Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Opportunist

Yesterday was Market Day. Our local Hilo Farmer's Market is open seven days a week, but on Wednesday and Saturday, it comes alive with local vendors and all kinds of good stuff. I try to hit it early in the morning if I can. Generally, I plan at least that day's menu around what I find at the farmer's market and the grocery store that I stop at afterwards. Yesterday was a day like any other Market Day. I had no idea what we were having for dinner when I left for the market.  
First stop... 7:45 am... our downtown Natural Foods store, Abundant Life, I was looking for my favorite Greek Yogurt which they have been out of for two weeks. Score Zero, still out. Next I was looking for molasses for bread baking. Score One! Oh... big bag of Coconut Flour on sale for half price... Score Two.  You win some and you lose some in this town when it comes to shopping.  
Next stop... 8 am Hilo Farmer's Market , just starting to buzz with activity. First I hit my herb dealer, no it is not like it sounds, she sells organic fresh green herbs at $1 for each big fat bunch. Yes, I do grow my own but I still have not come to the point where I am able to supply all of my needs in the gardens, so for $6 I get one huge bunch each of Organic Mint, Holy Basil, Genoa Basil, Chervil, Lemon Grass and Cilantro with roots. Because I am a regular customer she throws in two Japanese cucumbers and some radishes and says, "Tank you vewy much, see you nes time." with a big smile.  
I stopped by at Tom Sharkey's Booth just to say hi. He is a great character that I will be making a special post on soon. He has a coffee and cacao plantation just down the road from me and I buy his coffee beans exclusively. Tom came from the Bay Area too and is a big Giants fan. When we were just tourists here and visiting the market Wes was wearing a Giant's shirt and Tom grabbed him and talked story for at least 15 minutes. That is the way it is here. You never know when someone is going to launch into a talking binge and it could eat up a good part of your day to just listen and talk to them. But that is OK, it is accepted to be late because you ran into a friend and talked for an hour. We have one friend that we know will be here for at least two hours if he drops by to pick something up. It is wonderful time spent in the very best way. You should never be in a hurry if you live in Hilo.  I did not need anything but a hello and a hug from Tom, as I bought beans last week, but we chat every week at the market. When he started sending a worker to the market on Saturdays I really missed seeing him there.   His worker left town a week ago, so he is back at the market. Know anyone who wants to work on a coffee and cacao plantation? I might be able to hook you up.  
After Tom it was a new vendor whose booth was next to toms. She was a new girl  with some items from her organic garden. I bought Tuscan Kale from her and some big beautiful radishes. Then I meandered around, picking up a pineapple, some fresh lychees, mangoes, papayas (8 for $2.00) and beautiful organic tomatoes from the hippies that live on the commune. One thing about living in this climate, we don't have serious seasons, so while some fruit trees only fruit at certain times of the year we can get beautiful juicy organic tomatoes and sweet corn almost all year and if you are not growing your own… the new age hippies grow beautiful ones in their sweet, life loving organic garden. 
Then it was on to the grocery store. AGHHHH, they were re-organizing the whole store, putting in new shelving and it was a zoo. I walked through the produce department and spied beautiful tightly packed artichokes (not local, from California most likely) $2 each... Score! My mind was already thinking... “My friend Liz sells me beautiful eggs, I can make a lemon mayonnaise to serve with them!”  

Then to the butcher section ... oh my... a HUGE bone in grass fed rib eye steak the size of manhattan... on sale for $8. SCORE big time. 
Back home I unloaded my groceries and put the three inch steak in a zip lock bag with marinade. Then drove to Wes' office, picked him up and headed down to Puna to pick up  Wes'  new (used) SUV. Since I was down in Puna, I went to welcome home my friends Keith and Noel who live in Orchidland. If you are a regular follower of this blog, you will know they just got back from Italy. AND they brought me a present from Italy ... Porcini Mushrooms (my head was already spinning about what I can do with these and the steak)! 
Sidebar: I was never much of a mushroom girl. That is because my initiation into the fungus world was with button mushrooms. I now know that I just don't really like button mushrooms. But give me wild fungi and my head swims with delight. Porcini, Morels and Chanterelles are three of the things that give me great pleasure in this world. Thanks Noel and Keith for bringing me a treasure from the old country.  

From there on, it just got easier. Two weeks ago at the Waimea Hawaiian Homestead Farmers Market I lucked out on to a 20# bag of veal bones from Hind's Daleico Ranch who raise organic Red Veal. SCORE big time. Veal bones in Hawaii? It is a miracle! I have never seen them ANYWHERE  since we moved here. Time for stock, I made 4 gallons of stock, and reduced it down. The stock sitting in my refrigerator would be perfect for a sauce with those porcini that just flew thousands of miles to get here.  OK, I am usually the "local food police", but there are some occasional exceptions. Hey... I made my stock from local veal!  

So, I stuck two potatoes, sprayed with garlic olive oil  in the oven on a bed of salt. 

I steamed the artichokes. I made lemon mayo (so easy… you should never buy mayonnaise!) with Liz's beautiful green and blue eggs. I went to turn on the grill... AGHHHH! We were out of propane. OK, I will sear the steaks and finish them in the oven while making the sauce.  

Everything turned out terrifically ... the sauce was dark, velvety and rich with many layers of intense flavor (the kind of sauce where you swipe the pan with your finger for one last taste before you wash it) with the rare steak oozing it's own juices sliced thinly (remember we were sharing a steak). The lemon mayo was a perfect pairing with the artichokes. The potatoes were a vehicle for more of that porcini sauce. Here is how I made it:  
Segue: I suppose I should give you instructions on making reduced veal stock. I always reduce my stock, as it takes less room in the freezer and you can always add water to reconstitute it if need be. If you cannot find veal bones, you could make stock with oxtails and beef bones, but veal bones seem to be best for stock. DO NOT try this with canned or boxed stock/broth. This is a long slow process (not the least bit difficult) and it is somewhat costly to make, but it is so special, you really MUST try this, don’t be daunted by the endeavor, it truly is worth it. I will do a stock primer one of these days, meanwhile here is the way I make reduced veal stock:
Veal Stock Reduction 
Yield: 2 Cups

10 pounds veal bones
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 leek, cleaned and coarsely chopped
1 bulb garlic, cut in half
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup tomato concassée
 (or 4 TBS Tomato paste)
4 cups dry red wine (such as Burgundy)

METHOD  Place the bones in a roasting pan and roast in the oven at 450 degrees for 2 hours, or until golden brown turning mid-way through the roasting. When bones are browned, caramelize the carrots, celery, onion, leek, and garlic in the olive oil in a large stockpot. Add the tomato concassée in a hot spot and cook for 5 minutes. Deglaze with the red wine and reduce until most of the wine has been cooked out. Add the browned bones and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer over low heat for 12 hours taking care to not let it boil again. If you do not have a very low flame simmering burner on your stove, once it has boiled the first time, place it in a crock pot on low for 12-15 hours. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and simmer over medium heat for 45 minutes, or until it coats the back of a spoon. Extra reduction can be stored in the freezer for several months.
*You can use a food processor to chop these all together, pulsing.
**Note: if you really don’t want to go through this whole process, you can buy reduced veal stock, but it is expensive and if you live in Hawaii… count on adding postage to the price. If you live near a Whole Foods Market, you should be able to find it there. Personally, I know that homemade is better, a lot better. Here are two links for companies that make it: 
Back to the Porcini Sauce…. Here it is at the mid-way point of the reduction.

 Soak about 1 cup of dried porcini mushrooms in very hot water for 15 minutes. Drain. Do not use the water, though you may be tempted to, as it smells lovely, it has dirt in it. Coarsely chop the porcini. 
In the same pan I had seared the steak in I added about 2 TBS olive oil. I had used 2 Tablespoons of butter to sear the steak, so there was a tiny bit of that left along with other tasty bits. I chopped 2 large shallots, and sautéed them, then added a small dollop of tomato paste in the hot spot of the pan. Then in went the porcini. After sautéing a bit, I added about 1 ½ cups of concentrated veal stock, slowly simmering for about 10minutes to further reduce it. I tossed in a hand full of fresh parsley, chopped finely. Then I threw in a glass of cabernet (the same vintage we would be drinking later) and reduced it back down until it became a thick rich sauce, thicker than gravy, but not as thick as jam. I tasted and added fresh ground pepper and about a teaspoon of my smoked sea salt. This made enough sauce to have some for 2 meals. I think I will it with veal chops next time. It will keep for a week or so in the refrigerator if you can keep yourself from opening it and taking out a little spoonful every day, no kidding it is that “Oh my GOD Good!” 

So, that was how I became an Opportunist on Market Day. You should be so lucky. 
Coming up,  the kick off of a year of Artisan Brea Baking with the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge… THIS is going to be good stuff, so check back on Monday. 

1 comment:

Coconut Girl Connie said...

Oh my gosh, this all looks so beautiful and so delicious. Thanks so much for the recipes...oh I think I just gained a couple of "virtual" pounds...hee! hee!