Saturday, April 21, 2007

Spring Treats

The produce section of the market is getting more fun as the spring fruits and vegetables appear. Last week, I invited foodie friends for brunch and decided to try a spring theme. At Nick's behest, I made two kinds of souffle: a big asparagus one and six, individual goat cheese ones in ramekins. On the side, we served twisty bacon strips and the most delicious strawberry rhubarb crisp with whipped cream. The rhubarb was glorious--tart and sweet and new.

Later in the week, I found these lovely red artichokes at Stanley's Produce and had to bring them home. Kind of disappointing, they lose their color when steamed, but they were delicious nonetheless. Nick took one in to school for lunch the next day. Artichokes are such "involvement" food--I don't know why people don't serve them to children more often. What could be better than tearing your vegetable apart piece by piece and dipping it in lemon butter as you go.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

4 cups strawberries, halved
4 cups rhubarb, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
10 tablespoons cold butter

Combine the strawberries, rhubarb, 1 cup sugar, orange zest, cornstarch, and orange juice. Grease a glass casserole dish and dump the fruit in. In a clean bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Cut the butter into the flour/sugar mix until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle on top of the fruit mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until fruit is bubbly and topping is beginning to brown. Serve warm or at room temperature with creme fraiche or whipped cream.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Spring Pasta

I saw Giada deLaurentis make some simple pasta dishes on the Today show a couple of days ago, and got inspired. She made one with penne, slices of strip steak, and arugula. Here is my riff on that recipe, using the fancy olive oil I brought back from San Francisco.

Penne with Tuna and Spring Vegetables

1 pound penne
1 pound tuna steak
1 pound asparagus
1 box cherry tomatoes
2 handfuls arugula
Stonehouse Persian Lime Olive Oil

Trim woody ends off of asparagus and chop into pieces about an inch long. Place the arugula in a large serving bowl. Generously oil and pepper the tuna steak. Saute or cook on the grill until done. Set aside. Throw the pasta in some boiling water. While the pasta cooks, in a medium saute pan, saute the asparagus in a generous among of Persian lime olive oil until it begins to soften. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until they begin to burst. Dump the cooked pasta onto the arugula in the serving bowl and top with the sauteed asparagus and tomatoes. Toss well. Slice the tuna steak. Serve the pasta topped with a few slices of tuna.
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We had many wonderful meals in San Francisco, including scallops with coconut-pineapple sauce at the Slanted Door, fried shrimp balls in Chinatown, and grilled fava beans at Zuni Cafe. But the standout was the fresh oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co. We stopped there in the late afternoon and sat outside, on the waterfront, with a view of the Bay Bridge and the ferries moving in and out. Ordered a mixture of the waitress's favorite varieties, sweetwaters and two others that I can't remember. The combination of the setting, the pristine shellfish, and a crisp savignon blanc was sublime.
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