Relish Your Turnips

Along with classes, I’ve had the vastly entertaining part-time job of assuming the role of Farmers’ Market Manager for our school. It’s difficult to decide exactly which part of the deal makes its way into my favorites category:

Getting to know local farmers and purveyors of artisanal food products (like fine yoghurt and goat cheese)… meeting the well over a thousand market shoppers we have each week in Boulder… decorating the bi-fold chalkboard with ChalkInk markers and my ‘recipe of the week’… or actually creating and testing the recipe attempting to use as many local and seasonal ingredients as I can.

There is a bit of an artsy dork hiding- arguably not well- inside me, and you can’t possibly imagine how fun it is to decorate the chalk board each week! I remember as a teenager wanting to be ‘that guy’ who decorates sidewalk signs for cafés or paints holiday themes on store windows. Fake snow and all. Happy sigh~

But this week playing around in the kitchen with some surprisingly sweet fresh turnips has taken the cake. Or at least some crackers or chips. Or maybe even your favorite sandwich. This refreshingly earthy and sweet, not to mention guilt-free, turnip relish tastes exactly like spring and summer should.

The following recipe incorporates several Colorado products which I’d love for you to explore if you’re even remotely local. But for those incredibly loyal readers from around the globe (I truly do appreciate you!) here are a few descriptions to help you find a similar product hopefully a bit closer to home.

Haystack Queso de Mano Goat Cheese is a raw milk, aged firm cheese with a robust flavor that serves as a fine compliment to the sweet notes of the turnips

 

Noosa Honey Yoghurt is a lightly sweetened cow’s milk yoghurt made with Colorado honey and grass fed, happily roaming Colorado cows~ another happy sigh

 

Japanese sweet white turnips, also known as salad turnips, are literally sweet enough to be eaten like an apple. I did, actually. And of course, keep the greens for a quick sauté or a slow, Southern-style simmer.

Sweet Turnip Relish

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb (about 6 large or 9 small) sweet white turnips coarsely chopped, greens removed
  • 1 cup Haystack Queso de Mano goat cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup Noosa Honey Yoghurt
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 pinches of salt, or to taste

Method:

Combine all ingredients except salt in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Season with salt to taste. Enjoy as a refreshing summer spread for crackers and chips, or as a condiment for burgers and sandwiches.

Yield: 2 cups (vegetarian, gluten free, nut free)

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Charming Market Finds

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about how mesmerizing a Farmers’ Market can be… and here I am again because I just can’t resist the lure of colorful spring radishes, greens and root veg- all lovely in their own right. But they also carry with them the excitement of so many treasures still to come!

My favorite photo op booths from Boulder’s market this week included Red Wagon Organic Farm with radishes looking just like a spring version of a Valentine’s Day bouquet… organic veggie style. At the risk of offending my first love of chocolate, I must say that an assortment of these beautiful little guys might actually win my heart.

If you’re Colorado local, check out possible CSA shares, volunteer opportunities, and a fall pumpkin patch at Red Wagon Farm in East Boulder on Valmont Road.

And I love the people and the produce of Cure Organic Farm. If you think the onions and parsnips are a tempting start, just check out their Farm Store (opening May 16!!) on 75th and Valmont.

Not only will they offer just about every pick of produce your heart desires, but the farm is also home to free range eggs, pasture raised pork and lamb, grassfed beef, handmade sausages and salumis from Il Mondo Vecchio, flowers, honey, fruit from Colorado’s Western Slope… the list goes on. Give them a visit.

So enjoy the availability of local and fresh- wherever you are! Every time you purchase food you are casting a vote for the future of food production. There is true beauty in wholesome food, community, and sourcing sustainably. So go on, get out there, and give local a vote.

Popcorn kind of Sunday

It might seem strange to think that I’ve prepared osso bucco but I’ve never actually cooked popcorn on the stove. There it is. In writing. And without Shira’s blog inspiration, I very well might have made it another mere seven weeks and graduated from culinary school only having executed the (somewhat taboo in the profession kitchen) microwave version.

That said, I did make ‘popcorn’ on the stove out of amaranth in class once. I suppose it would be pop-amaranth, but that just sounds funny. Amaranth is a tiny grain, about the size of a poppy seed. With a little salt and, of course, butter, it was quite fantastic eaten with a spoon. But back to the popcorn.

It’s a rainy Sunday evening at the end of what’s been a ‘me’ weekend, and popcorn is in order. And sure enough, it seems a brighter shade of white and has a deeper taste of grain than it’s push-button counterpart. My only regret in the process is that I should have made more. Four cups popped sounded reasonable for one…

Sometimes we need a little break from the rest of the world- or at least I do… occasionally. And this weekend has been completely perfect. Farmers’ Market on Saturday was every bit the treat I anticipated. I left with a few more heirloom tomato seedlings, several three-inch-tall nasturtiums, a camera satisfied to have found root vegetables in a myriad of colors, and a little sun on my shoulders.

Several sweaty workouts- much needed- squeezed their way into the agenda; and I was fortunate to spent Saturday evening with a wonderful friend visiting town.

And I have literally scheduled an hour to read for fun tonight. I just may have to pop another batch…

Captivated by a Squash Blossom?

Markets of fresh local produce are completely captivating. And a sunny Colorado Saturday piled high with greens and seedlings, flowers and sprouts was definitely welcomed after what my neighbor has wittingly dubbed “Cake Week 2012.”

And I’ve heard rumors that he’s made quite an incredible cake this week himself, so I’m feeling lucky to be living where I do. And I could probably squeeze in one more bit of cake this week. You know, if I had to.

But to be honest, a market can lure me in no matter what I’ve been eating. Or what else I probably should be doing.

Last October, I spent an entire day wandering through Mercato Centrale– a mind bogglingly huge and well-stocked farmers’ market in the center of Florence, Italy. As the first time I’d really traveled anywhere on my own, I had the leisure to do exactly what I wanted. And change my mind on a whim without consequence.

I’d planned to take a quick stroll through the market and consume most of the day in the Uffizi Gallery, as any self-respecting cultured visitor on her first trip to Florence should.

But I was fascinated in the market by whole chickens with their talons stiffly and eerily waving from the cold cases. All parts of cows and pigs were available to turn into dinner- snouts, tails, organs, tongues, ears, tripe.

Cheeses made from sheep, cows and goats from farms I’d ridden by on my bicycle just two days earlier were neatly stacked around a hanging scale. Red currants, plump and fresh, were still lined up like little soldiers on their tiny branches. Heirloom varieties of vegetables and fruits so unique I couldn’t even place them all were around every corner. Squashes and zucchinis still had the blossoms attached. Incredible.

I never made it to the Uffizi. I stayed at the market that day until it closed. And I left with a mildly unsettling confusion. And cheese, and oils and fruits. But I also left knowing something in me had changed. For the first time in far too long, I’d unconsciously chosen to do what captivated me instead of what I thought I should be doing.

So I’m a different person because of a market. Yesterday as I bought arugula for dinner and red onion starters for a few patio pots, I couldn’t help but also leave with a reminder to do what captivates. And somehow, I think everything else will fall into place~

Weekend food review

Friday’s menu at school kick-started a weekend that proved to be laden with food in every conceivable manner. We made rack of lamb au jus over a bed of herbed spaetzle served with a medley of seasonal vegetables; gnocchi in roasted garlic creme with gorgonzola and crispy leeks; vichyssoise- a chilled potato leek soup; and pear blackberry gelato as well as candied ginger lime sorbet.

Saturday morning marked the sundress-and-flip-flop welcomed first Farmers Market of the season in Boulder. Not a plethora of produce yet- as to be expected for Colorado April- but enough to have me contemplating if my patio could possibly hold one more vegetable tucked in a terra cotta pot.

By noon Saturday I’d made my way into the kitchen of Frasca Food and Wine for an ‘observation’ shift. I was hoping to spend a few weeks working with this incredibly talented team again later in the Spring, so an introduction to how they operate was definitely in order.

I spent thirteen hours Saturday peeling, chopping… and watching the magic happen in this highly acclaimed kitchen. The impeccably fresh produce, sustainably sourced meats and fish, pasta being hand made, baguettes taking their turns in the ovens… all under the orchestration of world renowned chefs and sommelier.

My external composure was calm- I think- but inside I was definitely terrified. Describing the intricacies of the kitchen, the food and the people would warrant another quite entertaining post altogether. And for some reason- I won’t ask; I’ll just be grateful- they are letting me come back to join them for my internship in May/June. Quite thankful.

Sunday turned out to be a complete treat and highlight of an already food forward weekend. A fellow blogger and his wife invited me to join them for Easter dinner (see some of his pics of dinner here). This was no ordinary Easter meal: it was a multi-course Italian feast. Literally. It took us six wonderful hours to eat and drink our way through. And the company even overshadowed the food and wine. When my cheeks hurt from laughing as much as my belly hurts from eating, that’s a win.

Happy late Easter, and here’s to many wins and even more gratefuls~