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.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

New Season, New Leafy Green

As my first post back I wanted to do something fall themed with lots of gourds, or corn, but my apartment is still not quite put together enough for me to tackle something that time consuming. Instead, I thought I'd hit a new market and see what ingredients spoke to me.

I work on the border of the Upper East Side and Midtown East, so I thought I'd explore the Dag Hammarskjold market (yes, that's what the park is called) on 2nd Ave. and 47th St. It's a small market in a concrete park area, but is perfect in a pinch.

Right away I spotted a bunch of apples, squash, and pumpkins, but what really interested me was the multi-colored, or Indian corn. Although quite pretty to look at, this type of corn is more of a decoration rather than a food source. Some varieties can be ground down to make cornmeal for tacos or muffins, but I think that's a little above my abilities. Maybe I'll hang some on my door.

I have a new found interest in different types of peppers. I haven't worked too much with them in the past, but I'm trying to be experimental. I saw shishito peppers at one of the tables and decided to pick a couple up. These are the most popular sweet peppers in Japan. They're nice because they have just a hint of spice and can be eaten on their own as a snack. These inspired me to cook something Asian. As a result, I also picked up some Tatsoi for $3/bunch, something else I've never used before. If you've been reading my blog you know that I've had an obsession with kale all summer. Now that the season has changed I felt like it was time to branch out to other members of the leafy green family. Tatsoi is a cross between bok choy and mustard greens. It resembles the first, but tastes more like the latter.

After buying both of these ingredients I decided to make an Asian stir fry. I saw some Thai basil that smelled wonderful for $3/bunch and threw some in my bag. I wanted to add some shiitake mushrooms, but it was the end of the day so the picking were scarce. Though at $14/lb, I was glad that there weren't too many left. I bought a few remaining mushrooms, and headed to a market to buy supplemental ingredients before heading home to cook.

Today I bought:

At the farmers market:
Shiitake mushrooms
2 Shishito peppers
Thai basil
Green Onions

At a supermarket:
Sirloin steak
Fresh ginger

Supplementary ingredients I had at home:
Wok or Sesame oil
Chili garlic sauce
Hoisin sauce
Chinese five spice powder

Recipe: Beef Stir Fry with Shiitake Mushrooms and Tatsoi Ingredients:
1 lb. of sirloin steak
1-2 tablespoons of wok oil, or sesame oil if you don't have wok oil
1 bunch of tatsoi, leaves sliced in half
1 tablespoon of ginger, minced
1/2 cup of Thai basil
10 oz. of shiitake mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
4 tablespoons of hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons of chili garlic sauce
1 shishito pepper, diced
1/4 teaspoon of Chinese five spice powder

This recipe is loosely based on a recipe for beef with snow pea pods I found in Bon Appetite, but most of the ingredients have been swapped out.

Cut the steak into 1/4" x 2" strips and add salt and pepper.

Put oil in a wok or a non-stick skillet and heat on medium-high. Add the ginger and the mushrooms and stir fry for 2 or 3 minutes until the mushrooms begin to soften.

Add the beef to the pan, stir fry until it begins to brown, about a minute.

Add the tatsoi, half of the green onions, shishito pepper, and half of the basil. Cook for another minute. Add the hoisin sauce, chili-garlic sauce, and Chinese five spice powder. Stir fry for another minute or two. Season with salt and pepper.

This was a really quick and easy recipe, but doesn't skimp on taste or impressiveness. I like to serve this over jasmine rice, but you could also mix it up with Asian-style rice noodles. Scoop the stir fry over the rice in a bowl and sprinkle the rest of the green onions and basil on top. I found the flavor of this dish to be spot on, but I feel like I over-cooked my beef a bit, so be careful not to cook it too long or it will get chewy.

I promise my next post will be more fall-centric. I have been craving muffins lately, and a nice squash risotto might take the autumn chill away.

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