Alhambra Farmers Market
The Alhambra Source is back at the Sunday morning farmer's market. We find a sweet superfruit with an unforgettable aroma, and a delicate produce with a very short shelf life.
There is nothing quite like the morning after a rainstorm. The air feels crisp, cool and refreshing (I would even say cleaner, when compared to the usual SoCal dingyness). It also seems to bring out the aroma of the market: fresh herbs and fruit samples, even vegetables seem to smell more veggie-like. Walking past the tamales and bacon-wrapped hot dog stands, my senses are usually overtaken by the salty savory air, but this time the wind brought with it the unmistakable pungent musk of ripe guavas.
I usually find white flesh guavas at the market, so that vibrant pink contrasting with the green/yellow flesh was quite enchanting. Though I can't really discern a difference in flavor, I've found that pink guavas tend to have a stronger smell than white guavas. Depending on the variety, sometimes the rind can be quite bitter, so usually I just eat it by scooping out the ripe flesh. Guavas are some of the most nutritionally dense fruits available, rich in several vitamins and minerals including vitamins A and C, calcium, and potassium. It is also rich in antioxidants and dietary fiber, which can help in lowering cholesterol levels and in the prevention of gastrointestinal cancers.
I haven't tried a lot of savory guava recipes, but that's not going to stop me from trying these guava barbecue ribs. A quick Google search reveals guava's home truly is in dessert sweets and treats. This recipe for guava cake sounds perfect with a cup of coffee on a lazy Sunday morning. Because of their high levels of pectin, guavas make wonderful jellies and preserves. Just mentioning guava jelly reminds me of the AMAZING pastries from Porto's bakery.
Edible flowers with a lovely zucchini perfume
With colder weather finally setting in, we can expect to find hardy produce like brussel sprouts and winter squash filling up the market stands. But this is definitely not the case with these squash blossoms, which are very delicate and quite finicky. If properly prepped and refrigerated, they will last a few days before wilting/drying out, but without proper care they will be useless by the day's end. I suggest using them a few hours after bringing them back from the market, as you can never be too sure how long they've been in transit.Squash blossoms can be harvested from practically any type of squash, (like zucchinis and pumpkins). Both male and female blossoms can be harvested, the male being attached to a thin stem while the female is attached to the growing fruit. They are available in both summer and winter, though usually summer blossoms tend to have a more pronounced flavor, being slightly sweeter and less bitter. This is not to say that winter blossoms aren't tasty in their own right. The blossoms can be eaten raw in salad (some suggest for the removal of the inner stamen, but I really enjoy the fresh burst of flavor they have), but the majority of recipes I've found always pair it with some gooey melted cheese. Combined with Oaxaca queso and roasted peppers in a quesadilla or stuffed with a ricotta-parmesan mixture and fried tempura style. Use a pastry bag (or a ziploc bag with corner snipped) to fill the blossoms, as they can get rather awkward when trying to stuff. Also be careful not to overfill, as the filling can burst and ooze out while cooking. Seasonalchef.com has some great recipes, including squash blossom frittatas and hush puppies.If same day cooking is not possible, you must wash and dry them thoroughly. I set up a bowl of cold water and let them soak for a few minutes, then dry them in a salad spinner. Then wrap them gently in a paper towels (which will help wick away excess moisture/condensation), and placed in a ziploc bag in the coldest part of the fridge. This will keep for up to three days.
You got tips? Anyone know of a guava squash flower concoction? Let me know!