Farmer’s Markets – Summer 2009

19 05 2009

Seattle Farmers Market

It’s farmer’s market season again!  Within the next two to three weeks, most seasonal farmer’s markets in North America will open for the summer.  In many areas there’s not a lot available yet but soon the stalls will be overflowing with fresh fruit and vegetables.  

Cookbook author Anita Stewart has compiled a list of the top Canadian farmer’s in this month’s Canadian Geographic magazine. Her picks include the Halifax Farmer’s Market, Saskatoon Farmer’s Market and Trout Lake Farmer’s Market in Vancouver. Click here to read the article in its entirety: Top Ten Canadian Farmer’s Markets.

In the United States, Santa Monica Farmer’s Market and St. Paul’s Farmer’s Market in Minnesota are just two great examples of what shoppers can expect at local markets. Read more about America’s Best Farmer’s Markets at msnbc.com.

Of course these lists are very subjective so take them with a grain of salt if your favourite market isn’t mentioned.  To find a list of markets in your area, a quick Google search should point you in the right direction (this site gets hits from readers around the world so unfortunately I couldn’t begin to list all the resources for every area).  As more people become interested in eating local and seasonal foods, farmer’s markets will continue to grow and flourish, which benefits us all.  It’s a great alternative to shopping strictly at supermarkets and big box stores and the whole family can get involved.

To get the most out of your farmer’s market experience, check out a recent article I wrote for Suite 101.com: How to Shop at a Farmer’s Market.  I offer some suggestions for enjoying your time at the market and making the experience hassle-free and enjoyable.

Be sure to check back throughout June, July and August for regular market reports about what is in season plus tips and recipes to make the most of summer’s bounty.

See you at the markets this summer!

Trish





Crustless Asparagus Quiche

9 05 2009

egg being beaten up

Quiche is a savory pie that makes a great dish for breakfast or brunch.  A classic French dish, quiche is made from a rich custard in a pastry shell.  However, leaving out the crust simplifies the process – just mix the ingredients together, pour into a pie plate and bake.  It’s very versatile so you can add what you have on hand such as leftover roasted peppers, some grated cheese or a bit of cooked ham.  Because it’s asparagus season, I decided to use it for this easy and quick version of a classic quiche. 

Click here to read my Suite 101 recipe for Crustless Asparagus Quiche.

Easy Crustless Asparagus Quiche

Easy Crustless Asparagus Quiche

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!





Potato and Wild Leek Gratin

8 05 2009

 

Wild Leeks - also known as ramps - at the market

Wild Leeks - also known as ramps - at the market

 

The season for wild leeks (aka ramps) is in full swing at the moment.  These delicious, pungent plants taste like a mix of onion and garlic.  They are becoming increasingly popular as cooks discover their unique flavour and versatility.  Ramps can be cooked in countless ways including in soups, roasted, grilled, sautéed or pickled.  They won’t be available much longer so seek them out soon if you’d like to give them a try.  They can be found throughout Eastern Canada and the U.S. and are very popular in West Virginia.  Check with farmer’s market or independent grocers – large supermarket chains are not likely to have them.

This gratin is a great way to try ramps for the first time.  They add a unique flavour to the dish but green onions and garlic can be used if you can’t find ramps.

Click here to check out the recipe on Suite 101:  Potato and Wild Leek Gratin.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

 

Potato and Wild Leek Gratin

Potato and Wild Leek Gratin





Roasted Asparagus Lasagna

6 05 2009

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As I mentioned the other day, I’ve been working on some new spring recipes with all the great local produce I’ve been getting at the market.  Asparagus is one of my favourite vegetables and during its brief season each spring I go a bit nuts and eat it almost every day.  Sometimes I simply steam it and serve with a squeeze of lemon and a little butter.  Other times I roast it with a bit of olive oil or a citrus vinaigrette. This lasagna takes roasted asparagus to a whole new level.  It’s a rich and indulgent vegetarian dish that will even appeal to the most die-hard carnivores.

Click here to check out the recipe on Suite101.com: Roasted Asparagus Lasagna

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

 

Roasted Asparagus Lasagna with Salad

Roasted Asparagus Lasagna with Salad





Fiddleheads, Asparagus and Ramps – Oh My!

4 05 2009
The very first local produce to hit the market: asparagus, ramps (wild leeks) and fiddleheads - May 1, 2009

The very first local produce to hit the market: asparagus, ramps (wild leeks) and fiddleheads - May 1, 2009

It’s official – there are local vegetables in the markets again! (at least in Toronto). While folks in California, Florida or other southern areas may not quite understand the significance of this, for those of us who are buried under snow five or six months of the year, it’s exciting news.  I’ve been busy at work testing some new recipes to share with you.  The change of season is reinvigorating and inspiring and I have a lot of fresh ideas for delicious ways to use the fruits and vegetables I’m seeing at the markets.  Check back often for ideas and mouth-watering recipes!

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Ontario fiddleheads were available for $7.99 a pound at the market last Friday. Fiddleheads are a tasty vegetable and can be found in many markets in Eastern Canada and the Northeast U.S.  If you’ve never had them, give them a try if you can find them.  This Asian-style salad is easy to prepare and makes a great side dish or starter to a spring meal.  Check out my article on Suite 101.com for the recipe and more fiddlehead information:

Fiddlehead Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette (the vinaigrette is also delicious with steamed asparagus or sautéed snow peas).

Fiddlehead Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette

Fiddlehead Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette

Visit these pages for more on asparagus and ramps:

Potato and Wild Leek Gratin

Roasted Asparagus Lasagna

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!





Welcome to March!

2 03 2009

 

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We’ve finally made it through the dark, cold months of January and February and spring is less than three weeks away. However, March is a study in contrasts – it can be as wintery as January or as spring-like as May within the same week.  This can pose unique challenges to a cook when planning menus and shopping for groceries. The best idea is to be flexible and eat what suits the weather and your mood on a given day.  If it’s a warm spring day maybe a salad with fresh greens, herbs and roast chicken will fit the bill.  On a snowy cold day, a braise or stew might be more appealing.

One dish that is flexible for the shifting weather is soup.  It can be refreshing and light or warming and comforting.  With summer just around the corner, many people are interested in lower fat dishes.  I recently wrote an article for Suite 101.com discussing how to prepare lower fat soups without sacrificing flavour.  Whether you’re serving it as a starter course or lighter main dish, soup is a  great addition to the menu.

Click here to read  How to Make Flavorful Low Fat Soups.   The recipe in the article is for Butternut Squash Soup, however, you can use your creativity to come up with your own signature soup such as asparagus, tomato, carrot or mushroom.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!






Pancake Tuesday

23 02 2009

Electric Mixer

Tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday, also called Pancake Tuesday in many places (and more commonly known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday around the world).  When I was growing up, we would eat pancakes as part of the tradition. If you don’t have time for a pancake breakfast, why not have ‘breakfast for dinner’, with pancakes as the main event?  Pair them with a side of bacon, ham or sausage for a hearty meal.

Click here for a delicious pancake recipe I developed for Suite 101: Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce

These pancakes are a little different than thin ‘flapjack’ style pancakes.  They are quite thick but mixing beaten egg whites into the batter makes their texture fluffy and light.  Serve with blueberry sauce (made with frozen blueberries) or maple syrup.

 

Pancakes with blueberry sauce

Pancakes with blueberry sauce

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!





Perfect Mashed Potatoes

10 02 2009

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Mashed potatoes are one of my favourite comfort foods.  Creamy russet potatoes mixed with cream and butter – what’s not to like?  They are very versatile as an accompaniment to classic winter dishes such as braises, stews, roast beef, shepherd’s pie, meat loaf, gravy and roast chicken.  Potatoes are available year round and can be stored throughout the winter.  They are also very inexpensive so they can stretch your food budget a long way.

I recently published an article for Suite 101 on how to make perfect mashed potatoes.  The recipe calls quite a bit of cream and butter (it’s for ‘perfect’ potatoes, not low-fat ones!) but you can always cut back on the butter and use lower fat milk or evaporated milk in place of the cream.  They won’t be quite as good but they’ll still be pretty tasty if you follow the technique and season them properly.

Click here for the Suite 101 article: How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes.  Serve with your favourite hearty winter dishes, such as Braised Short Ribs.

Bon Appetit and Enjoy!

 

Creamy mashed potatoes with a pat of butter

Creamy mashed potatoes with a pat of butter





Lobster Pot Pie

6 02 2009

 

A photo taken in mid-January shows lobsters selling for $5.00 per pound

A photo taken in mid-January shows lobsters selling for $5.00 per pound

We’re living in difficult economic times right now.  Every day the news features stories about companies downsizing and people losing their jobs.  So why am I featuring a dish that uses an expensive ingredient like lobster?  No, it’s not because I am an insensitive clod. Rather, lobster prices have recently been the lowest we’ve seen in years, meaning that lobster meat may be within reach without having to take out a loan.  It also helps support the lobster industry which has been hit hard by the economic downturn.  

 

Misty Harbour Seafood in New Brunswick

Misty Harbour Seafood in New Brunswick

If you are able to find affordable lobster meat, this dish is well worth making.  It’s great for entertaining because you can assemble the pot pie in advance and bake it when your guests arrive.  A dish featuring lobster will always impress!

 

Click here for the recipe I recently posted on Suite 101: Lobster Pot Pie

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

 

 

Lobster Pot Pie

Lobster Pot Pie





Spiced Apple Walnut Bread

2 11 2008

Now that Halloween is over, perhaps you’re looking for something that is delicious and comforting but not too decadent as you’re feeling remorse from over-indulging while getting into the holiday spirit (or eating too much candy that was left over from trick-or-treaters, as was the case in my house).  Never fear – my latest recipe for Suite101.com is a Spiced Apple Walnut Bread that tastes great but is made with oats, whole-wheat flour and applesauce instead of tons of oil.  It’s the perfect treat to make for a simple November breakfast.

Spiced Apple Walnut Bread

 

Spiced Apple Walnut Bread with apple slices

Spiced Apple Walnut Bread with apple slices

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!