A Farmers' Market Feast
Pot Luck Chez Nous
Last weekend I invited some friends around for dinner. I have never done a potluck before, preferring to usually go to completely to town by cooking everything myself. But I just thought it would be a nice idea to have for my less-food-obsessed friends to think about using local ingredients, so I asked them all to bring along something with that criteria in mind.
My friend Vinny came to the Farmers Market on Saturday. He looked a little bit bored when I kept bumping into fellow food bloggers. We'd be having these conversations, about - you know, food blogging and stuff and his expression would glaze over. Poor Vinny, he must have thought we were speaking double dutch. Luckily he survived and ended up making a very nice pasta salad with swordfish and grapefruit from the ingredients he bought at the market.
Pim, who I bumped into at Dirty Girl, and who, contrary to popular belief, I am not at war with, told me the smallest tomatoes are the best, because tomatoes have to suffer to be good. I took her word for it and picked out the tiniest ones I could find. As I was intending to make slow roasted tomatoes again, removing the seeds from specimens so small turned out to be a little tiresome. That's when I had a brainwave. So this is my tip for any readers who intend to prepare something simalar: A grapefruit spoon with it's pointy end and serrated edges is the perfect implement for the tomato-deseeding job.
My second tip concerns figs. I bought a selection of Knoll Tairwa Farm's plump, ripe green, brown and black figs which I stuffed with Cowgirl chevre, drizzled with Balsalmic and roasted in the oven. The easiest way to get the goat cheese neatly inside the figs, I discovered, was to use a piping bag.
No party would be complete without some food in the Becks & Posh signature colours of pink and green. Watermelon radishes not only look absolutely spectacular, they taste deliciously peppery too. I picked these ones up from Heirloom Organics. I presented them with sliced homegrown cucumbers that an anonymous samaritan kindly left in the kitchen at work last week.
My friend Penny loves Sticky Toffee Pudding so I wanted to surprise her and make some for the party. I picked up these sweet sticky medjool dates from the date guy at the market. I used the recipe in Jamie Oliver's most recent recipe book, Jamie's Dinners. This recipe was a sweet, sugary hit! I highly recommend that anyone who has this book gives it a try. Penny herself made some lovely open sandwiches with local marscapone and figs, contrasted by some prosciutto from a little bit further afield.
I read about a recipe for Peaches Roasted with Brown Sugar and Basil on Gluten-Free Girl's new food blog. They sounded so delicious, I simply had to make some before the peach season came to an end. I used Frog Hollow peaches, Knoll Tairwa Farm's basil and Straus butter. By the time they came out of the oven, everyone had already eaten too much and so I had some leftovers. No worries, they make a great breakfast dish, topped with a little St Benoit yoghurt. (I tried to persuade Mr Benoit to make some clotted cream for me, but he told me he is worried that it won't sell in California becasue everyone is on a health kick. Pah! Maybe I should start a campaign for health through feeding your inner spirit with delicious things. He did tell me, however, that he was thinking about making butter. So shhh, please don't tell the Californians that butter is just as fattening as clotted cream. Benoit butter is something I am now eagerly looking forward to!)
No more pictures, but other good things to tell you about. At last I made perfect gougere thanks to the recipe Brett kindly left in the comments section of my previous gougere post. This time I used the Award winning Bella Sorella/Serenita cheese from Three Sister's Farmstead. Although not the traditional gruyere, this strong, salty cheese made for wonderful gougere, believe me.
My friend Michael kindly bought a huge bagful of pastries made by John The Baker that he picked up from the Civic Center Farmer's Market. John makes the tarts at his home in Twin Peaks. These fruit tarts were all snapped up pretty quickly. I even witnessed some people go back for seconds.
I introduced my friends to the pleasures of the Fatted Calf. For the record, the Chorizo was much more popular than the Mortadella. The Fatted Calf are about to celebrate their two-year anniversary. I am sorry I can't make the party, but I'd like to send them a huge congratulations anyhow. I hope they have many more successful years of providing the Bay Area with delicious handmade charcuterie.
MB & D picked up a piping hot roasted chicken from Wholefoods on the way over to my place. This was gobbled up in no time. Cheeky D, was also seduced by a box of Annie's homegrown totally natural real Cheddar Bunnies at the checkout. They weren't exactly local but they were organic so he thought we'd approve. Shhh, please don't tell the Bunrabs that we ate a handful or two.
Last, but not least, S&D turned up, not only with a bun in the oven, but carrying a large, vibrantly coloured bowl of pasta salad too. The remaining guests, in fact all the guests, (there were 16 of us in total) brought plenty of local wines and drinks which ensured a fine time was had by all. Hey?! Where has all my Hangar One Raspberry Vodka gone? I thought I'd hidden it in the freezer...?