Posts Tagged ‘Local Food in Massachusetts’

Scallops from the MRKT

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Joseanweb

Josean Jimenez discovered that he loved food and cooking when he was a child. “Pretty early on when my parents would throw parties, I realized I’d rather be in the kitchen than anywhere else. The kitchen is usually where everybody gathers,” he told me in a recent interview.

Jimenez and I were sitting at a table near the large front windows of his MRKT Restaurant on Elm Street in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. Photographer Paul Franz and I nibbled on one of Jimenez’s beloved small plates while the chef told us about his life and his passion for cooking. (Unfortunately, Paul’s lovely photos ended up in the local newspaper; blog readers are stuck with mine!)

Born in Puerto Rico, Jiminez grew up in Northampton, Massachusetts. Cooking classes he took in junior high school “sparked” his culinary abilities. He went on to study culinary arts at Smith Vocational High School and the Connecticut Culinary Institute.

He worked his way up from dishwashing and prepping ingredients to chef at a number of Pioneer Valley Restaurants. The young chef ventured east to Martha’s Vineyard and Boston, but found that our valley in Western Massachusetts called him back.

During his early years working for others Jimenez expanded his early interest in “multi-Spanish/Puerto-Rican/Creole food” to embrace a wide variety of cuisines. He also learned to manage restaurants as well as cook in them.

Last year he decided he was ready to set out on his own and began looking for a restaurant in the Pioneer Valley. The location in South Deerfield, which had been a restaurant for many years and needed few alterations, suited him perfectly. It was manageable in size and attractive.

More importantly, it represented only a 15-minute drive from the home in Chicopee he shares with his wife and their lively three-year-old twin sons, whom Jimenez obviously adores—although he also obviously finds them a handful.

Each boy has a name tattooed on one of the proud papa’s arms. I asked him what he would do if he had more children since he didn’t have any more arms. Jimenez looked alarmed. “This is all we’re planning,” he said. “Some days when they come in to the restaurant, we have a lot of cleaning up to do!”

MRKT Restaurant opened in November. The winter months were long in the new restaurant, but business is brisk now that spring has arrived. Jimenez hopes to expand his hours (currently Tuesday through Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m.) to include lunch very soon. He is also planning international nights with guest chefs.

Jimenez’s own cooking philosophy at MRKT reflects the value he has come to place on the contributions of area farms and their produce. “It’s farm to table with international flare,” Jimenez said of his menu. “I’m trying to support local agriculture. The food tastes better when it’s not coming in a truck from California.”

Jimenez noted that the farm-to-table emphasis also suits his culinary temperament since he likes to alter his menu frequently. Responding to the growing season makes changes inevitable.

“We’ve had the current menu for maybe four weeks and I’m ready to change it,” he said with a smile.

However much the menu may vary, it will probably always feature small plates, which Jimenez likes to offer so that diners can share and taste as many food combinations as possible.

The small plates on the menu when I visited included Hadley asparagus with goat-cheese fondue and a fried egg (the chef is very fond of eggs); chicken liver mousse with homemade jam, pickled mustard seed, and grilled toast; and the dish Jimenez served Paul Franz and me, sea scallops with a vegetable ragout and a carrot-cardamom reduction.

The orange of the carrot reduction and the green of the peas and beans shouted “spring,” and the dish provided contrasting consistencies to the palate: creamy sauce, tenderly chewy scallops, crunchy chives.

We forked the scallops and vegetables down quickly and then asked Josean Jimenez for a spoon so we could savor every drop of the carrot reduction.

I plan to make this dish soon. It’s quick, easy, flavorful, and just a bit showy. (I do love showy!)

scallopsweb

MRKT Restaurant’s Pan-Seared New Bedford Scallops with Fava Bean/English Pea Ragout and Carrot-Cardamom Reduction

Ingredients:

for the reduction:

1 cup carrot juice (Josean Jimenez makes this with a juicer, but it may also be purchased)
1 cardamom pod, lightly crushed by hand
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste

for the scallops:

salt and pepper to taste
4 large scallops
a splash of canola oil
1 teaspoon butter

for the ragout:

a splash of canola oil
1 tiny red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup fava beans, blanched
1/4 cup English peas, blanched
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 teaspoon butter
sea salt and pepper to taste (Josean Jimenez prefers the French “piment d’espelette,” available in gourmet stores, but other ground pepper may be substituted)
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives plus additional chives for garnish

Instructions:

First, prepare the reduction. In a saucepan combine the carrot juice and cardamom pod. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer until it reduces by half (about 5 to 10 minutes). Stir in the cream, and again reduce by about half, or until slightly thick (about 5 minutes more).

Remove the reduction from the heat, add salt and pepper, and set aside. Move on to the scallops.

Sprinkle salt and pepper over the scallops. In a small sauté pan heat a splash of canola oil. Sear the scallops over medium high heat until they are golden brown on both sides (around 2 to 5 minutes, depending on your stove). Add the teaspoon of butter just as they are about to finish cooking.

In another small sauté pan heat another splash of canola oil for the ragout. Sauté the red onion pieces briefly; then add the beans and peas. Sauté over medium heat for 1 minute.

Add the vegetable stock, and cook for another minute. Toss in the butter when the stock is almost finished cooking. Season the ragout with the salt and pepper, and add the tablespoon of chives.

To serve the dish, ladle 1 ounce of the carrot sauce into a flat bowl. (You will have enough leftover sauce for several future servings.) Pour the vegetable ragout on top of the sauce, and place the scallops on top. Sprinkle chives on top and serve.

Makes 1 serving.

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Day Seven (Saturday)

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

 

Today is the last day of the Loving Local blogathon. Thanks to everyone who has written, read, and donated to Mass Farmers Markets!

Here are the posts we are learning about on Saturday.

Teresa of Farm Share Stories pens a sonnet to her little white eggplant.

JJ of Cuisine en Locale sings the season’s praises.

Betsy at A Plateful of Happiness uses her farmers market haul for an after-work Asian-inspired pasta salad with summer vegetables.

Meghan of Travel, Wine, and Dine sums up her season of produce in words and pictures in honor of Farmers’ Market Week.

Pure Wellness Amy shows off her sense of humor and her culinary skills with a colorful green bean salad.

Sarah in the Kitchen plans a gluten-free meal around her ancho chicken chili.

I, Tinky of In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens, go peachy kean with a summery crumble.

Catherine of Pursuing Domestic Goddess-ness transforms peaches into Loving Local candy.

Myrna of The PescoVegetarian Times samples local products and explains why every week is Farmers’ Market Week at her house.

Nikki at Art and Lemons comes home from the Falmouth Farmers Market with goodies–and a story.

Julie of How Does YOUR Garden Grow? shares a plateful of joy as she extols Holiday Brook Farm in Dalton.

Kathleen of Parlez-Moi Blog remembers a youth of roasting corn and catching frogs and shares a cucumber-salad recipe.

Kel at More Cupcakes! shares her recipe for wheat berry tabouleh (and manages to work in the word “chiffonade”).

Joe at Somerville Local First discusses the ways in which the local-food movement is influencing the local movement in general.

We have TWO posts from Urbivores.net. First, Jeremy discusses the consequences of buying blueberries in bulk. Next, Emma chronicles the summer’s explosion of tomatoes.

We belatedly discovered a post from Monday by Jeremy at Basic Eating in which he discussed his challenge for the week–to discover four edible plants within fifty feet of his front door!

In what I think is our 100th post (although I’m a little bleary eyed so I’ll have to recount later!), Michael of My World by Michael writes of his love for spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce.

Rob at Baked Orchard shares his experience at the Framingham Farmers Market.

Disposable Aardvarks returns with two great lunch recipes and a farmer’s market tour.

Abbe from Out of the Box doesn’t let a little thing like a camping trip get in the way of using and eating a LOT of peaches.

Lara of Good Cook Doris! surveys her local loot before showing off a simple, tasty main dish.

Late Additions:

This one was actually early–but we missed it! Ellen at Bottomless Kitchen announced the blogathon and put in a plea for funds for farmers markets.

Maleah at MassMoms wrote about teaching her little boy where good food comes from.

And Kathleen at Parlez-Moi Blog explains how the blogathon reunited old friends.

Day Six (Friday)

Friday, August 27th, 2010

 

Friday looks like a busy and delicious day for the Loving Local blogathon! If you like what you read, please donate to Mass Farmers Markets…..

Bianca of Confessions of a Chocoholic roasts green and yellow beans and garnishes them with truffle butter … mmm.

Kathleen of Parlez-Moi Blog provides four separate recipes to recreate her family’s lavish traditional potato-pancake picnic

Martin of Free Range at Madroño Ranch in Texas tells of his favorite romantic Massachusetts meal–one at which he wasn’t even present! 

Christy at The Outer Aisle has TWO new posts. First, she makes a simple stir fry with Asian eggplant from her CSA.  Next, she delves into her farmshare and comes up with … callaloo soup (and a little Jimmy Buffett–or should we say Buffet?).

Jeremy of Basic Eating goes back to his front door for a little wood sorrel.

Kate at Village Veggies concocts a succulent Punjab eggplant.

Kel of More Cupcakes! provides our second callalou recipe of the day. (Now, that’s a phrase you don’t hear every day!)

Jillian of (Mis)Adventures with Food gets a few surprises when she tries toasting watermelon seeds.

Catherine of Pursuing Domestic Goddess-ness makes quick pickles with her extra zucchini.

Krista of Disposable Aardvarks gets creative with kale.

Pat the Commonweeder lists ten reasons to shop at farmers markets and comes up with a new local food slogan.

Nikki at Art and Lemons lists five ways to eat more beets along with a recipe for marinated beet salad.

Day Five (Thursday)

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

 

The blogathon entries are still coming in fast and furiously. Here are today’s additions. While you’re reading, PLEASE remember to donate to Mass Farmers Markets to help keep our state’s markets strong.

 

I, Tinky at In Our Grandmothers Kitchens, finally get into the act with summery corn fritters and salsa fresca.

Teresa of Farm Share Stories ponders the reasons for eating local food.

Kel at More Cupcakes! opens her farmshare box and makes roasted vegetables, then discusses her reasons for participating in the blogathon.

Bargain Becky visits the North Scituate Farmers Market to find bargains–and a treat for her kids.

Maryanne of Mama Smiles takes her children to the Bedford Farmers Market, where they try new foods and get their hands stamped.

Pure Wellness Amy shifts gears to visit the Nicewicz Family Farm–and shows off the zucchini-ricotta cheesecake she recently took to a bridal shower.

Kathleen of Parlez-Moi Blog concocts a dark and delicious cherry-rhubarb-brambleberry sauce.

Amy at Madame Menu invites readers to share Baby’s First Farmers Market.

Jeremy at Basic Eating takes a bite out of a plant that is everywhere, the dandelion.

I belatedly acknowledge Katie Cohen‘s VIDEO entry, a short film called Sunday Morning at the Farmers Market. (Sorry, Katie!)

Nikki of Art and Lemons explores the glorious colors of tomatoes and makes a tantalizing soup from them.

Catherine of Pursuing Domestic Goddess-ness ponders her latest farmshare and throws beets and chicken into a curry.

Kimberlea of Lighter and Local puts her haul of veggies and a little bacon into a tempting lasagna.

Megan of Delicious Dishings mixes bright colors and bright flavors in a watermelon, feta, and heirloom tomato salad.

Audrey at Food from Books strays into comfort food by baking penne with corn, zucchini, and basil.

Laurie of Recipes and More from Inspired Cooking features clams and more clams–because she’s from Essex.

Stephanie from atomsatwork celebrates the local food movement and visits the Pittsfield Farmers Market.

Day Four (Wednesday)

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

 
Here are today’s entries in the blogathon. (I hope to add my own tomorrow. Last night’s recipe testing needed a little tweaking!)
 
Betsy at A Plateful of Happiness recalls a rainy day at the Lexington Farmers Market. (She also highlighted the blogathon in a post on Monday, which we missed!)
 
Megan at Delicious Dishings touches on technology and her favorite market while preparing a salad with lemon-basil dressing. 

Jeremy at Basic Eating introduces readers to a nutritious plant called Lamb’s Quarters.

Kathleen of Parlez-Moi Blog proves that home-grown (or farm-grown) dyes are the best with her gorgeous family recipe for pickled eggs with red beets and onions.

Teresa of Farm Share Stories throws together a cozy, vegetable-filled corn chowder.

Suzanne of Locavore in the City uses the summer’s tomato bounty to concoct a pasta-less lasagna.

Catherine of Pursuing Domestic Goddess-ness ponders her weekly CSA share.

Hannah of Strawberries and Tomatoes recounts her excellent night in the kitchen (hint: tomatoes are involved!).

Meggin of Happy Valley Locavore muses on the changes in the weather–and the season.

Deb of The Other Woman Cooks pays tribute to her grandmother–and her garden–with stuffed eggplant.

Frances of Plate to Plate concocts some quick cherry tomato pickles, just in time for martini hour.

Kate at Village Veggies gets creative with zucchini chocolate-chip cookies.

Kimberlea at Lighter and Local uses the ingredients she has in the house to make a peach-cardamom crisp.

Betsy of Bits by Bets inspires parents and kids with an easy way to get servings of fruit. Betsy’s previous post (which we missed) helps families turn garden zucchini into … crab cakes.

Lara of Good Cook Doris! explores farmers markets and also links to some of her colorful market-inspired recipes.