Shopping the Farmers Markets
Â As part of a series of articles I contribute to the Hawai'i HomeGrown Food Network (see the URL at the end) featuring farmers markets around the Big Island of Hawai'i, I get to visit a different farmers market each monthÂ
Did you know there are 25 active farmers markets on this island alone?Â To date, I have visited seven of them and you can read about them and some of the vendors I have featured at each market when you visit the Hawaiâ€™i HomeGrown Food Network website.Â Â Â
A new market will be opening early November on the grounds of the Keauhou Outrigger Hotel making it a total of 26 farmers markets on the Big Island.Â This does not even count the permanent fruit and veggie stands that dot the countryside from time to time.
In one of my earlier articles I said that â€œOur islands are some of the most fertile in the world and the Big Island in particular has some of the most varied climates, elevations and growing conditions of any other land in the whole Pacific Ocean. We are fortunate that we can grow almost anything that grows anywhere else in the world somewhere on this one island.â€
Â The above still holds true and it seems that more and more people seem to be turning to farming, if not in large scale, at least growing something on their land.Â
Â What to do with all the wonderful fresh bounty we can find in our markets?Â Here are some of the things Iâ€™ve been cooking up with our farmersâ€™ market purchases.Â
Beet and Papaya SaladÂ
Everything in this recipe was grown or produced locally and bought at farmers markets.Â
3 beets - roasted or boiled; peeled and or cut in small chunks
1 papaya - seeded, peeled and cubed
2 leeks - sliced very thin - use some green also
Small bunch of basil leaves â€“ chiffonade
1 package goat cheese feta - cut in small cubes
Mixed salad greensÂ
Â Macadamia nut salad oil - or any good odorless/tasteless vegetable oil
Juice of Meyer lemons or calamandine or combination of both
Ground sea salt and pepper to taste
Donâ€™t peel the beets before roasting or boiling.Â If boiling, add a stick of cinnamon, some cloves and a few allspice leaves (from my yard) to the water.Â After cooking the beets, the water will have a beautiful color and taste.Â Can be serve in a wine glass at room temperature and it will almost taste like a good Merlot, or serve splashed over ice cubes for a refreshing and nutritious drink.Â
If the basil leaves are small, use the whole leaves, if they are large, hold them as a wad with your left hand and cut in thin ribbons with a sharp knife.Â This is called a chiffonade.Â
Arrange salad greens on the plates or a platter.Â Add the beets, papaya, leeks, feta and sprinkle with the chiffonade of basil leaves and drizzle with the dressing.
Open-Faced Eggplant SandwichÂ
1 medium eggplant â€“ peeled and sliced
Olive or vegetable oil for sautÃ©ing
Garlic infused olive oil (see below)
Multigrain bread â€“ sliced thick
Soft fresh mozzarella cheese - sliced
Sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
At one of our local farmers markets I found a baker who comes with his own brick oven on wheels.Â His breads are absolutely wonderful.Â I bought some multi-grained loaves as well as a perfectly shaped brioche for the next dayâ€™s breakfast.Â
Cut the eggplant in slices about 1/4" thick, dip them in milk and then in seasoned white cornmeal or Panko.Â
SautÃ© the eggplant slices in a small amount of olive oil on one side and after turning over, place a slice of soft mozzarella on each slice of eggplant and continue cooking until cheese has melted slightly - I actually left it just a tad too long, but it was still fine.Â Next time I will cover the pan and let it sort of steam a bit soÂ the cheeseÂ will be soft and slightly meltedÂ but not cooked.
Meantime the bread slices were put in the George Foreman grill so it could toast with the grill marks on it.Â When done, brush the top of the bread slicesÂ with garlic infused olive oil.
On a dinner plate, place a lettuce leaf and thenÂ one of the slices of the bread.Â On the bread, at an angle, place a slice ofÂ eggplant and mozzarella.Â Â Add bits of sun-dried tomatoes marinated in oil and a couple of sprigs of fresh basil.Â Top with another slice of eggplant and mozzarella and repeat with the sun-dried tomato and basil.
I added a sprig of watercress to the plate as an edible garnish.Â A delicious and easy, light summer meal.
Garlic Infused Olive Oil
This is really easy if you have a crock-pot or slow cooker.Â If you donâ€™t, then use a regular saucepan on your stove burner, but be careful that the oil never comes to a boil
Empty a full bottle of good quality olive oil in the crock-pot
Add a full head of garlic cloves â€“ peeled and cut in slices
Turn the crock-pot on the low setting and leave to heat until the garlic starts turning slightly golden.Â Do not let them get dark brown as then the taste will be bitter.Â Skim the garlic pieces and save them to use as a spread on toasted bread, baked potatoes or in any other way you wish.
After the oil returns to room temperature, pour it back into the oil bottle and use as you would any seasoned olive oil.Â
French Fried EggplantsÂ
A couple of years ago in Florida, my sister, brother in law and I ate at a little restaurant on Hwy 19 in Inglis, FL (Gulf Coast). The food was really good but what really called our attention were their French fried eggplant sticks....We ordered several rounds of them and could not get enough of them.
After we got down to my sister's house in Miami we tried to recreate the dish and I think ours were even better.
Peel and cut an eggplant as if you were cutting potatoes for French fries.
Dip the pieces in milk, then flour that has been seasoned with your favorite seasoning mix or salt and pepper to taste. You can drop them in a little FryDaddy at this point or you can dip them in seasoned Panko and then deep fry.Â The Panko will give you a crunchier bite.
Fry until golden to make sure the eggplant sticks are cooked all the way through.Â Drain and serve with wasabi mayonnaise
YIELD: 1 medium eggplant is enough for 2 servings
The link to visit the Hawaiâ€™i HomeGrown Food Network is http://www.hawaiihomegrown.net when the page opens, go to Resources to see the list of Farmers Markets on the island and you canÂ click on the live links where you can find the articles that I have already contributed.Â
Â (c) By Sonia R. Martinez for The Hamakua Times of Honoka'a, Hawai'i November issue