Spring Archive

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

rhubarb snacking cake

rhubarb snacking cake

Almost every year, as soon as the weather gets warm, I become obsessed with a simple, single layer cake that can be made in little time and that I promise will be all you need to be welcome at any picnic/barbecue/cook out/pot-luck that summer.

pretty stalks of rhubarb, at last
rhubarb with sugar and lemon juice

Three years ago, it was a raspberry buttermilk cake, which was the equivalent of taking a single, thin layer from the very best yellow birthday cake you’ve ever had, scattering fresh raspberries over it and baking it until bronzed and perfect. Needless to say, it went on repeat. Later that summer, it was blueberry boy bait, a cake so decadent and buttery I briefly questioned if it had too much butter, then checked my pulse, realized any talk of too much butter was simply madness, and enjoyed the cake thoroughly for as long as the blueberries lasted. (Also, it worked.) Last year I become enamored with something I called a strawberry summer cake. Round and finely crumbed, yet almost butter-slathered-hot-biscuit in texture, it works best with just-picked and borderline-overripe strawberries that, when baked, nearly dissolve into jammy puddles throughout the cake. I also found that I liked it with some of the regular flour replaced with barley flour; just trust me, it works.

sour cream cake batter

Continued after the jump »

Monday, May 21, 2012

vidalia onion soup with wild rice

vidalia onion soup with wild rice

I believe I owe you some soup. When the soup was promised, it was rainy, bleary, and insufficiently May-like to please me, though I doubt Deb Not Being Pleased ranks anywhere on near the top of the concerns list of whatever powers control the weather (or, for that matter, Deb’s toddler when he’s set his mind to emptying mama’s purse on the floor again), seeing as we have another week of it on order. Fortunately, this is a soup for exactly these trying spring times.

imported vidalias
wild rice, i love you

My love of hearty crocks of hearty French onion soup is well-documented (it’s the rare recipe I’ve covered twice in the archives, and you just know I had to riff on it here) because I have to insist that nothing is so loud with flavor as onions, cooked for an hour with a meaty broth and cognac, then broiled with a charred cap of strong cheese. Oof, how long must we wait until it gets cold again?

the quintessential vidalia shape

Continued after the jump »

Monday, May 30, 2011

spring salad with new potatoes

spring salad with new potatoes

I think that if we’re going to continue to be grand old friends, you’re going to have to admit that you at least occasionally wish you could have potato salad for lunch any day of the week. That you think it’s kind of lame that potato salad is relegated to backyard barbecue indulgence; packed up in Tupperware, saved for 3-day weekends, eaten with apology to the swimsuit you’ll wear the next day. If nothing else you might admit this so that I can feel my habits are less cuckoo. You’d do that for me, wouldn’t you?

little reds and golds
spring onions

And of course, I’ve been craving potato salad like a madwoman for the last week and who can blame me? Summer Is Coming* and picnic season is nigh. But given my need to not groan any further when bathing suits are required, I wanted to swap the standard mayo-assaulted potato salad for something with different proportions — a salad with potatoes, rather than a straight-up potato salad. I let the market dictate what to fill the salad out with — this week in New York is all about asparagus, sugar snaps, radishes and spring onions, and so is this salad, but in another month, I think it would be equally welcome with some cucumbers and green beans.

spring onions

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

leek toasts with blue cheese

leek toasts with blue cheese

I get in a lot of cooking ruts. Except, “ruts” sounds like the bad kind of monotony, but I’m not sure that it is. There have been pasta phases, in which I was certain that any vegetable, chopped, lightly cooked plus parmesan plus penne made a perfect dinner. I was on a homemade pizza bender for a year or maybe five. There was a galette fixation, that still rears its head once or twice a year. And currently, I’m struggling to find a single food that doesn’t taste better when it lands on toasts.

leeks
trimmed, halved leeks

Hear me out: Even the most poorly stocked kitchens — self, I’m looking at you and your shop-for-one-dish-at-a-time ethos — probably have bread, somewhere. (Mine is in the freezer. I buy good stuff, and then don’t feel rushed to use it up.) And whether you’ve got diced prosciutto or an excess of greens around, cooking them together and dolloping them on toasts somehow makes them more elegant, more open-faced sandwich-ish, more light dinner-ish. Now that the weather is finally (finally!) warmer and the farm stands are green again, quick meals are welcome.

sliced leeks

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Monday, May 2, 2011

ribboned asparagus salad with lemon

a nest of tangled asparagus

Spring arrived while I totally wasn’t paying attention. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen these days. Over the winter, this was hardly a discomfort but now that we’re getting glimpses of the warm weather to come, I’m finding it harder to look out my kitchen window at these people walking down the sidewalk with their sandals and short sleeves and a pep in their step and an air of freedom around them I can sense even from four flights up and not feel consumed with envy. The other day, as I wearily approached round five of something I was stupidly convinced I’d nail on round one, I saw one of these not-sweating-it-out-in-a-shoebox-kitchen types carrying a bundle of tulips and I had to close my eyes for a minute and imagine myself somewhere I’d rather be. And then I walked out of the kitchen and went there.

it's back!

You see, I’ve been avoiding the Greenmarket as well. It’s been a Brownmarket for over half a year and there are only so many cold storage apples and yams one can stomach before they fall for the ever-freakishly-ripe berries the street carts are selling. But it was nearly May and sticky as July outside and I had a hunch that things had improved while I was buried under pots and pans. And lo and behold, stands were bursting with things that had been recently plucked from the ground: spinach! ramps! bright pink orbs of radishes too! asparagus for miles! And as I brought home my first haul of the season — and a little package waiting downstairs — I knew exactly what every single one of us must do this very second with the asparagus.

ribbon-ing the asparagus

Continued after the jump »


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