April is upon us, which for many local farmers in Austin means a focus on an entirely different set of produce. As we move away from winter foods, Austin’s farmer's markets bear bright new colors with the fresh foods of spring.
Story by Devon GrussmarkPhotos by Jessica Jones
Local farmer Terry McGeheyof Star Local Farms is excited about the transition from winter to spring, since it means he can start selling some of his favorite produce. As a “berry guy,” McGehey's favorite time is when strawberries are in peak season, from the end of March to mid-April. Following shortly after, onions, potatoes, green beans, peas, blackberries and peaches will be available in farmer’s markets. McGehey advises market-goers to visit Barton Creek Farmers Market in the first few weekends of April to ensure top pick of some of his farm’s freshest berries. Or you can visit McGehey's farm, Star Farm, just outside of Round Rock to pick your own fresh strawberries.
Much of the produce available throughout the spring season are some of the easiest to work into any meal. With a diverse selection of berries, melons and healthy greens, meals can come out looking bright and beautiful, but also tasting fresh and delicious.
Some of the most versatile produce in season for spring includes strawberries, spinach and blackberries, so why not take a chance to play with your recipe repertoire?
MANGO-GLAZED STRAWBERRY BREAD
Starting with strawberries, these colorful fruits are perfectly sweet for a little dessert, such as mango-glazed strawberry bread. The ingredients for this recipe won’t be hard to find. This sweet and fluffy snack is as quick and easy to make as it’s fast to scarf down. Follow this step-by-step recipe to create beautiful bread that’s great served as a morning time coffee accompaniment or even as a refreshing after-dinner dessert.
For the bread:
Butter and flour for dusting the pans 2 cups fresh strawberries
sprinkling of sugar to macerate the strawberries
3 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon of salt 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 ¼ cups vegetable oil 4 eggs, beaten
For the glaze: 2 cups confectioner’s sugar ¼ cup orange mango juice 1 pinch salt
For the bread:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Butter and flour two 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pans.
3. Slice strawberries and place in medium-sized bowl. Sprinkle lightly with sugar, and set aside while preparing batter.
4. Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in large bowl. Mix well.
5. Blend oil and eggs into reserved strawberries.
6. Add strawberry mixture to flour mixture, mixing until dry ingredients are just moistened.
7. Divide batter into pans.
8. Bake in oven until an inserted tester comes out clean (approximately 45-50 minutes.)
9. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn loaves out of pans, drizzle with glaze and allow to cool before slicing.
For the glaze:
1. Sift confectioner’s sugar into a bowl.
2. Whisk in the orange mango juice and a pinch of salt.
3. Drizzle over top and sides of bread.
SPRING SALAD WITH BLACKBERRY DRESSING
This next recipe requires a special trip to the Barton Creek Farmers Market for McGehey’s homemade blackberry Star Farm jam. Blackberries create an intense, tart and sweet flavor when concentrated in a jar, so, as for recipe use, it’s best to balance blackberries with mild flavors. This recipe is even easier than the first and can even be saved in the refrigerator for later salad creations.
For the blackberry vinaigrette: ¾ cups Texas Seedless Blackberry Jam ¼ cup Crisco pure canola oil ¼ cup red wine vinegar For the salad: Baby spinach 1 cup blueberries 1 cup fresh sliced strawberries ½ cup crumbled feta cheese 1 handful of toasted sliced almonds sprinkled to taste
For the dressing:
1. Whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients and store in refrigerator until ready for use. For the salad: 1. Toast almonds in oven until lightly golden.
2. Slice strawberries.
3. Mix and toss all ingredients in large salad bowl.