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This little veggie went to the farmer’s market: Grand Central Market

I adore cooking.

But, I have a secret…I hate recipes.

I’ve never been good at them, even when I worked in a biomedical laboratory.  There’s just something about ingredients that say to me, “I’m organic, from the earth, and a smidgen too little or a bit too much of me can’t be all bad, right?”  And then the spice or the fruit or the fresh herb looks at me with its out-of-place flavor and its unique characteristics and I whisper to it, “don’t worry, little one, we’ll make you work.”  In my heart and my palette, I just know the flavor scheme that I want and I toss and I chop and I stir until it’s just right, strange flavors and all.  Do any of you other gypsy souls out there cook like that as well?

Anywho, this is why a farmer’s market, with its endless ingredients and strange variations (apparently ‘orange flesh’ can also mean cantaloupe!), is my personal heaven.  Not to mention a pretty price point for my penny-pinching pockets.

My love affair with Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles has just started, but I have a feeling that I’ll leave my heart there wherever I go.

Grand Central Market

Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles.  Economy Meats has the best chicken cuts!

Grand Central Market

Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles.

Grand Central Market

Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles.

After months of trying to get in on the counter action at ‘China Cafe’ inside the market, I finally did it!  The bevy of half-empty cerveza bottles tells me why it’s so difficult to score a seat, but the gallon of whole milk next to them is…mystifying, to say the least.

China Cafe Grand Central Market

China Cafe in Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles.

Grand Central Market

Cash register repairman at China Cafe in Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles.

And now, I present to you the most vile and disgusting drink to ever grace this planet.  Look, I’m an adventurer.  Ready and willing to try many foods and unlimited experiences.  But this. drink. is. vomit.  If I can describe the taste for you, it’s like melted chip dip that’s been carbonated and garnished with mint.  I’m gagging just thinking about it.

Yogurt Soda

Mint Flavor Yogurt Soda. Never ever ever order this at a Greek restaurant.

Commodore Apartments

On the way back from the market: The Commodore Apartments and City Center Hotel in downtown LA

 

The next day, content with my spoils, I carefully washed the apricots and cherries, placing them in adorable vintage bowls, and stealing a handful for myself.  Unfortunately, paying only $14.30 for my entire grocery haul has its drawbacks…including dry as dirt apricots and too tart cherries.  So, in the spirit of all things DIY and my mantra of ‘waste not, want not’ (thank you, depression era Grandmother), I thought I might look up a pound cake recipe and make a compote topping out of the fruit.  Everything came out mucho delicioso, even though I only had Greek yogurt as my milk base.  Luckily, the Barefoot Contessa has a sweet-tart of a cake recipe that calls for just that.

Apricots, cherries, & ginger

Apricots, cherries, & ginger

Apricots, cherries, & ginger

Apricots, cherries, & ginger

Apricot & cherry compote on orange yogurt cake

Apricot & cherry compote on orange yogurt cake

Here’s my own recipe for the compote, though I rarely measure so all amounts are approximate and made to taste.

Tangy Cherry & Apricot Compote

1 cup tart cherries (halved)

1 cup apricots (halved)

1 tsp minced fresh ginger

2 tbsp brown sugar (or to taste)

1 tbsp yogurt butter

2 tbsp sherry

squeeze of orange

2 or 3 whole cloves

Toss all of the ingredients into a saucepan, stir, and simmer for desired consistency of fruit (I like mine a little on the al dente side).

Pour compote over Ina Garten’s Lemon Yogurt Cake (I replaced the lemon zest/juice with orange zest/juice) and eat in front of a sunny window, overlooking the garden, with a french press of Godiva’s Dark Chocolate Raspberry coffee.

In Garten Lemon Yogurt Cake Recipe

Lemon Yogurt Cake Recipe

Ina Garten’s Lemon Yogurt Cake Recipe

Bisous, bakers.

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