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Archive for March, 2011

THE LAST LEEK STANDING

pea shoots

Dear Erin: 

Last week, between snow storms, I harvested the last of the leeks.  We started pulling leeks last October and continued to pull them throughout the winter months.  They were mulched heavily with straw and did not seem to mind the bitter cold days.  Meanwhile, they added some much needed freshness to winter meals.  As I was leaving the garden with that final harvest I noticed that the chives were already about six inches tall so I cut a big bunch of those, too.  A few weeks ago I had started radish, pea, broccoli and onion sprouts in the house and the pea shoots were ready to harvest.  I wanted to cook something that would really show off the taste of these fresh, spring ingredients so I made a simple pasta with a creamy sauce.  The leeks provided some flavor that you could really sink your teeth into while the chives and pea shoots gave the pasta a splash of color and tasted like spring!!  The sauce came together while the pasta cooked so it was quick and easy.  I finished the pasta dish with a drizzle of some Meyer Lemon Olive Oil that I got from Global Gardens, remember the place that we tasted olive oil in Los Olivos?  This Meyer Lemon Olive Oil is so delicious and went so well the with the spring vegies but you could use any good olive oil that you had on hand.

 PASTA WITH LEEKS, PEA SHOOTS, AND CHIVES

  • 4 leeks, washed well and sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1T olive oil
  • 1T butter
  • 1T chicken fat
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • 1 package boursin cheese
  • 2 cups pea shoots
  • 1/2 cup concentrated chicken broth (leftover from roasting a chicken)
  • parmesan cheese to garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1# whole wheat pasta, cooked and drained
  • olive oil drizzle to finish

Cook the pasta in a big pot of salted, boiling water.  While the pasta cooks, add the olive oil, butter and chicken fat to a skillet with the sliced leeks.  Cook the leeks on low heat for about 5 minutes then add the garlic and saute briefly.  Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer until the leeks are softened.  Crumble in the boursin cheese and stir until it melts, adding pasta water if you need to  for consistency.  When this has all come together, season with salt and pepper to taste, add in the chives and pea shoots.  Immediately add the cooked pasta and toss just to combine.  Serve immediately topped with parmesan cheese and olive oil drizzle.  You don’t really want to cook the pea shoots.

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Pickled Mushrooms

Dear Mama,

I came across an article in Fine Cooking about preserving foods in the winter. I love the idea – I normally only think of jams and pickles in the late summer and fall. This recipe for pickled mushrooms sounded amazing – so I whipped it up last weekend. So far, I’m loving them. They are simple but so, so versatile. I’ve eaten them alone, on an antipasto tray (like olives), and in dishes…they make a mean pizza and an excellent addition to sandwiches. Once you open your mind to year-round preserving, the opportunities are endless. I have a Meyer Lemon jelly slated for this weekend!

Also, I love these jars. They are wide-mouthed enough that they’re easy to clean, but still a good size for holding refrigerator pickles such as these mushrooms. I got them in a few different sizes at Hobby Lobby!!!

Pickled Mushrooms

6 cups cremini mushrooms, halved or quartered to be the same size

1/2 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp sugar
10 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp salt

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the mushrooms and boil until tender, about 8-10 minutes.
2. Drain the mushrooms and transfer the mushrooms to a large, clean jar.
3. In the large pot, bring the remaining ingredients to a boil over medium heat.
4. Pour the brine over the mushrooms and seal the jar. Transfer to the refrigerator.
5. Let the mushrooms pickle at least 3 days before using. They will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

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