Because we have a thriving bed of asparagus, it’s on the menu much of the time right now – chilled with a shallot and lemon vinaigrette when it’s warm outside and served bright green and piping hot when it’s chilly. Snapping the fat tops off the green and purple-hued stalks was one of the daily “chores” for the girls, although they fought over who got to do it, rather than the more usual, “It’s not MY turn!”
An asparagus bed is fairly maintenance free once the roots are in and settled. Just keeping it fed and weed-free is all it takes to produce enough sweet, grassy fronds until you almost tire of them and are looking forward to another vegetable to become your fascination. It takes three years before the plants are strong enough to handle a harvest. One can’t be greedy with an asparagus bed – clear cutting is a sure way to weaken a bed quickly. Some must always be left. These stalks then grow tall and fern like, with red berries dotting their fronds and are cut down in the fall.
When the bed first sprouts, the stalks are thick, the width of a strong man’s thumb and then, as the energy diminishes, they become thinner and easier to overcook. If there ever was a case to be made for al dente vegetables, asparagus is it. Err on the side of undercooked, if they are even a little over done they become unpleasantly mushy.
Enjoy the gray, chilly days of warm soups and bread, the days of hot kitchens will be here soon enough.
Pork, Potato and Parsnip Hash with Poached Eggs and Asparagus
Hash is usually made with leftover meat or fish from a previous meal. Feel free to substitute beef, pollock, or other flavorful fish in place of the pork. This recipe was originally published in my cookbook, Sugar & Salt: The Orange Book.
1 1/2 cups diced parsnips, cut into 1/2-inch dice; about 2 parsnips
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onions; about 1 small onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic; about 1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
several grinds fresh black pepper
1 pound cooked pork shoulder or other tender pork meat, pulled apart with a fork into bite sized pieces
1 pound asparagus, ends cut or snapped off; about 1 bunch
8 large eggs
Herbed Salt (below)
Place the parsnips and potatoes in a wide saucepan and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes or until tender when poked with a fork. Remove from water with a basket strainer or slotted spoon and set aside. Keep the water hot for the asparagus. In the meantime, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and onions. Sauté until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the potatoes, parsnips, salt, and pepper and cook until the potatoes begin to brown. Add the pork and sauté until the pork is warm. Remove from heat and cover.
Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute or until the asparagus is tender. Timing will vary with the thickness of the stalks. Remove from water with tongs, transfer to a platter and cover. To the same pot of water, add the vinegar and poach the eggs ever so gently. Plate the hash, asparagus, and poached eggs and sprinkle the eggs with a pinch of Herbed Salt.
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients and set aside.
Makes about 2 tablespoons
Snap. The weather turned ever so slightly warmer and now all I want is salad for dinner. With protein.
A trip to our local fish monger, Jess’s Market, solved that healthy problem and not that long after, dinner was on the table. While I was waiting my turn to be served, another customer had some curiosity about how to cook the beautiful shad roe resting in the display case like ruby jewels. Sharon, one of the owners, shared a couple of Maine ways it’s often prepared. One being to par-boil it and then sauté the slices in bacon fat. We then started talking about chives and garlic chives shooting up in the garden and how a little lemony beurre blanc flavored with one or both would go great with shad roe and some greens. With capers maybe. Hmmm, I may have to go back and get some shad roe for this recipe floating around in my head.
You’ll notice that this recipe calls for reusing the same pan several times. Reusing the pan is something that happens a lot in my kitchen. Rather than dirtying 5 pans and creating a mountain of clean up, rinsing a pan between uses is a simple way to make light duty of the dishes once dinner is finished (Jon loves me for this). This is especially true when the flavors will compliment each other and are all going into the same dish in any case.
Seared Salmon Arugula Salad with Lime Crema
2 (6 to 8 ounce) skin on salmon fillets
several pinches kosher salt
several grinds fresh black pepper
2 ounces arugula, about 4 cups lightly packed
1/2 ripe avocado
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
zest from 1 lime; about 1 teaspoon (for both sour cream and arugula)
juice from 1 lime; about 3 tablespoons (for both sour cream and arugula)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
2 roma tomatoes, quartered
2 ears of corn with corn removed
1 (16-ounce) can black beans
1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
Sprinkle the salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Add the arugula to a medium salad bowl and using a spoon, scoop small pieces of avocado onto the arugula. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon lime zest, and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Toss to combine.
Combine the sour cream, 1/2 teaspoon lime zest, and 1 tablespoon lime juice in a small bowl. Set aside for garnish.
Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the 2 salmon fillets, skin side down. When the salmon is cooked half way through, about 5 minutes, turn carefully and cook the second side for another 4 minutes. Remove the salmon from the pan when it is still dark pink in the center and set aside on a platter or cutting board. Clean the pan and return it to medium-high heat.
Add grapeseed oil to the pan and add the tomatoes. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper and sear until the edges begin to brown. Transfer to the edges of the salad bowl and return the pan to the heat. Add the corn and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes and transfer to the salad bowl as well.
Meanwhile, heat another skillet over medium heat and add the black beans, bring to simmer and set aside. Serve with the salad and the salmon. Garnish with the sour cream and cilantro.
Happy, healthy dinner (and one still creating in my head)
Echinacea is a beautiful flower in the herb or perennial garden. We are lucky enough to have the purple cone flowers dotting several of our beds. Not only is it a lovely friend to enjoy in the garden, when dried, the flowers and roots have healing and immune boosting properties.
The girls and I dig Echinacea root with our friends every fall so both families have a winter’s supply of dried flowers and roots for tea and tincture.
If you don’t have Echinacea in your garden, no worries, it’s easily found in natural food stores. When anyone feels the first sign of a cold coming on, this is the first things that goes on the stove.
2 quarts water
2/3 cup lemon juice from organic lemons; about 3 lemons
9 slices ginger root, 1/8-inch thick
2/3 cup local honey
5 or 6 pieces dried Echinacea root and flowers (use several drops of tincture per mug as a substitute)
Bring the water, ginger root, and Echinacea root to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. If you are using Echinacea tincture reserve this until you pour your steaming mug of tea. Reduce the heat to barely a simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and add lemon juice and honey. Sip all day long as desired, heating up each time. Strain any tea you don’t drink over the day into a glass jar and place in the refrigerator overnight.
Makes 2 quarts
It’s been a week now since our last sailing day and already I miss the wide open sky; seeing the horizon when the sun sets and rises; and living outside.
Our first day on shore saw the entire boat change. Within hours the cabins were empty of linens, mattresses, curtains, and anything else that makes them habitable – for people or for mice. The galley was a whirl of banana boxes and milk crates filled to the brim with dry goods and equipment. After two days of bee-hive like intensity, the galley is also barren of any sign that on a daily basis, all summer long, three abundant meals are produced and consumed in short order by our guests.
These changes help me recognize that our transition to shore has begun. The ending of each season brings both satisfaction and a little melancholy. The feeling of a job well done in creating a safe and happy season for our crew and our many beloved guests is strong. This is also tinged with a tiny sadness that it has again come to an end. At the same time there is more space in our days which we quickly fill up with private conversation and cozy time on the couch, riding horses, playing music, talking with family, and even cleaning the house.
What’s interesting is that I don’t pine for one place over the other. When I’m cooking on my wood stove I never yearn for my gas stove at home and when I’m at home cooking for us or catering for a crowd, I don’t wish for my wood stove. The same is true for my bunk. When I sleep on the boat, I love hearing the light lap of the ocean against the hull, the rain on the deck, and the smell of pine tar and wood. When I’m home, half the time we sleep with the window open so we can smell the fresh air and it’s luxuriant to climb into cozy sheets under a beautiful duvet and have a little space to spread out.
The settling in to either of our homes, the boat and our house, always feels like the shifting of weather seasons, sometimes there is resistance to what is coming and also a knowing that whatever we are leaving will come around again. There is also a looking forward to the new.
Roasted Carrots, Red Onion, and Kale
Curly or Russian kale will get a little crispy on the edges in this recipe while Lacinato kale (the longer more wrinkled variety) will wilt more like other greens do. Both are delicious.
1 1/2 pounds carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus another 1/4 teaspoon for the kale
several grinds of fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus another 2 tablespoons for the kale
1/2 bunch of kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped; about 4 cups
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a large roasting pan, drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper over the carrots and onions. Use your hands to coat evenly. Roast for 1 hour or until the carrots are tender and the onions are beginning to brown. Add the kale and drizzle with more oil, salt, and pepper. Stir well and roast for another 20 minutes or until the kale is bright green and a little crispy on the edges.
Serves 4 to 6
Clean eating – I’m into it.
There’s nothing like going out to the garden after a serious winter when the only thing to harvest from the garden is dreams of vegetables yet-to-be-grown and pulling leeks long buried in a mountain of straw. Satisfaction supreme.
These sweet babies just had to become soup. Adding the last of the sweet potatoes from the root cellar, a few white beans leftover from another meal and dinner was born.Sweet Potato and White Bean Soup with Leeks
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups leeks, diced and washed; about 2 leeks
4 cups sweet potatoes, diced; about 2 sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons garlic, minced; about 3 cloves
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2, 15-ounce cans cannellini beans
1 pork hock
1/2 cup sherry (or more to taste at the end)
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 head escarole, chopped into bite-sized pieces and washed
2 tablespoons tamari (or more)
Heat a medium stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the oil and leeks and sauté until the leeks are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, salt and pepper and sauté for another 5 minutes. Make a small space for the garlic and add it to the pan, sauteing for only 30 seconds to one minute. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the escarole, tamari and extra sherry. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the white beans are soft. Add escarole and tamari and sherry to taste and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Serves 6 to 8