Beautiful Foods Simply Prepared

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Gushing again about Spring’s beauty, I am so excited to have picked the first asparagus of 2014 from my garden.  It is truly the crowning glory of the season and when fresh, it requires little preparation to highlight its goodness.  The earliest, most tender stalks are a beautiful apple green with purple-tinged tips.  When newly born it has a taste that is like no other.  It is popular to smother it in sauce such as Hollandaise or something cheese based but I prefer to keep it simple. so its natural flavor takes center stage.  A light steam to crisp-tender, a drizzle of fine extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of flaked sea salt (such as, Maldon) is perfection.  I also love to serve it with egg.  Perhaps it is the symbolism of the egg and the rebirth of nature that makes this a memorable combination.  Think quiche, pasta carbonara, frittata, or adding it to a your morning scramble, it’s all good.  Recently I added a poached egg  and it was delightful.  The richness of the egg makes a perfect marriage with the brightness of this seasonal vegetable.

Just a little sideline, I cannot help but get so excited at the sight of farm fresh eggs  (click here to read more).

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They are said to be a super food, among the most nutritious on our planet, containing a little bit of every nutrient we need.  I love pairing them with other favorites.

“What is food to one, is to others bitter poison.”

Titus Lucretius CarusIMG_6920

Another of the season’s delight is a wild vegetable that many consider nothing but a menace.  Long prized for their health benefits, this rather bitter green, the dandelion, is less stringent and most tender when foraged in early spring before the plant flowers.  Pick leaves from an area that has not been sprayed and is not polluted by car exhaust.  One of the fondest memories of my childhood is my father picking these leaves and creating a simple but delicious salad.  His method was dressing them (after carefully washing and drying) with a simple vinaigrette (3 parts good quality extra-virgin olive oil, 1 part red wine vinegar, 1t Dijon mustard, seasoned with salt and pepper) and adding hard-cooked egg.  Uncomplicated and so pleasing to the palate I feel compelled to recreate this every year.  A favorite of mine and my siblings, it transports me to those earlier years when we gathered around the dinner table.  By the way, these greens can also be sautéed and used in any application  where you might use arugula, escarole or endive.

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While thinking of being transported, on this Mother’s Day, I want to dedicate this post to my mother, Annabelle Clawson RaffettoIMG_6935

 

She was such a dominate force in our family and I credit her for much of who I am and what I know today.  She loved cooking and expressing her love through food, instilling this in all of us.  She insisted on daily family meals and holidays always meant a feast.   Tirelessly, she raised us (seven in all) and taught us how to be a family.  She cared for those less fortunate by feeding homeless strangers that would periodically knock on our back door, giving them food made with the same care as she gave to us.  She and my father believed if they fed the hungry their family would be always blessed with enough to eat…and that we were.  We all miss her greatly but her spirit lives on in us.

“Food always tastes better when it’s prepared by someone else.”

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Wishing all the mothers out there a day of love and pampering.  May your loved ones express their gratitude for everything you have given.  Hopefully they will give back a little by cooking for you and spreading the love, one dish at a time.  I know as a mother it is a difficult job but I also know in my heart by giving love to your children and grandchildren you make the world a better place.  Thank you for your contribution.  With gratitude,  Jeanne

 

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16 responses to “Beautiful Foods Simply Prepared

  1. Rebecca Brunot

    Good post Dear One.

    Happy Mother’s Day.

  2. Debora Morton

    Jeanne—what a lovely post about your mother 🙂 Happy Mother’s Day to you!!—Debi

    • Thank you, Debi. Not sure if you are mother but if so, Happy Mother’s Day to you as well. Elizabeth Palmer, a follower of my blog, said she visited your place recently. Loved meeting you and had a great lunch. Wish I could have been there. Take care. Jeanne

  3. Lovely post. We just planted our vegetable garden today after a very long, brutal winter.

    • Thank you, Kim. I have started our garden but still await the more tender plants. Concentrating on the hardier herbs and vegetables but waiting patiently to plant the tomatoes, squash and beans. I appreciate your comments. Keep them coming.

  4. Jeanne,
    Your best post since I’ve been following. First, I love asparagus any time of the year, but I drool over the first asparagus of the season. Like yours, in our house, asparagus can often be found in some very interesting concoctions. Secondly, your tribute to your Mom brought tears to my eyes. She was a very special lady and wonderful influence and role model to many of us. I often refer to her as another one of my Moms.
    Hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day.
    Love,
    Kathy

    • Thank you, Kathy. My Mom was a gracious woman and the fact that you refer to her as another Mom speaks to her compassion for others. Thank you for your comments. They are much appreciated. You too had a wonderful Mother. Wishing you a great Mothers day.

  5. Jean Raffetto

    I have many happy memories of your mother and dad and the wonderful meals and conversations we (Paul and I) had on our many vacations to PA. They were wonderful host and your Mom’s cooking was spectacular. Love, . P.S. I really enjoy your blog, Jeanne

  6. Thank you, Jean. Unfortunately, I was gone for many of your visits but I appreciate your fond memories of my mother and dad, My mom loved to cook for others. It was her expression of love. She left us a beautiful legacy. Wishing you a wonderful Mother’s Day. You raised two wonderful men. That is quite an accomplishment. Sending love and hoping to see you this summer.

  7. Belated Mother’s Day greetings to you, Jeanne! Your Mom lives on in you & your cooking, and continues to bless lives — mine included.

    • Thanks, Kim. Hope you were honored on mother’s day. I was fortunate to have a wonderful mother who gave much and asked for little in return. I am also blessed that food brought you into my life. I hope we can someday share a meal. Take care and keep writing. Jeanne

  8. Elizabeth Palmer

    I also loved your mother’s day tribute, Jeanne. I, too was blessed to have a kind and capable mother who was a good cook. This 100% Czech woman introduced me to homemade gnocchi, of all things!

    On that note, I wanted to let you know that I did make a batch of ricotta gnocchi, and topped it with a garlic mustard pesto. It rids the landscape of a little of this invasive plant; it is, after all, an escaped garden plant run wild. The recipe I used follows: http://www.monchesfarm.com/PESTO.htm. It was delicious!

  9. Thanks, Elizabeth. I had a wonderful mom for sure. Thank you for the recipe. I admit I have never eaten garlic mustard but I know where to get it. Ricotta gnocchi from a Czech? Goes to show global cuisine is not a new thing. I appreciate your comments. Keep them coming. BTW, morels at the market this weekend. Yum! Jeanne

  10. I’m just catching up on my reading but loved this post, Jeanne! Wonderful.

    • Hi Sally: Sounds like you have been have been having exciting adventures. I am also trying to catch up with all you have to say but the photos of the markets, exquisite! Thank you for your comments. Always appreciated. Jeanne

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