Sunday, May 16, 2010

Spring Feast!

This Saturday, I made my first trip of the outdoor-market season to Green City Market. And aaaahhh, what a glorious trip it was!

I've literally been waiting months for this! And I couldn't be happier to get reacquainted with my most favorite Saturday activity. It was a fantastic weekend morning all around: an early bird market visit (8 AM) followed by Starbucks, a rhubarb muffin (from a local vendor), and the New York Times on a patio. A nice walk home finished the morning off perfectly.

And what's a girl with a bag full of produce to do with the rest of her day? Why, invite friends over for dinner - the perfect excuse to start cooking at 3 PM!

I wasn't entirely sure what I was going to make until crunch time. I picked up some nice lean lamb at Whole Foods, and, inspired by my Green City haul, I pretty much just winged the rest of it. There were a few recipes I'd been stashing away that made planning pretty much a no-brainer considering I'd picked up Spring's main stars: asparagus, green garlic, strawberries, and rhubarb.

A couple of bottles of red wine and some great company made Saturday night just as good as Saturday day. We really rung in Spring deliciously. Thanks to guests Taylor and Sarah (Fearless Cook loyalists)!


about 2 lbs. lean lamb roast (mine was in 2 pieces)
2 T. olive oil
salt and pepper
2-3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
fresh chopped rosemary, oregano, and thyme
~1 cup rich red wine, such as Malbec
fresh chopped parsley for garnish

Radish Relish
Check out this recipe: Radish Relish.

Asparagus & Potato Gratin

4 medium Russet potatoes, boiled whole until about 3/4 of the way cooked, unpeeled
1 bunch thin fresh asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces on the bias
3 T. butter
2 stalks green garlic, halved and thinly sliced, white part only (or substitute 2 cloves garlic or 1 small leek)
2-3 T. flour
~1.5 c. milk
~1/2 c. white wine
salt and pepper
~1/2 lb. sharp white cheddar (leave a little for topping the gratin)
fresh chopped parsley for garnish


Check out Alton Brown's no-fail biscuit recipe here: You'll thank me later.

Rhubarb Compote

I got this recipe from Ridiculously easy.

Full dessert recipe ingredient list:

one batch Alton's biscuits, fresh from the oven
one recipe rhubarb compote, preferably warm (but mine was at room temp - the world continued to turn)
sliced fresh strawberries (don't skimp - get organic. Strawberries are one of the most pesticide-heavy fruits out there.)
a few dollops store-bought creme fraiche (or just substitute unsweetened whipped cream - you could also be extra-sinful and top them with vanilla ice cream)


Make the radish relish, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Make biscuit dough, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake. (NOTE: I didn't have buttermilk, so I just used regular milk (1%) and it was fine. I also added about 1 and a 1/2 tablespoons sugar to the recipe since I was making them for dessert.)


Boil the potatoes, then set aside. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and saute the green garlic for about a minute. When the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes while whisking. Pour in the milk a little at time, whisking constantly, until the roux and milk are smooth and incorporated. Turn the heat up. Whisk in the wine. Add salt and pepper and bring the whole thing to a boil and cook for a few minutes to thicken. Add the cheese in two to three batches, whisking until it's melted and the whole thing is a smooth, fragrant, cheesy delight. Taste and adjust seasonings (make sure you don't skimp on salt - this will be the seasoning for the entire dish).


Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375. Slice the potatoes thinly (about 1/8" thick). Put a ladleful of the cheesy bechamel sauce into the bottom of a casserole dish. Place a single layer of potato slices on the bottom, then scatter half the asparagus pieces on top. Top with a couple ladlefuls of the bechamel. Repeat that process again. Place a final layer of potato slices on top, top with a little more bechamel, and sprinkle a light layer of cheese on top. Bake for about 30-45 minutes, until top is browned in places and edges are bubbly. Set aside and cover with a kitchen towel. Reheat in the oven about 10 minutes before serving.


Reduce oven heat to 325. In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Liberally season the lamb with salt and pepper. Brown on both sides. Remove meat from pot and set aside. Turn off stove heat and pour in wine, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the lamb to the pot and add garlic and herbs. Cover and roast for about 45 minutes to an hour, until lamb is medium (I overcooked my lamb, so just remember to check it and take it out of the oven before you think it's done. If it's underdone after resting for about 20 minutes, you can always stick it back in).


When lamb is done, remove from its cooking liquid and slice thinly. Return to cooking liquid and cover until ready to serve. Place on a serving platter, ladle some cooking liquid on top, top with fresh chopped parsley and a few spoonfuls of radish relish. Serve with the hot gratin. Enjoy!


Preheat oven to 350. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it's about 3/4" thick. Using a biscuit or cookie cutter (or glass, which is what I used), cut the dough into rounds and place on a baking sheet lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until biscuits rise and become golden-brown on top. Use a fork to pry them in half and top with a few spoonfuls of rhubarb compote. Top with sliced strawberries and a dollop of creme fraiche. Serve while biscuits are still warm. Enjoy!

Eat well and enjoy life, friends! More soon...

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