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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Salud! at Whole Foods: Summer Market Basket

When the Whole Foods class for summer seasonal market basket came up, I just had to take it.  The ‘spring’ class had been so much fun.

On this tour thru the produce section, Merijoy showed us the best way to pick a melon.  For a watermelon you want to make sure the stem is not all dry and shriveled and a yellow bottom is good, that means it has had more ripening time.  For a cantaloupe or honeydew, the best way is to smell it.  If it has a nice sweet melon smell, you’ve got a good one.  Second check… if the melon gives a bit under thumb pressure at the stem end.

Peaches you select in a very similar way.  See if it smells like a peach and it is slightly soft to the touch.

Vidalia onions are not good keepers and will rot if they spend too much time touching.  To maximize storage time, put them in a pantyhose leg, with a knot between each onion.  When they are out of season, the next best onion is a sweet Spanish.

Summer is the time for local berries.  They are very fragile, so check for signs of being crushed and for mold.  Berries freeze well so it is good to stock up when the price is down.

Back up in the kitchen it was time for cooking and eating.  

First thing was an appetizer of warm Vidalia onion dip.

Then Merijoy prepared Crispy Snapper with Arugula-Peach salad dressed with Bourbon-Sweet Potato Vinaigrette.

One of the side dishes was Green Bean Bundles.  The seasonings with cinnamon, brown sugar and dry mustard made it tangy and good.

The other side dish was Baked Tomato Salad.  It was very much like a warm brochette. 

Dessert was Blueberry Cobbler with Buttermilk Ice Cream.  

I’m going to give you the recipe for the Bourbon-Sweet Potato Vinaigrette.  It was unusual and very good.  And it makes a nice marinade too.  

Bourbon-Sweet Potato Vinaigrette 

1 small baked sweet potato, peeled
1/2 cup orange juice
2 Tbs brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup cider vinegar
Pinch of ground allspice
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup canola oil
1 Tbs finely minced shallots

Combine in blender the peeled sweet potato, orange juice, brown sugar, cider vinegar, pepper, salt, allspice and bourbon.  Pulse for 30 seconds to combine.  With the blender on, remove the lid and slowly drizzle in the canola oil in a slow steady stream until mixture starts to thicken.  Fold in shallots.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  

Makes 2 cups.

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