Spring is here


Karen Fasimpaur, Wikimedia Commons

Strawberries are arriving. Why not enjoy them in a delicious pie this Spring?

 

As of March 20, it is officially Spring time.


Most people I know are so happy that Daylight Savings Time is back. I have nothing against DST, but I do detest the going back and forth.


I would be happy to see the end of all that, as it may only be one hour one way or the other, but my body doesn’t take kindly to it. By the time I get used to it, it is time to change again.


Then there are all the machines that need the time reset, such as coffee makers, oven, microwave, alarm clocks, DVD/Blu-Ray players and the like. Maybe most brand-new gadgets do that automatically, but not all do.


Anyway, life is all about making adjustments, and I must admit I am quite happy to adjust to this season’s recipes and meals. Luckily for foodies, we can find a lot to be happy about with each unique season.


Rhubarb breakfast cake


1/2 cup cream, half-and-half or buttermilk


1 teaspoon lemon juice


1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature


1 cup sugar, plus 2 teaspoons for sprinkling


1 large egg, room temperature


1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla


2 cups flour, saving out 1 tablespoon to toss with rhubarb


2 teaspoons baking powder


1 teaspoon salt


2 cups thinly sliced rhubarb


1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9-by-9-inch baking pan. If you like, you can line the pan with parchment paper, overlapping the sides so you can lift the cake out after it is baked and cooled.


2. Stir the lemon juice into the cream (or half-and-half or buttermilk) and set aside.


3. Cream the soft butter and sugar in a stand mixer, or with electric beaters, until fluffy and pale yellow. Beat in the egg and vanilla, scraping down the bowl as necessary.


4. In a bowl, mix the 1 tablespoon flour with the rhubarb. In another bowl, whisk together remaining flour, baking powder and salt.


5. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture bowl and blend in. Add all of the cream and mix well. Finally, add the remaining flour and blend just until combined; do not over mix. Fold in the rhubarb. Note: the batter is on the thick side.


6. Spread the batter into prepared pan and sprinkle the top evenly with a little sugar. Bake in preheated oven for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cake is turning golden and a toothpick in the center comes out without wet batter clinging to it (moist crumbs are fine.) Allow cake to cool slightly before cutting.


Pasta with prosciutto and peas


Note: It takes about 1 1/2 pounds fresh English pea pods to get 1 1/2 cups peas.


1 pound of your favorite pasta, such as tagliatelle, linguine, fettuccini, etc.


1 1/2 cups shelled, fresh peas (or use frozen, but not canned) *See note


1/2 cup unsalted butter


6 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced (about 12 slices)


16 sage leaves


2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup), plus more for serving


1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook pasta, stirring occasionally and adding peas about 2 minutes before the pasta is at the al dente stage. Drain pasta and peas, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid.


2. Meanwhile, heat butter in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium heat until the butter becomes foamy. Tear prosciutto slices into bite-size pieces and add to pot along with sage. Cook, stirring occasionally, until prosciutto is golden brown and beginning to crisp, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit until pasta is done.


3. Add pasta, peas, 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, and 1 cup reserved pasta cooking liquid to pot with prosciutto and return to medium heat. Cook, tossing vigorously and adding more pasta cooking liquid if needed, until saucy and pasta is coated, about 30 seconds. Taste and season with more salt if needed.


4. Divide pasta among bowls and top with more Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 servings.


Lamb chops with garlic, fresh herbs


2 pounds lamb chops, cut about 3/4-inch thick (should be four chops)


Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste


1 tablespoon minced garlic


2 teaspoons chopped rosemary


2 teaspoons chopped thyme


1 teaspoon chopped parsley


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided


1. Season both sides of the lamb chop generously with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine chopped garlic, chopped herbs and 2 tablespoons olive oil.


2. Rub the paste on both sides of the lamb chops and let them marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.


3. Heat a large 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, once the oil is hot, add the lamb chops. Sear until the surface is browned, about 2 to 3 minutes.


4. Flip and cook the chops until meat reaches an internal temperature of 125 for medium-rare, or 135 for medium, about 3 to 4 minutes. Rest lamb chops for 10 minutes before serving. Makes 2 servings.


Fresh strawberry pie


Note: This recipe calls for some extra chilling time. Also, softened cream cheese does not mean whipped.


Pastry:


2 cups flour


2 teaspoons sugar


1/2 teaspoon salt


2/3 cup shortening


1 tablespoon white vinegar


4 to 5 tablespoons milk


Filling:


1 package (8-oz.) cream cheese, softened


3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar


2 teaspoons grated lemon zest


1/2 teaspoon lemon extract


Topping:


6 cups fresh strawberries, hulled (about 2 pounds)


3/4 cup sugar


1 tablespoon cornstarch


1/4 teaspoon salt


1 cup water


1 package (3-oz.) strawberry gelatin


1 teaspoon butter


1. For pastry: In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar and salt; cut in shortening until crumbly. Gradually add vinegar and milk, tossing with a fork until dough holds together when pressed. Shape into a disk; wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.


2. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a 1/8-inch-thick circle; transfer to a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Trim crust to 1/2 inch beyond rim of plate; flute edge. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425.


3. Line crust with a double thickness of foil. Fill with pie weights, dried beans or uncooked rice. Bake on a lower oven rack 20 to 25 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove foil and weights; bake 3 to 6 minutes longer or until bottom is golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.


4. For filling: In a bowl, beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, lemon zest and lemon extract until well blended. Spread carefully onto bottom of crust. Refrigerate while preparing topping.


5. For topping: Place strawberries in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch, salt and water until blended; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes longer or until thickened and clear. Remove from heat; stir in gelatin until dissolved. Stir in butter. Pour over strawberries, tossing gently to coat. Arrange over filling. Refrigerate 4 hours or until set.

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