Valentine's Day is coming up. Are you wanting to stay home and cook something special? I have some ideas for you!
I consider Beef Wellington to be very romantic - it's decadent and it takes a lot of work, so it's definitely a special occasion food. Check out this post for the recipe.
Steak is a quintessential Valentine's dish. I have long used a method of quick aging with salt to tenderize and season even cheaper cuts. Find the method in this post, along with recipes for Spinach and Gruyere Souffle and Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Mixed Berry Compote. I used a compound butter to top the steak in that post, but since then have more often made a pan sauce by deglazing with sherry, then adding butter.
For one of our earliest Valentine's, I made an herb crusted standing rib roast; along with a chopped salad, heart shaped roasted potatoes, roasted asparagus, and Yorkshire pudding. All of the recipes are in this post, along with some pretty decorations.
I love Spring. I love the flowers, and the weather (sometimes), and the resurgence of vegetables. Spring vegetables are here and gone so quickly (if you are buying seasonally, that is), so take advantage of them while you can! Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) and I decided to make this Spring vegetable dish because it uses spaetzle, which is a bit more fun than your standard pasta, and gruyere, which pairs so well with these veggies.
Spaetzle is a chewy German egg noodle. Melissa is familiar with it because she studied German. I've eaten it in restaurants many times, but only made it once before this past fall. And by made it, I mean that my friend made it with her Grandmother's (I think) recipe and her spaetzle press. Meanwhile, I made a vegetarian ragu with mushrooms, butter, onion, thyme, and oregano and poached some duck eggs (thank you, gorgeous Portland farmer's market).
Happy Easter, my lovelies, and enjoy these Spring recipes!
I'm really trying to be better at waking up early enough to get to the Farmer's Market. I love the scene with all the booths and crowds of people, all the adorable puppies and babies. The Mosaic Market even has live music and food trucks. But I am not very good at cooking by the seat of my pants, so after I pick out some yummy looking veg, it usually ends up getting tossed into a pasta. Even more so when the market offers amazing artisan pasta from Pappardelle's Pasta. C'est la vie!
My first batch of veggies (asparagus, tomato, and leek) went into a white wine, lemon, and butter sauce with the garlic chive artisan pappardelle. I cooked the leek down in butter and olive oil, then added some white wine, lemon juice, and pasta water along with chopped tomatoes. When that had cooked to a good sauce consistency, I tossed in blanched asparagus and the cooked pasta (1 minute shy of al dente). I finished it off with lemon zest, Parmesan, and black pepper and served it with salmon.
I still had tomatoes and a random eggplant that I picked up for no reason, so I decided to do a riff on this pasta. I really should have used a whole wheat pasta, but I just love gemelli and I can't find it in whole wheat anywhere. It's the perfect short shape because it has good structural integrity (meaning it cooks evenly and doesn't get mushy edges).
Anyway, I roasted the eggplant while I caramelized an onion (I really wish I had a red onion, but I didn't). After adding garlic, a splash of sherry, and a splash of balsamic vinegar, I added some chopped tomato and a pat of butter (trying to get the essence of the Marcella Hazan sauce without cooking it for 45 minutes). Then I added in the eggplant, cooked pasta (1 minute shy of al dente), and a splash of pasta water and let it come together. Then I topped it with fresh basil and black pepper and served it with some hanger steak from the market (one of the few places where I can find it - there's only 1 per cow and they sell fast).
Happy Easter! It has been a long, crazy winter. We had just a hint of spring before a cold snap hit again, but it looks like we are on our way back and hopefully it will last this time!
I took advantage of the nice weather to plant my container herb garden. I've got chives, French thyme, English thyme, lemon thyme, and oregano thyme in one pot. The big one has common sage, purple sage, rosemary, spearmint, tarragon, Greek and Italian oregano, and dill. And the last one has sweet basil, thai basil, amethyst basil, lemon basil, and parsley.
I also cleared out and cleaned up my tiny backyard, and while I was removing dead leaves, I accidentally uncovered a nest full of baby rabbits! I was totally shocked and didn't know what to do. I yelled for my husband to bring me a box to put them in while I hit the internet for advice. Leave them alone and put them back was the unanimous decision. Mama rabbits only visit the babies 2 times a day to feed very quickly (1-2 minutes) so that predators won't know where they are. So baby rabbits have not been abandoned and they don't need to be rescued (unless injured by lawnmower, dog, cat, etc...). In fact, trying to take care of them yourself will likely kill them!
So this little beauty came about due to inspiration from Bev Cooks and the need to get rid of a lot of leftover ingredients from other meals. Sort of a clean-out-the-fridge-in-the-most-delicious-way-possible sort of thing.
I had leftover ricotta from this recipe, with you may recall from last week. Well, not really leftover since I purposefully made double the amount I needed.
And I had little nubs of radish left over from this Spring salad I made inspired by this Martha Stewart recipe. I didn't post about it but it had butter lettuce, shaved radish and fennel, blanched peas and asparagus, and fresh mozzarella in a lemon juice and sour cream dressing.
We are coming to the end of asparagus season, but you may be able to get one more use in - and I recommend this one. An asparagus flavored custard with goat cheese and Gruyere, tucked inside a flaky puff pastry shell? Yes, please!
This Martha Stewart recipe uses the stalks and tips separately. The stalks get pureed into the custard, and the tips decorate the top of the tart.
The custard is made with asparagus, eggs, cream, and flour (I altered the recipe based on comments - adding more flour to help it set up).
The custard goes into a pre-baked shell, then the cheeses are sprinkled on top, followed by the asparagus tips.
The texture is gorgeous and the asparagus is definitely the star of the show. Yum, yum, yum - get out there and grab the last of the asparagus!
I am one of those people that refuses to let go of a season, so I apologize if Spring drags on a bit for me here (especially since I am always late posting). But we are still in the transition period from Spring to Summer, so it's not THAT bad (I hope).
Anyway, during one of my weekly lunches with Melissa from Smells Like Brownies, we decided to make a shaved asparagus pizza with some gorgeous purple asparagus that she got from a local farm (she talks about it here).
Isn't it beautiful? It turns out that this asparagus is super juicy, so it released a lot of liquid during cooking that we had to mop up with paper towels. If you have some big, juicy stalks and want to make pizza, I recommend sauteing them a bit first or tossing with kosher salt and draining on paper towels for a bit to draw the moisture out.
Here is the beautiful whole wheat pizza dough that Melissa had ready to go when I got there.
On one of our weekly lunch adventures, my friend Melissa and I decided to try out a risotto made from barley. Barley is a whole grain that (unless you have a wheat allergy) is better for you than rice, even brown rice. The grains are larger and chewier than rice, but they make a very good substitute. I actually like barley better than rice because the chewiness gives the dish more body.
So I went and bought the vegetables I wanted to use - carrots, celery, beets, fennel, and asparagus.
Then I sliced them up using the slicing blade on my food processor (a mandoline would also work) and tossed them with high quality olive oil, lime juice, and sea salt.
I actually stored the vegetables like that in the fridge and throughout the week or so that they lasted I would take out what I needed and add it to raw kale massaged with olive oil (which takes some of the bitterness out) along with watercress, grapes, pepitas, and fresh mozzarella for a delicious summer salad.
It is so healthy and fresh and keeping the vegetables raw means that you are getting the full nutritional value from them, plus they keep you super full. But this seriously tastes so good that you will not even be thinking about how healthy it is.