Farmers’ Market memories
By Jody Stump
Like many of you, I was devastated when I heard about the Farmers’ Market crash. Wednesdays at the Promenade are a routine ritual in my life and it was a dumb stroke of luck that I was not there last week-I was on my way.
There was a camaraderie among the regulars, which makes it especially sad to realize that some will be missing this week and forever more. Would it be the mom who always smiled in passing on hot tips, like “Go try the apricots down by the AMC?” Or, the wonderfully baggy old man who would whisper with a wink and wide-eyed excitement that the berries are “just as good and cheaper” at the stall on 3rd Street.
My weekly menu planning has long started with a reconnaissance tour that gleaned as much from the shared intelligence of fellow shoppers as from what I saw, sampled and smelled, yet I never missed the Santa Barbara fish truck at 4th Street nor the Mussel Maiden at the opposite end of Arizona. I always stop at Redwood Farms cheese on 2nd and the bread vendors near Ocean. And, I relish the sweet pungency of ripe fruit and the visual feast of glistening produce. The market nourishes all our senses and, in doing so, it graces us with awareness that life is bountiful.
This season is especially generous-and, somehow that makes the losses more poignant. I plan to work out my sadness by making a dish with ingredients that take me to every corner of the mall. It’s a chance to say “hello” again, and “goodbye.”
When I was a child, I cooked as a child- great handfuls of anything good tossed in a pot then snatched from the stove before prudence would say the food was cooked. One of my specialties was bouillabaisse, genuine kitchen sink cuisine.
The recipe is long, but the principles are simple and it cooks quickly. Just mix a variety of firm-fleshed, finny fish with shellfish and add the freshest produce. With a tender baguette for dipping, it’s a memorable feast.
2 garlic heads, orange, bread
2 pounds leeks, lemon, 24 mussels, 2 red bell peppers, 8 heirloom tomatoes, 2 lbs clams or scallops, basil, 12 fingerling potatoes, 1 lb. shrimp, parsley, eggs, 3 small lobsters
Fennel bulb, celery. olive oil
6 pounds of fish – red snapper, sea bass, flounder, monkfish -avoid anything fatty like tuna. Ask the vendor for another 5 pounds of fish bones.
3 Tbs. olive oil
Leeks, cleaned and chopped
Celery, cleaned and chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 pepper, chopped
1/2 cup basil
Generous pinch of saffron
The fish bones
Orange rind, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
8 cups water
1. In a heavy pot, saut leeks, celery, peppers and garlic in oil until soft.
2. Add basil, saffron, fennel and fish pieces. Saut 5 minutes until fragrant. Stir in rind and squeeze in a tablespoon of juice.
3. Deglaze with the wine. Add water and bring to a boil. Simmer 1 hour, then strain through cheesecloth to remove the solids. Season with salt and white pepper.
1/4 cup olive oil
The tomatoes, peeled and chopped
The potatoes, peeled
The fish, chunked
Pinch of saffron
3 Tbs. Pernod (optional)
6 Tbs. parsley, minced
1. Saut tomatoes in oil until thick. Add broth and potatoes. Simmer until potatoes begin to yield.
2. Use your judgment adding the fish – you want each piece cooked until barely firm. Shellfish will be last and should cook 2 minutes, until mussels pop.
3. Using a slotted spoon, scoop fish into large soup bowls, apportioning as you see fit.
4. Add shellfish shells to the broth and boil 10 – 15 minutes. Add Pernod.
5. Pour strained broth over the fish and serve immediately with a dollop of rouille sprinkled with basil.
*NOTE: It’s easiest to buy lobster lightly steamed and cracked. Throw away the heads but use the chest and legs when boiling the broth. Scrub mussels in cold water and de-beard them before cooking.
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. orange juice
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup olive oil
Cayenne pepper to taste
1. Roast the pepper over an open flame until it is completely black. Steam in a paper bag. Slip off the skin. Seed and chop it.
2. In a food processor, form a paste from the pepper, garlic, tomato paste, juice and salt. Add the yolks. With the motor running, drizzle in oil until it thickens like mayonnaise. Season with cayenne.