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North Park Farmers' Market Blog

Comfort Food for Comfort Moods

November 7, 2011 - 12:52pm
Britta T

This past weekend was divine- with intermittent rain and blustery, grey days. It was time to hunker down, stay inside, and enjoy warm food and good company. Comfort food has a different tone though, when you live and work at the farmers' market. Comfort food means fresh pasta and braised greens, or upscaled, locavore-friendly grilled cheese sandwiches, or fresh spiced apple butter and biscuits...

Here are a few ideas for you for the next time you get caught in the rain, or the sunshine, and want a healthy(er) twist on cozy good cookin'.

Spaghetti with Braised Kale
Braise either curly or lacinato (Tuscan black kale), with chopped onions from Suzie's Farm and fresh garlic from Valdivia. Add the greens to a bowl of steamy, hot angel hair pasta from Likso Imports and squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice with a bit of grated Parmesan Romano cheese from Mary at Taste Cheese.

Escarole and Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese

You know this. You know how you like it. Be creative with what you can find at the market and make a sandwich that you'll be remembered by. Start with a decent portion of sourdough or your favorite loaf from Belen Bakery. Take home a hefty slab of Spring Hill Goat Cheddar or maybe their dry Pepper Jack cheese, and shred it carefully. Pick out a beautiful specimen of frisee or escarole from Suzie's Farm or JR Organics. Sautee slices of white onion with a bit salt until the onion begins to carmelize. Meanwhile, brush the bread with some olive oil and layer on the onions, escarole, and cheese. Then grill it until its crispy and melty in the pan, add pepper or salt if needed, and serve immediately...

Spiced Apple Butter

Spiced apple butter on warm toast is a treat from heaven. Luckily, Smit Orchards and R& L Farms have you covered for tart Fuji's and sweet Pink Ladies. Or try combining apples and asian pears for more complexity. Cook the apples down with spices like ginger, star anise, cinammon and cardamon. Add lemon and a bit of sugar, mash it all together once its cooked, and you have yourself an excellent addition to any brunch.  


It Ain't Chard

October 31, 2011 - 12:35pm
Britta T

Are you wanting to make fresh, healthy dinners but feel overwhelmed by picking out ingredients and putting it all together?? Really, its not that hard if you visit the farmers' market to take advantage of Chard! JR Organics has beautiful, leavy bunches of red, yellow, and white chard now that is bursting with vitamins, carotenes, chlorophyll, and iron. Not to mention it yields delicous brackish flavors and when cooked the leaves release a sweet aftertaste.

A simple recipe for dinner is to toss some freshmade pasta (Lisko Imports has some delectable handmade fettucines of all flavors) with olive oil, lemon juice, a bit of minced garlic and steamed or sauteed swiss chard. Or try adding a little zest to your breakfast omelets by adding a few stalks of boiled chard. With Autumn really setting in, it's always a welcome idea to cook ahead and make a creamy "beans & greens" soup for take away lunches or easy dinners. Make sure to pick up some cremini mushrooms from Kawano Farms, a bundle of chard, some pecorino cheese from Taste for grating on the top, and some sprouted black eyed peas from Suzie's. Season with olive oil, garlic, and maybe add some thick cut bacon from Da Le Ranch to infuse more flavor into the broth while your soup cooks down. 

Enjoy! It's easy!


Better for you, brocolli

October 31, 2011 - 12:24pm
Britta T

Broccoli is beginning to blossom again in San Diego and you'll find beautiful florets, stalks, and leaves at our Thursday evening farmers' market in North Park. One of the most nourishing and delicous of cruciferous vegetables, broccoli can make everyone happy and you can use it in many types of dishes.

Toss pasta with olive oil from Bari's (did you know they grow and process all their own olives?), roasted pine nuts or almonds and steamed "hapy rich" broccoli florets from Suzie's Farm. This is one of the most sweet and tender varieites you'll find at the market. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste and enjoy it as is. Simple. Or, purée cooked broccoli with a few zucchinis, then combine with some fingerling potatoes from Produce Stand and perhaps a few herbs of your choice from JR Organics to make a simple, yet delicious, soup.

Broccoli is super fun. Steam the stems and rub with butter from Spring Hill Chese, fresh lemon juice and garlic from R&L Farm. Add a few black olives from Lisko for an awesome appetizer. Broccoli fills you with vitamins, fiber, and anti-inflammatory flavanoids, so you're covered, for better or for worse, when it comes to staying healthy... 


Decadent Desserts

October 19, 2011 - 11:03am
Britta T

The evenings are indeed surrounding us earlier and there's a slightly brisk feeling in the air. At the North Park Farmers' Market, we've strung the lights and are making the best of the shorter days, and it's becoming quite the atmosphere for leisure, good spirits, and of course romance! If you're in the mood for a sweet treat while you're in the neighborhood, want a lovely place to stroll with your beloved, or need to pick up all the ingredients to make your own, homemade dessert delicacies, visit us this week for some sweet ideas!

Head home with a tub of yummy toasted granola from Safari Crunch, juicy honey crisp apples from Smit Orchards, and deliciously sweet dates from Morocco Gold Dates. Chop everything well and mix with your standard cookie ingredients (butter, eggs, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves) and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. You can enjoy them warm, or freeze them to pack into school lunches for easy, "healthy" treats. 

Persimmons are the select fruit of fall. Like orange hued tomatoes, their ripe pulp simply falls apart and melts in your mouth. For a quick, and slightly sinful dessert, peel and cut-up a few Fuyus (the shorter, stalkier variety) and sautee gently in butter and cinnamon, followed by a splash of Grand Marnier. Serve with a slice of pumpkin bread from Belen Bakery or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

If you simply want to enjoy dessert onsite with us while you stroll between the stalls, stop by Moncai Vegan for a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie or one of their mouthwatering cakes. Speaking of cakes, Ciao Cupcake will be parked at the market this week so you can stock up on handmade, beautiful cupcakes like the "spiced carrot" or "pomegranate velvet". If you're really in the mood to impress, choose a few dazzling tarts or a creme brulee from Lisko Imports and sit down and spoon feed your friends!


Goat Cheese, Please!

October 19, 2011 - 9:47am
Britta T

Sometimes foods with fancy names are just that- fancy names with little or no flavor. But when you hear the words "creamy, farmstead goat chevre", at the North Park Farmers' Market, we're talking serious flavor with serious luxury. Surprisingly, there's quite a few folks who have no idea about the magic deliciousness of goat cheese. It's lavish, creamy, rich, and slightly tangy. Like cream cheese, but 100% more real and savoury. It's the perfect ingredient for taking your already incredible dishes up to the top of your household favorites list. 

Make the most of fall and use up the scraped out flesh from all your pumpkins for a creamy, sensational Goat Cheese Pumpkin Cheesecake that is sure to satiate your sweet-tooth. Pick up a fresh block of goat cheese from Nicolau Farms and a gorgeous pumpkin from Produce Stand or JR organics. Combine with fragrant spices like nutmeg cinnamon, and fresh vanilla for the perfect fall flavors.

Goat cheese adds complexity and pizazz to any appetizer, especially when combined with other pungeant cheeses. Try making an oven baked tomato tart at home for your next gathering. Layer fresh roma tomatoes from Valdivia Farms on a thinly sliced loaf of sourdough bread from Belen Bakery. Drizzle garlic inflused olive oil from Bari's with fresh black olives from Lisko Imports and top with grated parmeseand cheese from Taste Cheese. Add a few sprigs of thyme from Suzie's to round out the flavors as it bakes, and you've got an impressive, flavor filled side dish. 

Or maybe a simple, decadent salad is more appealing to you- Take home some locally raised bacon from Da Le Ranch, and saute it with sweet purple bell peppers from Suzie's and crimini mushrooms from Kawano Farm and layer it all upon a bed of fresh spinach and shaved goat cheddar from Spring Hill Cheese. 


Fondue, On You

October 12, 2011 - 10:12am
Britta T

Rather than dining out and spending an exorbitant amount of money for an exotic and romantic meal, try creating your own autumn atmosphere at home with fresh produce from the North Park Farmers' Market. This week, the stalls will be overflowing with pumpkins and winter squash of all shapes and sizes- perfect for roasting in the oven and pairing with hearty cheeses, breads, apples, and dark leafy greens.

Try something new and go for fondue! Roasted pumpkins or Kabocha squash from JR Organics make perfect bowls, and their earthen flavors create a taste sensation when paired with any soft, creamy cheese like a Gruyere from Taste Cheese. Add a dash of white wine to perfect the fondue. Cut out a lid from the squash, remove the seeds, (save them to bake) and some of the flesh. Rub the inside with olive oil and a few springs of thyme or sage. Bake at 375 degrees for around 30 minutes, with the "lid" of the squash in place. Get really daring with your fondue and enjoy a gooey, warm goat cheese from Nicolau Farms (you can find an excellent fondue recipe here).

Serve individual pumpkin bowls sprinkled with roasted & salted pumpkin seeds and a fluffly loaf of sourdough bread from Belen Bakery, and a side of roasted honeycrisp apples from Smit Orchards, topped with cinnamon and honey.


Don't Lament, Ferment!

October 10, 2011 - 12:19pm
Britta T


What to do with the incredible bounty of rich, delicious fruits and vegetables from the summer and fall? Preserve! Ferment! Savor! Food fermentation has many benefits: Fermented food enriches the diet by developing diverse flavors, aromas, and textures in food substrates. Imagine the flavors of spicy kimchi, soy sauce, sauerkraut, fresh yogurt, peppery dill pickles, and crispy pickled turnips, beets, or cauliflower.

Fermentation and canning preserves substantial amounts of food that might otherwise go to waste. (That means it's ok to buy a lot of food at the market every week- you'll have more to pickle!) Biologically, fermentation enriches food substrates with protein, essential amino acids, and vitamins. Plus, it decreases cooking times and fuel requirements for healthy foods.

Mark and Rebecca Stogsdill, owners of Happy Pantry, have recently changed their whole product line, now offering raw, naturally fermented pickles, kimchis, krauts, and veggies. You can find a smattering of delicious options at their stall every week at our markets.

Visit us this Thursday at the North Park  Farmers' Market to take home the last of summer's delicate fruits and veggies. Chop up those extra carrots and cucumbers from JR Organics, add some salt, seal them in beautiful glass jars, and enjoy those rich flavors all year round! Take home the sweet remains of yellow and white corn from Kawano Farms, gorgeous red and green sweet peppers from Suzie's, and gorgeous okra from the Produce Stand. 


Celiac Shmeliac

October 5, 2011 - 10:02am
Britta T


For those of you whose tummies don't stand a chance against gluten, you can gather a whole gaggle of ingredients at the North Park Farmers' Market to make scrumptious snacks that will fill you up and even convert your gluten-dependent friends.

Check out this recipe from Gluten Free Goddess for  Baked Cherry Tomatoes and Cornbread Crumble

Here's our version, with ingredients from your favorite vendors. Select a pint or two of both golden and red cherry (or grape) tomatoes from Suzie's Farm or Valdivia Farm. Pick up a few squares of Traditional or Jalapeno Cheddar cornbread from Cornbread Daddy, and take a moment to breathe into a bunch of dark, fragrant basil from JR Organics. At home, halve the tomatoes, blend the cornbread with a few cloves of garlic, salt & pepper, and olive oil. Arrange the tomatoes and the crumb mixture in a small dish and bake for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees. Your taste buds and your tummy will thank you after this meal!

Garlicious Kale Chips

If you've not already indulged in this vegetarian delicacy, be prepared to become very addicted, very quickly! JR Organics offers beautiful, hearty bunches of blue scotch and lacinato kale, so don't hesitate to take a few home to experiment with. The dressing is simple, and you can vary it depending on what you feel like. Start out with fresh scallions from Valdivia, lemons from R&L, parsley from Suzie's, and fresh garlic. Blend everything together with apple cider vinegar, tahini sauce, and a dash of soy sauce and water. Wash and chop up the kale into bite size strips, then coat it in the dressing. Scatter the kale over a baking tray and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, just until the leaves brown. Be careful not to burn them!

Coconut Date Logs

Keep your sweet tooth at bay by treating yourself to these easy, yet decadent date and nut rounds. Take home a good helping of raw almonds from Hopkins AG, a package of fresh Medajool dates from Morocco Gold Date Farm, and a few yellow zucchini from Kawano Farm. Blend together the dates and almonds in a food processor, and then add vanilla extract, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a dash of sea salt. Mix this together with the finely shredded zucchini and roll the "dough" into small balls, topping with flaked coconut. You can devour these just as they are or freeze them to firm them up. Go ahead and make an extra batch, since you know they'll be delicious. 


Eat it Now

October 3, 2011 - 1:40pm
Britta T

You can't deny the the season for warmer foods and cooler temperatures is here. October has already brought us beautiful foggy mornings, deliciously warm afternoons, and brisk evenings when we can and should be gathering with friends and family to eat together, meet together, and give praise where it's due to the incredible flavors of Fall. 

This week at the North Park Farmers' Market, be sure to do your homework and taste all the gorgeous offerings our vendors have to offer. Fuji apples and Royal Flame grapes from Smit Orchards are in their prime! Persimmons from John Gilruth are begging you to try them, and pears, pomegranates, and passionfruit from R&L are heavy with sweet juices. The guys at JR Organics are proudly stacking their orange glowing pumpkins and squash, so roll them around and pick out your best for jack'o'lanterns and pies. Don't forget to keep your eyes peeled for fresh broccoli, leeks, and carrots from Suzie's. It's time to cook it all down into warm soups and feed your folks!

Take home a slab of yummy gruyere cheese from Taste Cheese, just plucked earthen potatoes from Produce Stand, some fennel and chives or some yummy ham from Da Le Ranch and whip yourself up a soft, warm gratin that will beckon the neighbors for dinner. Drink wine or cider, take things slow, and catch up on everything that fell in between the cracks this summer...

Fall is fabulous, isn't it??


To Squash or not to Squash

September 28, 2011 - 2:53pm
Britta T

Summer's gone and there's no better way to honor the season by turning out all your favorite squash recipes, saying goodbye, and welcoming Fall. The North Park Farmers' Market is teeming with summer squash and other ingredients that will knock your socks off! 

Casseroles are always crowd pleasers- they feed the masses and leave you with loveable leftovers. Try mixing some delicious goat-cheese feta from Nicolau Farmstead with thinly sliced "eight ball" squash from Suzie's Farm and a few cloves of garlic and some green onions from the Produce Stand. Can you say perfection!?

Who can say no to fresh baked zucchini bread? It’s like cake but with half the guilt! Add dried bing cherries from Smit Orchards and a handful of toasted almonds from Hopkins AG, bake just until the loaf browns to keep it moist and sweet. You’re sure to find loads of new “friends” once the smells from your kitchen reach the street. 

How about trying an easy, raw zucchini salad? Pick a few dark green zucchinis, sweet carrots from JR Farms, and bright bell peppers from Suzie's. Grate them into a bowl, add salt and cider vinegar to coat, toss with Bari's garlic olive oil and juicy cherry tomatoes from Kawano Farms for a simple salad that's portable, fresh, and good for you!