Spring

pinkGreen and white floral combos stop me in my tracks. But there is sometimes that mutation, veering shade, or complete stray in the garden that just makes a splash and causes me to stop and just wonder at the simple elegance of flower in a different shade. In this case, a pink dogwood is the variance from the white floral scheme.

A dogwood, Cornus florida, is stunning in its creamy white blousy bloom set against the green of longleaf pines, new green oak leafs, and all the freshness that only a chartreuse spring can herald. Just like genetics can give one sibling curls and another iron-strait locks, the plant family can express genes in the same fashion.

Then, after taking note of such a pink perfection blooming on the side of my house, I began to relish at the thought of grouping these pinky phenoms with other rosy hues. Pretty in pink just came to mind.

Some of Granddaddy’s first roses of this vernal equinox were crowning the bush’s stems and begging one to stop and smell – stop and smell and clip for a bouquet! Even the waxy florets of Indian hawthorn (Raphiolepis indica) tucked into the mix with a few azalea blossoms and the first fronds of maiden hair fern began to shape this arrangement, all held by a silver stein.

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springsalad.jpgSalade Lyonnaise is one of the most popular salads in small French restaurants and bistros. In Lyon, from where the salad originates, it is typically found on the menus of tiny eateries called Bouchons, which specialize in comfort foods such as soups, stews, sausages, cheeses, etc. You can most certainly also find this salad served at Thomas Keller's Bouchon and at many of the restaurants of Lyon native Daniel Boulud. Comfort food knows no boundaries of class. It is simply just that popular that both high and low places offer it. And why wouldn't this salad be comforting? It is made of lettuce, croutons, bacon, and a poached egg perched on top.

Inspired by all the gorgeous lettuces I saw at the Greenmarket on a sunny and warm last Friday, I knew this salad would be the one to make. Not only can it be put together in minutes, but it also features ingredients that most people have in their refrigerator or pantry at all times. Of course not including the fresh frisée, which is traditionally used in this recipe for it's unique texture, crunch, and slight bitterness. This salad makes such an impressive presentation: With the lettuce piled up just right, and the egg set in the center, it looks like a bird's nest. It's a lunch that presses all the comfort buttons, and it also can be a pleasing appetizer at a dinner party.

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roastedasparagusSide dishes are the key to making every meal a hit. They are essentially the glue that holds dinner 
together. Roasted asparagus is by far Spring's quintessential veggie and this mustard-dill vinaigrette 
just takes it up a notch! Now, having said that, asparagus can be the quintessential enemy of wine.



This vegetable is a member of the lily family and contains the sulfurous amino acid known as 
methionine. This chemical compound is the culprit that causes the notorious "asparagus-pee" effect 
known to many who can smell it, not everyone can. Lucky them.

When methionine is coupled with asparagus' already green and grassy flavors, it can make wine 
taste dank, metallic, thin and even bitter. Overall, it's not good.

The only way to work against this collision of taste buds is to prepare the asparagus a certain way or 
drink the right wine varietal with this wonderful Spring vegetable.



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steakspringsalad.jpgSpring brings many colorful bounties, but the best of the season comes in green. This time of year farmers' markets are brimming with tender, young vegetables. That's why my friend Caroline and I decided to take a trip to the Union Square Greenmarket this past week to see what dish we could create together.

With all the beautiful salad greens available at the market, we naturally decided upon making a salad. After browsing all the produce to see what was the freshest and most appealing, we found some beautiful spinach for our base. We also gathered baby fingerling potatoes, baby red onions, and radishes. Caroline had the perfect idea, to flash pickle the radishes. And for a lean protein, I suggested a steak, which we picked up at the nearby Whole Foods Market. Once we had all our ingredients, we were ready to cook—and eat.

What we achieved was a colorful and healthy salad with a combination of earthy vegetables that encapsulated the flavors of spring.

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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.

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