Brookside Farmers' Market

I visited the Brookside Farmers' Market in Kansas City, MO for the first time in June of 2016.  I had been shopping at farmers' markets during the growing season for most of my adult life...but there was just something very special about this market...I was completely drawn in.   The market is all local (everything comes from within 100 miles), all organic, and vendor run.  You are not allowed to set up a stall if you are not the grower....  I love this.  It is a pleasure and privilege to be able to talk to the people who actually grow the food.  If you live in the Kansas City Metropolitan area and you have never visited Brookside Farmers' Market, you should make it a point to do so.  I predict you will return again and again.  

I am excited to say that I am now the official market chef for this amazing market.  During the growing season I will be developing recipes using produce from the market.  I will post these recipes here on my blog.  Additionally, all of the recipes I develop for the Brookside Farmers' Market will be cataloged here on this separate page.  Along with the links to the recipes, I will include a short note about the vendor who grew the featured ingredients so that local market shoppers will be able to use the same ingredients should they wish.   

Late Summer 2017--August means Eggplant

I love eggplant.  This has not always been the case (you can read about the day I learned to love it here).  Setting aside the one (and only) unfortunate experience that I had with eggplant as a child, my dislike of eggplant probably had a lot to do with its appearance....cooked eggplant can look rather unappetizing to the uninitiated.  Which really is too bad.  Because eggplant--when fresh...and properly cooked--is amazingly delicious.

If you are one who has an ambivalent or negative view of eggplant, I hope I can convince you to give it another try.  There are many, many recipes here on my blog.  And now is the time.  Because right now (and through the end of summer and into early fall) is eggplant's moment.  Freshly harvested eggplant has firm, creamy white flesh--with almost no trace of bitterness (which begins to develop as eggplant sits in storage)...and a soft, silken texture when cooked.  It has an affinity for all the wonderful things that are growing right now (tomatoes, sweet peppers, summer--and the beginnings of autumn--squash, sweet summer onions, Swiss chard...) as well as many of the traditional components of the famed Mediterranean diet (herbs like basil, mint, parsley, rosemary, thyme, savory....as well as garlic, anchovies, olives, capers, olive oil, and cheese--especially goat's and sheep's milk).  I adore it when combined with chickpeas...and it is fantastic with lamb.  


When shopping for eggplant, choose specimens that are freshly cut (look at the stem), heavy for their size, firm (but not rock hard) and relatively unblemished.  I favor the large globe eggplants (which come in a wide variety of beautiful shades of cream, lavender and deep purple)...but there are also the slender Asian varieties (which come in creams. lavenders, deep purples and greens)...even tiny golf ball sized ones.  Most of the growers at The Brookside Farmers' Market are growing one or more variety of eggplant...and they are all lovely.   Take a quick stroll through the stalls to see what's available.  Then, since the growing season for eggplant is relatively long, sample some from several different vendors over the course of the next few weeks.   

In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, eggplant is also delicious with cream...and I have featured it with cream and goat cheese in two recipes that were inspired by the same Deborah Madison recipe for an eggplant gratin (which is delicious...but not particularly beautiful to look at and consequently not the first thing I would serve someone who is dubious about eggplant...).  

The first is a beautiful tart that includes caramelized onions and roasted sweet peppers.  When I made it recently, I replaced some of the eggplant with a beautiful yellow summer squash (cut and cook it exactly as you are directed to cook the eggplant).  You will find that the recipe is quite flexible and amenable to the addition and substitution of other favorite late summer ingredients (there are suggestions in the original post):





And if making a pie crust isn't your thing, you can enjoy eggplant in a similar creamy custard base in this Eggplant & Swiss Chard gratin.  Paired with a simple salad of sliced, heirloom and cherry tomatoes, summer eating doesn't get much better than this.





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Early Spring 2017...through Late Fall...and beyond?--Local Tuscan Kale

Early last March I finally visited the bi-monthly winter market being held by the Brookside Farmers' Market.  I chronicled my visit there...and my chagrin for not having been regular in my attendance all winter long...in a blog post.  One of the things I purchased was a lovely bunch of Tuscan Kale from Stony Crest Urban Farm.  That bunch of kale was so tender and nice that I decided--uncharacteristically for me--to make a salad.  


Tuscan Kale Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing, Sunflower Seeds & Currants

Stony Crest has continued to have beautiful Tuscan (and other varieties of) kale ever since.  I featured their Red Russian Kale in a grain pilaf back in late May.  A couple of weeks ago I turned another bunch of their Tuscan kale into another kale salad...this time with Sweet Corn, Italian Sausage and Pecans.  This is a salad to tempt anyone...even if they think they don't like kale...

If you haven't yet tried kale....or haven't enjoyed the kale you have tried...I recommend sampling some of theirs (or some from any one of the growers at the market).  Grocery store kale can be a mixed bag...sometimes so tough and leathery that it doesn't seem to want to cook at all.  (I wouldn't even consider using such a specimen in a salad).  The local kale I have found at the Brookside Farmers' Market has always been tender and flavorful--appropriate for cooking...or for consuming raw, in a salad.



Summer Kale Salad with Roasted Sweet Corn, Italian Sausage & Pecans


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Summer 2017--Pinkeye Purple Hull Southern Peas

For years now, one of my favorite things to purchase from local growers has been Pinkeye Purple Hull Southern Peas. Widely grown and enjoyed in the South, here in Kansas City we appear to be on the Northern edge of their territory...so not everyone is familiar with them. But these delicious--and beautiful!--shell beans are definitely worth seeking out...for eating fresh now...and also for freezing for the fall and winter months. The only drawback to these little peas is the work involved in shelling them. Unlike Lima beans--or even English shelling peas--the Pinkeyes are a bit tedious to shell. The peas tend to stick in the long purple pods...and the pods themselves sometimes resist your efforts to split them open and pull the halves apart. Nevertheless, I have always found it to be worth the time involved.


Shelled and ready to use (what a luxury!) Pinkeye Purple Hull Southern Peas 


But since not everyone enjoys these kinds of slow, detailed and contemplative kitchen tasks, I was more than pleased to see that a couple of the growers at the Brookside Market (Ki Koko Farms and Mama Tu's Farm) are selling pinkeye peas that have already been shelled. Since practically all of the work of cooking these is in the shelling process (the rest of the process is a quiet simmer)...there is no reason not to try these special little peas. I use them in almost any dish that calls for fresh summer shell beans (succotash...soupe au pistou...).

When I brought some home this past Saturday, I decided to use them in a salad featuring some of my favorite summer vegetables--eggplant and sweet bell peppers.  The salad can be served room temperature or chilled...and it was just the thing for the hot and steamy day on Saturday.  

I purchased my eggplant from Urbavore...they grow an amazing number of beautiful varieties...and my bell peppers from Green Gate Family Farm.  But both peppers and eggplant will be abundant for weeks, and many of the growers at Brookside will have both.  In particular I wanted to mention the lovely peppers that will be available at Stony Crest Urban Farm.  Last year I maintained a constant supply of their beautiful peppers.  When I asked last week, they told me they would have them again this year. 


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Mid July 2017--Summer Roots and Squash....and Chicken...

I have wanted to write a chicken post all summer so I could feature the delicious pastured chickens from David's Pasture.  If you have read The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan (I highly recommend it, if you have not), you are familiar with the name Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm.  David's Pasture has adopted many of Salatin's techniques...and is raising chicken, turkey, beef, pork and lamb in a "sustainable, and pasture-based" manner.  The result is nutritious and delicious food...and healthy animals.  If you eat meat...what could be better than that?  






















For my post I chose to make a braise.  It is one of my favorite techniques and I would love it if more people were comfortable with this slow, moist heat technique that uses some of the tougher, more neglected cuts...and produces tender, juicy, flavorful results.  It is a technique that I most often use during the fall and winter months...but I chose to use it for a Moroccan Chicken Couscous with a spice and heat that is a perfect match for the summer weather. 

Also featured in my couscous recipe are the fantastic golden ball turnips, beautiful bi-colored yellow and pale green summer squash and sweet carrots from Urbavore.  I'm certain the carrots and squash will continue to be available...but the golden turnips may be done.  If they are, rest assured that regular purple top--or all white--turnips will be fine in this dish.  Furthermore, almost all of the growers are selling carrots and summer squash right now.  Any carrot...and any kind of summer squash...would be delicious in this dish.




Golden Couscous with Chicken, Carrots, Turnips & Summer Squash

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Early July 2017--Summer Abundance...



I have been enjoying the cabbage from Brookside growers so much that I wanted to share at least one more recipe that featured it....this time in a coleslaw.  But what a coleslaw!  This is not your tired fast food or BBQ shack coleslaw....  Chock full of summer corn, sweet juicy carrots, crisp kohlrabi and fresh herbs...it will turn the most devoted cabbage hater into an admirer.  You will be able to find most of the ingredients for this slaw...cabbage, carrots, kohlrabi, and red onions...at almost every stall at the market.  Fresh herbs are in abundance right now, so look for the dill, parsley and mint at the market too.   (And do seek them out so you can make your own dressing.  I know it would be tempting to purchase the ranch dressing for this salad, but it is so easy to make from scratch... and so good that you will never want to purchase it again!)

Unfortunately, I haven't seen any sweet corn at Brookside yet this year....but Green Gate Family Farms has told me that they hope to have some in a couple of weeks.  In the mean time, it is widely available.  (Make sure you purchase corn that hasn't been sprayed.  A worm or two is a good indication of this.)  




Two of the Brassicas...Broccolini and Kohlrabi...
Because the cole crops (cabbage, kale, turnips, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi...)--also called Brassicas...or cruciferous vegetables--are abundant right now and will soon be drawing to a close (they tend to be cool season crops), I wanted to include in my collection of Brookside Market recipes a dish that features a relatively new--and increasingly popular--member of the Brassica family:  Broccolini.  Broccolini is a broccoli hybrid, with long slender (and more tender) stems and smaller florets.  If you have never tried broccolini, this simple and delicious pasta would be great first taste.  I purchased my broccolini from Ki Koko Farms, but I have also seen it at Mama Tus and Garden of Peace.



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Late June 2017--Cabbage (and kohlrabi...and the end of the English shelling peas...)



As market chef one of my goals is to stay slightly ahead of the curve when it comes to the incoming harvest.  It doesn't do you (the buyer, cook and eater) much good to know how to make something fantastic with asparagus if I happened to grab the last of the asparagus for a recipe I then post and share.  I have asked the growers to help me out a bit by letting me know when they are anticipating that a crop will come in...and if it will have a short or a long run.  Happily, a few weeks ago, Laura of Blue Door Farm mentioned that cabbage was going to be hitting the market in a couple of weeks. The early Napas are, I believe, finished at this point, but the large green/white cabbages are in full swing and the Savoys and Red cabbages will follow.   Since these all store well, you should grab them while they are available and ask the growers about the best way to keep what you are unable to use right away.  The cabbages I used for this post came from the aforementioned Blue Door Farm (Laura has also had fantastic beets, carrots, chard and kale...hopefully these will continue for a while) and Ki Koko Farms (mentioned in previous market posts).



I am sharing a recipe for cooked cabbage...because I think cooked cabbage is a harder sell than raw.  Americans tend to like coleslaw and salads that resemble coleslaw.  But cooked cabbage suffers from childhood aversions.  This is too bad.  Cooked cabbage--when prepared properly--is delicious.  If you are dubious, you should give it a try anyway.  The investment for a small head is not great...and you can make your favorite coleslaw with whatever portion of the head that you don't cook.  (Cabbage goes a long way...seeming to explode in volume once cut).  If you don't have a favorite cabbage slaw or salad recipe, I am including a different and delicious recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi (one of my favorite chefs) in this post.  His salad also included kohlrabi, dill (which are both abundant at the market right now) and alfalfa shoots (which you can pick up at Be Love Too Farm).  Kohlrabi too seems to be a hard sell--people just don't know what to do with it--so this recipe will get you started in that department too.




Unfortunately the peas that I used in my Buttered Cabbage recipe have probably made their last appearance at the market for the year.  But hopefully you purchased enough while they were abundant that you were able to freeze some.  (And, if you don't have access to nice fresh or frozen peas...and you want to try your hand at cooking cabbage...you might check out my post from a few years ago for Cabbage with Sweet Corn and Bacon.)  

In any case, since the cabbage will continue for awhile...and I have been enjoying the cabbages that I have purchased so much....I anticipate that in the coming month I will be posting at least one more recipe that uses it.

Buttered Cabbage with Peas, Prosciutto & Herbs (and a bonus recipe for Cabbage & Kohlrabi Salad from Yotam Ottolenghi)

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Mid June 2017--Sugar Snap and Snow Peas, Fresh Fennel, Radishes, Young Carrots, Salad Turnips, Iceberg & Romaine Lettuce...in a Late Spring Salad with Feta, Olives, & Mint



As with last week's market recipe, this week's recipe is for a medley of vegetables.  But whereas my last recipe was for a quiet and muted dish of gently stewed vegetables, this week's is the polar opposite—a vibrant and zesty combination of raw and lightly cooked late spring vegetables.  You can use peas of all kinds, radishes, salad turnips, young carrots, fresh fennel and romaine or iceberg lettuce..I'm sure you will find something to enjoy that I missed.  


You can also use the beautiful "shoots" (like "sprouts," but grown in soil) from Be Love Too Farm in this salad.  I had never experienced anything other than a pea shoot before I stopped at Andrea's stall a few weeks ago.  I was intrigued and impressed by the flavor and texture of their shoots (not to mention their nutritional value). I especially liked the sunflower shoots (they have a subtle crunch and taste like sunflower seeds!).  I enjoyed them in several different variations of this week's salad.   

As for the rest of the ingredients, every grower at the market has at least one of these items.  So, instead of mentioning them all, I will simply encourage you to go to the market and explore.  Buy an unfamiliar ingredient from a grower you frequent regularly...and buy something familiar from a stall you might not have stopped at before.  In so doing, you will expand your circle of friends and your palate at the same time. 





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Early June 2017--Spinach, Asparagus, Peas, Green Garlic & Spring Onions...in a Simple Medley to Serve with Ricotta & Baked Polenta



As we move through the growing season I have a more difficult time each week limiting my purchases to what I can reasonably consume.  Instead of limiting the variety of things I buy, I start buying small quantities of lots of things...so I can have just a taste of all the beautiful things on offer.  As a consequence of this I frequently find myself making mixed vegetable preparations...pastas, pizzas, grain pilafs or frittatas (just to name a few of my "go to" options).  This spring I have rediscovered firm polenta.  It is the perfect backdrop for mixed vegetable preparations of all kinds. 

The vegetable medley I made this week for my polenta features spinach and green garlic from Ki Koko Farms, spring onions from Stony Crest Urban Farm, Asparagus from Urbavore Urban Farm...and English Peas (one of the best things to buy at the farmers' market) from Ami of Red Ridge Farms.  Ami's stall at the market reminds me of the way I shop this time of year...incredible variety.  Not only is there a beautiful array of different things...Ami and her family grow unusual things.  Last year she had Fava beans (I have never met anyone else growing them in our area) and in the fall figs (my favorite!).  The peas I purchased last week were so tender and sweet I wanted to sit down and just shell them and eat them on the spot.  I am looking forward to more!  




Baked Polenta with Ricotta & a Medley of Spring Vegetables


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Late May 2017--Kale, Young Carrots, Green Garlic & Spring Onions...in a Savory Grain Pilaf



Last spring I posted a recipe for a spring freekeh pilaf featuring kale and peas. (If you've never cooked with freekeh, check out my intro post from a few years ago.)  When I posted the recipe I emphasized that it was really just a template for making a pilaf with whatever you had on hand or or had brought home from the market.  Recipes like this are foundational for cooking locally and seasonally.  I reemphasized this point when I posted the same recipe again in the fall with a whole other palate of flavors and ingredients--the constant between the two versions being the style of the pilaf  and the Red Russian kale. 

One of my favorite items to get from the local markets is Red Russian Kale.  (It is easier to clean than curly kale...and I find it to be a bit more tender than Tuscan kale--although I use Red Russian and Tuscan interchangeably in most recipes.)  When I think of Stony Crest Urban Farm's stall at the Brookside market, one of the things I think of is a beautiful display of greens--lettuces, spinach, chard, collards...and kale of all kinds.  I have to stand and think carefully about what to buy because I would like to buy them all...but I know we would never be able to eat so much in a week.  I usually get at least one bunch of chard or kale.  Both are excellent in pilafs and grain bowls.

Besides greens, Stony Crest has had beautiful young carrots for several weeks now.  I posted a recipe using their carrots (along with the tops!) a couple of weeks ago.  I thought their carrots would be pretty fine in my spring freekeh pilaf in place of the peas...and they were.  I have posted the details of my early spring variation at the bottom of last year's post.




A Freekeh Pilaf for Early Spring


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May 2017--Asparagus, Green Garlic & Spring Onions...in a Pizza


I have not been officially introduced to many of the growers at the market yet (I've only interacted with them up to this point as an avid shopper!), so I don't have a lot of background information on many of them to share.  But I can tell you that they all produce beautiful and amazing food.  And as the season progresses and I get to know each of the growers better, I will, I hope, be able to tell a little bit more about each of them when I post recipes that use their produce. 

The asparagus in this pizza was purchased from Brooke & Dan of Urbavore Urban Farm (located in the urban core of Kansas City, MO).  I have been purchasing local asparagus during asparagus season for more years than I can account for...but I have never found any asparagus quite like theirs.  I have always preferred medium (1/2-inch thick or so) spears of asparagus (and they grow varieties of this size—it's what I used in the pizza)—but they also grow big, fat, beefy spears of not only green, but also purple asparagus.  I am in love.  They grow green garlic too...but the green garlic (and the spring onions) that I used in the pizza recipe came from Ki Koko Farms in Kansas City, Kansas.  In addition to a gorgeous array of spring onions (in a wide variety of sizes) and garlic, you will also find beautifully pristine and perky herbs and greens at their stall right now.  



Pizza with Green Garlic Cream, Asparagus & Mushrooms


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June 2016--My first visit to the Brookside Market.   


I visited the Brookside Market the first time so I could purchase some of the beautiful things I had been able to get from Brooke & Dan of Urbavore Urban Farm when they still had a stall at my old market.  I was unprepared for the beauty and bounty that I would find there...at every single stall.  As I wrote in this first post about Brookside, I was captivated.  The stalls were overflowing with greens (braising and salad), onions, new potatoes, peas of all kinds, broccoli, baby root vegetables and the tail end of the strawberries.  I have been a regular customer ever since.



Market Ragoût of New Fingerling Potatoes, Young Carrots & English Peas

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