Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Has Sprung In My Kitchen

Is it just me, or does the sun and warmer temps have an amazing way of reinvigorating you in the kitchen? By mid-winter, I'm all butternut squash and souped out. I'm over roast everything, and I'm no longer in need of pound upon pound of butter. I begin craving vegetables, juicy fruit and fresh herbs.

Here are a couple things I've whipped up as of late, which exemplify this new spring in my step. (Pun intended.)

The above photo is courtesy of the site from which I pulled the recipe for a Brussel Sprout and Pancetta Tart. I actually have a photograph of my own tart, but am too embarrassed to show it to you as it is heinous. I love brussel sprouts, but James is obsessed with them and thus the dish was primarily for him. It came out only okay. (Though James liked it more than I did.) I didn't love using the phyllo dough and wonder if regular puff pastry would have been better, and I felt rather deceived by the recipe's originator as the recipe called for halving the brussel sprouts. Do those look like halved brussel sprouts in the photo above? I think not.

My mom came over one day with some leftover barley, tomato and arugula salad, and I loved it so much that I had to make another batch a few days later. Super easy, super quick, and quite healthy. The recipe I link to is pretty close to the one my mom sent me, but we both added the juice from one lemon, and to me, that's what made the salad.

A few years ago, I belonged to a CSA and was first introduced to pickling cucumbers, which I promptly pickled. I now firmly believe that no store-bought pickle will ever taste as good as the homemade version. While in the grocery store last week, I was buying dill and lamenting over the fact that I only needed a tablespoon of it for another recipe when it occurred to me - why not make pickles? It's not exactly the season for pickling cucumbers, but no matter - these still came out delicious. I used this recipe, but cut my cucumbers into coins, rather than spears.

So I've mentioned my weird new obsession with this blog, right? I can't help it though! The writer has a love for all things Martha, Ina, and home decor, is a boy mom, and apparently lives in the cutest town on Earth. She also cooks and bakes great stuff, and in a slightly stalker-esque sort of way, I've been going through many of her (borrowed) recipes.

With that said, I made Ina's Lemon Cake for a play group I was hosting after reading about it in the aforementioned blog. I've actually made this cake once before, but had forgotten how laborious the process was. And the first day I had a slice of the cake, I decided to not make the recipe again as it wasn't all that lemony. But the second day? That was another story. Totally worth all the effort of squeezing the, oh, 14-16 lemons. (Maybe more?) By hand. Absolutely delicious with a cup of hot tea.

Also based on another entry by Tessa, I made a leek and ham quiche, but also added asparagus. It was insanely good, especially if you love leeks as much as I do. We had this for dinner one night, and I could have eaten the entire thing. Sammy may have enjoyed a bite as well.

I overcame my big fear of pie crust and made my own using a Baking with Julia recipe, but will not go into detail as it will likely be a forthcoming Tuesdays with Dorie assignment. I will say, however, that I now love pie crust. And had nothing to be afraid of.

Continuing with my stalker ways, I then made Ina's scalloped tomatoes after reading about it in the blog. It contains tomatoes, garlic, bread and cheese, which basically makes it a pizza served in a pretty dish. Totally delish.

I served the scalloped tomatoes with this chicken, avocado, cilantro and green onion salad on a baguette, which everyone seems to be pinning lately. (Though I did not add mayo as the recipe suggested.) Another wolf-in-sheep's-clothing sort of deal, this recipe made it acceptable for me to eat guacamole for dinner. On bread. How can you go wrong?

And finally, tonight, I reverted back to one of my all-time favorite pizza recipes - Lemony Zucchini Pizza, from Smitten Kitchen. I've made this pizza more times than I can count - it is just that good. The original recipe calls for goat cheese, and that's my preference as well, but I usually substitute mozzarella as James isn't a fan of goat cheese. I also often add a sliced plum tomato to the zucchini / yellow squash mix, and while the recipe only calls for the juice of one lemon, I sometimes add an extra tablespoon or two. 

For the pizza crust, awhile back I had made some whole wheat pizza dough using a recipe from America's Test Kitchen, in an attempt to feel like I was being somewhat healthy. Well you know what? I just flat out hate anything that is made with whole wheat flour. I want to like it, but I just don't. Had I made this pizza with regular old white flour pizza dough, it would have been as good as it always is.

(Please note that some pics in this post are my own, and others are pinned from Pinterest. Unfortunately I am not yet skilled in the art of taking cool close-up photos of leeks and asparagus with my iPhone. Give it time. A lot of time.)


  1. Deliciousness! Granted...whole wheat flour doesn't bring a whole lot to the table---maybe a touch of 'nuttyness'...that's about it.

  2. So many yummy looking recipes! My husband (and now Sammy, too) love pickles, but we've never made our own version. Perhaps this spring!