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The New Chesapeake Kitchen – Summer Market in Full Bloom

This post was originally posted on John's previous blog site on on July 7th, 2014.

Beets and Chard and Radishes, Oh My!

Only the third week of the “Summer Market” at the 32nd Street Farmers Market in Baltimore City and things are already in full bloom. Gertrude’s Kitchen Czar, Doug Wetzel, snagged up a cart-full of beautiful, first-of-the-season tomatoes and summer squash from Knopp’s Farm; pole and burgundy string beans from Real Food Farms; and baskets of sweet cherries (both white and dark) from Dave Hockheimer at Black Rock Orchard.

However, my eyes were on the beets, chard, and radishes. Joan Norman, and husband Drew, out at One Straw Farm, possess some sort of magical powers when it comes to organically growing their greens, kale and chard – always lush and beautiful!

Joan has an easy chard (or any green you like) recipe for parents trying to get their kids to eat more greens; “Take a bunch of chard or kale and remove the larger part of the stems. Roughly chop up the leaves.” Now it’s pasta time. “Boil a pound of your choice of pasta (whole or multi-grain is best) and add the chopped chard to the pasta water for the last 3 to 5 minutes that the pasta is cooking. Drain the pasta and chard in a colander. Then toss it in a bowl with a little heated olive oil/sautéed minced garlic, salt, a touch of freshly ground pepper, and a handful of shredded Parmesan, if you like.” Voila! A Spaghetti & Chard con Agilo e Olio.

Radishes can throw some people for a loop. Often their only experience with the little devils has been a tired, crudité tray. What’s a cook to do? Not too worry, let’s try a refreshing summertime,

Radish & Sweet Corn Salad

Serves 6 to 8

Juice of 1 large lemon

2 teaspoons of local honey (we love Cybil’s Cybee’s Honey), or maple syrup for vegans

Pinch of cinnamon

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (Dimitri brand can be found at the 32ndStreet Market)

8 to 10 medium radishes (mix ‘n match if you like), trimmed and thinly sliced

3 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears)

¼ cup finely minced red onion

¼ cup finely chopped mint

¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley

Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

In a bowl mix the lemon juice, honey, and cinnamon together. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. (* Free culinary tip: The “slowly” part is not the “whisk”, it means to add the olive oil slowly while you whisk vigorously to emulsify the dressing a bit.)

In a large bowl, mix the radishes and corn together. Add the dressing and toss well. Add the red onion, mint, and parsley, mixing well. Season the salad with salt and pepper. (I like to use kosher or sea salt if it’s available whenever making a radish salad. The salt is an integral part of the *taste profile – *chef lingo). But if you have neither, don’t sweat it, still will be delicious.

Place the salad in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.

When I was a kid it seemed that beets were a mostly winter vegetable. But how not true. The late spring/early summer beets are the best. There are many complicated recipes for beets but the way I like them best is the most simple. Just roast them! Then it’s like eating candy. Your fingertips may get a bit purple-ish from eating them right out of the bowl, but what the hell, they are so good. Or, I guess you could use a fork.

Okay, I’m going to conjure our Food Network girlfriend Ina Garten, who is a beet’s best friend, not to mention she started as a great home cook.

So Sweet To Eat Roasted Beets

12 beets, washed, topped, and peeled (Beet greens are good to eat too. Think spinach or greens.)

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil (Don’t forget Dimitri)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (Ina likes raspberry better)

Juice of 1 large orange

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the beets into chunks, about ½-inch thick. Toss them in a bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place the beets on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven for about 40 minutes. Turn the beets occasionally while they bake. When tender, remove them from the oven. Mix the vinegar and orange juice together in a little bowl and then pour over the beets. Serve immediately.

A lower fat, yet still delicious, version would be to roast the beets, whole, unpeeled until tender. Just cut off the top and bottom of the beet and put them loosely wrapped in foil on a baking sheet. It takes about 1 hour at 400 degrees. Then allow them to cool. Peel and cut the beets into chunks. Toss with the vinegar/orange juice mixture given above, season with a little S&P, and then chill (the beets, not you) a bit. Serve cold.

And they say there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues. I think we just found some with these three tasty recipes from today. So until next time, get out there and cook!

- John

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