You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2012.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend. The sunshine and weather was gorgeous the past few days. It’s a marvelous time out in the garden to see everything bursting with life. There is definitely lots of garden chores ahead and getting things ready. The whole process to me is pure joy.

Today spring is finally here. I took a few photos of what I have found already growing quickly in the garden. I hope you enjoy them.

I couldn’t resist the temptation to dig and work in the garden. As you know the weather can take a turn for the worst this time of year. All of the gathered seed pods from last year’s blooms have been scattered about. This usually is the case so that plants I like can pop up everywhere and of course removing the strays that get too close to the more established giants.

I also couldn’t resist sharing some spring like recipes. Bright pink radishes, vibrant sweet peas and seductive purple carrots all favor a splash of fresh colorful flavor.

Can you smell spring in the air? It is glorious!

Dijon Glazed Salmon Recipe [serves 4]

4-8 ounce salmon fillets

2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 Tablespoon strong Dijon mustard

½ Tablespoon olive oil

½ Tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to 350°F.

1. Whisk glaze ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

2. Pan sear salmon in a little bit of olive oil until sides are golden, approximately 2-3 minutes.

3. Place salmon in an oven safe dish and brush with glaze.

4. Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper.

5. Bake for 15 minutes or until salmon is cooked through.

Sweet Pea & Chickpea Salad [serves 4]

15-ounce can chickpeas, drained & rinsed

1 ½ cups fresh or frozen peas

1 cup purple carrots, fine julienne or grated

2 watermelon radishes, fine julienne or grated

1/3 cup bleu cheese, crumbled [Fourme d'Ambert used here]

¼ cup roasted & salted sunflower seeds

1 large handful of pea shoots [optional]

3 Tablespoons olive oil or sunflower oil

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon strong Dijon mustard

1 Tablespoon fresh oregano

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

1. Assemble the salad ingredients and toss gently in a bowl.

2. Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, oregano, sea salt and pepper until smooth.

3. Slowly whisk in oil to emulsify.

4. Toss dressing with salad and serve promptly.

With the weather feeling like late spring last weekend I couldn’t help but make a spring inspired tart and seeing all of those chives in the garden I didn’t hesitate one bit.

Every little bud I see peeking out of lifeless branches or silently emerging out beneath the damp earth always makes me stop to take a peak. The air definitely smells of spring. The buds are plump, the grasses appear like pin cushions and the bulbs have broken ground with force.

We definitely take daily walks through the garden to catch everything that is going on and to see how much the clumps of perennials have spread from last year.

Back in side from the amazing weather there was also a beet root soup cooking away in the kitchen that made it into the late afternoon meal that I must share with you soon. These two items were not intended to be eaten together, but I was hungry for a soup of beets so be on the lookout for this soup.

I am certainly making the beet soup again and a few others this weekend and finding more discoveries of spring outdoors.

Enjoy the sunshine!

Asparagus & Leek Tart Recipe [makes 3-6” Tarts]

¾ cup millet flour

½ cup sweet rice flour

¼ cup tapioca flour

½ teaspoon xanthan gum

½ teaspoon sea salt

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled

1 large whole egg

2 egg yolks

¾ cup leeks, halved & sliced thin

1 Tablespoons coconut oil

½ bunch asparagus, cut into 1” pieces

4 large eggs

½ cup cream

1 Tablespoons chives, finely sliced

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 large egg, beaten [for brushing the tart shell]

preparing the tart dough:

1. Combine the millet flour, sweet rice flour, tapioca flour, xanthan gum and salt in a food processor.

2. Add in the cold butter bits and process until a coarse meal forms.

3. Add egg and egg yolk and run the food processor until dough forms.

4. Pour mixture onto a cold work surface and knead until smooth.

5. Form dough into a disc shape and chill until firm, approximately 2-4 hours.

pre-baking the tart shell:

 1. Allow dough to soften so it can be rolled out easily, approximately 30 minutes.

2. On a floured piece of parchment roll a third of the dough into a seven inch circle.

3. Press into a six inch tart ring and set aside. Repeat with remaining two rinds & chill for 15 minutes.

4. Bake in a 375°F for 15 minutes.

5. Remove from the oven and brush with beaten egg. Bake for another 15 minutes.

6. Set aside while you prepare the filling.

*note: Tart rings have no bottoms so line a baking sheet with parchment and fill with dough right on the sheet.

preparing the filling:

1. Saute leeks in coconut oil for a minute over medium heat.

2. Add asparagus pieces and cook until tender. Cool slightly.

3. Whisk together eggs, cream, chives, salt and pepper.

4. Divide asparagus and leeks amongst the tart shells and pour custard over.

5. Bake until custard is just set in the center, approximately 15-20 minutes.

A simple soup brewing away over a gentle flame is a comforting thought. What better to have while nestled quietly next to the window while the winter turns steadily to spring. Still the air is a bit chilly and the brisk wind swept outdoors makes one even hungrier for soup.

Thoughts of early spring have me anticipating new life. I believe the garden landscape is intact from little to no blankets of snow. But, whatever becomes of spring, I know the plants will be happy to awaken and ready to delight our presence.

 

I do enjoy the garden most at this time; it’s the time when the alliums bloom. The plantings will first break ground, sleepy eyed and ready for new life; soon grow quickly as if by magic to fill the space into a lush oasis eager to be admired. And there I will be, watching at every moment.

 

For now, there are many decisions to make, what will be added, and what will be transplanted. It’s the constant state of movement a garden goes through, from humblest of beginnings to what it is to become. I have relaxed over the years to allow the garden to let me know what it wants to be. And in doing so, the garden has evolved into a place I cherish.

 

There is still time to enjoy comforting bowls or cups of soup as the weather takes us on a roller coaster ride. This soup is great with this out of the oven quick bread infused with fresh thyme leaves. What can be more perfect than bread and soup?

 

Sweetly fragrant thyme and nutty Gruyere. mmm…

 

Spring time can wait just a bit longer, I am still enjoying soup!

 

Have a great sunny weekend everyone!

 

Roasted Carrot Red Lentil Soup Recipe [Serves 4]

 

1 pound carrots, peeled & cut into 1” pieces

2 Tablespoons olive oil

 

1 medium onion, diced

1 small fresh bay leaf

1 ½ Tablespoons olive oil

1-2 Tablespoons sherry [optional]

 

2/3 cup red lentils, picked over

5 cups chicken stock -or- vegetable stock

1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seeds

½ teaspoon regular -or- smoked paprika

1 large garlic clove, minced

½ teaspoon turmeric

 

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

Sea salt to taste

 

Preheat oven to 375°F.

 

1. Coat carrots in olive oil and place in a baking dish. Roast covered for 30 minutes.

2. Uncover carrots and continue to roast until they start to brown.

3. Meanwhile, sauté onions with bay leaf in remaining olive oil over medium heat until they are tender and starting to color.

4. Add garlic and cook for a minute. Deglaze with sherry if using.

5. Stir in spices, excluding whole cumin seeds, roasted carrots and lentils.

6. Give them a quick stir and add stock.

7. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until carrots are tender and lentil have fallen apart.

8. Puree soup until smooth and season with sea salt, adding more stock if necessary.

9. Pan roast cumin seeds until they start popping and are fragrant. Stir into soup.

Serve with or without cream.

 

 

Zucchini Gruyere Quick Bread Recipe [Makes 3 mini loaves]

 

1 ½ cups g/f baking mix*

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¾ – 1 teaspoon sea salt [depending on the saltiness of the cheese]

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

3 large eggs

½ cup buttermilk

¼ cup sunflower oil

 

1 cup grated zucchini, squeezed of moisture

½ cup Gruyere cheese, grated

 

Preheat oven to 350°F

Spray three mini loaf pans with oil [I used a coconut pan spray.]

 

1. Combine the dry ingredients with the fresh thyme in a bowl and set aside.

2. Whisk together eggs, buttermilk and oil until smooth.

3. Stir in cheese and zucchini.

4. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until combined and there are no dry pockets.

5. Promptly divide the mixture amongst the loaf pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

6. Allow loaves to cool in their pans or enjoy right out of the oven.

Fresh, light and flavorful…

 

 

My mind has been on fresh flavors lately, gearing up for spring in anticipation for the farmer’s markets to open with loads of fresh produce. I mainly go for the spring peas and ramps at this time, but getting out and enjoying the warmer sunshine is welcoming after a bleak winter.

 

 

The raw fennel and beet salad made several days ago was simple, but it was what we needed; a good boost of nutrition. No brisk walk later!

 

The Chioggia beets were not intentionally used in this salad, but somehow a few landed in the cart while picking the deep red variety. I didn’t even know they were there!  I love the look of these beets when shaved very thin and leaving them uncooked; vibrant and sweet with a bit of earthiness. So here they are, in this salad.

 

 

Another salad was made a few days later, for a light dinner. The wonderful Vietnamese type salads you can make are great for a more substantial meal where lettuce wouldn’t be enough. Of course J. sighs when I make a dish that will need to be photographed before we can eat. Luckily this was a quick recipe, a few quick snaps and it was time to eat. J. loves these kinds of meals; the flavors are fresh, garlicky and spicy.

 

The special ingredient is the sauce for this shrimp noodle salad. You take equal parts lime juice and sugar, and then season with fish sauce, garlic and chilies to your liking.

 

 

I think fresh energizing flavors is what we all need, and a little bit of warm sunshine to shake off the winter blues…don’t you think?

 

Coconut Shrimp Noodle Salad [Serves 2]

 

10 whole shrimp, peeled & de-veined

½ cup shredded coconut

1 egg white

Sea salt to taste

 

8 ounces rice noodles [cooked per package instructions]

 

1 large purple carrot, julienne

1 small cucumber, thinly sliced

2 large radishes, julienne

2 handfuls mixed greens -or- chopped romaine

¼ cup fresh mint leaves

¼ cup Thai basil leaves

 

¼ cup fresh lime juice

¼ cup cane sugar

2 Tablespoons fish sauce

½ garlic clove, minced

½ teaspoon crushed chilies

 

Mung bean -or- other kind of sprouts [optional]

 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

 

1. Coat shrimp with beaten egg white and coat with coconut.

2. Place shrimp on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper coated with coconut spray.

3. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until shrimp is opaque and coconut starts to color.

 

4. While shrimp is cooking, combine lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, garlic and chilies in a small bowl.

5. Fill bowls with lettuce then rice noodles.

6. Place shrimp and prepared vegetables over noodles and pour sauce over and enjoy.

 

*note: A traditional Vietnamese salad uses pickled carrots and radishes which you can do in a snap with some rice vinegar and a little sugar to balance. Drain the vegetables after 30 minutes of marinating and continue with recipe.

 

Beet & Fennel Salad Recipe [Serves 2-4]

 

1 large fennel bulb, shaved -or- julienne

2 medium golden beets, shaved into rounds

2 medium Chioggia beets, shaved into thin rounds

1/3 cup fresh peas

 

4 Tablespoons grape seed oil -or- olive oil

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 Tablespoons fresh lime zest

3 Tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 ½ teaspoons cane sugar -or- honey

1 Tablespoons shallots, minced

¼ teaspoon sea salt

 

1. Toss fennel, beets, peas and some of the feathery fennel tops together in a bowl.

2. Whisk together everything except the oil and marinate for 10 minutes.

3. Just before serving, which oil into the juice in a little stream until emulsified.

4. Toss with vinaigrette and enjoy.

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