Posts Tagged ‘farmer market’

chop drop soup

This is not so much a recipe as it is a map or method to creating soul satisfying soup in five easy steps.  Let your imagination go wild, with the blessing of your taste buds of course.  Soups are a perfect way to use seasonal veggies that you may find at your local farmers market.  Say there is an unusual squash on the table, ask the grower if it is hard, bitter, sweet, or soft?  Bitter squash is not the best candidate for soups, at least in my view, so I avoid those.  Zucchini is about as bitter as I will go.  Give chop and drop a try!

Step 1

Empty the veggie drawer into the (clean) kitchen sink or counter.  Wash all skin-stay-on veggies.

Step 2

Peel and trim veggies.  Chop into manageable pieces.  Hint: the smaller the dice the hastier it cooks!

Step 3

Drop into a soup pot with a swirl of olive oil, sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Stir.

Step 4

Add liquids.  Choose your favorite stock, broth, bouillon, OXO, Knorr, or even tomato puree, or can of cream of whatever plus milk.

Step 5

Wait.  Poke the veggies to see if they are tender. Heck, you could even taste one or two.

You are ready to eat!


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Farm stand  in North Austin

Every Wednesday Angel Valley Farms sells organically grown produce in north Austin.  I don’t make it out the mini market every week, but I happened to be on the way back from a morning appointment when I realized it was Wednesday.  Almost 10am.  The farmers open at 10 sharp and if there’s something special, like golden beets, you have to get there early if you have any hopes in snagging the prize veg of the day.  With three yellow bunches left, I grabbed one.  Before I could decide if I needed more for this recipe I was conjuring, a short thin woman appeared behind me “…You know I think I take both of these…” My mouth was open to speak but nothing could come fast enough.  At least I had one bunch.  I also took a bunch of carrots which looked juicy and tender, most importantly, fresh!

The latecomers will have to make do with purple beets.

I peeled these little blondies after a short trip in boiling water.  My first borscht was starting out lovely.  I wasn’t even worried about my lack of fresh dill, even though most recipes I’ve seen call for it or pickles.  No dill? There’s a patch for that: chives.

Here is what you will need for my twist on borscht:

  • 1 bunch (4 – 6) yellow beets
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 – 3 medium parsnip
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 large yellow onion (or half a small one)
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional and to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • sour cream (garnish)
  • chives, chopped (garnish)

Boil a small amount of water for the beets.  Cut the stems 1/4 inch from the top of the bulb and trim the root end.  Boil for a couple of minutes to soften the rough outer skin.  Discard the water and set the beets aside to cool enough to handle.   Bring the stock and water up to a simmer the empty pot.

Peel the beets, carrot, and parsnip.  Dice.  Dice the onion.  Add everything to the simmering liquid and cook until tender.

Strain the vegetables and reserve the broth.  Put the cooked vegetables in a blender or food processor.  Pureé.  Add broth as needed to end up with a silky smooth soup.  Adjust for salt (and sugar) and blend again.

Pour the soup back in the pot over low heat for a few minutes as you stir in the fresh lemon juice.

To serve, ladle into four bowls and top each with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of chives.


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For some reason, husbands are great steak chefs.  It must be those ancient chromosomes relating back to the first discoverers of fire and the application of fire to the hunted thing du jour.  I don’t think my steaks are bad, his are just better and I’m willing to share the kitchen to get my paws on a crusty caramelized piece of meat.  But a girl can’t eat meat on its own.

I wish I had the picture to show you: Little Sister helped create this dish, and she is 19 months old.   Don’t say you can’t cook this dish.  I sliced the eggplant and Little Sister grabbed the squeeze bottle of olive oil and dripped oil on each eggplant slice, proceeded to flip them over and repeat the process.  I followed with a light showering of sea salt.  Next was the pesto.  She helped me pick out the chunks of garlic stuck in the press and put them in the blender.  She tore basil leaves and added them to the blender.  Finally I showed her the bottle of oil and she dripped the oil as I pulsed the blender.  I dipped my finger into the bright green sauce for her to taste her work, she hummed and nodded with toddler approval.

The eggplant planks, prepared by Little Sister, were browned in a moderately hot pan.  You want to get some good caramel color, this provides a sweet counterpoint to the salt in the pesto and spicy seasoning of the skirt steak.  Definitely use the white/lilac coloured eggplants (Japanese variety or Rosa Bianca heirloom variety) this will let  you avoid the sometimes bitter taste of the dark purple eggplants.  I source mine from a local farm and they are delicious.

Basil Pesto

  • about 6 stalks of basil (good handful)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • pinch of salt to taste
  • crank of black pepper mill
  • bit of lemon juice (scant teaspoon)
  • olive oil

Put everything except the oil in a blender or mini-food processor and pulse to chop the basil.  Drizzle the oil while pulsing at first, then let it whiz.  Add just enough oil to end up with a smooth cohesive mix.

If you like it hot, kick it up with some spice like cayenne pepper or chopped jalapeño.

BTW: Happy Canada Day!

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One of the blogs I follow is Lisa’s Foods on the Move because she is devoted to eating locally grown food, this is a goal I’m working towards (again) and trying to convince my family to do the same.  Her current project hits home for me.  I grew up on a family farm which is still in operation today.  My family in Alberta received recognition from the government for staying on our land for over 100 years.  Farm Aid is trying to keep family farms alive here in the US, Lisa’s fundraiser is for Farm Aid.  

If you have vegetarian recipes you would like to donate to Lisa’s eBook, check out her blog here for how to submit recipes by Feb 12th.  The definition of vegetarian for this eBook is no meat (I asked just to be sure).  Eggs and dairy are acceptable ingredients, and hey what’s better than farm fresh eggs!

All net profits from the cookbook will be donated to Farm Aid.

Will you join me?

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I took the kids to the Round Rock Farmer’s Market on Saturday.  Even with the small number of vendors, we managed to find some good stuff.

Hot fresh pork and chicken tamales (authentically made!), Cinnamon bread, honey, a strange opo squash, and Rosa Bianca eggplants dawrfed by the green opo.  This super-sized squash was 3 dollars and the size of my papper towel roll!

The grower said the opo tastes like a yellow squash or zucchini.  He also said it would not be bitter so I took a chance and bought one to experiment with.  This green goblin goes by many names, calabash, peh poh, woo lo kua, hu lu gua, and the list* goes on.  The interior was slightly webby with a lot of seeds.  A brown liquid seeped out after I cut the squash in half.  Strange, but easily wiped away.   I made a curry sauté with half the opo, saving the other for my next culinary whim.  The texture of the cooked squash was squishy and the smallest pieces were rendered slimy.  I would have kept the cubes larger so that they retained more structure while being tossed around my pan.  There’s always the second half…

Golden Opo Curry

  • 4 slices of bacon, halved
  • 1/2 of a large opo (about 4 – 5 cups diced)
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon finely diced jalapeño (seeded)
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • sea salt & pepper
  • 1/2 large red onion
  • 1/4 cup Thompson golden raisins, chopped

Render down the bacon over low heat, remove any crispy bits as you go along.  Alternatively, use a good olive oil.  The cooked bacon is not needed in the final dish, you can keep it in the fridge for breakfast or a baked potato the next day.  Or, just nibble at it.

Next, peel and cube the opo.  Bring the heat up under the pan to medium-high, add the opo and toss with salt and pepper.  Sauté for a minute before adding curry and cumin powders.  Curry needs the hot fat or oil to bloom.  Remove the squash and sauté the onion, garlic and raisins.  You can split the curry between the two batches to infuse the flavor more evenly.  Add the opo back to the pan and stir everything together.

For a completely new veggies, it wasn’t half bad.  Just keep the cubes large or cook quickly.  If anyone else has cooked opo, tell me what it’s supposed to taste like!

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