A Farm-to-Table Meal

The opening of farmer’s market season makes it easy to source ingredients direct from the growers

April is when farm-to-table meals become more accessible with the opening of the vast Downtown Topeka Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. In the early days of spring, you’ll find baby lettuces and greens, plus radishes pulled fresh from the soil, early peas, and the first asparagus and strawberries. Stands featuring local honey, meats, eggs, jams, and baked goods help round out your meal plan. Plus, delicate blooms for table decorations.

The market opens from 7:30 a.m. until noon. Plan to arrive early for the best selection, though latecomers may get deals on the produce farmers don’t want to take back with them. Bring your tote bags and cash in small bills. Also, be sure to chat with the vendors. Most are happy to share their expertise, and many have recipe ideas. 

We love this farm-to-table menu. Start by sipping this signature cocktail, a lightly sweet, pleasantly bitter El Ahumado, served with a small charcuterie board. Next, pass around a platter of grated radishes, crumbled goat cheese, skillet-roasted (or grilled) corn, and shaved zucchini as toppings for individual mixed-greens salad. The main course is Buttermilk Brined Fried Chicken with roasted carrots drizzled with hot honey. Peach Bread Pudding topped with Salted Vanilla Caramel Cream finishes off the meal. Enjoy!

Buttermilk Brined Fried Chicken

Dried spice mix

  • 2 tablespoons white pepper

  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard

  • 5 teaspoons paprika

  • 2 teaspoons fresh black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder 

  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano

  • 2 teaspoons cayenne 

  • 1 teaspoon celery salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 4 teaspoons onion powder 

  • kosher salt 

Buttermilk Brine

  • 4 cups buttermilk

  • 1 bunch fresh sage

  • 1/2 of spice mixture 


  • 2 cups flour

  • 1/2 cup cornstarch 

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder 

Whole cut up chicken or 2 bone-in breasts, 2 thighs and 2 drumsticks 

To cook: 
4 cups shortening 

Marinate chicken in brine for up to 24 hours. Place chicken in large Ziploc bag and pour marinade over top. Add fresh sage and store in fridge. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking rack with a sheet pan for raw chicken and one for cooked chicken. 

Add remaining spice mixture to flour mixture. Whisk together well. 

Heat shortening to 350 degrees. (Preference is cast iron Dutch oven) Pull chicken out of buttermilk mixture and let drip. Coat firmly in flour mixture and set on raw chicken rack. Complete each piece of chicken. 

Heat oil to 350 degrees. Place 2 or 3 pieces of chicken in oil and cook 3-5 minutes per side.  Place on cooked chicken rack. Put cooked chicken in oven to complete cooking for 15 minutes. 

Let chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before serving! 

Peach Bread Pudding

  • 1 loaf brioche, challah or Hawaiian bread 

  • 5 fresh peaches (or 1 1/2 pounds frozen peaches, thawed)

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 2 cups milk

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 5 eggs 

  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon 

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut bread into 1-inch cubes. Dice peaches into medium dice. Place peaches, white sugar, and butter in saucepan. Cook until sugar is dissolved and peaches are soft, and then set aside. In a separate bowl, mix all other ingredients together. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan and add peach mixture with brioche pieces and then add milk mixture. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes before cutting. 

Salted Caramel Sauce 

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 6 tablespoons salted butter, room temperature and cut into 6 pieces

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 1 teaspoon salt

Heat sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a spatula or wooden spoon. Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn. Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added. Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2 minutes. If you notice the butter separating, remove from heat and vigorously whisk to combine it again. Very slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream while stirring.  Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Caramel thickens as it cools. Cover tightly and store for up to one month in the refrigerator. 

El Ahumado by Cordial Craft
“Spanish for Smoky”

  • 1 1/2 ounces Reposado tequila

  • 1/2 ounce Aperol

  • 3/4 ounce lime juice

  • 1/2 ounce agave nectar

  • 1/4 ounces Luxardo cherry syrup

  • 1 spritz of Mezcal 

Lightly sweet, pleasantly bitter.  The Mezcal adds just a hint of smoke to make a beautifully balanced, interesting cocktail.

Recipes by Sammie Laforce

Cocktail recipe by Brandon Burke

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