Farmer's market dinner ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

21 November 2008

Farmer's market dinner

Last weekend I went to the farmer's market and it was good.

You might say something like "Eileen, you were just living in California. How can the New York farmer's market compare to that?" Well. For one thing, the apples here are real, edible apples. You don't get decent apples in California. You do get boatloads of heirloom tomatoes, really cheap, tiny avocados, and all kinds of berries deep into non-berry season, but you don't get apples. For that matter, you don't get the good, frost-driven versions of any northern fruit or vegetable. It's a question of personal preference: are you warm-blooded or cold? I myself am cold-blooded, something the general population of California was at a complete loss to understand.

So I went to the farmer's market and got butternut squash and potatoes and mushrooms and tiny individual stalks of broccoli and beets and little onions and is that APPLE CIDER?

Ha ha! I haven't had real apple cider in four years. The best California can do is Martinelli's. Granted, Martinelli's is pretty good, but it's not real cider mill cider that you drink outside with an apple turnover and a long, twisted, crystal-sugared doughnut, or that you mull on the stove and serve in big mugs with nutmeg and cream.

I took all my booty home and proceeded to eat it.

Scalloped potatoes

potatoes (mine were redskin)
salt, pepper

Scalloped potatoes, aka dauphinoise, are the easiest thing ever.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Slice your potatoes into lots of thin slices. Some people, such as Nigel Slater, king of meat, will want you to peel the potatoes first. You can if you want; I just scrub mine. You can avoid rings of skin by cutting the potato in half before slicing.

Smash and peel a couple of cloves of garlic for every 3 or so potatoes, then slice them into almond-sliver slices.

Get out a reasonable casserole dish for your amount of potatoes. I was just making a little pan for me, so I used a pie plate. Pour a little cream (or milk; you can use milk) into the bottom of the pan and use a spatula or spoon to spread it around. Make sure there's some liquid over the entire surface. You could also butter the pan; it just needs some dairy or oil to keep the potatoes from sticking.

Put a single layer of potatoes into the pan. Tuck some bits of garlic into the cracks. Grind some pepper over the layer, add a splash of cream, then add another layer. Repeat until you are out of potatoes, finishing with a lot of cream or milk and a similar lot of pepper. You want the potatoes to be just barely covered by liquid. If you don't have enough cream, you can do what I did and add a splash or two of water to bring the liquid level halfway up the side of the pan. It's totally fine.

Add a couple bits of butter over the top of the pan and stick it into the oven. Give it 15 minutes before you check and turn it. I usually tilt the pan to get a little of the liquid onto the top layer at this point. Stick the pan back in the oven and give it another ten minutes before you check it again. You can tell it's done by the golden-brown crispy top.

Eat with

Awesome farmer's market broccoli.

nothing else unless you want some butter or salt

Oh man, this broccoli was so good. Tiny little individual blue-purple sprigs! Not a tough stalk in sight! I didn't even have to trim the leaves.

Bring a couple inches of water to boil in a saucepan with a lid. When it's boiling, you can either steam the broccoli over it or in it. My steamer insert doesn't fit the pan I used, so I just chucked my broccoli pieces into the pan. The water came about halfway up them. It was perfectly adequate for steaming.

Clap on the pan lid and steam for about three minutes. This is going to depend on the toughness of your broccoli, so give it a taste if you need to.

When the broccoli is brilliant emerald green, whip it out of the pan and run it under cold water to stop the cooking. Then put it on a plate, salt or butter it if you feel like it (I didn't), and serve it with the scalloped potatoes.

Eat it and feel better.

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