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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Dinner on Wednesday: Farmers' Market Tasting

For a couple of weeks I'd had a dinner scheduled with a couple of friends for last Wednesday night. I had all this great stuff from the farmers' market and a new (to me), functional kitchen with an island facing the dining table so I thought I'd do a dinner of small plates made up of all that great stuff.

Here's what we had:

Branched Oak Farm quark and basil Le Quartier ciabatta pizza - Quark and chopped basil mixed together and spread on halved ciabatta loaves and toasted under the broiler. I mixed a little good balsamic vinegar in with the cheese and basil mixture, too. Pretty tasty and a nice appetizer.

Roasted tri-color beet and carrot salad - I bought a bunch of beets on Saturday that came in red, golden and candy cane colors. I also had red, white and orange carrots. I roasted those for 30 minutes then tossed them in a simple vinaigrette and let the whole thing macerate overnight. You really can't go wrong with beet salad and even better if the beets have been roasted instead of boiled.

Warm spinach salad with cippoline onions, black radishes and toasted sesame seeds - I was kind of surprised at how well this turned out. I sauteed the onions for a few minutes then added the radishes then a few minutes later I added the pile of baby spinach leaves from Open Harvest. I cooked that all down then tossed in the sesame seeds. The radishes took on a really nutty flavor with a little heat and the combination of flavors gave the impression there was a vinaigrette on the salad when there was not.

Roasted turnip and parsnip puree with star anise - I've made this before but I added some star anise to the roasting mix and a little cayenne pepper to the puree to give it a more Chinese flavor. Again, this would be better if I used way more butter and cream but I tried to keep this somewhat healthy.

Baby fingerling potatoes and garlic scapes with reduced balsamic drizzle - I had some tiny potatoes and garlic scapes which are the shoots from the tops of garlic bulbs that have usually been harvested to encourage bulb growth. The flavor is lighter than regular garlic and a little sweeter. The flowers are really tasty. I parboiled the potatoes then fried them while I steamed then sauteed the scapes in another pan while I was reducing some good balsamic vinegar in another pan over medium heat. This was a great little dish although the balsamic was too reduced. It had taken on a little of the chocolate sweetness that happens when you reduce balsamic vinegar to the level where it's good with fruit. Oops.

Italian sausage with whole-grain pasta and fresh basil - I had some Italian sausage from the farmers' market so I decided to inject a little meat into the meal. I sliced the sausage then sauteed it while the pasta boiled then tossed it with a little olive oil and a bunch of basil one of my guests chiffonaded for me with my new knife.

Branched Oak Farm Krista's Little Camembert with sauteed pear slices from my parents' backyard - This was a perfect finish to a great meal. It's not just common wisdom that soft ripened cheeses go well with warm pears it's almost written as law. The Branched Oak Camembert is really, really awesome. If you love soft cheeses like brie or St. Andre, pick some up.

A great meal and a lot of fun. It took about 2 1/2 hours and 3 bottles of wine.


Blogger avabee said...

That looked awesome. I love the Farmers Market.

I've had that Camembert this summer, and it truly is The Awesome.

7:16 PM  

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