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, October 31, 2010

Pumpkin Patch Pancakes

One of the biggest complaints I hear from friends in CSAs is that they have too much of one type of vegetable, and end up throwing away half of their basket because they don't have enough recipes for leeks. That's why I like to blog about a couple of different recipes based on the same ingredient. A couple of weeks ago I made pumpkin muffins. I went through the whole two hour process of roasting, scooping, and mashing the pumpkin to make the puree, but only used a small amount for the muffins. Today I thought I'd make another pumpkin recipe using the leftovers.

Since I was a child I have had a fondness for pancakes. Every morning before elementary school my mom would make me pancakes with syrup for breakfast, and I think by the time I was 8 or 9 I was making them for myself on Saturday mornings. When I was a child they were pretty basic out of the Bisquick box, but the older I got the more experimental I got with my pancakes, adding berries, bananas, spices, etc. That's why I thought they'd be the perfect vehicle for my leftover pumpkin.

I originally had the idea to make pumpkin cranberry pancakes, because I don't like my food to be too sweet, and love it when I mix tart fruit into desserts and sweet breakfast foods. However, although in Massachusetts, where I'm originally from cranberries are already in season, in New York, they're not quite there yet, and consequently are not at the farmers markets.

I returned to the Union Square market this week and was immediately surrounded by all sorts of apples. I haven't made anything this season with the crisp red and green fruit so I thought it was about time. There was a wide variety of apples, some good for eating raw, others for sauces, and finally some for baking. I decided to go with Empire apples because their description said sweet, but with a tartness to them, and that they were good for baking, but I could have easily gone with Fujis or Golden Delicious. At $1.25/lb, I bought two apples for $.85 - very economical.

Next I headed across the way to a table selling Vermont maple syrup. As stated before, I'm from New England, so I'm used to getting this stuff almost straight from the tree. The $9 bottle of Grade A dark amber seemed a little pricey, but I guess that's what you get in Manhattan. There were at least 3 vendors selling syrup, one with fruity varieties, so I'd shop around before you choose a bottle.

I would have picked up another pumpkin, but I had the leftover puree. I did however, notice something called a "cheese pumpkin" that I almost bought and roasted just to see what it would have been like. When choosing a pumpkin to roast be experimental. I played it safe and bought sugar pumpkins a couple of weeks ago, but there are all sorts of varieties that would be good in cooking. Most of the vendors had signs up talking about what each pumpkin or squash is good for, but if you're not sure ask the vendor, they're usually very knowledgeable and friendly.

Today I purchased:

At the farmers market:
2 empire apples
1 bottle of Grade A dark amber syrup
1 container of milk

At a supermarket:
1/2 pint of whipping cream

Supplementary ingredients I had at home:
Pumpkin puree
All purpose flour
all spice
baking powder
baking soda
ground ginger
brown sugar

Recipe: Pumpkin Apple Pancakes with Maple Whipped Cream

For the pancakes
2 cups of all purpose flour
3 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 tsps of baking powder
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of all spice
1/2 tsp of ground ginger
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup of apples, diced (about 1/2 an apple)
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 tablespoon of syrup
1 egg
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

For the Whipped Cream

1/2 pint of whipping cream
2 - 3 tablespoons of maple syrup

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

Mix the pumpkin, milk, syrup, egg, and oil in another bowl and whisk together. I had left-over pumpkin puree so I used that, but if you'd like to make your own check out the pumpkin muffin post from a couple of weeks ago for that recipe.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until blended.

Lightly fold the apples into the mixture. Let the batter sit while you make the whipped cream.

I usually make my whipped cream in a metal bowl. I will put the bowl, cream, and mixer blades in the freezer for about 15 minutes before I make the whipped cream. Once you take it out, pour the cream into the bowl. Mix on low until it begins to slightly thicken, then turn up to medium speed. Once the cream starts to stiffen, add the maple syrup and mix for another minute until it forms stiff peaks.

Heat a frying pan or griddle on medium-high heat. I add a little butter to the pan, but you could spray with cooking spray if you'd like. Use about 1 ladle of batter per pancake. This resulted in about 6-8 medium-sized pancakes. Cook on the first side until the batter begins to thicken and bubble.

Flip the cake, cook for another minute on the other side, and remove.

I served these two at a time. I put a dollop of whipped cream on top, and sprinkled it with a little cinnamon. I have to say, these were some of the best pancakes I ever had. The tartness of the apples nicely balanced out the sweetness of the spices enabling me to make it all the way through 2 cakes...something I can never do anymore.

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