What’s Cooking: Spring ’09 Edition

Aren’t you curious as to what I’ve been cooking with all of this great stuff from the Spring Farmer’s Market? No?! Well I’ll tell you anyway.

The white bean stew you see above was made in late April, right at the beginning of Spring. In fact, it was the warmest day we’d had in a while, so a stew was probably a little hot and heavy. Good thing it was sooooo tasty. I used a tip from America’s Test Kitchen and soaked the beans (from the Farmer’s Market) is salted water rather than boil them in salted water, which can lead to mealy beans. The beans were then boiled in fresh water while I prepared the stew in another pot, and once again I was surprised by how rich a stock you can get by just using water as a base. Other ingredients: carrots, tomatoes, parsley, parmesan.

I used a tip from Hubert Keller to attempt my first hollandaise sauce, which as you can see did not work out so well. Still, egg-y lemon-y sauce over steamed asparagus was pretty good.

More asparagus, steamed with some ramps, then blended with salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon, parmesan. Served with shitake chips — shitake caps cooked in a low oven with olive oil and salt and pepper for about 45 minutes, which leaves them a little chewy and not so crisp.

Inspired by the asparagus risotto at Stone Park Cafe. The hardest part for me was trying to figure out how to get the bright green color to risotto, which I already can make quite well. The solution: boil then shock the asparagus, then blend with olive oil, butter, parmesan, salt and pepper, then add it to the risotto at the very end. Topped with roasted asparagus.

Classic pasta primavera, primavera of course meaning “Spring” — spring onions, asparagus, fresh peas, and shitakes with a bit of lemon and a LOT of parmesan. Nom nom nom…

For this white pizza with asparagus and ramps I used my new favorite trick — a dough without measurements! I combine warm water with yeast, a pinch of salt, a little flour and a little honey, then let it sit for half an hour to foam. Then I mix in some more flour and warm water, then cover and let sit to rise. Punch down the dough, then cover and let sit overnight. I topped the dough with mozzarella from Bufala di Vermont I picked up at the Union Square Greenmarket, plus some blanched asparagus and some ramps (and some sea salt and olive oil). Cooked in a pre-heated cast iron pan in a 550 degree oven.

I got a little obsessed with the duality of food, and came up with romaine two ways — braised romaine (sear on both sides in olive oil and butter, then add some lemon juice and capers, some water, some salt and pepper, cover and lower the heat, when finished top with parmesan) and a salad with dressing made with balsamic vinegar (a present from my friend Jeff), olive oil, salt and pepper. Nothing revelatory here, just darned tasty.

Inspired by a post on Serious Eats, I made some zucchini stuffed with quinoa. The quinoa was cooked with basil, butter, salt and pepper, raisins, and finished with a little blood orange olive oil (another present from Jeff); the zucchini was hollowed out (I added the stuff that I scooped out to the quinoa as well) and roasted in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper until just tender.

If you’re interested in more details about making any of these dishes, feel free to email me, but the beauty of most of these are their simplicity.

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