Archive: Spring Produce

Hey Sugar (Snap), Whatcha Up to Tonight?

(Kim O'Donnel) It’s pea season, a short-lived window when you can leave that bag in the freezer just where it is because baby, you’ll never have peas as sweet as they are right now. Me, I’m a sugar snap girl, and I love them raw, unzipped from their jackets, as an afterschool snack. But when dinnertime comes around, here’s what I’m thinking: * With rice – and lots of lemon zest, torn leaves of fresh mint. As a pilaf, hot or cold, or as a risotto, seasoned with white wine and green garlic, topped off with grated Parmigiano… * A twist on the ole peas ‘n’ carrots that we all liked to push around with our forks as kids: Peas like coconut milk, yes they do. Make an impromptu Thai-style curry with a few tablespoons of red curry paste and a small handful of chopped shallots cooked in oil,...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 10, 2009; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (7)

The Savory Side of Rhubarb

Rhubarb chutney and the stalks from whence it came. (Kim O'Donnel) Mother Nature’s ruby-red stalks from the buckwheat family don’t like the heat, so snatch’em, I mean hoard’em, while you can. Most folks --this cook included -- associate rhubarb with dessert because of her lip-puckering tang that begs for sweetness. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a sucker for rhube-y cake, buckle and fool (I even tucked some into a cherry cobbler last weekend). But lately, I’ve been wonderin’ -- as the rhubarb clock tick tocks away -- how I could enjoy her not just at dessert but with dinner now and (ideally) later this year. The answer is a pot of rhubarb chutney, a sweet (dates) ‘n’ sour (apple cider vinegar) combo that cooks and acts like some of our other favorite saucy accompaniments, namely apple sauce and cranberry sauce. Mauve in color and sassy in flavor (with a...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 4, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

Breaking New Ground with Rhubarb Buckle

I’ve played with rhubarb (here and here), and I know my way with a buckle, but I gotta say, this is my first adventure marrying the two. (Kim O'Donnel) Rhubarb buckle. Those words certainly got my attention as I paged through a copy of “Rustic Fruit Desserts,” a new cookbook by Portland, Ore.’s Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson. I’m so intrigued I can hardly stand it, and I’ve got five stalks of rhubarb from the farm market. And then I notice -- these baking bandits are stealing my heart -- they've added candied ginger to the batter -- bringing the flavor profile to all-time tantalizing high. Well, it wasn’t just in my head; this fruit vegetable-forward cake with a slighty crumby topping is possibly one of the most interesting desserts I’ve made in a long time. In every bite, I get a rhube-y tang that I can’t enough of. Go...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 7, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (15)

Wild for Ramps

(Tim Fitzgerald) For many home cooks, spring equals asparagus, but there’s a fragrant little onion -- the ramp -- that emerges from the soil well before those beloved spears. Native to North America, the ramp grows in forests and mountainous regions from Canada to South Carolina. Resembling a scallion but with broad, soft leaves and a tinge of pink on the middle of the shoot, the ramp has developed a cult following, both at homespun festivals and with celebrity chefs. Guest blogger Tim Fitzgerald, a scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, shares his love for the wild onion, both in the field and in the kitchen. After I had my first taste of grilled ramps pizza at Mario Batali’s Otto Enoteca Pizzeria in New York, I knew I was hooked. The only problem is that these little buggers are expensive -- as much $25 per pound. So what is...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 21, 2009; 07:20 AM ET | Comments (1)

The Green Bean Love Train

When a What's Cooking reader from Boston, Mass. asked for ideas for a bunch of newly purchased green beans, she spoke to my heart. Whenever I look at a fresh green bean, which are coming into season in the southeast, I always see possibilities. It seems I've got enthusiastic company, as fellow readers chimed in with their own personal green bean-y faves. Green beans: Gentle giants.(Kim O'Donnel) During the live chat, I only had time to share recipe details for these Szechuan-style green beans, which have become a summer dinner party staple at Casa Appetite, but ever since, I've had green beans on the brain, gathering recipe and flavor combination ideas that keep the green bean love-a-thon going. Before we get started, I wanted to mention a bit of nutritional information about our friend, the green bean: One cup offers 16 percent of the RDA for dietary fiber and 20...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 15, 2008; 11:21 AM ET | Comments (0)

Can a Strawberry Be Savory?

A big shout-out to the strawberry, who's back in town and making Washington area farm markets a little more gorgeous. Strawberry glory. A member of the rose family, the strawberry is unlike her other berry brethren, as she's the only one that keeps her seeds in full view, on the skin. Of all the berry options to come our way this summer, the strawberry is fairly low on my list (I'm much more excited about the impending arrival of blueberries, which I can eat by the pint.), but now that I've read in Dana Jacobi's new book, "The Essential Best Foods Cookbook," that one cup of strawberries contains 140 percent of the RDA for vitamin C, I'm reconsidering my position. That stunning shade of red isn't just for show, by the way. In those come-hither pigments are powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins which protect us from our brain going down the...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 14, 2008; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (33)

Got Mushed Raspberries? Make Lemonade.

When the weather turns from spring to summer, we all turn to a cold beverage, an elixir of sorts to help restore the heat-induced balance. For some, it's iced tea. For me, it's lemonade. The freshly squeezed juice of several lemons sweetened and poured over ice is a tonic unlike no other; lemonade revives me, gives me a chance to momentarily pause and I love the bio-chemical rush of all that Vitamin C. Raspberry lemonade -- what the weather doctor ordered. (Kim O'Donnel) At this time of year, I keep tabs (and give props to) restaurants that take the extra time to squeeze lemons for ade-freaks like me. Recently, I've had stellar lemonade at Rasika and 2Amys, as well as ade-standbys such as Colorado Kitchen and Pizzeria Paradiso. On Friday, I treated myself to lunch at Equinox, where I perched myself at the bar. When I made my lemonade inquiry,...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 18, 2007; 09:45 AM ET | Comments (8)

Getting Fresh: Cherry Wonderful

Local cherries are here, which means that stone fruit season has begun -- and I have a date with some red flesh and a pit collection bowl this weekend. As much as I love eating them out of hand, cherries are stellar in desserts. Now's the time to indulge your sweet tooth because these ruby-red gems are here for just a few weeks. The cutest treats ever: cherry-almond tea cakes. (Kim O'Donnel) Of all cherry desserts, pie tops the list, but I'm also a sucker for cherries and almonds, a marriage of mysterious and wonderful proportions. The two just love each other, and I love them. As I'm wont to do while flying, I had a stack of magazines in my lap earlier this week and put the brakes on when I spotted a recipe for cherry and almond tea cakes in the current issue of Martha Stewart Living. Better...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 14, 2007; 10:55 AM ET | Comments (0)

Getting Fresh: A World of Peas

I eat my peas with honey I've done it all my life I know it may seem funny But it keeps them on the knife Remember that nursery ditty? I kept singing it in my head last weekend while strolling through Arlington Courthouse market, where peas of various shapes and sizes, were strutting their stuff. Sugar snap peas. (Kim O'Donnel) It's a wee early in the season for the aformentioned runaway peas (that also require shelling), but in their place for the moment are the sugar snap pea, pea shoots and, on occasion, pea sprouts. The sugar snap pea is a relatively new invention, a hybrid developed in the 1970s that combines the sweetness of an English pea with the crunch of a snow pea. Unlike its English counterpart, the sugar snap is completely edible, pod and all, and is one of my favorite things, other than the red bell...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 31, 2007; 11:26 AM ET | Comments (2)

Getting Fresh: Reveling in Romaine

There's much to choose from this week at local markets --- pea shoots, chive flowers, squash blossoms and more of those luscious strawberries. But before the weather gets too summery, I wanna give a shout out to romaine lettuce, a coolish weather crop that's currently showing off its elongated green-leaf finery. Romaine lettuce: The most beautiful ruffles in the garden. (Kim O'Donnel) My main man Romaine. What a pleasure to see you again. And what an opportunity to make Caesar salad -- the quintessential application for hardy crunchy ruffles. Also known as Cos and Roman lettuce, romaine isn't just pretty to look at; it's really good for you. In fact, it beats out all other lettuces in the nutrition department, boasting substantial amounts of Vitamins A, C and K, as well as potassium, folate (a nice bonus for pregnant moms), and whaddya know, even some of those heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 24, 2007; 10:55 AM ET | Comments (0)

Getting Fresh: Sweet on Strawberries

Strawberries are here! And I mean the real deal -- the fire-engine red, lip-smacking variety that are at their peak, right now, at area farmer's markets. Yesterday, I spotted them at the Foggy Bottom FreshFarm Market as well as at the market in Clarendon, just in time, before the pounding rain. Farmer's market beauty queens: Strawberries from D&S Farm in southern Maryland. (Kim O'Donnel) Overcome by their honeyed perfume and eye-popping beauty, I bought two quarts and tore into one as soon as I got home. It's a once-a-year opportunity, folks, for a few short weeks. Hightail it to your nearest farm market now! Below, 10 ways I like to get my strawberry groove on: *Churned into sorbet or ice cream -- for cones, sandwiches, or better still, milkshakes *Baked into a crisp or cobbler, depending on which topping I'm in the mood for *Layered in parfait glasses as a...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 17, 2007; 10:22 AM ET | Comments (23)

A Spring Risotto

This time last week, I was celebrating the contents of my fridge, which were overwhelmingly green -- chard, leeks, buttery lettuce, green garlic -- and locally grown. It's such a pleasure to welcome spring vegetables back to the farmer's market scene, a parade of greenery that is crisp, bright and full of promise. Risotto gets a spring makeover, with leeks and green garlic. (Kim O'Donnel) And the show just keeps getting better and more beautiful. Joining the gorgeous green lineup this weekend were local asparagus, spinach and all kinds of herbs, such as tarragon, chervil, chives, dill and thyme. Risotto, as I mentioned last week, is a great way to experiment with spring's new arrivals. Taking a cue from "Local Flavors" by Deborah Madison, I spring-a-fied a pot of risotto, with leeks and green garlic, a zesty pair from the allium family. Lest you worry about having onion or garlic...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 30, 2007; 11:02 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Crunch of Spring

Many of you have been asking what's on offer at local farm market these days. Due to the extremely cold weather earlier this month, local farmers are dealing with spring crop delays and potential backlash from budding summer crops. As daunting as the news may sound, there's still plenty to choose from in these early weeks of the new season, as I discovered this Sunday at Freshfarm Market at Dupont Circle. Carrots don't get much better than these. (Kim O'Donnel) Below, a sampler of current produce highlights, which, of course, is subject to Mother Nature. P.S.: You'll want to get your hands on the updated farm market lists in today's Food section: Maryland Virginia DC Carrots These were the belles of this week's ball, laying in their glorious pale orange wonder, at the Next Step Produce stand operated by Heinz Thomet. Although sweet enough to crunch on their own, I...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 25, 2007; 10:57 AM ET | Comments (0)

Fooling With Rhubarb

If you ever want to try eating vegetables for breakfast, you can do it with rhubarb. I just did -- and it's making me swoon. Actually, I hadn't planned on eating rhubarb for breakfast; I was layering the rhube with strawberries and whipped cream for a photo of a "fool," a sublime parfait type of dessert that you must try at least once in your lifetime. A fool's paradise: Rhubarb, strawberries and whipped cream. (Kim O'Donnel) As I spooned my way through the pillowy cream to get to the satiny mauve puree, it occurred to me that yogurt would be lovely in place of the cream, particularly at 8 o'clock in the morning. And then -- oh yes! -- maybe I had a seasonal topper for the dreaded morning cholesterol-lowering oatmeal I'm supposed to be eating. It was last year at this time that I feasted on rhubarb, and already...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 9, 2007; 10:16 AM ET | Comments (0)

Hello, Horseradish

As a kid, I loved dipping oyster-cracker balls into prepared horseradish, offered as a table condiment at old-school seafood restaurants. Not until I was in my 30s did I handle the fresh stuff, a root vegetable with an ugly, hairy face and a powerfully pungent interior that sends you to the moon. Fresh horseradish: Knobby and hairy on the outside, but pungent aromatherapy on the inside. (Kim O'Donnel) One of the "bitter herbs" found this week on many a Passover Seder table, fresh horseradish is a root vegetable worth exploring after the holidays. A little goes a long way from this member of the mustard family, and believe me when I say open up the windows when you get ready to peel and grate. In fact, if you're suffering from pollen allergies, a dab of grated horseradish mixed with a teaspoon of honey will rescue your ailing sinuses or sore...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 2, 2007; 11:10 AM ET | Comments (16)

Artichoke-Asparagus Faceoff

In the spring vegetable world, the two big showstoppers are both green and begin with the letter "A." For many cooks, the arrival of artichokes and asparagus mean that winter is finally a wrap and it's time to kiss those turnips goodbye. In the produce aisles and at market, these two very different species (the 'choke's a member of the thistle family; the 'gus is a member of the lily guild) are like two beauty pageant contestants, vying for attention and accolades. They create excitement and fanfare as well as emotions that run high on both sides of the culinary fence. It is hard to find someone who loves both vegetables equally. And if you're a member of that club, speak up! We want to hear from you. Generally, though, based on highly unscientific data, I find that nearly everyone loves asparagus yet when it comes to the artichoke, well,...

 

By Kim ODonnel | March 23, 2007; 11:29 AM ET | Comments (65)

 

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