Prairie Grass Cafe is hosting a special dinner featuring guest chefs and recipes from the new The Green City Market Cookbook, 6 p.m., Sunday, July 20, coinciding with the official cookbook launch. The cost for the Prairie Grass Cafe dinner is $65 plus tax and gratuity. Cookbooks will be available to purchase separately for $24.95 and all cookbook proceeds will go to Green City Market.
The delicious evening will feature many of the volunteers who have helped to make The Green City Market Cookbook possible.
Chef Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris, co-owners of Prairie Grass Cafe, will orchestrate the dinner. Stegner is Green City Market's co-chair and a founding board member.
Joining Sarah and George are Sarah's longtime friends chef/farmers Tracey Vowell and Kathe Roybal of Three Sisters Garden, whose cookbook recipe takes center stage at the dinner; Karen Levin, cookbook author; Amelia Levin, author/journalist, and Kathy Paddor, marketing consultant who oversaw the cookbook's photography. The Chicago Tribune's former food editor and longtime market enthusiast Carol Mighton Haddix's cherry tart dessert recipe will provide the sweet finale of the evening.
Celebrating its 16th season, Green City Market (GCM) has become an institution and foodie haven since its inception in 1998.
"I am very excited and proud of The Green City Market Cookbook. It represents a community of chefs, farmers, and shoppers that believe in supporting the local food movement coming together," said Stegner.
Karen Levin, cookbook author and award winning recipe developer and food consultant, volunteered to develop the cookbook with daughter Amelia, also an author and journalist. They were responsible for gleaning 88 recipes sent into the GCM website or given to her from the market's farmers, chefs, customers and volunteers.
They reviewed the recipes, shopped at the Market weekly and tested 80 of the 88 recipes. A team of volunteers tested the remaining 8 recipes, as well as, proofed and edited the manuscript and final galleys.
The mission of the cookbook was to inspire readers to cook delicious seasonal food from local farmers markets and to share home cooked meals with family and friends. The culinary talent of the Green City community is what makes this book so unique. It's like a giant recipe swap where professional chefs, customers, and farmers exchange their favorite things to cook with the best ingredients from each season.
The Green City Market Cookbook features 88 seasonal recipes based on ingredients from the Market; appetizers, entrees, soups and desserts for each season, and more than 100 delicious photos of the completed dishes and their key ingredient. Each recipe features a short story submitted by the recipe's author about why the recipe is special to them.
Sixty percent of the recipes are focused on fruits and vegetables; 40% use meat, fish and eggs.
The cookbook, which sells for $24.95, is scheduled for release this July, can be pre-ordered at https://www.greencitymarket.org/cookbook/index.asp.
The July 20 meal will feature recipes from The Green City Market Cookbook summer section.
July 20 Menu at Prairie Grass Cafe
Contributed by Amelia Levin, Volunteer for Green City Market
and Goat Cheese DressingContributed by Jason Hammel, Chef/Co-Owner, Lula Cafe and Nightwood
Contributed by Tracey Vowell and Kathe Roybal, Farmers of Three Sisters Garden
About Sarah Stegner
Two-time James Beard Award winner Chef Sarah Stegner is co-chair and founding board member of
Green City Market, one of the country's best known sustainable farmers markets. Her commitment to sustainable practices goes beyond the market and is an integral part of her life at Prairie Grass Cafe, the restaurant she owns with husband, restaurant managing partner Rohit Nambiar and chef/co-owner George Bumbaris.
"My approach to ingredients developed over a long, slow process," Sarah says. "When I started out as a chef, I knew that the best, freshest flavors came from ingredients produced by local farmers. But I couldn't find farm contacts easily, so my friends in the business helped introduce me to some of them. The idea to create a green market was a natural progression. What a joy! The farmers turned out to be passionate about what they were doing and very perceptive when it comes to what quality means. I began to establish wonderful working relationships with these producers and the momentum grew from there. Stegner continues to incorporate fresh, seasonal produce from small, regional family farms into her menus at Prairie Grass Cafe.
"It's all about the quality of the product-its freshness, its flavor and the care by which it has been handled," she says. It isn't surprising that Stegner puts the ingredients first. She will talk about her [exceptional] technique when prompted, but she truly believes that it is her attention to quality and local, fresh ingredients that has provided the springboard for her success.
She is doing what she truly loves to do and over the years she has transformed a childhood filled with loving cooking memories into a very personal culinary mission that is honest and pure, yet far from simplistic.
About George Bumbaris
George Bumbaris's relationship as Chef/co-Owner of Prairie Grass Cafe with long-time friend and colleague Sarah Stegner makes perfect sense. "We had worked together for so long, there are no surprises- and a lot of trust," he says of the partnership. Prairie Grass Cafe came at a time when both he and Stegner had reached a level of culinary maturity that was important for what they want to accomplish. "We don't carry the ego with us. We just wanted a good restaurant with good food."
The rest is history. After 10 years, Prairie Grass Cafe has done what the duo set out to do -- provide the area with outstanding, approachable food with a strong convection to locally grown, sustainable and delicious taste.
My vision was a restaurant packed with smiling faces, enjoying their experience with us and enjoying our food," he adds. Bumbaris always teaches his staff to cook the way one would cook for oneself. With a rule of thumb like that, they continue to have a winning formula at Prairie Grass Cafe.
About Karen Levin
Karen Levin, cookbook author and award winning recipe developer and food consultant, has specialized in recipe development for the past thirty years. She has written numerous cookbooks for The American Heart Association, The American Medical Association and many major food companies. Karen is a frequent contributor to Cooking Club magazine and for five years wrote a syndicated weekly food column for Tribune Media Services entitled "The Seasoned Cook". She is currently the recipe developer for the ChefMD website. Karen developed all the recipes for "ChefMD's Big Book of Culinary Medicine" by John LaPuma, M.D. (Crown Publishers 2008) as well as The RealAgeDiet and Cooking the RealAge Way by Michael F. Roizen, M.D. and John LaPuma, M.D. She resides in Highland Park, Illinois with her husband of 35 years.
About Tracey Vowell and Kathe Roybal
Tracey Vowell (pictured right) and Kathe Roybal were employed in the restaurant industry until they grew tired of the hard work and decided on a career change. They bought their nine-acre farm in 2000, and named it after the Native American practice of growing corn, beans, and squash in the same mounds-a sophisticated, sustainable system that provided long-term soil fertility and a healthy diet then, and still does. The partners (that's Tracey on left, Kathe at right) focus on specialty vegetables like microgreens (which they grow year round), pea shoots, heirloom tomatoes, summer and winter squashes, herbs, fresh beans (shelled at the Market) and huitlacoche, a mushroom particularly prized in Mexican cuisine. "I don't know that we chose an easier line of work," says Tracey, a former chef at Frontera Grill, "but at least we're exercising different parts."
(Tracey Vowell photo at right)
About Amelia Levin
Amelia Levin is an award-winning, Chicago-based freelance writer, editor, media consultant, certified chef (Kendall College), recipe developer and author of Chicago Chef's Table: Extraordinary Recipes from the Windy City (Globe Pequot, 2012). A former hard news reporter and magazine editor, she is a regular contributor to Edible Chicago and a variety of restaurant industry trade magazines. Her writing and recipes have also appeared in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times newspapers, DiningOut and in cookbooks by Cooking Light, the American Heart Association and others. An active member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), the International Food Editorial Council (IFEC) and the prestigious Les Dames D'Escoffier society for women, Amelia has also served as a member of the Green City Market Junior Board.
About Kathy Paddor
Kathy Paddor, president and founder of Paddor Marketing and Green City Market board member is a dedicated "consumer empathist," Kathy Paddor's strategic branding sensibility has made her a respected leader in the retail and advertising communities for over her 15+ year career.
Paddor set the vision and artistic style of the cookbook's photography and led its social media and marketing efforts.
Growing up in a family of retailers, Paddor discovered her career passion early. She held senior positions with Bloomingdales and Marshall Field's before joining Crate and Barrel. As C&B's Director of Marketing, her intelligent, creative innovations helped them hold a singular spot in the marketplace.
Prior to joining Green City Market's Board, Kathy led the development of GCM's current brand identity and integrated communication strategy, helping to communicate its mission and values to the community in a significant, consistent way.
When Kathy's not working, her great loves include her family, cooking, dancing, and a great cup of strong coffee.
By mid-July, the Market is in full swing. From tomatoes and stone fruits as sweet as candy to peppers, zucchini and eggplant rich with the taste of the sun, the farm stands overflow with the bounty for which we've waited so long.
It's a busy time of the year for farmers, who work hard each day to keep pace with the harvest. We, too, strive to keep up, visiting the Market regularly, with ambitious plans for making pickles, pesto, salsas and preserves we know we'll crave come winter.
Creamy Polenta with Braised Greens and Mushrooms
After we started producing cornmeal at Three Sisters, we discovered the magic of a bowl of slightly sweet polenta with a quick mix of whatever we have in the fridge. Short on time, we are always looking for a good way to get an appealing meal on the table as quickly as possible. I particularly like the earthy flavors of mushrooms and greens, so this dish is an easy choice after a day in the field. Paired with grilled chicken or pork, it makes a wonderfully rich and satisfying dinner, but can be ready to eat in under an hour. --Tracey Vowell and Kathe Roybal, Farmers, Three Sisters Garden
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Makes 4 servings
1 whole head garlic
1 bunch Swiss chard, kale or lamb's-quarters
1 pound fresh oyster and/or shiitake mushrooms
1 small white onion, chopped
1 fresh hot pepper, such as serrano or habanero, seeded, minced
4 cups milk
1 cup fine white cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
1/2 to 3/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock or broth
1 (2-ounce) piece firm grating cheese such as Brunkow Cheeese's Little Darling
Heat oven to 350°F. Separate garlic head into cloves; do not peel cloves. Roast garlic cloves in a large dry skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until they begin to brown and garlic feels soft when squeezed, 8 to 10 minutes. Peel and finely chop garlic; set aside.
Wash chard; shake off excess water. Holding onto leaves, pull off and discard thick stems. Coarsely chop chard; set aside. Clean mushrooms discarding tough stems; cut mushrooms into bite-sized pieces; set aside.
In a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, bring milk just to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium; pour in cornmeal slowly, whisking constantly. Whisk in 1/2 teaspoon salt. When mixture is slightly thickened, cover saucepan and place in oven. Whisk after 10 minutes.
Continue to bake 10 minutes; whisk again. If polenta is too thick, stir in additional milk or water. If it is too thin, cover and return to oven for 5 minutes. Stir in pepper; keep warm.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a large deep sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and reserved garlic; sauté until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add onion, hot pepper and thyme sprigs; continue to sauté for 5 minutes. Add chard and 1/2 cup broth; cook, stirring occasionally, until chard is tender. If dry, add remaining 1/4 cup broth. Season to taste with salt.
Spoon polenta into 4 shallow bowls; top with vegetable mixture. Grate cheese over each serving.
Tart Cherry Pecan Crisp
Tart cherry pie is one of my favorite desserts, but making and rolling out the crust is time consuming, so this easy crisp is a good substitute. The Michigan tart cherry season is very short; sometimes they are at the Market for only two weeks. When that happens, I like to buy them in bulk, pit them and freeze them in gallon-size freezer bags. For this recipe, I first soak the cherries in ice water for three hours in the refrigerator, which helps firm them up, making pitting easier. The versatile crumble topping can be used for any lightly sweetened fruit mixture, including peaches, pears or a mixture of berries.
--Carol Mighton Haddix, Customer
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Makes 6 servings
1 quart (4 cups) tart cherries, pitted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Heat oven to 400°F. Mix cherries and granulated sugar in a bowl; mix well.
Mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Add butter; mix with a pastry blender or quickly with fingers until small pea-sized pieces form. Stir in pecans.
Place cherry mixture in an 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan. Place the topping mixture on top of the cheeries. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the topping is browned and the filling is bubbling. Remove from oven and let stand 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.