A harvest of recipes

Submitted by Judy on Mon, 09/15/2008 - 9:36pm.

My column at OU's Shabbat Shalom entitled A harvest of recipes for Sukkot 5768 features the following recipes: Spinach-Stuffed Acorn Squash, Stuffed Eggplant in Olive Oil with rice, pine nuts and currants, and Polish Apple Cake. Chag Sameach! And in keeping with the harvest season, here's my latest column in the Orange County Register:

Cooking at the farmers' market

The Orange County Register/Fullerton News Tribune
October 4, 2007

by Judy Bart Kancigor

Amelia Saltsman
is on a mission. With a cooking demonstration and book signing a month away, she is trawling the farmers’ market, querying farmers as to availability. Will there be persimmons? How about pomegranates? I tag along for the ride.

“Because I work with seasonal ingredients, and we are now on the cusp of the change of seasons, I need to best guess with the farmers when things will become available,” explains Saltsman as we stroll down the aisles.

But there are frequent interruptions, because this is the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market and Saltsman – writer, cooking teacher, producer/host of her own TV show and author of “The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook” – is the undisputed queen of this market and instantly recognized by shoppers and farmers alike.

Every grower greets Saltsman, who has immortalized them in her new cookbook, which is as much an homage to the farmers, their histories, and their commitment to excellence as it is a collection of fuss-less, original and artful recipes inspired by the amazing varieties they produce.

Fava Bean and Pea Shoot Salad. Fresh Porcini and Potato Soup. Slow Baked Quince with Honey and Cognac. Recipes that showcase ingredients over method, with Saltsman guiding us from the familiar to the exotic.

“People are overwhelmed by choice,” she notes. “but don’t know how to proceed. The only way farmers are going to grow these varieties is if people know how to cook them.”

A delivery man whizzes by carrying mounds of bush-like, herby-looking bouquets.

“Fresh garbanzo beans,” Saltsman informs me. “You can find unusual things at the farmers’ market that you would never find anywhere else. It’s not that they’re so rare – they’re just rare here. In Mumbai you could find them all the time.

“And even the very ordinary things sing with great flavor, the simplest things – carrots, potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes – it makes all the difference in the world.”

Shopper Sue picks up a lavender and cream-colored, teardrop-shaped eggplant and asks Saltsman, “What do I do with this?”

“That’s a Rosa Bianca – it’s very creamy inside,” Saltsman informs her. “Cut it in cubes and sauté it – it gets tender quickly – or roast it in thick slices. It just melts in your mouth.”

At Windrose Farms I’m struck by what appear to be tiny white, faintly striped melons, which turn out to be lemon cucumbers. “They are so sweet,” rhapsodizes Saltsman. “You can only find them in farmers’ markets. Cut them, and inside it looks exactly like the juice vesicles of a lemon.”

But the main reason to shop at a farmers’ market is the taste, she says. “Because the ingredients are so fresh, they will keep for a surprisingly long time, because they’re picked at their peak. Their entire shelf life is spent in your home, not being shipped.”

But will there be persimmons by the end of October?

Jeff Rieger of Penryn Orchard guesses yes, but adds, “The fruit tells me what to do. I don’t decide when to pick.”


Persimmon, Pomegranate, and Pecan Salad