Grow Food Amherst is pleased to invite you to a special workshop by renowned local author, Claire Hopley, on Saturday, February 22 at the Amherst Winter Farmers Market. NOTE: Claire will also have copies of her book Valley Vegetables for sale and signing at the workshop! Please join us!
Cooking with Local Vegetables and Seasonal Fruit
with Claire Hopley
Saturday, February 22
12:00 noon – 1:00 pm
Amherst Winter Farmers Market
Amherst Regional Middle School
Claire Hopley writes… “We have to wait for the first rhubarb in May and the strawberries of June for locally grown fruit, yet we do have seasonal fruit in winter because it’s the season for citrus. They are now at their best and least expensive! This workshop will be about ways of teaming citrus and other in-season fruit with local farmers market vegetables to create zingy and nutritious dishes”
The push to “buy local” is strong these days, and few local products offer more benefits in that regard than food. Cookbook author Claire Hopley, of Leverett, says it just makes sense to buy local vegetables in season.
“They taste better, and you can get them at a better price,” says Hopley. “When a vegetable or other food is shipped, it’s simply losing flavor and nutritional value.”
The cookbook is arranged alphabetically from acorn squash to zucchini, and includes lesser-known valley produce such as fiddleheads and fennel.
Hopley has lived in the Pioneer Valley for more than 35 years, but she comes from Chester, England, where her grandfather had a vegetable garden and her grandmother cooked professionally.
“I grew up with fresh vegetables,” she says, “so I’ve always gone to farm stands and farmers’ markets.” Her husband, Robert, tends a large vegetable garden in Leverett, often challenging her creativity with abundant crops.
Author of four previous cookbooks, Hopley frequently gives talks on culinary history at the Quadrangle in Springfield. Her cookbooks mix erudition and common sense.
Readers will learn, for example, that Thomas Jefferson loved fennel, that archaeologists have found 8,000-year-old dried beans in Peru, that peas were all the rage in the court of France’s Louis XIV, and that Medieval cooks liked to use spinach juice as a green dye to color food.
Hopley’s book is called “Valley Vegetables,” but some of the recipes include meats.
An example is the following Chinese-style dish, which makes good use of leftover chicken breast.
Stir-Fried chicken with snowpeas and broccoli
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine, white wine or sherry
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (optional) Â
1 cup cooked chicken breast
1-1/2 cup snowpeas
1/2 cup small broccoli florets
2 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped shallot or onion
1 tablespoon chopped or sliced fresh ginger
3/4 cup chicken broth Â
In medium bowl, mix cornstarch to a paste with soy sauce and wine. Stir in sugar, sesame oil and 1/2 cup water.
Cut chicken into strips about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Add these to the bowl of marinade and set aside for at least 1/2 hour. Trim ends of snowpeas. Discard roots and green leafy ends of scallions, then slice white and tender green parts diagonally and set aside.
Heat canola oil in a wok or frying pan over medium heat. Stir in chopped shallot or onion, then garlic and ginger. Stir for a minute, then add snowpeas and broccoli. Add about 1/4 cup water and stir over high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Now put in the scallions, chicken and its marinade. Stir liquid until it thickens, then add 1/2 cup chicken broth.
Continue cooking 2 minutes until chicken is heated through and vegetables are crisp-tender. Add remaining broth for thinner sauce. Serve with rice.
Hopley says the following soup is delicious with just one scallop in each bowl, with a mix of scallops and shrimp, with a 4-oz. fillet of haddock or cod, or even with no seafood at all.
Celeriac soup with scallops
1 one-and-a-half to two-pound celeriac, peeled and cut in chunks
1 medium onion, chopped
1 6-inch stalk celery, chopped
1 small clove garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
4 black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 cup half and half or whole milk
1 teaspoon butter or oil
Scallops (4 for lunch, 16 for supper)
1 Tablespoon chopped celery leaves
2 teaspoons snipped chives
Put the celeriac chunks, onion, celery, garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns and salt into saucepan. Add 4 cups of water or enough to cover the vegetables. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 25 minutes or until celeriac is tender. Drain off and reserve the liquid. Discard the bay leaf.
Put the vegetables into a food processor and whizz them until smooth, or simply mash them by hand. Return the vegetables to the pan. Add the reserved cooking liquid and the milk or Half & Half. Bring to simmering point and taste. Add more salt if necessary, more milk or water for thinner soup.
Meanwhile, grease a frying pan with butter or oil and heat over high heat. Put scallops in the pan in a single layer, reduce the heat and cook scallops for 3 minutes on first side and 2 minutes on second side.
Serve soup in shallow soup plates with scallops positioned in the center of each serving. Mix chopped celery leaves and chives, and sprinkle some over each serving.
Recipes are from “Valley Vegetables: Recipes for 40 of the Pioneer Valley’s Vegetables” (Levellers Press, about $18.95), available at www.levellerspress.com/newreleases/newreleases.htm