Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Farmer's Market, March 18th

We've Got the Scoop!

This morning Matt and I outdid ourselves Who, us? with an off the charts breakfast at Huckleberry in Santa Monica (More on this spot later). Do yourself a favor and have your next morning caper on the west side. This place just opened a couple weeks ago yet Zoe Nathan is already showing Los Angeles what a full-service bakery is supposed to be. She's a rock star.

Plenty full and happy, we then trotted on over to the Farmer's Market to check out this spring's offerings. Just wanted to give ya' all a Head's Up! on what's coming in and looking good....

Harry's Berries is the reason you trek a half hour (on a good day!) from Silverlake to Santa Monica on a Wednesday morning, especially now because Gaviota Strawberries are currently peaking through May. Scarlet in color... inside and out... these juicy berries are too delicate to ever be commercially distributed, and at $5 a pint, their price reflects how truly special they are.

More intense than their green cousins, Baby Purple Artichokes are available year round but are best in the spring, and are a great source of vitamin C and thiamine. Try making a versatile confit to have on hand or just peel and then steam them and serve with aioli or a mixture of yogurt and mayonaise.

Loaded with iron and protein, Sugar Snap Peas are great because you don't need to cook them. Slice lengthwise for a sweet crunchy addition to a wild green salad or toss in a stir fry for a minute or two. They steam and saute quickly and can be shelled and pureed into a soup.

Black Carrots are said to contain anti-cancer compounds and inhibit LDL (the bad) cholesterol. To maintain their dramatic color, keep these varietals raw. Slice thinly (preferably on a mandolin) and toss in ice water so they curl up pretty for a salad or crudite platter.

Although Brussel Sprouts are available year round, they are cool weather vegetables and thus their peaking time will be ending soon. They contain calcium and vitamins A, C, and E as well as fiber. Cut them in half and braise or roast or steam, and pair them with anything smokey.

Get it while you can because Purple Sprouting Broccoli has a short season but is available now with all the nutritional glory of it's green counterpart. Look for thin, young stems as they will be the most tender and perfect for tossing raw in a salad. Try blanching then gently saute with butter and serve them with pine nuts and plumped golden raisins. 

Hosting a mild flavor Baby Leeks are suitable to serve raw when sliced thin. Cooking just slightly brings out their natural sweetness and bringing them to a caramelization creates a very rich flavor. They can be used in soups, stews, grilled and served as an appetizer, placed on flat bread, and they also make a lovely garnish to nearly any meal while providing vitamins B and C and small amounts of minerals.

The difference between Navel oranges and Cara Cara Oranges is mainly cosmetic. Cara Cara oranges have a vivid orange peel and a reddish pink flesh. They of course are packed with vitamin C, and are sweet and delightful enough to eat on your way back home from shopping which is exactly what we did.

See you next week at the market!

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