Wheat. The idea of enjoying this foundational whole grain in as “whole” of a way as possible has appealed to me recently. So much attention is given to its fancier counterparts these days; farro, quinoa, barley, amaranth. While all these wonderful grains deserve a place in our diet, I have been interested in the classic version. When I think of wheat my mind conjures up ideas of midwestern fields, wispy wheat grass blowing in the wind, farmhouses, tall silos and mill stones. Flour dusted aprons, the smell of freshly baked bread, rounds and rectangles lined up on a bakery shelf. I love to bake, and I love to try to find new ways in incorporate whole eating into my family’s diet where I can.
I love pizza, I always have and I always will. I also believe that pizza can be part of a healthy and whole food lifestyle, I have proven that over the past year. My memory is filled with pizza related anecdotes. I used to wait tables at an iconic pizza shop off the Syracuse University campus where the owner slung doughs in the window for 40 years. I have eaten classic versions on the piazzas of Italy. I’ve grinned watching my son eat half a margherita at Boot & Shoe Service. I’ve had my eyes opened wide by squid, cherry tomatoes, and aioli on a version at Pizzaiolo. I have sipped a beer while eating kale & pancetta with my kids at Jules Thin Crust, pointing out the animals in the pictures draped across the walls. All these memories connect pizza to my heart and put a smile on my face. When I heard about a group of local Oakland guys bringing half-baked artisan pizzas to the doorsteps of our neighborhoods, I knew I had to give Pizza Matador a try.
It’s here. I purchased my first bunch of the season last week. Asparagus is a telltale sign that spring is just around the corner. Just as the daffodils have burst through our rain drenched soil to open up and smile at us, asparagus and their tender tips have popped up like little soldiers to say “Come on spring, we’re ready for you”. While the season doesn’t officially start for four more weeks, we can enjoy the combination of the sunny February days we have been blessed with, along with these crisp stalks, to remind us that spring will soon be here. Here are a few recipes and fun tidbits to help you enjoy this delicious veggie.
I saw this grain salad with asparagus and Meyer lemon on the kitchn earlier today, a perfect way to enjoy the end of the citrus season along with the arrival of asparagus.
I can’t do an inspiration board without including my favorite food blog, Smitten Kitchen. I made this simple asparagus pizza last year, and will surely be doing it again. Although I might be tempted to add an egg this time.
While looking on her site for the above, I came across this recipe for asparagus with yogurt and almonds that looks lovely.
I saw Ina Garten do this asparagus with prosciutto and egg on Barefoot Contessa one day…it looked like heaven.
Serious Eats is a great resource for all things food & cooking…they have given me these delicious ideas:
Tartine sandwiches with asparagus, ricotta and mint…yes please!
Grilled asparagus dipped in 3 different aioli options…yum!
Roast chicken with asparagus panzanella…I will admit I would probably cheat and buy a rotisserie chicken :o)
And here is 20 more…I will be trying the caesar and farro salads myself.
Asparagus and Gruyere come together in tart form in several places on the web, but they all seem to be descendants of Martha’s version.
Lets make sure we also cover off some very important questions and facts:
Do you peel your asparagus? I don’t. According to this survey, I am in the majority.
Do you snap the ends off, or not? I do…some say you loose too much of the stalk that way. According to The New York Times, you can still be left with tough, stringy ends if you snap. They recommend cutting 6-7 inches down from the tip. To me, it’s just too fun, and too easy.
According to this article in Smithsonian Magazine, even Benjamin Franklin commented on this strange side effect of eating asparagus back in 1781. Just why, oh why, does it make our pee smell? I always assumed it happened to everyone. Eating just one stalk does it to me. However, I guess some folks are spared.
And just for fun…
Etsy and eBay are full of vintage French asparagus plates. How “French” is it that they have special plates just for asparagus? If I could afford it, and had the space, I would be all over this set. The color is gorgeous.
Maybe I will just take this cute vintage french crate label instead… :o)
Top Row (from left to right): Daffodil – TANAKA Juuyoh via flickr / Wild Daffodils – Vince Alongi via flickr / asparagus – liz west via flickr
Middle Row (from left to right): asparagus – liz west via flickr / Asparagus – Michael Leland via flickr / Daffodils – Keith Todd via flickr
Bottom Row (from left to right): white and orange daffodil, taken by my wife – Martin LaBar via flickr / Daffodils in Spring Sunset – Nic Taylor via flickr / Asparagus – Steve Cavrich via flickr
Continuing my romantic and nostalgic tribute to Mother’s Cookies today with a sweet filled trip down memory lane to recreate my favorite types of Mother’s Cookies in my own kitchen. My floor is specked with rainbow sprinkles, my counters are a bit sticky with white icing, and my shoulders are a bit tight. As I mentioned in Part 1 of my Mother’s Cookies love story, I have a hard time letting things go. I was determined to try my hand at these iconic favorites. So, when my daughter went down for her nap today I got to work and brought them to life, in my own way.
Continuing my love for winter citrus today with a lovely blood orange curd that I have made a couple times in the past two weeks. I love to enjoy lemon curd, but often struggle with how to eat it without stuffing myself with scones until the jar is empty. In my attempts to “slim down” my intake of this blood orange version, I have been drizzling a bit over sliced banana with a sprinkling of granola. Let me tell you, it’s my new obsession.
Cold, wet days often call for warm, comforting, rich food. However, when your mood needs a boost let your taste buds be invigorated by a burst of sweet, tangy citrus. As I mentioned in last week’s post about preserving lemons, I have always found the contrast between the darkness of winter and the bright citrus flavors that peak at this time of year a confusing paradox. So while I work to get over it and invite these flavors into my winter cooking and eating regime, I look to the below for inspiration.
It’s cold, grey, and barren outside. Yet as I walk the streets, I see bright pops of orange and yellow in yards all over the neighborhood. It has always been an interesting contradiction to me. The bright, color-filled, fresh flavors that we associate with warm summer days, actually peak in the depth and dark of winter. Magazines, blogs, and cookbooks abound with ideas on how to bring the sweet tartness of citrus to your winter dining room table. My family and I have been blessed with a Meyer Lemon tree in our yard. While I look forward to this time of year when I can pop outside anytime I need a lemon, I also know their arrival means I have work to do. While it is one thing to walk the aisle at the store and pick up a few tangerines, lemons, or blood oranges, what does one do when hundreds arrive and are at your disposal?
The season of endless baked goods has come to an end…*sigh*. I feel sad, but I’m desperately trying to lift my chin and focus on fitting healthy leafy greens into my life here and there. The weather is chilly and calling for dishes with depth and warmth. A mound of melted deep, dark greens is a wonderful accompaniment to so many winter dishes. Whether piled on a pizza, wrapped around fillings, swirled with pasta, or chopped raw in a salad, winter greens bring earthy flavor to our cold weather tables. Here are lots of options I have found across the web, with a few fun things to round it out….just cause.