by Amelia Saltsman
A mere decade ago at markets in much of the country, you were lucky to find anything more than green beans, mushrooms, broccoli, and iceberg lettuce. How times have changed! Open-air farmers' markets are now everywhere, offering shoppers a cornucopia of locally harvested fresh fruits and vegetables. But with all these markets come a lot of questions. What is the difference between white and green zucchini? What are amaranth, sapote, and ramps? How do you know when a fruit or vegetable is fully ripe?
The answers to these and countless other questions can be found in The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook: Seasonal Foods, Simple Recipes, and Stories from the Market and Farm by Amelia Saltsman. Using one market as a lens, The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook tells the story of farmers' markets everywhere and provides more than 100 recipes, so home cooks around the country can create flavorful, uncomplicated dishes using ingredients found at their local markets.
The Santa Monica Farmers' Market, in the beach-side city close to LA, has long inspired renowned chefs and home cooks with its abundant array of produce year-round. And no one knows this market better than Santa Monica-based writer and cooking instructor Amelia Saltsman. Having shopped the market's stands, talked with its farmers, and cooked its magnificent wares for more than 20 years, Amelia now brings her vast knowledge and experience together in The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook.
"There are now more than 3,000 certified farmers' markets across the country. This remarkable increase reflects our growing desire for local ingredients," says Amelia. "And as a result, the focus is shifting from recipe-driven dishes to meals where hours-old seasonal ingredients are the stars, both at home and in restaurants. In essence, farmers' markets have changed the way farmers grow food and the way chefs and home cooks think about food, shop, cook, and eat."
The recipes in the book are organized into traditional sections—Starters, Soups, Salads, Sides, Mains, and Desserts—and clearly labeled with the seasons in which you are most likely to find their ingredients. In the back of the book, readers will find a cross-referenced index that categorizes the recipes by season, making it easy to find the perfect dish for any time of the year. Looking to remove the intimidation factor created by the often overwhelming variety of produce offered by local markets, Amelia offers a seasonal guide to fruits and vegetables and countless tips on how to shop, select, and store the freshest items. Readers will also find pages on Useful Plant Terms, Basic Kitchen Techniques, Handy Pantry Items, and Helpful Kitchen Tools.
Some of the tempting recipes found in The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook include:
"The dishes I have provided in my cookbook are recipes I have been inspired to cook for my family," says Amelia. "My husband, who used to think he didn't like beets, now asks for seconds. Our three children grew up thinking kale and cauliflower were fine things. And now our granddaughter smacks her lips for collards and chard and shows an appreciation for lush red strawberries that reassures me a taste memory for excellence will carry over to the next generation."
No matter where you live or the time of year, The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook will surely send you toward your local farmers' market, in search of its story and many delicious treasures.
Writer, cooking teacher, and television host Amelia Saltsman is passionate about getting everyone into the kitchen. As host and producer of Fresh From the Farmers' Market—currently airing on cable in Los Angeles—Amelia shows viewers how to shop for both common and uncommon ingredients and how to use them in exciting, simple dishes full of bright flavors. She is a member of the California Certified Farmer's Market Advisory Committee and a frequent guest Los Angeles Public Radio, KCRW's "Good Food." A native of Southern California with an avid interest in culinary history, Amelia has written numerous food articles, many of which have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Oregonian, and National Geographic Traveler. She and her husband live in Santa Monica, California.
This page created October 2007
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