There is something to be said for waking up early on a spring Saturday. It feels as if the sunshine, the birds and the breeze are entirely your own. There is more to observe and less to distract. So it was on a spring Saturday, I woke up early and took a quiet walk through my still sleepy neighborhood, down the tree-lined hill and across a weathered bridge, to a part of town where many had been awake for hours. A bell clanged, and the farmers market officially opened!
The Farmers at the Firehouse is one of my favorite Pittsburgh markets. The first to offer mostly organic and naturally certified foods, there is an extra comfort in shopping there. The farmers care about their products and their displays. Buying asparagus is like buying a pretty present for yourself.
The return walk up the tree-lined hill was a hot one, so the local bounty quickly became a fresh glass of minty sweet tea. The French sorrel later accented a pesto & cheese sandwich on the honey sunflower bread. The rhubarb became a juice and a crisp (recipe to come). The asparagus topped salads and served as a simple side dish.
This is just the beginning! A whole summer of local bounty and changing flavors awaits!
The air was crisp, but the sky was brilliant blue! It was the perfect Sunday afternoon for an Easter meal.
Two handsome gents arrived, and they had put a lot of effort into meticulous matching, right down to their identical socks (yes, you read it correctly- identical socks!).
Fortunately, I had set an Easter table worthy of such fastidiously fashionable fellas.
It was time to eat, but joining my table usually includes a rite of passage. I’ll give you a hint- it rhymes with “if tile”… (please pardon my laser beam death stare! Where did that come from?!?!)
The Easter Menu Breakdown…
Easter Ham Glaze
~2 1/2 cups Turkish apricots (all natural)
~ 1/2 cup Rum (Kraken)
1/2 cup organic orange juice concentrate
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup Bonne Maman peach preserves
Slice the dried apricots into fourths and soak in rum overnight.
Heat the apricots and rum in a saucepan over medium heat until boiling.
Reduce to a simmer and add orange juice concentrate, maple and peach preserves. Stir until well combined.
Add to black forest ham slices and bake in oven to warm the ham.
Pommes Anna Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Review
3lbs russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/16 to ⅛ inch thick
5 Tablespoons organic unsalted butter, melted
⅓ cup peanut oil
Salt and pepper
Grated pecorino romano cheese
Toss the potato slices with melted butter in a large bowl until the potatoes are evenly coated.
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees F.
Pour the oil into a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Swirl to coat the skillet bottom, and set the skillet over medium-low heat.
Begin timing, and arrange the potato slices in skillet, starting in the center to form the first layer.
Sprinkle evenly with approximately ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper to taste.
Arrange the second layer of potatoes, working in the opposite direction of the first layer; sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper as in previous step.
Repeat layering potatoes and sprinkling with salt and pepper, until no slices remain.
Continue to cook over medium-low heat until 30 minutes elapse from the time you began arranging the potatoes in the skillet.
Use a 9-inch cake pan or a metal spatula to press down the potatoes firmly to compact them.
Cover the skillet, and place it in the oven.
Bake until the potatoes begin to soften, about 15 minutes.
Uncover the skillet, and continue to bake until the potatoes are tender when a paring knife is inserted in the center, and the potatoes near the edge of the skillet are browned, about 10 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, line a rimless cookie sheet or the back of a baking sheet with foil and coat it very lightly with oil.
Drain off the excess fat from the potatoes by pressing the potatoes into the skillet with the bottom of the cake pan or metal spatula while tilting the skillet to pour off the fat.
Set the foil-lined cookie sheet on top of the skillet. With hands protected by oven mitts or potholders, hold the cookie sheet in place with one hand and carefully invert the skillet and cookie sheet together.
Remove the skillet carefully.
Carefully slide the potatoes onto a platter.
Cut into wedges and serve with pecorino romano cheese and a thyme garnish.
Roasted Champagne Mangoes
1/2 cup organic brown sugar
1/2 cup orange juice concentrate
3 tablespoons organic agave syrup
4 champagne mangoes, peeled, pitted, cut into long slices
1/4 cup crème fraîche or yogurt
1/3 cup natural unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 450°.
Stir first 3 ingredients in a large bowl until sugar dissolves.
Add mango chunks; toss to coat. Let marinate, tossing occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Place mango in a cast iron skillet; reserve marinade.
Roast mangoes for 15 minutes. Turn, brush with marinade, and roast until tender and caramelized, 10–15 minutes. Drizzle remaining marinade over; let cool slightly.
Eat plain or garnish with greek yogurt and pistachios.
Sauteed Asparagus with Sesame Lime Dressing
juice from 1 honey tangerine
1 Tbs. sesame oil
1/4c low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1Tbs. black sesame seeds