Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New Farmers Market Find

Now that I'm an "authority" on regular farmers market produce, I've started playing with some of the weird stuff. (Read - veggies that aren't from around here.  But somebody's growing them, and somebody else is buying them, and I want to know what is up!)

This week it is luffa gourd or Chinese Okra.  (It's not actually okra, but has a similar cross section)

Raw - and with those hard ridges peeled off with a vegetable peeler, it has the texture of zucchini, but is sweet like cucumber.

It can be cut into circles, halved and cut into half moon slices, or quartered and cut into chunks - like here.

Then simply sauté in oil with a little garlic and salt, and add in a few herbs at the end (oregano and basil were on hand...).  I added a squeeze of lemon at the end, just 'cuz it was sitting there, and it seem like it needed a little something.

My vendor told me she likes to stir-fry them and then mix in eggs for a sort of Chinese veggie scrambled eggs.

And East Indian cuisine makes many a vegetarian curry with them (cut in circles for a visual treat) since they retain body through long cooking, and have a satisfying meaty texture.

But I went plain - and was rewarded with this morsel:

There were a few bites of fava beans as well.
They mixed together tastily!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I must briefly brag...

Cooking Your Local Produce is a HIT!

I made Hot New Releases (fore vegetable cookbooks) on Amazon.

I can barely believe it.  And I all can do is thank everyone who's bought it.
And I'll be trying out new things soon.

So get ready to suffer through samples and weird recipes again!

Oh - and if you want me to sign it - let me know.  I'll work out a way!

Thanks Again.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Berry Shortcake Time!

I don't know why Strawberries get all the play.
Blackberries deliver some serious Love.

The berries are out - and you may even have picked some.
I just got a whole bunch of blackberries - and the spiderwebs in my hair to prove it.

No need to maunder on.  Even if you just snagged a pint at the Farmers Market or a road side stand.  Clear some space on your counter and go to town.

Berry Shortcake
for 8-10 people you like or 4-5 people you LOVE

about 3C berries (sliced stone fruit also allowed) more is better
2C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 C butter (8 Tbs or 1 stick)
up to 3/4C cream
extra flour for dusting (you can make it 1/2 and 1/2 flour and powdered sugar)

whipped cream
the rest of the cream in the 2pt. (2C) carton
2 Tbs powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla (or to taste)

cookie sheet
food processor (or old school - pastry cutter + stirring spoon + medium bowl)
4in diameter pastry cutter (or a glass of similar dimension)
hand held electric beaters (or a balloon whisk and restaurant strength forearms)
medium bowl
metal spatula

Test the berries for quality - by eating a few.
Measure the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
Cut the butter into 16-ish pieces
Keep the cream in the fridge
Preheat the oven to 425˚F

If using a food processor, add all the dry ingredients to the bowl, pulse briefly to mix.
(Stir together in the bowl).
Drop in the butter, and pulse until it looks evenly crumbly.
(Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter - or 2 knives)
While the processor is running, pour in most of the cream.  If it needs a bit more to form a ball use it all.
(Stir in the cream about 20 times - not to much or the biscuits will be tough)
Group together the dough, and plop down on a floury counter.
Gently press down the dough to about 1/2in. thick.
Press down with the biscuit cutter (don't twist or the shortcakes won't puff up!)
Use the spatula to move the shortcakes onto the cookie sheet.
Bring the scraps together, and cut out one more group.

Pop these into the oven for 8-12 minutes.  (check at 8 min. for browning on the top and bottom).

While the shortcakes are baking, get the cream out of the fridge, and place it in the medium bowl.
Stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla.
Beat the cream slowly at first, until it thickens up.  Then speed up the beaters until the cream is thick and fluffy.

When the shortcakes are lightly browned on top, and look a little toasty on the bottom, they are ready.

Assemble an amazing shortcake.
Cut the cake in half.  Layer shortcake half, cream, berries, cream shortcake half, cream, berries.

Eating... eating... eating...
If you LOVE the people you are serving, make them 3 layers high.

Think... blueberry & peach shortcake.  Mmmmmmm.....