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Being not much of a dessert person, it is often a footnote on my menus … just a little something sweet that complements the dinner. If my husband had his druthers, dessert would be the star, and dinner the afterthought. But alas, I am the one who likes to cook.
That being said, when looking for desserts, seasonal and EASY are often the two most important factors. I love making simple vanilla ice cream taking cue from the season or menu for a topping, but this time decided to switch it up a bit. Panna cotta, which is also a cream based dessert, seemed to be the perfect fit.
This one was inspired by Cannelle et Vanille, but adapted from a Food & Wine recipe, as the batteries in my scale were dead and my store only had powdered gelatin. The cream and vanilla bean give it a lovely richness, but the real star is the yogurt, which gives it a bit of tartness, and in my book “makes it sing.” Particularly complementary to the season’s sweetest strawberries!
I also love just serving it in simple glasses or ramekins, another notch in the easy belt, versus the traditional unmolded style.
Yogurt & Vanilla Panna Cotta
Whoops – thought this went up before I left for vacation, but apparently it did not. Well. enjoy while I sort out a few photos from Mexico… xx
If it is not yet apparent, friends & dinner is my favorite thing ever – and I particularly love the combination at home. On Saturday, we had a few friends over and did another version of spring favorites. You may notice that the many of the ingredients below mimic those found at the first “spring dinner” – some in a new way, some the same.
It was much warmer this time around, so the overall feel was a bit lighter, but definitely just as good.
We started with ...
Fresh Pea & Fava Puree and Ricotta with Lemon Zest
Great with grilled bread - eaten solo or piled together for the perfect bite. This is the same Jamie Oliver version as before (and several other dinners in the meantime), but with favas too, as they were available at my farmer’s market. Good ricotta doesn’t need much, but a little sprinkling of lemon zest and a drizzle of good olive oil takes it over the top!
And for dinner ...
Little Gems with Pickled Green Strawberries
I saw the green strawberries at the market, and decided to attempt the same method from a recent salad at Cotogna – with a quick pickle. I used the same recipe as when I pickled grapes, and added roasted beets and goat cheese to the little gems. As for the vinaigrette, I added a few smashed ripe strawberries in place of honey for sweetness, and love the ying and yang of it.
Spring Risotto with Preserved Lemon
When looking around for different versions of spring risotto, I found one on Food 52 that added chopped preserved lemons at the end. I loved that idea, and used it myself — I didn’t follow the whole recipe (which called for Pernod instead of the usual white wine) and just did a fairly traditional version with asparagus and spring peas, but I did sub green garlic and fennel for onions, which made it particularly “springy” too me.
yet, the pièce de résistance (in my book) was the ...
Whole Roasted Brazino with Caper Butter
I have never roasted whole fish before (grilled once) and must say, I am hooked. Super simple but so tender and delicious! I stuffed it with lemon, fresh rosemary & oregano and followed this technique. Served it with caper butter and it was perfect! Added bonus it comes across as quite a showstopper.
And for dessert ...
Yogurt Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries
A truly perfect dessert for spring and summer. In fact, it was such a hit that I had to make it again on Sunday when some friends dropped by. Suffice it to say, we will be following up with our own post on this one.
Have you had a chance to capture spring yet. What are your favorties? And can you believe that summer is almost here?
I am going to guess that you haven’t had a strawberry margarita in quite a while. And considering that too many are made too syrupy sweet, that is a good thing.
But I have one that will make you remember the genius of the tequila and strawberry combo. Well, rather Back Forty has one, but for upcoming Memorial Day BBQs and parties, I’m going to call it mine, and I think you should too.
What makes you come back for another one on this drink is the black pepper. The rim is coated in a mix of sugar and freshly ground back pepper and it is amazing. I love when pepper is in a bloody mary rim mix, but there it is salty and expected. Here, twinged with a hint of sweet, it is the best kind of almost-summer surprise. Kind of like strawberries themselves. When perfectly ripe, way better than you remember or imagined.
But for all the allure of the rim, the drink itself it simple.
Am I the only person who feels disproportionally proud when I change the light bulb as soon as it burns out. It’s a really easy and obvious thing to do, but how often does it take you a day or two (or week) to change a light bulb … especially ones that require ladders or step-stools?
These strawberries are a bit like that. Nothing special at all and no real work, but not going to lie – felt a little self-satisfied (and like a resourceful pioneer woman) after I did this.
And what did I do exactly?
Took the forgotten and now-sorry-looking leftover strawberries out of the fridge and instead of tossing them (they were past the point of eating as is, but nothing suspicious about them that required immediate disposal) sliced them up and popped them in a small pan. Added some water and a teeny touch of sugar (lemon zest or a bit of a vanilla bean would be a nice touch too) and let it all cook down. The result – instead of more trash, I now have a simple strawberry sauce on hand, perfect to add to yogurt and granola.
Breakfast hasn’t looked this good (or smug) in a while.
This salad has no story, expect that it is delicious. That’s it – well, pretty much.
The other day I went for a nice long walk along the Hudson (it was freezing, but at least the sun was out, so I was happy) and on my way home I stopped at the Manhattan Fruit Exchange in Chelsea Market. I needed to pick up some dried cranberries for this, and thought that detour would be more fun than my regular stops. The little market was teeming with spring goodies, the asparagus and English peas that I have been dreaming of and an abundance of fresh fava beans.
But surprisingly, I passed over all those things I had been waiting for, and picked up a teeny cantaloupe that was so fragrant, it literally jumped out at me as I passed by.
When I got home, I paired it up with some strawberries, fresh mozzarella, basil and mint. A drizzle of balsamic would be good here, but lo and behold when I went to grab it, we were out. (Which seems odd because I don’t remember using it for eons, but then, some days my memory isn’t the best. Now you know who you can tell your secrets!!)
It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that this was a hit – strawberries and basil are a match; melon and mozzarella – obviously; melon and mint, another winner – but altogether … out of the park! This salad should have yielded leftovers and didn’t.
I think if you are looking for something fresh to add to Easter brunch, look no further.
The Art of Simple Food really is that – an art. I am constantly delighted and surprised when simple foods, prepared simply become much more than a sum of their parts.
After I made that lasagna, I had a sweet tooth and a basket full of strawberries, so I decided to skim through Alice Water’s book again (since it was out) and see what looked good. I knew I wanted something easy – no baking or making, just really one step more than eating them plain. I also wanted more than just letting them macerate in their own juices or tossing them in some balsamic – both great preperations, don’t get me wrong, but they weren’t wowing me that night.
Alice, not surprisingly, had the answer.
Marinate sliced strawberries in fresh orange juice.
Thank goodness the woman has been winning awards for years. So simple and and obvious combination once you read it, but I can’t say I would have ever done it on my own.
I had two blood oranges in the fruit bowl that needed to be used, so I used the juice from those and sliced up some strawberries. The recipe suggests adding a bit of sugar too, but I didn’t think it was necessary. After letting it marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, I poured the strawberries and juice over a bit of ricotta that I still had on hand and it was a d.i.v.i.n.e. combination.
It would also be great with greek yogurt, vanilla ice cream, or just plain and served cold. In fact, plain and cold is what the book recommends.
I think now, regardless of the preparation, any time I make things with strawberries, I may have to add a bit of orange.