Farmers Market Fun
One of my favorite things to do every Tuesday now is to go to the San Francisco farmers market to look for new seasonal ingredients to cook with, but also to make cocktails, syrups, shrubs etc. I went downtown in front of the Ferry Building and got my usual starting ritual: a cup of Blue Bottle Coffee. A brisk aired Tuesday morning and a cup of craft brewed coffee doesn’t get any better. I met some new people and picked up some fresh food. One of the people I met was this farmer Colin who sold me some stinging nettles and Tat Soi (which are very tasty). Paid $1 for all of that too which is just insane. You can’t get that anywhere! Then I went and bought a bunch of beets and rainbow carrots for dinner. Lastly I found some cheap lemongrass (6 shoots for $1.50) and some fennel. Now I knew I wanted to make a soup with stinging nettles. Ever since I had it at Coi, I had been wanting to make it. It’s definitely something you don’t want to touch, but it gets suprisingly tender and tasty once you simmer it down. I fell into some stinging nettles at my cabin when I was a kid, not the best feeling in the world. Next I knew I was going to use the carrots either in a salad or a veggie base for dinner. Now the lemongrass, beets and fennel I wasn’t sure to do with them. Did I just waste some more money on food I wasn’t going to eat? I had hoped not. I ended up raiding the fridge to see what other spices and food I could use and found some thyme that was starting to dry out.
I spent the next couple of hours making syrups for cocktails that I had been wanting to try out. I had to boil the beets for about 30 minutes to make them really soft. I drained the water and then peeled the beets and put them into my blender. I added a little bit of water and sugar and BAM! I made my first batch of beet syrup. The other syrups were fairly easy to make. I cut up 3 shoots of lemongrass and simmered them in sugar water for 15 minutes. Lemongrass syrup: done! Then I did the same with the fennel and thyme and had four syrups in total: beet, thyme, fennel and lemongrass. Here’s what the beet syrup came out like:
I played around a bit with the beet and lemongrass syrups the other day at work and came out with a great new cocktail. It’s made with Applejack, lemongrass syrup, beet syrup and some citrus. I’m calling it the Beet N’ Bruised.
With the rest of my food, I decided to cook a nice dinner for the family. I used Michael Mina’s book for the pork, but everything else was my creation. It came out perfect.
The Stinging nettles soup is cooked in chicken stock with some cream. There’s sauteed potato and red onion in it as well.
I took Choice Cut Pork Loin and wrapped each one in Pancetta. Seasoned them with salt and pepper and pan seared them on both sides and finished them in the oven. They came out very tender! I garnished the pork with a kumquat and jalapeno relish which adds the sweet and spicy element to the salt taste and texture of the pork.
The base was made of rainbow carrots that I cooked in a pan to soften up. Then I basted them in orange juice and carrot juice that I reduced down to a syrup.
Then I finished off the side dish with some Bulgar Wheat which I cooked in chicken stock.
Dessert was a Banana Tarte with carmel sauce and Maple custard. Both of which I actually made!