Sunday, March 21, 2010

Vernal Verts

I think it’s finally safe to say it out loud—Spring is officially here in the northwest. Of course yesterday was the Vernal Equinox, but that’s the least of it. Hastas are growing an inch a day. Cherry blossoms everywhere you look. My Easter cactus has little hot pink buds on it. And wearing flats without socks doesn't seem like such a bad idea.
Best of all, the Farmer’s Market is filling up with young, spring goodies. Leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, bok choy, cabbage. I even saw some scraggly looking baby carrots today. And the greens. Yes, the greens! Chickweed, miner’s lettuce, baby arugula, radish greens. Thank god you’re back.

What to do with all these fresh, local, tender greens? Here are a few ways I have been enjoying them this week.

Some Spring Salads:
Chickweed, chopped small.
Toasted walnuts
Olive oil, salt and pepper, and just the tiniest drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Miner’s lettuce
Champagne vinaigrette (champagne vinegar, olive oil, mustard, salt & pepper)
Grana Padano
A fried egg on top. Oh yeah.

Baby arugula
Rogue River Blue
Olive oil, salt & pepper

I really missed these shoes.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Eat Dirt

I bought a bag of beets last weekend at the farmers market, and they looked at me all week. I’d open the fridge and they’d give me those sad eyes that said—you don’t appreciate me.
They were right. I was zipping through the week on lunches out, and dinners of raw carrots, chunks of cheese, crackers left over from a party I had a few weeks ago, and toast. I was not appreciating the beets’ yummy soil-flavored goodness, or their luscious hot pink insides. I think that even if I didn’t love the sweet, dirty taste of beets, I would still cook them just so I could be around their color. Beet is my favorite color.

Eat dirt—they said to me. And I deserved it.
Luckily beets are hearty, and they last quite a while in the fridge. So I pulled them out yesterday to try to make amends. I cooked them, made them a sauce, and ate them for lunch. I ate them again for breakfast today. And I’ll probably eat them for lunch tomorrow.
Beets with Horseradish Crème
6-8 beets
1 cup crème fraiche 
½ cup grated fresh horseradish root (way less if you’re using prepared horseradish)
1-2 T chopped fresh chives
1 t lemon zest
1 t lemon juice
Salt and pepper
  • Boil the beets whole until they’re tender. Peel them when they’re cool enough to handle, and slice them into wedges.  
  • Mix crème fraiche, horseradish, chives, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and chill for at least an hour to let the flavors meld.
  • Serve the beets with a dollop of crème. 

Friday, March 5, 2010

Simple as That

Why does everything have to be so complicated? I’ve been asking myself that a lot this week. Well, the truth is, it doesn’t. Let’s take my new favorite cocktail as an example.
Last week, my friend Heidi and I were finishing up dinner at Oddfellows, and asked the bartender about her after dinner drinks. From a long list, we picked Carpano Antica--a sweet Itaian vermouth.  “It’s what the girls behind the bar are into these days."  Why not? Out it came, in a glass with ice and a hefty slice of lemon peel.
Let me tell you, it’s a gift from the heavens. Smooth and tangy, with a deep chocolatey richness. But not too sweet. And a little bitter bite from the lemon. We fell in love.
Now, dinner with Heidi is really good, no matter what we eat. And sometimes its glow can impair our judgment a little—like when a Cliff Bar actually tastes good after a long hike. So I tried it out on a few more people, including my mom. At this point, and I am still actively testing, 9 out of 10 people agree that Carpano Antica is damn good, and well worth the $40 it costs at the liquor store.

You have to try it. Simple as that.