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updated: 7/15/2014 7:09 AM

From the food editor: Celebrating farmed food and famed chefs

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  • Proceeds from sales of "The Green City Market Cookbook" (2014 Midway) benefit the local, sustainable farmers market that has operated in Chicago since 1998.

      Proceeds from sales of "The Green City Market Cookbook" (2014 Midway) benefit the local, sustainable farmers market that has operated in Chicago since 1998.

  • Using cold-press coffee vessels, bartenders at Hard Rock Cafe in Chicago are making cocktails infused with fresh fruit.

      Using cold-press coffee vessels, bartenders at Hard Rock Cafe in Chicago are making cocktails infused with fresh fruit.
    Courtesy of Hard Rock Cafe

 
 

By this time of year, farmers markets are in full swing. Flowers and seedlings that filled the markets in April have given way to bushels of dark leafy greens, delicate squash blossoms and early corn and tree fruit.

If you're already running out of ideas for how to use the beautiful raspberries or potatoes you picked up over the weekend, then grab a copy of "The Green City Market Cookbook."

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The cookbook celebrates the farmers, the food, the chefs and the shoppers who have flocked to Chicago's organic, sustainable and locally sourced market since 1998. Green City Market even turned up on CNN's list of top 10 markets for travelers.

The 88 recipes are categorized by seasons, and in the Summer chapter alone I've dog-eared a handful of pages including Heirloom Tomato Salad (from volunteer Laura Sterkel), Grilled Fish Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa (from Frontera Grill's Rick Bayless), Wild Mushroom Pasta with Sweet Corn and Bacon (from Pasta Puttana vendor Jessica Volpe). Fall and winter chapters tempt me with Butternut Squash and Kale Soup and Turkey Meatloaf with Tomato Preserves, respectively.

Green City Market officially launches the book at its annual Chef's Barbecue, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, July 17, on the south end of Lincoln Park. Nearly 100 chefs and restaurants will be on hand to create culinary magic with the market's bounty. Locally made beer, wine, handcrafted cocktails and nonalcoholic beverages will be available. Tickets cost $125; pay $150 and you get a copy of the book. Get tickets at www.greencitymarket.org.

If you can't make it into the city for the barbecue, head to Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook Sunday, July 20, where chef/owner and one of the market's founders Sarah Stegner will host a dinner featuring guest chefs and recipes from the book. The three-course dinner offers the opportunity to sample six recipes from the book.

Dinner starts at 6 p.m. and costs $65 plus tax and tip. Cookbooks will be available to purchase separately for $24.95; cookbook proceeds will go to Green City Market.

Pressing matters: The bartenders at Chicago's Hard Rock Cafe aren't letting their cold-press coffee makers sit dormant this summer. They're repurposing the low-tech beverage maker to craft fruit-based cocktails.

The Tropical Pineapple Press looks especially refreshing. Fresh pineapple chunks and lemon are pressed together with Bacardi Mango Fusion Rum, Finest Call Mango Puree and homemade lemonade. The coffee-press vessel infuses fruit flavors into the cocktail throughout the entire drinking process.

Here's another lemony cocktail that grabbed my attention. To make a Sand & Surf, pour 3 ounces Mike's Hard Lemonade in a tall glass filled with ice. Add 2 ounces ginger beer and 2 ounces dark rum. Garnish with a twist of fresh lime.

• Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at dpankey@dailyherald.com or (847) 427-4524. Be her friend at Facebook.com/DebPankey or follow her on Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram @PankeysPlate.

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