Archive for Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Fresh from the farm

Market vendors share favorite dishes from local products

April 9, 2008


2008 Lawrence Farmers Market

When: Saturdays, 7 a.m.-11 a.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4 p.m.-6 p.m.

Where: Saturdays, in the public lot between Eighth and Ninth streets and New Hampshire and Rhode Island streets. Tuesdays and Thursdays, in the public parking lot between 10th and 11th streets on the east side of Vermont street.

Season: The market runs from the second Saturday in April to the second Saturday in November.

Mercedes Taylor-Puckett wants to help the Lawrence Farmers Market faithful. She wants to give shoppers the tools they need - recipes, cooking techniques, tasting sessions - to make the most of the market's fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, breads, meats and prepared foods.

"So many of us are not cooking anymore. We get busy," says Taylor-Puckett, the coordinator for the market. "If you see a chef making a recipe that only has five ingredients and he whips it out in 10 minutes, and it tastes really good ... that's really important."

But come Saturday, the opening day for the market's 2008 season, Taylor-Puckett's hands are tied. She's still trying to arrange chef demonstrations for the market, which will be in the parking lot between Eighth and Ninth streets and between New Hampshire and Rhode Island streets.

"We're still working on arranging all of that, but we will be able to do it this year," Taylor-Puckett says, adding she's working with the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department to make it a reality. "You have to have all crazy stuff to ensure that we don't poison anybody, which we understand."

Until then, the next best thing to a chef showing shoppers the best ways to use market-fresh goods is to ask people more in touch with food than your average chef - the growers and producers who bring you a market full of goods.

"If you know how down-to-earth people ... use their product in a dish," she says, "I think that will be very helpful."

So the Journal-World asked several Farmers Market producers to tell us what they do with their own products.

From the garden

Fruits and vegetables are the most basic thing at the market, but they can be all over the map, depending on the farmer's own personal favorites in the seed department.

Don and Maxine Bryant of Jefferson Hill Farm and Winery, McLouth, sell everything from potatoes to spinach to granola at the market, though they are not allowed to sell their specialty wine because of state regulations.

"A lot of our vegetables that we sell, we get the seeds from Italy. We have some Italian varieties of produce that we offer, and of course, on our farm, we sell wine," Don Bryant says. "We do grow fingerling potatoes, lots of Roma tomatoes and other varieties that are typically heirloom tomatoes. And some leafy greens and that sort of thing."

What do they do with all that produce? They spin it into dishes like a pecan and spinach salad, says Maxine Bryant, and use it to make canned goods, which they also sell and enjoy.

"We grow cabbage from seed and we made sauerkraut that we offer at Farmers Market. And we, from time to time depending on the availability of fresh fruits, make some jams and jellies and salsa," Don Bryant says. "We make Kentucky chow-chow. It's like a sweet pickle relish, but there's really no seasoning. It's very, very good."

Lawrence's Galina Conrad of Le Petit Garden also cans her fruits and vegetables that she grows. There are unique pestos (this year, she will make some from mint), and there are jams and jellies made from peaches, apricots, honeysuckle, "mountain cherries" from her native Russia and four different types of raspberries (black, white, red and pink). Conrad says all shoppers need to do to cook like she does with her goods is to think outside of the box.

"I use the pesto on a sandwich with multigrain bread, instead of mayo," she says, adding that she also uses pesto on turkey, grilled salmon and asparagus. "Not just on the pasta."

Fresh cheese

Also wanting shoppers to think outside the box is Cheryl Blackwell of Eskridge, who sells her Bradford Cheese products at the market. Though she produces basics like mozzarella, feta and ricotta, she says she really enjoys making and eating quark, a versatile soft cheese that isn't well known in the United States.

"In the middle part of Europe, it's a very common cheese. It's kind of like yogurt, and I guess they make everything out of it, from breakfast things to desserts," Blackwell says. "And here, of course, nobody has heard of it."

Blackwell, who has been selling cheese and other dairy products - including spreads and butter - for five years, says once she tried it quark, she found many uses for it.

"I like it plain, just as a topping, for instance, on a fruit cobbler," she says. "Of course, it can be used, pretty much as like yogurt. And you can bake with it. A lot of people buy it to make tarts, things like that, or baked potatoes."

Local meats

Bison meat recipes such as buffalo burgers and steak have become more popular in recent years because of its relatively low fat content (2.2 grams of fat per 100 grams of meat, as compared with 6.5 grams for the same amount of beef, according to the USDA). But what makes it desirable - its nutrition profile - also means an adjustment in cooking technique, says Terri Gibbs, who owns Lone Star Lake Bison Ranch near Overbrook with her husband, Don.

"I guess the only thing I can say that the difference in bison is it is very lean, doesn't have the fat in it, that it cooks a little faster," Gibbs says. "So, low and slow is kind of a good way to approach it."

So, with low temperatures and a little time, shoppers can cook like a local producer, with market-fresh ingredients.

"It's pretty darn easy," Gibbs says. "I tell folks, you know, I'm not the greatest cook in the world at all, but buffalo makes you look pretty good because it has such wonderful flavor to it."

Recipe ideas

Some recipes from farmers and ranchers whose products can be found at the Lawrence Farmers Market.

Calzone with Spinach-Ricotta Filling

1 cup firmly packed spinach leaves, washed and dried

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg yolk

1 garlic clove, pressed

Salt and freshly grated black pepper

Pizza dough (homemade or purchased)

Olive oil

1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, cubed

Finely mince the spinach leaves and blend with the ricotta, Parmesan, egg yolk, garlic clove, salt and pepper. Stretch the dough to 12-14 inches, round. Place on lightly greased and corn meal-dusted pizza pan. Place about 3/4 cup prepared mixture and some mozzarella onto dough and fold in half, crimping the edges. Brush tops of dough with olive oil. Make a couple of slits in the middle. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven on middle rack for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Let rest at least 20 minutes and serve with a sauce such as marinara.

- Cheryl Blackwell, Bradford Cheese

Spicy Pecan Salad

For salad:

1 heart of romaine lettuce or mixture of baby lettuces

1 red onion

1/2 cup crumbles blue cheese

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 pint raspberries

4 teaspoons raspberry vinaigrette (per serving)

For pecans:

1/2 cup chopped pecans

3 teaspoons dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For pecans: Rinse pecan pieces to dampen. Combine brown sugar and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Mix in damp pecan pieces and toss until thoroughly coated. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet, place in preheated 400-degree oven and cook five to 10 minutes until brown sugar is thoroughly melted on pecans. Remove and let cool.

For salad: Toss lettuce with raspberry vinaigrette and divide evenly on salad plates. Slice red onion paper thin and layer to taste on top of the greens. Sprinkle with blue cheese crumbles, raspberries and spicy pepper pecans to taste.

- Maxine Bryant, Jefferson Hill Farm and Winery

Cumin Cream Cheese Crudites

12 baby carrots

1/2 cup cream cheese

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

In a large saucepan, cover carrots with water and bring to a boil, cook for 3 minutes. Drain and place carrots on a baking sheet to dry and cool. Slice cooled carrots in half, lengthwise. Using an electric mixer, blend the cream cheese, cumin, chives, lemon juice and salt. Place the cream cheese mixture in a pastry bag and pipe down the centers of the sliced carrots. Sprinkle each carrot with toasted pine nuts.

- Maxine Bryant, Jefferson Hill Farm and Winery

Bison Fajitas

1 pound bison sirloin


Juice of 2-3 limes

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper


1 large tomato, chopped

3 green onions, chopped

1 large green pepper, sliced


Sour cream


4 flour or corn tortillas, warmed

Pound meat into 1/2 inch thickness if necessary. Sprinkle both sides of steak with lime juice, garlic salt, pepper and place steak slices in plastic bag. Tie bag securely and marinate in refrigerator six to eight hours. Drain marinade and broil meat over medium high mesquite coals 2-3 minutes on each side. Serve in warmed flour or corn tortillas. Add garnishes as desired.

- Terri Gibbs, Lone Star Lake Bison Ranch

Bison Chili

1 pound ground bison

1 medium onion, chopped

1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

2 16-ounce cans peeled tomatoes

1/2 cup water

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

In a non-stick skillet, saute the ground bison and onion until the meat is browned and the onion is tender. Add the pinto beans, tomatoes, water and seasonings. Cover and simmer for 1 hour, adding more water if chili becomes too thick. Add chopped cilantro and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Spoon into bowls and garnish with grated cheese or diced jalapeno peppers.

- Terri Gibbs, Lone Star Lake Bison Ranch


lounger 10 years, 1 month ago

Make it ORGANIC and you have a winner....

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