I came across piles of purslane this weekend at the market. I quickly made one bowl of them into a simple salad with this Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette. I took the rest and used it in place of parsley in this version of Tabouli Salad. The lightly slippery leaves and bright almost lemon-like flavor worked very well in both cases.
The appeal of sorrel lies in its sour, lemon-y bite. Because of its intense flavor, many people use it more as an herb than as a green. In specialty markets where you can find it, it is most commonly sold in very small bunches as an herb. This is a problem for people like me who like to use it more as a green, cooking up larger piles of leaves as in this Sorrel Leek Soup, one of my favorites. That's why I look for the spring and summer green at farmers markets, although it's not always easy to find there either. It ends up not everyone is looking for quite that much sour in their greens and demand, according to farmers I've talked to, is not high in Northern California. How about where you are - are you finding sorrel at markets? Learn more About Sorrel here.
Full disclosure: Mississippi is one of the few states that I've never visited! Clearly this must be fixed just as soon as I can manage. In the meantime, let me know what you love about local eating in Mississippi to help create a fuller guide on this food-centric state!
Ramps - wild leeks that grow in the moist forests of spring - inspire intense enthusiasm among those who love them. I'm a fan because their delicate onion-y favor with a bit of a grassy edge makes them great for adding flavor, yet they are mild enough so you can really use a lot of them in a dish without overpowering it, as in this Asparagus Ramp Salad. Learn more About Ramps here.
The Loose Change Band in Erie, Pennsylvania has taken their love of ramps to a whole other level. Going beyond creating a tasty recipe or two and writing a whole song and producing a video. Check it out here.
If you want to go one step past fresh fruit, a fool is practically the easiest dessert possible. Yes, it's even easier to simply pour cream over fruit and sprinkle it with sugar, but if you're willing to whip the cream first and fold the fruit in, you end up with something that tastes like you must have done much, much more to get such a rich and luscious concoction. I love a fool, I really do, and in the past I've stuck to berry fools of various sorts. An abundance of cherries in my kitchen led to this Cherry Fool, and it's my new favorite. My guess, however, is that will only last until raspberries come into season!
I love apricots. Tangy and sweet and juicy all at once. Usually, by the first week of June, I've had a good apricot in California. Blenheims are delicate and don't travel well, but they tend to make their way to San Francisco from the Central Valley okay. So far this year all I've had are hard, too tart (read: not ripe), facsimiles of apricots. Anyone out there had better luck? Perhaps in parts further south?
Despite this (so far) disappointment, I'm looking forward to summer and the bounty of Juicy Summer Fruits it's bound to hold.
I'm totally biased when it comes to my home state. I wasn't born there and haven't lived there in over twenty years, but those formative school years really leave their mark, don't they? Minnesota has many fine edibles, including wild rice and wild blueberries. One of the state's great inventions, however, is the Juicy Lucy. Yep, the cheese-stuffed cheeseburger is a Minnesota original. Learn more about Minnesota Local Foods here and then tell us what you love!
Maybe you are a strawberry fool, crazy for strawberries of all kinds. If so, try making Strawberry Fool (a.k.a. the easiest dessert in the world). It's a wonderful way to enjoy fresh, local strawberries. Whipped cream and pureed strawberries (and a bit of liqueur, if you're so inclined), folded together, served up with a garnish of fresh fruit. Your guests will never believe that's all there is to it. Seriously, I've had people insist I'm not telling them something!
Let's take a look forward. To a long summer of fabulous grilling. Santa Maria Barbecue - famous within California but relatively unknown outside of the Golden State - is simple and delicious. Grilled beef tri-tip, beans, salsa, salad, and garlic bread make up the meal. Sure, the real deal uses red oak coals and pinquito beans - and that version is well worth seeking out if you ever find yourself lucky enough to be passing through the town of Santa Maria - but other grilling methods and types of beans create a very yummy, if not completely authentic, meal. Never heard of a tri-tip? You must live east of here. Ask your butcher for a triangle cut.
June is here. And June, to my mind anyway, starts summer (although the official start-date is three weeks into the month). While cooler climates need wait until July and even August for fresh, local sweet corn, early-ripening varieties are starting to show up in warmer areas. I couldn't wait--tempted as I was by a few decent-looking ears at the market--and made a light yet satisfying Corn Chowder. I highly recommend it.