Sunday, July 25, 2010

Local Love

This weekend's repast was brought to you by.....local farmers and vendors courtesy of the Excelsior Springs Farmer's Market and our new connection to the local markets; Fresh Connect KC. We have really reaped the epicurean rewards of local deliciousness this past week so allow me to break it all down for you. There will be recipes at the end of the post..

Keith helps organize and run the Excelsior Farmer's Market every week and we are always fortunate to get a few goodies from the week's offerings. This week, some delicious tomatoes from the market were cooked into a fresh Chipotle salsa. We used a Ball chipotle mix with the cooked tomatoes so no mystery here. We made a boatload in order to can for the winter....our first canning of the season.

Also, this week, Keith made the most delicious meatballs I'd ever had.......that's right, ever, and they were a Food Network recipe. My Italian friends are probably crying sacrilege as I speak but this is probably more a result of my not having enough experience with meatballs. These are the first the K-man has made and we were both duly impressed. The meatballs were an Alton Brown recipe and we served them with American Italian spaghetti (made in Excelsior Springs) with Aunt Angie's Spaghetti Sauce from Old World Italian Foods in Lee's Summit, MO (they were a vendor st the Missouri Wine Fest). We also toasted some of that gorgeous Garlic and Gorgonzola bread from Van Till Farms as well.

Tonight's grilling extravaganza introduces my new affiliation...Fresh Connect KC. These folks are an online grocery store and delivery service that features local organic food. Their website makes it ridiculously easy to connect with local growers and get their goods delivered right to your door. My first box arrived on Tuesday and although they had sent me an e-mail letting me know what the contents would be, there was still an element of Iron Chef to it and my mind drifts off:

Before I can open the box, I visualize my friend Kristy sailing through the air in a triple flip before landing in front of it, whipping out a long cigarette holder and hissing, "The mystery ingredient will be...." Then she contorts herself, screams "Wonder Twins Powers Activate!" and I open the box to discover the secret ingredient. After a loving preparation, I approach the judge's table to discover my friend Ronnie, martini in hand, balefully shaking his head and saying," I found the meal....unfortunate." Chairman Kristy dismisses me.

I'm whisked back to reality(I'm watching too much of the Iron and Top Chefs) and discover a box of fresh and delectable goodness....beautiful tomatoes, a honeydew melon, dark green cucumbers, a lovely head of Romaine, beautiful carrots and some luscious blackberries. I made a big, beauteous salad with the greens, carrots, tomatoes, and cucumbers. The tomatoes were sweet as candy, the carrots so deep in flavor and the greens so fresh it felt treasonous to add so much of a drop of dressing but a few touches of Greek vinaigrette mixed in well. The salad was summer on a plate. The melon was cut up with some watermelon to put in my daily smoothie.....Dr Oz's fiber-wonder drink of a banana, frozen blueberries, fiber powder, flax oil, yogurt and V-8 Lite Acai Juice. The melons helped make it the best tasting one yet.

We returned to the Food Network for two of our remaining dishes. We made the Neely's savory Sloppy Joe's and they were marvelous. To accompany these, we tried out Tyler Florence's Mexican Grilled Corn. Grilled corn on the cob brushed with mayo, fresh lime, grated Parmesan and chili powder. For dessert, we utilized Sally Schneider's A New Way To Cook and made Rustic Free-Form Tarts with the blackberries I received from Fresh Connect KC. We'd been craving Sloppy Joes and the Neely's spicy mix hit the spot. The corn was Andy's Candy peaches and cream corn from Nebraska and this was our first time at the corn-grilling rodeo. It was tasty as all get out and the toppings really set them off. Now, on to the tarts...

We elected to make the tart crust by hand and thus, made these a bit labor-intensive but in the end, holy crikey, were they deelish. The warm tart was well, tart and sweet and the crust flaky and light. Rustic and free-form is right as they are not the prettiest fact, I expected a couple of the more misshapen ones to call out," I am not an animal!" I believe we could've worked the crust a tad bit more to make them more attractive but the key word is rustic after all.

Each week, I'll be getting a box of fresh, local goodness from Fresh Connect KC and will blog whatever we cook with it. What will the mystery ingredients be next week? Check out Fresh Connect KC at

In the interest of space, I'll just provide links to the Food Network recipes...

For Alton Brown's Baked Meatballs or the Neely's Sloppy Joes or Tyler Florence's Mexican Grilled Corn, go to

Here's the recipe for the Rustic, Free-Form Blackberry Tart courtesy of A New Way To Cook, first for the handmade crust then the tarts:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, preferably non-aluminum
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch bits
  • 3 tablespoons regular or reduced-fat sour cream

To make the dough by hand: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter, and cut it into the flour with a pastry cutter or two knives until it resembles a very coarse meal. Alternatively, using a pinching motion, mix the butter into the flour with your fingers, then rub the butter and flour between the palms of both hands to blend it until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Add the sour cream and blend it in with the pastry cutter or a fork. Knead and squeeze the dough 7 or 8 times to incorporate any loose bits. Gather the dough together into a rough ball (it will be a coarse mass), flatten it into a 1-inch-thick disc, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before rolling.

The dough can be refrigerated, well wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. (I like to make a double or triple recipe and freeze part of the dough.) Defrost in the refrigerator for several hours before using.

Tart Recipe

In a small bowl, combine around three cups of blackberries ( or any berries ), 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 (optional) tablespoon framboise or kirsch and 1/4 cup of sugar.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

After dough has chilled at least 15 minutes, remove dough to sit out in room temperature for 15 minutes. Divide dough into eight parts. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough about 4 inches in diameter. Place each piece on a baking sheet and use 1/8 of the blackberry filling in each and fold the dough up around the filling (this is where I wasn't as decorative as I should have been). Bake for 15 minutes.


Linda C said...

Great post! Can you let me know about how you are canning your salsa? Our tomatoes are coming in hot and heavy. Thanks

Kristy said...

Uh, at almost 46 I think my triple flip days are over and you seriously need to get off the sauce man LOL! The tarts may not look like much but I bet they were tasty tasty. Plus, the key to a good crust is to NOT overwork the dough. Your pics are delicious as usual. Your resources are fantastic and you are fortunate to have them. We have the roadside stands here and the "homegrown" tomatoes have not been sweet in years. However my father discovered a "breed" of onion that is my absolute favorite. While everyone extolls the sweet flavor of the Vidalia, Daddy Dearest found one at an out of the way roadside stand called Candy and gave me a couple of them. Candy is the perfect nomer for this onion as you can literally eat it like candy. It is the sweetest onion I have ever chomped into. Still has a nice onion flavor but with non of the heartburn inducing side effects. If you see them you seriously have to try them out.

Confounded Cook said...

Will do, Linda....and Kristy, the onion sounds yummy.

Anonymous said...

There is no way I would deem that meal unfortunate. I'm hopped up on pain meds and eating pretzels and Cherrios. I can't have anything with an actual taste to it for a while. If anything, the meal is cruel for someone who would kill for his gogo juice.

Confounded Cook said...

Sorry, Kitten....think of the good drugs...

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