I have mixed feelings about "Farmers' Markets". I understand the disney-esque attraction. You get to meet Farmer Brown up close. He and his family tell you about the wonders and tribulations of this year's growing season. And we all get to feel like we're not only helping a local farmer, but, because we've come to know the Farmers Brown, that we are now somehow part of the growing process. It's a regular "stick it to the man - get back to the land" fantasy.
But here's the thing. First, I have no real idea if Farmer Brown is a good guy. He tells me he's all organic and doesn't hire illegal immigrant labor, but how do I know? Maybe he fertilizes with the run-off from a nuclear power plant and has orphans chained to his corn stalks. Second, as I'm driving around it's amazing how often I find the same Farmer Brown selling his wares at Farmers' Markets all over the county. I don't begrudge FB making his living, it just takes some of the allure off when I think of his 16' diesel-belching truck making a 7-days-a-week loop to towns separated by as many as 30 miles. Bucolic carbon footprint indeed.
Then there's the issue of the choice. Due the inherent restrictions of the growing season, everyone has basically the same produce at the same time. You're not getting fresh corn in April unless Farmer Brown has had it brought up from Florida, which sort of defeats the purpose. Nope, you're getting it when it ripens. I understand that that's one of the attractions, produce fresh from the farm. It just means that the whole place is somewhat homogeneous by it's very design.
Anyway, SSSal likes going down there every week. I drop in once in awhile. The early tomatoes are starting to roll in; here's a recipe to have ready when they really start showing up, Tomato & Cheese Galette by Julia Child. SSSal says that it's a bit difficult if you're not used to working with doughs, but the results can't be argued with. Give it a try, even if you mess up, there's bound to be more tomatoes waiting at the market.
Tomato & Cheese Galette
from Baking With Julia, by Dorie Greenspan based on the work of Julia Child
The Dough Recipe makes enough for 2 Galettes.
3 TBSP sour cream (or yogurt or buttermilk)
1/3 cup (approx) ice water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
7 TBSP cold unsalted butter cut into 6 to 8 pieces
Stir the sour cream and cold water together in a small bowl; set aside. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and cornmeal in a food processor. Drop the butter pieces into the mixture and pulse until incorporated (the dough will form pea sized little balls).
With the machine running, add the sour cream/ice water mixture. Mix until the dough forms.
Remove the dough. Cut in half and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least two hours.
Tomato & Cheese Galette
1 portion Galette Dough, chilled
2 oz. Monterey Jack Cheese
2 oz. mozzarella, shredded
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
2 - 3 ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/4" slices
Pre-heat your oven at 400 degrees. Place the rack in the lower third of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Do this ahead of time, really, and have it right next to your rolling space.
Roll out the dough to approx an 11" circle, 1/8" thick. The dough is soft and difficult to work with - do your best and be speedy. You'll need to lift it up now and then and toss some flour under it and over the top. Roll the dough up around your rolling pin and unroll onto the prepared baking sheet.
Scatter the cheeses and basil (I like to add some freshly ground pepper at this point), onto the dough, leaving a 2"-3" border. Place the tomato slices atop the cheese forming concentric circles, with a slight overlap among the tomato slices. Fold the uncovered border of the dough up over the filling, allowing the dough to pleat as you lift it up and work your way around the galette. Go with it, it is meant to be rustic-looking and will pleat naturally as you go around the circle. Your second one will be better than the first!
Bake the galette for 35-40 minutes, until the dough is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and allow the pastry to cool for 10 minutes. Then slide the galette off the baking sheet onto the rack to cool further.
Serve at room temperature with fresh basil leaves as a garnish.
There you go. A great, pretty simple recipe to take advantage of summer's and your local farmers' market bounty. Until next time remember, you can do it, you can cook.
Now if I can just figure out how the Amish get to all these markets if they're against cars and trucks?