Category Archives: spring

Vietnamese Grilled Shrimp with Spring Vegetables

june 13, 2014

vietnamese grilled shrimp with spring vegetables

Long before I received any formal culinary training, I purchased some fish sauce at a market near my apartment in “Little Hanoi”, in what is now cosmopolitan Clarendon, Northern Virginia.  I am embarrassed to admit that after taking one whiff, it was returned to the shop where a kindly proprietor urged me to reconsider, telling me “fish sauce smells bad, but tastes good”.

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lemon dressed spring salad

Lemon Dressed Spring Salad

may 30, 2014

lemon dressed spring salad

We’ve come a long way from  salad defined by iceberg lettuce, waxy rounds of cucumber, flabby wedges of pale unripe tomato and bottled thousand island dressing languishing in a faux-wood bowl.  These days  salad offerings are some of the most intriguing items on restaurant menus, chock full of seasonal vegetables and fruits, local greens and house made vinaigrettes crafted to enhance, not overpower.

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Rhubarb Apple Compote

rhubarb apple compote

fresh rhubarb apple compote with Virginia’s Homestead Creamery vanilla ice cream

april 25, 2014

One of the first edible harbingers of spring is rhubarb.  And what a show!  This perennial, a vegetable given the royal fruit treatment,  rocks a shrub-like explosion of frilly lime green leaves and shiny  stalks in various shades of red and green.

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stuffed swiss chard with chocolate balsamic tomato sauce

Stuffed Swiss Chard with Chocolate Balsamic Tomato Sauce

april 11, 2014

stuffed swiss chard with chocolate balsamic tomato sauce

All winter long I made stuffed cabbage with sauerkraut tomato sauce.  For other people.  The aroma drove me to distraction but somehow I never got around to making it for myself and loved ones.  The vibrant hues of spring here in Richmond – periwinkle blue sky, butter yellow of daffodils, lime green of tender leaves on twiggy shrubs – inspired me to remaster the dish with rainbow Swiss chard, handily  found at my local market Little House Green Grocery, which also had organic ground beef from Polyface Farms.  The arrival of the chard marks a new collaboration with the owners and Amy’s Organic Garden in New Kent County, making it super convenient to travel the few blocks for dinner fixings on the fly.

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heirloom bean soup with parmesan and thyme

Heirloom Bean Soup with Parmesan and Thyme

march 21, 2014

heirloom bean soup with parmesan and thymeComfort has always been a pot of beans simmering on the stove.  It’s a favorite childhood memory – my mom’s white beans cooked simply, with or without meat for seasoning.  Gloriously overcooked so that beans and broth melded into a creamy slurry of bean goodness, and accompanied by a biscuit fresh from the oven.

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roasted baby carrots with dill and chipotle

june 14, 2013

roasted baby carrots with dill and chipotle

 

Ever had a baby carrot?  Not the baby cut carrots wrapped in cellophane at your grocery store, but a real baby carrot, just pulled from the earth.  Last weekend at the Lakeside Farmer’s Market, I noticed that Walnut Hill Farm had a feathery pile of brilliant orange baby carrots arranged on a wooden table, and the dreary, drizzly morning brightened considerably.

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breakfast bistro salad

june 7, 2013

breakfast bistro salad

 

In the clear light of an early summer morning, just-picked local produce is pristine in appearance and calls forth the cook’s desire to improvise.  What can be created from the bounty of tables and baskets overflowing with homegrown goodness?

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strawberry cilantro cocktail

may 24, 2013

strawberry cilantro cocktail

The fresh local strawberries from Agriberry at the South of the James Farmer’s Market presented me with a problem : eat them all up until they are gone, really gone, or make a tasty cocktail mix with cilantro and fresh lime juice?  I simply had to taste one, just one, and then another, and then…there were none left to make my spring beverage. So it’s a good thing Little House Green Grocery carries Agriberry’s strawberries, because my plan would have been foiled, as the market only comes around once a week and I had to strike while the berries are at their seasonal peak.

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herbed shiitake mushrooms

may 17, 2013

shiitake mushrooms from Pine Fork Farm in Quinton, VA

luscious shiitake mushrooms from Pine Fork Farm at the SOJ Farmer’s Market

They were the biggest, fattest, meatiest shiitake mushrooms I had seen.  So impressively massive, in fact, that I had to ask Teal Brooks of Pine Fork Farm if they were a particular type or new cultivar.  Nope, she replied, they were standard issue, but perhaps the clean and clear conditions at her farm in Quinton, Virginia were responsible for their luscious largeness, or perhaps they were grown with love.

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lemon garlic shrimp with asparagus and baby peas

may 10, 2013

lemon garlic shrimp with baby peas

 

Living less than two hours from the Atlantic coast, I take for granted the access to fresh seafood.  Folks in America’s middle surely find seafood in their markets and on their plates, but coastal citizens have the privilege of enjoying seafood hours to a few days from harvest.

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