The thing about early spring, at least here in the Hudson Valley, is that it basically looks and feels exactly like winter. For most of March and even into April, it’s cold and damp, and nothing in the garden will grow. During these dog days, a bright and zingy citrus salad feels like a life-saver. And it’s simplicity itself: juicy, sweet blood oranges (and a few mandarins for variety’s sake), tossed with crisp endive and some quick-pickled red onions. Toss over a little peppery mint and pistachios for crunch and that’s it. A drizzle of good olive oil and a sprinkle of flaky salt is all the dressing it needs.
If fresh, local asparagus is in the stores, it must be early Spring. This vegetable is one of the first to beckon in the new season and herald an end to Winter. We simmer the delicate white asparagus spears until they become tender and sweet, then drizzle them with a homemade aioli flavored with black garlic, lemon, and miso. It’s both simple and incredibly delicious.
Note: This recipe will work just as well with green asparagus, if that’s what you have (and the Black Garlic Aioli is delicious on just about anything. It’s crazy good).
Puff pastry tarts with a creamy Cheddar spread, topped with sweet caramelized shallots and apples. Topped with a sprinkle of fresh thyme and a little spicy chili flakes. Sweet apples and tart Cheddar cheese? A marriage made on a local farm.
As this, the strangest of years, winds toward its close, we are especially grateful to the local farms that have been going above and beyond to keep everyone fed. Restaurants, usually a major destination for farm-grown food, are going through a major upheaval, and a direct relationship between farms and the people they feed is now more important than ever.
Here in the Northeast, our farms make maximum use of every single day in the relatively short growing season, and dairy farms play a huge role in local produce. Cabot Creamery is a co-operative of 800 farm families in the New England and New York area. They’re a certified B corporation, meaning that not only do they strive for the highest quality dairy produce, but responsible land stewardship, ethical production, and community giving are at the core of everything they do. We’re incredibly proud to partner with them for this recipe.
And here in the Hudson Valley, you can’t miss the major harvest of late Fall. You’ll see apple orchards dotted across the whole region — this part of New York produces around one fifth of the entire apple output of the United States. A huge variety of apples is grown, from the pie favorites Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Honeycrisp, to eat-out-of-your-hand Gala, Jonagold, and Macoun.
So, armed with the apples of the Hudson Valley and the sharp cheddars from Cabot’s farms, we decided to make something to celebrate our local farms: a Caramelized Apple, Shallot and Cheddar Tart.
This post was created in partnership with Cabot Creamery.
A little spicy, a little sweet and a lot delicious, this Spicy Cheddar Cornbread Pudding is our most-requested side dish ever. We use two kinds of cheeses — extra-sharp cheddar and pepper jack — to give it loads of flavor. Make it with fresh summer corn when it’s in season, but it’s just as good with frozen corn the rest of the year.
As a Brit, I get a lot of questions about pudding, most often along the lines of “Why do you have so many of them?”. It’s true. Puddings of all sorts — whether sweet or savory — are practically part of our DNA. There are gelatin or custard puddings (such as blancmange), steamed puddings (sticky toffee or Christmas pudding), baked puddings (you’ve probably heard of the Yorkshire), and even sausages (black pudding).
But corn pudding is American through and through, and this week we cooked up our favorite version: a spicy cheddar cornbread pudding, flavored with fresh sweet corn, scallions, and our two favorite cheeses from Cabot Creamery: Seriously Sharp Cheddar and Pepper Jack (though you can also use the Habanero Cheddar if you like things extra spicy!)
This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Cabot Creamery.
This simple, elegant tart has a layer of creamy whipped feta cheese topped with lightly marinated roasted beets. A puff pastry shell makes it a breeze to prepare, while a scattering of fresh mint and crunchy pistachios adds crunch and freshness.
We’ve been finishing up a few projects here at Nerds with Knives, which is why you might not have seen a new post from us for (checks watch) six to eight weeks. One of those projects is, we’re thrilled to announce, our new cookbook, Cork and Knife, which will be published in six days! You can follow the link to read all about it and pre-order. Please check it out!
In the meantime, our summer garden has been producing some delicious harvests, and this week we’d like to talk about our beets (that’s beetroots to you in the U.K.). There’s a reason why beet and goat cheese salads have been ubiquitous on menus for as long as we’ve had menus to peruse: it’s a fantastic combination. But like any classic pairing, the devil is in the details. I adore beets, but they often need a little coaxing to bring out their best flavor. They are referred to as having an “earthy” flavor by those who love them, and “like dirt” by those who don’t. That earthiness, which is found in many root vegetables like carrots and potatoes, is produced by a compound called geosmin.
(Nerd note: geosmin is also found in one of my favorite scents, and favorite words, petrichor – the smell of the earth when it just starts to rain.) Acids break down geosmin, which is why beets are often paired with a tart vinaigrette. Tart cheeses, like chèvre, feta and some blues are a tasty foil to that sweet earthiness.