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Shop the Farmer's Market Life a Chef

July 06, 2019 12:23 PM

Shop the Farmer’s Market Like a Chef

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Chef’s don’t go to the local farmer’s market with a list, they buy what is freshest and at the peak of flavor and then return with their bounty and figure out what to make with the seasonal, fresh and local ingredients.  Here are some tips to remember at the farmer’s market:

•  Make friends with your local Farmer’s Market vendors — learn what they offer at different times of the year;

•  Don’t be afraid to ask when an item was harvested.  Is it local?  

•  Ask if their produce is organic?  Are animals raised and processed humanely? 

•  Ask to sample by tasting a small bit.  And smell everything.  Use your senses of sight, taste and touch

•  Only buy what you can use 

On a recent trip to the farmer’s market, I couldn’t resist bringing home:

• Early Heirloom Tomatoes

• Snap Peas

• Freshly picked Cherries

• Farmer’s Mix of Baby Lettuces

• Fresh & Local Goat’s Cheese

• Strawberries & Blackberries 

• A Few Heads of Cauliflower 

With the tomatoes I decided to make a Simple Tomato Salad with fresh basil, olive oil and vinegar and a big fat loaf of fresh Italian bread.

The cherries I just eat at a constant rate while I’m cooking other things because they are so delicious and fresh this time of year.

The fresh berries I made into a Strawberry Shortcake with freshly Whipped Cream and I had some left over so I used them in …

A green salad with fresh Snap Peas, Goat Cheese, Strawberries and a champagne vinaigrette.

With the cauliflower I couldn’t resist making one of my all time favorite meals with Roasted Cauliflower with olive oil, garlic and kalamata olive paste.

All of these dishes were decided once my bounty was home on the counter.  I had picked the freshest and the best the market had to offer, and these fruits and vegetables needed minimal effort from me to bring out their best.  The farmer already did all the heavy lifting.

Simple Tomato Salad

Slice room temperature tomatoes (never refrigerate this fruit) in serving bowl to capture every last drop of their juices.  Add a good extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, freshly torn basil leaves and plenty of salt (to taste) in with the tomatoes and let sit for 15-20 minutes before serving.  The salt will pull out more of the juices from the tomatoes so it’s important to have a good loaf of hard crusted Italian bread such as Perreca’s on hand to soak up all of that delicious juice.

Strawberry Shortcake 

Ingredients

Fresh Strawberries

Sugar enough to sprinkle over the strawberries

Strawberry preserves (optional)

Favorite biscuits (the recipe on the side of the Bisquick box does nicely)

Whipped Cream

Cut up fresh berried and sprinkle with sugar.  This will draw out the natural sugars of the berries even more.  Cut biscuit in half lengthwise and spread inside with preserves, then spoon berries on top of one half, covering with the other biscuit half and finally with whipped cream.  Garnish with more berries.

Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

1/4 teaspoon real vanilla extract

pinch cream of tartar

Chill mixing bowl & whisk in freezer about 1/2 hour ahead of time.

Pour cold heavy cream, sugar, cream of tartar & vanilla extract in the bowl and whisk until thick and comes to tall peaks.  Stop immediately when this happens.  And you’re done!

Roasted Cauliflower 

Ingredients

1 head cauliflower — separated and lightly steamed

2 cloves garlic

handful of pitted kalamata olives

3-4 chopped capers

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

make a paste by pulverizing the garlic with a mortar and pestle, then add olives, capers.  When desired consistency is had, stir in the olive oil and “paint” the cauliflower with the past (you can use a pastry brush or even your hands) and then finally place in 350 degree oven to roast just until heated through and slightly caramelized (about 20 minutes)

Here are some of my favorite local farmer’s markets:

Schenectady 105 Jay Street Sunday 10am-2pm
Schenectady City Hall (Franklin & Jay St Thursday 9:30am- 1:30pm
Schenectady Upper Union St Saturday 9am-1pm
Bellevue Market 2176 Broadway (Maranatha Ministries Thursday 4pm-7pm
Clifton Park 971 Rt 146 Monday  2pm-5pm
Colonie 580 Albany Shaker Rd Saturday 9am-1pm
Colonie 1770 Central Ave Thursday 4pm-7pm
Guilderland 6147 State Farm Rd Sunday 10-2pm
Troy  251 River St Saturday 9am - 2pm

Credits

Muneib Chater

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