Thursday, February 28, 2008
The Wednesday Farmer's Market in Santa Monica is an event unlike any other market in Los Angeles. Hundreds of vendors and farmers set up early and draw a crowd of local chefs, tourists and people like me, who are just looking for inspiration for that nights' meal. The market epitomizes California cuisine and the emerging nation-wide green food movement by offering local, largely organic, seasonal fruits, vegetables, flowers, and meats. It's a welcomed escape from the grocery store and the truth is, everything tastes one thousand times better. Every time I go it seems, I find something that I have never seen before and I am always pleasantly surprised with the outcome. New to me this week were watermelon radish and heirloom cauliflower, which looks more like abstract sculpture than vegetable!
Watermelon Radish and Feta Salad:
To accomplish the thin cuts of radish, I use a mandoline. I know not every household has one as they can be expensive and tricky to operate. Investing in one isn't a bad idea, once you figure them out, you will love their versatility. You can buy a japanese mandoline, for about $20, they are simple to use and easy to find. The only downside is that you can't adjust the cut heights, so here, the cuts would be thinner. You can also cut the old fashion way, but that will be very time consuming and the cuts will not be as uniformed.
2 watermelon radish, about the size of a tennis ball, sliced on mandoline about 1/8" thick
1/4 red onion or shallot - sliced on mandoline, paper thin
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
drizzle of local honey
1/4 cup good quality feta
a few sprigs fresh mint, torn for garnish
salt and pepper
On a decorative plate, arrange sliced radish in a circular pattern, over-lapping each other in a spiral fashion.
In the center place onion and top that with crumbled feta
Drizzle with olive oil and honey and season with salt and pepper.
Garnish with mint and a squeeze of lime. Serve at room temp.
Chicken Breasts with Baby Shitakes
3-4 Chicken breasts, skin on and bone in - rinsed, dried & seas
oned with salt and pepper.
1 cup flour in shallow dish.
1 TBLS butter
1 TBLS extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
5 cloves whole, peeled garlic
1 cup baby shitake mushrooms (any mushroom would work, a wild blend would be great)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth - low simmer on stove-top.
Heat oil and butter in a large skillet on medium high heat.
Dredge chicken breasts in flour and shake off excess, place skin side down and sear for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn over and sear another 5 minutes. Add wine, cook down 3 minutes, add garlic and cook another few minutes. Lower heat to medium and add mushrooms. Shake pan and allow mushroom to settle on bottom of pan. (Don't salt the mushrooms, it will draw moisture out and they will get soggy. Wait until chicken is cooked all the way through and season then with salt and pepper.) After about 5 minutes, add hot chicken broth and bring to a steady, low simmer, cover pan and cook until chicken juices run clear, about 15 minutes. In the last few minutes, uncover pan and reduce pan juices a bit. Now you can season with s & p.
Roated Cauliflower with Mustard-Caper Butter
This is THE best way to prepare cauliflower, it works equally well with any kind of cauliflower or brussel sprouts. If using brussel sprouts, cut in half and trip off the base.
2 garlic cloves
2 tbls butter, softened to room temp
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup capers, drained and rinsed
grated zest of 1 lemon
3 tbls chopped marjoram
2 heads Romanesco cauliflower - white cauliflower will be fine, also.
1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Make mustard-caper butter, pound the garlic with a half tsp salt in mortar until smooth.
Stir garlic into butter, with mustard, capers, lemon zest and marjoram. Season to taste with pepper.This can be done one day in advance, just bring to room temp before serving.
3. Cut cauliflower into bite-size pieces - arange on a baking sheet and toss in olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to rotate florets.
4. Place roasted cauliflower in a bowl and add butter compound. Cover with tin foil and shake to mix butter around. Serve hot.
Adapted from "Local Flavors" by Deborah Madison.
Yvette Roman Photography© 2008