Tag Archives: Holland Farmers Market Chef Series

Spicing Things Up at the Holland Farmers Market


Today’s Chef Series demo at the Holland Farmers Market was called “Spicing Things Up” by Alonzo Salinas and the crew at Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant in Holland, Michigan.

Established in 1994 by his parents, Jose and Margarita, Alonzo is now owner and chef. Many family members are employed at the restaurant as well.

Like many of the chefs who share their recipes at the market, Alonzo said Margarita’s aims for the freshest ingredients possible.

They showed the crowd how to make salsa the way it’s been done in Mexico, by smashing the jalapenos and roasted tomatoes together with a mortar and pestle called a molcajete.

 They also demonstrated Chicken Tortilla Soup, which is on the menu at Margarita’s.

Doesn’t that look delicious? Margarita’s is not only my favorite Mexican restaurant in West Michigan, but it’s also the closest one to my home. We are so lucky to have this family-owned and operated authentic Mexican eatery in Holland.

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Light Summer Favorites from the Farmers Market


This is the time of the growing season in West Michigan when there are so many vegetables and fruits to choose from, it’s hard not to be greedy. One way to preserve them, of course, is by canning, making jam, or freezing them.

But if you’re looking for some new recipes, check out Chef Randy Taylor’s suggestions from the Holland Farmers Market Chef Series: Warm Grilled Michigan Potato Salad and Sautéed Fruits over Ice Cream.

Executive Chef at Hope College’s Haworth Inn & Conference Center, Randy demonstrated “Light Summer Favorites” at this morning’s market.

He began by preparing the vegetables for the Warm Grilled Michigan Potato Salad.

The key to the dressing is the tomato puree, made from tomatoes that have been roasted, skinned, and squeezed to remove most of the juice and seeds.

A variety of vegetables make up the salad: redskin potatoes, zucchini, celery, green beans and yellow beans, a red onion, and garlic, as well as fresh herbs.

It’s a unique approach to a summer favorite!

Next, Randy showed us how to score, blanch, and peel peaches.

One of the key ingredients to the sauce is amaretto liqueur.

A mix of fruit adds layers of flavors as well as textures.

Spooned over ice cream, this recipe makes a refreshing summertime dessert!

These are two delicious recipes for dishes you can create with many ingredients that are in season at the farmers market.

Dressing Up Fruits and Vegetables with Fustini’s Oils & Vinegars


It’s peak growing season in West Michigan. With so many vegetables and fruits currently available in this region, which is deprived of fresh produce much of the year, you can’t have too many ideas for how to prepare them.

Today Lane Milligan, of Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars, showed a crowd at the Holland Farmers Market Chef Series some interesting ways to bring out the best in fresh produce from the farmers’ market.

She prepared two recipes: Peach and Garlic Blueberry Salad, and Green Room Cabbage Salad. Both recipes incorporated Fustini’s special fusions of oils and vinegars, which you can learn more about on their website. Or, if you live in Michigan, stop in for a taste at one of their four stores located in Traverse City, Petoskey, Ann Arbor, or Holland.

After preparing these delicious salads, Lane showed us how to reduce balsamic vinegar for a sweet sauce that you can add to fruit.

Isn’t that a mouth-watering plate of fresh fruit? What a great idea for a simple dessert. Thanks, Lane, for some new ideas for dressing up fruits and vegetables!

Herbalicious Recipes from the Holland Farmers Market


At the Holland Farmers Market Chef Series today, Tamara Elhart focused on herbs in her demonstration, “Herbalicious.” 

A caterer who runs a cooking class business out of her home, Tamara had several great recipes for using herbs from your garden and at the market: Mediterranean Herbed Olive Oil, Grilled Herb Burgers, Pizza Bianca, and Potato Crisps with Herbs. (You can link to her recipes on the Holland Farmers Market website.)

Like last Saturday, the skies threatened rain so the demo was held inside, but there was still a great turnout.

Tamara had lots of good tips about using herbs:

  • Refrigerate the Mediterranean Herbed Olive Oil at least one day for the flavors to develop.
  • Snip basil leaves from the top, which also encourages growth.
  • Cut herbs in the fall to use during the winter and for gifts at the holidays.
  • Preserve herbs by storing them in boxes of kosher salt.

The Pizza Bianca recipe is an easy one that you can do either on the grill or in the oven.

When making the Potato Crisps, Tamara used an old-style mandolin to make even slices.

Because of the switch to an indoor demo, she wasn’t able to make the Grilled Herb Burgers so she grilled one ahead of time, shown here with Potato Crisps.

Here’s what they look like before grilling.

Now is the time for using fresh herbs in West Michigan and in many places around the world that are in the peak of the growing season.

What recipes are your favorites?

Hot Off the Grill


Here’s another post written and photographed by my friends Isa and Jo while I was on vacation. I really appreciate their help! (Check out their first blog post on tapas, too.)

On July 17, Christine Ferris of Christine Ferris Catering prepared for us Grilled Roulades, Smoked Tomato Sauce for Pizza or Pasta and Grilled Peaches With Brandy.

Chris made good jokes and shared her experience of cooking with us. She cooks, grills and prepares food with fun and joy for as many as 500 people and sometimes even more. She told us also good tips and tricks, which were very helpful for us.

Chris also had a couple of good stories to tell us. One of them was this one: Many years ago she worked as a housemaid in Australia. At this time she was watching the space capsule on television, while she was grating. She was so excited that she wasn’t watching her fingers and then she suddenly grated her finger. Now she still gets a little scared from it. That’s why she has respect for the grater.
   
Grilled Zucchini Roulades Filled with Herbed Goat Cheese


Smoked Tomato Sauce for Pizza or Pasta

Grilled Peaches with Brandy

Here are the recipes she followed:

She also provided some useful tips for grilling and buying herbs as well as goat cheese:

1. How to clean the grill
 Clean the grill with a brush, then roll a towel and dip it into water, clean the grill with the wet towel, then dip another towel into oil, rub the grill with it.
    
 2.   How to pour oil on the grill
Start with the side which is further away from you and then go slowly toward you.

3. Where to buy the chips for the grill for Smoked Tomato Sauce for Pizza or Pasta
 You can buy them at store such as Meijer if you live in West Michigan.

4. How to cut herbs
 😦 Don’t cut fast with a dull knife because there won’t be any of the good oils left which give their flavor.
 🙂 Take a sharp knife and roll the herbs gently to a little roll and cut them.

5. Which garlic is the best?
 Buy the garlic that is full; don’t buy chopped garlic because it doesn’t taste very good.
If there are green sprouts growing out of the clove take them out, because they taste bitter.

6. Which goat cheese to use for the Grilled Zucchini Roulades
 The best goat cheese is the fresh cheese from Visser Farm.

Tapas at the Market: The Belly Rules the Mind


While I was on vacation, my friends Isa and Jo covered the Chef Series at the Holland Farmers Market. The following blog post is their article, which includes photos they took during the demonstration. 

On July 10, Tom Hoover from Hope College cooked for us with his assistant Tim Roader, who is also from Hope College. They prepared tapas. We know that tapas are from Spain, and because Spain played against the Netherlands in the final World Cup match, our cook chose this food.

Tom explained  the history of tapas using information from Wikipedia:

The word “tapas” comes from the Spanish verb tapar, “to cover.”

The tapas tradition began when King Alfonso X of Castile recovered from an illness by drinking wine with small dishes between meals. After regaining his health, the king ordered that taverns would not be allowed to serve wine to customers unless it was accompanied by a small snack or “tapa.”

According to the Joy of Cooking the original tapas were the slices of bread or meat which sherry drinkers in Andalusian taverns used to cover their glasses between sips. This was a practical measure meant to prevent fruit flies from hovering over the sweet sherry. The meat used to cover the sherry was normally ham or chorizo, which are both very salty and activate thirst. Because of this, bartenders and restaurant owners began creating a variety of snacks to serve with sherry, thus increasing their alcohol sales. The tapas eventually became as important as the sherry.

Tapas has evolved through Spanish history by incorporating ingredients and influences from many different cultures and countries. Most of the Iberian Peninsula was invaded by the Romans, who introduced the olive and irrigation methods. The invasion of the North African Moors in the 8th century brought almonds, citrus fruits and fragrant spices. The influence of their 700-year presence remains today, especially in Andalusia. The discovery of the New World brought the introduction of tomatoes, sweet and chili peppers, maize (corn), beans and potatoes. These were readily accepted and easily grown in Spain’s microclimates.

As we know, Spain is a quite big country, and they have all kinds of tapas from different parts of the country.

First our cooks made a Tomato and Watermelon Salad which comes from Basque.


After that they prepared Fried Goat Cheese with Honey from Madrid.


And at last they cooked a Smokey Lake Perch with Pine Nut Sauce which has a Mediterranean origin.

Here are the recipes they followed:

Get Fresh and Leafy Green!


The Saturday Holland Farmers’ Market Chef Series continued today with Sybil Cathey, owner of The New Leaf Cafe (formerly Leaf & Bean Organic Cafe). (I missed it last week, but I still made sure to stop at my local–as in nearest to my campground–farmers’ market in Suttons Bay while camping in Leelanau County! Watch for that post coming soon.)

Sybil focused on a green theme with recipes such as: Cucumber Soup, Pineapple & Cucumber Salad, the New Leaf Cafe’s Famous Green Drink, a Smoothie with Green, and a Summer Cobbler.

It’s so important for us to get our greens each day. Sybil demonstrated some great recipes with ingredients you can get at the Holland Farmers’ Market every Wednesday and Saturday.

The Cucumber Soup is an easy meal to make in a blender. Just puree all the ingredients, chill and enjoy!

The Pineapple & Cucumber Salad looked delicious!

From there, it was on to smoothies….Both the Famous Green Drink and the Smoothie with Green looked refreshing–and healthy. Both are easy drinks to make in a blender.

Then it was on to the Summer Cobbler–made with blueberries, of course, because they are in season right now!

The New Leaf Cafe serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even ice cream. It’s a great place to go for soups, coffees, homemade baked goods, and sandwiches!

Plus, they have free Wi-Fi. It’s a cozy place to take a break, have a meal, and eat healthy.