recipes

Comfort Me With Apples (and a Little Kale)

Kale.jpg

Don't forget! The first annual Bellevue Farmers Market Apple Pie Contest is this Thursday, and all pies must be sitting in the judges' tent by 5:00 pm for consideration! Remember, you can win for "Best Presentation," "Best 'Tried and True' Apple," and/or "Best 'Anything Goes' Apple," which had me wondering if anyone has yet attempted an apple and squash pie. Remember when Ma Ingalls made a mock apple pie out of unripe pumpkin, and Pa cried jubilantly, "You can't beat the Scotch!"? Something along those lines... charlescarolineingalls_2

Besides apple pie, nothing says fall and imminent-weekend-wind-and-rainstorm like roasts and stews and heartier vegetables. It's time to put away the kale salad recipes and try something warmer, which I did, when Market Director Natalie handed me a bunch of kale on my way out last week. This New York Times recipe for Sautéed Kale was delicious--I only wished I had two bunches because (1) kale cooks down, and (2) my husband and I liked it so much we didn't get to eat all we wanted.

kale

 

Sautéed Kale

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large bunch kale, stemmed, with leaves coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and red-pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

Heat olive oil over medium high. Sauté garlic until fragrant. Throw in kale and broth and swish around to coat. Cover and cook about five minutes, until wilted. Then uncover and stir-fry until liquid evaporates. Remove from heat and season to taste. Mix in vinegar.

Don't say I didn't warn you to double it...

I've also seen some nice baby bok choy from our farmers, so we enjoyed this recipe last night from Cook's Illustrated. (I'd add the link, except they charge for admission. Here's the version I made from a page torn out of the magazine.)

Sesame-Soy-Glazed Baby Bok Choy

  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil, separated
  • 4-5 baby bok choy, halved lengthwise
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 slice ginger, minced (optional)
  • 2 medium scallions, sliced thin
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Combine soy sauce, broth, vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar in small bowl.

Heat skillet over medium-high until hot. Add 2 Tbsp vegetable oil and swirl to coat pan. Place bok choy in skillet, cut side down, in single layer if it fits. (If it doesn't, don't stress.) Cook without touching for 2 minutes. Then flip bok choy and cook on the other side another minute. Remove to platter.

Add garlic, ginger, scallions, and remaining Tbsp oil. Cook 20 seconds or until fragrant. Add soy sauce mixture and simmer until reduced. Return bok choy to pan and swish till coated. Turn off heat. Sprinkle on sesame seeds and serve.

Yum. We've going to have both those recipes again, now that I've typed them up and made my mouth water. And speaking of mouth-watering, don't forget that apple pie judging begins promptly at 5:30! Stand around and you may catch some crumbs or be able to wheedle a slice off a winner.

Merry Christmas to All

I'll keep this brief, since I imagine most of your online time will be spent shopping, at this point! Retailers will hate me for saying it, but wouldn't it be lovely if Christmas were more like Thanksgiving? Just food and family and decorations, and no presents???

Notwithstanding my Grinchiness, I did receive this lovely offering from a neighbor who has since moved:

That would be my very own rosemary plant, since I'd always had permission to clip her rosemary and mint and basil when she lived next door. (And, in all honesty, I had continued to sneak over and furtively snip more sprigs even after she moved out because the new neighbor has not yet moved in.)

My latest guilty foray had been for the double batch of Rosemary-Cayenne Cashews I toasted up for my husband's team at work.

If you still have to come up with some little gifts and are tiring of sweets, try this last-minute recipe.

Rosemary-Cayenne Cashews (courtesy of S. H.)
1 lb roasted, unsalted cashews
2 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, depending on how spicy you like it
2 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp salt (reduce if using salted cashews!)
1 Tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 350F.

Spread cashews out on a sheet pan. Toast until warm, about five minutes.

In a large bowl, combine spices and melted butter. Toss with warm cashews.

Cool completely and serve or package.

I personally love rosemary, so I would even go for a little more than 2 Tbsp for fellow rosemary fans.

Merry Christmas to all and best wishes for a good holiday season. In the New Year I hope to post my experiments with recipes from this new cookbook I've received:


But, of course, that will probably have to wait until after we've gotten through Sugar-Free January...

Food for Cold Christmas Nights

The time of year I break my no-food-coloring rule

I'm in denial.

Despite making three batches of Christmas cookies, attending one cookie/gift exchange, wrapping many gifts, and clogging one post office parcel drop in full view of a long line of customers, I still catch myself thinking it's only November. Because who, really, has had time to think about Christmas?

The family was just going over the five-person calendar, trying to figure out when we could have our traditional "Christmas nights," where a Christmas movie is watched, cocoa imbibed, and cookies consumed. Between swim meets, work, babysitting jobs, and choir rehearsals, we only came up with three, between now and Christmas Eve. Bummer.

The benefits of a book club cookie exchane

It's all just too stressful. And since I can't fix anyone's schedule or do anyone's shopping or wrapping or mailing, I can only suggest comfort food.

Got any turkey left? Or cooked chicken, even? Give this dish a try. Comfort food at its finest, filling courtesy of Penny M. and biscuit topping courtesy of cookbook author Deborah Madison.

Ye olde turkey pot pie filling

Turkey Pot Pie
Filling:
1/4 c butter (half a stick)
6 Tbsp flour
1 c milk
2 c chicken broth
3 c cooked chicken or turkey, cut up
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp summer savory
1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 carrots, diced
2 c green peas, thawed
some leftover cooked broccoli or other favorite veggie

Preheat oven to 375F. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat; blend in flour. Add milk and broth, stirring until thickened. Add chicken and seasonings. Cover and simmer 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature. Mix in vegetables. Spoon into ungreased casserole.

Topping:
1 c flour
1 c whole-wheat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6-8 Tbsp butter, cut in small pieces
1 c milk

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until it makes a coarse meal. Add milk and stir until everything is dampened, then knead dough together with hands. Drop by large spoonfuls over the filling. Bake until crust is golden, about 35 minutes.

Threw some cheddar in the biscuits

I'm happy to report everyone ate this, although the boy picked out the broccoli and peas, leaving a turkey-carrot pot pie. Whatev.

So comfort yourself. Briefly. We've only got nine days till Christmas.

Barbecue Turkey Pizza

By now you might be getting to the dregs of your turkey leftovers. My mother-in-law roasted a twenty-pounder and sent us home with the carcass, from which I pried off six cups of meat before simmering it into a gallon of broth and two more cups of meat. That night (broth-making night), we enjoyed Turkey Tortilla Soup, which I shared with you here.

[Thanks for the pic, Lauren Groveman, since I neglected to take one of mine]

The next evening we enjoyed Turkey Enchiladas, which I included in that same post. But we have added another meal to the leftover-turkey repertoire, a variation on that popular BBQ Chicken Pizza that places like CPK serve. Here's my homemade version.

Barbecue Turkey Pizza (makes two medium pizzas)

dough for two pizza crusts (see bread machine recipe below)

1 cup homemade BBQ sauce (here's a recipe to try)
1 generous cup chopped, cooked turkey meat
1/4 sweet onion, sliced thinly
2 generous cups shredded mozzarella
cilantro for sprinkling, optional

Roll out the first pizza crust to desired thickness. Top with all but cilantro and bake at 425F about ten minutes. Sprinkle on cilantro before serving. Repeat with second pizza crust.

Two pizzas and a salad will serve five, with a few slices left over for lunch the following day! And a note on making your own barbecue sauce: feel free to reduce the sugar called for by at least 1/3. You won't even notice a difference.

Now, I'm one of those rare Americans who actually uses her bread machine on a regular basis. Not to make bread, mind you, but to make dough. Pizza dough, dough for rolls, dough for cinnamon rolls. I know storebought dough is cheap, but you know how I feel about additives and plastic packaging... Besides, when I make dough at home, I can always substitute some whole wheat flour for the white and pretend I'm making health food. So haul out your bread machine and give this pizza dough recipe a try. You can always freeze half of the dough ball, if you only want to make one pizza at a time.

Bread-Machine Pizza Dough (adapted from The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook)
1-1/3 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1-1/2 tsp salt
2-1/2 tsp bread machine yeast

Throw it all in and set your cycle for dough or pizza dough. When the machine beeps, it's ready to use!

The family has voted on ham for Christmas, but since I'm down to my last two cups of turkey meat, I may have to roast another bird on the side sometime in January..!

Buy or Make, It's the Last Market of the 2015 Season!

Oh my. We're headed for that long drought in fresh, local food called the Market Off-Season. Not only that, but Thanksgiving is only a week away!

Time to get your pilgrim on!

While I myself will be at a swim meet in Mukilteo all Saturday, I'll be thinking mournfully of the last Market and how I had no cash last Saturday to buy myself some Bloom Creek Cranberries. I even dragged my 12-year-old Sherpa with me through the rain to the BofA ATM, only to remember my husband had made off with my ATM card.

But you can be at the last Market. And you can fully prepare for your delicious feast. To help you out, I'm providing this Buy/Make Shopping List.

Bet our backyard squirrels would love to get their paws on these

Appetizers

BUY a Proven baguette and some Tieton cheese and smoked salmon. Or some Britt's pickles and Samish Bay smoked sausage for the relish tray.

Or...

MAKE some balsamic- and olive-oil roasted vegetables and some bread-machine focaccia, sprinkled with coarse salt

Salad

BUY some of the spinach or arugula or mixed greens and dressing at Growing Washington

And...

MAKE it into your favorite salad by adding your favorite fresh vegetables. I saw these sunchokes last week, which are crunchy like jicama and lovely in salad.

Turkey

BUY Hmm...hope you placed your order some time ago

And if you did, you'll still need to...

MAKE your roasted main dish. The New York Times offers these instructions.

Sides

Side dishes are the glory of Thanksgiving, in my opinion. And the Market is your source for side dish ingredients.

MAKE mashed or au gratin potatoes. Roast some squash and top it with your favorite sugar concoction. Grab some green beans or brussels sprouts. Don't forget to bring cash for your bag(s) of Bloom Creek Cranberries!

Dessert

BUY a pie. Heck--buy a few and freeze the extras. It is always handy to have a pie in the freezer. You never know when you'll be invited to dinner, and pies are the best way to win friends and influence people. I've never met anyone who didn't like pie. Oh--actually, I did meet one person and instantly distrusted her because how can a person not like pie?

Or...

MAKE your own pies. If there was ever a time to make an effort, this would be it. All those crunchy apples, just dying to be handed to the kids to be peeled and sliced, while you make the crust. Some folks like their apples still firm in the pie, but we like apples that get nice and soft. Ask our fruit farmers which apple is right for you.

And don't forget to grab a hostess gift! Fresh flowers or a box of toffee or a bottle of wine.

Remember, after this we're on our own until May, which means months of get-togethers where people wheel out the same Costco offerings over and over. If you just sighed, you are not alone.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Food Closures Lead to Pantry Raid

So this closed our beloved farmers market last Saturday:

Thanks for the graphic, Cliff Mass!

I shouldn't complain, really. That nice load of wind and rain recharged our reservoirs and brought the first snow of the season to the Cascades. Cliff Mass reports that reservoir levels added enough to supply the Greater Puget Sound for more than three months! Not bad, for a weekend's work. I'm only sorry that I had to go buy meat and eggs and carrots and apples at the grocery store, and I was amazed by the number of mushy apples Whole Foods had out. It's apple season, people! Where are those mushy things coming from? 2013?

To add insult to injury, Chipotle decided to start giving select customers E. coli, and has closed area restaurants while the matter gets sorted. Eek! I have to confess, at least one family member eats a Chipotle burrito or burrito bowl at least twice a month, so, between the Market and Chipotle, this is adding up to a real first-world crisis, here.

Tough times call for pantry raids. This week it was bean and bacon soup. Dried beans from the pantry and bacon from Sea Breeze Farm out of the freezer. Chicken broth from my last Skagit River Ranch chicken. I served it up with homemade bread and a truly disgusting salad composed of whatever I found in the "crisper" that wasn't wilted into molten goo. I'll spare you that recipe...

Here's to hard times, and hoping our Market returns this weekend!

Bean and Bacon Soup (adapted from Taste of Home)
2 quarts of chicken broth
1 lb of white beans, soaked overnight or quick-soaked
2 Tbsp chopped parsley*
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp salt
1 onion, chopped*
2 large carrots, chopped*
2 stalks celery, chopped*
6 strips of bacon, fried and crumbled*

Combine broth through pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 hour. Add salt through celery. Cover and simmer an additional 20-25 minutes, or until beans are tender. Stir in crumbled, cooked bacon. Remove bay leaves and serve.

Honey, I'm Home

I have a sinking feeling the world with end, not with a whimper, as T.S. Eliot says, but with a silence. Because all the bees will be gone, and we'll be desperately trying to hand-pollinate things or to train bats to do more of it. Or else we'll have to rely on killer bees to do it, which is a deal with the devil, for obvious reasons.

But for this season, at least, we still have bees. We still have easy pollination. We still have honey.

Yellow Belly Honey of Rainier, Washington!

Let's all of us keep those beekeepers happy and going strong. Because I tried to keep a batch of Mason bees going one winter and failed through utter laziness. So I'll have to do my part by eating and promoting honey.

Last Saturday I found Clover and Blackberry honey varieties, and though the plastic honey bears were adorable,

Look at this little army!

I opted for a 12-oz glass jar so I could microwave it when needed and recycle the jar. Yellow Belly Honey also sold lip balm and even big jars of bee pollen for the homeopathically-minded allergy sufferers.

Jars o' pollen

While honey in our house is usually reserved for tea and granola-making, I couldn't resist making this cake because of all the gorgeous apples in season.

Honey-Apple Cake

You start with premium Market ingredients:

Do a little slicing and simmering:

Mix up a quick batter and bake. Couldn't be easier. Or tastier. Warning: it's impossible to eat just one slice. Every last person in our house had two slices and still wished for another. Therefore, make this at your own risk.

Honeyed Apple Torte (adapted from Cooking Light)
1/3 cup honey*
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2-3 apples of your choice*, peeled, cut in thickish slices
2/3 cup granulated sugar
6 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs*

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1 Tbsp granulated sugar or demerara sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine honey and lemon juice in a large skillet. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add apples and cook 14 minutes or until almost tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Cream sugars, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add gradually to butter mixture on low speed.

Spread batter in a buttered 9-inch springform pan. Drain apples and arrange in a spoke batter atop the batter. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over.

Bake one hour and cool on rack.

Last Thursday Market of the Season!

The mournful day is upon us this week--our last Thursday Market of 2015. Thankfully we still have the Saturday Market until Thanksgiving, but you've probably noticed several vendors are unique to our weekday Market.

One prominent one is Vashon Island's famous Sea Breeze Farm. Foodies have long known these producers of dairy and meats of all sorts, and some of you might even have enjoyed dinner at the Farm on the Island. Sea Breeze raises cows, sheep, chickens, ducks, pigs, and even sometimes geese, rotating their stock on green, green grass. They're your go-to for raw-milk dairy products and specialty sausages, as well as old standbys like bacon.

Those square little suckers piled up are duck breasts!

(I apologize for the terrible pictures, a combination of their glass display case and my phone camera.)

For the folks who've eaten everything

It was the "Lamb Merguez Crepinettes" which first drew my eye, since I'd never heard of such a thing. It turns out this creation is spiced lamb sausage wrapped in caul fat. Who knew? If you Google "Lamb Merguez Crepinettes," it turns out there's a whole subculture well-versed in their crepinettes of all sorts.

Being less daring last week, I chose the more familiar Chorizo, to use at some point in a recipe for Chorizo and White Bean Ragu.

When I do make the recipe, I'll be sure to pair it with my new favorite vegetable, the "Smoky and Spicy Roasted Cauliflower" from Good and Cheap, which I mentioned last week.

To this point we haven't had any cauliflower fans in our household, but this one won over the adults. Grab a head of cauliflower this week and give it a go. And enjoy this last Thursday!

Smoky and Spicy Roasted Cauliflower (from Good and Cheap)

1 head cauliflower, stem and florets, cut into small pieces
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp paprika
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F. Spread cauliflower and garlic in roasting pan and drizzle with butter. Sprinkle on the spices and toss. Bake 45-60 minutes till nicely (and even darkly) browned. Squeeze garlic out over cauliflower and serve.

Can Cheap Food Be Delicious?

Considering the amount of money (not to mention time) my hub spends putting in and tending his garden every summer, I'm pretty sure home-grown food doesn't beat farmed in price, only in enjoyment. We also tend to eat much more of the home-grown produce because--well, you know--when the harvest arrives, it arrives.

Despite two tomato sauce batches, one tomato soup, five Caprese salads, five batches of baked tomatoes, one recipe of bruschetta, tomatoes added to other kinds of salad and soup and Spanish rice, and countless bowls of pico de gallo, we still had plenty of crop left on the vine when it was time to tear the garden out.

The dregs

Thankfully, tomatoes continue to ripen after harvest, albeit not as deliciously as on the vine in hot summer sun. So our little troops are lined up on newspaper in the garage, to extend our season into late fall.

I don't have high hopes for the little green guy

Because I hate to waste food. My kids are regularly subjected to "Clean-Out-the-Fridge" soup, and no chicken bones ever pass through the kitchen without being simmered for stock. (If you don't have enough for a stockpot or time to process them, just throw them in a freezer bag and keep collecting until you do.)

I was pretty excited to hear about this book, you might imagine:

Not only does the publisher promise affordable yumminess, but they also "donate a book to someone who needs it" for every copy purchased! Awesome idea. How it plays out in practice remains to be seen, however, because the book contains recipes that even ardent foodies might hesitate over, like "Mashed Beets" and "Broiled Eggplant Salad" and "Barley Risotto with Peas." Look--I cook my own food and I shop at a farmers market regularly, but there is no way I could get my kids to try 60% of the book's offerings. It might be better to bundle the free book with free copies of

to help "someone who needs it" find the confidence to cook at home, and then throw in

to help all of us get our kids to try more foods and flavors. This one would also work:

All that said, giving Good and Cheap away for free is a great start. Just don't expect it to change the way America eats.

Since my hub and I like vegetables, though, and since his ripping out of the garden filled our pantry with butternut squash, I tried out a recipe from Good and Cheap and found it luscious! (Our squash wasn't as ripe as I would like, so the sweeteners added were my own idea.)

As promised, this recipe was cheap and much more than good.

The main ingredients

Lightly Curried Butternut Squash Soup (adapted from Good and Cheap; Market ingredients "*")

1 butternut squash* (about 2 lbs)
1 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion*, chopped
1 bell pepper*, chopped (recipe called for green, but I would use red or orange next time, so there isn't a bitter note)
3 cloves garlic, minced*
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup brown sugar, optional
dash maple syrup, optional
salt and pepper

sour cream for garnish
chopped scallions for garnish*
chopped cilantro for garnish*

To make my life easier, I halved the squash, seeded it, and threw it in a crock pot on LOW for a few hours until it was cooked. Then I scraped out the flesh and added to the soup later.

Melt butter in soup pot over medium and saute onion through garlic until tender. Add spices and cook another 2 minutes, stirring. Add cooked squash, coconut milk, sweeteners, and 3 cups of water. Stir.

Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Blend thoroughly with immersion blender. Serve with dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of garnish.

I plan to try several more recipes in the book and will report back. In the meantime, just two more Thursday Markets, and this will be Skagit River Ranch's last Thursday. Be sure to ask about signing up for there Bellevue Buyers Club, if you still want to order meat in the off-season.

Fall's Apples and Pears

It's officially fall. Which means I can now serve chili and soup without apologies, even if it hits 70F outside. And, while we have to bid a tearful farewell to peaches and nectarines, the apples and pears are in, and boy are they yummy!

We tried this new variety at Collins Family Orchards called "Candy Time," a marketing brainstorm if I ever heard of one. Who could resist?

This apple gets high marks for its size and lovely coloring, and if you're one of those families which grew up on Red Delicious and other not-tart apples, this could be one to try. Personally I'm not a Red Delicious fan, and I love apples to be sweet-tart, but Candy Time would work well for caramel apples and apples that get dipped.

At a kids' swim team potluck the other day, a family brought a wonderful apple tart featuring apples they'd picked themselves, and the baker gave credit to Ina Garten for the recipe, which I'm betting was this one. It reminded me very much of the recipe it's based on, the French Tarte Tatin, for which I've always used this recipe I got long ago in a cooking class:

Tarte Tatin (from the HomeChef Cooking School)

1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp water
4 Tbsp butter
6 small, tart apples, cored, peeled, and cut into eighths
dough for single-crust pie

Preheat oven to 375F.

Combine 3/4 cup of the sugar and the water in a small, heavy saucepan and cook over high heat until the sugar turns to a golden caramel. Immediately pour the caramel into the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch cake pan, tilting the pan so that the caramel coats the bottom.

Lay the apple slices over the caramel in spokes like a wheel. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and dot with the butter.

Roll out the pastry until about 1/4" thick and 2 inches larger than the cake pan. Lay it over the top of the apples, tucking it in around the edges. Poke 4-5 air holes in the pastry with a fork.

Bake about 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool for at least thirty minutes, then turn it out onto a serving platter, so that the crust forms the base. Serve warm or room temperature with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

Unlike the Barefoot Contessa's recipe, there's no jam required and a lot less butter!

Don't miss the Bartlett pears appearing, either. I'm always tearing out pear recipes, too, except I never can bear to cook pears because I love them so much raw. If I can resist, however, I want to try this one that appeared in my latest Penzey's catalog. They call it "Pear Mad Almond Tart," which made no sense to me because of its (lack of) punctuation. I think they meant "Pear-Mad Almond Tart." It calls for a tube of almond paste, which is crazy-expensive, and seven pears, so I probably will never make it. If you do happen to try it, please let me know, and I'll be right over to taste-test!

Thanks for the pic and the recipe, Penzey's!

We have four more weeks of our Thursday Market, so be sure to come out and collect your goodies, including these tomatillos, which make great salsa!


Saying No to Synthetic Flavors

Did you notice there were Concord grapes at the Market last week?

I was thrilled to see them, since we rarely see grapes at farmers markets on our side of the mountains. And, while Washington grows plenty of wine grapes, most table (and other) grapes are grown in California. Moreover, if you've ever had "grape juice" or grape-flavored cough syrup or grape-flavored what-have-you, the grape flavor chemists were imitating was that of the Concord grape. So, in clever reverse-marketing, I asked my twelve-year-old Sherpa daughter if she wanted to taste some grapes that tasted like fake grape flavoring. Of course she did.

Here is what we learned about eating Concord grapes:

  1. They're addictive, once you figure out the proper way to eat them.
  2. Concord grapes have both seeds and a bitter skin, rather like plums. Popping the whole grape in your mouth and chewing it up is not a pleasant experience.
  3. My trick was to let them get nice and ripe on the counter. Then I "squirted" the grape into my mouth (minus the skin), being sure to get the juice, key to the "fake" grape flavor. You then chew up the pulp and spit out the seeds.
After going through the trouble of eating these grapes, I see why chemists zeroed in on an easier way to produce the flavor. But I want to argue that the process involved in eating them increases your enjoyment. Rather like having to shell pistachios. It also slows consumption.
And anyhow, ever since I read Mark Schatzker's The Dorito Effect, I've been on a personal crusade to avoid synthetic flavorings and to enjoy the real deal, with all its attendant health benefits.
As I mentioned in a previous post, there's good evidence that flavor in nature is linked to that voodoo that real food does so well. When we recreate those flavors in a chemistry lab, we decouple them from their benefits. Synthetic flavors (which include both "natural" and artificial flavors) encourage us to eat bland, nutritionally bankrupt food we would otherwise get bored with, thus robbing ourselves of the nutritional variety and the satiety indicators that an array of real food, full of real flavors, provides.
So skip the grape-flavored candy and "fruit snacks" and try everyone out on the real McCoy.
Genuine flavors abound, this time of year. Check out this recipe for stuffed tomatoes we've already had twice this week, and which I've also managed to burn twice because I had to leave them on an oven timer while I ran carpool. The good news is, they still taste wonderful with burnt topping! (An asterisk * indicates ingredients available at the Market.)
Tomatoes Provençalish
(adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)

4 medium or 8 small, ripe tomatoes*
3 garlic cloves*
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley or cilantro*
2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil*
3/4 c bread crumbs from torn-up bread*
salt and pepper
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400F. Butter a dish large enough to hold all the halved tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes in half around the equator and dig out the seeds with your finger. Chop the garlic and herbs and mix them with the bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Top the tomato halves and set them in the buttered dish. Drizzle some olive oil over their tops. Bake for 30-35 minutes, depending on the size of the tomatoes.

Serve carefully, and remember these suckers are hot when they come out of the oven!

Here's what you'll find if you leave them in an extra ten minutes and then come rushing in to rescue dinner:



Have no fear. Still tasty and so flavorful! We'll see you this Thursday or Saturday at the Market, where real food and real flavors abound.

Save the Tomatoes!

Last week it was summer, remember?

Seattle Pops selfie

 It was hot, there was music, there was a choice of refreshing refreshments. There was even a summery new vendor:

Niño Blanco Foods had salsa for sale, in mild, medium and spicy, along with fresh pico de gallo and pickled jalapeños (which I recently learned, at a Mariners game, taste awesome on tater tots).

But summer has vanished, and the recent downpours have made me fear for the rest of my husband's tomato crop. I've made pico de gallo regularly, and Caprese salads like they're going out of style, but the threat of mold calls for stronger measures. It calls for tomato sauce and tomato soup, both of which are made with the same ingredients.

5 lbs of tomatoes
A chopped onion
3 Tbsp of butter

You destem the tomatoes, whack them up in huge chunks, and cook over medium heat.

If you have a food mill, there's no need to peel or seed tomatoes before cooking

For tomato sauce, twenty minutes will break them down. You then put them through the food mill and continue to heat the puree until it's the desired thickness. (For watery Early Girls, this is a pretty long time...)

For tomato soup, you let them simmer up to three hours and then put them through the food mill. Add salt and pepper and fresh basil to taste. Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches.

I have this exact food mill, and I like it for its simplicity. No interchangeable parts, no electronics that break. Just prop it over a pot and use good, old-fashioned muscle power.

In any case, you don't need homegrown tomatoes to make sauce or soup. Our farmers have plenty, and then you could actually start with meatier tomatoes! Ask for opinions, or mix a variety of them. The Market continues, rain or shine.

Three Can't-Misses of the Week

Abstract: (1) Pork butt for pulled pork. (2) Freestone peaches. (3) Canteloupe.  There's your shopping list for the Bellevue Farmers Market this week. Now, go!

It's high summer, people, and if you haven't eaten a grilled hamburger or a pulled-pork sandwich at least three times already, you must be a vegetarian.

Because I frequently work as an official at my kids' swim meets and get fed by the hospitality committees, I've learned that Costco has a pulled pork offering that isn't too bad. But before any of you go running off to purchase some, let me also say that pulled pork is just about the easiest thing in the world to make, and NOW is the time to make it.

All this could be yours: Greek salad, green beans with garlic, and a pulled-pork sandwich

Beginner's Pulled Pork (adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution)
1/4 c brown sugar
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 3-lb boneless pork butt roast (from one of our meat vendors!)
1 c barbecue sauce, plus extra for serving (I chose a brand in a glass bottle with no HFCS...)

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Prick roast all over with a fork and rub dry mixture over pork. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Spread barbecue sauce over pork, cover, and cook 9-11 hours on low or 5-7 hours on high in slow cooker.

Shred pork and serve with extra barbecue sauce.

Really, it's actually easier than going to Costco to buy it because now you don't have to fuss with the parking and the monster cart and the long checkout lines and the people clogging up the works at every sample stand! You're welcome.

As for the second can't-miss of the week, if you're a maker of peach desserts, now is your moment. The freestone peaches are in! Ask your favorite fruit farmer for a box, let it sit a few days to fill your house with fragrance and to reach that optimum moment of ripeness, and then dig in. My husband made four pies for the freezer, and I've got extra filling to make a cobbler later this week. (Oh, and several got eaten out of hand because they were irresistible!)

Before
After

My hub claimed that this year's freestones were even better than 2014's. No big surprise, considering the weather we've been enjoying. If only he'd taken up jam-making, as well as pie-making...

And lastly, did you notice Alvarez and a couple others of our farmers had melons? I saw watermelons and canteloupe and so far have tried the canteloupe. Same as with peaches, you pick one and let it sit out until it gets fragrant and a little soft. Then you slice it into lusciousness and the family eats the whole thing in one go before you can even remember you were supposed to take a picture. At least, that's how it worked at our house.

Really, really, really, don't miss these this week! We'll see you at the Market Thursday and Saturday.

Summertime, and the Eating's Easy

In talking to many of you, this summer you've been experiencing a steady flow of visitors, out-of-town and otherwise. In between trips to the Space Needle, Safeco Field, and Pike Place Market, you're also working to come up with meals for these friends and family. Thank goodness it's summer, and the eating's easy.

A friend sent me these pics from her recent barbecue (visiting brother):

Grilled salmon in foil
Alongside potatoes and corn brushed in coconut milk and grilled

If your mouth doesn't water when you see these, something might be wrong with you. And these are all things you can grab at the Market, brush with your fat of choice, and throw on the grill.

When we had old friends who now live in Indiana show up, we threw Skagit burgers on the grill, opened a bag of potato chips, and chopped up a watermelon. Done.

It was our month to host the Supper Club I mentioned in an earlier post here and here, and as the hostess I chose the fourth "Summer Sensations" menu from Debi Shawcross's book:

  • Bruschetta with Goat Cheese and Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Herb Marinated Chicken
  • Quinoa Corn Salad with Mint Vinaigrette and Toasted Pine Nuts (or "Pine Puts," as the cookbooks mispells it)
  • Grilled Vegetables
  • Peach, Blueberry, and Raspberry Crisp with Dulce de Leche Sauce
The verdict? The bruschetta and quinoa salad were keepers. (Funny note on the quinoa salad: after listing the menu, Shawcross encourages her readers to become locavores and eat local, if only for a night. So...quinoa? I suppose some of her readers might be Peruvian Highlanders.) And if I had to choose between the bruschetta and the quinoa, I'd go with the bruschetta.
Therefore, I share with you this recipe, with Market-available ingredients marked with an asterisk (*).
Bruschetta with Goat Cheese and Heirloom Tomatoes
3 large heirloom tomatoes, diced*
2 garlic cloves, minced*
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly-ground pepper
1/2 c chopped fresh basil*
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 baguette, sliced into 1"-thick slices*
1 garlic clove, halved*
6 ozs goat cheese, softened*

In a medium bowl, mix together tomatoes, minced garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, basil, and lemon zest. Set aside. (Leftovers of the topping are yummy on tortilla chips, FYI.)

Heat grill to medium-high. Place baguette slices on grill and lightly toast on each side. Remove slices from grill and rub one side with garlic clove. Spread about 1 tsp of goat cheese on each baguette slice. Top with a spoonful of tomato mixture.

Serve immediately. About 10 servings of two slices each.

Frankly, I could have made a meal of the bruschetta alone. And, if you haven't tried Tieton Farm and Creamery's offerings on Saturday, you're in for a treat. I'm betting their "Bianca" cheese would be awesome in this recipe.

Quinoa aside, we do enjoy such riches of local food that I'm not surprised everyone flocks to us in the summer. I only wish they'd brought some of their own local goodies to us! Our Indiana friends, for instance, told tales of the sour-cherry-picking extravaganza they enjoyed.

Hard at work at Lehman's Orchard in Niles, Michigan

Enough to make you weep
As if this weren't enough, the residual cherry juice is good for gout (just FYI)
Sigh. Who doesn't love summer?

Of course, if all this cooking, easy as it is, sounds too much, and you missed the sour cherries in Niles, Michigan, you can always take your guests to the Market itself and let them choose from our smorgasbord of goodies, both prepared and unprepared. See you all there!

4 Sides for the 4th

Elevenscore and nineteen years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

That's right, folks, it's time to celebrate our freedoms once again, and the government has added a new one this year, if you didn't notice: the freedom not to limit your fat intake. Well--not to limit total fat intake. They're still jittery about saturated fat (i.e., the best-tasting fats from butter, cheese, whole milk, and beef). But since we live in America, we experience another freedom: that of ignoring government recommendations. Which means, in our house, we eat all those saturated fats mentioned above and plan to keep eating them. Cause for celebration.

How we feel about eating fat, and how we feel when the Mariners win [pic: RedTricom]

So say you've been invited to a 4th of July celebration this year, and told to "bring a side dish or dessert." As you might have heard, our Market is closed this Saturday, so you need to plan ahead and make purchases this Thursday. Market-available items are marked with an asterisk (*).

I'm bringing my homemade baked beans.

Slow-Cooker Baked Beans
3 cups dried navy beans*
1 medium onion, chopped*
1 lg can tomato sauce
3/4 cup brown sugar, scant
1 cup water
2 tsp dry mustard
2 Tbsp dark molasses
1 tsp salt
1/4 lb diced bacon*

Soak beans overnight or follow "quick soak" instructions on package. (You could also ask Alvarez Farms which of their beans they would substitute for navy beans, and that would reduce cooking time!) Drain.

Put all ingredients in the crock-pot and mix well.

Cover. Cook on High 6-8 hours. After the low end of the range, taste a bean for tenderness. (If it looks like it's getting dry, feel free to add 1/2 to 1 cup preheated water.)

But maybe you prefer a salad? We've been having this one a lot:



Spinach Salad with Strawberries and Feta
1 bunch or bag of spinach*
2-3 sliced scallions*
handful sliced strawberries (very ripe)*
crumbled feta or other cheese, amount to taste*
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

This is a pretty free-form salad. For the dressing, mix the oil and vinegar in a 3:1 ratio (e.g., 3 Tbsp oil and 1 Tbsp vinegar). Dress and toss right before serving.

I also have this potato salad marked as "Tasty!" in my New Good Housekeeping Cookbook, with one emendation:

Chunky Potato Salad
4 lbs medium-sized potatoes*
4 eggs*
3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp - 1/4 c relish (my own personal addition!)
1-1/2 c mayonnaise
1/2 c milk
2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper

In a large saucepan, with enough water to cover, boil/simmer potatoes until soft (25-30 minutes). Cool and cut in chunks (I don't bother peeling, although it does make a prettier salad). Hard-cook eggs and dice.

In a large bowl, toss potatoes and eggs with remaining ingredients. Refrigerate until serving.

And finally, for dessert, you can't go wrong with pie. Pick one up at the Market if it sounds like too much effort. Adrienne's Cakes & Pies has a lovely selection. The thought of apple or berry or strawberry rhubarb pie makes my mouth water.

The selection, from Adrienne's perspective!

If you insist on homemade (and don't mind heating up the kitchen in 90F weather), Good Housekeeping comes through again. Blueberry pie is the hands-down easiest, especially since freestone peaches are not yet available.

Blueberry Pie
double pie crust of your choice
2 pts blueberries*
3/4 c sugar
1/3 c flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
1/8 tsp salt

Prepare pie crust and line pan. Mix filling ingredients and pour into prepared crust. Top with remaining crust. Cut slits in top and bake 40-50 minutes at 425F. Cool on wire rack.

See you Thursday, and have a great 4th!

Strawberries, Asparagus, and Garlic Scapes

Of course you saw the strawberries last week, right? I bought two pints just to eat out of hand, and they lasted precisely two hours, with one child responsible for polishing off one pint all by herself. This week I clearly need more: three pints to eat out of hand, another couple to be there the following day, and still another couple to be frozen or made into a dessert.

My oldest has to prepare a fruit dessert as part of her Home Ec class (or whatever they call it now) in high school. I suggested an apple crisp a week ago, but now that the berries are here, I think I'll put this recipe under her nose:

Lemon Shortcakes with Strawberries
BISCUITS:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 c sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp salt
1 c buttermilk (or scant cup whole milk w/1 Tbsp lemon juice)
1/2 stick melted butter, cooled

TOPPING:
3 12-oz baskets strawberries, hulled
1/4 c torn fresh mint leaves, optional
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice

FOR BISCUITS: Preheat oven to 400F. Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. Whisk wet ingredients in a second bowl. Add to flour mixture and stir just until moist dough forms. Drop in 8 dough mounds on a cooking sheet and, with floured hands, pat into a biscuit shape. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

FOR TOPPING: Slice 2 baskets strawberries and transfer to a large bowl. Puree remaining basket of strawberries in the food processor to make a "sauce." Mix with sliced strawberries, sugar, mint, and lemon juice.

Halve warm biscuits and put lots of topping on. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

[This recipe was torn from a magazine years ago. Bon Appétit?]

That's dessert. And for dinner she's planned Two If By Seafoods baked salmon alongside asparagus.


Alvarez Organic Farms was plugging its garlic scapes and onions last week, and I saw a friend with an armful that she planned to sauté. Epicurious suggests this Garlic Scape Pesto recipe. 

In fact, how about the salmon, roasted asparagus, crostini with garlic scape pesto, and a spinach salad? Beautiful colors, all rounded off with the shortcakes. Mmmm. Hooray for Market season!


Of Coleslaw and Cranberries

Are we getting ready? Are we already thinking of our shopping list, and what snack we're going to devour, and what we're going to cook up, absolutely fresh? The wait is almost enough to make me pay the toll and cross the bridge to the year-round University District market. Almost.

But, lazy suburbanite that I am, instead I just whip up another cabbage-and-carrot salad. That is, coleslaw. We've been eating a lot of coleslaw lately. Fresh, crunchy, available now. It's not just for baked beans and summer barbecues.

I was even at Coco Ramen on Bellevue Way a couple days ago, enjoying my favorite Curry Ramen with Pork Katsu, and what accompanied it? Japanese-style coleslaw, of course! It seems I'm not the only one craving fresh and crunchy--it must be the spring sunshine.

Anyhow, since we have one more week before we get to enjoy tender spring greens and nutty, local asparagus, make yourself some coleslaw. It's really so simple you should never buy it. I repeat: never buy coleslaw.

Coleslaw
1/4 head of cabbage, slivered
1 large carrot, shredded on the largest holes of grater
2-3 scallions, chopped

Dressing:
1/4 c mayonnaise
1/2 Tbsp milk
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Whip dressing ingredients together and toss with the vegetables. Refrigerate until serving.

In other news, new this year to the Thursday Market will be Starvation Alley of Long Beach, Washington. Starvation Alley is the first organic cranberry farm in the state and the source of the famous "Cranberry for Concoctions"--cold-pressed, unsweetened cranberry juice that has gained a cult following in Seattle and Portland as an ingredient in fancy cocktails.

Check out just this one, served up at Prime Steakhouse in Redmond:

West Coast Cosmo
1.5 ozs Uncle Val's Botanical Gin
0.5 ozs Starvation Alley Cranberry for Concoctions
0.5 ozs Cointreau
0.25 ozs fresh-squeezed lime juice
0.25 ozs simple syrup

Of their product Starvation Alley says:

We make a 100% raw unpasteurized, unsweetened cranberry juice. We knew that we wanted to make a value adding product from start to finish, so when we considered a juice we ruled out adding sugar that dominates so many other cranberry juices. We also knew unsweetened cranberry juice is unfavorably bitter, so we tried cold-pressing the berries, which resulted in a brighter, fresher tasting juice. Bonus points: the raw, cold-pressed juice retains more of the enzymes that make cranberries a wonderful home remedy for pesky UTIs.

Some non-alcoholic concoctions I hope to try the juice in would be smoothies, lemonade, and even added to sparkling apple cider. Heck--I even just want that beautiful bottle!

A Salad for All Seasons

Lilac season is already nearly over. And I will say again that I wish those interested in genetically modifying plants would hurry up and work on lilacs. Why the heck is there no ever-blooming lilac? Or at least twice-blooming? Would that not bring as much joy to the world as crops that survive being sprayed with Round-Up or seedless oranges? (Really, how annoyed are we nowadays to find seeds in our oranges or grapes or watermelons? Spoiled.) And once they figure out lilacs, my next vote would be for twice-blooming rhododendrons.

Because lilacs usually bloom a few weeks later, I can't help but feel like the Bellevue Farmers Market should be opening right about now. The lilacs turn brown, and off we go to the Market, right?

Hang tight, everyone. I count 15 more days until the first Thursday Market of the season, with its flowers and tender greens and new and familiar vendors to see. May 14!

In the meantime, I've discovered a passable salad that would certainly taste better in July but will have to do for now. Apart from the storebought cherry tomatoes, which were hard and flavorless and truly awful, this isn't bad:

Faux Summer Corn-Avocado Salad

most of 1 bag of frozen corn, cooked in microwave and drained
half of a red onion, diced
1 ripe avocado, chopped
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 Tbsp - 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine in a bowl.

Dressing:
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix dressing ingredients and toss with salad. 

Apart from biting into one of those awful cherry tomatoes once in a while, you'll think it's the 4th of July! In fact, I can't wait to make this with our homegrown tomatoes in August.

This salad can be varied with basil. Or with diced carrots and celery and cucumber in place of the cherry tomatoes. Have at it.

And on a final, random note, if you enjoy Food channel shows, especially ones where they travel around the country and find unique food experiences, you'll probably enjoy this book:

A fun series of essays ranging from eating contests to serious barbecue (reminded me of Michael Pollan's Cooked) to tailgate parties and food salvage. If you're headed for L.A. or the Bronx, consult this book first, for its mouthwatering secret Filipino, Korean, and Caribbean restaurants.

Until next week!

To Perk You Up During Tax Time

Hoping April hasn't been too cruel a month for you so far, although dreaded Tax Day approacheth. I got it over with and sent in the check (can't remember the last time we've seen a refund around here...), but if you still have that hurdle ahead, one of my latest reads should cheer you up.

The cover I enjoyed
But you might also see it like this

This was a wonderful memoir covering the author's extended family's life in Moscow, from the 1910s (end of the Tsarist era), to the birth and development of the Soviet Union, to its dissolution and almost present-day Russia.

No matter our tax burden, at least we're not living under Stalin! We've got bounteous food on our store shelves, private kitchens in our homes (rather than communal apartments), and none of our past leaders have been embalmed for us to pay homage to. Knowing almost nothing about Soviet history, this book was nonstop fascinating and sometimes funny. Her chapters are organized around eras and the food that typified the era, for which recipes are found in the appendix.

I don't know about you, but I'd only had Russian food once, prepared for us by an Uzbeki couple. There was something fishy, something potato-y, several things mayonnaise-y. All quite tasty. The recipes in Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking are quite elaborate in many cases and nothing I plan on attempting soon. But since my book club will be doing a Russian-themed evening for The Madonnas of Leningrad this summer, and since I had boiled eggs on hand for Easter, I decided to try my hand at what looked simplest.

(Note: we're not doing a Madonnas of Leningrad-themed dinner because the characters suffer through the Siege of Leningrad and end up eating rats and library glue and such.)

Wikipedia's version, although mine looked pretty much the same

Salat Olivier
3 lg boiling potatoes, cooked, peeled, and diced
2 med carrots, cooked, peeled, and diced
1 lg apple, peeled and diced
2 med dill pickles, diced
1 med cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
3 boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 16-oz can peas, drained (I'd substitute frozen)
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 Tbsp dried dill
12 ozs lump crabmeat (or cooked chicken)

Dressing:
1 cup mayo
1/3 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp white vinegar
salt to taste

Combine all salad ingredients. Whip up dressing ingredients and toss well. Refrigerate until serving.

A couple comments: I didn't like the fake crab I used and would rather have had chicken. In fact, I'd probably prefer the salad vegetarian, with thawed, frozen peas substituted for the drab canned peas. This keeps well in the fridge for a couple days and is appropriately colorful (for an off-season salad) and mayonnaise-y for that Russian feel.

Anyhow, whether you're a potato salad fan or not, I highly recommend the entertaining book. Enjoy.

Post Supper-Club Analysis

If you made the Chocolate Tres Leches Cake I included in last week's post, I apologize. Don't know about yours, but mine was severely underwhelming. (Think of my sharing that recipe with you as an early April Fool's joke...) Other members of the supper club dutifully ate their portions, but I left half mine on the plate--unthinkable for a dessert! Not only did the thing look lousy on the plate (I now understand why there was no picture in the cookbook), but I didn't take a picture because I put the rest down the garbage disposal.

Mine didn't look like finecooking.com's version
Nor like Sweetysalado's

But before you (or I) recycle Debi Shawcross's Friends at the Table cookbook, let me hasten to say the rest of the menu was absolutely delicious and highly recommended.

Our recipe guru Ms. Shawcross

To recap, we enjoyed:

Artichoke Quesadillas
Southwestern Caesar Salad
Tequila-Marinated Halibut with Grapefruit-Avocado Relish
Creamy Green Chile Rice
Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

The general ratings:

Artichoke Quesadillas.         Tastiness: 10!       Effort: 4.
Southwestern Caesar Salad. Tastiness: 7.         Effort: 7 (probably not worth it).
Halibut.                                 Tastiness: 8.        Effort: 5.
Creamy Green Chile Rice.    Tastiness: 8          Effort: 4.
Chocolate TL Cake.              Tastiness: 3          Effort: 3.

The ambience and company rated 10s, and, of course, you would have control over those elements in your own supper club.

In retrospect, the recipe you'll want from that evening was the Artichoke Quesadillas. (The maker of which later told me she's already made them again!) Next time you're asked to bring an appetizer, give these a whirl.

Artichoke Quesadillas
3/4 c fresh basil leaves, cut in thin strips
3 6-oz jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained
3/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
8 8- or 10-inch flour tortillas
2 c grated Pepper Jack cheese
2 poblano peppers, roasted*, peeled, and cut in thin strips
olive oil or fat of your choice for frying

In a food processor, combine artichokes, Parmesan and basil. Pulse until finely chopped. Place 1 tortilla on work surface. Spread one-fourth of artichoke mixture on top. Sprinkle with 1/2 c Pepper Jack cheese and some of the poblano strips. Cover with second tortilla. Repeat assembly for remaining quesadillas.

Heat a large, nonstick skillet over med-hi with fat of your choice. Cook quesadillas one at a time, turning after a couple minutes, until both sides are golden. Remove from pan and cut in wedges.

Makes 8 servings.

If you've never roasted a pepper, here are Emeril Lagasse's instructions. I think I might even be able to get my kids to try these, since they'll be fooled by the tortillas and cheesy goodness.

In other news, it's April! Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from May and the opening of the 2015 Bellevue Farmers Market season! Stay tuned for info.