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Spring Flavors

March 27, 2010

I think perhaps because I’m from North Dakota, spring doesn’t hit me until at least the end of March, even if the weather is nice in February. So, it is only just now, when the skinniest of asparagus are available and the California and Florida strawberries are coming into season that I start to feel spring-like in my food choices, too.

To me, spring tastes like green growing things and bright lemony things and heavy cream poured over sugared berries for dessert. It also tastes like basil pesto, but that’s more towards the end of spring. And even though I’m not remotely Catholic, it’s one of the few times that fish actually tastes good. Beer battered frozen fillet of fish (’cause that’s mostly what I’m used to and, let’s face it, tastes pretty damn good), but still fish.

So here are some recipes and recipe ideas for this spring:

Creamy Lemon Chicken Casserole – no, you don’t have to use leftovers from chicken in milk.

Lemon Curd – perfect for cheesecake, fruit salad, biscuits, or just eating with a spoon.

Rice Pudding – yes, rice pudding! Made with arborio rice and 2% milk, it’s actually still very luscious without being too heavy. Pop some strawberries or my personal favorite, frozen raspberries on top and voila! Spring!

Or you could even top it with Rhubarb Sauce. Because seriously, how can you not love rhubarb in the springtime? — Uh, so I just realized that I have never posted my recipe for rhubarb sauce! It’s sooo easy! So here it is:

Rhubarb Sauce

4 cups chopped rhubarb
1 tablespoon water (optional depending on how juicy your rhubarb is)
1 cup sugar

Cook the chopped rhubarb on medium-low heat until as soft as you like it. For sauce, cook until mushy and the chunks are mostly disintegrated. THEN add the sugar. You can add it earlier, but the rhubarb will get stringier and I think, leave more of a film on your teeth. The 4:1 ratio of rhubarb:sugar is very easily scaled up. Just remember to keep track of how many cups you’ve added!

You could also try Apricot-Rhubarb Clafoutis. Or any kind of clafoutis! Eggs, milk, flour, fruit – it’s light, it’s easy, it only uses on bowl! Berries and soft stone-fruit are the best for tossing in. And rhubarb, of course!

Sometimes spring is cold and wet, so you need Green Onion and Potato Soup! This is really more like mashed potatoes thinned with a little cream cheese and heavy cream (or milk), but it is still so good! I’ve found that the finer you mash the potatoes, the smoother (and better) the soup will be.

And of course, what would spring be without radishes? The boy loves to eat them plain with just salt. I like mine sliced with butter and salt on toasted bagels. Yum! And strangely satisfying. Just be sure to skip the radishes that look dry and small and come in a bag. You want the bigger, wetter, juicier ones you can sometimes find at farmers’ markets.

As for asparagus? Well, I like it lightly steamed (still a bit crispy) with nothing on it but served with rich foods like roasted chicken or battered fish. Ditto green beans, though I usually toss those in a little butter and salt. For a really light meal, I might try spaghetti tossed with butter, lots of ground black pepper, and parmesan cheese (the real stuff!) topped with steamed or even roasted asparagus.

And what could be better than cream biscuits split and filled with sugared strawberries and topped with a little whipped cream or, the boy’s favorite, liquid heavy cream. Yum! Although, to be fair, because I am lazy, it will probably just be sugared strawberries topped with a little heavy cream. What’s not to love?

And of course there were my perennial favorite desserts from early last summer – coconut macaroons and earl grey madeleines. Which I just realized I mentioned frequently but never posted the recipes for! Alas, that means digging out cookbooks, but I promise to post the recipe when I make them again!

And now, lastly, but not leastly, I’d like to share with you my 3-2-1 Vinaigrette recipe that is perfect for tossing green salads, drizzling over green beans, or tossing boiled red potatoes in:

3-2-1 Vinaigrette:

3 tablespoons good olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
chopped garlic (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients until smooth and emulsified. Drizzle over vegetables or toss with salads. Makes just over a 1/4 cup.

This ratio is also great with other oils, vinegars, and mustards. For instance, someday I’d like to try walnut oil, cider vinegar, whole grain mustard, and maybe a little sugar for a sweeter dressing.

And now, since I went to bed ridiculously early and I started writing at 5 am and have thinking about nothing but food, I’m going to go eat something. Hope everyone is having a lovely spring!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 27, 2010 8:52 PM

    I came across a nice spring-like vinegrette that I thought you might like since you’re in a spring food mood 🙂

    2 tsp strawberry preserves
    3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
    2 Tbsp (or to taste) olive oil
    salt and pepper to taste
    whisk well and enjoy!

    I put this on some spring greens with sliced stawberries and brought it to school for lunch several days…mmm!

  2. vintagejenta permalink*
    March 28, 2010 6:17 AM

    Yum! That does sound good, Jo. Alas, I have neither balsamic vinegar nor strawberry preserves in the house. But I do have strawberries! 🙂

    • March 29, 2010 8:41 PM

      I actually used some jelly my grandma gave me…what I think was chokecherry (the label was missing)–it worked just as well 🙂

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