Tuesday, March 5, 2013
After the dry spell called February, it looks like oodles of baby buds have formed on local spring and summer fruit trees. Hopefully all will be well with gentle spring rains and we will reap amazing fruits down the road a bit. As we participate in the fine but diminishing art of taste anticipation regarding upcoming cherries and apricots our late winter slash early spring gardens abound in glorious shoots of velvety sweet green love more commonly referred to as spring onion and garlic to be enjoyed presently. Slender lush hued stalks taper down to white bulbs with as yet pretty unformed baby bumps of onions and garlic. In their sublime immaturity these cousins have yet to develop much heat and are so sweet and nutty they can be easily eaten raw in salad as well as sliced thinly and caramelized in sweet butter to lavish on just about anything you can imagine consuming. Subtle differences divide the chicks from the hens in the alliums’ world. Green onions, available year round are not to be confused with Spring onions available only in spring. Nature’s sweet previews of summer bounty are simply immature onions. Farmers specifically plant fields of onions for pulling young alongside fields of old timers destined for golden drying rays of summer sun. Along with bad behavior, immaturity also brings eggshell white bulbs, shaded with purple striping reaching for elongated sweet shafts of tender green tops of which it is mandated you use in their entirety. Marinate perfect cremini mushrooms in pureed spring onion sloshed with fresh lemon juice, awesome olive oil and chopped oregano. Spring onions create amazing music tossed in olive oil and sea salt, grilled whole alongside an organic rosemary scented chicken blistering on a hot wood fire. Dice fine to mix with local white wine vinegar and coarse ground black pepper for mignonette to pack up with special bubbly for tripping up the coast in pursuit of briny local oysters. Spring garlic, aka green garlic is just as wonderful as the spring onion and can be easily interchangeable in any recipe. I have a great friend, Kristie Knoll who along with her husband Rick, grow acres of green garlic in Brentwood to sell at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market as well as to lots of local restaurants. Her preferred method of using the green garlic is to chop it very fine, green and whites alike, and toss copious handfuls of the jewels into Cow Girl Creamery Fromage Blanc, mixing it in well. We sample this daring yet simple concoction on slices of Acme bread to the masses and no one has ever guessed that it is simply a boatload of fresh chopped garlic and cheese. Breathtaking. Both are extremely easy to grow and if not already there, should become a staple of your next winter garde. Also on the late winter slash early spring garden slate are Snow Peas and spring peas. Winter crops that twine their vines among summer vegetable trellis’ all winter, peas are a true garden wonder. Sweeter than imaginable, most peas never make it into the house after being picked. We grow tons of these at the College Park garden and pick them for the cafeteria for the kids to eat in French fry boats minus the fried potato product. I honestly must admit that our peas at CP are slow this year but they are coming along nicely and we should start the supply chain from farm to table sooner than later. We have been enjoying lots of fresh cauliflower and broccoli and our next big project will be coleslaw with our lovely heads of cabbage, fresh dug carrots, chopped garlic and chopped onions all from the CP garden. If you are not growing your own luscious winter vegetables do not despair! Just get down to a local farmers market or to Pleasant Hill Produce Market and ask Nate or Matt to steer you to the local winter stuff. Spoiler Alert!! Wild flowers have been spotted by yours truly popping up all over the high, open ridges of our own Briones and they are AMAZING!! Get up there and see for yourself while enjoying amazing views from the peaks. Side Effects: Strong, healthy quadriceps, lungs and hearts, looser jeans and a healthier sex life!! Sautéed Sugar Snap Peas w/ Green Garlic and Mint 1 pound of sugar snap peas, destringed 2 bulbs of green garlic, chopped 2 tablespoons of olive oil 2 tablespoons of chicken or vegetable stock 2 tablespoons chopped mint, Kosher salt Heat oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat and add garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add the peas and sauté for 2 minutes until they start to green up. Add the stock and cover for 2 minutes. Season with kosher salt and add the chopped mint. Serves 4. Peas and Pea Shoot Pesto Crostini w/ Citrus and Chevre 1 pound fresh English peas, shelled ½ bunch pea shoots or tops, chopped ½ bunch chopped fresh Italian parsley 2 cloves fresh chopped garlic Juice and peel from 1 lemon, Peel from 1 orange ¼ to a ½ cup good fruity olive oil ¼ cup chevre, Croutons Salt and pepper Place peas, pea tops, parsley, garlic and citrus juice and peel in bowl of food processor or blender. Pulse to chop fine. Add oil in a steady stream to desired consistency and season with salt and pepper. Place a small amount on a crouton w/ a dollop of chevre. Makes 2 cups.