A simple Spring soup

Dinner:  May 12, 2009

I’m a big fan of soup any time of year, but there’s nothing like a light, brothy bowl of springtime veggies to take the chill off an early May evening. I tossed this together mostly from odds and ends: first, a lone leek which had been lingering in the crisper drawer, then some thinly sliced fennel stalks, both cooked with a sprinkling of salt and a knob of butter until soft. Next I added some cooked flageolet beans and their cooking liquid, plus a few additional cups of water, some sweet young carrots, and a half cup or so of carnaroli rice. While the broth bubbled and the rice plumped, I thawed some leftover cooked asparagus and peas from the freezer, adding them to the pot to just warm through. I tasted the soup for seasoning and added a few finishing touches, in the form of fresh spinach, chopped fresh tarragon, and shards of Pecorino Romano. A little toasted bread on the side (with more of that Pecorino), and we were good to go.

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The Bright Side

Dinner:  March 30, 2009

A creamy carrot soup has been on my short list of things to make before the weather warms up, and I finally got to it last night. I was inspired by Terry B’s gorgeous Potage Crécy, but I pared my version down even more, to just butter, leeks, carrots, homemade chicken stock, salt, savory, and a healthy dollop of dijon mustard. I sauteed the leeks in butter until soft, crumbled the leaves from a sprig of savory we had dried at home over the leeks, added about three cups of roughly chopped carrots, a quart or so of stock and the mustard, seasoned everything with salt, and let the soup come to a boil. I covered the pot and let it simmer until the carrots were soft, then pureed the whole thing with a stick blender. I adjusted the seasoning, and though it would have been fine without, I did add just a drizzle of heavy cream at the end, as well as a garnish of fresh chives. This soup was dead easy and really delicious, and I loved how the sharp dijon played against the sweetness of the carrots – it’s definitely a recipe I’ll return to to brighten the dark days of next Winter.

Lighter Layers

bubbly

As weary as I am of the cold weather, it’s not going away just yet, so wintry dishes are still in play. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve amassed quite a selection of root vegetables, and on Monday night, I decided to combine them in a gratin. I was inspired by a recipe in the March issue of Food and Wine for a lightened version, though I used what I had on hand for my own.

building the layers

Thin slices of peeled butternut squash, carrots, parsnips, turnips and sweet potato all went into a buttered baking dish, each layer sprinkled with salt and a little Herbes de Provence, and every other layer got a dusting of finely grated aged Patty Parker cheese from Narragansett Creamery. I poured in a half cup of white vermouth, and a half cup of heavy cream to which I had added a healthy amount of Colman’s mustard. I covered the baking dish with foil and placed it into a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, then removed the foil, added a layer of fresh breadcrumbs (a couple of slices of Seven Stars multigrain, pulsed in the food processor), another sprinkle of cheese and a few dots of butter on top, and returned the baking dish to the oven until the veggies were soft and the top crisp and browned (another 20 minutes or so).

Dinner:  February 23, 2009

The herbs, mustard, and flavorful cheese contrasted nicely with the sweetness of the vegetables, and despite the addition of the cheese and cream, this was not a heavy dish, just a richly flavored, satisfying one dish meal.

Welcome Summer

Heavenly carrots from the Copley farmers’ market – I wish I could remember the name of the farm. I’ll be back for more and will make a note of it.

Dinner:  June 22, 2008

This is totally Amy‘s fault. I know it’s not the most sustainable option, and it’s definitely not local, but this snapper caught my eye at Whole Foods and I couldn’t leave without it. The filets are simply pan-seared and served on top of peas, favas, carrots and shallot, sauteed ever-so-briefly in butter and finished with a little white vermouth and fresh dill.

To go with the fish, a lip-smacker from our most recent mixed case. Yum.

There will come a time when I’m sick of summer squash. But that time is a long way off.

Dinner:  June 23, 2008

There will never come a time when I’m sick of pasta. This one’s tossed with the aforementioned summer squash, the rest of our first summer tomato, soft goat cheese, lemon juice and zest, and a sprinkling of opal basil. Simple and delicious.

This really is the most exciting time of year to cook, isn’t it?

Taste the rainbow

After the long week we had, I was really feeling the need for some inspiration, so on Saturday morning Mike and I headed into the city to do a food safari. After brunch and a quick stop at Uva to pick up a good bottle of wine for our Valentine’s Day dinner, we went into the city to go to the Greenmarket at Union Square. With Mike working so close I don’t go there as often as I used to, so I was anxious to see what sort of treasures we could find at the winter market.

I was delighted to see Yuno’s Farm there on a one-off winter appearance. They weren’t selling a wide variety of things, but I was immediately drawn to these beautiful young mustard greens with their spiky green and violet leaves (which reminded me of a Disney villainess). I filled a bag and moved on, already beginning to change my plans for our meatless Monday dinner.

By the time we finished our shopping, we had a beautiful selection of root vegetables, grass-fed Angus fillets and pork sausages for later in the week, and those beautiful greens. We headed home with our bounty, ducking in to Essex Market to visit our favorite cheese goddess, and I revamped our meal plan for the week.

Dinner:  February 11, 2008

Since my recent experiments with roasting beets have been so well received, I decided to roast them again along with some multicolored potatoes and carrots and Silver Queen turnips from Windfall Farm. I tossed my roasted vegetables with a mustard vinaigrette and placed them on a bed of our mustard greens, then topped them off with a poached egg.

I was pleased enough with how these salads came out – they were certainly pretty to look at and the texture of the roasted vegetables and creamy egg worked well together – but I would have liked a little more flavor contrast, perhaps from a bit of sharp or tangy cheese or a punchier vinaigrette. This is definitely a dish we’ll have again.