‘Tis the season for festivals and markets. This past weekend my friends and I whooped it up in prom attire volunteering at the Fashion Week 5K, followed by the annual Corn Hill Arts Festival for some shenanigans in the wine tent. We concluded our adventure with some impulse buys, and $30 worth of cheese at a local wine bar called Flight. We won’t discuss how we played Wheel of Wine with the sommelier and failed miserably. The wine was so good that we didn’t mind. For fresh, seasonal produce, our Public Market is open year-round but we also have a few smaller markets that are fun to frequent. Hangover Sunday included a visit to the favorite market that my friends and I have affectionately dubbed “Snobby Brighton Market.” This is a seasonal market open from May to October that offers food from local growers and a nice selection of organic items. The prices run a little higher than the Public Market and the crowd is much tamer than the people who you would meet downtown. Ironically, the nicest part about Snobby Brighton Market is that the vendors are very friendly and actually have time to chat with you, and you can ask them about ingredients that you would not be able to find anywhere else (unless you have your own garden at home).
I had tried deep-fried, cheese-filled squash blossoms at Mario Batali’s restaurant in Las Vegas and at the home of my childhood friend’s parents who hail from Calabria, Italy. As a side note, she has since opened her own pasta company in North Carolina and you can find her fresh pasta in public markets there. For those who don’t know, a squash blossom is the yellow, edible flower that eventually bears zucchini. About a year ago I was inspired by a blog post on Williams-Sonoma that I can no longer retrieve for you (my attempt to click on it alerted my virus software to a trojan, so I will spare you the trouble of potential harm and scanning your entire system). Since that failed, I had to devise a recipe from memory and add a few twists of my own. The recipe was for a pizza that featured squash blossoms, asparagus and goat cheese. I asked my friend where the heck I might find them and she told me to call her parents since they grow zucchini in their back yard. They are about an hour and fifteen minutes away which is not terribly convenient. I decided to inquire about the availability of squash blossoms at Snobby Brighton Market and was informed by a vendor, Fisher Hill Farms, that I could order them in advance and pick them up first thing on a Sunday morning. The flowers are about $.75 a piece, so you’ll want them as fresh as possible and you will want to use them in a special recipe.
Lady Sensory’s Snobby Market Pizza
(Asparagus, goat cheese and squash blossoms)
3 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt (to taste)
1 pre-made pizza shell (I used Wegmans whole wheat Naan Pizza Shell, but you could use a Boboli or something else you prefer)
12-14 asparagus spears, trimmed and blanched
6 squash blossoms (yellow zucchini flowers), rinsed, stemmed and cut in half, lengthwise
4 oz goat cheese, cut into small chunks
2 oz shredded pizza cheese (mixture of mozzarella and provolone)
Sprinkle of lightly grated Parmesan cheese
Cracked black pepper, to taste
You will most likely want to use the instructions on the pizza shells (or with regular pizza dough if you have time to spare to let the dough rise. I didn’t so I went with what was easy). Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. I used my pizza stone from a purchase party, but you could also use a cookie sheet or grill. Some people heat their stone ahead of time. I know how accident prone I am so I typically just roll with a room temperature stone and it has always been fine. Place your shell on the stone. Press three cloves of garlic into a small prep bowl and mix with 1 tbsp olive oil and salt to taste. This forms the garlic base. If you don’t have a press you can mash the garlic and salt into a paste first with a chef’s knife, then add the oil. Brush it onto the pizza shell in an even layer. Then sprinkle about half of the pizza cheese and most of the goat cheese. Arrange the asparagus and blossoms in an artful manner, then finish with the remaining shredded cheese, goat cheese crumbles, a sprinkle of Parmesan and cracked pepper to taste. Bake the pizza in the oven for about 8-10 minutes (keep an eye on it – squash blossoms will wilt, cheese will melt and crust will be golden brown). Remove from the oven, slice, and enjoy. Don’t apologize for your garlic breath, either. People who say you stink are simply jealous of your mad culinary skills, fancy ingredients, and the fact you can still fit in your prom dress despite copious amounts of wine and cheese.