Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Local strawberries are starting to appear. I received two quarts of strawberries in last week’s Produce Box delivery, and saw on Facebook that our nearest strawberry farm is opening this weekend. To celebrate the season I made strawberry bread on Sunday morning. Next time, I might add a streusel topping.

In the afternoon, I put a corned beef in the oven. I don’t corn my own beef, not yet anyways, but I do add a bunch of additional spices to the top since the packet that comes with it is mostly mustard seeds. My additions are: black pepper, allspice, coriander, cloves, cayenne, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaves.

Alongside, I serve cabbage sautéed with bacon, onion, carrot and garlic as well as rutabagas mashed with butter, milk and maple syrup.

On Tuesday, I made gnocchi with mushrooms and feta cheese. I added tatsoi to the mix as well. It was tasty and fast. And aren’t gnocchi the ultimate comfort food? I ate the leftovers for breakfast the next two mornings.

I wanted something quick and easy for Thursday because I had to make the salad too. We eat salad every night. When it runs out one night, the person making dinner the next night makes a big bowl of it—enough to last a few nights. Somehow it works out evenly and neither one of us is stuck making it several times in a row.

Our nightly dinner salad always includes lettuce and spinach (and maybe other greens depending on what’s in the CSA) plus lots of cucumbers, radishes, carrots, grape tomatoes, broccoli florets and sweet onion. We get a few servings of vegetables before we even start eating dinner.

I made my old standby, flounder with spiced breadcrumbs plus roasted cubes of sweet potatoes. We love that fish recipe, so full of flavor. I had some leftover cabbage as the official vegetable for the night.

Last night I made salmon with sorrel sauce. Sometimes I’m too ambitious on Friday nights. I have more time on Fridays but I rather spend some of it having happy hour with my honey, feet up with a beer or wine at hand. But once I start chopping, I’m okay with my choice.

I started out with a recipe but quickly realized it wasn’t for me—too fussy—so I winged it. First, I pan-roasted the salmon, starting it skin-side down in a cold oiled pan so the skin wouldn’t seize up, and set it aside when it was done. Added butter to the pan to sauté minced shallots seasoned with salt, then added white wine and let it reduce. In went diced tomatoes, let them melt. Then heavy cream alongside thinly sliced (chiffonade) sorrel leaves. Wait for the sorrel to wilt and the sauce to thicken a bit. Back in goes the salmon along with a few tablespoons of butter. Exquisite! We couldn’t get enough of that sauce.

Sorrel is a spring treat—a photo of red-veined sorrel is below. The leaves have a bright, almost lemony flavor. It would taste good in a salad mix too. You might find it at the farmers market, I’ve never seen it in my stores but maybe yours are better. Alongside the salmon I made collards sautéed with bacon, onions, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, and garlic with some chicken broth. And I roasted cubes of butternut squash sprinkled with cayenne, smoked paprika, cinnamon, coriander and sea salt. We had a lot of flavors going on but the salmon with sorrel sauce was the star.

sorrel, menus, recipes, ebook deals

On My Menu

Growing up, we had hot cross buns every Easter. I didn’t realize they’re actually a Good Friday treat. If I have time and am feeling ambitious later today, I might make some. I couldn’t find currants in my local Food Lion or Lowes Foods so I’ll have to go with golden or regular raisins (or both) instead.

Tomorrow, we’re heading to my step-daughter’s house for Easter dinner. We’re tired of turkey and ham so I’m bringing a side of sockeye salmon with citrus pesto and she’s making stuffed shells. I’m also making sautéed asparagus with red and orange bell pepper, ham, leeks and/or red onion, lemon zest, and flat-leaf parsley. I’m not following a recipe, instead I’m aiming for a colorful dish with bright flavors.

I often look at farm-to-table restaurants for menu inspiration. I saw “soubise” on one of those menus and got curious. The term seemed familiar but I couldn’t remember what it meant. It turns out soubise, traditionally, is an onion-béchamel sauce, or it’s made with cream, and some people add rice. Since I have leeks and spring onions in the frig, I’ll make chicken soubise this week. I’ll rely on leftovers for my sides: collards, sweet potatoes and butternut squash. Classic French and classic North Carolina.

No other menu plans yet, but I’ll report back next week on what I end up making.

spring onions, menus, recipes, ebook deals

eCookbooks and Food eBooks Deals

You can never have enough cookbooks, I believe that still, much to Jim’s distress. Act quickly if any of these interest you, ebook deals sometimes only last a day or a week. Click on the title to get to the Amazon deal.

Poole’s: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner by Ashley Christensen ($1.99, 89% off)

Raleigh’s favorite chef and multiple James Beard Award winner… Ashley Christensen is the new face of Southern cooking, and her debut cookbook, Poole’s, honors the traditions of this celebrated cuisine, while introducing a new vernacular—elevated simple side dishes spiked with complex vinaigrettes, meatless mains showcasing vibrant vegetables, and intensified flavors through a cadre of back-pocket recipes that will become indispensable in your kitchen…Poole’s is also the story of how Christensen opened a restaurant, and in the process energized Raleigh’s downtown. By fostering a network of farmers, cooks, and guests, and taking care of her people by feeding them well, she built a powerful community around the restaurant.

Everything I Want to Eat: Sqirl and the New California Cooking by Jessica Koslow ($2.99)

Eater’s 2016 Cookbook of the Year. Food that surprises us and engages all of our senses—it looks good, tastes vibrant, and feels fortifying yet refreshing… Koslow shares 100 of her favorite recipes for health-conscious but delicious dishes, all of which always use real foods—no fake meat or fake sugar here…an entirely new kind of cookbook and approach to how we are all starting to think about food, allowing readers to play with the recipes, combining and shaping them to be nothing short of everything you want to eat.

Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook by Alice Waters ($2.99, 78% off)

The New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed memoir from cultural icon and culinary standard bearer Alice Waters recalls the circuitous road and tumultuous times leading to the opening of what is arguably America’s most influential restaurant…Moving from a repressive suburban upbringing to Berkeley in 1964 at the height of the Free Speech Movement and campus unrest, she was drawn into a bohemian circle of charismatic figures whose views on design, politics, film, and food would ultimately inform the unique culture on which Chez Panisse was founded. Dotted with stories, recipes, photographs, and letters, Coming to My Senses is at once deeply personal and modestly understated, a quietly revealing look at one woman’s evolution from a rebellious yet impressionable follower to a respected activist who effects social and political change on a global level through the common bond of food.

Love and Kisses and a Halo of Truffles: Letters to Helen Evans Brown by James Beard ($2.99)

Renowned culinary master James Beard and his dear friend, chef Helen Evans Brown, shared both a love of food and a keen insight into the changing palate of American diners. In this twelve-year, bicoastal epistolary exchange of three hundred letters, Beard and Brown offer not only tidbits of indispensable culinary guidance but also two fascinating perspectives on cooking. Whether swapping recipes for dishes like chocolate crepes and roast duck, trading descriptions of delicious meals, or exchanging stories about their travels, Beard and Brown bring their world to vivid life, and their letters provide a unique snapshot of a culinary love affair that is guaranteed to delight epicureans of all stripes.

Looking for more e-cookbook and ebook deals? Check out last week’s list, some of them are still on sale.

Amazon book links are affiliate links which allow me to earn a small commission on any sales that result from clicking. Thank you.

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