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As we mentioned last week, we’ve been working on incorporating more seasonal fare into the menu as reader Sonagi requested. Shopping seasonally is, of course, not only good for the environment but good for the nation’s farmers and your wallet. Spring is finally beginning to peep through (even for your folks in the Upper Midwest—poor souls), and the stores are gradually picking up early spring produce and herbs. We thought it was the perfect time for incorporate some of spring’s best. Interested in learning more about seasonal fare? Check out the CUESA website.
BREAKFAST (sans eggs – for Ryan and others who don’t/can’t eat eggs) Ham with Sautéed Apples
Although apples have officially finished their season, they’re still fairly inexpensive in most stores. Call us suckers, but we couldn’t resist the ham-apple combo. Enjoy now or file it away for fall when the pickings are truly the best.
Heat a nitrate-free ham steak or thick slice of leftover ham in skillet with bit of butter or oil. In separate pan, sauté 1 cup apple slices and 2 Tbsp. thinly sliced onion with 1-1 ½ Tbsp. butter, sprig of fresh thyme and dash of cinnamon. Add splash of cream and serve with ham.
Spinach and other greens are among spring’s finest offerings. Early farmer’s markets begin next month. We’d highly suggest treating yourself if you’ve never tried truly fresh spinach.
Tuna, Avocado and Spinach Salad
Add tuna and red onion and avocado slices to your favorite (or seasonal) greens. Include a handful of pine nuts or walnuts and a homemade vinaigrette dressing.
One thing lingering cold weather is good for: the excuse to enjoy comfort food. This “Sunday dinner style” meal is good for sharing with family or friends or for incredible leftovers as you start off the week.
Rinse and pat dry whole 4 lb. chicken. “Stuff” with roughly chopped vegetables like carrots, celery and onion as well as herbs like fresh thyme, garlic, bay leaf, parsley and a sprig of rosemary. The vegetables and herbs will flavor the meat as it cooks.
Mix 1 tsp. each of fresh thyme, minced garlic, and parsley with a few dashes of salt and pepper and 4 Tbsp. softened butter. Gently disconnect the skin over the breast from the meat (leaving the skin intact and on the bird) and rub the butter mixture between the skin and meat. Pull the skin back in place and rub the remaining herb butter on the entire outside of the chicken.
Cook for just over an hour in 375 degree oven or until meat thermometer registers 170-175 degrees when inserted in the thickest part of the thigh.
Roasted Cauliflower with Mushroom Sauce
Toss cauliflower florets in mixture of oil (of choice) with minced garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Spread florets on baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes or until edges browned.
In large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. oil of choice and 1 Tbsp. butter on medium-low heat. Add 1 ½ cups of diced mushroom mixture (choose your favorite mushrooms) along with 1 Tbsp. finely minced white onion or shallot. Sauté mushrooms until dark and tender, and add a splash of your choice of red/white wine as well as a sprinkle of salt and pepper. If desired, add ¼ cup of half and half to make creamy sauce. Pour over roasted cauliflower and serve.
(You know spring is here when you see the stores bring out asparagus and daffodils.)
Bend and snap off the bottoms of 1 lb. asparagus. Peel the remaining lower half of each spear. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs of your choice such as chive or parsley. Roast on baking sheet at 400 degrees for 7-8 minutes for thinner spears, 9-10 for thicker spears.
DESSERT (Optional, of course) Pear and Cheese Plate
Asian pears are just finishing their season. Serve with your choice of blue cheese like gorgonzola.