Suzen and I are in Portland, Oregon visiting relatives. We met with an old friend, Delores Custer, author of the fabled Food Styling book. Delores took us on a grand tour of the Saturday farmers market in the South Park Blocks of downtown Portland.
Now, I do have a picture of Suzen and Delores and I will put in in the top of this post when I figure out how to do that with my little iPad here.
In the meantime, you should know that the Saturday market is a rich mixture of fresh food ready to prepare at home, vendors cooking up gems for you to eat on the spot, buskers playing all kinds of music, some acappella rap, and a very tall and very lean and very adept juggler.
There are well over a hundred vendors here each Saturday. As summer just edges into the Pacific Northwest, berries are abundant. People buy them by the flat, to make their own jams and jellies. But there are excellent vendors who work magic with those berries and, what else, heat.
I remembered one vendor from my last visit six years ago, but they weren’t in the old location. How happy I was to turn a corner and find Rose City Pepperheads there with there table arranged from left to right, mild to hot to oh so intensely wonderful.
When we left New York, our bags weighed 47.5 pounds each, so we really have to be careful about buying another 20 pounds of stuff to take home. But, buy we did. The Sizzlin’ Strawberry is labeled as a barbeque, dipping, and cooking jelly. Just eat it. There is heat from some habeneros and wonderful sweet berry flavor from Oregon strawberries.
I know that I usually write about “make it yourself.” But there are things you just cannot make better than some experts. Rose City Pepperheads is one of those classy firms that makes wonderful products who deserve your support.
Go to rosecitypepperheads.com for recipes and to order.
There were four other vendors of distinction at the Saturday market. I fill you in over the course of this coming week. The great thing about the farmers markets across the country is the discovery experience for you, your family, and your friends. You may find a gem that can only, and will only, be found at that one stand. Or you may discover a vendor who is clearly going to expand, with their product becoming widely available regionally or even locally. It may be a guessing game about who will grow and how much, but the tasting game is always a win-win, for you and for that vendor who is putting heart and soul into their very personal creation.
Yes, that was Suzen earlier today on SiriusXM Channel 110. That’s the Martha Stewart Living channel. The 3PM cooking slot was being hosted by our good friend Michele Scicolone. Michele is famous for her extraordinary array of cookbooks. Mostly Italian, it’s true, but The French Slow Cooker is a best seller and a “best eater” too.
Suzen was on the show today to answer questions about home cooking parties. How do you plan for a party, what to serve, how many people can you have, what to drink, … Michele and the listeners who called in had lots of questions. For the topic of what to serve, Suzen presented this recipe, a favorite for the bridal shower and bachelorette events she has weekly at Cooking by the Book.
Already since the show today we’ve had calls to put the recipe on this blog, and we are happy to post it now. Suzen loves this salad with its mixture of sweet and sour and that adornment of roasted strawberries. Be sure to cool those strawberries before placing on the spinach — the idea here is not to have wilted spinach.
Baby Spinach Salad with Roasted Strawberries
Yield: Serves 8
- 2 pints large strawberries
- 2 pints large strawberries
- 1tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1½ teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup fresh or frozen orange concentrate
- 4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
- ¾ cup slivered or sliced almonds
- 9 cups baby spinach
- 5 ounces pecorino Romano cheese, shaved
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Using a paring knife, hull the strawberries and cut then in half lengthwise. Spread the berries on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar, ¼ teaspoon of the salt and several grinds of pepper. Toss to coat the berries evenly, then spread them out again. Roast until softened, about 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, gently sprinkle with the chopped tarragon
In a small nonreactive bowl, whisk together the vinegar, orange juice, the 1 tablespoon sugar, ¾ teaspoon of the salt and several grinds of pepper until the sugar dissolves. Slowly whisk in the remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil until well blended to make vinaigrette. Taste and adjust the seasonings
In a small bowl, stir together the almonds and ¼ teaspoon of the salt. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper. Whisk the vinaigrette to recombine, drizzle about 1/3, less or more, over the spinach and toss well (reserving any remaining for another use). Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Divide the dressed spinach evenly among individual plates, top each serving with an equal amount of the roasted strawberries, sprinkle with the almonds and cheese. Serve immediately.
Source: Adapted from New Flavor for Salads by Dana Cheney