Monday, May 23, 2011

Eat the Market

I confess.  I've been AWOL for a few weeks.  But I have really good reasons - like Springtime and fresh produce and baking up a storm and meeting really great folks who know what to do with good bread.

This past winter was a long one and I don't know about you, but when the first tulips pushed their way up and out in the open, the world suddenly seemed full of light again.  And now that the farmer's markets have reopened, fresh produce from not-too-far-away is available and a bargain.

This year, I'm fortunate to be a vendor at a new local market inside the Draper Mercantile, a lovingly restored spot near Claytor Lake, in the rolling mountains of Virginia.  Check it out at  The structure is possibly pre-civil war era (there are varying accounts) and has a rich history of providing local residents a venue for buying and selling their staples. Walking through the big blue front doors, there's a sense of being at two stops along the space-time continuum at once.
There's a wide front porch with rockers, polished wood counters, heartbreakingly good music, local fresh produce and seriously, the nicest people you'll ever want to meet.
And, did I mention, European-inspired bakery?
Recognize those happy ciabatta?  Here's the recipe if you want to make some - - 
or just hit me up at the market and I'll save you the work.

So yeah, I not only get to shop the farmer's market but it's how I make my living these days. Or at least part of it.  The really good part.  Here's something I'm making this week.
Oui, French macaron.  I bet you thought those were only available in places with metro stops.

Now, the only problem with all those gorgeous fresh fruits and vegetables and bread is that sometimes after I've stocked up on what I know is good, and good for me, I'm not entirely sure what to do with it.  If you have this dilemma, let's share some ideas.  I've got a few but I'd love to hear yours.

This week, when baby lettuces put in an appearance, I'm mixing up a tangy Italian vinaigrette of red wine vinegar and olive oil - but use your favorite - and serving the salad atop this remarkable rosemary flatbread from  The bread can be the plate, see?  It's handy, like fast food, only your body actually wants you to eat it.

Now, the recipe:

Crisp Rosemary Flatbread
Adapted from Gourmet, July 2008

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary plus 2 (6-inch) sprigs - I used dried needles, broken up in the food processor, which smelled brilliant!
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil plus more for brushing
sea salt

Preheat oven to 450°F.  They suggest preheating a baking sheet in the oven, for sliding the flatbread onto when it's ready for the heat.  I have stones on one rack of my oven and they worked well, having shaped the bread on parchment and sliding it onto the hot stones to bake.
Stir together flour, chopped rosemary, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in center, then add water and oil and gradually stir into flour with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Knead dough gently on a work surface 4 or 5 times.  Their instructions say to work in 3 pieces, baking one at a time, but as you can see, I just flatted out the whole thing onto one piece of parchment and slid it onto my oven stones.  Lightly brush top with additional oil and scatter small clusters of rosemary leaves on top, pressing in slightly. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Slide the round (still on parchment) onto preheated baking sheet or stone, and bake until pale golden and browned in spots, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer flatbread (discard parchment) to a rack to cool, then make 2 more rounds (1 at a time) on fresh parchment (do not oil or salt until just before baking). Break into pieces.  I would totally top the dough like a pizza and bake, as well.

When I tasted the fresh-baked flatbread, my first thought was, "I'm never buying crackers again."  But you can bake it crisper or softer, depending on your need that day. The sea salt and rosemary are lovely and the finished bread is like a palette, just made for decorating. Today, I used the fresh greens on one piece, and on the others, some leftover red sauce and a bit of pesto that looked longingly at me from the fridge.  And then I ATE IT FOR BREAKFAST. Seriously.
This Saturday, check out what's fresh in your neck of the woods and if you run out of recipes or come up with some new ones, let's chat.  Meanwhile, just remember to eat the market.  Your body will thank you and you'll probably meet some very lovely people along the way.


  1. That salad looks so yummy and crisp. And your ciabatta are so gorgeous. I want to just scoop up the whole stack and run away with them. Then I could gorge in private.

    So the current market item that I'm too scared to buy is the artichoke. Very intimidating. Wonder if anyone has some easy ideas for a novice. Gotta say, they look like a lot of work.

  2. I have posed your artichoke question to the Twitterverse and will let you know the answer! I'm kind of intimidated by that whole "remove the choke" step. It looks sort of hairy...

  3. what a lovely pictures of the market!
    i just came back to argentina from a trip to usa, that include a part of the blue ridge!
    i love that place, and the tulips... OMG!

  4. Juliana, I'm so glad you got to see this part of the country, and at such a pretty time of year. Was there any food you especially enjoyed?

  5. Lots of nice people as well as live music performances and nearby New River Trail and Claytor Lake - it's the perfect day trip!

  6. Hey Donna, this is my first time reading your blog and I love it! The beautiful images, the recipes, the thoughts and ideas - this is great! The photographs of your baked goods are gorgeous, too. So nice for a foodie to finally be able to find perfect ciabatta and even French macaroons in Draper. We are so happy you are a part of the Draper Valley Farmer's and Artisan's Market!

  7. It's nice to have you here, Ashlee! The mango macarons turned out pretty nice this morning and I'm getting ready to spread ganache in the chocolate ones. A few dozen loaves of bread and I'll be ready for market day. LOL.
    So very happy to be a part of what's going on at the Merc. See you there!