Thursday, May 31, 2012

Farro Salad with Asparagus & Feta

Pin It Whole grain salads are the staple of our spring and summer table, where you’ll regularly find compositions featuring quinoa, millet, barley, and bulgar along with a plethora of fresh, seasonal vegetables. Our newest love just happens to be farro, a hearty and deeply satisfying grain that we adore because it pairs so nicely with such a variety of fresh local ingredients year-round. 

Ever popular in Europe, and gaining a reputation in the states, farro comes in whole and pearled varieties. Using pearled farro cuts down on cooking time and gives farro the opportunity to be the star of even the most hurried weeknight meals. We’ve found that toasting the farro in butter prior to cooking intensifies the grain’s naturally rich, nutty flavor. 

In this dish, we’ve combined asparagus, green onions, and fresh oregano to give the dish a distinctly spring-like flair.  Sundried tomatoes give a nod to the impending summer harvest. Chickpeas offer protein. And feta cheese pulls everything together, giving the dish a Mediterranean flair and offering a counterpoint to the tangy lemon dressing.

Farro Salad with Asparagus & Feta

©BURP! Where Food Happens

Monday, May 21, 2012

Best of Spring: Roasted Radishes with Tarragon Butter

Pin It I'm not sure what your feelings are about radishes. But, I'll share with you that mine are often mixed.

I love the IDEA of radishes -- their petite frames, their crispness and crunch, their deceptively vibrant skin providing coverage to the purest white of flesh.

I like the occasional radish plucked from the relish tray and dipped in salt.  And I enjoy the bite of radish in a hearty chopped salad, especially when it's paired with sweet corn or something that provides a bright foil for its peppery bite.

But sometimes, I must admit, I struggle with what to do with all the bunches of spring radishes that show up in our CSA box.

Yet, radishes are worth eating.  It turns out they're a relatively good source of Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Magnesium, Copper and Manganese, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Folate and Potassium.

So, I've made it my mission to rediscover these pretty little vegetables, and get a little creative about it in the process.  So, I decided to roast the little suckers.

Now -- hopefully you'll agree when I declare that tarragon is one of the brightest and freshest-tasting of all herbs. Bold, but not brash, it exhibits a faint hint of anise that tends to please –yes-- even the most licorice-hating palate.

However, much like a radish, tarragon's flavor is deceptively strong, and too much of it can ruin a dish. But when used judiciously, a little tarragon is like springtime on a plate.  Similarly – and maybe unexpectedly – the roasting process renders radishes particularly sweet, succulent and mellow, very unlike their raw counterparts.  (Grilling works similarly well, so if you're inspired to cook out of doors, this recipe works there too!)

As it turns out, the two, paired together, make a truly unique spring statement.  The subtle flavor of the radishes pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the tarragon. The dish is simple, fresh, and light – a perfect reminder of just how fantastic quality fresh vegetables can be.

In order to mix the tarragon butter successfully, you will have to make more of it than you are likely to use on a batch of roasted radishes. The wonderful thing is that you’ll have plenty of tarragon butter left to add to grilled meats, scrambled eggs, or, for a real treat, to spread it on a piece of toasted crusty, chewy bread.  

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day: Schaum Torte with Lemon Curd

Pin It Unless you’re from Wisconsin, you may never have heard of schaum torte (foam cake), a favorite among German immigrant families.  You may have heard of this dessert called simply "a meringue," “Pavlova” or even a "Bizet."  Essentially all of the desserts are one in the same -- meringue, filled with sweetened whipped cream, and topped with fruit.  Like pavlova, there are two schools of thought when it comes to schaum torte -- one side insists that the meringue be crisp on the outside, but squoodgy (marshmallowy) in the center; the other camp insists that a good schaum torte is dried and crisp throughout.  

My family staunchly swears by the first approach. In fact, I actually grew up utterly convinced that the women at church who made the crisp version were simply bad cooks who had made the mistake of baking their schaum tortes too long!

My grandmother made schaum torte for at least one holiday every year while I was growing up.  Hers was always baked in a springform pan, flavored with both vanilla and almond extract, and topped with sliced strawberries (often those she picked and froze from her own garden). And it was always topped with freshly whipped cream.

One of the things about schaum torte is that it uses a boatload of eggwhites, so you end up with quite a few egg yolks that need to be used up.  While you could always freeze them for later use, I find that whipping them up into a deliciously tart lemon curd to serve with the schaum torte is a seriously smart move.  The tartness of the lemon really compliments the sugary sweetness of the torte.  And it goes perfectly with those deliciously fruity spring strawberries.

This will be our first Mother's Day without Grandma, as she passed away this fall. But, her memory will live on in that deliciously sweet squoodgy torte that will inevitably work its way into the Mother's Day menu. 

So, this recipe is a nod to Grandma, and a celebration of all that is good about spring.

Serve each scoop of schaum torte with a spoonful of fresh spring strawberries, a dollop of lemon curd, and plenty of fresh whipped cream. Serve it plain -- or fancy it up by serving in a martini glass.  Either way, Mom will love you for it. 
Schaum Torte with Lemon Curd

You can find this recipe, along with plenty of other mouthwatering dishes, on  Seriously -- you should check it out.  So. Much. Good. Food. 

©BURP! Where Food Happens

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lazy Weekends: Baked Orange Dream French Toast

Pin It We all dream of waking up on a sunshiney, springtime Sunday morning to the smell of coffee and breakfast baking in the oven.  But, very few of us ever seem to have that sort of experience. 

Rather, we find ourselves jarred from sleep (far too early) by the alarm clock, our hungry (and impatient) children, or our demanding pets.  We stumble out of bed, bleary-eyed and disgruntled, fumble for our glasses and head down the stairs to hit the morning grindstone.

Trust me. I understand. Our lives have been an absolute blur lately. Seems we get up each day, head off to work, and barely have time to eat dinner together. 

Weeknights are spent conducting interviews for freelance projects, writing up articles, or attending events.  And we've been getting up at the crack of dawn on weekends to capture as many daylight hours as we can in the kitchen, experimenting with new recipes and taking pictures of our creations.  

Sometimes it seems as though we never have time for a leisurely breakfast.

But, it pays to remember that mornings don't have to be all work and no play.  In fact, a little bit of advance preparation goes a long way when it comes to breakfast -- which means you can have your lazy Sunday brunch and eat it too.

This particular dish makes use of canned (or fresh) mandarin oranges -- a sweet treat that's available all year round, but is especially cheerful during the dark winter months or during the dreary, rainy weekend days of spring.  Add a bit of cream cheese and some vanilla spiked custard, leave in the fridge overnight, and you're well on your way to a delicious breakfast with very little effort.

Whether you want something you can quickly and easily pop into the oven for your family on a lazy Saturday morning, or a delicious springtime dish to serve to company, this delicious take on baked French toast is sure to brighten even the dreariest of mornings.

©BURP! Where Food Happens