Farmers' Favorite Recipes
A good way to learn how to cook with the seasons is to ask your favorite market vendor for suggestions for how to cook their products. We did, and here are some winners.

Warm Season Recipes

NO-SLIME SKILLET OKRA  
Courtesy of Carol Ann Sayle, Boggy Creek Farm

Olive oil or butter
Enough fresh small to medium okra pods to cover the bottom
of an iron skillet (Leave the caps and stems on the okra.)
Sea salt, to taste

Add the olive oil or butter to the iron skillet—just enough to lightly coat it. Add the okra, uncut, to the skillet. Sprinkle with sea salt. Turn the heat on low and cook until the okra is tan on the bottom. Then turn the okra over, tanning each side. When all sides are lightly browned, approximately 20 to 30 minutes, the okra is ready. Eat the caps and the stems also. Best eaten with your fingers.


HEALTHY “FRIED” EGGPLANT  
Courtesy of Larry and Gail Smith, Harvest Time Farm

Cut an Italian variety eggplant into ¼-inch medallions.

Liberally spread mayonnaise on both sides of each medallion.

Press medallions on both sides with seasoned Italian bread crumbs.

Place on cookie sheet. Put under broiler for about 5 minutes.

Flip medallions and return to broiler for another 5 minutes. Times are approximate. When bread crumbs turn brown and mayonnaise begins to slightly bubble, it is time to flip or remove completely from broiler.

If desired, you can add a slice of provolone or mozzarella cheese during the last 30 to 45 seconds of cooking.

You can eat this as a side dish or use for eggplant Parmigiana. A similar process with cornmeal or flour will work great for “fried” green tomatoes.

FRENCH SORREL SAUCE  
Courtesy of Katie Kraemer, Tecolote Farm

Our first week at the Cedar Park Farmers Market, we thrilled a French man with the sight of our French sorrel. Here is his mother’s sauce recipe.

You can use this as a sauce for fish.

Start with some crème fraîche in your pan. Add some saffron. Cut a leek in small cubes and add that to the starter (optional). On the side, in another pan, sauté some onion and garlic in olive oil (extra virgin, first cold press). Add that to the main pan. Add sea salt and black pepper. You can also add white wine at this point (optional). Add some herbes de Provence. Add the sorrel at the end if you do not want it to “cook” too much. Or you can also reverse the order and start with the sorrel if you like to have it like cooked spinach. 

Serve this as the bed for broiled or grilled fish or chicken. The first time our youngest son, Henry, tried this over fish, he exclaimed, “I’m having this for my birthday dinner!” It’s also wonderful with roasted potatoes or scrambled eggs.

 

FRUITFUL HILL FARM CUSTARD

Courtesy of Dale and Amy Ringger, Fruitful Hill Farm

Serves 3

3 eggs

1.5 c. milk

1/3 c. sugar or less honey

1 t. vanilla

Whisk eggs well.  Add sweetener and vanilla.  Slowly whisk in the milk.  Pour into a casserole dish and sprinkle with cinnamom if desired.  Bake at 325 until it is just a little wiggly in the middle.

 

 

Cool Season Recipes


POTATO AND SPINACH SALAD WITH EGG
Courtesy of Paula Foore, Springdale Farm
Serves 2

4 T. olive oil
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 t. brown mustard
1 small shallot, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 c. spinach
3 medium potatoes, cubed
2 farm-fresh eggs
2 T. goat cheese

Make vinaigrette in the bottom of a large bowl by mixing 2 tablespoons of the olive oil with the vinegar, mustard, shallot, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Place the spinach on top.

In a skillet, with the remaining olive oil, sauté the potatoes until tender. Season with salt and pepper. When done, put the hot potatoes on top of the spinach and toss thoroughly.

Fry the eggs over medium. Divide the salad mixture between two plates. Top each plate with an egg. Sprinkle with the goat cheese. Dinner is served!

BUTTERNUT SQUASH PASTA WITH PECANS
Courtesy of Jo Dwyer, Angel Valley Organic Farm
Serves 4–6

This recipe is actually a variation on butternut squash ravioli. Granted, butternut squash ravioli is about the greatest thing in the world, but it’s also time-consuming. Doing it this way, you still get the wonderful flavors and the melt-in-your-mouth texture of cooked butternut and pasta, without all the work!

4–6 T. butter
½ c. coarsely chopped pecans
2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled or not, cut into ½-in. cubes
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. chopped fresh sage leaves
2 t. chopped fresh thyme
10–12 oz. wide egg noodles
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese for serving

Melt a couple tablespoons or so of the butter in a skillet and stir-fry the pecans until nicely toasted. Set aside. In the same skillet, melt the remaining butter and sauté the cubed butternut, garlic, sage and thyme until the butternut is tender. You’ll probably need to put a lid on the skillet during some of the cooking.

In the meantime, cook the noodles in boiling water until al dente, then drain. Add the pecans to the butternut, then add the noodles and stir to heat through. Shake in some salt and pepper, if you want. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese


SWEET POTATO AND APPLE BAKE  
Courtesy of Tiffany Bush, Bush Farms

4-5 sweet potatoes, peeled and chunked
4-5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chunked
2 t. cinnamon
1 c. brown sugar
½ to 1 stick butter

Place sweet potatoes and apples in 9 x 13-inch baking pan, sprinkle on cinnamon and brown sugar and put dabs of butter around. Bake at 350° for about an hour, or until sweet potatoes are tender.


PULLED LAMB WITH PEPPERS AND ONIONS  
Courtesy of Loncito Cartwright, Loncito’s Lamb

Ingredients to Buy. Loncito’s Lamb (shanks, 2 to 4 pounds), 3 to 5 pounds of farmers market peppers (the local equivalent of Anaheim/Hatch peppers, hot to HOT) and 2 large farmers market onions. Depending on where you are on the veggie-meat sliding scale, you can use lots of meat and few peppers and onions or little meat and lots of peppers and onions. Since I sell lamb at the Austin Farmers’ Market, I would prefer that you use lots of lamb. The other ingredients you already have on hand (spices—your choice, olive oil, bouillon). Most recipes involve precise amounts of this and that, precise temperatures, precise timing and, like Professor Harold Hill says, “a cool head and a keen eye.”  Here we are not creating a Vermeer; we are creating a Jackson Pollock—at the end of this process my wife says our kitchen floor looks like a Jackson Pollock painting.

Dealing with the Lamb. Use shanks (foreshanks or hind shanks). These cuts have the “pulled” or shredded meat texture that goes great with the peppers. Put a little olive oil in your biggest, deepest frying pan and braise (seal by browning) the shanks on all sides. To get the complete cut braised, I end up standing the cuts on their ends where they lean into each other, a skill I learned making tepees of kindling to start fires in the Boy Scouts. For most of the process, cover the pan with a lid bigger than the pan—otherwise you create a Jackson Pollock on the wall adjacent to the stove. Take the meat out and store in a preheated slow cooker (or in a Dutch oven in a low-heat oven).

Dealing with the peppers. Typically, peppers come in two varieties, sort-of-hot and HOT. Buy the peppers in the hot/HOT mix you like. Cut the top off each pepper, slit down the sides, and clean out (and discard) the ribs and seeds. Cut up the cleaned peppers into inch or half-inch lengths and put in the food processor, whir the blade until the peppers are sliced up to sizes that vary from almond to rice kernel. Put the processed peppers in the empty deep-dish pan used for the lamb, or new deep-dish pan with enough melted butter to form a film across the base of the pan. Sauté over medium heat with minimal attention so you can switch to:

Dealing with the Onions. This process is much quicker. Peel off the outer onion layer, cut up in chunks, whir in the processor until you get pieces that vary in size from walnut to almond (a few larger pieces are fine) and dump out onto the sautéing peppers. Stir, then ignore, while you are:

Doing the Creative Part: Preparing and Tossing in your Favorite Herbs. I usually take 5 to 6 large cloves of garlic, squeeze in the hard-to-clean-out thingy, sauté the garlic in a small saucepan until brown, then toss on the peppers and onions and mix. I think most recipes have you do this in the veggie pan first, but hey, the point is you can’t mess this up. It works no matter what you do. I take about 2 to 3 inches of ginger, peel it, cut it up in chocolate-chip size bits and toss in the food processor. Leave this running while you switch to adding whatever else you want. I also add a jigger or two of chopped fresh oregano (the jigger is used at the start of the process for another purpose and is handy). I then stir up the veggie and herb mix, and switch to:

Preparing Some Vegetable Stock. I am not sure you need this, but I did this once for some soup and it seems a useful step. I take a vegetable bouillon cube, boil it with 1 cup of water in a microwave and then put it, boiling, on the peppers, onions and herbs. Or make your own from scratch, which is another story.

Look Around the Kitchen to See What You Forgot. Shut off the whirring food processor and scrape out the ginger into the mix.

Wait Around Until the Mix Comes to a Simmering Boil. Oh, I forgot the red wine. Add some red wine. Wait around until the mix comes again to a simmering boil.

Assemble. Add (A) the simmering vegetable mix to (B) the meat already in (C) the heated slow cooker or (alternative C) in the Dutch oven in the electric or gas oven on low heat (250°). Easy as ABC! At this point the last time I did this, my wife walked by and asked if I added salt. I never add salt, but I don’t mind it, so I handed her the salt shaker and the pepper mill and she did the “salt and pepper to taste” step.

Cook 4 to 6 hours or Longer. Fish the meat out of the cooker onto a cutting board. The bones will fall off the meat (or the meat will fall off the bones, depending upon what you grab when you lift). Take a fork and a knife and pull the meat apart until it takes on a shredded meat texture (no food processor here!). Stir around the cooker once all the meat is out with a long fork, feel for small bones, and remove. Put a strainer in a large bowl. Put the shredded meat back in the cooker, and pour the whole contents over the strainer. Immediately lift the strainer and empty the vegetable and meat mixture from the strainer back into the cooker or serving dish. The drained liquid can be put in the refrigerator, where the fat will congeal on the surface. The fat can be removed and the liquid added to the next batch in lieu of the vegetable stock.

Serve the lamb, pepper and onion mix over pasta or rice, put in tacos, etc.