This is your source for information on premium, unrefined, gourmet salt. Here you will find an ever-changing smorgasbord of entries by
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Posts Tagged ‘Farmers’ Market’
Posted September 22nd, 2009 by Lindsey
Filed under: Farmers' Market, free range, French Herb, organic, recipe
Lovely French Herb Pork Chops
The Farmers’ Market isn’t just for vegetables. Ideally, your local farmers’ market supports farmers raising livestock in an organic and sustainable manner. One of the largest carbon emitters, and therefore contributors to global warming, is commercial livestock farming. In addition, if you research the commercial farming industry, you’ll discover deplorable conditions, animal cruelty and practices that lead to the kind of food borne illnesses and contamination that have plagued this country in recent years. I try to eat consciously and responsibly, and I choose to be a carnivore, I feel I need to do so in a conscientious manner. Commercial meat products come to store shelves laden with chemicals, hormones, antibiotics and little flavor. Meat from a local farm is an entirely different animal.
Local farmers (hopefully) feed their pigs and cattle a natural diet that promotes health and well-being, eliminating the need for the antibiotics and hormones that are necessitated by a chemical-laden diet that fails to reflect the animals’ nutritional needs. Look for free-range, hormone and antibiotic free. Look for grass fed and finished cattle. Often local farms will not be organic because they cannot afford the certification process from the USDA, but if you take the time to engage your local farmers, they will be more than happy to describe their process. Taking care in raising animals makes an enormous difference not only in their health, but in our health. And it makes a huge difference in flavor. A great, free range, grass fed cow produces steak that tastes like…steak. The meat has a full, beefy flavor to it that really bring to light the injustice done to commercially raised beef. It cheats the animal, it cheats us and it cheats our palate. This may sound silly, but if you’ve tasted properly raised meat, you know what I’m talking about.
Recently, I met a lovely woman at the Farmers’ Market who runs a local farm with her husband. She offered a beautiful selection of properly raised pork and beef. We didn’t want to buy too many items on our first visit, so we picked up a couple porks chops and some steaks (more on those another time). If you’ve read any of my past Farmers’ Market posts, you know I like to prepare dishes simply and let the fantastic natural flavor of the ingredients shine through.
Pork chops on the grill are the ideal way to highlight their flavor without too much fussiness. We rubbed a small amount of French Herb Blend into the pork chops before putting them on the grill. Make sure the grill is properly heated before putting the pork chops on the grill. If you are careful, and turn them only once, the result will be a much moister pork chop. A word of caution here: free range, naturally raised beef and pork tends to be leaner than commercially raised meat. Think about it: this animals get exercise so they are obviously fitter and therefore have less fat than their factory farmed counterparts. This means that you have to be very careful not to overcook the meat or it will be tough. A nice piece of pork can be served less than well done. It will be moist and delicious.
After cooking, we finished with a little more French Herb Blend. The pork chops were so juicy, and you could taste the freshness, the diversity in the diet and the care with which the animal was raised. It tasted the way you imagine pork should taste, and so rarely does. This dish is awesome with zucchini or brussels sprouts.
If your Farmers’ Market does not have meat purveyors, investigate your local farms or check out www.localharvest.org to find a farmer near you.
Posted August 26th, 2009 by Lindsey
Filed under: Alderwood Smoke, Bolivian Rose, brussels sprouts, Chef's Blend, Farmers' Market, Garlic Shallot, Himalayan Pink, Hot Habanero, Murray River, recipe
A basket of fresh brussels sprouts from the Farmers’ Market
Mmm, brussels sprouts (not brussel sprouts, as thought by many). This poor vegetable is loathed by millions of children who are forced to choke it down before being rewarded with dessert. But this disrespected member of the cabbage family has recently been updated to celebrity status. Instead of an overly boiled staple served with equally overcooked pot roast, brussels sprouts are experiencing a renaissance. Take, for example, Iron Chef Michael Symon and his new Detroit restaurant, Roast. I could go on and on about the virtues of this fantastic, meat-centered restaurant, but this post is about the vegetables. One of the non-meat stars on Chef Symon’s menu is the fried brussels sprouts side dish. Deliciously crispy and slightly sweet, these crispy treats are well salted, almost like mini-cabbage fries.
I experienced my rebirth with brussels sprouts last Thanksgiving. The grocery store featured brussels sprouts on the stalk, and I couldn’t resist this cool looking veggies. After exhaustive research, I settled on a recipe that combined sauteed bacon, apple cider vinegar and shredded brussels sprouts. The salty bacon, combined with the sweet, cabbagey brussels sprouts and the tart and tangy cider vinegar…this will be a new, permanent fixture on the Thanksgiving table. But after Thanksgiving, I forgot about brussels sprouts. Until two weeks ago.
While strolling through the Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning, there they were. These perfect, tiny, green orbs. They were much smaller than the fall brussels sprouts, but they looked equally delicious. And a wonderful sauteed brussels sprout dish sounded like a great compliment to pork or chicken off the grill. I took my precious little globes of goodness home with me to experiment.
First up, sauteed. I couldn’t resist the lure of bacon. The bacon/brussels sprouts combination is so enticing. Chop two to three slices of bacon and cook until the fat has melted and the resulting bacon bits are crispy. Remove the bacon bits with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat behind. Start by chopping off the ends, then slicing the brussels sprouts in half from top to bottom. Lay the brussels sprouts cut side down in the pan with the bacon fat, adding olive oil if there is not enough bacon fat left for all the sprouts, and cook for three to five minutes, until the cut sides are brown and beginning to carmelize. At this point, I season generously with one of the milder salts. For me, Murray River is the go to. I love the light, flaky, texture and perfect salt flavor. It melts quickly into a dish and isn’t overpowering. Add about a cup of water to the pan, cover and cook until the brussels sprouts are tender to the tooth, but not mushy. At this point, I uncover the pan to let the rest of the water boil away, add the bacon bits back in and quickly splash of about a tablespoon of apple cider in the pan, tossing the sprouts to coat. Finish with more Murray River or Garlic Shallot for a little extra crunch (Bolivian Rose provides a delicious crunch, too!) This is such a tasty side dish, my mouth is watering.
The following week, I wanted to try something different. Both Ina Garten and Mark Bittman’s How to Eat Everything have roasted brussels sprouts recipe. Roasting is very simple and requires less attention than sauteing. This time, I started with olive oil in an oven proof pan, and again laid my brussels sprouts cut side down in the pan for three to five minutes. Once they started to carmelize, I added about five cloves of garlic and put the pan in the oven at 400 degrees for fifteen minutes. Your cooking time will vary tremendously based on the size of the brussels sprouts, but the goal is dark and crispy on the outside, tender and delicious on the inside. Salt generously with a Beyond the Shaker salt that compliments the crunch; I like Himalayan Pink or peppery Chef’s Blend. For a salty, smoky treat, Alderwood Smoke is a fantastic choice or you can spice them up with Hot Habanero. You can dress this dish up a little with a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar, but they are truly perfect just simple and salty.
Posted August 12th, 2009 by Lindsey
Filed under: Farmers' Market, French Herb, Garlic Shallot, recipe, zucchini
Zucchini is yummy.
One of my culinary obsessions (besides salt!) is the Farmers’ Market. The bounty of fresh fruits, vegetables and meats inspires me to get in the kitchen and experiment with new ingredients. Vegetables that I ordinarily find less than appealing call out to me as they sit in large piles, overflowing the folding tables at our local Farmer’s Market. One of the vegetables that I ordinarily eschew on my plate is zucchini. Typically, zucchini is part of some mixed vegetable medley served by a restaurant that doesn’t particularly care about its vegetable side dish. This zucchini sits limply and blandly next to a delicious protein that has been lovingly crafted by a caring kitchen staff. Then the vegetables, as an afterthought, are steamed, seasoned with a few dried flakes of thyme and shipped off to my plate, to be pushed aside for the food I actually want to eat. The lack of seasoning combined with a mushy, watery texture…ugh, zucchini.
Yet somehow I forget all of this when I see the beautiful, green zucchini recently harvested by a favorite local farmer. Suddenly zucchini looks appetizing and enticing, and I must buy several of them because how can I live without zucchini?!?! Then I get home, unload my bags and survey the results. Wait, zucchini? I don’t even like zucchini. What was I thinking? Okay, deep breath. Time for a pep talk: you are a fairly competent home cook…it’s just a vegetable..you know how to make it delicious. Just because some restaurant steams it to death doesn’t mean I have to treat it with such disrespect.
With trepidation, I slice the zucchini into rounds and cut it into quarters. Tasting it raw, I realize this is a delicious, crunchy, slightly sweet vegetable that has suffered an injustice at the hands of the ubiquitous vegetable medley. Now, it is up to me to remedy this travesty and treat this lovely green squash with respect and admiration. I heat some olive oil with fresh, minced garlic and added about two teaspoons of Garlic Shallot Salt. I let a little of the salt dissolve in the oil, but there were still plenty of salt crystals remaining to add the crunch I desired. Once the oil reaches a nice temperature where the garlic was sautéing, but not burning, I add the zucchini and sautée it for about five minutes. I wanted to retain the crunchy texture, but still infuse it with the garlic, salty goodness. During the last minute of cooking, I added about two teaspoons of butter, a little more Garlic Shallot Salt for good measure and a few sprinkles of fresh thyme from my garden. The result? A glorious vegetable side dish with little resemblance to the mushy abomindation I knew as zucchini.
This zucchini tasted fresh and firm, with a little extra crunch from the Garlic Shallot Salt and a smooth, succulent mouth feel from the butter. I am converted. Bring on the zucchini! Since that first experiment, I have followed the same cooking method described above with French Herb Garden instead of Garlic Shallot Salt. Reserve all of the salt for finishing the dish rather than adding some at the beginning of the cooking process. The thyme, lavender, rosemary and black truffle add a tremendous earthiness to the zucchini. This side dish is delicious with simple broiled fish or grill pork chops. This cooking method has served me well during a summer of zucchini. I’m so happy there is still time left in the zucchini season; I have more salts to try!
Posted August 1st, 2009 by Lindsey
Filed under: arugula, Farmers' Market, Fleur de Sel, Hickory Maple, salad
Everything required for an amazing salad.
President Obama may have made a national faux pas when he commented on the price of arugula at Whole Foods, but you’ll find a great deal on arugula this summer at the local Farmers’ Market. When the sun starts warming the sidewalks, and the days get slowly longer, I know it’s time for my favorite summer salad green. In season, you can get a large bunch pulled fresh from the soil for only a couple dollars. Arugula, or rucola or rocket as it’s known in many parts of the world, is a robust and peppery, long-leafed lettuce. Used frequently as a salad green, arugula is also a tasty to addition to sandwiches, paninis or pizza. Because arugula has so much peppery flavor on its own, you don’t want to overpower it with a heavy, creamy dressing.
One of my favorite restaurants in Chicago features an arugula salad with crispy prosciutto, shaved parmesan and lemon vinaigrette. It’s heavenly. I decided to recreate this delicious dish at home. I started with fresh arugula and drizzled it with quality olive oil. When making a simple salad (or any simple dish without a lot of ingredients), it is vital to use high quality products. With only a few ingredients, each item plays a critical role in the final success of the flavors. Take a fresh lemon and squeeze about a quarter to a half over the arugula. To add a salty, savory component and balance out the acidity of the lemon and the peppery arugula, I like to shave a few pieces of Parmigiano Reggiano over the greens. You must use real Parmigiano Reggiano. Any other parmesan is not worthy to kiss the feet of Parmigiano Reggiano (really it’s like table versus Fleur de Sel). Finally, I finish it off with a teaspoon or two of Truffle Wet Salt, toss and enjoy. The Truffle Wet Salt adds a warm, earthy component that harmonizes beautifully with the salty Parmigiano Reggiano, tart fresh lemon and sharp, peppery arugula. The flavors with dance around in your mouth, rounded out by the good, quality olive oil. Mmmm…so good. There are times I’ve eaten this everyday for a week.
But recently I’ve been craving Beyond the Shaker Hickory Maple Salt. Something about the sweet, smoky, vanilla flavors of Hickory Maple Salt…I think about it every day. I want to put it on everything, and I’ve been struggling with whether or not this would be good with my leftover arugula. I needed to balance the salt and sweetness with something sharp. Vinegar didn’t seem right; the flavor might overpower the Hickory Maple. Lemon and Hickory Maple didn’t sound right. Finally, I decided to give it a whirl with blue cheese. While blue cheese doesn’t have the acidity of vinegar or lemon juice, it does have a sharpness that is a great contrast to something sweet or smoky. I already know I like blue cheese with meat, so why not with smoky Hickory Maple? I started with some hand torn arugula and again drizzled it with that good quality olive oil. Hickory Maple (a generous sprinkling) came next, followed by a healthy handful of crumbled blue cheese. Finally, I decided to add some chopped yellow tomatoes from the Farmers’ Market. I tossed it all together really well to allow the tomatoes, olive oil and salt to form a nice juicy coating over the arugula. Well, let me tell you, it was amazing. The peppery arugula paired nicely with the juicy yellow tomatoes. The blue cheese and Hickory Maple Salt were an amazing pair – salty, sweet, sharp, smoky. This pairing is definitely a keeper. I just hope arugula stays in season!
We’d love to hear some of your salty salad ideas; please share!