I never make peach ice cream that I don’t think of my friend Sue. I can’t remember all of the details or the occasion, but she once upon a time made a whole big mess of peach ice cream with her dear buddy, Father John Reedy, long-time much-loved editor at Ave Maria Press at Notre Dame University. Somehow no one got the memo and so there were no takers for dessert. The two were left with more ice cream than you could wave a scoop at. Needless to say, I don’t see Sue eating a ton of peach ice cream these days.Continue reading
In the house where I grew up in a Chicago suburb that was situated so far south that its streets ended exactly where the tall, green and golden midwestern cornfields began, the best treasures were often in the big freezer out in the utility room. Last summer’s fish from vacations in Minnesota or Wisconsin (cleaned by yours truly), stored in tubs of water, were frozen forever just as they were…or at least until the next weekend’s fish fry. Small cartons of peaches –the ones that came in after the canning was done–might be on the door for mid-winter dessert or for topping the homemade ice cream we all took turns cranking early the following summer. The thing you really had to search for, though, as they were well-hidden from my Dad, me, and all the grandkids (you know who you are), were ice cream sandwiches made from Mom’s leftover waffles. Now I don’t know how there were ever leftover waffles, but there were. And somehow my mom managed to press vanilla ice cream between a couple of them, wrap them tightly, and hide them well until they were badly needed. You get it, right? When your whole adolescent world was falling apart or the Chicago weather had turned frightening…Continue reading
I don’t know what you make for the 4th of July. It’s kind of a hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet type day…though in my opinion hot dogs are for ball games, apple pie isn’t often on the menu at a summer cook-out, and lots of us drive Subarus. I’m sure we typically have burgers. Potato salad. Brats. The occasional barbecue ribs or chicken. You?? I looked through the blog to see what I’ve written about over the years. The theme seems to be RED, WHITE, AND BLUE… I appear to be a somewhat hokey cook. Hmm. Who knew?
Skip the burgers and beer this weekend and put together a festive, but filling picnic-worthy meal of grilled pork tenderloin -one of my favorite summer meals- served with grilled sweet potatoes along with a choice of sauces. Bacon, too, if you want. Throw together a spicy herb coleslaw and, if you’ve time, my most popular pasta salad–a tortellini and vegetable dish that’s easily made vegetarian (or even vegan) if necessary. Make the beautiful Strawberry-Amaretto Ice Cream from my last post for the finishing taste and to leave everyone feeling sweet. This meal lends itself to potluck if you’d like to pass out recipes and just wait for the food to roll in. If there are any leftovers at all, you’re set for the next day, too, as everything in the post keeps beautifully and the pork makes perfect tacos. Happy 4th!
Begin in the morning with coffee along with a bowl of sliced red and blue berries and chopped watermelon topped with Greek yogurt, a little granola, and a drizzle of local honey.
Start the day’s festivities playing some great 4th of July music. Try Pandora or play this selection off youtube.com… Raining? Keep the troops happy watching a patriotic movie or two; snuggle up with the pups. Print off coloring pages for the little ones.
RED, WHITE, AND BLUE BREAKFAST SUNDAE
You’ll have plenty of room for the big picnic later on in the day. A pomosa (Pomegranate juice and sparkling wine) on the side would be a very happy accompaniment, I think. Figure on a cup each of berries and watermelon for every person, along with 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 1/8 cup granola, and a teaspoon or so of honey. Continue reading
It hasn’t been summer in Colorado Springs until the past couple of days. In fact, we’ve been wet and cool with little need for sandals (boo hoo), short sleeves or air conditioning. Vegetables plantings have washed away and flower pots have been flooded, poured out, and replanted, only to start that entire cycle again the next day. Neighbors have water in their basements for the first time in memory. Living in a place where fire is a typical weather condition possibility many months a year, we don’t complain about rain. Ever. (But…)
As as cook who adores seasonal preparations, I really have been yearning for frozen margaritas, fajitas on the grill, plain ol’ burgers and dogs, and so on. Until last weekend, summer’s been pretty much miss and very little hit. And then it began to look like this around here:
After a nutty week of Dave traveling for work in Mexico, Miss Bo-Bo (Rosie) being horrifically ill and isolated with several upper-respiratory infections, me with multiple-cooking away-from-home jobs, Continue reading
If its August. If it’s Colorado. I’m eating peaches. Any day. Every day. For at least two weeks. By themselves. On Greek Yogurt with Colorado honey and slivered toasted almonds. Or granola. On top of vanilla frozen yogurt. In a salsa on pork chops. Etcetera.
Here are a few of the yummy things I’ve done. Of course the best? Above. Fuzzy naked.
Preheat clean grill to medium-high heat. Cut peaches in half and remove pits. Brush each half with a little bit of canola oil and place cut-side down on grill. Let cook about 3 or 4 minutes and turn over when grill marks are well-established, but not blackened. Cook another 2 or 3 minutes until tops of cut-side are somewhat visibly drying. Remove and cool briefly. Enjoy as is or try another good idea…
2-6 t very finely minced jalapeno (to your taste–start with 2t and more if you’d like)
1/3 c finely minced onion
2 large peaches (Colorado preferred), cut in half and grilled*, peeled after grilling, and chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
1/2 ea medium red sweet pepper and green sweet pepper, diced
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Dash of kosher salt and a couple of grates of fresh ground pepper
In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients gently but thoroughly. Taste and correct seasoning if necessary. (Add more jalapeno, etc) Serve on with grilled pork chops, shrimp or salmon or on seafood or fish tacos. (recipe copyright Alyce Morgan 2010)
Wine? If you make the bbq pork chops or salmon, try a little inexpensive Beaujolais. Other reds or bigger wines will overwhelm this meal, though a nice Lodi (California) Zinfandel would drink! It’s summer and something lighter and refreshing will turn on these peaches. If you make the shrimp or fish tacos, a cold Spanish Albarino (lovely white) or even an Oregon Pinot Gris could do the trick.
(If you’d like to make the green bean salad, here’s the blogpost for it, though I dressed it differently here. Rather than a mustard vinaigrette, I mixed a bit of top-quality light Ranch with some roasted salsa for a dressing.)
Lovely frozen yogurt from David Levovitz’ book THE PERFECT SCOOP. (Click for the recipe.) Just slice those lovely lady peaches and slither them on top of this silky iced lushness.
Or try PEACH AMARETTO BREAD PUDDING if nothing else sounds good:
- 2 large hard rolls, cut into ½” slices and buttered
- 2 large peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced into 1/3” pieces
- 3 extra large eggs
- 1 ½ -1 ¾ cups milk
- 1/8 c Amaretto liqueur
- 1 t cinnamon (Vietnamese is good)
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter 2 qt round casserole and set aside.
- In medium bowl, beat eggs and add remaining ingredients. Beat well.
- Layer bread and peaches in casserole dish and pour egg mixture over all, stirring just a bit to make sure all ingredients are wet. If some bread/peaches are sticking out on top, it’s fine.
- Bake 60-70 min. until edges are crispy, but bread is still tender. Let sit at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Can also be served at room temperature or cold.
While you do all that, I’m on the road again with a fishing pole in the trunk….
We’ll be back next week…all of us.
In the meantime, keep cooking…
Sing a new song, Alyce
I’m not a big plain homemade vanilla ice cream fan; I like coffee ice cream. But add some beautiful hot fudge or sliced fresh peaches and I’ll eat vanilla. I’ll even make it. And it does fill the bill for a crowd. It pleases nearly everyone.
When it’s northwest blueberry time (warm days/cool nights make the best berries), I’m likely to make some fresh, quick blueberry jam for toast. For years, I’ve filled freezer bags or containers full of these berries and kept them until blueberry season (not the Chilean season) begins again. (Store frozen and unwashed; rinse just before using them.) I’m able to make great muffins, pancakes, or top my yogurt all year long without resorting to Fed Ex fruit. Regular readers know my drill. This year, I went for a beautiful blueberry topping (similar to the jam or conserve of other years) for that ice cream, but paired it with a bit of lemon to offset the sweetness of the blueberries.
|A bloom bursting on beautiful blueberries!|
This recipe is for a crowd; it makes a gallon and could be increased by 1/2 to make 1 1/2 gallons or the 6 qts in the White Mountain ice cream maker. Bring it to a picnic and people will be if not swooning, at least very happy. We took this sweet, cold dessert down to a neighbor’s the other night to serve after an al fresco supper on their back deck. A hot day, it was also a fairly warm evening. We were all glad of something frozen for dessert. What else for summer?
|Make the custard. Eggs must cook, of course.|
|Cool hot custard mixture in an ice water bath and chill in frig for a few hours or overnight.|
|Place ice cream maker with custard mixture in tub to keep ice from flying around garage.|
|Add ice and freeze! (This machine comes in a hand-crank version, too.)||In the meantime, make the sauce.|
vanilla ice cream and blueberry lemon sauce
Ice Cream : makes 1 gallon approximately or 16 1/2-cup servings
Ice cream must chill for several hours before freezing; start early in the day needed (or night before)
*3 cups whole milk
*3 cups heavy cream
*2 cups 1/2 and 1/2
*1/4 t table salt
*1T vanilla extract (Use the best real vanilla extract you can find; I like Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla)
*1 1/2 cups sugar
*10 egg yolks, beaten in another bowl
1. In a 6-8 qt stockpot, heat milk – sugar until steaming; do not boil. Lower heat a bit.
2. Starting with 1-2 T, whisk some of the hot milk mixture into the beaten egg yolks. Add another 6-8 T, 2 T at a time, until eggs are tempered or warmed up enough so that they won’t cook when added to milk mixture. Slowly pour the egg mixture, whisking all the while, into the milk mixture.
3. Cook over low heat until mixture barely thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir for a few minutes; the custard will continue to cook.
4. Strain through a fine sieve into another pot sitting in a bowl of ice water. When cool, place in refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Chill your freezer’s ice cream container before pouring the custard into it immediately before time to make the ice cream.
5. Freeze in gallon ( 6qt ) ice cream freezer according to freezer directions.
Note: I like fresh, made-that-day ice cream, but if you need to store it or want harder, firmer ice cream, store in a container without a lot of extra space. Pack the ice cream in tightly and seal very closely before freezing. According to David Lebovitz (The Perfect Scoop and davidlebovitz.com ), ice cream should be stored 2-4 months with the exception of custard, which does not keep long. As this is custard (has eggs), invite the neighborhood and make sure it’s all eaten so there’s no worry.
Watch out! Blueberries don’t just stain, they dye!
*2# blueberries, cleaned and picked over, stems removed
*3/4 cup white sugar
*1/4 cup water
*1t grated lemon zest
Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer until berries are popping and mixture has thickened somewhat. Stir regularly. Remove from the heat and let cool; mixture will continue to thicken. Cover and refrigerate if not using within an hour or so. You’ll have more than you need for the gallon of ice cream. Use the remainder for pancakes or spread on toast with peanut butter. Use within 3-4 days.
Sing a new song,
right now on my Dinner Place Blog–a one-dish side or vegetarian lunch:
|Green Beans, Mushrooms and Jasmine Rice with Tarragon and Mustard Vinaigrette|
When it’s my friend Sue’s birthday, or at least if I can find one, I send her a birthday card with strawberries on it. Sometimes I can’t find one. Sue loves strawberries and so when I knew she was coming for our Mother’s Day cook-out, I knew what the dessert was going to be. It’ll be just perfect for Memorial Day, too, though I’ll be busy making carrot cake sheet cakes for a graduation party. (Carrot cake was one of my first posts as a blogger. Things, luckily, have really improved! If all goes well, I’ll take some better photographs than I did three years ago.)
|Taking vanilla bean out with my kids’ Mickey Mouse spoon.|
I only make Strawberry Shortcake once or twice a year, so I try and make it light, layered with lots of ripe fruit, full of textural and temperature contrasts, and touched just enough by two kinds sweet cream–frozen and fresh whipped. It’s a celebration of the start of summer, though if we’re lucky, we have strawberries coming for a good part of summer in Minnesota.
For the best Strawberry Shortcake, you need each ingredient to be fresh and/or the best you can find or make. So for this dessert, I made the shortcakes as well as homemade vanilla ice cream. (Baby spoon used at right still in drawer and my kids are 25 and 34. We’ve moved 20 times since the oldest was a baby, so it’s been through at least 20 kitchens. Geez.) Ripe strawberries (some mashed) and just-whipped cream, of course. My other tiny, but critical element is a gentle smear of raspberry jam on each half of the sliced sweet biscuits we use for shortcakes. This recipe makes enough for 8 with a few shortcakes leftover for breakfast the next day. (Slice them, spread with butter, slip under the broiler and serve with jam and lots of hot coffee.)
strawberry shortcake with homemade shortcakes and
ice cream serves 8
8 freshly baked and cooled shortcakes, each sliced in half (recipe below)
1/2 cup best quality raspberry jam, room temperature
2 qts ripe strawberries, stemmed and sliced. Mash about 1/4 of the berries with a tablespoon of sugar
and mix the rest of the berries into the sugared ones.
1 1/2 qts homemade vanilla ice cream*
1 cup whipping cream, whipped with 1/4 tsp vanilla and a pinch of sugar
To assemble...for each shortcake in a deep individual serving bowl or plate:
- Spread the two halves of the shortcake gently with a little raspberry jam, using about half a tablespoon for each half. Place one half (jammed side up) in the bottom of bowl or plate and top with sliced strawberries.
- Dollop in a little whipped cream on top of the berries and place the second half jammed shortcake on top. Spoon on more strawberries and top with whipped cream.
- Garnish with a couple strawberry slices.
- Add a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream to the side of the cake and berries or on top, if you wish.
- Strawberry shortcake is good with a cup of coffee.
*I made Jeni’s Ugandan Vanilla Ice Cream. You can make any kind you’d like or even buy some best quality vanilla if you don’t have time to make it. This recipe from epicurious.com is similar to Jeni’s, though Jeni’s has no eggs.
My ice cream:
|Chilling the ice cream mixture.|
|All frozen and ready for you in about 25 minutes.|
And the shortcakes:
|Making the shortcakes, which are like a sweet biscuit.|
|Shortcakes cooling on the rack. Don’t want them too brown.|
Recipe for Shortcakes from Fanny Farmer’s Baking Book, by Marion Cunningham:
fluffy shortcakes makes 16
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1/2 t salt
- 4 t baking powder
- 1/2 t cream of tartar
- 3 T sugar
- 8 T butter
- 1 egg, well-beaten
- 1/3 c milk or cream, plus droplets if needed
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Get out 2 8 or 9″ round cake pans or a large baking sheet, but do not grease.
two-dog kitchen and around the hood or other stuff I’m cooking:
Bleeding Hearts (I have pink and white) and Pansies…
I’ll decorate the sheet carrot cake next weekend with the edible pansies.
|One of these girls lays eggs so big they don’t fit in the carton! (Top right corner)|
I got more eggs from Cathy’s ladies this week. (Cathy’s a friend and fine pianist whose family owns a terrific coffee business, Velasquez Family Coffee, in St. Paul) I usually save them for an omelet dinner, poached eggs on grilled cheese tomatoes:
|Poached eggs on grilled asparagus and mushrooms with hot balsamic vinaigrette|
and I did make an omelet, but I also spread my wings and beat some up to use in making some fried chicken out of the Olives cookbook (the recipe is actually for cornish hens; I subbed boneless chicken thighs and served them with a spicy black bean-ham salad.) This chicken is worth the price of the book.
|Tucker sneaking around the cookbook corner. Red stool @ counter = my kitchen table!|
|Hey, Mom! Time to eat yet?|
|These are my youngest peonies planted in the shade on the west side. Must be moved to sun. I have some on the south side that are literally on the ground because they’re so big and I don’t have a peony cage for them.|
If you liked this, I think you’d like my Fresh Berry Cake--. Take the components separately to a Memorial Day Picnic. Make it with a one-layer butter cake sliced in half, or buy a Sara Lee (or bakery) pound cake, slice it horizontally, and serve a rectangular version. Time for berries! Recipe for Fresh Berry Cake courtesy Aida Mollenkamp, whose recipes–every one–have been delicious and spot-on.
The other thing I get to do this week is make a BBQ Chicken Pizza for our 50 Women Game-Changers (Gourmet Live); this week–almost the end–is Foodspotting. I really love making pizza, though I don’t do it often. (My son Sean makes the best pizza I’ve ever eaten and I’m embarrassed to think how much pizza I’ve eaten. And in how many countries!)
A little guilty admission: I recently moved my computer to the basement temporarily and find I’m blogging while I watch Morning Joe, one of the few tv shows to which I’m addicted. So as Joe holds forth and Mika never gets to say her piece, the blog gets written. Thanks, guys.
I don’t want to live in a world without peaches. Really. And I only like canned peaches pureed into Bellini Soup (is there such a thing?) or on top of cottage cheese for lunch in the winter if I’m just desperate and out of time and am feeling tres fat. And while, “Sorry don’t get it done, Dude,” is one of the more famous John Wayne quotes, I often remember him in front of a campfire, “Open me up a can of those peaches.” Poor cowboys. They didn’t have fresh peaches. Just cooked, peeled, old canned things.
In St. Paul, we’ve had peaches from several places for a few weeks. And some of them have been glorious. We’re still waiting for Colorado western-slope, but that’s as it should be. Having lived in Colorado for years, I’m not addicted to those peaches. In fact, I like peaches from other states better. (These are fighting words, I know. Sorry, Colorado.) There’s just not enough rain in Colorado for fruit trees. Around Penrose, (south of Colorado Springs) there are some apple orchards that nearly bite the dust every few years despite large-scale irrigation.
Here are some of my favorite ways with peaches:
|Unadorned and sweetly loved|
|Into a salsa for fish or pork or chicken or as a salad all alone with avocado||.|
Here’s the link for the salsa recipe here at More Time at the Table.
|Grilled with a little fresh cheese, thyme and a squiggle of honey|
|Here’s the salsa served with a grilled pork chop and my mustard tarragon green bean salad.|
This year, I’ve been baking in the wee, small hours of the morning. (Don’t you love that song?) It’s the only way to get something in and out of the oven without adding to the heat index. I tried Peaches, Cream, and Cake in two varieties, taking each to friends’ houses for dinner. I can always be counted on to bring dessert. Besides, it transports easily.
First off was Peach Shortcake and I recommend it highly if only because the shortcakes bake quickly and you could even do them in a counter top oven should you be blessed enough to have one. I am not. Second was Elvis Presley’s Favorite Cake with Peaches and (homemade) Ginger Ice Cream. For some reason (not wanting to appear the forever blogger at dinner)–I only have a pic of the cake. But you’ll get the idea.
Peach-Ginger Shortcake with Vanilla Ice Cream
First make the shortcakes, which are much like biscuits, but a tad sweeter:
|Use a light hand with the dough. Don’t pat or reform too much.|
|I like to bake them in a glass pie dish so you can see the bottoms. You want them barely done.|
|Slice them in half and layer with the peaches.|
Fluffy Shortcakes from THE FANNY FARMER BAKING BOOK by Marion Cunningham
(Don’t bother to reinvent Marion Cunningham’s wheel.–That book is out of print, I think, but you might find a used one. There is nothing like it. It’s a veritable, perfect baking bible without any froofroo. BTW, her biscuit recipe is love in a bite and comes from years of testing/working with James Beard.)
2 cups cake flour (I’ve used all-purpose flour for years..just noticed she said “cake”)
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
8T (1 stick or 1/2 cup) butter
1 egg, well beaten
1/3 milk or cream, plus droplets more if needed
1.Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Get out two 8 or 9″ cake pans or a large baking sheet, but do not grease. (I like glass pie pans for these and for biscuits, too.)
2. Combine the cake flour, salt, baking powder, cream of tartar, and sugar in a mixing bowl, and stir and toss them together with a fork or wire whisk. Cut the butter into bits and add it to the dry ingredients. Then, using two knives or a pastry blender, or your fingertips (Dorie Greenspan would approve), work the butter into the dry ingredients until you have a mixture of fine, irregular crumbs that resemble fresh bread crumbs. (I do this all in the food processor and have for years.)
3. Add the beaten egg and the milk all at once, and stir with a fork just until the dough holds together.
4. Turn out (it will probably be very sticky) onto a smooth, well-floured surface, and knead 12-14 times. Pat into a rectangle (I do a circle) 1/2″ thick . Cut the dough into squares or rectangles (I do circles), using a knife or into rounds with a 2″ cookie cutter. (Like I said.) Place the biscuits, touching each other in the pans or on the baking sheet.
4. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until very lightly browned. (Do not overbake.) makes 16
|Minced fresh ginger mm|
For the peaches and ginger (1 peach per serving)
Peel and slice about one ripe, but firm peach per person. To easily peel peaches, gently drop them in boiling water for 30 seconds, retrieve using a slotted spoon, cool a bit and the peel will slide right off when coaxed with a sharp knife. If not, put the peach back in the water for another 10 seconds or so. You could use an ice bath to cool the peaches, but I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary.
Add about 1tsp freshly minced ginger for each 4 peaches. Stir together.
Squeeze the juice from half a lemon over all and stir again. Set aside until needed or refrigerate if not using within an hour or so. (The lemon will keep the peaches from turning brown so quickly.)
For each serving: Slice a shortcake in half. Place bottom half in a small bowl and top with gingered peaches. Add the top half and spoon the rest of the peaches on top. You’ll use about 3/4-1 c of peaches (1 large peach) per person. If you’re flush with peaches, slice and use more!
Scoop up some great vanilla ice cream (I like Haagen Dazs 5 or make your own) and nestle it to the side or on top of the peaches and shortcake. Whipped cream would be nice if you had some. Not needed, though, unless you skip the ice cream.
|Grilled lake trout filet salad at The Angry Trout|
If you have a yard surrounded by old lilacs, spring is a good time for a dinner party.
And, if it’s spring, it’s a good time for Pasta Primavera (Spring Pasta).
And, if it’s time for Pasta Primavera, it’s a good time for pink wine. French rosé. Or Oregon rosé.
You needn’t be picky about the wine, though it must be dry and young (2010). It shouldn’t cost much–not more than $15 and often much less. Just make sure you have enough. A variety of choices would be a kind gesture to both you and your guests.
And if you were really loving that day, you might make an appetizer platter of tapenade and local goat’s cheese blended with fresh basil and grated lemon rind. Some proscuitto and tiny tomatoes make the plate.
The rosé will be quite stunning with that goat’s cheese. Promise.
I’m sold lately on lemon ice cream. In fact, it’s a perfect solution to dessert.
|Picture taken later after the ice cream had been in the freezer.|
I used a recipe from epicurious. com (Gourmet, 1993), though I didn’t use as much sugar. I thought 2/3 c was plenty and it was. The brightness and/or sourness of the lemon can easily be overwhelmed by too much sugar. (Click on the purple recipe.) Note that the mixture must be made ahead, cooked briefly, chilled very well, and have more half and half added right before freezing.
About the Primavera... you could look up twenty recipes for Primavera and they’d all be different, except that they should all have spring vegetables of some sort (leeks, ramps, scallions, peas, asparagus, baby greens, fennel, etc.). If you go to the farmer’s markets now (when you think there’ll be nothing), you should find some spring vegetables. If not, pick up your favorites at the grocery and use those.
|A gorgeous fennel bulb..use the fronds for garnish. There’s a core here much like in cabbage. Cut it out and slice the fennel into half moons.|
|Fresh pea shoots–leaves, shoots, and tendrils from pea plants. Yummy greens.|
The basic directions (serves 4) that would include your choice of vegetables would look like this (and I don’t think the Primavera police are out tonight if you want to change the process):
|Ramps–quite like scallions|
1. Bring a big pot of salted, peppered, and herbed pasta water to a boil. (Fresh herbs only–parsley, if it’s all you have. Parsley’s a perfect herb and quite nutritious.) Lower the heat to low until you need the water in a few minutes. That is, unless you’ve timed it perfectly. Ha.
2. Meantime, in a large, deep skillet, saute in a tablespoon of olive oil a half cup of sliced something(s) from the onion family: scallions, leeks, ramps (kind of like green onions…sort of between them and lilies of the valley), a mixture…even a bit of garlic, though just a bit–say 1 clove, minced. I would include fennel here (another half cup if you have it) as it requires a similar cooking time. Do not brown these vegetables, just cook until softened. A shake of salt and pepper wouldn’t come wrong here. Remove them from the pan and reserve.
3. Add a bit more oil, heat it to medium-high, and cook a cup of freshly sliced mushrooms for three or four minutes until golden. They needn’t be –though they could be!–expensive; button mushrooms will do. Don’t salt them til later. Do, however, add a tablespoon or so of fresh chopped herbs to them and pepper it all lightly. (I like marjoram, but rosemary or thyme is so good, too.) Remove them from the pan and add to the onion mixture. Note: Like meat, you must leave mushrooms unmoved for best browning. Don’t stir until well-browned on one side. Watch closely!
4. A little more oil, medium heat, and cook 1/2 cup each new peas (or frozen if you can’t find new), chopped asparagus, chopped haricots verts (very slim green beans), even a bit of zucchini or yellow squash sliced thinly–despite the fact that they are summer vegetables. We’ll let you slide by with it. After they’ve cooked a couple of minutes, add 1T cup each of your favorite fresh herbs (basil, rosemary, etc.) and a generous pinch of crushed red pepper. Throw in the onion-mushroom mixture, taste and adjust seasoning, and set aside. These vegetables should be just barely done…not crunchy like a salad, but not granny-done, either.
5. Cook your pound of pasta as directed (10 minutes for dried thin noodles like spaghetti or linguine…just a few minutes for fresh), drain it and add it the vegetables. Mix well. I do not believe in the ubiquitious addition of pasta water here.
6. If desired, a 1/2 cup – 1 cup of very fresh ricotta can be included here, as well as 1/2c-1 c fresh baby greens (pea shoots, baby spinach, watercress…). Serve warm or at room temperature. (Good cold, too.)
7. Pass Parmesan (you’ll need 1-2 cups grated), chopped parsley, cherry tomatoes (heirlooms are tasty), and white pepper at the table.
Alternatively, and much more quickly, you might try this method for ease of preparation: Bring a 10-12 qt (2/3 full) pot of well-seasoned water to boil; add 1 lb pasta and cook 7-8 minutes. Throw in peas, chopped asparagus, chopped green beans, etc. and continue cooking 2 more minutes. Drain well and drizzle with olive oil. Add a handful of mixed fresh herbs (parsley, basil, etc.), 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes, and 1/4 c sliced green onions. If you like ricotta, and have some, stir in 1/2-1 cup. Season quite liberally with salt and pepper and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Serve hot and pass a generous bowl of Parmesan and a grinder for black pepper around the table.
|Nothing like fresh ricotta.|
This is a fun meal to make if you like interactive dinners. Have each guest bring their favorite vegetable, cleaned and chopped. Someone who doesn’t cook can bring a couple of different rosés. Let a strong person grate the cheese, a detail-oriented friend supervise the pasta, and definitely get a wino to make sure everyone tastes all the wines. The ice cream can be put into the freezer (if it’s a small one) when you sit down to dinner.
If you’re a fan of Mark Bittman (NYT), as am I, here’s a link to his recent take (and ideas for variations) on Primavera, which he contends is American. Who am I to argue with Mark Bittman? Mr. Bittman also has ideas for pastas that, since they require fewer ingredients (and seldom meat), are pretty inexpensive. Which is always good.
Well–all that said:
It’s spring. The flowers are in bloom. Sit outdoors if it’s not too cold. Put spring flowers on the table and think loving thoughts.
Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood
The house is still in process, but crystal is in the china cabinet, boxes are out of the living room, and I am walking, gardening, and practicing again.
|I must be home. The cream soups are here.|
|House being prepared for paint.|
|St. Paul Farmer’s Market Scallions|
|Made rhubarb pie yesterday…may blog it! From…|
|Farmer’s market rhubarb.|
|Flowers at the market downtown–a fine way to spend Saturday morning.|
|Our side yard (south)|
|Front yard tree.|
|Our house from the north.|
|Our driveway garden becoming a jungle.
I’m planting herbs, columbines, tomatoes, impatiens, pansies, alyssum…and looking for more light in the yard!
Happy Spring as you sing a new song, my friends!