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Green City Market Cookbook celebrates recipes with local, quality ingredients

Green City Market, farm fresh inspired cooking
Green City Market, farm fresh inspired cooking
Green City Market

During the warmer months, home chefs rely on local markets to provide farm fresh fruits and vegetables to incorporate into their special dishes. While fresh, local farms provide amazing produce all year long, many home chefs incorporate more ingredients into their cooking during the summer. Green City Market, located in Chicago, is a year round local farmer's market but the summer highlights the farmers' product.

As the height of summer hits, Green City Market offers a plethora of items for sale. Tomatoes and stone fruits as sweet as candy. Peppers, zucchini and eggplant rich with the taste of the sun. The farm stands overflow with the bounty.

This year Green City Market has published a cookbook to offer inspiration for all the delicious local foods. The cookbook is available for purchase at the market (open Wednesdays and Saturdays) or can be purchased online. For more information on Green City Market, please visit the website at http://www.greencitymarket.org/.

Below are two recipes from the Green City Market Cookbook. These recipes might inspire fresh, local cooking in your kitchen for more than just the summer.

Creamy Polenta with Braised Greens and Mushrooms

After we started producing cornmeal at Three Sisters, we discovered the magic of a bowl of slightly sweet polenta with a quick mix of whatever we have in the fridge. Short on time, we are always looking for a good way to get an appealing meal on the table as quickly as possible. I particularly like the earthy flavors of mushrooms and greens, so this dish is an easy choice after a day in the field. Paired with grilled chicken or pork, it makes a wonderfully rich and satisfying dinner, but can be ready to eat in under an hour. --Tracey Vowell and Kathe Roybal, Farmers, Three Sisters Garden

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Makes 4 servings

1 whole head garlic
1 bunch Swiss chard, kale or lamb's-quarters
1 pound fresh oyster and/or shiitake mushrooms
1 small white onion, chopped
1 fresh hot pepper, such as serrano or habanero, seeded, minced
4 cups milk
1 cup fine white cornmeal
Salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
1/2 to 3/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock or broth
1 (2-ounce) piece firm grating cheese such as Brunkow Cheeese's Little Darling

Heat oven to 350°F. Separate garlic head into cloves; do not peel cloves. Roast garlic cloves in a large dry skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until they begin to brown and garlic feels soft when squeezed, 8 to 10 minutes. Peel and finely chop garlic; set aside.

Wash chard; shake off excess water. Holding onto leaves, pull off and discard thick stems. Coarsely chop chard; set aside. Clean mushrooms discarding tough stems; cut mushrooms into bite-sized pieces; set aside.

In a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, bring milk just to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium; pour in cornmeal slowly, whisking constantly. Whisk in 1/2 teaspoon salt. When mixture is slightly thickened, cover saucepan and place in oven. Whisk after 10 minutes.

Continue to bake 10 minutes; whisk again. If polenta is too thick, stir in additional milk or water. If it is too thin, cover and return to oven for 5 minutes. Stir in pepper; keep warm.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large deep sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and reserved garlic; sauté until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add onion, hot pepper and thyme sprigs; continue to sauté for 5 minutes. Add chard and 1/2 cup broth; cook, stirring occasionally, until chard is tender. If dry, add remaining 1/4 cup broth. Season to taste with salt.

Spoon polenta into 4 shallow bowls; top with vegetable mixture. Grate cheese over each serving.

Tart Cherry Pecan Crisp

Tart cherry pie is one of my favorite desserts, but making and rolling out the crust is time consuming, so this easy crisp is a good substitute. The Michigan tart cherry season is very short; sometimes they are at the Market for only two weeks. When that happens, I like to buy them in bulk, pit them and freeze them in gallon-size freezer bags. For this recipe, I first soak the cherries in ice water for three hours in the refrigerator, which helps firm them up, making pitting easier. The versatile crumble topping can be used for any lightly sweetened fruit mixture, including peaches, pears or a mixture of berries.
--Carol Mighton Haddix, Customer

Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Makes 6 servings

1 quart (4 cups) tart cherries, pitted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 400°F. Mix cherries and granulated sugar in a bowl; mix well.

Mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Add butter; mix with a pastry blender or quickly with fingers until small pea-sized pieces form. Stir in pecans.

Place cherry mixture in an 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan. Place the topping mixture on top of the cherries. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the topping is browned and the filling is bubbling. Remove from oven and let stand 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.