Wednesday, April 22, 2009

'Tis the Season

Good Lord....finally! Freshness, warm weather and more choices than ever. Next week is the start of most weekday farmers markets, (I love Wednesday and Friday markets because the weekends are just too busy for me these days), and although I've lightened up a great deal about buying exclusively from FM's and even "organic", there's nothing like being reminded of what's "in season", and that's what's fun for me.

There's rarely a day that goes by that I don't use my pressure cooker for something! Polenta in about 15 minutes (total time), risotto in the same amont of time, braised shoulder cuts of meat, plenty, plenty of beans and bean dishes, tons of chilis and stews, especially lamb these days....good Lord, although I grilled a butterflied leg of lamb and made a salad of grilled lamb, and then I grilled the veggies, chard, red bell & red onions w/farro (farro is my new favorite grain these days, made in the PC, of course!), there was plenty of olive oil on the grilled veggies, so a squeeze of lemon was all I dressed it with. I could go on and on....(oh, and I've been adding pasta into many of my soups and stews, cooking it also in the pressure cooker!)

But back to what's "in season". Eating and cooking with seasonal ingredients along with buying from local growers is what Farmers market shopping is all about for me. And although I've been poaching pears, (in the PC with white wine a little bit of sugar, and finely diced fresh ginger, eating it over yogurt), whose "season" is over......but they're still in the grocery stores, lol.....I finally made it to the market on Sunday to see what's really in season.

I didn't buy much, mostly because I'm trying to cook less these "less" I mean at one time, lol, I still cook daily, but smaller portions (my 4 qt PC, surprisingly, is the one I use the most these days!). Along with staples of chard, spinach, cabbage and celery, I've been buying more fresh herbs, asparagus, and my "seasonal" buy was kumkwats.

Kumkwats are very small orange citrus that looks about the size of a large olive......I didn't like them! I looked up some recipes using them, and mostly they're used for jams, chutneys or marmalade, but I did find some savory dishes but nothing inspired me. So, I decided to just throw a couple of them in one of my yogurt smoothies to get an idea of their flavor and......bitter! (you're supposed to be able to eat the skin and the fruit) I couldn't get the taste out of my mouth all day! Oh well!

I decided not to join CSA again for the simple reason that I have all the time in the world to shop farmers markets during the week and because most CSA services have a waiting list I thought I would give another family the luxury of local organic veggies. The organic farm that I did get my CSA box from last year sells daily at a roadside stand in Watsonville, so Friday, Mark and I may go and see if they've got agretti!


Lamb goes on sale after Easter so I always take advantage and buy a whole leg, have the butcher bone it for me (I need the bone to make stock!).....I could do it myself, but that's his job, lol....... divide the leg in two, grilling the "upper half" and using the lower half in a braised dish.

Grilled leg of Lamb and Farro Salad

cured, grilled sliced lamb (spice rub recipe follows)
grilled red bell, chard, and red onions
squeeze of lemon

I left the red bell and chard leaves in large pieces, tossed them in olive oil, s & p, before grilling, and then sliced the red bell into smaller strips for the salad. I cut the onions in 1/4 inch slices and brushed them with oil keeping the slices intact while grilling.

Spice rub for lamb

1/4 c. kosher salt
2 T. sugar
1 T. freshly ground black pepper
2 T. chopped fresh herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme, or combination of

Rub meat with mixture (you may not use it all, store leftovers sealed in fridge for up to 2 weeks). Cure the lamb for 12-24 hours in the refrigerator, wash off the salt and let come to room temp before brushing it with olive oil and then grilling. Grill meat for 8-10 minutes, each side or until the internal temp reaches 130-135 degrees. Let sit 10 minutes before slicing aganist the grain.


Follow instructions on the package, but I used my pressure cooker.

1 c. farro
1 1/2 c. water or stock ( I used lamb stock of course, lol)
1 t. kosher salt

Bring pressure to high, cook for 10-15 min, let pressure come down naturally.....that's it.


JenG said...

Show off! :) LOL!
I had to go look it up, I had no idea what it was. But...that is just another reason that I love your blog!
So...not that in Maine I will ever find agretti, but what do you do with it?

Tracy Reifkind said...


Agretti is a fast cooking vegetable that reminds me of nothing I've ever had before! It's the shape of pine needles, but not hard, in fact kind of hollow, and they stay kind of crunchy in a crisp kind of way.....see, it's hard to describe, lol!

But you have to try farro! I can only make small amounts at a time because I put it in everything from slads, to oatmeal, to yogurt, etc.

JenG said...

Cool! I'm going to look for the agretti, sometimes when I hear about new things that I think I will never be able to find...low and behold there it is! :)
I love different types of grains I will definitely try the farro, sounds good! Thanks!
For me...fiddlehead season is almost here!!! \m/