Last weekend, Adam and I got a double dose of Farmers Market goodness. And you know that made me happy! We sort of eased on in to our Saturday morning, enjoying our coffee on the porch. Then, the sweet husband fixed breakfast for us-reminding me of yet another reason I married that man- he truly understands the art of the over easy egg, even though he’s an Over Medium man, himself. So, by the time we got all the way up to Marietta, the market was less than an hour from closing up shop. No worries, our goal was to bask in the glory of a weekend together and move at our own pace. Which is never very fast.
Crammed onto a side street due to an art festival on the Marietta Square, we navigated through the narrow passageways of the Farmers Market, spotting treasures all along the way.
A basket full of freshly baked bread lit up my eyes first, and I knew we were on the right track.
Jalopy Jelly was passing out samples of their candied jalapenos
served on crackers with cream cheese. Yum! Those peppers were an excellent balance of sweet and spicy. Super like.
We saw beautiful bell peppers,
and tender bibb lettuce
before we got to Turtle Bend’s table, which was brimming with fall goodies.
A lovely mixture of greens for braising, plus peppery arugula,
lots of spicy, pungent garlic,
and two kinds of sweet potatoes- Japanese sweet potatoes and white yams.
Although I was loaded down with a giant brown bag full of naturally grown fruits and vegetables (thanks to the Lowes), I managed to take in the rest of the market-
some pretty purple flowers
giant, smiling pretzels,
and homemade bread.
This is a beautiful loaf of Tuscan tomato and rosemary bread that actually beat out a loaf of Jewish Rye in my taste test. So I took it home with me!
Bounty: Day one. A lovely fall assortment.
To further our thirst for fresh market goodness, we headed to Grant Park on Sunday. It was our first time visiting in a few weeks, and I was really starting to miss the in-town market. I just love the vibe. It does good things for my soul. To my delight, there were old favorites and some new additions to the row of vendors this week.
Welcome, Native Juice Bar. I love you, even though I just met you.
This happy gentleman presses all kinds of goodies in that futuristic juicer. We tried a lemon ginger shot
big enough for the two of us to share. Wow! So spicy and invigorating and exciting in my mouth! Perfect for a grey Sunday morning, that juice got my blood flowing.
This kid was very taken with the honey. He was tasting each variety with pretzel sticks as we walked down the lane.
We saw vibrant bouquets of flowers
and some great lookin’ vegetables.
I’ve never tasted a watermelon radish, but I am intrigued, for sure! The green onions were too perfect to pass up. I’ve been snipping those babies into just about everything I cooked this week.
There was a colorful collection of heirloom tomatoes
alongside these fiery red jalapenos.
The kind vendor sent us home with three for free, just to try. They are awesome! Hot and sweet and full of flavor.
On our walk back towards the center of the market, I caught this boy
doing a little honey dance! His mama was trying to haul him away- but he wasn’t buying what she was sellin’, so to speak.
Then, I saw your favorite yogurt guy and mine,
looking especially dapper on this Sunday morning. He’s about to go traveling around sharing his yogurt with America, so this was his last market for a while. I wished him much luck and happiness on his journey. Atlanta Fresh yogurt is about to go viral, y’all. I’m pretty sure he’ll remember his roots.
Speaking of small businesses gone wild, I want to give a shout out this week to King of Pops.
What started as a pipe dream – three brothers, raised on fresh fruit smoothies, imagining a life selling pops like the ones they enjoyed on a visit to Central America- turned into reality. One brother was laid off from his corporate gig and decided to put his whole self in (and shake it all about)…and what happened is remarkable.
The first cart sold pops on a busy street corner in Atlanta, and did phenomenal business. Eventually, the demand for the King’s pops had multiplied to such a state that more carts, hands, and locations became a natural progression. Now, they have a strong presence here, and can be spotted at festivals, markets, and town squares all over the Atlanta metro area. They even have locations in North and South Carolina.
Those brothers make an excellent product- fresh, natural, delicious, and refreshing. There are so many different flavors to try too! And I always feel like I’m where the cool kids are when I stumble upon one of their carts. Props to those guys.
Moving on down the line…
H & F was represented in full force this week with their impressive array of freshly baked breads and pastries. I’d like to crawl right inside of that basket of bread and just breathe real deeply. Yum!
And I’ve been eyeballing their bagels for weeks now. This Jersey girl is going to have to break down and try one on my next time around.
Back at the middle of the market, sort of the crux, a band was playing. Hooray!
Stringed instruments in my happy place?!?! The music was great and added another layer of wonderful to the market’s ambiance. Fab.
This was about the time I smelled sausage.
Yup, Kevin Ouzts from the Spotted Trotter was cookin’ up some samples of their rabbit and pork sausage, which was stellar.
Their cooler was full, as is their schedule these days. They’ve got some very exciting things happening, including making hot dogs for Richard Blais’s new Atlanta spot, HD1. Good for those Ouztses!
We took home some of their new Chorizo sausage and a second round of the Toulouse as well.
Our second breakfast came from the Little Tart.
I had a hard time choosing between the tomato, cheddar, and thyme tart and the goat cheese, corn and basil tart. But we went with the latter. It was almost like a custard- so creamy. The flavors mingled beautifully together – the sweetness of the corn against the tartness of the goat cheese, with basil singing through- and that pie crust is divine.
Winding down, I grabbed the whole lot of these pretty little tomatoes.
And then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw these!
Oh, my! Laura, from the Little Red Hen has surely outdone herself with these. They looked so decadent, and I was so full…I had to resist the urge, but Adam was drawn to her donuts in an “I. Must. Have. One.” sort of a way.
And let me tell you, the one bite I had did not disappoint.
This donut put Krispy Kreme to shame. Not too sweet, light and airy, but with a cake-y edge. Mmm. That donut + coffee= something extraordinary.
And on that sweet note, we walked on outta there with giant smiles on our faces,
with Bounty: Day 2, armed for a serious week of cooking.
What did we do with all of that inspiration, you ask??
For starters, we made apple and sausage stuffed pork tenderloin with braised turnip greens and sweet potatoes. Sounds Southern and fall-ish, right? It totally is.
We chose to use our Toulouse sausage,since it is flavored with nutmeg, mace, and allspice- a perfect pairing for the apples.
That’s the first thing we did. Got that sausage into a pan and browned it.
Mmmm. Good things happening already! Meanwhile, I went to chopping. I diced up my apples, pulled the thyme leaves off the stems, smashed my garlic cloves to get the paper off, chopped up my green onion, and set them out with my golden raisins and toasted Florida pecans that I brought home last week.
I went ahead and squeezed that half a lemon over my apples and tossed them so they wouldn’t brown. Then I pressed my garlic and combined all of the stuffing ingredients together.
I gave them a quick toss, sprinkled them with salt and pepper and let them sit while we prepped the pork.
Now, the pork tenderloin we got this time around was sort of split, so we just pounded it out a bit to make it even and flat.
But the first time we did it, Adam used more of a “slice and roll” sort of method,
starting from one side of the pork, slicing, and rolling it out like a cinnamon roll.
After seasoning the pork on both sides, we laid the stuffing right down the middle.
We had soaked some cooking twine in water to prevent it from burning,
and we used it to wrap our pork.
This really took all four of our hands. Adam pulled the edges toward the middle, and I wrapped the string around the meat. Alternately, you could cut the twine into smaller pieces and tie off 5 or 6 spots with those pieces.
Now that my counter was clear of pork products, it was time to bring out the greens.
And one more pork product. Just one little ham hock. There are never too many kinds of pork on one plate, right? And they’re turnip greens! They are so southern, only a ham hock would do.
I got out a nice, big pot and got my garlic cooking in some olive oil.
I cut my greens- stems about 2 inches long and then the leaves- about 3 inch ribbons.
I added them to the pot when the garlic was fragrant.
I stirred them around a bit, helping the leaves to wilt, and then I added the rest of my apples to the pot.
That may sound odd to you, but here’s what I figured: I only used about half of the apples I cut for my pork stuffing. And folks always put sugar in their greens…so I thought I’d use the fresh, natural apples as a sweetener instead. The greens cook so long, I knew they’d just melt right in anyway.
I let the apples and greens cook a few minutes
before adding my dried ancho chili pepper, for extra smoky flavor, my ham hock,
and about 4 cups of homemade chicken broth. I also poured a healthy splash of vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper, and those greens were ready to simmer
down. I’d say we let them go a good thirty minutes or longer before we started tasting them. You want the greens to be tender without any piercing bitterness. Some people cook them all day long. It’s totally up to you.
When we knew the greens were approaching the good zone, we put our sweet potatoes in the oven and heated up a large oven-safe skillet, along with a bit of olive oil, for our pork. We seared the pork for a couple of minutes on all sides to create a golden crust and seal in the flavor.
Then we transferred the pan straight into the oven and let it cook another 10 minutes or so until the pork had reached 145 degrees on an internal meat thermometer. We took it out of the oven and let it rest about ten minutes before slicing.
This allows all of the juices to redistribute within the meat, rather than running out all over your board.
Finally, we scooped our greens out of the pot, leaving any remaining liquid, the big pepper, and the ham hock behind,
and we were ready to plate.
Now the baked Japanese sweet potato from the farm was a test run for us. Straight up baking this guy did not bring out its finest qualities. It was super starchy. I have learned that a boil and mash method does those taters justice.
But the apple and sausage stuffed pork tenderloin was juicy and delicious. The flavor combination of the apples and the sausage was a sweet and savory spectacular. The raisins lent a bit of extra sweetness and moisture, and I loved the texture that the pecans brought to the dish. The thyme, often used in French cooking, really connected the French sausage and other stuffing ingredients to the pork in its subtle herbacious way. The only change I might make next time, is to add a small handful of breadcrumbs to the stuffing to help it stick together a bit better.
The greens were the best turnip greens we’ve ever cooked. Soft, but not mushy, boasting a lovely balance of sweetness, smokiness, and tang. The apples worked like a dream.
I hope that you are enjoying the fall air and the fruits and veggies of the season. Get creative with your apples this time around. Get on out to your local markets while they last and scoop up some of the amazing ingredients that are available. Think about balancing sweet and savory, crunchy and soft, salty and spicy. Fatty and lean. Enjoy your time in the kitchen.
Happy cooking and eating to you,