Category Archives: Spring

leeks vinaigrette with mimosa {ffwd}

Leeks Vinaigrette with Mimosa

Spring is in full force, both outside my window and, courtesy of this week’s French Fridays recipe, in my kitchen. Leeks vinaigrette with mimosa is an easy salad with a perky mustard dressing that says, out with the heavy fare of winter, and in with lighter foods.

The recipe calls for baby leeks, but they were nowhere to be found around here. I used a bunch of the smallest leeks I could find, though they were still pretty large. The leeks are partially split in order to wash out the dirt between the layers, then tied back together (out of kitchen string like I was? Use some white thread instead) before simmering in water until tender. For my medium-sized leeks, this took about half an hour.

Tied Leeks

While the leeks cook, there’s plenty of time to make a hard-boiled egg and the aforementioned perky dressing which includes the fancy touches of sherry vinegar and walnut oil.

We have an ongoing discussion in my house on the best way to make a hard-boiled egg. Does one boil the water before adding the egg or does one start the egg in cold water? There’s also the question of whether to cook the egg in boiling water or to to just let it sit in the boiled water. Opinions in cookbooks and the internet are all over the map. The method I’ve settled on is to start the egg in cold water, bring it to a boil, then remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for a certain amount of time depending on the size of the egg (15 minutes for a large egg) before cooling the egg in an ice bath. What’s your favorite way? I’m curious.

After the leeks are tender and dried off with a kitchen towel, they are sliced into thick (1-inch) slices, doused in the vinaigrette and topped with grated hard-boiled egg, which mimics the fringy fluffy mimosa flower.

Mimosa flower (photo from Wikipedia)

This was a delicious side dish, which I served somewhere between warm and room temperature. I was indifferent to the egg garnish. It was pretty, given that the cooked leeks weren’t the most attractive color, but the taste of the egg didn’t come through to me.

Though enjoying this in the warmer weather, I could imagine serving this when winter is dragging me down to remind me that spring will come some day.

If you’d like to know what my Dorista friends thought of their leeks, you can check their links here. The recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.

Since I lost my mother in 2007, Mother’s Day is an odd day for me. Though I have fabulous special “mother figures” to honor in my life (a stepmother, a mother-in-law, and an aunt extraordinaire), I now feel something missing. Being childless, I’m not anyone’s mother either. I’ve taken to thinking of Mother’s Day as a day to celebrate all the women in my life, family or friends, independent of motherhood, because these are relationships that enrich my days. So, from me to you, Happy Mother’s Day to all!

My Mom and Me (at her wedding in 1984)

My Mom and Me (at her wedding in 1984)

green-as-spring stew {ffwd}

Spring Stew

Spring has finally arrived in New England, with a vengeance. I love this time of year with all the trees budding and flowering. The forsythia bloomed this week, and my magnolia is about to burst! The world is finally green.

Magnolia

This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie is aptly named. We made Green-As-Spring Stew. The stew features long-simmered chunks of meat finished in a bright emerald green herbaceous sauce. The recipe is actually for a veal stew, but because we don’t usually eat veal, I used pork tenderloin instead. (An internet search for alternatives also suggested turkey.) It worked quite well.

Enriched Stock

The stew was quite simple. The meat cooks in chicken stock enriched with vegetables. After a long simmer, the vegetable solids are removed, but their flavors are left behind. The stock gets boiled down to further concentrate the flavor (why does this step always take so long???) Finally, a variety of greens and herbs are wilted in the stock before being pureed and mellowed with some tangy creme fraiche.

Mess o' Greens

At the very end, I added a can of artichoke hearts that I drained and quartered along with the remaining sugar snap peas from last week’s vegetables en papillote to give the meat some company.

The first night, I served the stew over couscous, but it worked better when I served it over egg noodles on Night #2.

Stew over Egg Noodles

I enjoyed the pure spring-y flavors of this stew. It was just what we needed after a VERY LONG winter that seemed like it would never end. I hope I remember to make this again next March to remind me that spring will arrive, eventually.

To see what my Dorista friends thought of their spring stews, check out their links here. The recipe can be found here and, of course, at its source, in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.

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