Sunday, August 01, 2010

National Farmers Market Week: Farm Aid Celebrates With Recipes

MattI'd like to think of summertime as "National Farmers Market Season," but I guess that's being a little greedy. Instead, the USDA has announced that August 1-7 is National Farmers Market Week (see the very official proclamation at this PDF link). Last year, we celebrated the week with some of the Farm Aid staff's favorite recipes made from farmers market ingredients (to see them, scroll to the bottom of this page and work your way up) and this year we'll continue that tradition.

To start our recipes off, I'd like to highlight one of my favorite activities after a long day at the Farm Aid office as we prepare for the concert: relaxing with a tasty beverage (or two, in this case)! Yes, fresh herbs, fruits, and even vegetables enhance cocktails of all types.

One of the first things I realized when I started making drinks was the difference using fresh-squeezed juices makes to the end product—no neon-green "sour mix" or "cosmo mix" with a list of artificial ingredients three paragraphs long are allowed in my house. So that's a good start and then adding something like fresh cucumbers and fresh basil, like in these two recipes, takes things over the top. When I visit the farmers market, I'm always looking out for anything I can experiment with eating or drinking.

Irma La Douce
(Created by LUPEC Boston)

This is enough to make one drink and it features a light and delicious cucumber flavor perfect for summertime sipping.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ oz gin (Hendrick's brand, with a subtle cucumber flavor is best, but a brand like Plymouth or others would also be delicious)
  • ½ oz Green Chartreuse
  • ½ oz fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz fresh grapefruit juice
  • 2-3 slices of peeled cucumber
  • ¼ oz simple syrup (1 part sugar mixed with 1 part water – shake or stir to combine)
Directions

Put the cucumber and simple syrup in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and muddle with a muddler or back of a wooden spoon or other tool. Pour other ingredients in and top with ice. Shake the mixture 10-15 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a slice of cucumber (and a sprig of mint if you've got some lying around).

Basil Limeade Slushies
(Adapted from Food & Wine)

And now a non-alcoholic drink the whole family can enjoy! These are also good made with a little light rum or vodka if you are so inclined.

Makes 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups ice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ½ cups fresh lime juice
  • 1 ½ cups lightly packed basil leaves
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup soda water or sparkling water
Directions

Combine all ingredients (except soda water) in a blender and blend until it's as slushy as you want. Pour the limeade into chilled glasses and top with 2 tablespoons of soda water and garnish with a couple more basil sprigs.

Come back all this week for more recipes (and the rest are all food, I promise). If you've got a favorite farmers market recipe or ingredient, feel free to share in the comments!

"Chartreuse" photo courtesy of flickr user Jeremy Brooks through use of Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license. "Basil" photo courtesy of Wikimedia author Fastily through use of Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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