Until a few weeks ago, I only thought of radishes as the spicy crunch in my salads. Or in pickled form. Which I have to admit, are one of my least favorite types of pickles, just a bit higher ranked than eggs. But all that changed while flipping through the Edible Brooklyn cookbook, a gift from a few Christmases ago, far under utilized. A recipe for radishes sautéed with cream and herbs caught my eye. I had heard of cooked radishes but never sampled or made them myself. The promise that cooking mellowed the root, taking away it’s spicy bite was a bit disappointed (there’s just something addictive about the peppery snap of a radish) but I was still intrigued.
I contradict myself all the time. I say food should be simple and easy, but then I spend three days cooking a single recipe. I guess what I really should be saying is food should look simple and effortless. There is nothing better than a just picked strawberry, still warm from the sun or a delicate bunch of baby lettuce you’re afraid you might crush by just holding it or a crisp asparagus stalk. But sometimes food does take a while to prepare, even if the end result doesn’t mirror the work. A less tender cut of meat braised for hours can taste just as rich and buttery as a simple grilled medallion of Filet Mignon. A rich tomato sauce or delicate broth needs to be simmered and reduced for hours to achieve layers and depth. My cooking style reflects the integrity of the ingredients, allowing them to shine through. Some meals take minutes while others take days. Luckily, this recipe is on the minutes side.
What I love most about Spring is the range of weather. You can leave in the morning with a thin sweater, strip down to a sleeveless shirt at lunch and still need a light jacket as evening draws near. Along with the variety of clothing options, it creates food options as well. I’m not very likely to sit down to a rich winter strew filled with root vegetables. More so because I’m sick of carrots and parsnips. But I love that I can still enjoy a bowl of soup when the evenings still have a bit of a chill, accompanied by a light salad.
I needed green garlic for a recent recipe. A whole tablespoon of it. If you’ve spent any time at the markets lately, you’re probably well aware that green garlic isn’t sold by the stalk, let alone the tablespoon. So to fulfill my needs I purchased a bunch, used a quarter a stalk and was left with the rest. Green garlic isn’t something I cook with too often. I generally wait for garlic scapes, or for the most part use the bulbs alone. When I read somewhere that sauteing it over low heat resulted a cross between a light garlic flavor and caramelized onions, I couldn’t think of anything better than to stick in a soup. Considering potato leek soup is such a great success, how could subbing green garlic not be equally as awesome?
After being blessed with such an early harvest last year, everything feels late. It’s like spring will never come. Of course, there’s greens (there’s always greens), but I wanted real spring. Asparagus, garlic scapes, strawberries. I religiously follow GrowNYC’s twitter feeds. It’s honestly the best way to see what’s at the markets right now. When I noticed rhubarb had hit the markets I was beyond excited. That is until I remembered I had designated Mother’s Day dessert duty to my sister-in-law. What else could I possibly do with rhubarb besides stick it in a pie, crisp or spoon a sauce of it over a panna cotta?
It just isn’t spring without asparagus. I slept in a little last Saturday. I knew I had to get to the greenmarket early to guarantee the freshest produce, but with the weather being extra soggy, I figured an extra hour wouldn’t really matter. Boy was I wrong. Note to self: Greenmarket shoppers are hardcore. Rain, sleet, snow or torrential downpour. They’ll be there, especially during the early weeks of spring where a bunch of green asparagus or rosy red rhubarb is like a blinding ray of sunshine among an otherwise grey day. So if you want the good stuff, you better be there bright and early too.