Archive for the ‘In Season’ Category

A couple weeks ago I visited the Farmers Market of the Ozarks in Springfield, MO.  I decided to make my recipes focus on mushrooms- portobellos to be specific.

Portobello mushrooms are a weakness of mine.  Grilled alongside steak, in salads, on sandwiches or even sautéed- these earthy tasting fungi are on my menu at least once per week.

The best part about shopping at your local market is the opportunity to taste food in its freshest state.  Mushrooms found at your local market are especially tasty because they are picked within hours of purchasing them from your local farmer.  When shopping for mushrooms at your market look for the under part of the shroom to be a lighter brown color.  The older the mushroom, the darker the underneath.

Here is one of the recipes I prepared at Farmers Market of the Ozarks using local portobellos from Willow Mtn. Mushroom.  Look for the video soon…

Grilled Portobello, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

4 large portobello mushrooms (about 5 inches in diameter), stemmed (Willow Mountain Mushroom)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced (Yang Family Farm)
Olive Oil
3 medium sized vine ripened tomatoes, diced (Suncrest Farm)
8 ounces fresh water-packed mozzarella, drained, cut into cubes (Terrell Creek Farm)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (My Garden)
Preheat the grill.

Drizzle olive oil over both sides of the mushrooms. Sprinkle the mushrooms with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil on grill pan to prevent mushrooms from sticking. Grill until the mushrooms are heated through and tender, about 6 minutes per side.

In a small bowl, whisk the extra-virgin olive oil and garlic in a medium bowl to blend. Add the tomatoes, cheese, and basil and toss to coat. Season the tomato salad, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Place 1 hot grilled mushroom gill side up on each of 4 plates. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Spoon the tomato salad atop the mushrooms, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil to finish, about 1 tablespoon and serve.

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I’ve got the perfect salad combo for you to bring to all those summer bbq’s this year.  My Tomato Basil Couscous is not only healthy, but nutritious as well.  Head out to a local market today to pick up all your ingredients!

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A visit to a market will allow you to reap the best of locally grown products.  This mild winter and warmer than average spring has jump started everything it seems.  But, I’m not complaining.

The past three weeks I’ve been enjoying the sweetness of market strawberries.  Strawberries to me signals the start of the summer season!

If you haven’t had the chance to get out to your local market, now is the time.  Produce is rolling in at markets, so you better get your shopping on soon.

Here’s a fresh strawberry dressing that has been a staple on our dinner table for weeks now.  Maybe it’s my pregnancy cravings or maybe it’s the fresh taste, but I simple can’t get enough!

Market Salad with Fresh Strawberry Sauce
1 bunch of salad mix from market
2 grilled chicken breasts, sliced thin
1/2 cup toasted almonds or walnuts

Fresh Strawberry Sauce
7 large strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced
1 tablespoon of a high-quality balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon canola oil

Clean and rinse the salad mix to large bowl.  Add chicken slices and nuts.

For sauce: Place strawberries, vinegar, pepper, sugar and salt in a blender or food processor; process until pureed, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides. Add oil and process until smooth.  Drizzle over the top of the salad and enjoy!

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Apples at the Market

It’s apple season, so take advantage of the fresh local apples in your area.  Pack up the family for a weekend trip to a local orchard for some apple and pumpkin picking- I promise it will provide loads of fun for your little ones.

If you don’t have plans this weekend then you are in luck!  Downtown Springfield will be home to the Food Day Celebration on Saturday from 10 am- 6pm.  I will be presenting some of my favorite fall cooking demos, including this simply amazing Apple & Walnut Salad- that is a hit with my toddler.  Come on out this Saturday and take a taste for yourself!

Apple & Walnut Salad
2 local apples, diced (1/4 inch)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 ribs celery, diced (1/4 inch)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped local walnuts that have been toasted
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup  mayonnaise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place apples in a medium bowl and toss with lemon juice.  Add walnuts, celery and raisins and fold together.  In a small bowl combine the sour cream and mayo and then fold together with the apple and walnut mixture.  Season with a little salt and pepper.

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The Market Lady will be presenting two cooking demonstrations at the fifth annual Taste of Springfield event held in downtown Springfield on Saturday, October 1, 2011.  Food sampling of more than 25 locally owned and operated restaurants and cooking demonstrations will run from 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.   The Market Lady, Lane McConnell, will conduct cooking demonstrations that incorporate local farm flavors at 1:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

“I’m excited to show folks how easy it is to shop locally and prepare tasty meals for their family that consists of regional farm products,” said McConnell.  “I will not only be cooking at the demonstrations, but providing information about locally grown foods and answering any questions from consumers.”

One recipe that The Market Lady will prepare is a Butternut Squash Soup that is perfect for this winter.  The soup will be made with ingredients from local farms in the area.  Find below one of the two recipes that will be demonstrated and available for tasting this coming Saturday in downtown Springfield. 

Butternut Squash Soup
2 tbs. butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 whole butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
3 cans (14.5 oz. each) chicken broth
½ c. local honey
1 tsp. thyme leaves, chopped
½ tsp salt
1 tsp. pepper

In large pot, melt butter, stir in onions and garlic. Cook and stir until browned (5 minutes). Stir in carrots and celery and cook until tender (5 minutes.) Stir in potatoes, squash, chicken broth, honey, and thyme. Bring to boil and simmer for 35 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Place mixture into a food processor and mix till smooth. Return pureed soup to pot and season with salt and pepper.

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The soup that will warm your soul

When the leaves begin to turn shades of rust, orange and yellow I get inspired by one simple dish that can always be turned out in a short time in my kitchen.

Tomato Bisque is a perfect combination of local tomatoes, onion, basil and some freshly chopped chives from my herb garden.  And, don’t fret – local tomatoes can still be found at local markets and if you are lucky some growers also grow hydroponic tomatoes.

This is a recipe that will become one of your favorites this fall – I assure you!

Tomato Bisque
1 med onion-thinly sliced
1 tablespoon butter
4 large tomatoes, stewed in Italian seasonings
1 bay leaf
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 whole cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons chopped chives
Croutons and Parmesan Cheese for garnish

In heavy saucepan, sauté the onion in butter for 5 minutes.  Add tomato, bay leaf, brown sugar, basil, cloves, salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally for about 25 minutes.Remove bay leaves and cloves. Puree rest. Strain if you want a very smooth soup. (I like the little pieces of tomato) Add cream, milk and heat well, do not scald.

Serve sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and croutons.

Stewed tomatoes you ask?  Here is a simple way to stew and can your own tomatoes.

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Homemade Apple Butter

I remember watching my grandmother make homemade apple butter in her farm kitchen.  It would take all day, but it was well worth the work!  She used her Crock Pot to slow cook the mixture, which she said made the taste even better.

She and I would make a trip to a market or a local orchard to pick up our apples and pay a visit to a couple of her lady friends, which she would always have extra apples for.

Local apples will start showing up at the farmers markets and roadside stands soon…so be ready!  This is a perfect recipes for those of you wanting to try your hands at making your own apple butter this season.

Local Apple Butter
5 1/2 pounds of local apples – peeled, cored and finely chopped
4 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a slow cooker place apples.  In a bowl mix the sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Pour the mixture over the apples in the slow cooker and mix well. Cover and cook the mixture on high for 1 hour.  Then, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 hours, stirring about every 2 hours.  Uncover the slow cooker and continue to cook for one more hour and whisk the mixture well.

Spoon mixture into canning jars or freeze.  Enjoy all season long!

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Looking for an easy kabob recipe incorporating fresh products from the farmers market – The Market Lady has you covered!  Here is our video from the Marshfield Farmers Market visit.

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Fresh slices of locally grown watermelon

I’ve got another special treat for everyone today – my Melon Salad with Thai Basil.

This recipe I have prepared at a couple of cooking demonstrations in the last couple of years and it’s always a favorite by consumers.  It highlights two products found in season – jalapeno peppers and melon. Be sure and use a melon baller to bring a touch of class to the salad.

I like to serve this dish on a large platter that I top with arugula- makes the melon look very inviting and hard to resist.

Markets are still going strong with local products- get out this week and visit a market near you.

Melon Salad with Thai Basil
1 large shallot, finely diced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup cilantro
Juice and zest of 2 limes
1/3 cup Thai basil leaves, if you can’t find this specific basil you could use any variety
¼ cup mint leaves
1 jalapeno chile, finely diced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ to 2 pounds melon (honeydew, watermelon, cantaloupe), chilled
1 bunch arugula

Put shallot in bowl with lime juice, zest and ¼ teaspoon salt. Chop the herbs and add them to bowl along with the chile, ginger, garlic and oil. Stir and taste for salt.

Halve the melon, remove the seeds and cut into wedges. Slice off the skins, then cut the melon diagonally into bite sizes pieces or into very small cubes, as you prefer.

Pour the dressing over the melon and toss well. Season with pepper. Arrange the greens on small plates and spoon the melon into the center. If the melons are extra sweet, add as extra lime wedge to each plate. Garnish with the purple tipped Thai basil leaves.

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French Pumpkins at the farmers market

The nip in the air is intoxicating!  Fall is trying to make an appearance and I welcomed it wholeheartedly.

With fall brings a new array of garden vegetables to the farmers markets, things such as butternut squash, pumpkins, acorn squash, apples and a lot of the same items you see pop up in the spring like spinach, broccoli, cauliflowers, kale and others.

I always welcome fall with open arms and embrace the new season of foods that my local farmers provide.  But, remember each market is different so don’t go to your local market and expect to find all of these goodies.  What will be available at your market depends on the farmers that planted fall gardens this summer or have access to grow in high tunnels.

When I think of fall, I am reminded of the smell of pumpkin pie fresh out of the oven.  My mother taught me to make homemade pumpkin puree from the French pumpkins my father grew in his garden.  I can honestly say that I’ve never bought canned pumpkin and plan on never having to.  Making puree is simple and stores perfectly in the freezer.

If you are a new mom, be sure and make extra pumpkin puree for your little one.  Pumpkin will taste similar to squash.  I would add a little cinnamon to my son’s pumpkin puree to make it even more special.

Making Your Own Pumpkin Puree
I grew up in a family where we grew our own pumpkins in the garden. My dad always bought heirloom seed and planted a French variety pumpkin that made the BEST pumpkin pie.

We would grow our pumpkins, puree them and measure out a specific measurement of puree then place in freezer bags and freeze the puree until we were ready to use it. That way all we would have to do is go the freezer, thaw the pre-measured pumpkin and add it to our recipe.

Personally, I do not like ANY canned pumpkin. I tasted others pumpkins pies made with the canned stuff- and I will pass on dessert!  Maybe it’s the feeling of accomplishment eating my own processed pumpkin, I don’t’ know. But I know there is a major taste difference in canned vs. processed. It’s a fairly simple process to actually process your own pumpkin puree also. I think many folks think it’s a very complicated and time consuming process – not so!

First, pick out a small sugar pumpkin. Not the large Jack-o-Laterns you see in fields or for decoration. Those types of pumpkins have a very fibrous flesh and are not as sweet tasting as the smaller varieties. The smaller variety only weighs about 4-8 lbs, has a good stem intact and needs to have no soft spots of blemishes.

You can find these smaller cooking pumpkins at farmers markets, specialty stores and sometimes even grocery stores.

To make your puree:
Cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise, remove seeds (but save them, they make excellent garnishes for dishes and are great toasted) and stringy fibers, and place cut-side down on a greased baking sheet. Add about 2 cups of water to the baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees F until the pumpkin is soft to the touch. You may have to add a bit of water throughout the cooking process.

Scoop out the pulp and puree in a food processor until smooth. You may have to add a little bit of water in the food processor or blender to get the mixture to puree smoothly. Cool before using or storing in freezer bags.

I like to pre-measure all my puree in freezer bags. This way it’s very easy to go to the deep freeze and pick out 1 cup 2 cups, ect of measured pumpkin puree.

To celebrate the turning of the season here’s a simple soup that will warm your soul this winter!

Pumpkin or Butternut Squash Soup
2 tbs. butter
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 potato, peeled and diced
3-4 cups sugar pumpkin, peeled, seeded and diced (or 1 whole butternut squash)
3 cans (14.5 oz. each) chicken broth
½ c. honey
½ tsp. dried thyme leaves, crushed
½ tsp salt
1 tsp. pepper

In large pot, melt butter, stir in onions and garlic. Cook and stir until browned (5 minutes). Stir in carrots and celery and cook until tender (5 minutes.) Stir in potatoes, squash, chicken broth, honey, and thyme. Bring to boil and simmer for 35 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Place mixture into a food processor and mix till smooth. Return pureed soup to pot and season with salt and pepper.

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