Spring Archive

Friday, June 1, 2012

asparagus with almonds and yogurt dressing

roasted asparagus with almonds and yogurt

One of the things I love about my city is the way we jump at the chance celebrate local events as unofficial, illogical holidays, just because. I get redorkulously excited about the Mermaid Parade, as well as the dapper sea of white uniforms all over the city during Fleet Week. I still haven’t convinced my (Russian! it’s in his blood and everything, I tell him) to do a Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge with me on New Year’s Day, but I did get him to stand on a center median of 14th Street looking west on Wednesday night at 8:16 p.m. (along with such a confusing cluster of people that a second crowd formed to scratch their heads at us) to catch a glimpse of this season’s Manhattanhenge. The events are random and even a little absurd, but NYC is no place to miss a chance to let your goofy flag fly.

asparagus headshot!
asparagus, from the sky, er, stepladder

I have another, smaller, day that I add to this list, which is the day that the mini-Farmer’s Market in my neighborhood opens each May. (Were you to dig through the archives, there’s a clear day every May when the site switches from pantry-raiders like soup and pasta to fresh new happy things.) Like a hopeless nerd with a shiny apple for the teacher on the first day of class, I show up the minute it opens and make a beeline for the broccoli, spinach and baby watermelons. I buy too much. I come back later and buy more, anyway. After six months of brown vegetables, you can’t blame me for overdoing it at the prospect of pearly stalks of rhubarb, lawns of asparagus, and strawberries that are red all the way through.

toasted marconas, lemon, hard-cooked eggs

Continued after the jump »

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

Continued after the jump »