What should I do with this?
By Deirdre Parker Smith
The produce is coming in at the Farmers Market, greening up nicely.
But what’s also there in abundance is meat and eggs, and little surprises like dried shiitake mushrooms.
Regulars want to know what they can do with things they haven’t used before, or they want to try a new recipe with an old favorite.
The vendors have great ideas and tips for cooking. Bring a little notebook to jot it all down. Lee Ly knows all the things that taste good when stir-fried. And she can tell you what to do with unique ingredients she’ll have later in the summer.
Mikell Reynolds is always busy at the Two Pigs Farm booth, but she has ideas for what they sell, as well, and had a lovely basket of herbs Saturday, including lemon balm, a bright green herb that looks sort of like mint.
David Correll had all kinds of lettuces, as well as young greens and herb pots, and plenty of Talton’s eggs, in all the colors you can imagine. West Rowan FFA had hanging baskets, ferns, and more multi-hued eggs.
Mike Miller had plenty of plants ready to go in the ground.
Chantel Johnson of Off Grid in Color got a shipment of about 200 baby chicks, and is busy taking care of them. She also has pigs, and her pork products are always good. Imagine how busy she’ll be when all those chicks grow up?
What would you do with jelly besides spread it on toast? Well, get a jar of Teachers Can Too Sweet Carolina Heat jelly, pour it over some softened cream cheese and make a meal of crackers with cream cheese and jelly. Or put it on top of a burger, or slather it on a boring chicken breast.
There are always possibilities.
Two Pigs has fresh lamb in stock, a tender meat that comes in several cuts. One of the most versatile is ground lamb, lighter than ground beef and with a delicate flavor that is enhanced by fresh herbs. You can use it in almost any ground beef recipe — it was the meat used in the original shepherd’s pie. Treat yourself to it one day.
1 pound ground lamb
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped fine
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper
Mix ground lamb with the garlic, oregano, mint and feta. If the mixture seems dry, add a splash of milk. Form into 4, 4-ounce patties. Pour 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook patties about 3 minutes per side. Do not overcook.
Serve with pita bread or on slider rolls with a simple tzatziki sauce.
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1 Tbsp. lemon juice or white vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. minced fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients and serve on burgers, salad or pita. Even better the next day.
You might have heard of the food term umami, which means, more or less, deep flavor. Look no further than dried shiitake mushrooms for that. The beauty of the dried mushrooms is they’ll keep for a long time, just waiting for you to bring them back to life.
The easiest way to plump up dried shiitakes is to cover them with very hot or boiling water and let them soak about 20-30 minutes. In some recipes, you can squeeze the water out, remove the stems and cook the caps; this is good for stir-fries, soups and the like.
That soaking liquid is full of flavor, too. Use it to give a boost to chicken or beef broth, to add flavor to almost any vegetable. And just imagine what it would taste like if you soaked them in red wine!
Mushrooms soaked in wine or stock can transform into a pan sauce to pour over steak, fancy burgers or go right into stews. Try using wine soaked shiitakes in a pasta sauce, or add them to your favorite meatloaf recipe.
Most recipes are based on 1 ounce of dried mushrooms. You’ll need 1/2 to 1 cup liquid to rehydrate them. For a quick pan sauce, add the mushrooms and liquid to the pan you just used to cook your steak. Swirl in a decent amount of butter and melt it slowly. Pour it on steak and you have created a luxurious meal.
What to do with radishes, specifically French breakfast radishes? Well, they are delicious in salad, of course, and make a great addition to slaws, too. Try some sliced radishes on your tacos.
But breakfast radishes? Yes. Try spreading a toasted bagel with cream cheese. Add thin slices of radish and a few sprigs of dill. Delicious.
Another classic way to eat the radishes, which should be fairly small, is to dip them in softened butter and then salt.
Try sautéing the small radishes, cut in half, in butter and serving in or on an omelet or scrambled eggs. Toss a few slices on your favorite Eggs Benedict recipe.
Make crostini — slice a baguette on the diagonal. Brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toast in a 350-degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until brown on both sides. Spread with goat cheese, thin slices of radish and a drizzle of honey.
When different varieties of radish come in, and are larger, slice them in half, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in a 425-degree oven about 10 minutes. Serve as a side dish topped with fresh parsley and a little butter. Fresh basil is good, as well.
You know eggs are the most versatile food in your kicthen, right? Try this recipe to wake up your taste buds.
Jalapeño Egg Cups
4 ounces cheddar cheese
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1-4 jalapeño peppers (to your taste)
12 strips bacon
8 large eggs
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare all ingredients first. Grate the cheddar cheese, remove seeds and ribs from jalapeños and chop most, but set aside a few slices to garnish the tops of the egg cups.
Heat oven to 375 while you par-cook the bacon until it is semi-crisp but still pliable. Reserve the bacon grease.
Using a hand mixer, blend eggs, cream cheese, chopped peppers, about 1 Tbsp. bacon grease, garlic and onion powder. Season with salt and pepper.
Grease a muffin tin, then place strips of bacon around the edges. Pour egg mixture into the tins. Go only about half-way up, as the eggs rise.
Add cheddar on top, garnish with a jalapeño and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly before eating.
The Salisbury/Rowan Farmers Market is open Saturdays, 8 a.m.-noon, at 520 S. Main St., in front of Side Kick Karate, rain or shine.
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