Farmer’s Market Finds

DSC_0353This weekend we went to the Clarksville Downtown Market, and got to experience a completely different type of farmer’s market than what we had experienced before. This one was smaller, calmer and much more friendly. There were fewer merchants, but they were all different, rather than a monopoly on veggies like we tend to see in Nashville. There were also a lot more artisans of handcrafted goods, which was very cool.

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We got a huge bushel of apples that I turned into apple butter and apple pie apple sauce. We also got some heirloom carrots and tomatoes, beautiful, fat zucchini, a huge basket of green beans and a wonderfully colored acorn squash.

DSC_0363I used some of the veggies in a stir fry as a complement to some frozen veggies and leftover rotisserie chicken. I then created a cheesy pasta primavera with whole wheat pasta. There were 8 different types of vegetables that were lightly steamed and delicious and a lighter mozzarella sauce that blended everything together. Recipe below!

By the way, I’m in love with my new camera, and it has a “food” setting on it that helps to bring out some of the beautiful colors. Hence the silly amount of pictures today!

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Pasta Primavera with Market Veggies

Market fresh vegetables, cleaned and chopped to approximately the same size. I used: 1 large zucchini, 1 eggplant, 4 heirloom carrots, a handful of cherry tomatoes, 3 sweet peppers, a head of broccoli, a handful of green beans

3 cloves of garlic, diced

olive oil

2 tbsp white wine of your choice

whole wheat linguine, about a quarter to half of a box

Fresh basil, 1 large bunch, julienned

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

Approx 1/4 cup fresh parmesan or three cheese blend

1/4 – 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

approx 1/2 cup milk (you can substitute soy or almond milk – I did!)

Approx 2 tbsp each: ground sage, ground thyme, dried dill, black pepper

Approx 1 tbsp each: paprika, ground oregano

Approx 1/2 tbsp dried cardamom

Salt to taste

  • Prepare all the veggies, cleaning and chopping. Put all but the garlic in a large bowl. Warm a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil – once around the pan. Then add in the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  • While the pan is warming and the garlic cooking, prepare your pasta pot with water and set to boil. Once ¬†boiling, add in a handful of sea salt and olive oil to add additional flavor to the pasta itself. Then add in the pasta and cook until al dente.
  • Once the garlic is fragrant, dump the bowl of veggies into the pan and toss well. Add another round of olive oil and continue to toss to coat. Top with sage, thyme, dill, and oregano, as well as 1 tbsp black pepper and a pinch of salt. Toss well to coat and cover pan, cooking on medium for 2-3 minutes. After this time, add in the wine, and stir. Then re-cover, and let cook on medium low heat while pasta cooks, stirring occasionally.
  • To make the sauce, first melt the butter in a pot. Once melted, add in the flour, stirring vigorously. Once that creates a paste, add in about 1/2 the milk, continuing to stir. Add in the parmesan and the mozzarella, continuing to stir. Add the rest of the milk, the paprika, 1 tbsp of black pepper and the cardamom. The sauce should be creamy as it melts, and if needed, add a little more milk to increase the creaminess. Continue to stir to evenly incorporate the heat and melt the cheese, as well as preventing burnt cheese on the bottom.
  • At this point, the pasta should be done. Taste test for texture. Drain, and return to the pot. Add 3/4 of the basil to the veggies and stir, cooking just long enough to wilt. Once wilted, add to the pasta, top with the cheese sauce and toss well to coat. Serve with fresh basil on top.

Christmas 2011

Christmas this year, though not surrounded by the hustle and bustle of my crazy family, was still centered around the food. As it should be. Even though it was only me and my hunny, I still went all out to try and bring in the feeling of being home. I made ham, and green bean casserole, garlic mashed potatoes, a salad, cornbread, and macaroni salad (even if we did forget to eat that). Oh yeah, and used my new Cuisinart Toaster Oven (Thanks Mom in Law!) for an apple pie.

For these big holiday meals, I’ve found that I should have paid more attention to my Mom when she was cooking, because I have called her a lot knowing what I want to make and not having any idea how to do it. Here’s the lowdown on ham:

Buy a ham. (obviously – don’t want to insult your intelligence here, but just stick with me…) Don’t buy the smoked ones, or the spiral cut ones. Buy the one that your instinct tells you is going to be way too much of a pain to cook. It will have one side that is flat and the other will have a big bone in it. It tends to be sitting in a center aisle freezer in your grocery store.

If you don’t already have them on hand, you’ll need whole cloves, dark brown sugar, a jar of maraschino cherries, and a 14 oz can of sliced pineapple (the rings). Oh, and some toothpicks.

So, to put it all together. Take the ham, put it in a big pan (I’m running the risk of rhyming here…) flat side down, and make slices into the ham, creating little squares, just through the fat. In the corners of these squares, put the pointy side of the cloves. After you’ve done that, take the pineapple rings, and using the toothpicks, pin them around the ham. They don’t have to cover it, but they work to flavor the ham and help keep it moist. And then, take the maraschino cherries and pin them into the center of the rings. Finally, take the brown sugar and rub it into the exposed parts of the ham. It creates a yummy glaze.

Once this is all done, cover the pan with foil, and stick it in the oven at 350 for one hour. At the hour mark, take the foil off, and leave it in the oven for another 30 minutes. The fatty part of the ham should be crispy and pulling away from the ham, your cloves will be falling out. Those crunchy skin pieces? They’re the best part.

So, how ’bout a leftovers recipe? Of course you can make some yummy ham sandwiches…but what about Mac and Cheese with ham and broccoli? Doesn’t that sound so much better? I used the recipe from Macaroni and Cheesecake, in which she cooks the noodles in the milk and then adds the spices and cheese. I changed it up a little bit though, I added ham and broccoli which I sauteed in some olive oil with onions, and I also did a half and half mixture of milk and heavy cream. I’m thinking she was right about the milk though – the cream is too thick, and I had to add a lot more milk at the end. From previous experimentations, I have found that gruyere and cheddar cheese taste really good together, so I did that too. You all should try it! It makes pretty tasty leftovers too…