How To Make (And Eat) A Perfect Steamed Artichoke

by | Apr 10, 2013
Perfect Steamed Artichoke

Perfect Steamed Artichoke

A perfect artichoke can be elusive. If it’s undercooked, it’ll be tough and stringy. If it’s overcooked, slimy and mushy. When it’s perfect it will be silky, creamy and hold together well.

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Farmers Market Update: Cherries, Fava Beans & Lamb Bacon

by | Apr 24, 2011
Artichokes

Artichokes

Huge thanks to my wonderful boyfriend today for stepping up and covering this week’s farmers market while I was home sick. But boy am I sad I missed it.

First Cherries

First Cherries

This week two of my favorite spring treats made their appearance: cherries and fava beans.

Fava Beans

Fava Beans

And though I’ve always known spring is the best time for lamb, I never dreamed of discovering lamb bacon. LAMB BACON! Holy crap is this stuff good.

Lamb Bacon

Lamb Bacon

Since I wasn’t there I don’t have much more to report. Check out the rest of Kevin’s photos below.

Leeks

Leeks

Asian Pears

Asian Pears

Blood Oranges

Blood Oranges

Daikon

Daikon

Strawberries

Strawberries

Green Garlic

Green Garlic

Sugar Cane

Sugar Cane

Ruby Chard

Ruby Chard

Today’s purchases:

Is your spring market open yet?

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Farmers Market Update: Peas and Carrots

by | Apr 10, 2011
Beautiful Carrots

Beautiful Carrots

If you ever wondered why Forrest Gump thought peas and carrots went so well together, it must have been because he loves springtime.

Sugar Snap Peas

Sugar Snap Peas

The reason we think most foods go together, in fact, is because they tend to be in season around the same time and traditional recipes put them together.

Cute Asparagus

Cute Asparagus

But it turns out lot of things go well with carrots. Their sweetness and crunch is a wonderful contrast to many of my favorite spring treats, like spinach, asparagus and collards.

Collards, Potatoes & Asparagus

Collards, Potatoes & Asparagus

As I mentioned last week, chard is fantastic right now as well. These red and white Swiss chard bunches were so bright I actually had to turn down the saturation in Photoshop, which most photogs know is almost never done on food photos. The pink was just blinding.

Beautiful Chard

Beautiful Chard

It’s also a great time to get beets, fennel, lettuces, artichokes, herbs and other vegetables.

Red Beets

Red Beets

Hearts of Romaine

Hearts of Romaine

Spring Artichokes

Spring Artichokes

Not always associated with spring, but a seasonal treat nonetheless are fresh walnuts and mushrooms.

Walnuts In Shell

Walnuts In Shell

Trumpet Mushrooms

Trumpet Mushrooms

I’m still waiting for the spring fruits to appear. Though a few strawberries have popped up here and there, they haven’t looked good enough to buy yet. So while I’m waiting, we’re still eating up the delicious oranges, mandarins, pomelo and tangelos while we can.

Golden Nuggets

Golden Nuggets

Finally, if you’re into lilacs (the best smelling flowers ever), this is the most lovely season I’ve seen in years.

Lilacs

Lilacs

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: SF Snow Day

by | Feb 27, 2011
Arugula Blossoms

Arugula Blossoms

Somewhere I heard a rumor that SF was supposed to have its first snow in 35 years this weekend. This struck me as odd for a few reasons. First, I’ve lived here 14 years and it has snowed at least twice. Second, though it is very cold, it’s amazingly beautiful outside.

Spring Leeks

Spring Leeks

Not surprisingly, instead of snow today it was one of the most beautiful farmers market days of the year. +1 global warming.

Spring Radishes

Spring Radishes

In fact, the sun was so bright I could barely capture any decent photos. The long shadows and high contrasts that come with sunshine are usually buffered by the sky in foggy SF. Not today!

Arugula

Arugula

But the good news is that spring is everywhere. I think what I’m most excited about is all the delicate salad greens. As much as I enjoy the kale and cabbage we’ve had the past couple months, it hurts my soul to go too long without fresh spinach, arugula and treviso.

Treviso

Treviso

If you aren’t familiar with treviso, it is a bitter green (sometimes purple) similar to radicchio. And today at Capay Organics it happened to look like a bunch of roses.

Artichokes

Artichokes

And speaking of vegetables that look like flowers, the artichokes are also looking fantastic. I didn’t get any this time, but will have my eyes out for them next week.

Kale and Chard

Kale and Chard

Of course I also stocked up on my obligatory kale and cabbages. They were just too beautiful to ignore, and I know this is the best time of year (especially for the cabbages).

Pretty Cabbages

Pretty Cabbages

The best part of all? Winter and spring vegetables are some of the most affordable of the year. Since a few people have asked about cost I’ve started keeping better track of the money I spend at the market. For the second time in a row, I came in under $20.

Today’s purchases:

Market quote of the day: “Yep, every house needs limes. Especially on weekends.”

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Farmers Market Update: Fleet Week

by | Oct 10, 2010
Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco is a zoo this weekend, but it’s awesome. It’s Fleet Week, which means we have the Blue Angels buzzing over our heads several times a day. And the weather couldn’t be better to hang out on rooftops and watch the action.

Because we are in the middle of changing seasons, the farmers market is a new adventure every week. As summer produce wanes, autumn produce is ramping up. Some of the new items will last all winter, and others are only around a few weeks during the interim.

Pumpkins and Tomatoes

Pumpkins and Tomatoes

White pomegranates are a special treat only around for a couple weeks this time of year. They are sweeter and their pink, translucent seeds are softer than the more typical red pomegranates. Definitely try one if you get the opportunity.

Shin Li Asian Pears

Shin Li Asian Pears

White Pomegranates

White Pomegranates

Asian pears are another temporary item at the market. They’re delicate, watery flesh and subtle flavor make them easy to over look, but it’s fun to bring a few different varietals home and experiment with their unique flavors while you have the chance.

Organic Quince

Organic Quince

Fresh Chestnuts

Fresh Chestnuts

Chestnuts and quince will also be around for a short time and are fun to experiment with. I also saw persimmons for the first time this week.

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

First Persimmons

First Persimmons

At this time of year though, my favorite foods are still the late summer produce. I can’t get enough tomatoes and peppers. I adore them. And they pair so beautifully with fresh herbs and almost anything.

Fresh Herbs

Fresh Herbs

Hot Peppers

Hot Peppers

And let’s not forget about vegetables. It’s last call on winter squash and eggplant. But you can also find fall favorites like brussels sprouts and artichokes.

Artichokes

Artichokes

Baby Brussels Sprouts

Baby Brussels Sprouts

Also notable is that Warren pears are now available at Frog Hollow, and you can pick up some fresh whole wheat tortillas at Massa Organics.

Whole Wheat Tortillas

Whole Wheat Tortillas

Warren Pears

Warren Pears

I’m leaving for Hawaii early this week so I only picked up some white pomegranates and padron peppers.

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Farmers Market Update: April Showers

by | Apr 11, 2010
Asparagus and Radishes

Asparagus and Radishes

I made a San Francisco rookie mistake today at the farmers market.

Yesterday was so incredibly beautiful I didn’t think it was possible we could have rain today. I was wrong and should have known better.

Completely unprepared, I found myself at the farmers market in the rain with no umbrella, a light hoodless jacket and tiny little non-waterproof shoes. Consequently, I didn’t feel much like lingering and did most of my purchases at just a few farms.

But despite my quickness to depart, I did notice the arrival of fava beans this week. Exciting!

First Fava Beans

First Fava Beans

Another rookie mistake I made was not showing up early enough to get the good strawberries. Anyone who visits the market regularly knows that the most special items tend to be gone by 9am. This morning I was told my strawberries were gone by 8:30. When the weather gets warmer there will be strawberries by the truck load, but until then the early bird catches the worm.

But I didn’t miss out completely. The artichokes I bought last week were so mind blowing that I had to get them again. I also noticed that collard greens are looking particularly tasty.

Collard Greens

Collard Greens

Small Artichokes

Small Artichokes

And though radishes have been around for a few weeks, they are just now starting to look really beautiful.

Carrots have also been impressing me the past few weeks. Every time I eat one I think with pity about all the kids growing up thinking that those flavorless bagged “baby carrots” are what vegetables really taste like. The real thing is as sweet as candy.

Adorable Carrots

Adorable Carrots

This week I finally broke down and bought an heirloom tomato. I’ve been putting this moment off knowing they wouldn’t be quite good yet. But these are starting to look pretty awesome, so I took the plunge. It was good, but not great.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

Fresh eggs are not to be missed this time of year. Even if you cannot afford to eat them regularly, I recommend heading to the farmers market and picking some up at least once. You’ll be amazed. Use them to make a special brunch. (Pro tip: Try them with a sprinkle of smoked paprika)

Meyer Lemons

Meyer Lemons

Eatwell Eggs

Eatwell Eggs

You should also stock up on Meyer lemons while you have the chance.

And though these are things I didn’t actually buy, they are great examples of why I love my farmers market so much. Purple potatoes and low sugar jam FTW!

Very Low Sugar Jam

Very Low Sugar Jam

Purple Potatoes

Purple Potatoes

Today’s Purchases:

Is it spring for you yet?

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Farmers Market Update: Chard Obsessed

by | Apr 4, 2010
Chard

Chard

I had no idea I loved chard as much as I apparently do. When I got home from the farmers market and browsed through my photos, about half of them were pictures of chard.

Organic Chard

Organic Chard

Ruby Chard

Ruby Chard

Is that weird?

I think the attraction was the rainbow of colors that to me is so representative of springtime. And nothing is more colorful than rainbow chard.

Ok, the beets were pretty beautiful too.

Colorful Beets

Colorful Beets

Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard

I love being inspired by vegetables.

The biggest news from the market today was the appearance of heirloom tomatoes. Though I wasn’t quite ready to commit to buying them, I’m very excited about the coming weeks as their flavor develops.

Organic Strawberries

Organic Strawberries

First Heirloom Tomatoes

First Heirloom Tomatoes

I did take the plunge and purchase some strawberries this week, however. I’m a huge fan of the berries at Dirty Girl Produce, and they still had a few baskets left when I got there. But these berries at Swanson Berry Farm looked pretty tasty as well.

Avocados, artichokes and celery also caught my attention this week. I stocked up on baby artichokes for good measure.

Organic Celery

Organic Celery

Organic Artichokes

Organic Artichokes

It is also a great time to get salad greens. A few vendors are carrying miner’s lettuce with these cool Alice-In-Wonderland-looking leaves. And I’m always drawn to the adorable savoy cabbages.

Baby Savoy Cabbage

Baby Savoy Cabbage

Miner's Lettuce

Miner's Lettuce

Be sure you get your fill of citrus in the coming weeks, since it will be disappearing before you know it. And don’t forget the green garlic and onions.

Baby Onions

Baby Onions

Today’s purchases:

Were you inspired by vegetables this week?

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Farmers Market Update: Spring Equinox

by | Mar 21, 2010
Cioggia Beets

Cioggia Beets

Last week we sprung ahead and this weekend marks the official spring equinox. Woohoo!

We have had absolutely spectacular weather here in San Francisco, which could not feel better after the months of rain we endured.

To celebrate I got myself some morel mushrooms, one of the true delicacies of springtime. Excitement is an understatement.

Organic Chard

Organic Chard

Morel Mushrooms

Morel Mushrooms

Another vegetable I couldn’t resist this afternoon were the beets. I am not particularly in the mood for beets, but they were everywhere and looked beautiful. I got one bunch of the lovely white and pink striped cioggia beets and one standard red bunch. Naturally I will use both the roots and the leaves.

Beet greens are an awesome substitute for chard or spinach. If you’ve never tried them I highly recommend it.

Beyond beets, other root vegetables including carrots, celery root and onions are in season and as sweet as they will be all year.

Shallots

Shallots

Carrots, Fennel & Celery Root

Carrots, Fennel & Celery Root

I’m also really enjoying the delicate little broccoli I’ve been finding lately. These little guys are sweeter and more tender than the big broccoli crowns. I can’t go a week without getting a bag full. You can also find this Italian variety, broccoli di Ciccio (the sign is spelled wrong). The flowers, of course, are edible.

Broccoli di Ciccio

Broccoli di Ciccio

Artichokes are something else you shouldn’t miss this time of year. The big ones are great, but I also love to cook up some baby artichokes with leeks and walnuts as a side dish or pasta topping.

Leeks

Leeks

Large Organic Artichokes

Large Organic Artichokes

And no talk of springtime is complete without mentioning asparagus. I have a wonderful recipe for balsamic asparagus and carrots. It’s very simple and incredibly delicious.

Asparagus

Asparagus

Finally, don’t forget about all the wonderful citrus, it will be disappearing in the coming weeks.

Kumquats

Kumquats

Navel Oranges

Navel Oranges

Today’s purchases:

Cutest Pug Ever

Cutest Pug Ever

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Farmers Market Update: Two Seasons Collide

by | Mar 7, 2010
Tangelos

Tangelos

The transition from winter to spring is one of the most dramatic season changes of the entire year, with a virtual explosion in both the variety and amount of amazing produce from local farms. The next few weeks will be particularly special, since we can now get the best of winter and the delicacy of spring into the same meal.

Stop and think about that for a minute.

Crab season is ending and asparagus season has just begun. If you’ve never paired these two foods together, you are in for a serious treat. You can get Meyer lemons right now too, which are quite possibly the single most impressive farmers market find during the winter. I swear these lemons are like candy.

Thumbalina Carrots

Thumbalina Carrots

Haas Avocados

Haas Avocados

Citrus in general is a fantastic addition to the salads you can now make with spring greens and lettuces. While you’re at it, go ahead and sprinkle some arugula flowers on there and upgrade a dinner salad into something spectacular. The fresh almonds and walnuts available right now are another fantastic addition.

Fresh Almond Milk

Fresh Almond Milk

Arugula Flowers

Arugula Flowers

The tangelos pictured above are a late winter citrus fruit that has a much more deep and complex flavor than your standard orange. Kumquats just appeared today, which are delicious raw (whole) or cooked (try them with duck).

Organic Artichokes

Organic Artichokes

First Kumquats

First Kumquats

A few other things you should be looking out for this time of year are artichokes, carrots, beets, chard, fennel, leeks, celery root (celeriac) and fresh horseradish. I have also been finding flowering versions of more common vegetables, like kale.

Horseradish Root

Horseradish Root

Sorry to those of you who live in places where spring still hasn’t arrived. But you still have all this to look forward to!!

Celeriac

Celeriac

Kale Flowers

Kale Flowers

What are you finding this time of year?

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: First Asparagus!

by | Feb 21, 2010
First Asparagus

First Asparagus

I guess spring is here for real. Behold: asparagus!

And it didn’t come alone.

Every week I’m seeing more spring produce popping up as if it were, um, springtime.

Cardoons

Cardoons

Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads are baby fern shoots that show up at Far West Fungi for a few weeks or so every spring. Cardoons–a unique and unwieldy vegetable–are also a rare seasonal find. Neither of these make my top 5 vegetables list, but they are fun to play around with if you are feeling adventurous.

I admit I’m a little more excited about the artichokes that are appearing everywhere. The past few years I’ve fallen in love with the baby ones, but I enjoy artichokes of all sizes. And it looks like I’m not the only one.

Artichoke Slug

Artichoke Slug

Cauliflower is peaking in season right now and trust me, you don’t want to miss it. Try roasting cauliflower florets at about 450 degrees with a little olive oil, sea salt, curry powder and coriander. Cover it with foil for the first 15 minutes, then remove the foil and let it brown until tender. Stir every 10 minutes or so. So easy and ridiculously tasty.

You can also find cauliflower’s prettier and more delicate cousin, romanesco.

Romanesco

Romanesco

Cauliflowers

Cauliflowers

Eggs are also easier to find at the farmers market this time of year. Right now I am smitten with the ones at Marin Sun Farms. They aren’t cheap, but they will blow you away. And you won’t get Salmonella.

Blood Oranges

Blood Oranges

Marin Sun Farms Eggs

Marin Sun Farms Eggs

The citrus season is also booming. Blood oranges and navels are wonderful right now, while the cute little clementines are almost gone. Also be sure to grab some Meyer lemons to squeeze on your asparagus and artichokes.

And root vegetables are still awesome.

Beautiful Turnips

Beautiful Turnips

Is it becoming springtime at your market?

Today’s purchases:

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