Blood Orange and Endive Salad with Pickled Red Onions

Citrus and Endive Salad
A citrus salad on a plate with cut endives on the table

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.

An assortment of whole and sliced blood oranges and mandarins
Does anything taste more like sunshine than citrus?

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White Asparagus with Black Garlic Aioli

White Asparagus with Black Garlic Aioli
White Asparagus with Black Garlic Aioli

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).

White Asparagus
White asparagus, colorful eggs from our backyard chickens and pink lemons. We’re all about color right now.

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Creamy Cheddar Polenta with Sausage and Charred Ramps

Polenta with Charred Ramps and Sausage

Polenta with Charred Ramps and SausageCreamy, cheesy Cheddar polenta with charred ramps (wild garlic) and grilled sausages: a dish made for Spring. The sweetness in the corn pairs beautifully with extra-sharp cheddar cheese, and a topping of garlicky grilled ramps is as delicious as it is simple. If ramps are not available, scallions make a great substitute. The addition of good quality sausages turns it into a meal. 

There comes a time for most people when they experience a food in a totally different way from how they’ve been used to. For us, that revelation was stone-ground polenta. For the longest time, we’d stuck to the packaged tubes of pre-cooked polenta that you slice up and grill. Now, there’s nothing wrong with them, and we still cook with that variety from time to time, but can we tell you, the first time we had really good, slow-cooked traditional polenta, it was like night and day.

Of course we, along with the rest of the world, have been stuck inside our home so we’ve been craving something warm and comforting even more than usual. When we found a bag of really good polenta, we knew exactly what we wanted to do with it — combine it with our favorite extra-sharp cheddar cheese from our friends at Cabot Creamery.

This cheddar polenta is a sponsored recipe in partnership with Cabot Cheese.

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Aviation Cocktail with Homemade Violet Syrup

Aviation Cocoktail with Violet Syrup

Pretty violet syrup made from our spring flowers creates a tasty Aviation cocktail.

One thing we should mention, if you haven’t gleaned it from our disorganized garden posts, is that we’re not “lawn people”. We do have a stretch of grassy yard, but it’s sloped, it’s public, it does nothing for biodiversity, and we hate mowing it. In short, it gets a little neglected. And because of that benign neglect, we have areas that sprout whatever the hell they want to, and luckily for us, in early spring, that’s violets. Lots, and lots, of tiny, pretty, violets.

Violets for Syrup

So in our ongoing quest to rid our garden of weeds — by eating them — we bring you homemade Violet Syrup, possibly the prettiest concoction ever. And we’re using that syrup to create a version of the classic Aviation cocktail. Perfect for a celebratory Mother’s Day brunch!

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Nettle, Leek and Potato Soup with Garlic-Brown Butter Croutons

Nettle, Leek and Potato Soup

Spring is here, and one of the first areas of the garden to poke up green leaves is the stinging nettle patch. If you can avoid the sting, the nettle is one of the healthiest, most delicious perennials that’s super-easy to propagate — and is the superstar of this soup, made with leeks, potatoes, and the green, green nettle. 

There’s no getting around the fact that the stinging nettle is the unloved weed, the lurking Triffid, the snarling Caliban, if you will, of the British landscape. If you thought otherwise, let me show you the plant in its natural habitat:

Wild nettles growing up an English phone booth.

But despite its rather unprepossessing appearance, its urban ubiquity, and the unpleasant electric-shock feeling of walking into one, nettles are one of the most nutritious and tasty spring greens you can cook with. Last spring we made a nettle risotto with garlic and taleggio, and this year we’re combining nettles with leeks and potatoes to create a rich, green soup, sprinkled with brown butter – garlic croutons and wild violets from the garden. 

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