This is the time of year when vegetables take center stage.
If you're lucky to live in a city with a farmers' market, there's no better place to buy fresh ingredients.
In The Early Show's "Five-Minute Cooking School," cookbook author and cooking teacher Tori Ritchie has some great menu ideas inspired by those offerings.
She prepared them with co-anchor Hannah Storm at the flagship store in Manhattan of specialty home furnishings retailer Williams-Sonoma.
Many large cities now feature farmers' markets. The stands are a great way to promote local farmers' goods and give people a different experience when buying their ingredients. The idea is that you get to know where your food is coming from.
But even if you don't have a farmers' market, you can still prepare Ritchie's delicious recipes, because large grocery stores can't help but feature amazing seasonal ingredients.
A frittata can be made with countless combinations of ingredients. With Ritchie's master recipe as a guide, you can create frittatas using whichever vegetables are freshest at your market. Delicious springtime combinations include sliced leeks, asparagus and zucchini; caramelized onions, sliced roasted red bell peppers and mushrooms, or sliced artichokes, peas and chopped green garlic.
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2/3 cup shredded or crumbled cheese
2 cups cooked vegetables
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, salt, pepper and parsley. Stir in the cheese and cooked vegetables.
In the deep half of a frittata pan over medium heat, melt 1 Tbs. of the butter. Add the egg mixture and cook, loosening the edges occasionally with a rubber spatula to allow the uncooked eggs to run underneath, 5 to 6 minutes. After 3 minutes of cooking, in the shallow half of the frittata pan over medium heat, melt the remaining 1 Tbs. butter. Place the shallow pan upside down on top of the deep pan and flip the frittata into the shallow pan. Cook, covered, for 3 minutes, then remove the deep pan and continue cooking until the eggs are set, about 5 minutes more.
Loosen the edges of the frittata with the spatula and gently slide onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 4.
Farmers' Market Greens with Baked Goat Cheese Toasts
Warm baked goat cheese on a bed of baby lettuces is one dish that never leaves the Chez Panisse Café menu. Although goat cheese is commonplace now, it was a novelty in the early 1980s when Laura Chenel, a novice Sonoma County cheese maker, approached Chez Panisse proprietor Alice Waters with samples of her fresh goat cheese. Waters immediately placed a standing order, and Chenel has since become one of America's leading goat cheese producers. The relationship exemplifies Chez Panisse's longstanding support for local farmers and food producers.
Serve with a light, chilled white wine, such as Chenin Blanc or Fume Blanc.
For the vinaigrette:
1 Tbs. Champagne vinegar
1 shallot, finely minced (about 2 Tbs.)
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
12 thin, diagonally cut slices baguette
1 1/2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 lb. fresh goat cheese without a rind,
at room temperature
1 tsp. coarsely chopped fresh thyme
6 oz. mixed baby salad greens
About 1/2 cup loosely packed unsprayed
edible flowers, such as nasturtiums, marigolds
or chive blossoms (optional)
To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, combine the vinegar, shallot and a generous pinch of salt and let stand for 30 minutes to allow the shallot flavor to mellow. Whisk in the olive oil. Season with pepper and with more salt if needed.
Preheat an oven to 425°F.
Brush the baguette slices on both sides with about 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Arrange on a baking sheet and bake until they are nicely browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool. They will crisp as they cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
Lightly oil a small baking dish and put the goat cheese in it. Sprinkle with the thyme and drizzle with the remaining 1/2 Tbs. olive oil. Bake until the goat cheese is soft and quivery to the touch, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, toss the salad greens with the vinaigrette. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Divide the greens among individual salad plates. Divide and scatter the edible flowers evenly over the greens.
Spread the warm cheese on the toasts, dividing it evenly. Arrange 3 toasts on each plate and serve the salads immediately. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Foods of the World Series, San Francisco, by Janet Fletcher (Oxmoor House, 2004).
Radishes with Chervil Butter
Some marvelous varieties of radish are now showing up in farmers' markets. A mix of colors and varieties would make an appealing plate look for white, black, French Breakfast and Misato Rose. Whichever variety you choose, look for firm radishes with smooth skin and unwilted, green leaves. If you have a green thumb, take a look at the radish page of your favorite seed catalog.
For the chervil butter:
12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3 Tbs. minced fresh chervil
16 radishes, chilled
Fresh chervil sprigs for garnish
To make the chervil butter, in a small bowl, stir together the butter, salt and minced chervil until well mixed and creamy.
Remove a small sliver from the base and top of each radish, then halve it crosswise (across the "equator"). Each half will sit firmly and evenly with the larger cut side uppermost. Arrange the halved radishes on a platter, larger cut side up.
Spoon the chervil butter into a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip. Pipe a small rosette of chervil butter in the center of each half.
Decorate the platter with chervil sprigs or, if desired, press a tiny frond of feathery chervil into the side of each chervil-butter rosette. Chill before serving. Makes 32 small cold bites.
Make-Ahead Tip: The butter-topped radishes may be refrigerated, uncovered, for up to 2 hours before serving.
Variation Tips: Substitute basil for the chervil, creating another wonderful flavoring for the butter. You may also serve the radishes with plain unsalted butter, a popular French snack.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Hors d'Oeuvre, by Brigit L. Binns (Simon & Schuster, 2001).
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