Category Archives: Spring
It might be March and officially spring, both meteorologically and astronomically, but there’s still a noticeable chill in the air. It’s the time of year when I want to move on to eating lighter foods, greener foods, yet still need to warm my bones.
To my delightful surprise, this week’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays matched my cravings perfectly. Pork and chard sausage, known as caillettes, are sausage patties chock full of greens. Swiss chard and parsley provide the green, which help to cut the richness of ground pork and chicken liver as well as the bacon wrapping.
The recipe starts out the same way you make chopped chicken liver by sautéing onions until they are soft then adding chicken livers to cook through. The recipe calls for only a quarter-pound of chicken livers, much less than the standard package for sale. This provided an excuse cook the entire package of chicken livers with additional onion, taking out what was needed for the sausage, then combining the remainder with a hard-boiled egg for a chopped liver snack.
Next, ground pork is cooked with garlic and thyme. In parallel, a bunch of Swiss chard is boiled until tender. All these ingredients go into the food processor with fresh parsley, lemon juice and an egg to bind the concoction.
The sausage meat is shaped into four oval patties to resemble quail. And then each patty is wrapped in a crisscross of bacon strips (David’s much more appealing alternative to caul fat).
I found it much easier to place the bacon in my palm, top it with the sausage patty and then wrap with the ends of the bacon strips rather than doing it in the baking dish where the patty seemed to fall apart when I tried to tuck the ends under.
The sausage is then baked. The instructions said “until the meat is cooked through”. I assumed that meant until the bacon looks cooked as all the ingredients except the egg were already cooked before even shaping them into caillettes. That said, the bacon never fully “crisped” but it no longer looked raw after 35 minutes.
As suggested, I served caillettes with mashed potatoes and green salad which made a nice presentation. The caillettes were delicious, with a wide array of flavors to enjoy. On the other hand, this recipe used a lot of dishes, way more than warranted. While I enjoyed the end result, but I don’t know that I’d make this recipe again.
In My Paris Kitchen, David Lebovitz mentions that the first time he had caillettes, he thought they were baby quail as caille means quail in French. I thought that definition was correct, but that the sausage got their name from their oval shape which loosely resembles a quail. I looked it up and was amused to learn that caillette actually means abomasum, which is the fourth stomach of a ruminant (like a cow or sheep). I suppose with all those greens, the diner could metaphorically be eating from the pasture?
A couple weeks back, I also made the Spiced Speculoos Flan also from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. I was not particularly excited to make this seemingly creamy indulgent dessert. It was easy enough so I gave it a try, reducing the recipe to use just a single egg.
This one took me by surprise! It turned out to be rather light both in texture and sweetness. The speculoos spread I had was “chunky” so with the reduced quantity I made, I had trouble incorporating it into the custard, even in the blender. However, between the speculoos in the custard and the caramel each bite had just enough sugar along with a little warm spice.
My ramekins were a little smaller than the ones called for, making 3 smaller ones rather than two slightly bigger ones (for one-third the recipe). I reduced the cooking time but ended up overcooking them a tad. They still tasted good.
I would make these again. The formula also seems like something to play around with for other variations.
If you want to try either of these recipes, you’ll find them in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. You can also find out other bloggers’ impressions about the pork and chard sausage or the flans on Cook the Book Fridays.
It’s the first week of June, and it’s raw and rainy. I’m bundled in fleece because it’s only in the mid-50’s outside. I’m so ready for summer. I’d even settle for spring. At boot camp this morning, we were taking a survey of who turned their heat back on…
Local farmers’ markets are just starting to open for the season. I pick up my first week’s CSA share tomorrow. My vegetable garden is planted but sunshine and heat are needed for it to grow.
When summer tomatoes are at their peak later in the summer, Caprese salad with fresh mozzarella or burrata makes a regular appearance on my table, but it’s much too early for that. I saw a recipe in the New York Times a few weeks ago for a spring version with fava beans and fennel. Those aren’t in season yet either, but I felt inspired.
What was fresh at today’s farmers’ market? Radishes and sugar snap peas cried out to me. I also have plentiful arugula growing at home, self-sowed from last fall’s plants, and fresh mint in my herb garden.
Here’s my version. The variety of color and textures is a treat for the senses. I love how I’ll be able to vary the ingredients as the season progresses towards tomatoes and beyond.
Spring Burrata Salad
1 small shallot, diced finely
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3-4 radishes, sliced thin
1 stalk celery, sliced thin
1 heaping cup of sugar snap peas, tops trimmed, cut in half
1 4-oz ball burrata
Arugula leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces if large
1 sprig fresh mint
In a small bowl, cover diced shallot with lemon juice. Add a pinch of salt, and let it sit while you prepare the vegetables (5-10 minutes). Then, whisk in olive oil.
In another bowl, toss the radish slices, sliced celery, and peas together.
Arrange the arugula on a plate. Place the burrata in the center. Scatter the mixed vegetables over the arugula and burrata.
Spoon about half of the dressing over the salad. Finally, tear the leaves from the mint sprig into small pieces and sprinkle over the salad.
Serve immediately. Use a serving spoon to cut the burrata in half or quarters as the salad is served.