|Myself and Gina at the Cotton Mill Farmers Market|
I try to do a few cooking demonstrations a year for whoever really wants me to show up. As always, I had the opportunity to do one for my local Farmers Market and the great folks that not only show up to sell great, locally grown foods but also for the people that run it and the folks that come out to support their local farmers. The rules of the game are to go round and get things from each or as many vendors as needed and create dishes or snacks with what you can find. There are two great things about this: 1) It gives people a chance to see what they can do with what is at the market that week. 2) It gives a cook a chance to create some seriously odd and wonderful things.
As I promised many people, here are the recipes I created just for the Cotton Mill Farmers Market starting from favorite to, well, lets just say, the least well received. Please note that throughout this post, there are many, truly deserved Honorable Mentions. On that subject: Photos courtesy of Whole Grains & More. Check them out on Facebook.
Strawberry Basil Sorbet
There are millions of jokes that start with "A Guy Walks into a Bar and..........." There are very few that begin with "This guy buys a $5 ice cream maker at a yard sale, takes it to the Farmers Market for a demo and..." I came with recipe in hand, I froze and equipped the machine, and it crapped out halfway through the process. The good news is, you don't have to spend $5 at a yard sale on a piece of untested equipment before you make tasty things. **Strawberries courtesy of The Garry Farm and The Crager/Hager Farm. Basil courtesy of Crager/Hager**
1 1/2-2 pints fresh Strawberries. tops removed
1/2 cup, packed fresh Basil Leaves
1 cup Organic Sugar
1 cup water
Juice and zest of 1/2 Lemon
Pinch of Sea Salt
Start by making a simple syrup of the sugar, water, lemon juice and zest, basil, and salt. Bring up to a temperature just needed to dissolve the sugar. Place in the refrigerator long enough to cool to room temp or below. Strain the basil and zest out and add the strawberries. Puree with an immersion blender, food processor, regular blender, or whatever you have to use to make a very fine puree. At this point, some like to strain out the seeds for texture but I just leave them in.
Now, you can add this to an ice cream maker at this point, you can add this to the cheap ice cream maker you really thought you were getting a deal on (Fair Warning: It might not work out. I'm just sayin'). Or, you can place the final puree in the freezer for about an hour. When it starts to freeze around the edges, just use a fork and mix it all back together and repeat this process until it freezes close to solid. Scrape with a fork to fluff and its done.
Just as a side note, if your $5 yard sale find does decide to die in mid-operation, have some dry ice handy. It saved my bacon in this case and everyone loved the sorbet.
Chevre and Pesto Mousse
Very simple and very tasty. **Chevre courtesy of Capra Gia Goat Cheese. Basil and Garlic Scapes courtesy of The Crager/Hager Farm.**
|Tasty samples for Carroll Counties Finest.|
1/2 cup, pack Fresh Basil leaves (tops, if possible)
1-2 small Garlic Scapes (the unopened flower and stalk of the garlic plant)
Juice and zest of 1/2 Lemon
1/4 cup Olive Oil (give or take a little)
Sea Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper to taste
In a small food processor, add all ingredients except the chevre and oil. Pulse a few times then turn the processor on and drizzle in olive oil until you've reached your level of pesto consistency. Add to the chevre and whip with a hand mixer until light and airy. That's it. Dirt Simple.
As a quick note about Mousse's: Most creamy mousee's have to use gelatin or fats to give them structure at room temperature. The wonderful lack of fat in goat cheese means that it doesn't melt. If you are looking for a mousse recipe that is low fuss, no worries, and a sure fire winner, use a recipe that calls for chevre or goat cheese.
|Melanie Skinner of Whole Grains & More|
By the way, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that, for the Farmers Market, I served this mousse on whole grain crackers made by Melanie Skinner, the owner and mind behind Whole Grains & More. If you are around the Carroll County, GA area, you need to try these crackers. However, I wish you luck in getting your hands on some. Melanie cannot make them fast enough as they fly off the shelves. I'm not kidding either since I had to call a week in advance to make sure she would have some there. Aside from this, Melanie is nothing short of a genius when it comes to healthy eating, allergen free foods, juices, and raw foods.
Chili and Cinnamon Candied Radishes
Yeah, I said Candied Radishes. I know it sounds really odd but if you're a radish fan, you have to walk down this path. It's tasty, it's funky, it catches people off guard, and it seriously easy to do. Really, this recipe is so easy, I'm almost ashamed to post it. **Radishes courtesy of Full Life Farms**
1 cup Radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Organic Sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. Chili Powder
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
Pinch of Lemon Zest
Sea salt to taste
Bring all of the ingredients to a boil over medium high heat and cook until the radishes are just translucent. Turn of and let steep for about 30 minutes for all of the flavors to come together and soak into the radishes. With a food processor or an immersion blender, process into a rough puree. Strain off remaining liquid and reduce the liquid over high heat to make a thick syrup, add back to the radishes, and you're done.
So, you've made Candied Radishes and now you step back and say "What the Devil do I do with this"? Well, for starters, you can serve it on pieces of Chocolate Pound Cake (that in my case, was provided by The Garry Farm). However, I'm going to add a very special hot sauce that I keep hidden in the back of the cabinet (because there's only one guy in town that makes it and I treat it like gold) and then put it on hot dogs because it has that great Sauerkraut tang in the background. There are a millions uses for this stuff and all of them are tasty.
To be sure, when people heard what it was, they usually looked at it really funny...until they tried it. In the interest of honesty, there were two who didn't receive this well. However, I'll take the other 40 peoples accolades instead. No harm, no foul.
|Melanie Drew, Blue Heron Art Studios|
The last mention and shout out I have is for Melanie Drew, Owner and Artist in Residence at Blue Heron Art Studios. A wonderful person, a seriously skilled artist, a good friend, and the person I rely on to bring platters, bowls, and all of the other pottery that makes my food look good. No matter how many times I ask, she always has something on which to display my trade. A HUGE thanks to her.
One more week of cooking adventures, one more week of Farmers Market fun, and another good time that I had just by being invited to show what I can do and what others can do with great local foods.
Oh, I almost forgot: Since a good portion of my readers expect a tale that occasionally involves a cocktail or two, we came home and fried about 60 wings for the family (There's a Blog Post called "Wings Five Ways. Check it out) and a friend that stayed over with Andrew. After many wings that were enjoyed with several fine Canadian beers, we took the remaining dry ice from the demo and had a little fun. So as not to arm anyone with too much information with which they might damage themselves, lets just say that dry ice, two liter bottles, and a pellet gun make for some serious fun!
As Always, Party Well, Eat Better,