Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets

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In Local Flavors, bestselling cookbook author Deborah Madison takes readers along as she explores farmers' markets across the country, sharing stories, recipes, and dozens of market-inspired menus. Her portraits of markets from Maine to Hawaii showcase the bounty of America's family farms and reveal the sheer pleasure to be found in shopping for and cooking with local foods.

Deborah Madison follows the seasons in her cross-country journey, ...
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Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets

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In Local Flavors, bestselling cookbook author Deborah Madison takes readers along as she explores farmers' markets across the country, sharing stories, recipes, and dozens of market-inspired menus. Her portraits of markets from Maine to Hawaii showcase the bounty of America's family farms and reveal the sheer pleasure to be found in shopping for and cooking with local foods.

Deborah Madison follows the seasons in her cross-country journey, beginning with the first tender greens of spring and ending with those foods that keep. Recipes such as Chard and Cilantro Soup with Noodle Nests and Lamb's-Quarters with Sonoma Teleme Cheese launch the market season, followed by such dishes as an Elixir of Fresh Peas or a Radish Sandwich. Recipes for Whole Little Cauliflowers with Crispy Breadcrumbs and White Beans with Black Kale and Savoy Cabbage illustrate the range of the robust crucifers, while herbs and alliums provide the inspiration for a lively Herb Salad, tisanes, and Sweet and Sour Onions with Dried Pluots and Rosemary.

Deborah Madison challenges the conventional view of what's seasonal. A Young Root Vegetable Braise celebrates that early crop of delicate roots, while Braised Root Vegetables with Black Lentils and Red Wine Sauce offers an elegant centerpiece dish for the heartier roots of winter.

Superlative fresh eggs, along with handmade cheese, are featured players at the markets everywhere, and here they appear in such simple dishes as Fried Eggs with Sizzling Vinegar and Warm Ricotta Custard featuring fresh whole-milk ricotta. Because organically raised poultry and meats have an increasingly important presence in our farmers' markets, they are included,too, paired with other market produce that highlights their flavors, as in Roast Chicken with Herbs Under the Skin.

Late summer corn and beans inspire Corn Fritters with Aged Cheddar and Arugula and Shelly Beans with Pasta and Sage. When markets are filled with squashes and melons, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, Deborah Madison shows us that they're perfect ingredients for simple, vibrant dishes, such as Braised Farmers' Long Eggplant Stuffed with Garlic or Tropical Melon Soup with Coconut Milk. For the happily overwhelmed cook, Platter Salads suggest how to go ahead and use all of the market's bounty.

Fruits, another vital part of farmers' markets, are generously featured. Huckleberries, unusual grapes, and figs; stone fruits like plums and peaches; heirloom apples, persimmons; winter citrus and subtropical fruits are all here. Fig Tart with Orange Flower Custard; Peach Shortcake on Ginger Biscuits; a Rustic Tart of Quinces, Apples, and Pears; and a Passion Fruit and Pineapple Compote are just a few of the luscious desserts. And, because the market features more than fresh foods of the moment, recipes based on dried fruits, oils, vinegars, preserves, and other long-keeping foods help the reader continue eating locally once the market season has ended.

By going behind the scenes to speak with the farmers and producers, Deborah Madison connects readers directly with the people who grow their food. Full-color photographs of gorgeous produce, mouthwatering dishes, and evocative scenes from the markets will entice every reader to cook from the farmers' market as often as possible.

Winner of the 2003 James Beard Foundation Award for General/Cooking for Everyday

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Farmers' markets are the new village green, says award-winning cookbook author Deborah Madison. This movement has blossomed into more than 3,000 markets across the country, places where you can run into old friends, meet new ones, discover new fruits and vegetables, and go home with bags and bags of fresh, delicious, and seasonal produce.

For all of us who go to the markets and get completely carried away with what we see, Madison has designed more than 350 recipes that take advantage of this, whether it's the greens, salad, and herbs of the spring's bounty or the root vegetables, apples, and squash of the fall harvest. Her recipes highlight seasonal ingredients (Spring Risotto with Sorrel, Roast Chicken with Herbs Under the Skin, or Parsnip Salad with Walnuts and Dates) as well as regional foods (Soft Tacos with Roasted Green Chiles or Hickory Nut Torte). There are recipes using market foods found in the winter months, too.

The chapters in Local Flavors are organized not by courses of the meal, but by seasons and botanical families, like the stone fruits and the nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants). In each chapter, Madison reports on a visit to a particular market -- say Cortez and Durango in mid-August or San Francisco's Ferry Plaza Market in October -- and composes meals from the market produce available at that time. Dozens of full-color photos of the markets, the shoppers, the farmers, and the dishes complete the course.

Madison, well known for The Greens Cookbook and her award-winning Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, also gives some good advice for shopping at farmers' markets:

  • Plan to spend some leisurely time at the market.
  • If you don't recognize what you see, or need a tip on how to cook it, ask the growers.
  • Bring cash.
  • "Take a feast-now approach when shopping.... A favorite peach might be around for only two weeks, so buy accordingly and enjoy."
(Ginger Curwen)
Publishers Weekly
Madison (Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone) celebrates the seasonality of produce from farmers' markets across the country in this sophisticated cookbook. Sharing a few meat recipes, Madison has organized this collection by category (Corn and Beans, Stone Fruits, etc.) and included recipes mostly using vegetables and fruits. Not just another how-to for arranging tomatoes on a plate, the book presents such year-round recipes as Cabbage and Potato Gratin with Sage, or Corn and Squash Simmered in Coconut Milk with Thai Basil, alongside tributes to highlighted markets. Vegetarians will welcome main courses such as Braised Root Vegetables with Black Lentils and Red Wine Sauce or Asparagus and Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding. Recipes do demand close reading: one calls for a can of coconut milk but uses only part. However, shoppers learn how to use sunchokes (Sunchoke Bisque with Hazelnut Oil), Concord grapes (Concord Grape Tart) and even hickory nuts (Hickory Nut Torte with Espresso Cream). Madison's custom preparations suit farmer's market boutique style: she cuts each type [of squash] in the way that best preserves its form: lengthwise for the zucchini, crosswise for pattypans and round squash. Chefs will love the Herbs and Alliums chapter introducing Marjoram Pesto with Capers and Olives and Herb Dumplings for Soups and Ragouts. Also strong are composed salads, such as Avocado and Grapefruit Salad with Pomegranates and Pistachios, the eggs and cheese chapter and extensive fruits and desserts, such as Blood Orange Jelly and Greg's Huckleberry Pie. This is a book cooks will reach for to enliven repertoires. (June) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Some 350 recipes for all seasons. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
Her books have sold more than 700,000 copies.PRAISE FOR LOCAL FLAVORS“For anyone trying to eat locally and seasonally, Local Flavors is indispensable.” —Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780767903493
  • Publisher: Broadway Books
  • Publication date: 6/1/2002
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 8.22 (w) x 10.16 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Madison, founding chef of Greens Restaurant in San Francisco, is the award-winning author of nine cookbooks, including The Greens Cookbook (her first), Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and her latest, Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen. She has received the M.F.K. Fisher Award, the International Association of Culinary Professional’s Julia Child Cookbook of the Year award, and three James Beard awards.

In addition to writing on food and farming for such magazines as Gourmet, Saveur, Orion, and the blog Culinate.com, she has long been active in Slow Food (www.slowfoodusa.org) and other groups involved in local food issues. Before writing Local Flavors, she was a manager of her local farmers’ market in Santa Fe and served as a board member of the same market for twelve years. Although she now grows vegetables at her home in Galisteo, New Mexico, she is still an avid farmers’ market shopper and never goes anywhere without bringing home a big bag of the local bounty.

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Read an Excerpt

Greens Wild and Domestic

It's spring, and farmers' markets across the country are beginning to open. Greens are the vegetables that many will start out with. They're what you can count on finding early in the season. And depending on where you live, greens may flourish throughout the duration of the market, or they may disappear as soon as some real heat comes on. Greens like it cool, and some even like it cold. Salad greens are a huge challenge in Phoenix past March, which is just when they're looking great in Santa Monica. They might be diminishing in Sacramento by about June, but in Santa Fe or Londonderry, Vermont, they're with us from start to finish.

A key sign that it's spring isn't only that greens are available but that they have an irrepressible quality. They practically glow. I've picked up bunches of kale that squeak with vitality, spinach and chard that bounce with life. The arugula is nutty, not bitter; chicories have a sweet edge from the last frost of the season. Green potherbs, like sorrel, nettes, and wild spinach, are tender and delicate, and the deep reds of the red lettuces, like Merlot, haven't lost their luster as long as there are those nightly temperature dips. This is also when you might find miner's lettuce, chickweed, and other edible weeds, which, if you haven't tried them, make exciting additions to salads.

This green glory will fade as the season progresses into labored production, when hot days and nights keep plants churning and growing overtime. But for now, everything is leafy at its very best. This, in fact, is one of the prime times for big green salads, now and the fall. Come midsummer, sliced tomatoes andcucumbers will better fill that role.

The Simplest Tender Greens serves 2 to 4

If your greens are tender and not too voluminous for your pan, simply wilt them in a skillet with the water that clings to their leaves after washing, or steam them. Although boiling is usually considered a less nutritious way of cooking vegetables, the more quickly they cook, the fewer nutrients they lose, and tender greens will spend only the briefest time in a big pot of boiling water.

These methods are especially well suited to those quick-cooking greens, such as spinach, young chard, and wild spinach, although tougher greens, like kale, can also be treated this way if simply cooked a bit longer. (For the more assertive greens, like mustard, see the next recipe.) In general, 2 or 3 people can easily consume a pound of greens, for they shrink to nearly nothing.

1 to 2 pounds greens, coarse stems removed
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
olive oil or butter
lemon wedges or vinegar

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While it's heating, wash the greens.
2. Add salt to taste to the water, then plunge the greens in all at once.
Cook just until they're tender, then scoop them into a colander. Leave them
to drain from 2 to 5.
3. Toss the greens with olive oil or butter to taste and season with salt and
pepper. Put them in a bowl or on a platter and serve with lemon wedges or
vinegar. A bit of acid always benefits greens.

Cooking Greens In the Pan: Put greens that have been washed and not dried
in a wide skillet and sprinkle with salt. Cook over high heat until tender from
3 to 5 minutes turning them occasionally with tongs. Lift them out of the pan,
leaving any liquid behind. Toss with butter or oil, taste for salt, season with
pepper, and serve.

Copyright 2002 by Deborah Madison
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Serves 6 generously

After a damp spring day spent visiting the organic vegetable gardens on the UCSC campus in Santa Cruz, a town that is unusually committed to using its local produce, it was time for dinner. There is always a moment during asparagus season when you want something hearty, and this was the day. Fortunately, the chef had the dish for it -- a golden bread pudding studded with asparagus.

I like to simmer the milk with green garlic (immature garlic whose leaves are still green) for flavor. If you live where fresh chanterelles or morels are in season as well as asparagus, here's a good opportunity to use them. But dried chanterelles or morels from the previous year are delicious, too.

1 head green garlic
3 cups milk
a 1-pound loaf good firm white bread, cut into thick slices
1 to 2 pounds asparagus, preferably fat ones
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large shallot, finely diced
1/2 to 1 pound chanterelles or morels, cleaned, and coarsely chopped
4 large market eggs
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 tablespoons chopped tarragon or marjoram
2 cups grated Fontina or Gruyère cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly butter or oil an 8- x 12-inch gratin dish. Coarsely chop the garlic, add it to the milk, and bring to a boil. Turn it off and set it aside to steep.
  2. If the bread isn't stale, lay it on a sheet pan and bake until golden and crisp (but not hard); otherwise your pudding will be mushy. Break it into chunks, put it in a large dish, and strain the milk over it. Let it sit while you prepare the vegetables. Occasionally turn the bread so that it soaks up as much of the milk as possible.
  3. Peel thick asparagus up to where the tips begin. Slice it on the diagonal, about 1/3 inch thick, then soak in cold water for a few minutes. (It's not necessary to peel thin ones.) Fill a skillet with water and when it boils, add salt to taste and the asparagus. Simmer until bright green and partially tender, about 3 minutes. Drain, then rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
  4. Melt half the butter in a medium nonstick skillet. Add the shallot, cook for 1 minute, then add the mushrooms. Cook over high heat until they brown in places, exude their liquid, and are tender, after several minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  5. Break the eggs into a large bowl and beat them until smooth. Add the herbs, 1 teaspoon salt, and plenty of pepper. By now the bread should have soaked up most of the milk. Add the bread and any milk that is left to the bowl, along with the asparagus and mushrooms plus any juices, and two thirds of the cheese. Toss well. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish, even it out some, and dot with the remaining butter. Scatter the remaining cheese over the top and bake until puffy and golden, about 45 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then serve.
Serves 4

Few recipes are as simple as this one, but if Harriet Bell hadn't told me about it, I might never have known what a great little dish this is. If you should be fortunate to find some undersized cauliflower at your farmers' market, bake them whole and serve one per person.

1 larger or 4 small cauliflowers, about 1 pound
olive oil
sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Leave small cauliflowers whole, but slice a larger vegetable into wedges about 1-1/2 inches wide at the widest point. Brush with olive oil, season with salt, and place in a baking dish in a single layer. Bake until browned on top, about 25 minutes, then turn to brown the second side (if cut into wedges).

Makes about 1-1/2 pints

Because this isn't nearly as sweet as commercial jams, the flavor of apricots is rich and full. This is a simple little preserve to make in small quantities, not an all-day project. The lavender makes a fine match with apricots -- just make sure that you use the sweet fragrant kind, not the variety that smells of camphor.

If you leave this a little on the thin side, you'll have a sauce to spoon over warm biscuits, to flavor a semifreddo, or to drizzle over almond ice cream and top with toasted almonds. It also makes a shiny orange pool for panna cotta [see recipe in book].

7 cups ripe apricots
12 apricot pits, cracked, the kernels removed
1 cup sugar
7 lavender blossom sprigs
juice of 1/2 lemon, optional

  1. Halve the apricots or quarter them if very large. Large pieces will give your jam a little texture. Place the apricots in a heavy pan with the kernels, sugar, and lavender. Cook over high heat, watching closely and stirring at first until the juices are released and sugar is dissolved. Then reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the fruit is thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Taste and, if you wish, add lemon juice if it needs sharpening. With so little sugar, the natural tartness of the fruit may be sufficient. Pour into sterilized containers, cap tightly, and store in the refrigerator.

Copyright © 2002 by Deborah Madison.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2007

    Amazing book!

    I disagree completely with the first reviewer. Sure, the book isn't cheap--it's a hardcover, so that's to be expected. However, the information inside is fabulous for someone like me who is trying earnestly to shop for food from local farmer's markets. With this book, I am able to hit the Sunday market and then look up the items I bought in order to make delicious and simple recipes that showcase locally in-season foods. Perfect! Truly, Local Flavors has changed the way I shop and cook--it's made me more excited to shop during the 'lean' winter months. Used to be that I would dread the end of the bountiful summer markets--peaches! nectarines! heirloom tomatoes!--and the coming of the more spartan fall offerings--rhubarb. winter squash. root vegetables.--and headed off to Whole Foods for a taste of summer shipped in from the Southern Hemisphere. Now, I get that the cold-weather vegetables come into season together and taste great together and cater to that warm, nesting desire we all get as the colder months approach. The recipes I've tried are delicious and easy to modify with the ingredients you find at your local market. In closing, in case it isn't already obvious: I highly recommend this book. (If you're not sure, check it out from the library before you buy like I did.)

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2008

    Beauty, Taste, Simplicity

    This is one of my all-time favorite cookbooks. As a fan of a local farmer's market in Indiana, I enjoy sampling the offerings of many different markets around the country through Deborah Madison's clear prose, tasty recipes, and lush photographs. Every time I open this book it reminds me of why the local food movement is so important: it encourages us to connect food with its source, to celebrate the produce of each season, and to make both our lives and our tables more beautiful and tasteful by honoring the local sources of real foods. The emphasis on seasonal produce and simple preparations also keeps fuss at a minimum and enhances the pleasures of the table.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2013

    Katie bug

    I will stick a bug or more in the food. Hahaha. Lolz. Jkjk. Just kidding but that was kinda funny.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer



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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2004

    Extremely Disappointing

    This book is extemely disappointing. The price is too much and the book is just a glossy show case of photographs. After flipping through 300+ pages, I only found 4 recipes I would make. Granted they are 4 great recipes but the book doesn't have a lot of substance. This book offers way way too many fruit and dessert recipes and does not include many hearty vegetarian entrees or side dishes. Big disappointment.

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