The first two Dane County Farmers' Market breakfasts of the year confirmed that the weekly event is meeting its objectives. Among the goals set five years ago, when the Taste of the Market meals began, were to showcase a range of local crops, farmers, and cooks (check); create a community-wide social gathering around good food (check); and teach shoppers how to utilize the bounty (check).
Held on Saturday mornings at the Madison Senior Center, 330 W. Mifflin St., the breakfast typically draws a buzzing, bustling crowd, but the largest turnout still occurs whenever Tory Miller is hosting. For the 2008 season, that includes this weekend: On Jan. 19 the gifted, amiable chef-owner of L'Etoile (which was just named one of the top 100 food finds in the country by Saveur magazine) will prepare such creations as sweet potato pancakes with blueberry maple syrup.
The cost for Tory's set-menu meal, a special fund-raiser for the market, is $10; breakfast starts at 8:30 a.m. and goes until the goodies runs out.
Breakfast organizer Judy Hageman says there's a full schedule of other hosts ahead, too, including Taste of the Market stalwarts like Ben Hunter and his Underground Catering crew, plus fresh faces such as the members of Slow Food UW, one of the worldwide organization's first on-campus chapters.
Going back to goals, though, Hageman reminds us that breakfast isn't the only meal winter ingredients can inspire. In that spirit, here's a week's worth of farmers' market-driven menu ideas.
Stay-in-at-the Movies Saturday
- Middle Eastern pizza of Sylvan Meadows flatbread topped with cooked Sylvan Meadows ground lamb, fine-chopped Blue Valley Garden onions and Capri goat feta cheese (or go Mexican with Marr Family Farm or Fountain Prairie ground beef, Tomato Mountain Habanero Salsa and Hook's Cheddar)
- Don's Produce micro-greens tossed with Renaissance Farm cilantro pesto vinaigrette and green garlic-infused sea salt
- Grace's Chocoholic cheesecake
Sunday Brunch-Style Supper
- Tomato Mountain Bloody Mary mix cocktails
- Omelet of Pecatonica Valley eggs and Blue Valley Garden oyster mushrooms
- Fruit salad of Sutter's Ridge strawberries and raspberries drizzled with Marsden's honey
- Sliced Renaissance Farm cinnamon rolls
- Heartland-inspired platter of roasted garlic (available from several vendors), Cherokee Bison cranberry bison sausage, Hook's Colby, Ela Orchard apple wedges, thin-sliced Black Earth Valley celeriac in a mustard-cream dressing, hard-cooked Pecatonica Valley eggs, and Tomato Mountain Sun Gold preserves
- Cabibbo's Sicilian semolina loaf or Cress Spring sourdough
- Cress Spring organic truffles
Big Meal Tuesday
- Roast chicken, beef pot roast, pork loin roast or baked ham (meats available from several vendors)
- Butter Mountain mashed potatoes or Brantmeier Farm whole-wheat biscuits
- Sautéed Snug Haven or Black Earth Valley spinach
- Dessert tray with Bleu Mont bandaged cheddar, Hook's Blue Paradise cheese, Future Fruits pear butter and plain crackers
- Sutter's Ridge asparagus soup
- "Leftovers from Tuesday's roast" sandwiches
- Vanilla ice cream sprinkled with Cress Spring Maple Almond granola or crumbled Cabbibo's biscotti
- German potato salad-style pasta: penne with Butter Mountain fingerlings, Black Earth Valley red cippolini onions and hot bacon dressing (or toss any shape of pasta with any Renaissance Farm pesto)
- Don's Produce tomatoes marinated with Renaissance Farm sweet basil pesto vinaigrette
- Future Fruits pear halves filled with fruit preserves
- Fondue made with Bleu Mont Dairy nutty Swiss
- Cress Spring sourdough bread or Cabbibo's Sicilian semolina loaf
- "Use up the last of the market ingredients" tossed salad
- Ela Orchard apples baked with Cherokee Bison Farm maple syrup