05.08.2017

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“Why, it is May!” said Toad as he climbed out of bed. Then he and Frog ran outside to see how the world was looking in spring.

This quote from Frog & Toad runs through my mind all the time these days. We are huge fans of the green and brown dynamic duo and I just love the one-liners in their stories. But yes, spring, asparagus, book events, green grass, flowers – it’s all happening! I am quickly stopping in here to share a super simple spring side dish, one that I made for our cookbook club meeting a couple of weeks ago. Our cookbook club read, cooked, and ate from The Silver Palate and I brought this Crisply Roasted Asparagus with Gremolata and Chicken Dijonnaise (which did not get a pretty picture but was DELICIOUS, you should make it. The main ingredients are mustard and creme fraiche so really, how could it be bad). Oh, and I finally ate the famous Chicken Marbella – two thumbs way up.

The weekend before cookbook club, I was up in Boston strutting my urban stuff at Olives & Grace.  Sofi, the shop’s fearless leader, was so welcoming and knows how to throw a party! I wish I took a break to snap photos of all my pals, new and old, who stopped by to say hello but I was having too much fun. A huge thank you to Sofi and everyone who came out to chow on falafel bites and buy a copy of Feeding a Family. I am so grateful.

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Crisply Roasted Asparagus with Gremolata

from The Silver Palate

Gremolata:

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon

2 teaspoons finely minced garlic

Asparagus:

1 pound medium-size asparagus, woody ends removed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 lemons, halved crosswise, for garnish

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1. To prepare the gremolata: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl with a fork. Cover and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 400F.

3. Place the asparagus in a roasting pan in a single layer, facing the same direction. Toss with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake on the center rack for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes longer, Remove to a serving dish and sprinkle with gremolata. Serve with lemon halves.

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06.03.2015

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It was cold and rainy on Tuesday. I wore wool socks and boots to the library for the 10:30 am story time. About three quarters of the way through the event Gray said in his little squeaky voice “home” which is code for “if we don’t leave now I’m falling asleep on the rug.” On our way out I noticed Maria Speck’s new book Simply Ancient Grains resting on the shelf. The salad on the cover was so tempting I grabbed the book and made it for lunch the next day (luckily, the sun came back).

I slightly tweaked the recipe (mainly substituting pear barley for Kamut) but here is what Maria says about the salad:

This lemony salad wakes you up after a long cold winter. Lots of crisp fresh asparagus and radishes are tossed with a brazen dressing that packs a tangy punch but also miraculously mellows and marries the ingredients. Make this salad only if you can find really fresh asparagus stalks-otherwise it just won’t taste good. The stems should be firm, not wobbly, with equally firm tips. There will be a bit of vinaigrette left, which you need if you add other ingredients. Variations – Add 1 cup cooked shredded chicken or 1 cup packed fresh baby spinach. Instead of Parmesan top with 1/2 cup crumbled feta. Try using spelt, emmer, einkorn, and whole wheat berries, preferably the soft type, in place of Kamut.

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Spring Salad with Asparagus Coins, Barley, and Lemon Vinaigrette

slightly adapted from Simply Ancient Grains by Maria Speck

serves 4 to 6

1 cup pearl barley

2 1/2 cups water

1 or 2 lemons

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup minced shallots (about 1 medium)

1 small bunch asparagus, rinsed and trimmed (scant 1 pound)

1 cup thinly sliced radishes (about 8), plus a few small ones for garnish

1/2 cup loosely packed chopped fresh dill

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 to 3/4 cup thinly shaved Parmesan, using a box grater, for serving

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Add the water and barley to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until tender with a slight chewiness, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid and transfer the barley to a large serving bowl to cool.

Finely grate the lemon until you have 2 teaspoons zest, then squeeze it until you have 1/4 cup juice. Add the lemon juice, zest, mustard, salt, and pepper to a medium bowl and combine with a fork. Stir in the shallots and set aside.

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Meanwhile, cut off the asparagus tips, slice the tips in half lengthwise, and set aside for garnish. Chop the asparagus stalks into thin coins. Transfer asparagus coins to the bowl with the barley. Add the radishes. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the dill for garnish and add the remaining dill to the bowl.

To finish, using a small whisk, slowly add the olive oil to the dressing, whisking until it is emulsified. Drizzle 1/2 cup of the dressing over the salad and toss to combine well. Season with salt, pepper, and perhaps a bit more lemon juice to taste. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes for the flavors to mingle.

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Toss again, top with Parmesan, and garnish with the asparagus tips and the remaining radishes. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons dill and serve.

06.17.2014

We are in the midst of many countdowns over here – 3 more days of pre-school, 2 weeks until my sister moves home from China, 4 weeks until our first family vacation in three years. Late spring is always filled with anticipation – for summer, visitors, and adventures but while we are eagerly looking ahead we are also enjoying every bit of these days. Martha’s Vineyard in June is no joke – the beaches are empty, evenings bright, yards packed with friends, and the farms are selling some of my favorite things. This month feels like the handsome reward for our limit-testing winter.

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This is also the first spring living in our house. Last year, it was a glorified construction site filled with materials and a looming deadline. This year, we are noticing the flowers, blooming bushes, and nests. I find myself wondering who planted these things, how long ago, and if they ever drive by to check on them. This peony outside our kitchen window was the bees knees.

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Asparagus Galette
slightly adapted from Simple Bites

For the Crust:

1 1/4 cup unbleached white flour

1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons frozen unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used regular whole milk yogurt)
1/4 cup ice cold water
2 teaspoons lemon juice

For the Filling:

1/2 cup goat cheese, softened

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup grated mozzarella
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound asparagus, washed and trimmed
Salt and pepper
For the Glaze & Topping:

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon chives, minced
1 teaspoon mint, minced
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To prepare crust, combine flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse twice to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together yogurt, water, and lemon juice. Pour over flour mixture and use hands or a wooden spoon to form dough into a ball. If it is too sticky simply add more flour. Wrap in plastic and store in freezer for 20 minutes.
To prepare filling, whisk together olive oil and garlic clove in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the three cheeses and stir in one teaspoon of olive oil mixture. Refrigerate until ready for use.

To assemble galette, preheat oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

On a well floured surface, roll the chilled dough into a 12-inch circle, trimming edges until smooth. Transfer dough to lined baking sheet. Leaving a 2-inch border, spread the cheese mixture evenly over dough. Arrange asparagus over the cheese then drizzle remaining olive oil mixture over the top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold over the edges of dough, pleating to make it fit.
Whisk together egg yolk and water. Brush over the crust and bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is puffed, asparagus is tender, and crust is golden brown. Sprinkle minced chives and mint over top and serve.
06.04.2014

Things are slowly changing from spring to summer here. The beaches now require stickers, the pre-school play is this week (I mean!), our calendar is filling up fast, and we are eating more salads for dinner. All the chalkboard farm-stand signs I pass along the roads mention greens of some sort and I’m happy to find them in my fridge when we finally come inside just before dinnertime.

These salad combinations were born from cleaning out our fridge before traveling to upstate New York for our 10 year college reunion. Giving a babysitter the rundown Saturday night about a house full of sleeping kids made my friend and I chuckle – how are we the moms and not the babysitters? It happened so fast. We hit up the same bars with the same friends but I had just one beer and was in bed by 10 – that is what a decade away does to you I guess.

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The first salad is hearty, recognizing the still lingering crisp night and early morning air. The second is a nod to classic spring produce – asparagus and radishes. These are not necessarily recipes but suggestions on salad pairing that we enjoy and an excuse for you to skip a complicated meal.

Farro, Pear, & Parmesan Salad: Toss fresh greens with a couple handfuls of cooked farro, sliced pear, thin rounds of shallot, and curls of Parmesan cheese. Make a quick dressing of lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Asparagus, Radish & Sunflower Seed Salad: Quickly saute fresh asparagus in extra virgin olive oil and salt until just tender. Toss warm spears with greens, thinly sliced radishes, and sunflower seeds. Dress this combination with balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

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I am so thankful for this season and the people I get to enjoy it with. I’m ending this day with sandy feet from the beach and giddy anticipation of another huge blowout celebration weekend (I smell a wedding!) – this is it.
05.07.2014

Seven year ago, before having kids Nick and I lived in Boston and made a pact to play hookey from work on the first spring day that reached 60 degrees. Our apartment was near the esplanade and we spent the day walking around, being outside, sipping our favorite beverages over ice. It was a celebration.

This year, I brought iced coffees over to a friends house and we sat on her porch. Our babies were happily with us – Gray playing with his bare feet outdoors for the first time. We looked at each other and immediately had the same though – WE MADE IT! That long winter of newborns, no sleep, constant nursing, snow, and more snow is over. We actually started to cheer.

Spring is a time to celebrate for many reasons. I wore a t-shirt all day long yesterday (while pushing this guy and playing with this guy) and asparagus is fresh. Score.

Miso Soup with Spring Vegetables & Soba Noodles

1 quart mushroom stock (or your favorite variety)
8-9 ounces soba noodles
1 sheet nori seaweed
2-3 tablespoons brown rice miso paste (or your favorite miso)
1 lime
1 bunch asparagus
1 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

1. First prep the asparagus by trimming the tough ends and slicing it lengthwise into thin strips.

2. You will cook the soba noodles in the mushroom stock while quickly sauteing the vegetables.  To do this, heat stock in a large pot. Whisk in miso paste and add sliced nori seaweed (kitchen scissors do a good job slicing). Bring stock to a boil and cook soba noodles per package instructions (usually 8 minutes).

3. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium-high. Add olive oil. Saute asparagus and peas, sprinkled with salt and pepper, until tender and slightly browned.

4. When noodles are cooked, turn soup pot down to low, add in the juice of 1 lime and taste. Depending on your miso paste you may need more salt and pepper.

5. When ready to eat, ladle noodle soup into large bowl and top with vegetables. Serve with extra lime wedges if you like.