MARKET MUSING: On Preserving

Preserves 1

By Brooke Marshall

You may have noticed my recipe posts have been few and far between in the last month or so.  It’s certainly not because I’ve been away from my kitchen.  In fact, I’ve spent so much time there that my right hand has been swollen from chopping.  You might wonder what could cause this type of trauma?  Well, the answer is … Canning!  Mid-July through mid-August is always one of my busiest times in the kitchen because it’s what I like to call “canning season”.  Tomatoes are everywhere and there is so much fresh produce at the market, I buy it in cases or flats and preserve it for the winter.  Some have accused me that I’m stocking up for a zombie apocalypse and soon I’ll be constructing an underground bunker.  I’m happy to report that’s not the case, but if it were true, I’d be building an underground lair and reenacting Austin Powers for entertainment.  “We hold the world ransom for one billion dilly beans.”  Isn’t that how the movie went?  Anyway, the real reason I can is because homemade canned goods simply taste a bit fresher than the canned goods in the grocery store, and I really enjoy opening up a jar to be reminded of the fresh fruits and vegetables of summer when there’s snow on the ground.

I’ve been canning for about three years now.  There’s been a resurgence in canning, much like the resurgence in knitting that was brought on by Debbie Stoller in 2004 when she published her first book on knitting, Stitch ‘n Bitch.  (I’m a knitter too, by the way.)  She got a whole new generation interested in knitting with funky patterns and easy-to-follow, light-hearted instructions.  A pioneer of the canning resurgence is Marisa McClellan, who writes the blog Food in Jars.  She lives in our very own Philadelphia and teaches canning classes in the area, as well as nationally.  I learned how to can by taking one of her courses, which was coordinated by Pennypack Farm, on her first cookbook tour.  Marisa’s enthusiasm for canning and the unique flavor combinations in her recipes got me hooked.  At this point, the binding of my copy of her first book, Food in Jars, is breaking from overuse.  I definitely recommend you check out her blog and cookbooks.  She’s just released her third book, Naturally Sweet Food in Jars, which I picked up a couple of weeks ago at Headhouse Farmers’ Market where Marisa was doing a book signing.  I haven’t had a chance to make anything out of it yet though.

Preserves 2

Canning might be a little intimidating at first if you’ve never done it.  If that’s the case, there are other ways to preserve your summer produce.  Using the freezer is a great way to stock up for the winter.  Plus, there are many things you simply can’t can because they wouldn’t be safe to consume later on.  Anything that’s canned using the water-bath canning technique must be highly acidic.  Things like green beans, corn, and peas are not high-acid foods.  The only way you could can these safely is to add vinegar, essentially making a pickle.  While I’m a huge fan of pickled green beans, a.k.a. dilly beans, I’m not sure how I’d feel about pickled corn.  Some sauces are also better preserved in the freezer.  Tomatoes are acidic, but when you make a sauce with garlic, onions, peppers, mushrooms, or oil, the acidity can drop to unsafe levels quickly.  So if you have a sauce recipe you love, it may not be right for canning anyway.  I personally don’t freeze a lot of pasta sauce, but I do freeze Mexican red and green sauces and I also freeze a lot of pesto.  There’s also nothing wrong with freezing plain old fruits and veggies.  A quick google search can give you tips on how to freeze any number of fruits and vegetables.  For example, it’s best not to wash blueberries before you freeze them because it can make their skin tough and broccoli should be blanched before freezing.

Whatever method you choose for preserving, it’s always a joy to have market produce well beyond the farm-market season.  So happy canning and freezing … or fermenting!  Oh, yes, fermenting.  Maybe a topic for another time.

Preserves 4

MY MARKET STASH

The photographs in this post show a sampling of what I’ve preserved this season.  If you’re interested, I’ve listed everything I’ve made so far this summer and provided the reference and link to the recipe if available online.  A couple of jams I made never made it through the water-bath canning process, either because the batch was so small that it didn’t seem worth processing or it was not safe for canning.  I’ve made notes in those cases below.  I did process a lone half-pint of pickled garlic scapes, which you can see in the photo below.  I had some leftover garlic scapes from making a pesto and wanted to see how these tasted.  I’ll see when I open the jar!

In Jars:

  • Slow Cooker Blueberry ButterFood in Jars
  • Oven-Roasted Peach Butter – Food in Jars
  • Black Raspberry Preserves – Preserving by the Pint (Refrigerated because this made a small amount.)
  • Candied Onion and Fennel Jam – Adapted from Local Kitchen’s Candied Ramp & Fennel Jam recipe (I just replaced the ramps with a comparable amount of diced onion.  Then refrigerated because it’s not acidic enough to can.)
  • Nectarine-Lime Jam – Food in Jars
  • Amy’s Tomato JamFood in Jars
  • Pickled Garlic Scape Segments – Preserving by the Pint
  • Dilly Beans – Food in Jars
  • Zucchini and Pepper Relish – Food in Jars
  • Basic Tomato Salsa – Food in Jars
  • Roasted Corn Salsa – Food in Jars
  • Tomato Ketchup – Food in Jars
  • Basic Tomato Sauce – Food in Jars (I don’t reduce this much and treat it as a soup rather than a sauce.)
  • Family Secret Tomato SauceAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle

Preserves 3

In the Freezer:

  • Garlic Scape and Arugula Pesto – Preserving by the Pint
  • The Best Pesto RecipeSerious Eats (Don’t add the cheese until you thaw and use the pesto.)
  • Slow Oven-Roasted Roma TomatoesFood in Jars (blog only)
  • Shelled Peas (Blanched)
  • Broccoli Florets (Blanched)
  • Blueberries (Not rinsed)

11263081_907917222602896_6098781368158266639_nBrooke Marshall is a market volunteer, Ambler socialite and overall good egg. This season she will be the market’s resident locavore, turning market proceeds into culinary delights. If you see her at market, say hello. And if you make one of her recipes, bring it to market for her approval. Only kidding about the last part.

MARKET RECIPE: Stuffed Summer Squash

Stuffed Squash 1

By Brooke Marshall

Before the Ambler Farmers’ Market was around, I got the majority of my produce from Pennypack Farm’s CSA program.  I learned about the farm by attending their annual sustainability film series over five years ago.  Pennypack was my gateway into cooking with sustainable local produce, and in the beginning, I just thought it would be an interesting challenge to cook with what was in season.  So I decided I’d give a crop share a try and signed up.  I had no idea how it would change my view on food and how it would change the way I cook.  The thing that struck me the most was how good everything tasted.  A simple salad made with sustainably-farmed and just-harvested lettuce was more delicious than I could have imagined.  So I was hooked.  I still faced the conundrum that most CSA members experience at one point or another, which is, what do I do with all of this produce?  One answer was this recipe.  It has gone through several iterations over the years, but has remained one of my favorites.  I hope it will become one of yours.

STUFFED SUMMER SQUASH
Serves 4-5

There are four main components in the filling for the squash, which are roasted-corn salsa, black beans, brown rice, and Monterey Jack.  The roasted-corn salsa component is adapted from Marisa McClellan’s canning recipe in her first cookbook, Food in Jars, which is also the name of her blog.  I love this canned salsa and recommend you check out her recipe if you’re a canner.  I changed it up a bit though since I wasn’t preserving it.  I tend to make the salsa the day before I make the stuffed squash to split up the work in the kitchen.  I also buy Trader Joe’s frozen organic brown rice, which heats up in three minutes in the microwave, to speed up the filling prep.

Stuffed Squash 2

Ingredients:

Roasted-Corn Salsa

  • 2 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup minced poblano pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1/3 cup water

Stuffed Squash

  • 5 summer squash, assorted varieties
  • 1 15 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 6 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • cilantro
  • sour cream

Stuffed Squash 3

Recipe:

  1. Make the roasted-corn salsa: Turn on the broiler.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the two ears of corn on the baking sheet.  Roast the corn under the broiler, turning it periodically to brown on all sides.  Depending on how close your baking sheet is to the broiler, it could take a couple of minutes to 5 minutes per side.  Keep your eye on the corn so it doesn’t burn.  Remove the corn from the oven and let it cool.  Once the roasted corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cobs.  Combine the corn kernels and all other corn salsa ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil.  Then reduce the heat and simmer until the majority of the water has evaporated, which should be between 5 and 10 minutes.  Set aside or refrigerate if you’re making it a day ahead.
  2. Prepare the squash: Turn on the broiler.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Cut each squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and soft flesh from the center of each half.  Then place the squash halves on the baking sheet with the skin facing down.  Broil the squash for 2-3 minutes, just enough so that it’s soft.  Be careful not to overcook the squash, which will leave it soggy and limp.  Once you’ve broiled the squash, turn the oven on to 350 degrees.
  3. Make the filling – Add the roasted-corn salsa, black beans, brown rice, 3 oz. of Monterey Jack, cumin, and chili power to a large bowl and mix until combined.
  4. Stuff and bake the squash –  Fill the squash with the filling mixture and then bake the squash for 10 minutes.  Remove the squash from the oven and top with the remaining 3 oz. of Monterey Jack.  Then bake the squash for 5 more minutes.  Garnish or serve the squash with cilantro and sour cream.

11263081_907917222602896_6098781368158266639_nBrooke Marshall is a market volunteer, Ambler socialite and overall good egg. This season she will be the market’s resident locavore, turning market proceeds into culinary delights. If you see her at market, say hello. And if you make one of her recipes, bring it to market for her approval. Only kidding about the last part.

MARKET RECIPE: Gazpacho

Gazpacho 1

By Brooke Marshall

While trying to bear the hot summer days we’ve had, turning on the oven or firing up the grill seems like the last thing anyone would want to do.  Luckily, with tomatoes coming in, we don’t have to.  Gazpacho is a cold soup that’s not only served cold, but actually a raw veggie soup that is never cooked.  So we don’t even need to turn our stoves on for this one.  Just get out your blender or food processor and you’re good to go.

The other thing I like about gazpacho is that it can be garnished with so many things.  Try basil, cilantro, avocado, shrimp, sour cream, Mexican crema, or extra olive oil, whatever you fancy.  I garnished mine with cilantro, avocado, and Mexican crema, but it’s also perfect without any extras at all.

This recipe is coming to you just in time for Tomato Fest at the Ambler Farmers’ Market.  In case you’re wondering whose tomatoes I used, I spread the love and used a combination from Pennypack Farm, Taproot Farm, and Clay Brick Farms.  I hope to see you at the market this weekend getting some delicious tomatoes while they’re at their peak.

GAZPACHO
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs white wine vinegar
  • More salt to taste

Gazpacho 2

Recipe:

  1. Mix the diced tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, green pepper, and salt in a large mixing bowl and let it rest for 30 minutes. This will draw the juice out of the tomatoes and other vegetables.
  2. Reserve 3 cups of the tomato mixture and put the rest of the mixture and juice into a food processor or blender along with the minced garlic and jalapeño. Then puree the vegetables.  While pureeing, drizzle in the olive oil and vinegar.  After pureeing the vegetables, you may want to strain the puree with a fine mesh strainer to remove any solids.  I used a food processor and skipped the straining step myself.
  3. Stir the puree and 3 cups of reserved tomato mixture together in a bowl and add more salt, if needed.  Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.  Then garnish as you see fit.

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Brooke Marshall is a market volunteer, Ambler socialite and overall good egg. This season she will be the market’s resident locavore, turning market proceeds into culinary delights. If you see her at market, say hello. And if you make one of her recipes, bring it to market for her approval. Only kidding about the last part.

MARKET RECIPE: Rainbow Trout Tacos with Pickled Salsa

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By Brooke Marshall

I’m a colossal fish taco fan.  If they’re on a menu, it’s difficult for me to pass them up.  So I decided to make them myself for the first time with Clay Brick Farms’ fresh caught rainbow trout.  I thought I’d fry the fish, even though I’ve never fried a single thing in my life.  So you can probably guess things didn’t turn out perfectly.  These fillets come two in a pack and I battered the entire fish and fried them in my cast iron skillet that ended up being a bit too small.  I lost some of the batter that stuck to the pan, but what remained was delicious.  Next time I’ll cut the trout into smaller pieces first, then batter and fry those.  That’s what I’m suggesting in the recipe.  I hope your luck with the batter and frying is better than mine, but even if it doesn’t work out perfectly, expect an excellent meal.

RAINBOW TROUT TACOS with PICKLED SALSA
Serves 2

Ingredients:

Pickled Salsa

  • 1 medium-to-large tomato, diced
  • 2 Tbs chopped onion
  • 2 Tbs chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • Salt

Fish Batter

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • ½ cup milk or buttermilk
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking powder

Tacos

  • 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Canola oil for frying
  • 4 flour tortillas
  • 1 pack of Clay Brick Farms’ Rainbow Trout
  • 2 cups of roughly shredded lettuce
  • Salt and Pepper

Recipe:

  1. Make the salsa – Combine the diced tomatoes, onion, parsley, and apple cider vinegar in a bowl. Add salt to taste.  Set aside.
  2. Make lemon vinaigrette – Whisk the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard together, or put these ingredients in a small air-tight container and shake. Then set the vinaigrette aside.
  3. Fry the trout and tortillas – Put a ½ cup of the flour in a shallow dish or plate. Combine all other batter ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined.  Remove the skin from the trout fillets, rinse them, and pat them dry to remove excess moisture.  Then cut them into strips or pieces.  Set the trout aside.  Heat a couple of tablespoons of Canola oil in a skillet or dutch oven.  Fry the tortillas in the oil one at a time, turning so that both sides are browned.  Add more oil if necessary as you move through the tortillas.  Set the tortillas aside.  Add more oil to the skillet or dutch oven so that the oil is an inch or so high.  Heat the oil to 350-375°  Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the oil.  While the oil is coming to temperature, coat the trout with the ½ cup of flour and then with the milk mixture.  Fry the trout for a few minutes, turning the trout to make sure the batter browns evenly.
  4. Assemble the tacos – When the trout is almost done, use the lemon vinaigrette to dress the lettuce. You may not need it all.  Put the dressed lettuce in the flour tortillas.  When the trout is done, top the lettuce with the trout and season with salt and pepper.  Serve with the pickled salsa.

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Brooke Marshall is a market volunteer, Ambler socialite and overall good egg. This season she will be the market’s resident locavore, turning market proceeds into culinary delights. If you see her at market, say hello. And if you make one of her recipes, bring it to market for her approval. Only kidding about the last part.

MARKET RECIPE: Dijon Potato and Green Bean Salad

Dijon Potato Salad 1

By Brooke Marshall

Once things warm up outside, I’m always looking for light meals using market produce. With green beans and red potatoes now at market, I thought the combination of the two would make a great dinner-time salad. I served this with hard-boiled eggs to round it out with protein. It tastes as good cold as it does at room temperature, so it’s a great dish to make a day ahead for a BBQ or to have for leftovers. You could also make this with double the potatoes or double the green beans if you want a straight-up potato or green bean salad.

DIJON POTATO AND GREEN BEAN SALAD
Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 6 Tbs olive oil + a couple teaspoons
  • 2 Tbs white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1 quart new red potatoes
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 quart green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley + extra for garnish
  • salt and pepper

Dijon Potato Salad 2

Recipe:

  1. Hard boil the eggs. Put the eggs at the bottom of a saucepan and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and cover for 12 minutes. After removing the eggs from heat, prepare an ice water bath. Immediately transfer the eggs to the ice water bath when they’re done. This will prevent the yokes from having green edges.
  2. While the eggs are coming to a boil, make the dressing. Combine six tablespoons of olive oil, white wine vinegar, and Dijon mustard in a mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper for seasoning. Whisk until emulsified. Set aside.
  3. Cook the potatoes and sauté the chopped shallots. Bring a saucepan filled with salted water to a boil and add the potatoes. Cook the potatoes until they can be pierced with a fork, but not too tender that they’re mushy. While the potatoes cook, heat a couple of teaspoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and sauté them until they just start to brown. Then set the shallots aside. When the potatoes are almost done, prepare an ice water bath. Transfer the potatoes to the ice water bath when they’re done. Once the potatoes have cooled down a bit, peel the skins. They should peel off with your fingers. Chop the potatoes into half-inch pieces and put them in a mixing bowl. Add a third to half of the dressing to the potatoes and toss to coat. Then add the shallots to the bowl with the potatoes.
  4. Blanch the green beans. Bring a saucepan filled with salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook until crisp-tender (4-5 minutes). While the green beans are cooking, prepare an ice water bath. Once the green beans are done cooking, drain off the water using a strainer and transfer them to the ice water bath too cool. Then add the green beans to the bowl with the potatoes and shallots. Add the parsley and as much dressing as you’d like to coat the vegetables. I didn’t use all of the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve with a hard-boiled egg and garnish with extra parsley.

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Brooke Marshall is a market volunteer, Ambler socialite and overall good egg. This season she will be the market’s resident locavore, turning market proceeds into culinary delights. If you see her at market, say hello. And if you make one of her recipes, bring it to market for her approval. Only kidding about the last part.

MARKET RECIPE: Chopped Market Salad

Chopped Market Salad 11

By Brooke Marshall

It’s heating up outside, so this week I decided to cool things down with a chopped salad.  Produce is starting to pour into the market and I couldn’t resist the peas and broccoli we’re seeing for the first time this market season.  I also picked up some beets and cucumbers to round things out.  This salad required a little prep in terms of cooking some of the veggies first, but you can do this a day ahead or on the weekend and have everything ready for salads all week.

CHOPPED MARKET SALAD
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 heads of lettuce
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 2 quarts of hull peas
  • 1 bunch of beets
  • 2 cucumbers
  • chopped dill
  • salt and pepper
  • pepitas or sunflower seeds (optional)
  • ranch or blue cheese dressing

Chopped Market Salad 21

Recipe:

  1. Roast the beets – Preheat the oven to 350° Remove beet stems and clean beets with a brush.  Make a packet out of aluminum foil and place clean beets in the packet.  Put the packet on a cookie sheet and roast for an hour or until the beets are tender.  Let the beets cool down a bit.  Then peel them.  The skin should come off very easily.  I used my fingers to peel the skin off after roasting.  Set aside or store the beets in the refrigerator if you’re cooking these ahead.
  2. Blanch the peas – Hull the peas and get set up for blanching.  Get a pot of water boiling, fill a bowl with ice and water, and line a large baking sheet with kitchen or paper towels.  Put half the hulled peas into a fine-mesh strainer.  Once the water is boiling, immerse the peas in the strainer into the pot of boiling water making sure the peas are covered completely.  Keep them in the water for 90 seconds.  Remove the peas and put them into the ice-water bath.  Once the peas are completely cooled, pour them out of the strainer onto the towels to dry.  Add more ice to the ice-water bath and repeat with second half of peas.  When the peas are dry-ish, set them aside or store them in the refrigerator until they’re ready to be used.
  3. Blanch the broccoli – Cut the broccoli into florets.  Blanch the florets in two batches using the same method as used for the peas.  You can use the same water you used to blanch the peas and the same ice-water bath, as long as you continue to add more ice.
  4. Chop the lettuce, cucumbers, broccoli, beets, and dill. Combine all of the chopped ingredients in a salad bowl with the peas.  Season with salt and pepper.  Then top with pepitas or sunflower seeds if you’d like.  Dress with a creamy dressing, like ranch or blue cheese.

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Brooke Marshall is a market volunteer, Ambler socialite and overall good egg. This season she will be the market’s resident locavore, turning market proceeds into culinary delights. If you see her at market, say hello. And if you make one of her recipes, bring it to market for her approval. Only kidding about the last part.

MARKET RECIPE:  Market Dessert – Strawberry Ice Cream & Shortbread (Sandwiches)

Ice

By Brooke Marshall

It’s strawberry season, or at least it was.  It seems strawberry season has been cut a little short this year because these berries love water about as much as the Wicked Witch of the West.  All that spring rain had me worried, but we’ve been lucky to have lots of strawberries at the market the past two weekends.  So I wanted to do something with them I’ve never done before, and that something turned out to be ice cream.

One of my favorite summertime desserts is an ice cream sandwich.  Typically, I cheat and buy my favorite store-bought cookies and ice cream.  Then seconds after I get home, I smush the ice cream between the cookies, wrap them in plastic wrap, and throw them in the freezer.  These are simple, delicious, and ready to eat in no time, but I thought it might be time for me to make ice cream sandwiches from scratch.  I have to confess, I still cheated.  I did make strawberry ice cream sandwiches from scratch, but I didn’t come up with my own recipes this time.  I relied on the expertise of the Serious Eats writers for the strawberry ice cream and shortbread recipes.  They both turned out to be great recipes.  The ice cream and shortbread pair together nicely, whether you decide to put them in sandwich-form or not.

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STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM & SHORTBREAD (SANDWICHES)
Serves 8

Recipe Links:

Note:  For the shortbread recipe, instead of using a tart pan, I used a 13”x9” inch baking pan so I could make rectangular cookies for ice cream sandwiches.  This size pan was perfect to get 16 cookies for 8 sandwiches.

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Assembling the Sandwiches:

Notes:

  1. The ice cream needs to be very frozen to easily make sandwiches. After making the ice cream, it should be frozen overnight before attempting to assemble the sandwiches.
  2. Once you take the ice cream out of the freezer, you’ll notice that your first sandwiches are easy to make, but as the ice cream begins to soften, it will become more difficult. Therefore, it’s best to work as quickly as possible.  To make things move more quickly, I lay out the plastic wrap that I use to wrap each sandwich on the counter before I take the ice cream out of the freezer.  I also lay out the cookies so I can work through them like an assembly line.
  3. After you make a sandwich, put it directly in the freezer. If you wait to put them all in when you’re done, you’ll likely end up with very messy sandwiches that look like they melted and refroze.

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Brooke Marshall is a market volunteer, Ambler socialite and overall good egg. This season she will be the market’s resident locavore, turning market proceeds into culinary delights. If you see her at market, say hello. And if you make one of her recipes, bring it to market for her approval. Only kidding about the last part.