Treasure hunt.

Every week at the market is a treasure hunt.  Where are the best tomatoes?  Who has the sweetest corn?  The ripest melons?  But I also like to look beyond the obvious.  I like to find things that are new (to me) and different.  This past week was a not just a hunt, it was a treasure trove!

My daughters and I get to the market early and take a walk to see what sparks our interest. While we always have the regular things on our list (the market is my supermarket when open!), we are excited to see new produce and we love to support our farmers’ efforts into extraordinary foods.

To that end…..

This week Schoeber’s had peaches and nectarines and all manner of jams and sauces….and green grapes!  A little tart but delicious and fresh.  I’m sure they will be sweeter this week.

IMG_4121

Springdale, Buzby, and Viereck farms had a wide variety of tomatoes.  White, green, striped, and, oh yes, red (including heirloom varieties).  So pretty and delicious sliced up on a plate and sprinkled with coarse salt.

IMG_4118

Springdale and Formisano farms had cranberry beans.  The edible beans are inside the pods.  These are delicious sautéed in olive oil with a little onion and green pepper (low and slow until the beans are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside).  These are also just great to clean and freeze in a freezer bag and then toss into your winter vegetable soup.

Flaim farm had something called field peas.  Another kind of bean.  They need to be parboiled before eating or, again, thrown into soup.  They also make an interesting hummus.

Some farms offer treasures made with their products.

A friendly young man at the Springdale Farm stand was happy to talk about his pickles.  I bought the bread and butter (sweet) type and dill.  I left the spicy hot ones for braver souls than I. Again, though…fresh and delicious and superior to those jars on the shelves for months at the supermarket.

Hillacres Pride was offering for sale for the first time, crackers made with their delicious cheese.  Way, way, way better than anything you can purchase at the supermarket.  Great with a nice glass of wine or for the kiddos instead of those fish shaped crackers.

Another advantage, for us, is when we walk we walk  the market backwards….we then start shopping (when the cowbell rings) at the Springdale Farm stand and walk with the sun at our backs, not in our eyes!

This week I’m going to be on the lookout for the first of the fall vegetables.  Maybe a butternut squash or some sweet potatoes or……

Advertisements

there is no egg in eggplant

Eggplant are plentiful this year.  And lovely.  I adore eggplant but cooking them can be a chore.

This simple and delicious eggplant recipe will use up most or all of the eggplant you couldn’t resist buying at last week’s farmers’ market.  And you will enjoy it for days.

At Collingswood Farmers’ Market eggplant is available at nearly every stand.  Springdale, Flaim, Buzby, Dannlyn, Viereck, Formisano, Savoie, Fruitwood.  And they are available in all sizes, shapes, and colors.  Experiment!  An eggplant, despite how it looks, tastes like an eggplant.

1422129977654391

This recipe uses small or baby eggplant, but it works on the big guys too.  (and it works with zucchini!)

Ingredients:
eggplant
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt

Directions:
-Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
-Cut the top and bottom off your eggplant.  Peel them (or not…I like them peeled).  Slice them lengthwise…about a 1/4 inch thick.

IMG_4099
(now this step is where people differ…at this point I place my eggplant slices in a colander and sprinkle them with salt and let them drain for about 30 minutes…not necessary, but my preference…after 30 minutes rinse and dry the eggplant slices)
-Line a pan with foil, dull side up.  Lightly spray or brush the foil with olive oil because eggplant tends to stick.  Place the rinsed and dried eggplant slices on the tray.
-Pour an 1/8 of a cup of both olive oil and balsamic vinegar into a bowl.  Stir.  And lightly brush the mixture onto each slice.  Make more of the mixture if you’re doing lots of eggplant.

IMG_4104
-Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.
-At the end of ten minutes, take the tray out of the oven.  Turn the eggplant slices over.  Brush with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixture.  Put the tray back in the oven.  Bake another 10 minutes.
-Remove the tray and immediately take the eggplant off the foil and place on a platter.  You can eat the slices hot but I like to let the eggplant cool to room temperature.  (Really great to do this in the morning and let the eggplant sit on the platter until you serve it at lunch or dinner.  Any leftovers can go in the fridge and be used for three or four days.  I love cold slices on my salad especially if I have some fresh Jersey tomatoes!)

IMG_4112
-I do the same preparation with zucchini (on the left of the plate) (skip the salting) and it is delicious!

it’s still too hot!

According to the weather report this morning we here in Southern NJ are entering our fifth heat wave of the summer.  Ugh.

I live in an old house and do not have central air conditioning.  Double ugh.

But…my children are adults now.  Married.  Living in their own homes.  So husband and I do not have to eat a completely balanced dinner every night.  We do not always have to set a good example.  And we don’t have to set the table with the fine china.

Tonight we’re having a delicious meal.  Lots of food groups represented.  Tonight we’re having grilled cheese with bacon and Jersey tomatoes on sour dough bread.  Yum.

The farmer’s market is overflowing with tomatoes.  It is a very good year.  At the Collingswood Farmers’ Market you can buy delicious tomatoes from the following farms…Springdale, Buzby, Hymer, Dannlyn, Fruitwood, Viereck, Formisano, Flaim…everyone has tomatoes and they are all delicious.

Delicious cheese and no-nitrate bacon can be purchased with one stop at Hillacres Pride.

And the best sour dough bread (or brioche, or whole grain, or honey wheat,or…) can be found at Wild Flour Bakery’s stand.  You might want to pick up an oatmeal raisin cookie (husband’s favorite) or a slice of a sweet quick bread for dessert.

The recipe is easy.  The dinner is quick.  And with a glass of iced tea and some cold melon slices (again…Buzby, Hymer, Viereck, Fruitwood) you have a perfect light and perfectly delightful Fifth Heat Wave of the Summer Thursday Dinner!

Ingredients
sour dough bread
cheese
bacon (pre-cooked…when it’s cool)
tomatoes (diced, because no one likes to bite into and then pull out by your teeth…a large slice of hot tomato)
butter or mayonnaise

Heat your frying pan to medium.  Butter one side of one slice of bread (or as Chef Michael Symon does…spread mayonnaise on one side of one slice of bread).

IMG_4084

Put a piece of cheese on the bread.  Put a few pieces of crumbled bacon on top of the cheese.  Put diced tomato on top of bacon.

Put two pieces of cheese on top of tomatoes.  Cover with a second slice of bread butter or mayonnaised on one side (buttered side up).  When the first slice of cheese is starting to melt, with a large spatula, flip the sandwich.  If your flipping skills are as good as mine you’ll have to gently straighten up your sandwich with the spatula.  Put a lid on top and let cook only a few minutes until the cheese is melted.  Be careful not to burn the bread.

Easy.  Delicious.  And nutritious.  A summer delight!

Too hot….too hot…too hot

It has been too hot here in hazy, hot, and horrible NJ.  Too, too hot.  Definitely too hot to cook!

I’m going to keep this post short and simple so you can read this, fix dinner, and get back in the pool.

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken

Ingredients:
a slow cooker
a whole chicken (from Hillacres Pride at the Collingswood Farmers’ Market)
salt
pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or two to three sprigs of fresh thyme
1 garlic scape (I freeze them in a bag to use all year)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons butter
five aluminum foil balls or three to five small carrots or a couple of onions cut in half

Directions:
Plug your slow cooker in and set it to 8 hours on low.  Place five aluminum foil balls or three to five small carrots on the bottom of the slow cooker insert.   Place the thawed whole chicken (from Hillacres Pride…Collingswood Farmers’ Market) on top of the foil balls or carrots, BREAST DOWN.

IMG_3911Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon over the chicken.  Put two pats of butter on the chicken.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to your taste.  Place a couple of sprigs of thyme on the chicken or sprinkle dried thyme on it.  Put a garlic scape, if you have one. Put on the lid.  Wait 8 hours.

When the time is up, carefully take the chicken out and put it on a large platter.  Be careful as it will fall apart.  When it is cool enough to touch, pick all the meat off the bird and put it on another platter.

If you used carrots under the chicken, take them out and put them in a bowl to serve.  If you used onions, take them out and serve. If you used foil balls, take them out and throw them away.  What is left in the slow cooker insert is about two inches of delicious juice.  You can use it as it is or you can thicken it into a delicious gravy.  The meat of the chicken cooked this way is also delicious on a salad (with some bacon from Hillacres Pride…if you want to cook it) or as chicken salad.

Hillacres Pride sells pork, lamb, beef, cheese, sausages, and chicken to patrons of the Collingswood Farmers Market.  All of the meats are pasture raised.  Grass fed.  The chickens do not live in cages and, therefore, have muscles, which when exposed to high heat get tough.  Cooking a free range chicken in a slow cooker makes it moist and delicious…and keeps your kitchen, and you, cool.

Add some ears of corn and sliced tomatoes……totally delicious, totally NJ summer meal.