Farmers’ Market Box 10-15-15

Asparagus – Life’s a Choke Farm
FennelBlack Sheep Produce
Pineapple GuavasKoral’s Tropical Fruit Farm
Baby LeeksBlack Sheep Produce
Romaine LettuceBe Wise Ranch
Red Finger Limes – 3 Nuts
Golden Russet Bosc PearsPenryn Orchard Specialties
Lipstick Chile PeppersRutiz Family Farms
Fuyu Persimmons – Point Loma Farm
Celery RootWeiser Family Farm
Carnival SquashTutti Frutti Farms
Lemongrass – Beck Grove

Organic Juicing Bag:

CilantroBe Wise Ranch
Valencia Oranges – Garcia Organic Farms
PassionfruitKoral’s Tropical Fruit Farm
Carrots – Cal Organics
Fennel – Cal Organics

Farmer’s Choice:

Honey Dates – Dates By Duvall
White Pomegranate – Burkart
Ginger Tops Kong Thao Farm

Julian Apple Cider – Apple Lane Orchard
Catalina Offshore catch of the week: Green Thresher Shark

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Post your photos on Instagram with the hashtag #specialtyproduceFMB or share them with the FMB community on our facebook page!

click the links above & search for products on our website with recipes attached

Below are some great recipes for you to try out with the produce from your box/bag. Let us know on our Facebook Page or through twitter if you tried any of them with the hastag #SpecialtyProduceFMB!


Cilantro Shot
¼ Bunch of Cilantro
3 Carrots

Sweet Anise
¼ Fennel Bulb
3 Oranges
2 Passionfruit, as garnish

Orange Theory
2 Carrots
2 Oranges
¼ Fennel Bulb
¼ Bunch of Cilantro

Specialty Produce Recipe Suggestions
courtesy of Diane Phillips (Cucina Divina)

Creamy Celery Root and Leek Soup
Serves 6 to 8
Celery root is delicious in soup, but can also be roasted coated with olive oil, salt and pepper, and used in potato dishes, like mashed potatoes or potato gratins. Substitute the celery root for 1/3 of the potatoes in the dishes. Save the leaves of the celery root and use them in soups and stews.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 leek, cleaned, and finely chopped, using the white and tender green parts
1 celery root, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces (save any leaves for garnish)
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream (see note)
Salt and tabasco to taste

1. In a Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the leeks for 2 to 3 minutes, until softened.
2. Add the celery root, and toss to coat.
3. Add the broth and bring to a boil.
4. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the celery root is softened.
5. Puree the soup with an immersion blender, and add the cream. Season the soup with salt and Tabasco. Use celery root leaves for garnishing the soup.
6. Heavy Cream Note: If you decide to keep this soup non-dairy, add about 1/2 cup more broth, and puree the soup. It won’t be as luxurious but it will be a delicious soup.

Carnival Squash Risotto
Serves 4 to 6
Carnival squash is difficult to peel, so it’s best to roast it, and then use the puree of the squash to add to the risotto. The puree will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months, and you can use it in pasta, or risotto or soups.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 carnival squash
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio, Vialone, or Carnaroli rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 to 6 cups boiling chicken stock or broth
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, cut the top off the squash, remove the seeds with a spoon, and drizzle some of the oil into the cavity of the squash and roast for 35 to 45 minutes, until the squash is tender.
2. When the squash is cool enough to handle, scrape out the cooked flesh, you should have 1/2 to 3/4 cup of squash.
3. In a 4-quart saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 1 tablespoon of oil over medium high heat.
4. Add the shallot and cook for 3 minutes, until the shallot is softened.
5. Add the rice, and squash puree and cook until the rice and squash are coated with the butter mixture.
6. Add the wine, and allow it to evaporate almost completely.
7. Stir in 1 cup of broth and stir while the rice is absorbing the broth. When the rice seems to have absorbed all the broth, add another cup.
8. Continue to add stock (this should take about 15 to 20 minutes) until the rice will no longer absorb what you add.
9. Remove from the heat, taste the rice, it should be al dente.
10. Season with salt or pepper if needed, stir in the additional butter, and half of the cheese, and serve garnished with the remaining cheese.
11. If you wish to do this in the pressure cooker, prepare up to step 5, except use 3 cups of broth. Lock the lid in place, and cook at high pressure for 56 minutes. Quick release the lid, stir in the butter and Parmigiano, and serve.

Faux Pho with Lemongrass
Serves 6 to 8
This soup is by no means authentic (what does an Italian in Italy know about Vietnamese soup?) but it’s a soul satisfying soup for any night of the week.

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 leek, finely chopped, using only the white part
1 stalk lemon grass, tough outer leaves removed, and smashed
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 chicken breasts, skin and bones removed
6 cups chicken broth
1 to 2 teaspoon fish sauce
One 16-ounce package rice vermicelli, cooked according to package directions
1 lipstick pepper, cored, seeded and sliced into thin rounds, for garnish
1/2 cup bean sprouts for garnish
2 finger limes, cut into wedges for garnish

1. In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium high heat, and saute the leek, lemon grass and ginger for 1 minute.
2. Add the chicken breasts and saute until each side turns white (they will not be cooked all the way through)
3. Add the chicken broth and fish sauce, and simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Remove the chicken from the pot, and shred it by pulling apart using 2 forks.
5. Remove the lemon grass from the soup, and season the soup with salt or pepper if needed. Add the chicken back to the soup.
6. To serve the soup divide the rice vermicelli between the soup bowls, top with the shredded chicken, and pour in the chicken broth.
7. Garnish each serving with lipstick peppers, bean sprouts and a bit of the finger lime “caviar” over each serving.

Fall Salad of Persimmons, Fennel and Prosciutto
Serves 4 to 6
This delicious taste of fall is a composed salad that you can either prepare it on a large platter or on individual salad plates. Aged balsamic vinegar makes all the difference here, so buy some at Specialty—they have the Cali-Virgin brand and it’s a great one to use.

One bulb fennel, wispy ends removed, and thinly sliced
3 to 4 Fuyu persimmons, peeled, and thinly sliced
1/4 pound Prosciutto di Parma, thinly sliced, and cut into julienne
1/4 cup finely chopped leaves from the celery root (if not available, then use Italian parsley)
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Arrange the fennel and persimmons on a serving platter, or on individual salad plates.
2. Sprinkle with the prosciutto, celery leaves and almonds.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil.
4. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle over the salad just before serving.

Pineapple Guava Smoothie
Serves 2

1 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped pineapple guavas
1 cup strawberries, hulled
1/3 cup Greek Style yogurt
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 apple juice
1 cup ice

1. In a blender, combine the ingredients, and puree until blended.
2. Serve in 2 tall glasses garnished with a strawberry.

Pasta with Asparagus and Parmigiano Reggiano
Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
1 pound farfalle, or rigatoni pasta, cooked 3 minutes short of al dente (reserving some of the pasta water)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1. In a large skillet, over medium high heat saute the garlic in the oil for 2 minutes, and discard.
2. Add the asparagus to the skillet, and quickly saute for 3 minutes, until beginning to turn crisp tender.
3. Add the cream, and season with salt and pepper.
4. When the pasta is ready, add it to the hot asparagus and cream mixture and toss until the pasta is coated, adding 1/4 cup of the cheese to the pan, if the pasta seems dry, and add a bit of the pasta water to the sauce.
5. Serve the pasta garnished with the remaining cheese.
6. Heavy Cream Note: If you prefer to leave out the heavy cream, use pasta water to create a creamy sauce.

Caesar Salad
Serves 4 to 6
The authentic Caesar has raw or coddled egg in it, this one uses mayonnaise instead, and will keep in the fridge for several days. It makes a great potato or pasta salad dressing, but is great to use for the traditional Caesar salad that was invented in Tijuana without anchovies, instead using Worcestershire sauce for the flavor.

1 head romaine, washed, spun dry and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cups mayonnaise (low fat ok)
1/2 sour cream (low fat OK)
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove minced
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
½ cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
1 cup croutons for garnish

1. Arrange the lettuce in a salad bowl.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, anchovy paste, Worcestershire, and garlic. Taste for seasoning and correct using more lemon juice, Worcestershire, salt or pepper.
3. Toss the salad with some of the dressing, add the Parmigiano and croutons and toss again. Serve immediately garnished with additional Parmigiano if desired.

Lime Mascarpone Parfait with Finger Lime Caviar
Serves 6
Finger limes, when cut open have the most delectable pearls inside. For this dessert, you will need lime juice from conventional limes to make the parfait, and the finger limes will decorate the top.

For the Lime Curd
1 cup sugar
6 large eggs
1/2 to 2/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1. In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the sugar, eggs, and 1/2 cup of the juice and whisk until smooth.
2. Set over medium heat and continue to whisk until the mixture begins to thicken, this may take about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the butter cubes, a bit at a time, and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the curd is thickened.
4. Taste and add the remaining juice if you would like it more tart.
5. Remove from the heat, strain through a sieve, press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface to keep a skin from forming, and let cool to room temperature.
6. Do-Ahead: At this point, you can refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost before continuing.

For the Parfait
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup mascarpone
2 cups lime curd (chilled)
1/2 to 2/3 cup crushed graham crackers
1 to 2 finger limes, pearls removed for garnish

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until soft peaks form.
2. Add the mascarpone, and beat again until incorporated.
3. Whisk in the lime curd, until combined.
4. Layer the mascarpone mixture into parfait or wine glasses, putting 2 to 3 tablespoons of the mixture into the glass, then sprinkling with a bit of crushed graham cracker crumbs, and repeating, ending with mascarpone layer.
5. Just before serving, garnish with the finger lime pearls.

Roasted Lipstick Pepper Salad
Serves 4

1 pound lipstick peppers, cored, seeded and cut into quarters
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 to 1/3 cup aged Balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil, parchment, or silicone baking liner, and arrange the peppers and garlic on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with the oil, salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, until the peppers are softened.
2. Remove from the oven, and transfer to a bowl.
3. Add the vinegar, and toss to combine.
4. Allow the peppers to marinate at room temperature for at least 2 hours, and serve with crusty bread.
5. Any leftover peppers can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. These are lovely on panini, or serve with bruschetta.

Slow Cooker Lipstick Chili Con Queso Dip
Serves 6 to 8

One 8-ounce package cream cheese, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium sweet yellow onion such as Vidalia, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 lipstick chile peppers, finely chopped
2 chipotle chilies in adobo, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cups finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups finely shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1. Coat the inside of the insert of a 1 ½ to 3-quart slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray, turn the machine on low, add the cream cheese, and cover while preparing the other ingredients.
2. In a large sauté pan, melt the butter, and sauté the onion, garlic, peppers, chipotles and cumin, until the peppers become softened, about 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Scrape the mixture into the slow cooker insert, stirring to blend with the cheese. Fold in the cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, cover and cook on low for 2 to 3 hours. Serve at the warm setting with fresh vegetables, and sturdy tortilla chips.
4. To cook on the stove top, start at step 2, add the cream cheese, and melt that.
5. Remove from the stove and add the remaining cheeses. Keep warm over low heat.

Farmers’ Choice:

Thai Ginger Soup
Serves 6 to 8
By using the leaves from the ginger, you will get a less pronounced ginger flavor in the soup. Make sure to remove the leaves before serving.

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 leek, finely chopped using the white part
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup ginger leaves, bruised with the edge of your knife
2 medium carrots cut into julienne
2 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeno
1/2 cup shitake mushrooms, stems removed, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc nam)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
Finger lime pearls for garnish
Finely chopped Thai basil or cilantro for garnish

1. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil, and saute the leek, garlic and ginger for 1 minute, until fragrant.
2. Add the carrot, jalapeno and mushrooms, and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mushrooms begin to color.
3. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, fish sauce, and chicken. Simmer the soup over low heat for 30 minutes.
4. Taste for seasoning, remove the ginger leaves and add more fish sauce if desired.
5. Serve the soup garnished with cilantro or basil and the lime pearls. If you don’t have lime pearls, fresh lime juice is a nice garnish for this soup.

Ginger Chicken Stir Fry
Serves 4

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine (Mirin)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons Hoisin Sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds for garnish

1. Put the chicken into a bowl, and sprinkle with the cornstarch, add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of rice wine and stir to combine. Set aside.
2. In a large skillet, or wok, over high heat, heat the oil, and swirl the garlic and ginger in the skillet for 10 seconds, until fragrant.
3. Add the chicken, and stir fry, until the chicken is browned on all side.
4. Add the remaining soy sauce, rice wine, and hoisin sauce. Bring to a boil. Remove from the stove, and add the sesame oil.
5. Sprinkle the chicken with the sesame seeds, and serve over rice.

Honey Date Granola
Makes about 8 cups

1/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
4 cups rolled oats
Zest of 1 orange
4 cups dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 300 and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, parchment or a silicone baking liner.
2. Stir together the butter, maple syrup, vanilla and salt in a saucepan, over a low heat until the butter has completely melted, then set aside.
3. In a large bowl, stir together the nuts, oats, and zest. Pour in the maple syrup mixture and mix until coated.
4. Spread the granola onto the prepared baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes, stirring to break up any large pieces every 10 minutes.
5. Stir in the dates and then bake for a final 10 minutes. Allow the granola to cool on the baking sheet, then store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. The granola will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Parmigiano
Serves 10
Although this recipe is a repeat, it’s my favorite way to use dates; since the holidays are on the horizon, you can make the dates, and then freeze them. They are a terrific appetizer for the holidays.

12 strips bacon, cut in half crosswise
24 pitted dates
1/4 pound Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese,

1. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until it has rendered some fat and begins to turn translucent; don’t let it brown at all. Remove from the pan and drain thoroughly on paper towels.
2. Make a slit in each date and stuff with a small piece of cheese. Wrap the date in a piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick if needed. Place the wrapped dates in a baking dish.
3. Do-Ahead: At this point, you can cover and refrigerate for up to 36 hours or freeze for 3 months. Defrost before proceeding.
4. Preheat the oven to 375° F and bake the dates until the bacon is crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven, drain the dates on paper towels, and set on a platter for serving. Thin shreds of any leftover Parmesan would make an awesome garnish.


Cider Crème Anglaise
Makes about 3 cups
This is a lovely sauce to serve over cake, but can also garnish other fall desserts, like apple, pumpkin, or pear pies.

2 cups organic apple cider
½ cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon vanilla paste
5 large egg yolks

1. In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the cider and ½ cup of sugar. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 minutes until reduced to 1 cup. Cool the cider thoroughly.
2. In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the cream, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and egg yolks over medium heat, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.
3. Continue stirring over medium heat until the mixture thickens and just begins to simmer. Immediately remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve into a bowl.
4. Stir in ½ cup of the cider, cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until chilled, about 2 hours, or the crème can be served warm.
5. Any leftover reduced cider can be used in salad dressings, or as a drizzle over ice cream.
6. Do-Ahead: The crème can be refrigerated for up to 4 days, or frozen for up to 1 month.

Mulled Cider
Serves 10

2 quarts apple cider
1 teaspoon whole allspice
2 sticks cinnamon
6 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup brandy or rum

1. Heat cider and add the spices, keeping warm over low heat for 30 minutes. Remove the spices with a sieve.
2. Serve the cider warm; add 2 tablespoons brandy or rum if desired to each serving if desired.

@Diane Phillips
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Farmers’ Market Box 10-8-15

Granny Smith ApplesFair Hill Apple Farm
Green Bell PeppersBlack Sheep Produce
EggplantBe Wise Ranch
MintRutiz Family Farms
Red Fire LettuceBlack Sheep Produce
Sweet Yellow Onions Kong Thao Farm
Valencia OrangesPolito Family Farm
Shinko Asian PearsKen’s Top Notch Produce
Early Wonderful PomegranateKen’s Top Notch Produce
Russian Banana Fingerling PotatoesWeiser Family Farm
Spaghetti SquashRutiz Family Farms

Organic Juicing Bag:

Valencia Oranges – Lodge Ranch
Red Bell PeppersTutti Frutti Farms
Yellow Baby CarrotsMcGrath Family Farm
Mexican GuavasKoral’s Tropical Fruit Farm
Romaine LettuceBe Wise Ranch
Celery – Garcia Organic Farms

Farmer’s Choice:

Pineapple GuavasKoral’s Tropical Fruit Farm
Golden Russet Bosc PearsPenryn Orchard
QuinceWeiser Family Farm

Warren PearsFrog Hollow Farm

Catalina Offshore catch of the week:

Click here to Watch Video on YouTube

Post your photos on Instagram with the hashtag #specialtyproduceFMB or share them with the FMB community on our facebook page!

click the links above & search for products on our website with recipes attached

Below are some great recipes for you to try out with the produce from your box/bag. Let us know on our Facebook Page or through twitter if you tried any of them with the hastag #SpecialtyProduceFMB!


Liquid Salad
½ Head of Romaine
1 Orange
3 Guavas
½ Red Bell Pepper

The Holy Trinity
1 Red Bell Pepper
4 Stalks of Celery
½ Bunch of Baby Yellow Carrots

Hawaiian Beta Punch
½ Bunch of Baby Carrots
2 Oranges
3 Guavas

Specialty Produce Recipe Suggestions
courtesy of Diane Phillips (Cucina Divina)

American Gothic House Apple Pie
My friend Beth Howard ran the Pitchfork Pie Stand during the summer at the American Gothic House in Eldon Iowa. This is Beth’s recipe from her book, Making Piece, a Memoir of Love, Loss, and Pie. You can follow her on Facebook at The World Needs More Pie, or at her blog,

For the Crust
2 ½ c. flour (but have at least 3 ½ cups on hand, as you’ll need extra flour to roll dough and thicken filling)
½ c. vegetable shortening
½ c. butter
Dash of salt
Ice water (fill one cup, but use only enough to moisten dough)

1. In a large bowl, work the butter and shortening into the flour with your hands until you see marble-size lumps form.
2. Pour in ice water a little at a time, sort of “fluffing” the flour to mix in liquid. When the dough feels moist, do a “squeeze test” and if it holds together, you’re done. Your dough should feel tacky, but not wet. (Do not overwork the dough! It takes very little time and you’ll be tempted to keep touching it, but don’t!)
3. Divide the dough in 2 balls. Form each ball into a disk shape. Roll flat and thin to fit your pie dish.
4. Sprinkle flour under and on top of your dough to keep it from sticking to your rolling surface.
5. Trim excess dough around the edges with scissors so that it is about 1 inch wider than the dish edge.

For the Filling
1 pound Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons cinnamon (or more, depending on how much you like)
¾ c. sugar
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter (to put on top of apples before covering with top crust)
4 Tbsp. flour
1 beaten egg (to brush top crust before putting in oven)
Dash of salt

1. Lay the prepared bottom crust into the pie dish. Slice half of the peeled apples directly into the pie, arranging and pressing them into the dish to remove extra space between slices.
2. Cover with half of your other ingredients (sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt), then slice the remaining apples, and cover with second half of ingredients. Add dollop of butter.
3. Cover with top crust and crimp edges, then brush with the beaten egg (this gives the pie a nice golden brown shine). Use a knife to poke vent holes in the top crust (get creative here with a unique pattern if you want).
4. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.
5. Turn oven down to 375 degrees and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes or so, until juice bubbles. Poke with a knife to make sure apples have softened. Do not over bake or apples will turn mushy.

Pomegranate and Orange Salad
Serves 4 to 6

1 head Red leaf lettuce, washed, and spun dry
2 Valencia Oranges, pith and peel removed, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 slice yellow onion, separated into rings
1 pomegranate, peeled, and arils removed
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1. Arrange the lettuce on salad plates. Top with some of the orange slices, onion, and the pomegranate arils.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the juice, vinegar, mint, honey and oil until thickened. Drizzle over the salads and serve.

Slow Cooker Caponata
Makes about 4 cups
Caponata is a relish that comes from the southern part of Italy, served as a condiment with fish, chicken, or meats, it is delicious served with cheeses, and bruschetta.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
One medium red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 medium purple eggplant, finely diced
1 medium green bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into ½ inch pieces
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch red pepper flakes
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
One 15.5 ounce can diced tomatoes and their juice (see Caponata savvy)
1 cup golden raisins
¼ cup brined capers, drained
½ cup pitted Kalamata olives (or your favorite olive)
½ cup finely chopped Italian parsley

1. In a large skillet, heat the oil; add the onion, garlic and celery, and sauté for about 3 minutes, until the onion is softened.
2. Transfer the mixture to the insert of a 5 to 7-quart slow cooker. Add the eggplant, red pepper, oregano, salt, and red pepper flakes to the skillet, and sauté until the eggplant begins to soften, about 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Add the vinegar and allow it to evaporate a bit, then add the tomatoes and raisins, and stir together.
4. Transfer the contents of the skillet to the slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 5 hours.
5. Add the capers, olives and parsley and cook another hour, until the eggplant is tender.
6. Remove the Caponata from the slow cooker and serve cold or at room temperature.
7. Caponata will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Caponata Savvy: I usually leave the skin on the eggplant, it adds color and texture to the dish, but make sure that the eggplant you buy has a smooth unblemished skin, and isn’t wrinkly at all.
More Savvy: If you prefer a less chunky version of this dish, use one 15.5-ounce can tomato puree instead of the diced tomatoes.

Mint Pesto Crusted Racks of Lamb
Serves 4 to 6

1 cup packed mint leaves
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon rice vinegar or white vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
6 to 7 leaves fresh oregano
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
Four 1-pound racks of lamb, trimmed

1. In the work bowl of a food processor, combine the mint, garlic, vinegar, oil, oregano, cayenne and salt, processing until smooth.
2. Do-Ahead: the pesto can be frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost before proceeding.
3. Makes ½-inch slits all over the racks, and transfer to a zipper top plastic bag.
4. Pour the pesto sauce over the racks, and turn to coat. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 12 hours, and up to 24 hours.
5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
6. Remove the racks from the bag (no need to pat dry) and place in a roasting pan, fat side up.
7. Roast the lamb for about 25 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 140.
8. Remove from the oven and allow the roast to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with cucumber mint salsa (see below).
9. Do-Ahead: If you would like to roast the racks ahead of time, roast them to 125 degrees and remove them from the oven. Allow to cool to room temperature and then wrap in foil or zipper top plastic bags. Refrigerate for up to 2 days. One hour before serving, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and place the racks in a baking dish for 30 minutes to come to room temperature. Bake the racks for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are heated through.
10. Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Cucumber Mint Salsa

1 European cucumber, cut into ½-inch dice
2 green onions, chopped, using some of the green part
½ cup packed mint, finely chopped
1 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch cayenne

1. In a small glass bowl, stir together the cucumber, onion, mint, vinegar, oil, parsley, salt, sugar and cayenne.
2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours. Toss again, and serve cold.

Spaghetti Squash Caccio Pepe Style
Serves 4 as a side dish
Use spaghetti squash like you would pasta, but pair it with bold flavors like the pecorino cheese in this recipe. If you would like to serve it with your favorite tomato sauce, it’s a great meatless Monday dinner.

1 medium spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds)
1/3 cup water
¼ cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, plus more for serving
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano
½ cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Cut the squash in half, and lay each half cut side down in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Pour in the water, and cover the baking dish. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until just tender. The tip of a sharp paring knife will go in easily. Remove from the oven, and let cool slightly. Halve lengthwise and scoop out seeds; discard.
2. Scrape flesh with a fork to remove in long strands. Spread out on paper towels to drain.
3. Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook squash, lemon zest, and thyme, stirring to blend. When the squash is heated through, add the Pecorino, and ½ cup Parmigiano, stirring to combine Stir in pepper and season with salt. Serve topped with more Parmigiano.

Roasted Eggplant Rollatini stuffed with Smoked Scarmorza Cheese, and topped with Roasted Tomato Sauce
Serves 6

Roasted Tomato Sauce
Three 28-ouce cans peeled whole Roma tomatoes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, crushed
1/2 cup chopped red onion
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a jellyroll pan with a silicone liner, parchment paper, or aluminum foil.
2. Cut the tomatoes in half and put in a large glass bowl. Stir in the olive oil, basil, rosemary, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper, being careful not to tear the tomatoes.
3. Pour onto the prepared pan, spreading it out in a single layer. Bake until the tomato liquid is absorbed and the tomatoes have firmed up and turn a deep red color, 35 to 45 minutes, checking to make sure that the tomatoes and garlic don’t brown.
4. Transfer the tomato mixture to blender or food processor, and pulse to break up the tomatoes. Stir in the basil and parsley.
5. Do-Ahead: The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.

For the Eggplant
One large purple eggplant, top and bottom removed, and cut lengthwise in ½-inch slices
1 cup olive oil
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8-ounces smoked Scarmorza or smoked mozzarella
¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
Fresh Basil leaves for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat the broiler for 10 minutes. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the eggplant slices on the baking sheet.
2. In a small bowl, combine the oil, salt and pepper. Brush the slices with the oil, and broil on one side for 5 to 7 minutes, until the eggplant begins to turn golden brown. Turn the slices over, brush with the oil, and broil until browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. (The slices can be refrigerated for 2 days)
3. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Depending upon your eggplant you may need a 13-by-9-inch dish (for more than 8 slices of eggplant) or a 9 to 10-inch baking dish for 8 or less slices.
4. Cut the mozzarella into 1/4-inch slices.
5. Lay an eggplant slice on a flat surface, and place the cheese in the center of the slice. Fold the eggplant over the cheese, and place seam side down on the sauce in the prepared pan.
6. Continue to roll the slices until they are all used.
7. Top each slice with some of the remaining marinara sauce. Sprinkle any remaining cheese over the eggplant, and top with the parmesan.
8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the eggplant for 25 to 35 minutes, until the cheeses are melted, and bubbling.

Obrien Potatoes
Serves 6

This is a great side dish for brunch, or to serve alongside roasted meats. Add some crumbled sausage or bacon to it, and top with eggs over easy.

1 pound Russian banana fingerling potatoes, scrubbed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
1 green pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced
Salt and pepper

1. Put the potatoes into a saucepan with water to cover and boil for 15 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the water, and cool slightly. Cut the potatoes into 1/2-inch dice.
2. In a large non-stick skillet, heat the oil, and saute the onion and peppers until they are softened, and the onion begins to turn translucent.
3. Add the potatoes continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until the potatoes are golden brown. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Chicken Cacciatore
Serves 6
Although this isn’t an authentic Italian recipe, you will find a version of it on the menus in most red-sauce Italian places in the US. This version of it is pumped up with red wine, and red pepper flakes in the sauce. It’s terrific to serve with polenta or pasta, or over mashed potatoes.

2 1/2 pounds chicken parts, bone in
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, cored, seeded and thinly sliced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup full bodied red wine
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes, and their juices

1. Wash the chicken in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the pieces liberally with salt and pepper.
2. In a large skillet, heat the oil, and brown the chicken on all sides, removing it from the pan to a plate when it is browned.
3. Add the onion, pepper, pepper flakes and oregano to the pan, and saute until the onion begins to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Add the red wine, and bring to a boil.
5. Add the tomatoes, and the chicken parts back into the pan.
6. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, and serve the chicken warm.
Do-Ahead: This is delicious made a day ahead so the chicken absorbs the flavors of the sauce.
Variation: If you would like to substitute 3 pounds of pork chops, brown the pork, and follow the directions cooking the pork for 1 hour, until tender.

Farmers’ Choice:

Pineapple Guava Muffins
Makes about 12

3 to 4 pineapple guavas, to give 1 cup guava pulp
1 large egg
¼ cup canola oil
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
½ cup sugar
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 to 2 teaspoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Coat the inside of muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray or line with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Split the guavas, in half, and press through a sieve to remove any seeds.
3. In a large bowl, stir together the guava pulp, egg, oil, extract, and sugar, until blended.
4. Add the flour, baking powder and salt, and stir until smooth.
5. Using a portion scoop, fill the muffin tins 3/4 full.
6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
7. Cool the muffins completely. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, milk and vanilla. Drizzle the glaze over the muffins, and serve.

Quince Paste
Makes about 8 ounces
That expensive quince paste at your local cheese shop is simple to make, with a few steps, and even nicer to give as a hostess gift during the holidays.

4 medium quince, scrubbed
1/4 cup apple juice or cider
2 to 3 cups sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and place the quince on a baking sheet. Roast the quince for 1 to 2 hours until they are tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife. (Firm quince will take longer) Cool the quince, peel and core, and put the pulp into a blender or food processor with the cider. Puree the pulp and measure it.
2. Line a 9-inch baking dish with parchment, or aluminum foil.
3. Transfer to a saucepan, and add an equivalent amount of sugar. Stir the quince and sugar, cooking at a simmer, until it begins to thicken and pull away from the pan.
4. Transfer to the prepared baking dish, smoothing the top. Cool completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
5. Remove from the refrigerator, using a sharp knife, cut the quince into 2 to 3-inch squares.
6. Wrap well in waxed paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 months.
7. Quince paste or membrillo is traditionally served with Manchego cheese, but it is delicious with other salty cheeses, like Pecorino, Asiago, and blue cheeses.

Lamb and Quince Tagine
Serves 6
Tagine is a typical Moroccan dish made in a conical topped vessel. You can replicate it in a Dutch oven or your slow cooker. This one incorporates the quince, which turn sweet and lend a delicious flavor to the stew.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3 pounds lamb stew meat (preferably shoulder)
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 quince, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 wedges
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
2 tablespoons honey
One 14.5-ounce can chopped tomatoes, and their juice
Golden raisins
Italian parsley
1. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil with the salt, pepper, ground ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and nutmeg. Rub over the lamb, coating it thoroughly. (you can refrigerate the lamb overnight before proceeding)
2. In a large Dutch oven, heat the remaining olive oil and brown the meat, a few pieces at a time, to avoid crowding.
3. Remove the meat from the Dutch oven, and add the onion and quince, sautéing, until the onion begins to soften.
4. In a small bowl, combine the warm water with the saffron, and allow to bloom.
5. Return the lamb to the Dutch oven; add the saffron water, honey, tomatoes, and raisins.
6. Bring to a boil, and simmer stirring occasionally, cooking for 2 hours until the lamb is tender.
7. Remove any excess fat from the top of the stew, taste for seasoning, and adjust. Add the parsley and serve with couscous.
8. Slow Cooker Savvy: Once you have browned the meat and vegetables, transfer the contents to the slow cooker. Deglaze the pan with the saffron water, and add the remaining ingredients. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours.

Golden Russet Balsamic Compote
Makes about 1 cup
The Italians use this kind of dish as a complement to salty cheeses, setting off an explosion of sweet and salty in your mouth. The compote will keep in the fridge for about 1 month, or you can freeze it. I don’t peel the pears, but you may peel them if you prefer. The basic recipe can be made with onions substituted for the pears, or apples substituted for the pears.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow or red onion
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
2 golden russet pears, scrubbed, cored and finely chopped
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar

1. In a large skillet, heat the butter and oil, and saute the onion and pepper flakes for 1 minute, until fragrant.
2. Add the pears and honey, and saute over medium high heat until the pears begin to color.
3. Add the balsamic vinegar, and simmer until the juice in the pan has almost evaporated.
4. Taste for seasoning, and add more vinegar if needed, or salt. Cool completely, and refrigerate for up to 1 month. Serve at room temperature.


Savory Warren Pear Tart
Makes one 10-inch tart
This is a stunning, and delicious first course, the Warren pears are a scrumptious pairing with the caramelized onions, balsamic vinegar, and creamy mascarpone. You can make this in stages, then put it together right before serving.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1cup yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 to 3 firm Warren pears, cored and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 prebaked 10-inch tart shell (see note)
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon honey
1 to 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme

1. In a large skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium high heat and saute the onions, salt and sugar, until the onions begin to caramelize, about 10 minutes.
2. Remove them from the pan, and add the 1 tablespoon of butter. Sauté the pears in the butter, sprinkling with sugar, salt, and lemon zest until the pears begin to soften and turn golden.
3. Spread the mascarpone over the cooled pie shell.
4. Spread the onions over the mascarpone; arrange the pears over the onions, fanning them from the center out.
5. Drizzle with honey, balsamic vinegar, and finish the tart by sprinkling with the thyme. Serve at room temperature.
Cook’s Note: Use your favorite Pate Brisee recipe, or blind bake a sheet of puff pastry in a tart pan with a removable bottom.
Pate Brisee

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1/4 cup ice water

1. Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor.
2. Add the cubed butter and pulse for about 5 seconds until well combined.
3. Pour in the ice water and pulse just until the dough forms a ball.
4. Cook’s Note: this can also be done by hand; use your fingertips to blend in the butter.
5. Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic. Freeze 1 hour or refrigerate overnight.
6. Preheat the oven to 400°F and coat the inside of a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom with non-stick cooking spray. Roll the dough onto a floured work surface to create a circle 1/8-inch thick.
7. Set a piece of buttered foil over the dough and fill with dried beans.
8. Leave the edges exposed.
9. Bake the tart dough for 8 minutes. Remove the foil with the dried beans and use a fork to prick the bottom of the tart.
10. Return the tart to the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until cooked through and lightly browned. Cool to room temperature.

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