Friday, May 6, 2011

The Farmers Markets are Back! Garden Notes and A Delicious Frittata Recipe

Headhouse Farmers Market 2011
Happy Days are definitely here again as the Headhouse Farmers Market opened for the season on Sunday May 1st.  The above shows the gorgeous asparagus, rhubarb, and spring onions already available from one of the vendors.  We arrived almost right at opening at 10:00 AM and the Market was already crowded.  Not every vendor is set up yet, but more were present on an opening day than we had ever seen - and of course, there are no tomatoes or corn or peaches right now - but you can keep us going for quite awhile on that asparagus!!

The speciality stand offerings have also developed quite a bit in recent years.  Talula's Table and Garces Trading Co offered cheese spreads, smoked fish and meat - all sorts of lovey little treats - great appetizers or just delicious little finger food possibilities.  John and Kira's were there with their fabulous, locally made chocolates - and they aren't there in the really hot weather, so now is the time!  Otolith - a purveyor of line caught, wild fish and seafood was there and we have a lovely piece of wild Alaskan King Salmon in our freezer!  And of course, one of our favorite local cheese makers, Birchrun Hills was there and we snagged this delicious Blue - one of their best cheeses in my opinion. 
A Much Beloved, Local Blue

A number of other Markets will be opening around the city in the coming weeks - Philadelphia is very, very lucky to have such a network of Farmers Markets - providing fresh, seasonal and local foods to so many of our neighborhoods.  But they need our support to continue, so before you run in and purchase that 1,000 mile asparagus in the stupermarket, stop and find a place where you can purchase it from a local purveyor - the taste alone is worth it!!  It's also wonderful to be able to shop a few times during the week (there's always a market somewhere).  The food is fresher, it's fun and you avoid having to stuff a whole lot of products into your 'fridge from one huge shopping trip!

The Garden
We are very happy with the progress of our "mini - farm" and the rest of the garden so far this season.  The local rainfall and temperatures seem  to be working well for the growth cycle - fingers crossed.  We already have some peppers forming, our fava beans are getting tall and nice and stocky and I am pretty sure that we'll be eating some white radishes this weekend.  Our lettuces - all in pots by the way - have been delicious and a few days after we harvest some, we have lots of new growth.  That will end with the warmer weather of course, but right now, it is such a joy to go out the back door and "snip a salad" - well worth the work!  One suggestion:  if you haven't tried "Par-Cel"- and you enjoy flat italian parsely and love the flavor of celery (both are real big around our house) - you must get your hands on this herb.  We are growing it in 3 different places and using it in all sorts of ways.  The flavors of both italian parsely and celery come through in each little leaf - amazing and very versatile. Something different - introduced to us last year by our friends - (and the source of our wonderful farm fresh eggs) -  at Larken Springs Farm ( The Larken Spring guys found Par - Cel plants at one of their local Farmers Markets; I ordered our plants on line.

On the flowering end, what we are really enjoying currently are our Gerber Daisies - We have little pots all over the house of cut flowers from these gems.  They are quite prolific, a bit finicky (they don't like it too hot and they definitely don't like to get too dry), but the more you cut, the more they grow at this time of year.  Having your own cut flowers around the house can't be beat.  I bought our Gerber plants at Lowe's - they are good hardy plants.

A Recipe
Right now, as mentioned, it's lettuces, arugula, parsely, you know, lots of leafy greens, that are ready for eating in our garden.  Sometimes we cut too much and as homegrown lettuces don't last as long after they are harvested as those that have been sprayed with every chemical under the sun, we always try to come up with ways to use our greens up - even when they seem to be getting a bit wilty in our 'fridge.  This is a Frittata we put together last week from left over salad greens and just about everything else left over in our 'fridge that seemed like it would contribute.  Don't be shy about making Frittatas - they can be eaten warm or at room temperature, they travel well (good for lunches), and with a Bloody Mary they are perfect for Brunch and are delicious!

Il Moya Left Over Greens Frittata

This recipe is really open to your creativity and what you want to put in it - and what's in the 'fridge.
We used:

About 1 1/2 cups mixed greens - Mesculun, Simpson Lettuce, Arugula, some Par-Cel, Sorrel, and a tiny bit of Tarragon - tossed together and cleaned

6 large farm fresh eggs (they ARE the dish, so go for the gold!)

Sun Dried Tomatoes in olive oil - I had about 8 small ones on hand

We had some left over fiddle head ferns - so in they went too

1 small jalepeno pepper and a couple of spring onions

Extra virgin olive oil, salt, freshly ground pepper and freshly grated parmesan cheese

Chop the greens, the spring onions, fiddleheads, the sun dried tomatoes and as much of the small jalepeno as you'd like - toss that all together

Whip together the eggs, some salt and pepper and a little bit of milk or cream - just adds a touch of extra richness

Put a little of the olive oil and a pat or two of butter into a large non-stick skillet

Melt the butter and get the oil hot - toss the chopped mixture in for just a few seconds to warm the mixture; stir it around and spread it out over the pan surface

Pour over the seasoned egg and milk/cream mixture and swirl the pan so that the egg mixture covers to the edges of the pan

Cook over a medium fire until it just starts to set up and seems a bit firm in the middle and still a little bit loose around the edges; push the mixture away from the sides of the pan a bit with a spatula and go all the way around the edges with a tiny drizzle of the olive oil

Sprinkle the grated parmesan all over the top of the frittata

Put it under a broiler - no more than 6 inches from the fire - keep a close eye on it!  You only need a few seconds before it will start to be bubbly and brown on top.

Remove the pan from under the broiler - let it sit for a minute or two and then slide the frittata out onto a large plate or cutting board - that oil you drizzled around the edges will help with this

Cut it into wedges - serve warm or at room temperature
Wrap leftovers up in wax paper and store in 'fridge

Enjoy!!  That Bloody Mary would be the perfect accompaniement!!

Il Moya Left Over Greens Frittata
Enjoy this wonderful, re-energizing time of year.  Support the Markets, grow some of your own goodies, and share your adventures in local and seasonal cooking and eating!

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