KENT: Every year, local farmers markets host their “holiday markets” promising a wealth of winter produce, meats and other treats to grace our holiday tables.
But just how much holiday is there to be had? For sure, there would be jars of jam and crafts for gift-giving, but was it really the place to shop for Christmas dinner?
I gave myself this challenge: Create an entire Christmas dinner from what I could find only at a holiday farmers market. Would this be dinner impossible? I was about to find out.
Mentally, I set some ground rules. I would allow myself pantry staples such as salt, pepper, herbs and spices, milk, butter, oil and broth, but all fresh ingredients had to come from the market.
On Saturday, I ventured to Kent for the Haymaker Farmers Market’s annual Holiday Market held inside at 11 S. River St. It wasn’t large, but it was packed with a wide variety of items.
One of the first displays to catch my eye was Birdsong Farm from Garrettsville, which offered a wealth of lettuce and salad greens, as well as radishes, carrots and other root vegetables.
Several vendors were selling artisan bread, a must for any meal, and there was plenty of cheese — goat cheese from Ornery Goat Farm in Edinburgh Township and Lucky Penny Creamery in Kent, and cow’s milk cheese from Meadow Maid of Fredericktown.
There was Ohio maple syrup and local honey, along with Ohio City Pasta, chocolates, Christmas cookies, pumpkin rolls and pierogi.
There was plenty of produce of the winter variety: Brussels sprouts, beets, potatoes, leeks, onions, garlic, assorted squash, turnips, green tomatoes, apples, chestnuts and kale.
It seemed that there was almost too much to select from, but the meal was still lacking an entree.
Then Katrina Kohout of Salt of the Earth Farm in Randolph Township provided just what this dinner needed. Kohout produces beef, pork and poultry on her farm and can provide ham, cuts of pork or beef, chicken, turkey or goose for holiday dining. Folks can order from her website (www.saltoftheearthfarm.com) and she’ll deliver up to Christmas Eve.
On Saturday, she had large roasting chickens available, but when she produced a boneless, skinless turkey breast from her freezer case, I knew I had found our entree.
Perhaps it was her location next to Isaac Mills breads from Garrettsville, but I immediately could envision the breast stuffed, rolled and roasted for an elegant holiday dinner presentation.
The one key ingredient that would have made my meal preparation easier was celery, which unfortunately was not to be had. Celery does provide key foundation flavors and is helpful when preparing items like soups or stuffings, but I managed to soldier on without it.
Here is the menu I created and some recipes for taking the goods from holiday market to holiday table.
For predinner nibbling: assorted cheeses, breads, apple butter and jams.
Salad: Mixed greens with roasted beets, onions and feta cheese.
Soup: Roasted butternut squash soup, topped with a drizzle of Ohio maple syrup.
Entree: Boneless breast of turkey stuffed with a bread, apple and chestnut dressing, served with potato and turnip mash and honey-glazed carrots.
Dessert: Locally made chocolates, cookies and pumpkin roll.
MIXED GREEN SALAD WITH BEETS, ONIONS AND FETA
8 cups mixed salad greens, washed and spun dry
1 lb. small beets
⅓ cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 onion, diced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Prepared vinaigrette dressing
Scrub beets and peel skins away. Place on a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and roast in a preheated 400-degree oven until beets are soft enough to pierce easily with a fork.
Remove from oven. Cool and slice into circles.
Toss greens with dressing. Arrange greens on individual plates or place in large salad bowl.
Arrange beets on top. Top with crumbled feta and onion. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
2 butternut squash, split in half lengthwise
2 tbsp. butter
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
6 to 8 cups low-salt chicken broth
¼ tsp. dried cumin, or more to taste
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper, or more to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
⅔ cup heavy cream
Ohio maple syrup for drizzling
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove seeds from squash, drizzle inside with olive oil and place cut sides up on baking sheet.
Roast until squash is very soft, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
In the bottom of a large pot, melt butter, add onion, sprinkle with salt, and saute until very soft, but not browned.
Scrape squash pulp into pot. Add 6 cups of broth and stir well to combine.
Working in batches, puree soup in a blender until smooth. Strain before returning to a clean pot. Season soup with salt, pepper, cumin and cayenne.
If mixture is too thick, thin with additional broth until it reaches desired consistency, using more than 8 cups if necessary to suit your taste.
Simmer finished soup over low heat to blend flavors. Just before serving, stir in heavy cream.
Ladle soup into bowls and drizzle tops with maple syrup.
Makes 8 to 12 servings.
Note: The market offered no celery, but feel free to add two or three ribs, diced, with the onions.
BONELESS BREAST OF TURKEY WITH APPLE CHESTNUT STUFFING
1 boneless, skinless breast of turkey (about 4 lbs.)
1 large loaf rustic white bread, cubed (about 2 lbs.)
1 cup boiled, peeled and chopped chestnuts
1 small to medium onion, chopped
2 apples, peeled and diced (any variety but not sour apples)
1 stick melted butter
1½ cups low-salt chicken broth, warmed, plus extra for bottom of pan
2 tsp. fresh chopped sage or ½ tsp. dried
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or 1½ tbsp. dried
Salt and pepper
Split leeks and clean by soaking in cold water to remove all dirt and grit. Chop.
Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and onions and saute until soft, but not browned. Add apples and continue to cook until softened. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, combine bread cubes, chestnuts, apple-leek mixture, sage and parsley. Season with about ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste.
Mix to combine well. Alternately, drizzle mixture with melted butter and warm broth, and continuing mixing, using your hands if easier, until all butter and broth has been incorporated. Mixture will be soft.
Lay turkey breast open (with side that had the skin down) over three long pieces of butcher’s twine. If breast is too thick to roll easily, place between two sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper and pound slightly to flatten.
Season breast with salt and pepper. Spread stuffing over breast. Roll up and secure tightly with twine.
Place breast in a roasting pan. Brush outside with olive oil and season outside with salt and pepper. Add a little low-salt chicken broth to bottom of pan, tent with foil and roast in 350-degree oven until breast and stuffing reach 165 degrees on a food thermometer.
Remove from oven and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove twine and slice breast into circles.
Makes 6 servings.
Note: The market offered no celery, but feel free to add two or three ribs, diced, with the apples.
POTATO AND TURNIP MASH
WITH ROASTED GARLIC
1 head garlic
3 lbs. potatoes, peeled and chunked
1 lb. turnips, peeled and chunked
¾ cup milk, warmed
½ cup sour cream
1 stick butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel loose outer skin from garlic head. Slice top off to expose tops of cloves. Place on sheet of foil. Drizzle with olive oil. Wrap up in foil. Place in oven and roast about 30 minutes, until cloves inside are buttery soft.
Boil potatoes and turnips in salted water until fork tender. Drain well, return to pot, cover and place over low heat for a few minutes to remove any remaining water.
Using an electric mixer, mash potatoes and turnips until they break apart. Add butter and sour cream and continue mixing until combined. Add milk slowly, until mash is fluffy and soft. You may not need the whole amount. Add at least four cloves of the roasted garlic or more to taste, using a spoon or rubber spatula to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
For a more rustic mash, use a hand-held potato masher and mash just enough to combine ingredients, leaving chunks of potatoes and turnips intact.
Makes 8 servings.
2 lbs. young carrots, peeled
½ stick butter
⅓ cup honey
Dash of allspice or cinnamon
Pepper, to taste
If carrots are small, leave whole. If large, slice on the diagonal.
In a steamer basket set over boiling water, steam carrots until desired tenderness is reached. Remove from heat.
In a separate skillet, melt butter. Stir honey into melted butter over low heat until well combined. Add a dash of allspice or cinnamon and mix into honey sauce. Add carrots into glaze and stir over low heat until carrots are well coated. Season with pepper, to taste.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Lisa Abraham can be reached at 330-996-3737 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.