Fresh From the Farm by Katie Malich-New Year’s Tastes

Today’s Farmers Market is a great place to shop for healthy holiday entertaining. See 2009 out in style with friends and family while supporting local farms and farmers. This week’s Farmer’s Table provides some easy, hassle-free appetizer recipes.

Shoppers at the Culver City Farmers Market are fortunate to have a wide selection of gourmet items as well as fresh seasonal fruit, vegetables, eggs, honey and nuts. Laurent Bonjour has an excellent selection of imported and domestic cheeses. If you want to prepare your own gourmet cheese tray, don’t forget to purchase some of his guava paste and visit other merchants offering fresh local honey, dried fruit and nuts. Some fresh Asian and Bartlett pear slices, drizzled with just a little fresh lemon juice to prevent darkening, provide a wonderful complement to the cheese.

You’ll find fresh ceviche at the seafood stand next to Bonjour’s cheese truck at the south (Culver Boulevard) side of the market. Serve it with slices of baguettes from one of the market’s bakery stands. If you want to offer your guests some hot appetizers or a more substantial offering, pick up a selection of empanadas, tamales, and salsas from the Main Street Bakery and Corn Maiden booths.

When game time rolls around on New Years Day, feast without missing a play by offering up some of the Farmers Market’s freshly roasted peanuts and Kettle Korn accompanied, of course, by your favorite football watching beverages. For more substantial munching, you can set out a tray with a variety of farmers market hummus with pita chips and vegetable sticks as dippers. Roasted garlic, red pepper and traditional plain hummus are always popular flavors. For the more adventurous guests, add in some artichoke-parmesan, pine nut, and cilantro hummus mixes to your Middle Eastern meze spread.

The Culver City Farmers Market is held Tuesdays from 3 to 7 p.m. on Main Street between Venice and Culver Boulevards.

From the Farmer’s Table

Whether you’re having friends over on New Year’s Eve to watch the ball drop in New York City’s Times Square or hosting football fans to watch the Rose Bowl game on January 1, 2010, these quick and easy appetizers will hit the spot.

Chicken Kabobs with Peanut-Lime Sauce
(serves 4)

Start the preparation for these Thai-inspired kabobs earlier in the day, so the chicken can marinate. The skewers and sauce can be refrigerated for a few hours, and then cooked to order once the guests have arrived.

2 T peanut oil
1 T fresh lime juice
1 slice fresh ginger
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into small cubes.
12 wooden skewers


Mix the oil and lime juice together in medium-sized bowl. Add the ginger slice. Add the cubed chicken and stir to make sure the chicken is covered with the marinade. Cover the bowl and set inside the refrigerator to marinate. It should marinate for at least ten minutes. If you are going to leave it in the refrigerator for over half an hour, drain the marinade and return the chicken, covered, to the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, soak 12 wooden skewers in water (this prevents them from burning during broiling).

1 t chili powder
5 T water
1 T oil
1 small onion, grated
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
2 T fresh lime juice
4 T crunchy natural peanut butter
1 t. salt
1 t. curry powder

Mix the chili powder with one tablespoon water. Heat the oil in a saucepan, and fry the onion and garlic until tender. Turn down the heat and add the remaining ingredients. Stir well. You can add additional water, a teaspoon at a time, if the dipping sauce is too thick. Remove from heat, but keep warm.

Place the cubed chicken on the skewers. Cook them under the broiler, turning often until cooked and browned on the outside, approximately 10 minutes.

lettuce leaves, cucumber slices and carrot curls.

Serve on a platter with dipping sauce in a matching dish. Garnish with carrot curls and cucumber slices arranged on lettuce leaves.

Pepper Jack Quesadillas
(12-24 appetizer servings)

12 8-inch flour tortillas
generous 1 1/2 c. grated pepper jack cheese

12 T vegetable oil

you can garnish with any or all, as desired:
sour cream

You can assemble these quesadillas earlier in the day, wrapping them and refrigerating them until just before they are grilled. Or you can prepare them as you grill them.

Place scant 1/3 c. grated pepper jack cheese on tortilla, scattering it evenly around. Top with another tortilla.

Pour enough oil to barely coat the bottom of your skillet and place it over medium heat for a minute. (If you are using a well-seasoned cast iron skillet, you can omit the oil.) Once the skillet is hot, add the assembled quesadilla and cook until the cheese starts to melt (about 2 minutes). Turn with spatula, and cook until cheese is entirely melted (about 2-3 minutes). Remove, cut into wedges, and serve. Continue cooking the remaining quesadillas in the same manner. Serve with bowls of sour cream, guacamole, and salsa, so they can garnish their quesadillas to taste.

Vegetable Dip with Dill

1 Japanese cucumber
2 T chopped chives (or finely minced scallions, green parts only)
1 T fresh dill, minced
1 c. sour cream or plain yogurt (or 1/2 c. each)
1/2 t. salt (Kosher salt works well with this recipe, if available)
very small pinch ground white pepper
generous dash Japanese rice wine vinegar

Wash cucumber, cut off both ends and slice lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Finely mince cucumber. Mix the cucumber, chives, dill and sour cream/yogurt. Add salt, white pepper, and dash of rice wine vinegar. Adjust seasonings if desired. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. Serve with an assortment of raw vegetables, such as sliced baby zucchini, carrot sticks, celery, edible (sugar or snow) pea pods, sliced red pepper, peeled and sliced kohlrabi and jicama sticks.

Katie Malich makes her quesadillas in a cast-iron skillet without oil, and is a big fan of using yogurt as a base for dips.

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