Spring. It gives you a feeling of hopefulness, no? Me, I’m hopeful for asparagus. And peas. And oh yeah, rhubarb! (And tulips, peonies, hydrangeas…)
This post is a super simple one: a few of my favorite spring recipes. If you make these once, they will be in the rotation. Promise.
Recently, when my friend Lisa had me over for dinner and said we were having Cooks Illustrated’s White Chicken Chili, I was excited. Lisa is a very good cook (and amazing baker!) and I knew it would be fantastic. And, it was SO GOOD. I cleaned the bowl and wanted more, but I was polite. Thankfully, Lisa sent me home with some leftovers and about two weeks later, I made some for myself. I turned down the ‘heat’ a little bit, but other than that, I followed the recipe.
I’ve written before about Cooks Illustrated. I have an online membership (just $35 per year) and I use it all the time. I used to be intimidated by the magazine, but then I just dove in and it’s amazing. I’ve learned about different cuts of meat, how to grill, the best knives and more. What I love best about cooking is that you can keep learning as you go – whether it’s about cooking techniques, tools or ingredients. Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen are excellent sources for all these things.
I’d always been told that making risotto is a bear. All that stirring, stirring, stirring. Blah, blah, blah. How do you know when it’s done?? But thanks to the wonderful folks at America’s Test Kitchen, I’ve found that it’s not that hard. Risotto actually is your friend.
They always seemed a little too exotic for me. Too fancy pants. I didn’t grow up eating things like figs – we were more of a steak and potatoes kind of family. But the older and wiser (yep, I said wiser…) I get, the more I want to try new things. So, when I discovered fig paste, I was intrigued. It was on a cheese plate at The Wine Market with Manchego cheese, honey, toasted baguette slices with olive oil, sea salt and pepper. It was the best flavor combo, so simple and perfect! I was in love. Soon I was buying fresh figs at Trader Joe’s. I found a recipe for fig paste online and made a pint of the sweet and savory goodness, shared it with some friends and it was a hit, so I thought I had to make it again. But this time, I went a little crazy. I filled many, many jars…and this time, PRESERVED it! (Feeling so domestic, hon.)
You pretty much either love ’em or hate ’em. I used to be completely wigged out by them. I think that having a job cleaning them at a seafood shop might have scarred me a bit. (Thanks, Billy.) My mom has loved them forever. Me, I’ve got texture issues – biting into a soft, yet crunchy LEG of a crab?
Um, no. (Then, fast-forward two years…)
While I can still get strawberries and rhubarb, I’m making this! My chickens will be happy – they love strawberry hulls more than anything…