Simple Strawberry Butter

Strawberry Butter

Strawberry season is upon us! This is a cause for celebration and a great excuse to enjoy strawberries with every meal! Here’s a simple recipe to use up your super ripe strawberries. I’ve made a couple batches of this – one for immediate use and another tucked in the freezer to enjoy this winter when I’m longing for sunnier days. Enjoy your strawberry butter on biscuits, pancakes, in between layers of cake, or any other way you can think of! For an extra special treat add some herbs to your butter or a dash of rose water.

Ingredients:

6-8 very ripe strawberries
2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pinch of salt
optional: 1 teaspoon of leaves from several sprigs of thyme, fresh chopped basil, or fresh chopped mint OR 1/2 teaspoon of rosewater

Method:

  1. Roughly chop or mash your strawberries with a wooden spoon.
  2. Place strawberries in a stand mixer and turn on medium speed. Once the strawberries are well macerated, turn of the mixer and add your butter and salt. Turn mixer on high and whip until the strawberries and butter are well combined. Note: you may want to hold up a dish towel or place some plastic wrap around your mixer to prevent strawberry juice from splashing everything in the near vicinity.
  3. If using herbs or rosewater, stir them into the butter at the end.
  4. Roll your butter into a log using parchment paper and refrigerate or place in the freezer. Enjoy!

Parsley & Anchovy Dressing

Parsley DressingWith all the wonderful spring greens we’ve been getting from the CSA, it’s nice to have some simple dressings up your sleeve. This is a basic recipe that can easily be modified to utilize a variety of herbs: parsley, mint, cilantro, and lemon balm are all great choices. I’ve made a note to leave the leaves attached to the stems-  the stems have great flavor and make a delicious addition to the dressing. We’ve been enjoying it with massaged kale and beets lately. Have fun playing with all the different flavor combinations!

Ingredients:

1 garlic clove
4 anchovy fillets
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup lemon juice or white wine vinegar
1/2 bunch of parsley or other herbs including the stems

Method:

  1. In a food processor, pulse the garlic and anchovies until minced.
  2. Add the yogurt and lemon juice or vinegar and blend until combined.
  3. Add the parsley and pulse until minced. Take care not to over process the parsley otherwise the color may change into a drab green.
  4. Toss spring greens with the dressing or use it as a dipping sauce for crudites or artichokes!

Cauliflower and Cardamom Soup

Cauliflower SoupHappy First Day of June! As seems to be typical in Seattle, the first day of the month greeted us with rain and in my book that calls for a simple weeknight soup.

A note about dried spices: the longer you keep them in your cupboard, the less potent they become. I always buy whole spices and when I need them, I grind them in a repurposed coffee grinder. This ensures the spices will have more flavor. If you insist on using that old bottle of cardamom from the back of the pantry, you may find that you need to add a bit extra to this recipe.

In this recipe I dry roast the cauliflower before adding it to the soup. This caramelizes it a bit first, giving it a lovely rich flavor.

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower, leaves removed, head & stem chopped into bite sized pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 pinch lavender
32 oz chicken or vegetable stock
1 lime, juiced
salt to taste
sour cream & cilantro for garnish

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400*. Place chopped cauliflower on a baking sheet and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Place it in the oven and cook until edges of cauliflower are lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile in a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat and add the onions. Sweat the onions until they become translucent. Add the garlic, cardamom, and lavender and stir until they become aromatic.
  3. Add the cauliflower and chicken/veg stock. Bring everything to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup (or blend in a traditional blender in several batches according to the blender’s hot liquid capacity).
  5. Once the soup is blended, stir in the lime juice and season with salt to your tastes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of cilantro or parsley.

Modifications: This soup would also work well if you replaced the cauliflower with celery root or parsnips. Have fun!

Asparagus & Shiitake Stir Fry

Asparagus stir fry

Here’s a quick and easy weeknight treat to use while we’re getting all this wonderful asparagus! The trick to cooking asparagus is to use high heat and only a few minutes- you want to maintain its wonderful snap! The easiest ways prepare asparagus is to hold each stalk by the root end and the center and bend until it breaks naturally. Once you have removed all the fibrous bases, you’re ready to cut the asparagus to whatever shape you need. I’m also a big fan of raw asparagus, so if you’re feeling adventurous, consider slicing it very thinly and adding it to salads!

Ingredients:

1 bunch of asparagus, root ends trimmed as above and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
2 cups fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed and large mushrooms sliced
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1 tablespoon canola oil or sesame oil
2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted
Soy sauce or Tamari (gluten free soy sauce), to taste

Method:

1. In a wok or large skillet, heat the oil until you see faint wisps of smoke. Add the shiitake mushrooms and cook until they all appear more vibrant, about 3 minutes.
2. Add the asparagus and yellow onion to the pan. Cook another 3 minutes, stirring ingredients.
3. Add mirin to the pan and toss the vegetables until the mirin has evaporated.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and place vegetables in a serving bowl. Top with green onions, sesame seeds, and a drizzle of soy sauce. This is delicious served over rice.

Beet “Tartare”

Beet tartare

Spring is in full swing here and the lengthening days have me thinking about garden parties and evenings spent outside with friends. This recipe is slightly more composed than some of the others I’ve posted here, but it would make a simple yet impressive appetizer for a party of 4 or a light supper for 2. If you have access to any edible flowers like chive blossoms, they would make a lovely garnish! The small diced beets in this dish along with the sieved egg and shallots mimic a traditional beef tartare, but are a great vegetarian alternative- in fact, I prefer this version to the classic.

Ingredients:
2 medium beets
1 egg, hard boiled
1 small shallot, finely diced
1 small handful of chives, thinly sliced
1/4 cup of cheese- crumbled blue cheese, goat cheese, or shaved Parmesan
2 cups salad greens
3 radishes, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
1. Place the beets in a pot and cover with water by 1 1/2 inches. Add a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until beets are easily pierced with a fork. When they are finished, remove them from the water and allow them to cool. When they are cool, use a paper towel to rub off the skin. Next, cut them into slices and cut the slices into small cubes. Set aside.
2. Cut the egg in half lengthwise and press through a mesh strainer or sieve. If you don’t have either of these finely chop the egg and set aside.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine vinegar, olive oil, mustard, honey, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk until emulsified. Set half of the dressing aside.
4. Place the chopped beets and shallots into the bowl with half the dressing and toss, coating everything lightly.
5. Place the beet mixture in a pile in the center of each plate. Top the beets with sieved egg and sliced chives. Then in the mixing bowl, add the remaining dressing along with the greens and the radishes and toss to coat. Gently pile the salad along the side of the beets. Scatter the cheese over the salad greens and beets. Enjoy with some rye crackers or crusty bread and glass of wine!

Beet close up