Market fresh dishes

By Eileen Mintz

What's Cooking

Have you had a chance to visit Bellevue Farmers Market? It's only 10 minutes from Mercer Island, nine blocks north of Bellevue Square, located in the Presbyterian Church lot at 1717 Bellevue Way N.E.

It runs until Oct. 13 and opens just in time for dinner shopping, from 3 to 7 p.m. With so many local vendors available, you can quickly find the freshest produce in season.

I discovered a fantastic way to get the most out of the market with a Farm to Market to Table cooking class. It's led by RainCity Cooking School chef, cooking instructor and owner Carol Dearth. You can join Dearth as she leads a farmers market tour and hands-on cooking classes. Then you, too, can prepare a meal that shows off our locally-produced fruits and vegetables at their finest.

Dearth is also the new host of the ``KCTS Cooks'' series of cooking shows produced by our local PBS affiliate, KCTS. Her formal training includes a master chef program from Le Cordon Bleu in London. She has taught practical hands-on culinary classes for the past 17 years in which she continues to impress her students with easy-to-make fresh menu choices.

Dearth leads her Farm to Market to Table class at the market on the first Thursday of the month. This past Thursday, her class picked up some Japanese cucumbers and made a summer soup. Students also selected the freshest of heirloom tomatoes, yellow and green squash, corn, green beans and sweet Walla Walla onions. The class made a salad of these vegetables and topped it off with slices of grilled London broil and gorgonzola cheese.

For dessert, Chef Dearth bought hazelnuts (there are plenty at the market) and designed a tart with a shell of crushed gingersnaps. She filled it with zesty lemon curd and marinated raspberries. After an hour at the market, the students participated in a hands-on class at RainCity Cooking School. Then the class relaxed and enjoyed its Farm to Market to Table dinner. The next classes are on Thursday, Sept. 8 and Oct. 6.

Dearth's advice to her students is on the mark. She says to always buy the best quality ingredients you can afford. Talk to vendors. They have lots of information and can answer your questions. She also tells her students to have fun. Don't be afraid to experiment!

Now go out and enjoy the wonderfully fresh produce of summer. See you at the Farmers Market!


A great way to appreciate heirloom tomatoes. Serves 4.

4 Roma heirloom tomatoes


1 TBS. red wine vinegar (optional)

1 clove garlic, minced or sliced

1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

3 to 4 fresh basil leaves, cut in ``chiffonade'' (rolled up and sliced thin)

freshly ground pepper

8 to 12 slices of coarse baguette, about 1/2 inch thick

2 to 3 TBS. olive oil

1 clove fresh garlic, peeled

Core, seed and chop tomatoes coarsely. Sprinkle liberally with salt and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain tomatoes and combine with vinegar, one clove of garlic, one tablespoon of the olive oil and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Brush baguette slices with olive oil and rub baguette with cut side of garlic. Broil slices until golden. Top with tomato mixture. Serve immediately.


This colorful salad is perfect for a summer luncheon. Serves 4.

1 pound large fresh shrimp

2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning

3/4 lb. of green beans

1 1/3 cups fresh raspberries

12 fresh strawberries

2 cups loosely-packed watercress

Boston lettuce

Belgian endive

raspberry vinaigrette

Bring 1 quart water to boil, season the water with Old Bay. Add shrimp. Simmer until shrimp are barely opaque, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain well, rinse with cold water, drain again and then chill. Peel and devein the shrimp.

Trim end stems of beans if desired. Blanch in boiling salted water for one minute. Refresh in ice water until cool. Drain well. Chill.

Gently rinse berries, drain and set aside. Hull strawberries and cut in half.

Arrange watercress, Boston lettuce and Belgian endive on four plates. Divide shrimp, beans and berries among the four plates and arrange. Serve with raspberry vinaigrette.


Makes 1 1/4 cups dressing

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. dry mustard

1 tsp. salt

1/4 red onion

1/3 cup raspberry vinegar

1 cup oil (corn, extra-virgin olive or nut oil)

Blend together the sugar, mustard, salt, onion and vinegar in a blender or food processor until combined. Slowly add oil to form an emulsion.


This recipe came from the Washington State Fruit Commission. It's easy to prepare and a good way to use up cooked chicken. Serve it all on Bibb lettuce leaves. Serves 8.

4 cups sliced Washington nectarines

3 cups cubed or slivered cooked chicken

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced celery

1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds, toasted

1 green onion, thinly sliced


1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 TBS. vinegar

2 TBS. honey

1/2 tsp. curry powder

1/8 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. ground ginger

Mix all together, blending well.

Combine all ingredients except dressing. Pour dressing over fruit and chicken mixture and toss gently. Refrigerate for 1 hour or longer to let flavors blend.


This RainCity Cooking School recipe was taught to me by Carol Dearth. During her travels, she learned the Italian way of eating strawberries by dipping them in Balsamic vinegar or créme fraiche, then sugar. Serves 2 to 4.

1 pint fresh strawberries, washed and dried, green hull left on

3 to 4 TBS. good quality Balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup créme fraiche or sour cream

1/4 cup Turbinado sugar or raw sugar

Dip strawberries into Balsamic vinegar or créme fraiche, then into sugar


1 cup whipping cream

1 TBS. buttermilk

In a sterile jar, combine cream with buttermilk. Cover loosely, and place in a warm area (80 degrees). Let stand for 24 hours. Mixture should be slightly thickened. It will thicken more as it cools. Now store in refrigerator.

Eileen Mintz can be reached by calling 232.1984 or by e-mail at . Located in Bellevue, RainCity Cooking School can be reached by calling, (425) 644-4285.

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