Friday, September 3, 2010

Signs of Autumn

Market Day: September 1
At this week's market: tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, raspberries, peaches, nectarines, apples, pears, all kinds of leafy greens, winter squashes

On a very hot day at the Davis Square Farmers' Market, I saw the first signs of fall. While the temperature was about 95 degrees, the calendar had turned to September, and it brought squash with it: I saw butternuts, red kuris, delicatas, acorn squash, and spaghetti squash.

Of course, despite these harbingers of winter, the market was still full of summer vegetables: Kimball Fruit Farm's tomatoes are still out in force, as are their raspberries and peaches. Enterprise Farm has a number of different kinds of melons, perfect for summer evenings. And Hanson Farm's zucchini are still petite and glowing. So there's still time to make some ratatouille and caponata as the summer winds down. And if the heat has you unable even to think of cooking, just slice up an heirloom tomato and sprinkle it with salt, or cut up a cantaloupe and serve it with ham. Before school starts and the temperature drops enough that those acorn squash look appealing, make sure to savor the last tastes of summer.
Chef Sam shares a recipe below that's perfect for the transition from summer to fall. Mushrooms are starting to appear in your local market, and this recipe makes a great vegetarian main dish from them. The recipe involves a little bit of resting time for the batter and some fancy cooking terms, so read it through before you try it. When you're done, you can impress all your friends with your tales of julienning fennel, sweating onions, and deglazing pans. Happy almost fall!

Recipe: Wild Mushroom and Fennel Crepe

Crepe Batter (makes 8-12)
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar

Crepe Filling (fills 8-12)
2 heads fennel
8 cups mushrooms, cut in half
4 small white onions
2-4 tsp chopped garlic
6 cups arugula or spinach
2/3 cup madeira
salt and pepper to taste

Crepe Batter:
Mix salt, sugar, and flour together and set aside.
Mix the eggs and milk together. Add this to the flour mixture, then gently fold in the clarified butter. Let this mixture rest for an hour or so to relax the gluten in the flour. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat, and pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the pan in a thin sheet, then cook through, about 1 minute per side. Set aside on parchment paper.

Core the fennel and reserve the fronds.
Julienne the onion and the fennel bulb.
Roughly chop the fronds of the fennel and reserve them.
Cut the mushrooms in half, but leave the small ones whole.
Finely chop the garlic.

Heat a tablespoon of butter in a large saute pan, then add the onions, fennel, salt and pepper, and sweat the onions and fennel. Add the garlic and mushrooms and gently saute them until they are just tender. Add the fennel fronds to the pan, and then deglaze the pan with the madeira. Add the arugula and spinach, toss them briefly, then remove the pan from the heat. Stuff the crepes with the filling, and serve topped with herbed creme fraiche.

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