cheeses.jpgThe weather can't seem to decide what it wants to do, in turn making it hard to decide what to eat: something comforting and cheesy or something fresher and green? I decided the only solution was to combine the two.

One of the great American dishes has got to be macaroni and cheese. Gooey, cheesy and rich with a slight crunch on the top it is pure goodness in a casserole dish. The one problem I have with macaroni and cheese is the guilt. It's soooo rich, it's not the healthiest dish in the world.

One way to make a dish healthier is to cut back on the rich ingredients, like the milk, butter and cheese. Well, that's no fun! I'd rather add in some heathy but tasty stuff as a compromise that really doesn't feel like a compromise at all. My healthy additions are some peas and artichoke hearts, both tasty Spring arrivals. They both go particularly well with gruyere cheese. And gruyere is a perfect cheese for macaroni and cheese.

Read more ...

scalloprisotto.jpgIt isn't hard to be inspired when your store's refrigerator is bursting with boxes of carefully bunched asparagus all lined up in neat rows. My first reaction is to pair the asparagus with the fresh diver's scallops that have arrived this morning, but I have my whole working day ahead to fine tune exactly what I am going to create for dinner with these two extraordinary ingredients. Something fairly quick and something that causes silence at the table. What is quicker than an risotto and what is faster that pan sear scallops? Ah, dinner in 40 minutes, now I am getting hungry!

I defrost a quart of chicken stock that seems to reproduce in my freezer and chop off the woody asparagus end and simmer the two together to give my risotto a more intense asparagus flavor so I can add the other end of the asparagus later on in the rice cooking process without running the risk of overcooking and losing that bright Spring green. In a two quart pot melt 2 tablespoons of butter and the same amount of olive oil, to this heated fat add 3/4 of a cup of finely chopped onions – I use yellow spanish onion but a red onion would really be beautiful in the finished risotto.

Read more ...

shavedasparagussaladSteamed, roasted or grilled—they're not the only ways to enjoy asparagus. Have you tried it raw? If you were to just bite in its pretty tough to eat. But that's where your vegetable shaver comes in. With it you can create thin ribbons of asparagus that are ready to eat—all without cooking.

This salad is a great way to put a new spin on asparagus. You'll be surprised by the taste of it raw—it's so fresh and crunchy. Just a simple vinaigrette is all you need to make the asparagus shine like it should. Try it as as an appetizer or side dish.

For this recipe you actually don't need a recipe because it's so easy to make. Just use exceptionally fresh asparagus that has thick stems—the thicker the easier to work with. And don't think thick asparagus is tough, it's the opposite. Make a simple vinaigrette with bright lemon juice and you're all set.

Read more ...

meyer-lemons.jpgSpying bright yellow Meyer lemons in the refrigerated produce case at my local natural food co-op never fails to give me a lift. This occurrence usually takes place in March, my least favorite month of the year in northern Minnesota with its dull gray skies, dirty slush, and sometimes, snowstorms that, by this time, no one wants to experience.

I grabbed several Meyer lemons last week, brought them home and arranged them in a shallow white bowl with the kumquats that also came home with me.

After enjoying their burst of brightness in my kitchen for a couple of days, I knew it was time to use them up. I was ready to make some little tea cakes, tiny loaves infused with the juice of Meyer lemons.

Read more ...

From the L.A. Times

asparagus.jpgI'm wary of people who dig too deep for food metaphors, particularly when they involve religion, but if ever there were a case for a perfect pairing of produce and season, it would be asparagus and Easter.

I love brightly colored eggs and bunny rabbits as much as the next guy. But if you want a concrete example of rebirth and the potential for new beginnings, just walk an asparagus field in early spring. What a few weeks before had been acres of brown raw dirt is now studded with hundreds of bright green asparagus spears poking through. In a month or so, the harvest finished, it will be a waist-high forest of ferns.

This is one metaphor that never fails to make me hungry. Over the last couple of weeks I've eaten asparagus for dinner at least three times. That may not seem like a lot, but when I say "eaten asparagus for dinner," that's just what I mean: My dinner was asparagus. OK, maybe some bread, too. And a glass of wine (though asparagus can be a tough match, Navarro Gewürztraminer is perfect).

The first night, I boiled it and dressed it with just a little very fruity olive oil, lemon juice and a generous sprinkling of crunchy sea salt. The next time, I steamed it and served it with a brown butter sauce and minced herbs.

Read article...