Shopping the Farmers Market: Why Blog

After years of frequenting the farmers markets in NYC, but only buying a few supplemental ingredients here or there, I decided to be experimental and work dishes around what is in season or looks particularly mouthwatering at the market that day. Green seems to be the buzz word these days from NYC to the White House, and the eat local movement is in full swing. My attempt here is to buy as many ingredients as possible from a the farmers market, and then occasionally supplement with locally produced ingredients from chain markets around the city. Most of the recipes I post (except for the baking recipes) are either things I created myself, or variations on recipes I've found elsewhere. I hope that you take the recipes and shopping tips here and they inspire you to do your own local cooking.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Savory Muffins

After last week's cold weather, I was about to say that summer is winding down, but here it is, another 90 degree day. I'm sure in three months I'll be complaining that my toes are freezing off, but at this moment I'd like to be able to go outside without getting heat stroke.

Although I bought my ingredients yesterday at the Grand Army Plaza market, I made my dish today. I would have cooked yesterday afternoon, but I actually took the boat over to Governor's Island around noon yesterday. The island was hosting a 1920's Jazz-Age party where people dressed up, did the Charleston, and played croquet, as the sun set on another New York August. This doesn't have much to do with a farmers market food blog, but I thought I'd mention the cocktails that were being served. St.-Germain (the elderflower liquor) was one of the sponsors of the event, and the cocktails they were serving were so refreshing during the hot summer day, that I thought I should post the recipe in the blog.

St.-Germaine Signature Cocktail:
2 parts sparkling wine
1 1/2 parts St.-Germaine
2 parts sparkling water or club soda
Lemon twist garnish

They say to serve it in a tom collins glass. I had it in a plastic cup, and that was just fine by me.

Now, on to today's farmers market recipe. I stopped at the market on my way back from my morning run. All the money I had on me was the $12 I had in my little running pouch so I had to stick to a budget. I had decided when I first woke up that I wanted to make muffins, but I wanted savory muffins. I love sweet muffins, but I must admit that I don't have the sweet tooth that many others have. There's nothing better to me than taking fresh vegetables and baking them into a savory snack. Today, I looked through my trusty muffin and cupcake book (500 Cupcakes by Fergal Connolly), and picked out a zucchini muffin recipe with feta. I wanted to add a slight punch of color and taste so I decided to add a little bit of tomato to the recipe as well.

The market was thoroughly packed, and I almost got knocked down by a woman buying plants at the vendor on the corner, but I managed to get what I needed and get out in about 10 minutes. No dilly dallying this day. I grabbed 3 small zucchini and a plum tomato for about $4, then I headed to the egg stand and picked up a half dozen for $2. I perused my first cheese stand which only had harder cheeses, and was just about to give up on the feta, when I spied a goat cheese stand on the other side that had one container of crumbled goat feta for $6. I grabbed that, and headed home to get ready for the 1920's garden party.

Today I purchased:

At the farmers market:
3 small zucchini
1 plum tomato
1 package (about 1 cup) of crumbled goat feta
Half dozen farm fresh eggs

At the supermarket:
1 lemon

Supplementary ingredients I had at home:
Baking powder
Olive Oil

Recipe: Zucchini & Feta Muffins

2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups of shredded zucchini
1 cup of crumbled feta
1 1/2 tbsp. of lemon zest
1 plum tomato, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a muffin tin. The recipe says it makes 6, but I got 10 out of the batter with a standard size muffin tin.

Sift the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and the oil with an electric mixer until smooth.

Shred the zucchini with a box shredder. If you don't have one of these, you can pick one up in your local supermarket for about $2, which is what I did when I realized that I couldn't find mine. Dice the tomato into small pieces. Stir the zucchini, feta, tomato, and lemon zest into the egg and oil mixture.

Add the dry ingredients, and mix until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Remove the muffins and cool on a rack.

You can store these in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or freeze them for 3 months.

I think these are perfect for breakfast with eggs, or in a bread basket at dinner. They're a little on the salty side since feta tends to be a salty cheese, but I thought the salty flavor was a nice contrast to the blander zucchini. Next time I might try adding a little cayenne or chopped up jalapeno to add a little spice to them.

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