A good farmers market is a beautiful thing.
Have you been to St. Philip's Plaza on a warm Sunday? The splashing sounds of the courtyard fountain mingle with the excited chatter and laughter of people roaming the grounds, sifting through greens and dried beans, drooling over (but not into) freshly-baked pastries. Beats the heck out of getting your toes run over by a shopping cart at some fluorescently lit grocery store.
Shopping farmers markets and the farm-to-table movement are gaining momentum across the country. In "The Davis Farmers Market Cookbook" by Georgeanne Brennan and Ann M. Evans (Mirabelle Press, $24.95), two of the movement's vanguard offer a way to take advantage of local markets by picking what's fresh and making lovely meals out of it all.
The duo behind the paperback book -featuring plenty of color photographs of fresh produce and finished dishes - know their stuff. Evans co-founded the Davis, Calif., market. As mayor of Davis, she oversaw the building of the market's permanent structure. Brennan, a James Beard and Julia Child award winner, once furnished seeds to many of the pioneer vendors through her seed company.
They've arranged the book by season, offering some basic, standby recipes along with ways to preserve the season's best through canning or pickling.
The 85-plus recipes are straightforward, with most not needing more than a handful of ingredients. Very few call for things that we might have a hard time finding here. Dishes range from the intriguingly unusual green garlic flan with just six ingredients (cream, green garlic stalks, salt, pepper, thyme and eggs) to something just right for our neck of the woods: the baked, six-ingredient chile relleno casserole with red sauce.
Brennan is among the authors who'll be featured at the culinary tent at the Tucson Festival of Books on March 9-10. Cookbook writers and local chefs will do demonstrations and talk about their favorite topic - food. Brennan is scheduled to appear March 10.
To mark the festival's fifth anniversary, we're offering a recipe from the book featuring - you guessed it - five ingredients.
Pears With Blue Cheese, Walnuts and Honey
• 4 pears, halved and cored
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
• 4 to 6 ounces blue cheese
• 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
• 8 tablespoons honey
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Using a pastry brush, brush the butter over the pear halves, both skin and cut side. Put the pear halves, cut side down, in a baking dish just large enough to accommodate them.
Bake the pears until tender to a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the pears over, and dab a spoonful of the blue cheese in the center of each pear half. Sprinkle the pears evenly with the walnuts, return the dish to the oven, and bake until the cheese is warm, 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer the pears to individual plates, drizzle with honey, and serve warm.
From "The Davis Farmers Market Cookbook."
If you go
• What: Fifth annual Tucson Festival of Books.
• When: 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. March 9-10.
• Where: University of Arizona campus. Attendance and parking are free.
• What: About 450 authors, book discussions and workshops for the entire family. The festival includes a culinary tent, which will feature a series of hour-long talks and demonstrations starting at 10 a.m. each day.
• More information: tucsonfestivalofbooks.org
Contact Kristen Cook at email@example.com or 573-4194.