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Category: Recipes
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Last weekend, I came across beautiful shrimp, live on ice at the farmers market, just caught in local waters. One of many seafoods available at the market, I couldn't pass these up, especially at only 5 bucks a pound, so I grabbed a couple pounds to enjoy throughout the weekend. One reason some people are hesitant to buy fresh shrimp is the preparation involved. While there is indeed a little work, it is more than worth the effort and often much more simple than many think. I typically start by gently popping off the head; it should come off easily if you hold the shrimp at the tail and simply fold back the head. Next, remove the digestive tract, often referred to as the vein. Simply make a shallow cut lengthwise down the curve of the shell, allowing the dark ribbon-like vein to be removed with a pointed utensil (although I usually pinch it out with my fingers). If the tail has been detached, the vein can be pinched at the tail end and pulled out completely with your fingers. Now remove the shell. The shrimp is then rinsed under cold water before being prepared.

Although the shrimp at the farmers markets are good to go, raw shrimp, in general, should be firm and have a mild odor. The shells should be translucent, free of blackened edges or black spots, a sign of quality loss. Once cooked, the meat should be firm and have no unpleasant odor; the color should be white with red or pink stripes.

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Kabocha Pumpkin Squares

October 23, 2008

Category: Recipes
Posted by: admin
With the first signs of fall in the air, the shorter days and cooler evenings bring with it an array of winter nullsquash, which are loaded with flavor and nutrients to get you through the season. From the more common butternut to the delicious Buttercup, there are quite a few varieties to try. But there is one in particular that I go back to time and time again: the Sunshine kabocha squash. Also called a Japanese pumpkin, it has a rich flavor and smooth texture when slowly roasted in the oven, making it an extremely versatile squash. Whether used to make soups, pies or simply roasted and seasoned with a little salt and pepper to be enjoyed as a side, you can't go wrong with this one. As this dense, small, round squash begins to roast in the oven, its bright orange skin begins to soften. The skin is so thin, in fact, that it can be eaten; the texture resembles the flesh.

This hearty fall and winter staple is loaded with essential nutrients to keep you healthy through the cooler times of the year. Due to its deep orange flesh, kabocha squash is loaded with the essential antioxidant beta-carotene, enough to supply almost 150 percent of the daily value in just 1 cup of cooked squash. Kabocha squash is also a very good source of dietary fiber and supplies vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, and a good amount of potassium.

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Baked Quince

October 16, 2008

Category: Recipes
Posted by: admin
As the local fall crops begin to arrive at weekly farmers markets, it's time to gear up for a new round of fresh produce to enjoy for the season. From persimmons, pomegranates and winter squash to an array of hearty greens, such as kale and bunches of rainbow chard, there are quite a few ingredients to work with this time of year. One of them, available only October through December, is quince, which you're probably less familiar with. At first glance, this member of the apple and pear family may resemble a cross between the two. But if you've ever tried to bite into one, you likely discovered a much different flavor. Cultivated for more than 4,000 years in Asia and the Mediterranean, quince serves its major function when cooked, where it takes on flavors similar to its relatives. Its acidity and astringent properties are too intense to be enjoyed raw, which is why the quince is mostly used in preserves, pies and sauces.

When selecting a quince at the market, ask the farmer to assist you. The quince varies in shape and size, but resembles what you may expect if a pear and apple were spliced together. When purchased fresh, it has a green to yellow skin that turns more yellow when ripe. It will, however, remain firm, so do not expect it to soften (if it does, discard). Any brown spotting on the outside is completely normal, and will not affect the flavor. Once home, the quince should be stored at room temperature on the counter until ripe. It can then be refrigerated, lasting two weeks or more.

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Category: Recipes
Posted by: admin
October is always an exciting month for me, as I am a major enthusiast of local seafood. Growing up in the Santa Barbara area, I have, over the years, gained a great appreciation for what our local waters have to offer and the hard work that goes into bringing the sea's fresh offerings to our kitchens. Just like with produce, getting your seafood as fresh as possible makes all the difference when it comes to quality and results. Local fishermen J.R. Gorgita, Sam Shrout and Bernard Friedman regularly supply the Saturday farmers market in Santa Barbara, bringing in their freshly caught goods.

This month marks the opening of lobster and shrimp season. Also in the mix this time of year are freshly harvested local mussels, brought in weekly by Mr. Friedman. I tried these mussels for the first time last weekend and they were, without a doubt, the best I'd ever tried. Unbelievably tender for mussels and loaded with natural flavor, these will regularly be on my shopping list.

Fresh mussels are quite nutritious. While they do contain cholesterol, they are packed with protein and iron and contain hearty amounts of vitamins C and A and calcium.

Mussels, which may be cream to dark orange in color, are amazingly sweet and are usually steamed and served in their deep black shells, baked with a crumb topping or used in salads. But they're also great when served over thin pasta noodles and topped with a garlic, lemon grass and heirloom tomato sauce.

Sam Edelman is general manager of the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market Association. His column appears every Thursday. E-mail him at food@newspress.com.

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Category: Recipes
Posted by: admin
by Sam Edelman

Before heading on a quick trip up to the Yosemite Valley last weekend, I decided to hit the farmers market to stock up on some healthy ingredients and a couple bottles of local wine to take along. While it is nice to eat out when on a short vacation, staying at a place where you have access to a kitchenette can save money and allow you to continue making nutritious home-cooked meals. I wanted to get items for my trip that would travel well and provide a great mix of flavors. As I passed by the Her Family Farm stand, I saw the first sweet potatoes of the season piled high on their table. Along with some sweet yellow onions, hot and sweet peppers, bok choy and a head of garlic, a great meal was not far off. I decided to hold off on the main protein source until I hit the mountain, just in case I was able to catch a trout or two in the river (no luck, so I decided to get a pack of pork chops from the local market).

Sweet potatoes are a versatile ingredient that go great with fish, chicken, pork or beef. They are regularly harvested this time of year. There are two main types of sweet potatoes you will find at the farmers markets and local grocery stores: yellow and orange. You are probably most familiar with the orange. They are often referred to as yams, although a true yam (botanical family Dioscoreaceae) is a large (up to 100 pounds) root vegetable grown in Africa and Asia and rarely seen in the western world.

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