Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring has Sprung

Spring has most definitely arrived in Boston.  How can I tell?  From the food that's in season, of course!  Oh, and the butterflies.

As a thank-you to Lucy and her mother for throwing me such a wonderful bride-to-be-tea back in September, my mother and I brought them to the Butterfly Place in Westford, MA last weekend.  Its basically a greenhouse filled with all different types of butterflies.  They all around you and its pretty cool!

These pretty blue ones were my favorite, but they are very elusive.  When you can actually get them to land, they close up their wings so you only see the brown outside.
Some of us were lucky enough to have passengers.  This guy took a ride on my mother's shoulder for quite awhile.

We think he was looking for a friend.

My mother is kind of obsessed with butterflies, and we all apparently know it.  For this outing she wore this pin that Lucy had given her, butterfly earrings that were a gift from me, and a butterfly purse that Lucy's mother had given her.  I had a friend too!

After a couple hours with the butterflies, we went for tea (again!) at the Stonehedge Inn.  It was quite a feast of scones, beautiful tea sandwiches and sweet treats.

After our busy day of butterflying and eating I stopped at Russo's to pick up groceries and found the first true signs of Spring - ramps and morels!  

You may recall me swooning over ramps about a year ago around this time.  They are so special and delicious.  Ramps grow wild, and are sweet, tiny green onions that are only in season for 3 - 4 weeks in the early Spring.  They are very precious and not cheap.  The same is true for wild morel mushrooms, also available for a limited time in the Spring.  But, if you are using them as the focus of your meal, its really not any pricier than buying a nice piece of meat for dinner.  And so much more worth it, in my opinion.  Plus, a little goes a long way.

A simple presentation and minimal cooking time is the best way to highlight these ingredients.  I sauteed them lightly with white wine and olive oil and tossed them with bucatini, a hallow type of spaghetti.

I still had evidence of my butterfly excursion.

Ramps and Morels with Bucatini
serves 2
4 oz. ramps, bulbs thinly sliced and green leaves left whole
4 oz. morels, washed and halved or quartered
1 Tbl unsalted butter
1 Tbl olive oil
2 cloves crushed garlic
6 oz. bucatini pasta
grated parmesan cheese
  • Cook bucatini in large pot of salted water until just tender.  Drain and set aside, reserving some of the cooking water.
  • Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add butter and swirl until melted.  Add ramp bulbs and saute a couple minutes until slightly softened.  Add mushrooms and saute a couple minutes more.  Add crush garlic and saute another minute.
  • Add ramp leaves and saute another minute.
  • Toss cooked pasta with vegetables, adding a little pasta water if needed to coat.
  • Serve and top with grated parmesan.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Relish the Thought

We've received a lot of gifts lately.  One of the perks of getting married, that and getting an everlasting soul mate.  But let's talk about the presents.  My best friend Lucy threw me an amazing shower where we received an abundance of gorgeous kitchen supplies.  
Since we didn't actually invite anyone to our wedding, wonderful gifts have trickled in over the past few months, our favorite being an amazing collage made by our good friend Seth.  Its really too special to show here (I need to keep some things private, you know?), and I wouldn't want to risk copyright infringement with the artist.  Seth makes collages out of tiny pieces cut from magazines, basically using the pieces as brush strokes for a picture.  Seth and I have had a deal going for years where he gets me subscriptions to fashion magazines and I give them to him once I've read them.  His work incredibly detailed and takes a very long time.  We feel so honored to have a piece made just for us.

And of course, we will accept any and all food gifts.  That's really what you're here to read about.  We've gotten lots of fancy champagne and chocolate, but the tastiest gift we've received has been pickles!  Our friend De is friends with the makers of Moon Brine Pickles.  She gave us huge jars of their Super Dill and Pretty Hot pickles, and they are out of this world.  I love a good pickle, especially when they have the right amount of tang and crunch.  These dills are right up my alley, and Derek really likes the hots.  The best part about these pickles is the brine.  Its great to use in salad dressings, marinades - or to just drink straight from the jar!  De also asked her friend to make us a special tub of their dill relish.
Also great by the spoonful, but I've found lots of tasty uses for it.  Like on crabcakes.
Or homemade veggie burgers!
I made these burgers last week as one of those "what's in the fridge and what can I make with it?" meals.  What we had were some beautiful red lentils.
And kale.  I always have kale.
And a big old garnet yam.
All of this cooked, mixed together and fried in a hot pan made a pretty tasty burger.  A little on the mushy side, but still a great vehicle for the relish.  As is a spoon.

Lentil Yam Burgers
1 cup red lentils
2 bay leaves
1 large garnet yam or sweet potato
half a bunch of kale, about 6 large leaves, center ribs removed and leaves chopped into small pieces
1 small onion, finely copped
1 Tbl olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup (or more) panko bread crumbs
3 Tbls peanut oil
  • Pre-heat oven to 400ยบ
  • Pierce sweet potato a few times with fork, wrap in foil, then bake until very tender, about 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, boil 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan.  Stir in lentils and bay leaves, reduce to a simmer, and cook until lentils are tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain lentils and set aside.
  • Heat a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add olive oil to heat.  Add onions and saute until softened.  Add kale, toss and cover.  Cook until kale is just tender.
  • Scoop cooked yam from skin into a medium bowl.  Add lentils and cooked kale mixture and stir to combine.  Sprinkle in cumin, paprika and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix in panko, adding more if mixture seems to wet.
  • Form into patties (it will make about 4 large or 8 small patties).  Chill for 30 minutes.
  • Heat peanut oil over medium-high heat in large saute pan.  Add patties, and cook on each side until browned, about 4 minutes per side.
  • Serve on their own or in a bun with Moon Brine relish.