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Spring is enchanting and at the same time breathtaking.

 

 

It has been a rather busy week. I have made a few desserts in the last week that I will share with you shortly.

In the meantime, enjoy this sneak peak at these amazing blooms we are now seeing everywhere.

Have a great weekend!

Too me nothing is better than simplicity when you’re busy elsewhere outside of the kitchen. These little lemon poppy seed muffins fit my parameters when a quick smack can take the edge of hunger when there is still much to be done.

 

I must say that there have been dozens made over the past few weeks. A few for breakfast, some while taking a short break from the gardening and others intermittently throughout the day. Can I get enough?

 

I even like the hint of coconut flavor and the use of butternut squash purée. The squash gives these muffins a nice lemony color and helps to make muffins a little healthier.

 

I made some with and without the lemon syrup glaze. Both are very nice. Sometimes just a simple muffin works for me. The finishing syrup is a personal choice if you want that punch of added lemon.

 

In the meantime, I will leave you with a few pics of what has been baking away at home and getting back into the garden. There is much to do, perhaps a small basket full of these muffins will be just the thing to bring with.

Lemon Poppy Seed & Butternut Squash Muffins [makes 8 muffins]

½ cup brown rice flour

¼ cup white rice flour

¼ cup amaranth flour

2 Tablespoons tapioca flour

2 teaspoons poppy seeds

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon xanthan gum

¼ cup squash purée [instructions below]

½ cup unsweetened coconut milk [from a carton]

1 large egg

1/3 cup cane sugar

1 teaspoon natural lemon extract

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Line eight mini muffins [standard cupcake pan] wells with paper liners and spray with coconut oil.

1. Mix the flours, poppy seeds, baking powder, sea salt and xanthan gum together. Set aside.

2. In another bowl, combine the remaing ingredients until sugar is incorporated.

3. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and whisk to combine.

4. Evenly scoop batter into muffin cups.

5. Sprinkle with more poppy seeds.

6. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until centers test out clean. Cool on a cooling rack.

If you are going for the lemon glaze, brush onto the muffins while they are still warm. Recipe follows.

 

Lemon Syrup

½ cup fresh lemon juice

6 Tablespoons cane sugar

1. Simmer lemon juice and sugar in a small sauce pan until reduced by half and has a syrup like consistency.

2. Brush over muffins while they are still warm from the oven.

Butternut Squash Purée: Halve a small squash and remove seeds. Place on a lightly sprayed sheet pan and roast in a 350°F until easily pierced with a knife. Cool squash and scoop out flesh. Purée in a food processor.

To deal with excess moisture squash tends to have, place purée in a cheese cloth lined sieve and set to drain for a few hours and you are ready to go. Freeze any extra purée or make lots of these muffins!

Spring… Days are filled with sunny walks, whispering breezes and playing around in the crumbly earth.

 

A few weeks ago I had mentioned this beet root soup to you and here it is. Soups and other cool weather foods are slowly being replaced with lighter recipes.

 

Here at home the garden slowly emerges and by some sudden magic is filled with abundance. Alliums are pushing their way towards the sky and blankets of ground covers stretch far and wide.  I love spring; everything takes on a new attitude. New vegetables break out into the market stands and appetites are excited to be tantalized by fresh experiences.

 

Earthy beets, sweet seductive carrots and creamy Japanese sweet potatoes all made it into this wonderful light soup.

And the color, so vibrant!

 

Continue below for the recipe and have a great weekend.

Beet Root Soup Recipe [Serves 4]

2 Tablespoons coconut oil

1 ½ cup leeks, halved & finely julienne

1 large garlic clove

3 beets, peeled & chopped [approx. 2 cups]

1 Japanese sweet potato, peeled & chopped [approx. 1 cup]

2 medium carrots, peeled & chopped [approx. ½ cup]

1 herb bouquet [2 parsley springs, 2 thyme sprigs, 1 bay leaf wrapped in a leek leaf & tied with twine]

5-6 cups chicken stock -or- vegetable stock

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste.

1. Sauté leeks in coconut oil on medium to low heat until tender.

2. Add garlic and cook for a few minutes, just to cook out the raw garlic flavor.

3. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a gentle simmer.

4. Cover and continue to cook until everything in tender.

5. Remove herb bouquet and puree soup.

6. Season with salt and pepper and serve with a little touch of cream or crème fraîche.

Already the warm spring weather is getting to me. Peaking outside at the garden from around the corner to see what’s out there, is there anything new to see?

 

I feel pulled by some mysterious force. Not only to get my hands dirty, but also to capture everything that happens. Even before things begin to bloom I like to envision what will this year look like. Flipping through past spring photos is a chance to see how things looked from the previous year and can be of great help in deciding what needs doing.

 

There are a few sparse gaps in the garden beds that need some fresh plants, something to merge the fuller areas into one whole planting. I love a densely planted garden space. Weeds are minimal and the tender crumb of the soil stays hydrated, but mostly everything looks lush, content and full of blooms.

 

Besides looking forward to spring, food is always something I look forward too and being in the kitchen fuels me. Salmon cakes such as these give me a boost when work is full and the “to do” list is long. The early spring chores in the garden are the everyday things that happen, your knees get sore and your back aches, but still my heart is happy knowing that everything will pay off later in the season when the garden can just be enjoyed.

There should be a picnic or two here or a few lazy afternoons there.

 

It is why I plant and care for this little place knowing that all this care is well worth it and sharing this space with friends is even better. Throw in some nourishing food, some laughter and call it dinner with a view.

For these salmon cakes you can replace the gluten free bread crumbs with Panko breadcrumbs if you are not going gluten free.

Delicious!

Gluten-Free Salmon Cakes [makes 9]

1 pound salmon fillet

1 cup grated zucchini, squeezed of moisture

2 Tablespoons chives, thinly sliced

¼ cup corn meal

1 Tablespoon fresh dill, roughly chopped

1 Tablespoon Lemon Dill Aïoli [from the recipe below]

1 large egg, beaten

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon crushed chilies

½ cup gluten-free bread crumbs

1. Roast salmon with a little olive oil in a 350°F oven for 20-25 minutes or salmon is firm and flakes easily.

2. Cool salmon and flake into large pieces and place in a mixing bowl.

3. Fold in remaining ingredients except bread crumbs with salmon.

4. Using a #20 scoop [approximately ¼ cup], scoop salmon mixture and form into cakes.

5. Coat each side with bread crumbs.

6. In a skillet, heat a little olive oil and cook salmon cakes 2-3 minutes per side over medium heat.

Lemon Dill Aïoli [makes ½ cup]

1 large egg yolk, room temperature

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

¼ -½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon lemon zest

1/3 cup olive oil -or- sunflower oil

1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped

1. Whisk together egg yolk, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, salt and zest in a bowl.

2. Vigorously whisk in oil in a slow steady stream until emulsified and creamy.

3. Stir in fresh dill.

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