Last weekend I missed a morel hunt. See that basket above? That's the haul I got from one clearing last spring. Weird fires and late rain in my neck of the woods meant we had every reason to think out luck would be even better this year. I was all set to go with a friend up into the Sierras and spend the day staring at the forest floor, hoping to find the pine cone-like mushrooms pushing up through pine needles -
Do you see the morel in that picture? It's in the bottom third of the photo, in the middle, pushing up next to the strip of wood. Sometimes they'll even create little rows along felled trees. Alas and alack, life and work and family got in the way and I had to beg off the trip. My friend then spent the day torturing me with pictures of the scads and piles of morels he was finding. It was a bit heart-breaking, but I comforted myself with some homemade pasta, made with the last of the morels I dried from last year.
Morel mushrooms are one of my favorite things about spring eating and the pasta dish above is one of my favorite ways to eat them. The earthy, just a bit nutty, flavor of fresh morels is a perfect foil for the bright, sweet taste of sweet green peas. Here a bit of each adds its part to the eggy bite and flavor of fresh pasta. Make the noodles yourself or buy them, either way, you end up with a bowlful of spring with this Peas and Morels Pasta.
From the banal (deviled eggs) to the interesting (Scotch eggs) to the possibly a tad whacky (eggs in spicy curry), this collection of Recipes Using Hard Boiled Eggs should come in handy if you kept your Easter eggs chilled for most of the time you had them. Outside in the morning cool for an hour? I'd go ahead and use them. Out on the table in the sun all day? Go ahead and throw those away. I'll tell you what, though, these recipes are so tasty I've been known to boil up some eggs just to make them, whether we dyed eggs or not.
Let the kids down those jelly beans, but the sweet, tart, juicy fruits of spring make beautiful desserts for the Easter table. From bright citrus like lemons and grapefruit that are still in season to the possibility that you're lucky enough to live where rhubarb is popping up or even the first strawberries are ripening, these desserts bring the fresh air and sunshine of spring inside. I'm such a fan of both rhubarb and easy-peasy fools, that this Rhubarb Fool may be my choice this year.
From a heartier bistro-style salad with goat cheese to a light and bright mix of gingery radishes, these Easter Salads make excellent use of the bounty of spring produce we've been craving for months. I hate to choose favorites in such an all-star line-up, but I must admit that I have a special affinity for the Asparagus Tossed Salad pictured above with thinly cut asparagus, lemony dressing, pistachios, and little perlini mozzarella balls.
The tender vegetables of spring lend themselves easily to simple side dishes with tons of flavor for the Easter table. These Easter Side Dishes work well at brunch or dinner, depending on when you're planning the big meal. I can't help but give a special shout-out for both Braised Artichokes and Vignarola. Both are slowly cooked and taste great warm or at room temperature, so they're perfect for making ahead for stress-free entertaining.
Let's be real. Easter can involve a lot of candy. And rich lamb or ham. It's the perfect time to break out a whole bunch of vegetables to start things off instead of cheese and crackers or chips and dip. These Spring Appetizers for Easter have tons of fresh spring flavor, are packed full of veggies, look stunning in all their green and colorful glory, and taste great. Since they let the delicate tastes of spring produce shine through, they're also simple and light.
In many families, it ain't Easter without lamb on the table (or turning on the spit). My all-time favorite way to cook lamb is on the grill. And for festive occasions I turn to a butterflied leg of lamb, marinated overnight if possible. This time of year I like to add bright spring radishes and sliced spring onions and fresh mint (so much better than mint jelly) alongside the rich meat for crunching. It makes a grand Easter platter, I tell you. Check out Grilled Leg of Lamb to see for yourself.
Whether or not you celebrate Easter, true spring lamb is a delicious element of seasonal eating - and if you can find a locally grown one, all the better. Finding that local lamb can be quite tricky, however, as fewer farmers raise sheep (a farmer I know stopped trying because the carnage from the coyotes was too much to handle - emotionally and financially). In fact, you may only be able to find imported lamb at the meat counter. Learn more About Different National Lambs here. You may also find this Guide to Lamb Cuts useful as you head to the market.
It's that time of year again. When plain old hum-drum eggs turn pink and yellow and blue. Tablets and packets are all fine and good, but it's also easy to dye beautiful Easter eggs using food. Red cabbage makes any white egg look as lovely blue as a robin's egg, and turmeric or saffron create a bright, sunny yellow. See How to Dye Easter Eggs here.
I also dyed eggs pink with beets, but have to admit that the color didn't turn out anywhere near as vibrant as what came off on the paper towels where I set the to dry. Similarly, the spinach-for-green-eggs I'd heard so much about was a disappointment. Yes, the eggs turned a bit green, but it was so pale... I'm not sure it was worth the effort. The blue from red cabbage and the yellow form the turmeric, though, those were fabulous.
Oh, and the onion skins for orange eggs? They turned a dozen white eggs to a brown that was indistinguishable from some brown eggs I'd bought at the farmers market.
Have you had better luck dying eggs naturally? I'd love to hear about it!
I've run this picture before, because farmers are funny. In honor of the often dry sense of humor engendered by a life working the land, I offer up both 12 Signs You Shop at Farmers Markets and Farmers Market Don'ts.
"How do you use everything you buy at the farmers market?" is by far the most common question people ask me. Seriously. People seem to have a lot of trouble making use of what catches their eye and makes their way into their baskets at farmers markets.
I can't blame people for going crazy and over-buying when presented with the beauty and bounty that fills so many markets. Not at all. I'm not here to judge. How could I? I'm the one who does things like come home with that 20-pound box of tomatoes without a plan in sight. I'm here to help. Here are 7 Simple Steps I use to make sure that every fava bean and every bunch of mint and every box of tomatoes get used and gets used deliciously.