Cooking With Spring Vegetables
I'm trying to catapult myself into seasonal cooking and becoming more aware of local ingredients at their peak. This is not so hard as long as I am able to get up early on Saturdays. Which I guess is not always so easy considering I've cursed getting up in the early hours, 6 to be exact, to goto work pretty much everyday.
I find myself going out less and less on Fridays in order to make it to the farmer's market in a timely manner. But that's okay, since I am a creature of more casual habits and find getting ready for a nighttime excursion more of a hassle than something that will uplift me from the drudgeries of the work week.
My overzealousness in the presence of beautiful vegetables the past weekend resulted in a big basket of goodies from the Santa Monica farmer's market:
*ruby and gold carrots
*spring onion (above)
But I was successful in using all the ingredients and did not waste one bit. Yay! :) Here is what I made for the week...
*Roasted Ruby and Gold Carrots*
Served with a Baguette, Comte & St. Agur
These carrots were so sweet and carmelized from the roasting and retained a great texture to their body without getting too soft. St. Agur is a triple-creme, cow's milk blue cheese from Auvergne, France. So frickin good, a must try.
*Vulcan Lettuce with Spring Onion & Dijon; Skirt Steak with Green Garlic-St. Agur Sauce*
What a beautiful lettuce isn't it? I'm always in awe of a beautiful leafy vegetable. I got this one from Coleman Farms who always seem to have their tables filled with healthy beautiful greens. I made a simple salad sprinkling the vulcan lettuce with spring onion slices and drizzling it a dressing made with dijon, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil. I definitely need practice making vinaigrettes. I'm just not hitting that perfect proportion of acid to oil yet.
I got two pieces of skirt steak from Whole Foods which I seasoned with black pepper, salt and thyme. I cooked this in a pan with a little bit of olive oil then covered them with foil to keep warm while I made the sauce. I sweated some green garlic and shallots in olive oil then added some veal demi-glace and some red wine. I reduced this a little bit then finished it a knob of butter and few chunks of St. Agur.
The skirt steak didn't look as good as the ones grilled at AOC which is sauced with an "aged balsamic aioli", which I have no idea how to make. But the green garlic-St. Agur sauce was an excellent sauce so no complaints here. And it was good for smothering little roasted potatoes that I also made on the side.
*Suzanne Goin's Steamed Fingerling Potatoes with Creme Fraiche*
Served with St. Agur & The Fine Cheese Co's Charcoal Crackers
I found this recipe on Oprah's website (and no I wasn't on O's website!). The recipe came up on google while I was searching for "steamed fingerlings". This dish is one of the best potato dishes I've had to date. Just steam some fingerlings, mash half, add butter, creme fraiche, chives, salt and pepper, and mix everything together gently. I think I used French fingerlings - red skin, yellow flesh. Some varieties of fingerlings are better for steaming so make sure you research that.
Actually, this is one of my favorite meals lately. With a side of charcoal crackers and St. Agur, it's hard to go wrong with this steamed fingerling potato dish. Now only if I had a glass of wine to go with it my 30 minutes work lunch would have been spectacular.
*Baby Broccoli with Green Garlic & Soy*
Served with Brown Rice & Miyuk Gook (Korean Nori Soup)
Originally I had planned to employ the baby broccoli in a simple penne dish but instead swerved to a more asian palate. I sauteed green garlic in vegetable oil, then added blanched baby broccoli (30 seconds or so), soy sauce, a dash of Vietnamese fish sauce and a drizzle of sesame oil. At the end I threw in some leftover spring onion slices.
*English Peas with Green Garlic & Creme Fraiche*
Served with Salmon with Saffron Butter
Last but not least, I finally made my English peas. One of the cooks at AOC was telling me about how English peas are cooked there so I adapted that according to my short-term memory. I sweated some green garlic in olive oil and butter then added the peas. Then I added a little bit of water (a little bit too much I think) then continued to cook them with the cover on. Finished it with a little bit of creme fraiche. The peas came out a tiny bit overcooked since I was trying to evaporate out the too much water I stupidly added to the pan. But since they were so fresh and tasted so good start off with, it didn't become a disaster.
I got two small pieces of Salmon from Mitsuwa market and sliced then into thirds on a bias for some quick cooking. I topped the peas with the salmon then added a small spoonful of saffron butter, made with saffron bashed into powder and mixed with butter. I think I was supposed to added a little bit of water to the saffron powder so that the color would infuse the butter. Oops. The peas and salmon made for a nice light dinner. I can't wait to get more peas and do right by them the next time around.
I'm keeping my eyes out for zucchini blossoms and hopefully more spring onion and green garlic!