you feel so inclined, you may garnish with some whole basil leaves.

Bring a bunch of people over to eat this because it makes a lot and is no good the next day. The bread gets soggier the longer you keep it and the mozzarella also loses moisture, so..just eat it all. p.s. garlic breath is an unfortunate consequence of eating this dish. bring gum
These are my pickings from grandmother's house. Her peaches are especially fuzzy (and there's some unidentified crusty matter on them..), but the skin's easy to peel off, and I used these little peaches for my fruit crisp (a bounty of summer fruit always means fruit crisps or cobblers for me) with the figs I got from the market. Unfortunately, I had to throw many of by beautiful figs away because I waited until the next day to cook them off, so they got a lil bit moldy.. But in any case, I still had enough to make my crisp. Here's the recipe (adapted from Martha):

1/2 c. rolled oats
1/4 c. flour
pinch of salt
pinch of cloves
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 tbs granulated sugar
4 tbs butter (oops.. In all my Martha searching, I got two recipes mixed up and used 6tbs...oh still tastes good)

Mix the dry ingredients together and then, using a pastry blender, cut in the butter to form moist clumps. Refrigerate while you make the filling.

2 pints of figs, trimmed and halved
2-3 small plums, sliced
1-2 peaches, sliced (I used 3-4 of my grandma's small white peaches, skinned)
2-3 tbs sugar
pinch of constarch
pinch of salt
a squeeze of lemon
2 leaves of basil, torn (optional, for an herbaceous touch)

Whipped cream for serving [Put 1 qt. of whipped cream in a large bowl, add 2 tbs sugar and 1 tsp vanilla and whip with a whisk until soft peaks form]

Put half the figs into one bowl with the plums and the other half into the bowl with peaches. Add about a tablespoon of sugar to each, depending on the sweetness of the fruit and your taste, and add a pinch of cornstarch, a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon to each. If desired, add torn basil leaves to the peach-fig mix. Toss and evenly distribute your fruit among 4 ramekins (two for each flavor) and sprinkle evenly with your topping. Bake at 375 until fruit is bubbling and topping is browned. Serve with softly whipped cream warm or at room temperature. Cobblers may be reheated at 325 for 10 minutes.

I love summer...


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