What's In Season
Illustrations by Edgar Stewart
Have a few extra (dozen) hard-cooked eggs hanging around and you’re not sure what to do with them, besides the obvious devilling and mashing? First, avoid the dreaded green ring by cooking them properly—here’s a foolproof method that makes perfect eggs every time. Now use them in everything: sprinkle finely minced whites and grated yolks over steamed, buttered local asparagus. Wrap peeled eggs in raw sausage meat, bread them and deep fry for a Scotch Egg—a very British and decadent snack. Chop into a bowl of dressed mixed greens, add to grain salads, tuck into meatloaf before cooking, toss into homemade fried rice or Thai-style noodles, splurge on oil-packed tuna and some good olives and make a real salade niçoise, or just make a lazy-man’s devilled egg: Cut a few in half, top the yolks with a swipe of garlicky mayonnaise, a shake of salt and pepper and several drops of hot sauce. Add radishes and it’s lunch. Hard cooked and well chilled, your eggs will keep until you eat every last one.
Chives and blossoms
Chives are one of the easiest perennial herbs to grow, even in a patio pot—just be sure they get full sun and have deep enough soil to develop strong roots. By mid-May, once the tender leaves have grown to 8—10 inches, start using them anywhere you’d use a scallion: in salad dressings, sprinkled on scrambled eggs, into fluffy baked potatoes. But you can also make them—and their June blossoms—the stars of the show. Whisk up a savory Asian-style rice flour batter and add a huge handful of matchstick-length chives for a take on scallion pancakes. Add them to pesto, or hummus, or even pureed into cream to dribble on seared scallops. As for the blossoms, pull the individual lavender-hued flowers off the head of the stalk and scatter into grain bowls or a rice salad, pickle them in vinegar or even dunk whole bulbous blossoms into a flour-and-water slurry for deep frying along with tempura-fried shrimp and haricots verts. Once your chive bed is established, their early emergence each spring will thrill you—just be sure to allow a few blossoms to dry on the stalk to shed their tiny seeds into the soil below, and your patch will get bigger every year.
Leg of Lamb
Found on tables at both Passover and Easter, a whole roasted leg of lamb looks impressive and is really simple to make: Just season generously with salt and pepper, stud with garlic, lemon zest and rosemary and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature, rub the exterior with a bit of butter or oil and blast in a 450° oven for 20–25 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350° to bake for another hour or more—depending on how you like your meat—basting occasionally with its own drippings. Most Americans prefer their lamb pink, rare to medium rare, but in the U.K. and France they like it a bit more well done, which is much easier to achieve. Either way, it’s an impressive carve at your holiday table, served with boiled potatoes sizzled in lamb fat, the accumulated juices from the roast and a vinegary mint-and-parsley sauce. Pile reheated leftovers into crusty bread rolls spread with garlicky aïoli and some roasted vegetables. Or, for an Italian-inspired supper, mince cold lamb into a simmering tomato sauce, add handfuls of fresh spinach to wilt, then toss over fresh papardelle noodles with plenty of Parmigiano Reggiano.
If you’re reading this in early spring, go out right now and grab a 10-gallon bucket, drill some holes in the bottom, fill it with soil, set it outdoors in a sunny spot and plant some pea seeds. By late May you’ll have tendrils and blossoms and by early June you’ll have full-grown pods. Homegrown peas, either English shelling, mangetout or sugar snap, are like nothing you’ll ever find in a supermarket—these aren’t the starchy, bland marbles you’re used to. No, these are crisp, sweet, juicy little orbs, best eaten raw but even better warmed ever so slightly in melted butter, showered with chives and fresh herbs. Try slicing sugar snap pods length-wise on the bias to reveal the baby peas inside, then toss with slivered new carrots, a crumble of feta, some sharp vinaigrette, minced dill and a sprinkle of nigella seeds. Or shell a few cups of peas, simmer briefly in salted water with a fat clove of garlic, then drain and purée with butter—serve under a piece of white fish for an instant, fresh-tasting sauce. Even the baby tendrils at the top of each plant can be added to salads, used as garnish or stir-fried with ginger, garlic and sesame oil. If you’re too late to plant your own this spring, hit your local farm stand or market to find the freshest peas possible and eat them every day until July.
Another garden perennial, though easily found at farmers markets and farmstands, rhubarb is good for so much more than mingling with berries in crumbles and pies. Chock full of antioxidants and Vitamin K, rhubarb plays the role of both fruit and vegetable, and its stringent sourness can even stand in for lemon in a pinch (or a strict adherence to eating locally). To enjoy it on the sweeter side, try tossing 2-inch chunks of rhubarb with melted butter, coarse sugar, a scraped vanilla bean and a pinch of salt, then roast in a hot oven until softened; serve with ice cream or a chilled custard. Pile into a double-crusted crisp with more sugar, orange zest and whatever berry looks perfect at the market; cut into bars and send with the kids for snack. Or simmer cut stalks with sugar and water into a simple syrup—then add to seltzer for a tart, refreshing soda or mix with gin for a local variation of the classic gimlet. For a savory take, stew chopped rhubarb with butter, shallots, garlic and a splash of vinegar to serve with roast pork or chicken; this sour compote is also the prefect foil to grilled oily fish, like mackerel, bluefish or sardines. Add raisins and mustard seeds to the compote and you have a homemade mostarda for layering into grilled cheese sandwiches or dolloping on glazed ham.
This story appeared in the Spring 2017 issue.