First, there were a few farmers markets scattered around the Chattanooga area. Then, more and more community-supported agriculture (CSA) share programs began sprouting up at local farms.
And then there was “Eat Up,” a cookbook series composed entirely of local recipes using local ingredients. The project, one of many community awareness initiatives launched by foodie organization Gaining Ground, included four seasonal collections starting with the spring issue published in mid-May 2012.
“We know that ‘going local’ can be intimidating at first, so our goal with the cookbooks [was] to make cooking with local food easy, fun and inspirational,” said Ruth Kerr, project manager at Gaining Ground. “We launched the 'Eat Up' cookbook series as a tool for cooking with ingredients you find at Chattanooga farmers markets and to inspire folks to eat seasonally and discover their farmers market.”
The organization partnered with community food leaders and design experts—26 Tools and Widgets and Stone—to gather recipes and develop the look and feel of the colorful books.
The initial issues drew their material primarily from Ann Keener of Sequatchie Cove Farm and the soon-to-open The Farmer’s Daughter. Following issues sourced the blueprints for salads, soups, meats, veggies, pastas and desserts from local chefs, gardeners and farmers.
When cooking in the new year, file the following recipes under “the best of 'Eat Up.'”
Baked chicken with rosemary potatoes
6 to 8 small potatoes, skin on
6 medium carrots
1 medium onion
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
Extra virgin olive oil
1 whole chicken, between 4 and 5 pounds
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon butter
Small bunch of fresh rosemary
Set the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the potatoes, carrots and onion into 1-inch cubes.
Wash and pat dry the chicken. Rub the meat with the olive oil, season the cavity and the skin with the salt and cornstarch, and place half of the rosemary in the bird’s cavity.
Line a baking sheet or a small roasting pan with foil. Fill the pan with the vegetable medley, sprinkle the remaining rosemary on top and place the chicken in the middle of the pan.
Roast for one and a half hours until the chicken juices are clear. Flip the vegetables every 20 minutes. Once out of the oven, let the meat stand for 10 minutes before serving.
—Lucy Crider of Crider’s Creek Farm
Mushroom and squash fettuccini with nutmeg cream sauce
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups winter squash, chopped into 1-inch cubes
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
5 tablespoons butter, cubed
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoons pepper
2 cup heavy cream
1 3/4 cups 2 percent milk
1 teaspoon nutmeg
16 ounces fettuccini
Fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
While heating water for the pasta, heat two teaspoons of oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the winter squash; cook for three minutes. Turn the heat down to low, and add the mushrooms. Cook the vegetables for one minute, and add the butter.
When the butter browns, add the salt, pepper and cream. Bring the heat back to medium-high, stirring continuously for three minutes without allowing the mixture to boil. When the liquid has thickened, add the milk and stir until the mixture thickens again. If a thin film has formed on the spatula, the sauce can be taken off the heat. Add the nutmeg and set the pan aside.
Cook the pasta as directed on the package. Remove from heat and strain when cooked to diner’s preference. Use up to two tablespoons of oil to prevent sticking if needed.
Create a bed of pasta in individual serving bowls, pour the sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with parsley.
—A version of a Tony’s Pasta Shop & Trattoria dish
Gazpacho with watermelon
3 medium tomatoes, blanched to remove the skin
1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic
1 jalapeno pepper, de-seeded
1 large slice of watermelon, chopped and de-seeded
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
1 small bunch of parsley
1/2 small onion, chopped
Blanch the tomatoes by filling a bowl with ice water and bringing a second bowl of water to boil in a pot. Make an X-shaped cut at the bottom of each tomato. Drop the tomato into the boiling water, and leave it for 30 seconds. Quickly scoop them out, and immediately drop them into the ice water. Then, peel away the skins.
In a blender or food processor, puree the tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, jalapeno, parsley and onion. Pour the mixture into a large bowl. Then, puree the watermelon. Combine the second blender batch with the first.
Add the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Refrigerate for one hour.
Potatoes au gratin
4 large potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch medallions
4 strips of bacon, diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon butter
4 ounces creme fraiche or sour cream
1 cup whole milk
4 ounces cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
A pinch of nutmeg
Set the oven to 375 degrees F.
Briefly soak the potato slices in a dish of cool water to remove excess starch. Pat them dry.
Spread the garlic on the bottom of a deep, well-buttered, 9-by-9 baking dish. Build the casserole by making a layer of salt-and-pepper-seasoned potatoes on the bottom of the dish. Then, spread a thin layer of the creme fraiche or sour cream evenly over the potatoes, and dot the dairy with bacon.
Repeat until the potatoes are completely used. The top of the dish should be a layer of potatoes seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour the milk over the dish; bake for 50 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, and continue baking until the cheese is golden.
1 stick butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup flour1 teaspoon baking powder
1 small beet, grated to amount to 1 cup
1/2 candied ginger, chopped
Set oven to 325 degrees F.
Mix the flour and baking powder, and set aside.
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a pan over medium-low heat. Pour the liquid into a large mixing bowl. Beat in the sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the flour mixture. Then, add the beet and ginger.
Bake the brownies in a greased 13-by-9 pan for 30 minutes.