Market inspires experimentation

Cooking for Two

Produce displays lead to tasty ideas for creative cooking

July 21, 2002|By Bev Bennett | By Bev Bennett,Special to the Sun

Shopping my neighborhood farmers' market is as much a part of my Saturday mornings as sipping a large latte. Taking an early morning stroll through the displays of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs puts me in a food frame of mind for the rest of the day. And that's beneficial because I often stock up on produce before I know what I'm cooking during the week.

As I stop for my morning coffee, I can decide what to do with my bounty. I know that herbs will go on everything from the breakfast eggs to a homemade dessert sorbet.

I'm always thinking of complementary vegetable combinations. Since new-harvest potatoes are so delicious, I often start there and add radishes, bell peppers, green beans or arugula.

A basic mustard vinaigrette works as an excellent dressing for any potato-vegetable salad. Salads are more flavorful if the dressing is poured on while the vegetables are still warm and the dish is set aside for 10 minutes for the dressing to soak in.

I also use vegetables to stretch an entree. If I don't have enough shrimp to make a meal, I add a chopped vegetable and turn the mixture into sauteed cakes. A recent concoction of corn and shrimp cakes was so mouth-wateringly good that it rates a permanent place in my summer repertoire.

Distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate International, a division of Tribune Media Services.

Corn and Shrimp Cakes With Dipping Sauce

Makes 2 servings

Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)

6 ounces raw, peeled and deveined shrimp, minced

1 heaping cup corn kernels (see Note)

2 tablespoons minced chives

1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons flour

salt, black pepper

2 tablespoons butter

Prepare Dipping Sauce and set aside.

In bowl, stir together shrimp, corn, chives, tarragon, eggs, flour, and salt and pepper to taste.

Melt butter in 12-inch skillet. Drop in half the batter by heaping tablespoon to form 4 cakes. Fry 3 to 4 minutes per side or until golden. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with Dipping Sauce.

Note: Either scrape the kernels off 2 large ears of corn to yield 1 heaping cup of corn kernels or use frozen, thawed corn kernels.

Dipping Sauce

Makes about 1/2 cup

1/3 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon white horseradish

2 tablespoons cocktail sauce

In bowl, combine sour cream, horseradish and cocktail sauce. Stir and set aside until ready to serve.

Potato and Green Bean Salad

Makes 2 servings

8 small new red potatoes


1 cup 1-inch-cut green beans

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon prepared coarse mustard

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons sliced almonds, optional

Place potatoes and 1 teaspoon salt in small pan with water to cover. Bring to boil. Cook on medium heat 20 minutes. Add green beans and cook another 10 minutes or until both vegetables are tender. Drain well.

Quarter potatoes, but don't peel. Place in salad bowl along with green beans.

In cup, stir together oil, vinegar, mustard, pepper and salt to taste. Pour over salad and toss well. Sprinkle with almonds.

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