The foods I brought home from the Lexington Farmers Market last Saturday made me want to get out skillets and sharpen knives and start cooking. So I did.

Friends didn't mind being invited at the last minute. It all started with fennel. I don't know fennel personally, so I spent some time getting the Hoot Owl Holler Farm people to introduce me. Lonnie said, "Chop up the fronds and put them on salmon for the grill. That tastes great! Use the stems in soup." He showed me a recipe for slicing the bulbs thinly and cooking them gratin style.

So I yielded happily to the urge to cook all afternoon. I like to take what I have, or have just bought, and build meals around the ingredients. This is how it turned out Saturday:

First course:

Main course:

  • Grilled salmon in a citrus-fennel marinade
  • Fennel-potato gratin

Salad: A giant platter lined with our homegrown red (Lollo Rosso) lettuce leaves, and topped with warm vegetables:

  • Boiled new beets from Raggard Truck Farm braised in butter with Blue Moon fresh shallots
  • Our homegrown green onions, braised in butter
  • Scott County shitake mushrooms, braised in butter
  • (Crumbled feta cheese and balsamic Vinaigrette sprinkled lightly around on that)

Dessert Course: Mother's biscuit type shortcakes, fresh sliced strawberries (spectacular Red Chief and Honeoye from a grower I don't know), whipped cream-sour cream combo, barely sweetened

It was too much food -- you knew that already! My market basket was bigger than my stomach -- or the four stomachs combined who enjoyed the meal together. We sent the excess to two friends who were working late.