Spring Frittata

_MG_6234Happy spring! I know it was technically spring almost two months ago, but here on the east coast it's felt like a very slow slog through miserable winter. But after a lovely weekend (and my first sunburn of the season), it's finally feeling like warm weather is here to stay. _MG_6248

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Spring, for me, means lots of fresh vegetables (finally!) and one of my favorite ways to use these is to throw them together in a frittata. Like fried rice, this recipe has almost endless variations and is a great way to use up whatever you might have languishing in the refrigerator.

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_MG_6243 To make this particularly springy, I went with asparagus, ramps, kale and turkey bacon – but I think that peas, arugula, and even chicken sausage would also be lovely.

_MG_6229And just for fun, some lovely ranunculus that I picked up at Trader Joe's.

Spring Frittata (serves 4-5)

1 tablespoon butter

4 slices turkey bacon, roughly chopped

1/4 onion, finely chopped

4-5 ramps or green onions, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 bunch asparagus, woody ends broken off and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 large handful kale or other greens, stemmed and chopped

8 large eggs

1/4 cup milk

2 ounces goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large cast-iron or oven proof pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. When hot, add turkey bacon and sauté until browned, about 5 minutes. Add onion and cook until translucent, 4-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs in a medium bowl. Add milk and salt and pepper to taste, and whisk until combined. Add asparagus, ramps, garlic and kale to pan and cook until vegetables are bright green and slightly wilted, 5-6 minutes. Make sure they are evenly distributed around the pan, then pour egg mixture over and remove from heat. Crumble goat cheese over eggs, then cook frittata in the oven until eggs are set and the top is just slightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Serve immediately.

 

Blender Hollandaise

_MG_6147There's a part in the movie Julie and Julia where Stanley Tucci (as Paul Child) walks in on Meryl Streep (as Julia Child) frantically whisking bowls and bowls of mayonnaise in their Paris kitchen, perfecting the recipe for her forthcoming cookbook – the trick being that warming the bowl beforehand made combining the egg yolks and oil much easier._MG_6135 Julia Child's great gift was bringing complicated French techniques and dishes to the American masses, and nothing represents this philosophy better than hollandaise made in a blender. It combines French emulsifying techniques with modern convenience, and of course, plenty of butter. Three ingredients, about 5 minutes total, and not even a thought of whisking – what could be easier? As shown in the movie, warming the blender beforehand ensures that the egg yolk and butter will blend into a creamy sauce and not a separated mess._MG_6149

_MG_6153 Quick Blender Hollandaise (makes about 3/4 cup, adapted from Bon Appétit) 1 egg yolk 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes Salt and pepper

Fill your blender with hot water and set aside. Melt butter until foaming in a small saucepan over medium heat, then remove from heat.

Empty blender, then dry thoroughly. Add egg yolk and lemon juice to blender, and pulse on low to blend. Working quickly and with blender running, pour melted butter in a slow stream (almost dripping) through the hole in cover, leaving the milk solids in the bottom of the pan. Blend until sauce is creamy, and season well with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. (Here, we topped quickly sautéed asparagus and poached eggs).

Crostini with Asparagus and Ramp Pesto

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I think I might have a problem. As you may have noticed, I kind of love asparagus. Until is goes out of season, I eat it at least once a week (as you can probably tell). But how was I supposed to resist it at the farmer's market last weekend? The bright green, plump stalks were calling my name. And then you add in the fact that ramps are now in season for a few short weeks, and there was no hope. I had to get them both -- and actually, thank goodness I did because now I can share this pesto with you. The ramps give it a garlicky bite, but the brightness of the asparagus mellows it out a bit. This would also be excellent mixed with pasta, or served with a mild white fish, or with boiled potatoes for a riff on potato salad -- whatever your imagination might come up with. Crostini with Asparagus and Ramp Pesto

1 loaf ciabatta or baguette, thinly sliced

1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 bunch ramps, ends cut off and roughly chopped

1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place slices of bread on a baking sheet and toast in oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, place asparagus, ramps, walnuts, and cheese in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped, about a minute. While processor is on, pour in oil in a slow stream and process until smooth, about 2 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper. Slather over bread and serve immediately, garnishing with additional cheese if desired.

$10 Mondays: Tagliatelle with Asparagus Pesto

If you haven't noticed, I really like asparagus. I also can't wait for the abundance of spring vegetables at the farmer's market that will hopefully show up in the next few weeks (I picked up some leeks this weekend, so we're getting there!) I am also a really big fan of pesto and will happily make it with anything green I might have lying around. For this light pasta, I combined my two loves into one springy dish, hoping for more of those 70 degree days we had last week. If you haven't made pasta by hand, I might recommend watching a tutorial, many of which can be found on youtube. I'll try to be detailed in my instructions, but since I learned from an Italian woman who taught more by sight than written instructions, I can't promise that these are the best. Tagliatelle with Asparagus Pesto

For the pasta:

2 eggs

2 cups flour, divided

For the pesto:

1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4-1/3 cup olive oil, as needed

Salt and pepper to taste

For the pasta: With one cup of the flour, make a small well on a very clean countertop or cutting board. Crack the egg inside of the well, then slowly begin to mix the flour into the egg with a fork. Gradually integrate it until they form a sort of paste, then use your hand to slowly mix in the rest of the flour. Knead until the dough becomes an elastic ball, wetting hands with water as needed, about 10-15 minutes. Cover with a cloth and let rest half an hour. Repeat with other egg and flour and let rest. 

Roll out pasta in pasta machine according to manufacturer's instructions. It shouldn't be on the thinnest setting, but you should be able to see through it. Once you have cut the pasta sheets, hang on a drying rack or the back of a chair until dry but not brittle, about half an hour. Store at room temperature in an airtight container until ready to use.

For pesto: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Boil asparagus until just tender and bright green, about 30 seconds. Drain and rinse with cold water. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until still slightly chunky, 1-2 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta until al dente, 1-2 minutes. Mix with pesto and a dash of olive oil. Serve immediately, garnishing with additional parmesan cheese if desired. White wine optional. tagliatelle

Asparagus Fries with Roasted Garlic Aioli

Today, I need to once again give credit to the ladies of Spoon Fork Bacon. If you haven't checked out their blog already, you definitely should. They always have excellent (and usually whimsical) recipes, as well as gorgeous food styling and photography. When I came across this recipe for asparagus fries with different dipping sauces, I knew I had a winner. As you may have noticed (as evidenced here and here), I have somewhat of an affinity for asparagus which is only matched for my love of french fries. And dipping sauces. For time's sake, I only made the roasted garlic aioli, but I can assure you that the asparagus were no less loved for that. Asparagus Fries with Roasted Garlic Aioli (Adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon)

1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed

1/2 cup flour

2 eggs

For aioli:

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1 head garlic, top cut off

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place garlic on a small piece of tinfoil, drizzle olive oil over, then season with salt and pepper. Loosely pack tinfoil around and roast until golden brown and tender, about 45 minutes. Cool.

Mash garlic into a paste, then whisk in mayonnaise, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Set aside.

Prepare three shallow bowls: 1  of flour, seasoned, 1 of eggs, lightly whisked, and the last of the panko bread crumbs. Working in batches of 4-5, coat asparagus completely in flour, then eggs, then breadcrumbs. Place on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately with aioli.

$10 Mondays: Asparagus with Poached Eggs and Prosciutto

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, spring feels like it's in the air. A string of 50 degree days and all of the sudden everyone looks happier. Of course, we could have a blizzard next week, but for now I am content to celebrate the lovely day with a simple lunch of asparagus, eggs, and prosciutto. This post also marks a new series which I will (try very hard to) post every Monday, called $10 Mondays. The prosciutto in this recipe does bring the cost up a little, but if you make 2 servings (as shown), you should come out under $10. Asparagus with Poached Eggs and Prosciutto

1/2 teaspoon butter

1/2 lb asparagus, ends trimmed

4 large eggs*

1 teaspoon vinegar

4 slices prosciutto

Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a small pot of water to boil with vinegar (this helps the eggs stay together while poaching). Carefully, break one egg into pot and immediately use a spoon to keep white and yolk together (some of it will come apart). Boil until white is set but yolk is still runny, about a minute. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon. Repeat with remaining eggs.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add asparagus and sear until bright green and crisp tender, 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Place asparagus on a plate with prosciutto. Place eggs over asparagus, and top with parmesan cheese if desired. Serve immediately.

Prosciutto: $4.99 for 3 oz

Eggs: $3.99/dozen, 33 cents each = $1.33

Asparagus: $3.99/bunch

Total: $10.31

Alright, so not quite under $10. However, you won't use all of the asparagus and prosciutto for this recipe and you can use the leftovers in a lovely risotto. Or an omlette. Or on crostini with some ricotta cheese. The possibilities are endless, really.

Risotto Primavera

Spring certainly feels like it's in the air in New York. I spied some asparagus at the grocery store the other day that actually looked fresh, and couldn't pass up the chance to try it. This is one of my favorite dinners to make in the spring -- still hearty enough for cold nights, but a nice way to showcase spring vegetables. It is especially good served with a crusty baguette and a glass of chenin blanc. Risotto Primavera

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 white onion, finely chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 cups arborio or short grain rice

6 cups chicken broth

1 14-oz can artichoke hearts, roughly chopped

1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup peas

10 oz spinach, roughly chopped

3 oz proscuitto, chopped

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

In a large pan or dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and shallot and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add arborio rice and sauté until white dot is visible in the middle, 1-2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup broth and stir to coat. Begin to add broth 1/2 cup at a time, waiting until almost all has been absorbed before you add the next half cup.

Once you have added half the broth, stir in the artichokes. Keep adding broth, and when you have 1/2 cup left, stir in asparagus, peas, and spinach. Add last part of broth and let absorb. Rice should be tender but still have a slight bite.

Stir in prosciutto and cheese. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.