Farmer's Marketing: January 5, 2008

It's been feeling odd to do the bulk of our grocery shopping at the Co-op now, rather than at the market.  So the first farmer's market outing for the year and the snowiest so far made me unreasonably happy. There were people at the market with produce, eggs, maple syrup, cider, meat and bread  for sale! And you had better get there early (before 9:30) if you want to buy some eggs or greens.  

Even with buyers and sellers greatly reduced in numbers as you can see from the photo, the market felt lively and I ran into at least 5 people I know. 

John Hochstetler of Our Family farm was selling nice eggs along with a few potatoes and squash. I told him I have a friend who is looking for a source to buy some Michigan winter squash and John gave me a couple of nice acorn squash for Ed and family, saying "Tell your friend Happy New Year!"

Mr. Snow was there with his beautiful maple syrup and maple sugar things. I always want to buy something from him, but we just can't seem to finish the maple syrup that we have. And I dole out my precious little package of maple sugar by the teaspoonful, so that bag is still half full. I guess we need to put more pancakes and waffles in our diet.  

Of course Shannon Brines had his lovely greens. I was lucky to get the last bag of the salad mix and one of the few remaining arugulas. No spinach for me this week. I made a salad with our lettuce mix last night and it tasted as fresh and juicy as springtime.  Shannon prefers his greens to be unadulterated by dressing or other salad gewgaws, so I felt a bit guilty adding some blue cheese, Michigan dried cherries, and pecans. Even with the guilt, it was delicious! 

John Savanna from Mill Pond Bread had time to tell me a great story about finding his aunt's bakery in Langres, France, the Boulangerie Henry IV, in a book of "great bakeries of the world" not long ago.  John's family is from France, where his grandfather first started as a baker in the 600 year old building that remains the Boulangerie Henry IV.  I bought a baguette that John said had just come out of the oven. I got it home and slathered on some butter and it was wonderful. 

Also at the market were: Wasem Fruit Farm, Kapnick Orchard, Hannewald Lamb, TMZ Meats and probably a couple of others I'm not remembering.  

Along with our lovely salad, some other things on our mostly-Michigan menu last night included an astonishingly delicious savory Squash and Carmelized Onion Tart good enough for company, some excellent white beans braised in rosemary and cream, and the rest of the great Mill Pond baguette.  The house smelled so good that both daughter and husband wanted to know what was cooking. I had made a yummy Lemon Budino that was still in the fridge, and I'm counting that as a Michigan thing too since I grew the Meyer lemons on my little tree this summer - at least until the tree had to find a new home with friends in Tennessee. 

Roasted Butternut Squash And Caramelized Onion Tart (from Epicurious)

(serves 6-8)

pastry dough
  (you're supposed to already have some I guess - I was lucky because I did)

1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound)
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil plus about 2 teaspoons for brushing squash
1 small onion
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 whole large egg
1/2 large egg yolk (1/2 tablespoon)
1/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup grated Italian Fontina cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces) (I used Grassfields Gouda)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 1 ounce) (I used a Wisconsin asiago)
1/4 cup crumbled mild soft goat cheese (about 1 ounce) 
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and marjoram leaves (I used rosemary from a little twig Vivienne gave me that has rooted and turned into a plant, and dried herbs for the others - my thyme and marjoram are still buried under snow)
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper 
1/3 cup fine fresh bread crumbs

On a lightly floured surface roll out dough into a 12-inch round (about 1/8 inch thick). Fit dough into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable fluted rim. Freeze shell 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F.

Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights or raw rice. Bake shell in middle of oven until edge is pale golden, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights or rice and bake shell 10 minutes more, or until bottom is golden. Leave oven on. Cool shell in pan on a rack.

Halve squash and scoop out seeds. Lightly brush each cut side with about 1 teaspoon oil and on a baking sheet roast squash, cut sides down, in middle of oven 40 minutes, or until soft.

While squash is roasting, thinly slice onion and in a heavy skillet cook in 1/2 tablespoon butter and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 20 minutes. (Make sure onions are well carmelized - this adds a lot of great flavor.)

Cool squash and scoop out flesh. In a food processor purée squash. Add whole egg, egg yolk, and cream and blend well. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in cheeses, herbs, onion, salt, and pepper to taste. Pour filling into shell, smoothing top.

In a small skillet melt remaining tablespoon butter and stir in bread crumbs until combined well. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture evenly over filling. Bake tart in middle of oven 40 minutes, or until filling is set. Cool tart in pan on rack 10 minutes and carefully remove rim.

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