Sunday, November 27, 2011

Scenes from Central Market's Produce Dept

My job isn't so bad. I try foods from all over the world, talk to people all day and share my passion for food. So I can't complain tooo much. Everyday when I get to work the first thing I do is take a lap around produce to see whats new, taste a few things and get inspiration for my next meal

Calabaza and Chayote Squash are popular in Mexican cuisine. The Chayote stays pretty firm when cooked, I like to add it to chili. It has a large edible seed in the middle that is nutty and delicious and looks like a big ole pumpkin seed!
In the fall we have up to 7 or 8 varieties of eggplants! Just look at these beauties! Gorgeous
And in true TexMex style we have at least 30 varieties of fresh/dry peppers in produce.
A great view of the peppers
Some funny looking Trumpet mushrooms and colorful yellow chantrelles that we always have on hand.
Kiwano Horned Melons and Passion Fruit are both slimy green on the inside with seeds. The Kiwano has a flavor or cucumber mixed with kiwi. The Passion Fruit is best enjoyed when super wrinkly and shriveled. The inside is sweet-tart and musky.. and tastes somewhat like guava.

All kinds of good things here! From the top left clockwise are Yucca root, Tamarind pods, Horseradish root, Mung bean sprouts, Tumeric root, Rambutan, and Galangal root. I often wander into produce and eat the tamarind like candy. The pods are filled with seeds and an edible paste that is extremely tart and sweet. I also buy the tumeric often and use it in soups, stews and tea.

Dragon Fruit is so beautiful! Its expensive, but so much fun to eat. The flavor is like a cross between kiwi and pear.. and the inside is whitish pink with lots of tiny black seeds that look like poppy seeds. Medlar apples are pretty uncommon these days, they are usually cooked though you can eat them raw. They are soft on the inside with a winey cinnamony depth of flavor. They're great for preserves and chutneys.
The variegated pink lemons have yellow skins with green stripes and are entirely pink on the inside. The kaffir limes have an exotic flavor that are ideal for thai cuisine.. latelyIve been mixing them with pomegranate juice, gin and tonic. Yuzu citrus is highly sought after in the culinary world & is often used in sauces, marinades and dressings. Its flavor is like a mix of grapefruit and mandarin.
Strange citrus fruits start showing up in November and get more and more diverse through the winter. I get most excited about kumquats, finger limes and bergamot!
MMMmmm over a dozen types of pears.. my very favorite are the Taylor Gold.
In the winter and fall we have over 35 varieties of apples!! Some come in for a few hours and we never see them again! Did you know that you could eat a different apple every day for 18 years?!

It's surprise heirloom beauties like this that bring me the most joy. I become excited like a child when strolling through the produce dept and running into something like this.. baby purple brussel sprouts!

Happy Vegan Thanksgiving

Green Bean Casserole

Cashew Bechamel:
2 c water
2 oz dry porcini mushrooms
1 bay leaf
few sprigs parsley & thyme
several black peppercorns
1 head roasted garlic
2/3 c raw cashews
2T oil (olive)
2T flour (buckweat)

Cook everything in the water for an hour (with a lid or else it will reduce too much) besides the cashews, oil & flour. Strain the liquid from the solids and reserve the broth. Blend the broth with the cashews and set aside. Heat the oil in a pan and stir in the flour to make a roux. Stir the roux, for a couple minutes, until a dark paste forms then whisk in the broth. Continue to whisk until a thick sauce forms. Season to taste.

Butternut Squash
Cashew Bechamel

You want the bulk of the casserole to be greenbeans and mushrooms. I added the butternut for an seasonal twist on the classic, plus I wanted to have some extra to make a butternut gravy.

Roast the greenbeans and squash, lightly covered in oil with salt and pepper until soft. Toss with quartered mushrooms and bechamel and place in casserole dish and bake at 350 until mushrooms are soft. Top with homemade onion rings.

GF whole wheat bread
GF raisin pecan bread
veg broth
salt & pepper