Tuesday, April 6, 2010
It's spring, and in addition to that making me another year older (and wiser and healthier and more savvy!), that means great flowers and great vegetables. And there are many vegetables that come out for a short time, in the spring months, that we're not accustomed to using in our culinary creations. I challenge you to google one or two of these and try a new recipe:
1. Green Garlic
5. Morels (one of my very favorite things in the world!)
6. Fava beans (another fav, and they go into summer in some areas)
7. Baby artichokes
Now, I want to share some of my favorites.
Spring Onion Soup
serves about 4 as a main course
1 bunch of spring onions (mine had 3 decent sized stalks), tough tips removed and rinsed well, then roughly chopped. Make sure to include some green bits of stalk
1 cup diced potatoes (I used Yukon gold as that's what I had)
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance
1 Tablespoon light olive oil (no need for the expensive stuff)
1 box of vegetable stock, or about 4 cups
salt and pepper
truffle oil and chervil as a garnish
Place soup pot over medium heat and sprinkle with salt. Then drizzle oil and Earth Balance. Add onions and toss to coat with oil. Toss in the potatoes, pour on stock, and cover for about 45 minutes - an hour. Add water if liquid gets too low. Turn off heat and let cool for a bit. Either puree batches in a blender, after soup has cooled a bit, or use a hand mixer to blend. I drizzle each bowl with a bit of white truffle oil and some springs of chervil.
Spring Garden Salad
(this is inspired by a recipe from Gourmet Magazine)
1 1/2 Tbsp. tarragon vinegar
1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
Put all ingredients in a jar and shake until emulsified, or blend with hand mixer or traditional mixer. If using the later appliances, drizzle the oil in slowly while mixing.
2 med. beets
1 lb sm. new potatoes scrubbed well
1 tsp. olive oil
All kinds of spring greens, such as baby lettuces and baby arugula, mescalin (about 10 cups)
4 c. baby spinach
1/3 c. lovage leaves, coarsely chopped
1/3 c. fresh chervil
1/3 c. fresh tarragon leaves
20 organic, edible flower petals
Preheat oven to 400. Wrap scrubbed beets in foil, with a drizzle of olive oil, and place on upper rack of oven. Roast until tender, or about an hour. In same oven you can chunk potatoes up, toss with more olive oil and a bit of salt (I also add a splash of inexpensive balsamic) and spread on a baking sheet. The potatoes might only take about 30-45 minutes. They should be golden, with little crispy bits.
When beets are tender, take out, and under running water, slip off their skins. This is a messy business, so try to keep it all contained in the sink.
Cut potatoes into slices and add to beets along with all greens and herbs. Add vinaigrette and toss gently to coat. Dice beets and sprinkle around top. I don't toss these too much as it turns the whole salad into a big pink mess. Might consider using a different, lighter colored beet in the future.
Sprinkle blossoms on top and serve immediately.
Spring Vegetables over Leek Pancakes
1/2 lb. fiddleheads, cleaned (see below)
1/2 lb. "baby" veggies (I found squash, eggplant and bok choy)
1/2 lb. baby carrots, trimmed (real ones w/ greens attached. not that crap you get where the carrots look like Vienna sausages from a can)
3/4 c. shelled fresh peas (if you can't get fresh don't bother)
1/8 c. Earth Balance
1/2 lb. pearl onions, blanched in boiling water for 1 minute, peeled, and trimmed
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 lb. fresh morels, washed, patted dry, and trimmed
3 Tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
1 1/2 Tbs. minced fresh mint leaves
1 large garlic clove, pressed or minced
Heat a medium pot of water, with a dash of salt, until boiling. Drop in the fiddleheads for 4 minutes, or until brighter green, then transfer to cold water bath to shock. Last, transfer to towel and dry. Do the same to the rest of the vegetables. The only reason I don't do them all at once is the fiddleheads wouldn't take as long as the eggplant or squash, thus would become mush and sad.
In a large heavy skillet combine 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance, onions, herbs, 1/4 cup of the broth, and salt and pepper to taste and simmer the mixture, covered, for 5 minutes. Add the morels, halved lengthwise or sliced crosswise, and 1/2 cup of the remaining broth and simmer the mixture, covered, for 10 minutes, or until the morels are tender. Add the fiddleheads, the squash, the carrots, and the remaining 1/4 cup broth and simmer the mixture, covered, for 1 minute. Add the peas, the parsley, the mint, and the garlic, simmer covered, for 1 minute, and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons Earth Balance. Discard the bay leaf and season the mix with salt and pepper.
To clean fresh-picked fiddleheads (from Gourmet Magazine):
If you buy fiddlehead ferns at a farmer's market or grocery, they may already be cleaned. But if not, rub off the dry brown casings by hand or put the fiddleheads in a wire salad basket and whirl the basket outdoors to remove the casings. Let the fiddleheads soak in a sink half full of cold water, changing the water several times to remove any grit or casing particles, and drain them. The fiddleheads keep, covered and chilled, for 1 week.
3 1/2 c. grated russet potatoes, patted dry as well as you can
1 leek, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise and washed really well
1/4 cup all purpose flour
egg replacer to equal 1 egg (follow directions)
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 275°F. Mix first ingredients in large bowl to blend. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, drop pancake mixture by 1/4 cupfuls onto skillet. Using spatula, gently flatten. Cook about 2 minutes on first side, then flip and cook until done through. Transfer pancakes to baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil to skillet as needed. Transfer pancakes to plates and serve with vegetable mix poured over.