Spring

Beauteous Beets

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by Bumble Ward

beets.jpgLos Angeles is shedding its winter coat, the birds are singing; Spring has boinged in like Zebedee. The farmers markets are jam-packed with citrus, strawberries, golden beets and asparagus.

I got four bunches of gorgeous, small, round radishes for $2, two bunches of sweet peas for $4 and tiny beets in every shade of pink and gold. 

Fifteen old friends came to supper last night, a Clein + Feldman reunion.  It was, of course, just as if twenty years hadn't gone by: everyone looked the same, sounded the same, but maybe wiser, greeting each other as if we'd been in the office together just yesterday.

Sautéed Mixed Greens

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by Amy Sherman

mixedgreens.jpgBags of organic arugula at the store always tempt me. "Buy me!" they say, "Eat salad for a week, it'll be great!" Of course after three or four days the bag is half full and the contents start to look rather wilted and sad. Then comes regret. Why did I buy that bag in the first place? Recently I found the solution to the problem of wilting greens, a problem that I'm guessing may also be yours. 

It turns out arugula is quite wonderful when lightly sauteed in olive oil. It's somewhat bitter and earthy but in a good way. It's even better if you mix it with some other greens. I use a bit of frozen spinach which is mild but silky and some fresh escarole which has a lovely spring flavor and juiciness when it's cooked. The mixture of flavors and textures creates a compelling dish that isn't just a terrific side dish, but begs to be layered in a grilled cheese sandwich. With or without ham or bacon, this is good stuff!

All About Chanterelles

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by Amy Sherman

chanterelles_1.jpg Fresh chanterelles are my favorite mushroom. Sure I enjoy porcini and I certainly wouldn't pass up a truffle white or black if it crossed my plate. But there is something about chanterelles that appeals to me the most.

They are so very unique. First of all they are beautiful to look at, golden and trumpet shaped.

Not a true gilled mushroom, the underside of the cap has rounded gill-like ridges or veins that branch irregularly so their texture when cooked is velvety and tender.

Farmer's Market Nicoise Salad

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by Cathy Pollak

farmersmarketsaladx-1It’s almost Spring, right? All the beautiful produce will start showing up at the market soon. This salad is a beautiful addition to any table, making a beautiful centerpiece for a stunning buffet.

And flavor...it’s full of it, not to mention it pairs fabulously with a crisp white wine. The salad is a lovely taste of the Mediterranean.

Don’t shy away from the anchovy paste; it gives distinctive flavor without imparting a fishy taste.

This salad is truly a meal in itself and tastes awesome with some crusty bread as a side kick. Did I mention there are potatoes in here. Yes, potatoes in salad with greens. It's a bonus.

I hope you enjoy all these fabulous flavors, it's a winner.

Spring Vegetables

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by Amy Sherman

artichokes&asparagus.jpg Typically the arrival of thistle shaped green vegetables such as asparagus and artichokes signal that Spring has sprung. But last week I was seduced into buying some exotic looking white asparagus and violet artichokes, each of which are much more common in Europe than they are here in the states. Fortunately interest in a greater variety of vegetables is growing and so they are getting easier and easier to find. My two sources? Berkley Bowl and Trader Joe's.

Last week I got a chance to go to Berkley Bowl for the first time. Berkeley Bowl is an independent supermarket that puts the big chains to shame. The produce section is what they are most famous for and it truly is impressive. While not as elegant as the great food halls in London, the variety and volume is way beyond what I'm accustomed to. Prices are moderate, I bought a pound of white asparagus and a four pack of Belgian endive, for a little over two dollars each.

Sustainable Local Organic

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by Sue Doeden

vegetables_h500.jpgSustainable. Local. Organic. They've become culinary buzz words. They've caused confusion. What does it all mean? Russ Parsons says there is not even a definition for sustainability. He also cautions that organic is not necessarily synonymous with small farming. He suggests visiting a conventional farm to see what they're doing.

Basically, all the buzz boils down to just eating good food. Good food is the stuff you'll find around the outside perimeter of your supermarket -- fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, fish, meat, milk, butter. It's the great food we find at the farmers' market, grown on small farms by people who care about protecting the earth and protecting the health of humans who will eat the food they grow.

Fiddleheads

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by Brenda Athanus

fiddlhead.jpg It wouldn’t be Spring in Maine without eating at least a couple “batches” of fiddleheads. This has been a record winter for snow and the melt has been gentle and slow until a few days ago when it rained for twenty-four solid hours! Since fiddleheads grow along the banks of waterways they literally disappeared until the waters receded. Interesting vegetable, huh?

There are two varieties of ferns that are most desirable to eat, the cinnamon fern, a smaller more compact variety, which arrives first, and then the more prized ostrich fern, larger in size and more elegant in flavor. Fiddlehead ferns have a flavor like nothing else. They taste something like the fresh tips of asparagus with the texture of okra. You either like it immediately or you don’t. There is no middle ground or negotiation with this vegetable. Period.

The banks of rivers are covered with people picking huge bags and baskets of this spring delight in large quantities. My sister and I call them the stolen vegetable. No one ever picks their own from their land; it is always people sneaking onto your land and wiping out the fiddlehead crop till next year.

Mango Madness

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by Amy Sherman

mangobook.jpgHow many courses could you eat that feature mangoes? Three? Four? I had five last night and I'm not sick of them yet! There was mango used in sashimi, in salad rolls, in a sauce for scallops, in a spicy salsa topping for duck and chunks of mango layered in between tapioca and mango granite. Each course was positively delicious and helped to showcase how mangoes can be used in just about every way, paired with many ingredients and with many different wines.

At dinner was famed Florida chef Allen Susser, in town to talk about mangoes and while I am a big fan of the fruit I had no idea just how many varieties there are. Over one hundred different varieties grow in Florida alone, and at least 8 - 10 are grown commercially. Susser literally wrote the book on mangoes, The Great Mango Book and is known for offering his customers a dinner for two in exchange for a wheelbarrow filled with mangoes.

Oh, Sweet Onion

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by Sue Doeden

neworleansrings.jpg There's something about rounds of sliced onions coated with crisp, crunchy goodness and dusted with salt that I just can't resist.

My first remembrance of onion rings is a box of frozen Mrs. Paul's that I would dump out on one of my mom's cookie sheets and bake as an after-school snack to share with friends who would come over after a long day of high school classes.

Over the years I've become much more selective with the onion rings I eat. I never, never eat the kind from the freezer case at the grocery store. And I never order them at a restaurant unless I know for sure they are made in-house.

Grilling Maine Salmon

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by Brenda Athanus

may2_recipe_pic.jpg We sell a lot of locally raised (organic) salmon at our store in Maine, it is reasonable in price and quite easy to feed a crowd. Most everyone is intimidated by how to cook it, marinate or not, and what kind of sauce. So over the years we have broken the process down to practicable steps that everyone can easily follow.

Grilling for the Holiday that launches Summer must be fun, a little easy, with a noteworthy end result. I prefer a fillet at the widest end near the head, I like the taste better and the fatty mouth feel, but there are others that Like the tail end fillet preferring the leanest, flavor and probably a few less calories.

Always leave the skin on when grilling, without the skin it would be a big mess and fall through the grates! 

Marinate the fish if you have time, try lemon juice and olive oil for a quick approach or orange juice and cracked coriander seed if you have a little more time but it isn’t imperative – and no longer than half an  hour or your fish will start cooking like a ceviche.

 

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