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May 06, 2008

Opening Day

Dominic Armato
In our household, the opening of the Baltimore Farmers Market has been received like a holiday.

It's been marked on my calendar for a few months now. I spent the winter in a culinary rut, and couldn't wait to be inspired by some beautiful, fresh produce. We didn't arrive in Baltimore until the middle of last summer, so I was curious to see if it would be in full swing off the bat. I'm pleased to report that while it isn't quite summer abundance, the spring market is just barely off its peak. Asparagus is all over the place, and that'll be my primary target next week. But for opening day, we hit some old favorites. The mushroom stand, in particular, was looking fantastic and I splurged on some morels, as well as some fresh eggs, onion chives and ciabatta to go with them.

Dominic Armato
We also grabbed some snacks we'd missed since the fall. The mushroom stand makes some outstanding mushroom fritters, fried on the spot and served with feta cheese, mesclun greens, basil and hot sauce. This is one of my favorite mushroom dishes anywhere, light and crisp but still juicy and moist inside. They're worth the trip all on their own. I'm also a fan of the chive buns from the Vietnamese stand and the chicken tamales, though the latter was absent this week. So we wandered around, snacked a bit, and went on home to cook up some breakfast.

It isn't the most unique recipe, but I don't know of any better way to celebrate the opening of the farmers market than by preparing its bounty as simply as possible. If you're somebody who has always cooked scrambled eggs hard and fast, you owe it to yourself to make them this way. There's no going back. Here, I've just dressed them up with some of Sunday's haul. It's a snooty-looking recipe, but it doesn't have to be. I like the little bit of tartness that the buffalo milk butter provides, but don't go hunting it down. Plain old unsalted butter will be just as awesome. Similarly, any old chives will do, and of course this would work great with a myriad of mushrooms. I'd avoid the really watery mushrooms like button and crimini in favor of varieties like shiitake or oyster, but again, it's all good -- use what you have.




Dominic Armato

1 Tbsp. buffalo milk butter
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 pint morel mushrooms
1/4 C. chopped onion chives
6 large eggs
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
toast
1 Tbsp. grated parmigiano reggiano
salt and pepper

Scrambled Eggs with Sautéed Morels and Onion Chives
Serves 2

The eggs require a lot of attention and the morels can sit, so you want to prepare the morels first. There are two schools of thought on whether or not morels should be washed, and I'm still on the fence. But if you wash them, try to give them plenty of time to dry before sautéeing them. Halve or quarter them lengthwise (depending on their size) so you can remove anything that might be inside the hollow stems. To cook the morels, heat the buffalo milk butter and olive oil over medium-high heat, then add the morels and sauté until they just soften. Toss in 1 Tbsp. of the chives, remove the mushrooms from the heat, salt and pepper them to taste and set them aside.

Then, to make the eggs, combine the unsalted butter and eggs in a cold nonstick skillet, preferably one with sloping sides. Put the skillet over medium heat, and gently whisk the eggs as they warm up. You don't want to beat them and make them foamy, but you want to keep them moving. As the eggs start to heat and thicken, you need to watch them very carefully. Whisk them constantly, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the skillet. If they start to stick just the slightest bit, remove them from the heat, keep whisking for a bit, them return them to the heat. After five or six minutes, small curds will start to form. At this point they can go from liquid to overcooked in a matter of moments, so periodically remove and return them to the heat, whisking the whole time, until they reach kind of a loose oatmeal consistency. At this point, you want to get them off the heat, stir in 2 Tbsp. of the chives, salt to taste, and quickly split them between two plates. You want them to be loose and a little wet (they're actually a little overdone in this photo), and they'll keep cooking for a good 20-30 seconds after you remove them from the heat, so don't wait too long to get them off the heat.

Top the eggs with the morels, the parmigiano reggiano and the rest of the chives, and serve with toast.

Comments

I guess that answers my previous question. A good start to the market this year with nice weather to help kick it off. Huge turn out and I even went straight around 8am. Got some green onions and hen of the woods mushrooms and was surprised to see South Mountain Creamery there (might be a nice place to get some fresh cream for soups).

Did you guys get to enjoy the pleasures of Donut Man last year? He was out of commission again on Sunday, and I remember him having some problems on and off last year too.

Yeah, I caught the creamery, too! Didn't sample any this week, but you can bet I'm brainstorming for next week.

We DID try the donuts last year. I enjoyed them a lot, but they didn't inspire quite the level of devotion in me that they seem to in so many others. Hopefully he makes it back, but I won't be crushed if he doesn't. If those mushroom fritters go, though, I may weep :-)

Yeah, I caught the creamery, too! Didn't sample any this week, but you can bet I'm brainstorming for next week.

We DID try the donuts last year. I enjoyed them a lot, but they didn't inspire quite the level of devotion in me that they seem to in so many others. Hopefully he makes it back, but I won't be crushed if he doesn't. If those mushroom fritters go, though, I may weep :-)

Now I understand why we miscommunicated about the Farmer's Market cooked mushrooms at the dinner tonight: I was talking about the Waverly Farmers'Market, which to me is THE MARKET, and you were mentioning the downtown market. Got it.
South Mountain Creamery, as well as having the creamiest 2% milk I've tasted, has very good ham slices and fantastic chuck and steak cuts of beef. And their butter packs good flavor.

2 more comments:

It was a pleasure to meet your ladylove and your 24 hour obsession; and I really appreciate the attention you give to scrambling eggs, wich few people do.

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