The past couple of mornings have been cool and breezy. Beautiful. And I can feel that fall is just around the corner. I’m enjoying the less-than-sweltering temperatures and the sight of butternut squash. Is it possible that soon it will be Labor Day and then Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas/ Hannukkah?? 2011 has been flying by with a quickness. So I am trying to be sure I savor each and every day and soak up the freedom of tank tops, flip flops, and sundresses while it lasts.
This week at the market, I was amused by the combination of flowers and hula hoops.
Neither are related to food, yet, both are so festive and fun, and it struck me that the environment at our little Grant Park Market is celebratory, positive, and joyous. People come together from all different places to commune- to revel in the beauty,
to see and taste the treasures of our earth and the work of careful hands. There were some new vendors this week, and Adam and I feasted our eyes on a few items I had never even heard of before.
The scuppernong, beside those lovely yellow tomatoes, is a cousin to the muscadine, that apparently grows in the backyards of Adam’s childhood, right down the street in Stone Mountain. Sweet and juicy.
And ground cherries! These little guys are members of the nightshade family, descendants of tomatoes. They are yellow inside of their wrappers, which remind me of tomatillos- oddly not in the tomato family, but the gooseberry family. The vendor allowed us a taste, and I was surprised by how much sweetness each tiny sphere packed. It’s almost like a cherry tomato whose sugary qualities have been squeezed into a smaller version of itself, just waiting to burst and dance on your tongue. Yup, we took some of those home with us.
Peppers were all over the market again this week, along with sweet potato leaves. They keep tempting me. I am curious about their flavor and texture, but I haven’t purchased any yet. I understand that they cook down just like mustard greens or turnip greens. I think they’re so pretty.
Of course we had to stop by the yogurt stand and get our weekly dose of Atlanta Fresh’s creamy goodness. This guy’s shirt is hot. One of a kind- the guy and the shirt. My favorite scene at the market was watching these kiddos do business.
They had many questions, mostly about pricing, and they were serious. Happily each child walked away with two pints of yogurt and change to spare.
Moving on down the line, we saw the Goat Cheese Lady.
It’s terrible that I call her that. She has a name- Mary. It’s just that my brain connects her to her amazing goat cheese, and the yogurt guy to his wonderful yogurt. No offense intended at all. I was super excited to see Mary this week, because Adam and I have a plan to make chicken roulades- starring goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes and our fresh arugula from the farm. I was relieved that we were able to score.
This cheese is incredibly delicious on its own, so I am chomping at the bit to concoct our dinner spotlighting it. That’s tonight!
Next in line was H & F’s bottle shop stand.
All that Bloody Mary Mix on a Sunday in Georgia- no alcohol sales allowed- is kind of unfair. The man behind the table suggested some sort of hip flask to solve that problem.
And then, the H & F Bakery.
These people know what they are doing when it comes to breads and pastries. Our breakfast,
a tomato Parmesan focaccia roll, was very tasty.
The best parts were the tomato-y bites. Naturally.
Next, we saw The Spotted Trotter table
and had one of those moments where the clouds part, and a beam of sunshine comes right down and you hear the “Aaaaahhhhhhhhh” sound pipe through your ears. It’s the first week that Megan and Kevin Ouzts have attended the Grant Park Market,
because they have been extremely busy preparing to open their Charcuterie shop in Kirkwood. A few weeks back, a friend of theirs enlisted in my services to provide a few meals for the couple- working night and day to make their dream come true. They are warm, happy folks, and their sausage is unreal. We walked away with three types of sausage and the minute we set the beef/pork “Rosso” meat in the skillet, we knew we were in for a treat. Major flavor is packed into each link. You must get on the bandwagon STAT.
We happened upon the very last minute of Ria’s chef demonstration by the fountain,
and got to try her wonderful watermelon salad with fresh tomatoes, feta and salmon.
So scrumptious! And her answer to a Sunday in Georgia was to buy white rum ahead of time so she could mix up watermelon mojitos with her leftover juice for all of the stragglers to enjoy. Nice touch!
And finally, we were ready to grab our big, heavy bags of naturally grown goodies from Turtle Bend.
Adam Lowe was selling his gorgeous tomatoes like hotcakes. And we walked away with a bounty to write home about. And just as we thought we were on our way outta there, we ran into this bowl of sunshine.
Daddle peppers. Never heard of them before Sunday, but I am a huge fan now. They taste like a yellow pepper infused with just the right amount of heat. Versatile, vibrant, and fresh.
Then we really did make it to the car…and into the kitchen.
Such an awesome mix of ingredients this week. The arugula is peppery and perfect. We’ve got a great variety of tomatoes and the ground cherries. And this is okra’s last showing until next year. With all of this at our fingertips, it’s fun times in our kitchen to say the least.
That little bowl in front of the tomatoes holds brown crowder peas- new to me last year- coming back like an old friend. I was immediately inspired by them, knowing that I wanted to create pea cakes and share them with you.
On the menu: Alabama style white barbecued chicken with brown crowder pea cakes and a mixed grill of veggies. Adam has been dreaming of this white barbecue sauce for some time now, and I’m so glad we finally made it happen.
We started by coating our chicken legs in a dry barbecue seasoning rub- paprika, garlic, onion, chili powder, etc., etc.
We let those sit so the seasoning could work its magic, and we got going on the sauce.
Now, if you are not from the South, you may be experiencing some feelings of confusion. Mayo in a bbq sauce? Bizarre, yes. Delicious and different? Yes. It’s a simple process.
Saute shallot in a bit of olive oil. Add pressed garlic and a pinch of salt, and allow it to cool.
Meanwhile, in a bowl combine
1/2 Cup of mayo, 1/2 t horseradish, 1 T sugar, 2 T apple cider vinegar, 1/4 Cup water, the juice of a lemon, 1/4 t cayenne, 1/2 t dry mustard, 1/2 t white pepper, a few grinds of black pepper, and a pinch of salt. Once the shallots and garlic cooled, we added them to the bowl and stirred it all together.
Tangy and thin, I appreciate the horseradish flavor in this sauce- not overwhelming, but definitely present.
Next, we were on to the peas!!
I took 1 1/2 Cups of peas, washed and picked through them. Then, I added them to a pot with 1 1/2 Cups of my homemade chicken broth and a big clove of peeled garlic.
I brought them up to a quick boil and then added salt and pepper and let them simmer over medium low heat for about 20 minutes, until they were just tender.
In a small pan, I sauteed half of a medium onion and added 2 cloves of pressed garlic and my minced daddle pepper.
I drained my peas, and tore my crusty bread (which we just sat on the stove for a few minutes to firm up the ouside) into tiny pieces.
I chopped a scallion, green and white parts, and cut several basil leaves into ribbons. I portioned out 3 tablespoons of flour and 1 tablespoon of our bbq seasoning mix. And then, Adam got to mashing. He mashed the peas using a potato masher, leaving some of them whole to provide texture to our cakes.
We combined all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mixed it together before adding flour.
I started with 2 tablespoons, mixed,
and let it hang out in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Then, I made one lone patty and fried it up in olive oil over medium heat. I think it’s good to do a test run before making all of your patties. The level of moisture in your peas and veggies varies from day to day…(I’ve encountered this very situation when making corn cakes too). So, I’d start with 2 or 2 1/2 tablespoons of flour, let it sit a spell, form a patty, and give it a whirl. If your cake stays together, you’ve hit the nail right on the head, and you can move forward with frying. If it’s falling apart or seems too fragile, sprinkle on a little bit more flour, stir to incorporate it, and then go to town making your patties.
Frying up a tester also gives you the opportunity to adjust the seasoning of your mixture before cooking an entire batch that just longs for more salt.
I fit about 5 patties in my pan at a time.
Crowding your pan will just make the flipping process a mess and prevent each lovely little cake from having its own space to brown and become the best cake that it can be.
I love the way specks of green and yellow poke out from the beautiful golden brown crust.
Our simple grilled veggies
were prepared two ways. For the Japanese sweet potato and the patty pan squash, we made foil pouches, added olive oil and seasoning,
and just roasted them over indirect heat on the grill.
For the okra, we skewered them, after soaking the skewers in water for about 20 minutes.
Then, we brushed them with EVOO and seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled them for about 3- 4 minutes per side, creating a nice char.
The chicken was cooked on the grill as well, and turned out beautifully.
We coated it with our barbecue sauce
and proceeded to plate our awesome summertime dinner.
This is my new favorite way to enjoy okra (aside from cornmeal crusted and fried). It had a great grill flavor, and the insides were tender and delicious. No slime. Yay! The grilled squash and sweet potato were simple and straightforward. The brown crowder pea cakes were fabulous. Crunchy on the outside, filled with a soft middle, bursting with flavor. The daddle pepper offered just enough heat and the peas, onions, garlic, and fresh herbs made my mouth happy.
So glad I got to share this summertime Sunday dinner with you. It filled my belly and did my heart good. I love to expand my understanding of an ingredient from year to year. Getting to know the brown crowder pea’s best qualities, and applying it in new ways- letting its goodness shine- has been a pleasure.
I hope you are enjoying the last of these summer days and trying out new recipes in your kitchen. I wonder what you are concocting with the goodies in your fridge and pantry. Whatever it is, I hope you are having fun, being creative, and embracing the fruits of the season.
Happy cooking and eating to you!