Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Spring’

One of the best perks of late spring and early summer cooking is that so many dishes are quick and simple– there’s isn’t much fussing or preparation time.  This is a good thing– especially if you have little ones either underfoot or begging to get outside and enjoy the sunshine.  And even if you don’t have to keep one eye on the kids while you cook, who wants to spend these longer, warm days in the kitchen?  I know I sound like a skipping record, but I happen to be delighted that summer produce is starting to appear.  Aside from the fresh seasonal flavors, it’s easy– and that means more playtime.

This week, it’s time for asaparagus!  Yes, that sentence was worthy of an exclamation point.  You see, asaparagus isn’t around for long, so when it arrives, I go all out.  I have several simple asparagus dishes that I make this time of year.  This gorgeous tart is one of my favorites. And this one, which combines two fantastic seasonal ingredients– asparagus and morels, still makes me swoon. But the best of all is the dish in today’s post- roasted asparagus with balsamic browned butter.  It is, unquestionably, my favorite way to prepare asparagus.

I first made this dish years ago for my in-laws.  They loved it enough that they started preparing asparagus this way, too.  I think the chances are better than average that you’ll do the same.  This side is perfect because it relies on a simple flavor combination.  Browned Butter, balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce.  That’s it.  These three ingredients pack an amazing punch.  So much so, that you don’t want your asparagus swimming in the sauce.  Less is more, here.

A word or two about the preparation of the asparagus.  First, use fresh seasonal asparagus.  Don’t get me started on that asparagus you often see year-round in some grocery stores and restaurants.  Those oversized, tough, tasteless, shoots are not what I’m talking about.  Asparagus should be enjoyed when it was meant to be– for those few weeks in spring when it’s fresh and tastes amazing.  When looking for asparagus at the market, look for the tops of them to be tight and closed.  This indicates they were recently harvested.  Asparagus should be eaten as soon as possible after you buy it, as the flavor dissipates pretty quickly.  Also, I don’t follow the school of thought that you should snap huge chunks off the bottom of the stem to avoid the “woody” portion.  Instead, I simply use a vegetable peeler and peel the bottoms.  It becomes just as tender as the top section and you avoid wasting a fair amount.  Hope you enjoy this dish!

The Recipe:  Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Browned Butter

1 pound asparagus

olive oil, to drizzle

kosher salt

cracked black pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

toasted, sliced almonds, optional

shaved lemon zest, optional

Preheat an oven to 400°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Wash and dry the asparagus.  Cut off the very bottoms with a sharp knife.  Use a vegetable peeler to peel the bottom 1-inch to 1  1/2 -inch.  Toss the asparagus with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Place on the baking sheet and roast for about 12 minutes, or until tender.

Meanwhile, place the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Stirring frequently, melt the butter until it is a deep golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Be careful not to burn it.  Remove from heat and add the soy sauce and vinegar to the pan.  Mix it together well with a wooden spoon, making sure to incorporate any brown bits in the butter.

Place the asparagus on a serving platter and pour the balsamic browned butter over the top.  Sprinkle with toasted almonds and a bit of shaved lemon zest.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Cooking Light

Thanks for stopping in — have a wonderful weekend!

Laurie

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

And another seasonal food makes it’s first appearance!  This time it’s rhubarb’s turn in the spotlight.  You’ll probably see a similar line here next week with another ingredient–maybe even every week throughout Spring and Summer as I blog.  I can’t help it!  I just get so excited for all of this seasonal gorgeous, vibrant produce.

Rhubarb has been cropping up everwhere around here in the last week.  The first Twin Cities farmers’ markets of the season opened this weekend, so I hauled the family to our favorite one in St. Paul.  It was fun getting a chance to chat with the vendors again after the Winter break.  I’ve found that the first few weeks are a good time to connect with them– to see what they’ll be offering and how the season is shaping up– since they aren’t quite as busy as they’ll be by Summer.  I bought many things, including a bunch of rhubarb.  Even better, a friend was also kind enough to give me a huge bundle.  Perfect.

So what to do with all this rhubarb?  Well, this cake and this crumble are two of my favorite things to make with it.  But I’ve also found the coffee cake that you see in this post.  I love coffee cakes.  They’re perfect for…well…coffee in the afternoon, of course.  They’re also easy to make and stay moist for days.

The rhubarb is obviously the main attraction here.  It adds a notable, though restrained tartness.  The cake is perfectly sweetened.  I used my homemade 1 % yogurt, which was a nice substitute for sour cream.  It kept the cake wonderfully moist, and as a bonus, it has less calories.  The next time I make this one, I’m going to try it with white whole wheat flour to get the benefits of using a whole grain.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.  And if you try it that way first, let me know about it.  Enjoy!

The Recipe:  Rhubarb Crunch Coffee Cake

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup yogurt or sour cream

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1 /2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Rhubarb and Crunch Topping:

2 cups chopped rhubarb

1 /4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon butter, softened

pinch of kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F.   Butter an 8-inch square cake pan.

To prepare the Rhubarb and the Crunch Topping: Combine 2 cups of rhubarb with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar in a small bowl; set aside.  Using a fork, combine 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of flour, cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of butter, and a pinch of kosher salt in a small bowl until crumbly.  Stir in the walnuts; set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift or whisk together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt; set aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitter with a paddle attachment, cream together 1 stick of butter and granulated sugar until creamy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each one.  Cream for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Add the yogurt and vanilla and mix until combined.  The mixture may look curdled at this point.  That is ok.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until everything is just combined, being careful not to over mix.

Place half of the cake batter into the pan and smooth out.  Sprinkle half of the crunch topping over the batter in the pan.  Dollop the remaining cake batter on top of the crunch topping and smooth out with an offset spatula.  Combine the remaining crunch topping with the rhubarb and pour that mixture evenly on the top of the cake.  Place in the oven and bake for about 55-60 minutes.  Check the center for doneness with a toothpick.  This cake will taste great right away and will be even more moist the following day.  Store covered at room temperature.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Kitchen Simplicity

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

Read Full Post »


I seems like I’ve been preaching the ‘Spring vegetable gospel’ for the last few weeks.  I can’t help it.  That’s how excited I get about them.  For this dish, I decided to incorporate one of those Spring gems– fava beans.  They aren’t available for very long, so I grab them when I can.  Preparing fava beans is a little out-of-the-ordinary.  They need to first be shelled, then peeled.  Once you’ve removed the shells, boil for a few minutes and place them in an ice bath.  The light green peel then comes off easily.  It’s a bit of a process, but it’s worth it.  Fava beans are soft and delicious, and again, they’re versatile.  They’re perfect mixed into sauces, tossed into salads, or mashed into a fantastic bruschetta topping.

Fava beans are a great addition to the typical meat sauce like this one.  Here, they add an interesting texture, and pair wonderfully with the sweet Italian sausage and tomatoes.  I buy a local sausage that has plenty of seasoning, so I didn’t add much.  In fact, I didn’t use one grain of salt– the sausage and grana padano cheese added enough.  Test your sauce as you go, add seasonings and salt as you see fit.  I also didn’t have white wine on hand, but would have added a glug or two if I did.  Even my freezer wine stock was empty.  As an aside, you can freeze leftover wine in ice cube trays and add them to sauces as you need them.  Slick, huh?  For the pasta, you can use dry pappardelle, or if you want that silkiness of fresh pasta, use this recipe.  It’ll be more time-consuming, but the texture is amazing.  If you make it fresh, note that you’ll need to cut the pasta a bit wider than shown in the recipe.  Hope you give this pasta with fava beans a whirl.

The Recipe:  Pappardelle with Italian Sausage and Fava Beans

(serves 4)

1 pound fresh or dried pappardelle pasta (you can use this recipe for fresh pasta)

1 pound sweet Italian sausage

1 1/2 cups shelled fava beans

1/2 medium white onion, chopped (about 3/4 scant cup)

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 1/2 cups crushed canned tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

cracked black pepper

grated grana padano or parmesean-reggiano, for garnish

To begin, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil.  Once it is boiling, add the fava beans that have been shelled.  Boil for 1 1/2  to  2 minutes.  Remove from heat, drain, and immerse the beans into an ice bath (a bowl of cold water with ice in it).  Let cool in the water for a couple of minutes.  Next, remove the light green “peel” from the beans using your hands.  The fava beans will be dark green in color.  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.  Meanwhile, begin making the sauce.  Heat a large skillet and add the Italian sausage to it.  When it is cooked, drain and discard any grease.  Add the onion and garlic to the pan of Italian sausage and continue to cook for a few minutes over medium-high heat until the onions start to become somewhat tender.  Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, and cracked black pepper.  Cook for a few minutes until the flavors have combined a bit and the sauce has thickened.  Add the fava beans and cook a few more minutes.  Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings.

Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water when the sauce is nearly done.  Cook pasta until al dente.  Reserve a bit of the pasta water, in case you need to loosen your sauce with it.  Drain pasta and combine with the sauce.  Serve sprinkled with generous amounts of grana padano cheese!  Enjoy!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend — do you have any big plans?  I’m looking forward to having some fun with my family and hopefully getting a chance to do some relaxing and a little cooking/baking.  See you next week!

Laurie

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts

%d bloggers like this: