Almond Meal

almondAlmond “flour” or almond meal is available at health food stores and in the health food aisle of your supermarket. Bob’s Red Mill makes it, as does King Arthur (toasted, ground almonds). Trader Joe’s carries almond meal where they display their nuts. You can make your own. Grind up blanched, slivered almonds or whole, raw almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Measure out two cups of almonds to get 1½ C almond meal. Do not over-process or the almonds will become pasty. A little crunch and texture in the almond meal gives this cake character.


Lemon-Almond Torte

The first taste of spring is all about lemons. Sure the bright, fresh zing of lemons is great almost any time, but there’s something about this time of the year when it has particular resonance. It’s a tonic, a cleanser – of palate and gut (and house for that matter) – a lovely foil for fresh herbs, it goes with so many flavors. So before the garden is serving up its first harvest of stalwart baby greens, tightly packed peas, pointy asparagus and early onions; before ramps appear at farmers’ markets, morels raise their dusky, honeycombed fool’s caps; before the heart of summer sneaks up on you, we look to lemons to bring us sprightly flavor and a break from winter’s stews. We offer up a spate of spring recipes, many of which deploy this seasonal citrus – lemons are ripe for the picking where they grow in Southern California, Arizona and other parts of the Southwest.

lemon almond torte

 

This light, lemony cake is based on a traditional Spanish torte. We are accompanying it with ruby-red raspberry sauce for a great spring dessert. It has the ingredients of a souffle and that dish’s characteristic lightness, but cooks up like a cake – you could even glisten it with a lemon glaze instead of serving it with the raspberry sauce. Add a dollop of whipped cream for a touch of decadence, and don’t forget that garnish of fresh raspberries and sprigs of spring mint.  Adrienne demoed this at US Botanic Garden in DC in March 2015.

4 eggs, separated into 4 egg yolks and 4 egg whites, room temperature
2 T lemon zest, packed, from about three large lemons
2 T lemon juice, from about one lemon
1/4 t ground cardamom
½ C white sugar, divided
1½ C almond flour or almond meal (see below)*
1 t baking powder
1 t lemon or lime juice
Pinch of salt
Powdered sugar for sprinkling
Garnish: Fresh raspberries, sprigs of mint

Preheat the oven to 350°. Place a round of parchment paper on the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, and grease it and the sides of the pan with butter or cooking spray. In a large bowl, beat together with a wooden spoon the egg yolks, lemon zest, and 1/4 C sugar until smooth. Add lemon juice and beat again. In a separate bowl, whisk together almond, cardamom and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture and mix thoroughly. In a separate bowl and using an electric beater, beat egg whites,. As they begin to thicken, add a pinch of salt and the teaspoon of lemon or lime (the salt and the acid from the juice will help the meringue maintain better structure and increase creaminess). As the egg whites begin to increase in volume, sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 C of sugar, a little at a time. Beat until soft peaks form. Fold the meringue into the almond mixture gently to create a light batter. Scoop the batter into a the prepared springform pan and place in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake helping it to separate from the side of the pan. Release the springform pan sides, and gently move the cake to a cake serving plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. Serve with Raspberry Sauce on the side.

Raspberry Sauce

One pint raspberries
2/3 C white sugar

Combine raspberries and sugar in a nio-reactive pan. Cover and cook on low heat about 10 minutes until sugar is fully disolved and the raspberries are comopletely broken down and lost their shape. Remove from heat and cool. Pass mixture through a small-mesh seive. Refrigerate until ready for use. It will keep in the refrigerator up to two weeks.

Lemon Glaze

1C confectioners sugar
1-2 T lemon juice

Combine the confectioners sugar and 1 T lemon juice in a bowl, mix thoroughly, adding more lemon juice as needed to achieve a consisency similar to pancake batter. Spread on cooled almond-lemon torte. Let the glaze harden about 30 minutes before serving.


Radish and Fava Bean Salad with Green Tahini Sauce

radish salad 2

 

 

This delightfully colored and deliciously flavored salad comes from Yotam Ottolenghi, the Israel-born chef who’s become all the rage in the UK, where he has a half-dozen very popular restaurants, and in the US, where his books are selling like hotcakes (we admit, we have them too).  In this version, Danielle substituted edamame for the broad beans called fro in Ottolenghi’s original. We now have a recipe for Preserved Lemons on the website — after many reminders from fans.

1 lb. fava, lima or soybeans, fresh or frozen
1 bunch radishes, washed, root and leaves removed, cut into 6 wedges
½ Bermuda (red) onion, very thinly sliced
½ preserved lemon, pulp and seeds removed, finely chopped*
Juice of 1-2 lemons
2 T cilantro, chopped
2 T flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp. cumin
3 T olive oil

Pita bread wedges, if desired

Green Tahini Sauce

½ C tahini
½ C water
¼ C fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic
½ C flat leaf parsley
Sea salt to taste

Bring a pot large enough for the beans of water to a boil. Add the beans and simmer until tender. This will vary depending on the size of the bean and the type of bean using. Fresh limas will take about 20 minutes, frozen soybeans will take about 5 minutes. Once tender, drain and rinse under cold water.

Cut the radishes into 6 wedges (or more if the radishes are very large) and put them in a serving bowl. Add the beans and all the remaining ingredients. Toss well, taste and adjust for salt and lemon juice. Serve with Green Tahini Sauce and pita bread wedges.
Serves 4-6.

To make the sauce, process all the ingredients in a food processor or blender until very smooth. Start with ¼ cup of water and add as needed. Taste and adjust for salt. Serve alongside the salad with pita bread. Sauce keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


Creamy Pasta with Asparagus, Cremini Mushrooms and Tarragon

asparagus_crimini_pasta_2

 

 

Another recipe from our spring repertoire, this one demoed by Danielle at Brookside Gardens earlier this month — sorry wonderful audience for taking so long in posting this. It somehow slipped through the cracks. Enjoy this delicious recipe. It was adapted by Danielle from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe.

½ lb. pasta (farfalle, orecchiette, casarecce)
3 tablespoons butter
½ C (1 large) shallot, minced
½ C Marsala wine
1 lb. Cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 lb. thin asparagus, trimmed, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
1 C mascarpone cheese
1 T fresh tarragon, finely chopped
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
¾ C walnuts, toasted
¼ C freshly grated Parmesan
Walnut oil, for drizzle garnish (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 10-12 minutes, per the package directions. Drain and reserve.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the Marsala wine and increase the heat to a boil. Cook another couple of minutes to reduce the wine slightly. Add the mushrooms and asparagus and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the pasta and heat thoroughly. Stir in the mascarpone, nutmeg, tarragon and toss until the cheese coats the pasta. If the sauce seems too thick, thin with a splash of chicken or vegetable broth. Stir in 1/2 cup of walnuts. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mound the pasta in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and remaining 1/4 cup of walnuts. Serve 4-6 as an entrée, 6-8 as a side dish.


Carrot Pudding Souffles with Buttered Spring Vegetables

carrotYou can make the souffles a day ahead and refrigerate them, covered, in the ramekins. To reheat, unmold the souffles and place them right side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour one-quarter cup heavy cream over top, and heat in a 375-degree oven until heated through and cream is bubbling, about 12 minutes. Or you can microwave them.  Prepare the vegetables while the souffles are in the oven. Adapted from Martha Stewart and demoed in March 2015.

½ C (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for ramekins
1 small shallot, thinly sliced (about 1/4 C)
1# carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces (about 3 C)
1 bay leaf
Coarse salt
1 C heavy cream, plus more if needed for reheating souffles
3 T flour
1½ C whole milk, warmed
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t ground ginger
Freshly ground pepper
6 egg yolks
4 egg whites
sugar snap peas, baby asparagus, petite peas
1 T parsley finely chopped

Melt 2 T butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot, chopped carrots, bay leaf, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender, 10-15 minutes. (Reduce heat to medium-low and add 1-2 T water if needed to prevent carrots or butter from browning.) Stir in cream. Bring mixture just to a simmer, and immediately remove from heat; discard bay leaf. Puree mixture and transfer to a small bowl; set aside. Melt 4 T butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour with a wooden spoon; cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes. Whisk in warm milk gradually. Use a rubber spatula to scrape bottom and corners of pan. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring often to prevent lumps from forming, 5 minutes. Whisk in carrot puree, and remove from heat. Stir in nutmeg, ginger, and 1 t salt; season with pepper. Transfer to a large bowl; let cool. Preheat oven to 400. Lightly butter eight 6-ounce ramekins; set aside. Add yolks, one at a time, to carrot mixture, whisking well after each addition. Using a clean whisk or an electric mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold into carrot mixture. Ladle mixture into prepared ramekins, filling almost to the rims. Place ramekins in a roasting pan, and transfer to oven. Pour enough boiling water into pan to come about three-quarters of the way up sides of ramekins. Bake until souffles are puffed and set, and tops begin to brown, about 35 minutes. Using tongs, carefully transfer the souffles to a wire rack, and let cool 10 minutes. Before serving, bring a medium pot of water to a boil; add ½ t salt. Add baby vegetables and cook until bright and still firm, about 3 mins. Drain, return to hot pan; add 2 T butter and toss with parlsey. Invert each souffle onto a metal spatula, and then invert again onto a serving plate. Arrange baby vegetables around souffles. Garnish with pea shoots.

 


Lemony New Potatoes

fingerlingThis treatment of the new potatoes that will soon be showing up in farmer’s markets is full of do-aheads. Parboil your potatoes the day before you plan to serve them; the browning can be done a few hours ahead of time; assemble the rest of the ingredients and the last step of making the sauce will come together in less than five minutes. Ultimately, you can do the whole dish in advance and keep it warm in the oven or microwave it before serving. The recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart and was part of our March 2015 repertoire at Brookside and U.S. Botanic Garden.

1 # fingerling potatoes
1 T coarse salt
1 T olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 C chicken stock
2 T dry white wine
1 T fresh or 1 t dried thyme leaves
1 T butter, chilled
2 T fresh lemon juice
Salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste

Garnish
fresh thyme leaves or parsley
coarse salt

Cover potatoes with water in a pan. Add 1 T salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until barely tender, 5 minutes. Drain potatoes, cool, and halve lengthwise. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic, and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add potatoes, cut sides down, and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in stock and wine. Cook until liquid is reduced by a third, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add thyme and butter, and stir until butter has melted. Stir in lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Garnish withm more thyme leaves or parsley and sprinkle judiciously with coarse salt.

 


Preserved lemons

lemons

 

 

4 lemons
8 T coarse salt, such as kosher salt
1/4 C lemon juice
1 C plain salt, more as needed

Quarter lemons lengthwise, leaving them joined at one end, like a flower. Open cut end gently; stuff each lemon with 1-2 T coarse salt. Place lemons in a jar; add lemon juice and 1 C regular salt. Lemons should be nearly immersed, add more salt as needed. Cover jar with tight-fitting lid. Place in bright window for three days. After three days, turn jar over and place in refrigerator or cool storage. Let the lemons age for three weeks before using. They will keep for two or three years.