Archive for ‘Spring’

May 8, 2011

Mother’s Day at Pleasantview Farm | Asparagus with Shallots

Mother’s Day afternoon was spent just how I wanted it: out at a gorgeous farm, with good food, family and friends.  Pleasantview Farm is twenty miles outside of Columbus, but feels a world away.  The farm is quiet with vast expanses of meadow and sky.  A working organic dairy farm, it is home to a great many head of beautiful dairy cows and their adorable offspring.

Since it was a potluck, I brought along an easy asparagus salad that was drizzled with a mustard dressing just before serving (a Ball jar works great for this).  It was an easy, no fuss day.  Perfect for Mother’s Day.

Asparagus Salad with Shallots, serves plenty at a potluck

2 pounds asparagus, stringy ends removed

1 thick slice of pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch dice

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April 20, 2011

Backyard Foraging | Violet Salad with Goat Cheese in Phyllo

It’s early Spring, and there is an abundance of all sorts of young herbs, lettuces, and edible flowers.  They are tender, beautiful and delicious.  This is clearly the beginning of salad season.  Just pick, tear, and drizzle with the best possible olive oil.  Tonight I used dill, mint, picked thyme, parsley, baby lettuces and, as the pièce de résistance, purple and white violet flowers.

No need to source them, if you live in central Ohio and aren’t obsessive about weeding your lawn, you’ve probably got them snuggling in shady spots.  They are a most remarkable addition to a salad.  The ones in my backyard

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April 19, 2011

Persephone Entertains | Quick Flower Arrangements

It’s late April here in Ohio and in my backyard, I have a crab apple tree* in near-full bloom.  In my front yard, I have a magnolia tree in near-full bloom.  I have grape hyacinths popping up under the forsythia.

Using my prep bowls, I nestled sprigs of crab apple and hyacinth for personal arrangements on the dinner table.

In stemless martini glasses I cut short stems of magnolias to march down the center of the table.

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April 18, 2011

Persephone’s Drinks Cabinet | The Rhubarb Middleton

Playing in the backyard with Cherub this afternoon, I couldn’t help but admire the rhubarb plant that’s seriously taken off.

I’ve watched it daily from my kitchen window, but from that vantage point, I had no idea just how much was ready for harvesting.  Cherub and I picked four large stalks (for a total of about 3/4 of a pound) this afternoon.  There must be another 40, at least.

My favorite way to use rhubarb is in cocktails.   I simmered the rhubarb down to a syrup (straining and reserving the remaining pulp for a dessert to be determined).  It’s a perfect early-spring combination of rhubarb, orange, vanilla and vodka.  It’s creamy, tart and appropriate for any get together.

I thank Jamie Oliver for the original inspiration, but cheekily name this version after Kate who will be bidding farewell to her “common” life.  And if you’re NFI, this cocktail might be the perfect thing to toast the newly married couple.

The Rhubarb Middleton, Makes 2

For the syrup:

3/4 pound rhubarb stalks, sliced

Juice from 1/2 orange

1/2 c sugar

1/2 vanilla bean sliced lengthwise (or add in a 1/2 t vanilla extract after the syrup has cooled if you haven’t the bean)

Simmer together over medium low heat for eight to ten minutes or until it becomes a pulp.  Strain, reserving the solids for another purpose if desired.  Allow syrup to cool.

For the cocktail:

Combine in a cocktail shaker with ice:

2 shots rhubarb syrup

2 shots vodka

1 shot Grand Marnier

1 shot half and half, Snowville, of course

Playlist included Common People, by Pulp.

When it was just a wee sprout a few weeks ago.The four stalks harvested this afternoon.

April 17, 2011

A Cheerful Starter | Golden Beetroot and Radish Salad

This is a joyous way to start a meal.  It’s a beautiful salad, with ribbons of fresh golden beetroot, bold red radishes, freshly picked mint, and wild and aromatic dill.  There’s an Eastern European soul in there, but those delicious and time-honored ingredients take on a brighter, more modern tone.  It’s very simple and unfussy to prepare, and it made me very happy to eat it.  All that’s left to be said is that it was inspired by a Michael Symon recipe in Vefa’s Kitchen.  Yes, that’s the Bible of Greek cooking.  No, borders don’t mean a whole lot when it comes to food.

As with any salad, there aren’t too many rules.  Peel the woody exterior off of 2 smallish golden beets.  No need to even cook them!  Then just shred them into ribbons using your peeler.  When the piece you’re holding becomes small enough, eat it.  Do the same with 2 largish radishes.  Then add your herbs: tear mint, parsley and dill roughly and in the proportion of your choosing.  Finally, make a simple dressing.  I would suggest 4 T of olive oil, 1 T of apple cider vinegar, 1 T of good mustard, a drizzle of honey or a pinch of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix the dressing into the veg and herbs to coat evenly.  Enjoy as a starter or a light lunch.

Playlist included For What It’s Worth, by the Cardigans.

April 11, 2011

Meatless Monday | Orecchiette with Leek and Pea Shoots

It’s been so rainy today that everything in sight is a variation of green: the yet-to-be-mowed grass.  The budding trees.  The trembling stalks supporting the heavy heads of daffodils.  My dinner of orecchiette bathed in butter, chartreuse leeks, backyard mint and verdant parsley.  Tiny pasta ears cradle pale green edamame, the whole bowl crowned with pea shoots.  It was as close to a taste of spring in a bowl as I’ve come in a long time.  It is long overdue.

Orecchiette de Aprile, serves two, plus a little one who’s almost 4

1/2 pound orecchiette pasta

2 T butter

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March 19, 2011

The Bees Knees | Little Garden Helper

My friend Kate took several pictures recently when we had a little playdate with Cherub.  One of the photos that struck me was this one of a bee with full knees.  I hope to welcome many of these little pollinators to my garden plants soon.  We need them.

Photo courtesy of Kate Djupe.

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