After years and years of happy harvests, garden mainstays like heirloom tomatoes, squash blossoms and armloads of fresh herbs are as familiar as breathing, but every spring I get surprised all over again by the lettuces: how beautiful they are, how delicious, how willing…
And how different from the lettuce at the market, whether super or farmers.’ Being both extremely bulky and highly perishable, first class lettuce is a perfect poster child for home-grown.
Panisse (left) and Forellensclhuss – one modern, one heirloom. One toothsome, one super-tender. Neither suitable for any but the most local commercial cultivation.
It’s an ever-changing parade, with overlapping performers. First come the mild, mid-green frills of Black Seeded Simpson, dotted around in self-sown clumps, offspring of last year’s late summer’s crop. Then close behind them the classics of spring planting, including our favorite: buttery thick-leafed Webb’s Wonderful.
Self-sown Black Seeded Simpson, being permitted to stay in place beside the tomato patch. It grows so fast we ignore Rule # 1 and just cut the crowded seedlings by handfuls until we’ve used them up.
Almost Al’s Ricotta Tart (with puree from our own Kaga plums and a few Johnny Jump-ups because why not?)
Summer and winter – and spring and fall; this is a treat that knows no season – my friend Alex Tuller’s ricotta tart has been a go-to dessert ever since I had the first piece, back in 2006.
It’s easy, delicious, handsome, ideal for making ahead…and on top of that it’s infinitely variable, which is why I call it “Almost” Al’s tart. Good as it is in the original I usually wind up playing around with it.
The plum puree is so intense only a very thin layer is needed. If using freshly cooked peaches, for instance, you might want it a little thicker
Not sure if I’m bragging or confessing; but either way we did pretty well morelling this year, at the expense of working on the new evergreen garden, up-potting the last batch of tomato seedlings, giving the raspberries their second weeding…
Morels Part 1: The All American Fried Morel Experiment
Oh dear, HOW has the time passed so quickly (as if gardeners didn’t know). I have now planted 6 kinds of peas, multititudinous onions and leeks, beets and lettuces and other comestibles galore, as well as the first flowers. Also pruned and deadheaded and mowed and edged and…
Result: blog silence. And here it is time for the next spring fling recipe swap.
If asparagus comes, can rhubarb be far behind?
This time it’s rhubarb, about which I have had a lot to say over the years on account of because I love it. Please use the search to find everything or go directly to the Rhubarb Custard Pie pictured above.
That post has links to other pies, but if you’re interested in the garden angle
The very first spears came up two days ago – and promptly got clonked by last night’s frost – but it won’t be long until we’ve got plenty; there’s a 100 foot row at the back of our truck garden here in the Hudson Valley.
When I got out the butter I was thinking "have a measure to show the lengths," but it doesn't hurt to remember you don't HAVE to cook it in olive oil.
It was planted 20 years ago, which means 16 years of bountiful harvests and about 5 years of asparagus posts, most recently Tips for Choosing, Storing, Preparing and Growing. Want recipes? I seem to have called it a day at Cream of Asparagus Soup (made from the otherwise discarded tough ends) and Spring On Toast, with asparagus, morels and eggs. So I was feeling faintly remiss when
Its real name is Citrus and Olive Oil Cake, but I didn’t want to scare you in case you hadn’t noticed that olive oil in deserts is The Hot New Thing.
It’s hot all right, but it isn’t remotely new. Where olive oil is the dominant fat, it has been used in sweets for – I dunno – centuries at least, possibly a millennium or two.
My new favorite cake, on a bed of Cointreau spiked orange slices, garnished with candy-ended clementines.
Rugelach, the cookie supreme: buttery, flaky, not too sweet, and small enough so you can pretend that eating a couple won't matter.
In spite of their undoubted splendor, I won’t be making Rugelach for Valentine’s Day this year. The problem is that I made them for Valentine’s Day two years ago and got reminded how good they are.
Doesn’t sound like a problem, but as a result I started making them frequently, and as a result of that they are no longer special enough to be this year’s Home Baked Gift of Love.
Besides, getting there is half the fun if you have a lot of clippings and cookbooks – and an appreciative husband to whom failed experiments are a kind of foreplay.
The words are the recipe; heat the squash, then top with cheese and peppers. The initials stand for Very Nearly Instant: about 2 minutes in the microwave, because we almost always have some baked winter squash around.
It’s one of our favorite vegetables: in the garden, where it’s quite easy to grow if you have the space, in the kitchen, of course, and up in the bedroom under the bureaus, where it’s the first thing I see – other than Bill – every morning when I awake.
Terrific way to start the day, actually. No matter how gloomy the weather or discouraging the news, here’s this good sized supply of a beautiful winter staple that’s filling, flavorful, versatile AND (blare of trumpets) requires no refrigeration, canning, freezing or other special preservation. It stays perfectly good at room temperature for an entire season.
Down from the bedroom for their closeup, clockwise from left: Buttercup, Tetsukabuto, Candy Roaster Melon Squash, Queen of Smyrna.
Chestnuts are one of my favorite foods. Every year when they reappear I greet them with almost unseemly gladness, so not surprisingly they have made a number of appearances here.
Fresh Chestnuts, Roasting Them, Peeling Them, Putting them In The Stuffing has tips, tools, and techniques.
Recipe posts include
Leafy Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts,
a modern take on an old favorite, and
Stir Fried Red Cabbage with Dried Chestnuts
another new twist on an old standard and in that same post a very easy because you use dried chestnuts White Chocolate Chestnut Candy.
Speaking of which (candy, not easiness) there’s also a post with full instructions for
Home Made Marrons Glacés
So although I love and adore them I figured we’d pretty much come to the end of what I had to say. But then I mail-ordered some ‘Marroni’ directly from the grower
Winter Squash Brioche with Coconut Crust, where all this started out.
Backstory: Two years ago at around this time, I used the picture above as the coda to a long list of good things to make out of leftover mashed winter squash (an item that many of us will soon have in copious amounts).
What I did not do was post the relevant recipe – even after I was very politely asked. Why? Because the recipe didn’t exist.
That’s the great thing about bread. Unlike cake, you can just make it up as you go along, starting with pureed squash, for instance, faking your way toward brioche and then playing around with the dough.
The result was certainly good enough to revisit, but what with this and what with that I never did, so I never took the notes that add up to a recipe. Until now.
Here they are