Friday, August 27, 2010

Farmer Al, a Dreary Day, and Peaches

Market Day: August 25
At this week's market: peaches, apples, pears, plums, blueberries, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers (hot and sweet), zucchini, summer squash, and all sorts of greens

It was rainy and chilly at this week's Davis Square Farmers' Market; the summery piles of peaches and eggplants looked incongruous in the weather. The market had actually flooded, earlier in the day, and while the water had gone down by the time I got there, everyone seemed a little beleaguered. The chill had me planning a hearty soup, and I was drawn to the piles of squash on Farmer Al's table.

I've been curious about Farmer Al for a while now; usually, he oversees his stand next to a cheerfully-painted sign that reads "The Calaloo Man." I introduced myself, and asked about his squash. "It's buttercup," he said, in his lilting accent. "Buttercup, buttercup, where have you been? I've been to London to look at the queen." He also had some shiny red peppers which came to a point; I asked them if they were sweet, and he said "Yes! They are delectable and delicious." All of his produce is organically grown, and the peppers and yellow tomatoes I bought were indeed delectable and delicious. Before I left, I asked him if I could take his picture. He looked dubious. His face, he told me, had a problem with cameras; it broke them. I didn't believe him, and he very kindly obliged me by taking off his orange hat, putting on his baseball cap, and smiling. Here he is in the rain.

In case you're worried, my camera doesn't appear to have broken yet. Perhaps it's a delayed effect.

Meanwhile, sunny summer has reappeared, and I'm no longer craving squash soup. Chef Robert offers a more seasonally-appropriate recipe, perfect for impressing your friends and savoring the summer peaches.

Recipe: Brule├ęd Kimball Fruit Farm Peach with Minted Whipped Cream and Sexy Aged Balsamic Vinegar
This is more of a parlor trick than a recipe. This time of the year, with the fresh ingredients arriving from the farm daily, less is more. The one piece of specialty equipment that you'll need is a blow torch. If you don't have one handy you can just grill the peaches on a hot grill, just enough to get a slight char on the outside.

2 Ripe Kimball Fruit Farm Peaches
4 tablespoons spoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pint High Lawn Heavy Cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/3 cup aged balsamic vinegar (make sure to get some that is aged at least five years; you can find it at Russo's)

Cut the peaches in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Make a small cut on the skin side so that the peach sits flesh side up on a small dessert plate. Mix the sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle an even layer on to the flesh of the peach. Brulee the top of the peach with the blow torch until dark brown (or grill it, flesh-side down, on a hot grill until it is dark brown.) Allow it to cool for a few minutes. Meanwhile, whip the very cold cream with a whisk to the consistency of whipped cream. Fold in the mint and vanilla, then put a generous scoop on top of each peach. Drizzle the balsamic on top of the peach and in a nice ring around the on the plate.

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