Sunday, March 30, 2014
Thursday, March 27, 2014
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BY CAROLYN O'NEIL - FOR THE AJC
The arrival of spring in Atlanta with happy daffodils popping up and pink blossoms budding on trees is even more wonderfully welcome this year after shivering through an unusually icy cold winter. Restaurant menus are showing signs of springtime, too.
“Artichokes are starting to arrive, and we’re so excited to see asparagus, which is a really good price right now,” says E.J. Hodgkinson, executive chef of JCT Kitchen and Bar. The bar menu gets a spring makeover, too, with floral notes such as a touch of St. Germain elderflower liqueur in a tequila and grapefruit cocktail.
STEAL: A steamed artichoke with lemon will keep you svelte and only cost 55 calories. Zero fat grams, hello!
Just as you want to keep a cozy sweater or light jacket handy — braised lamb shanks, slow-cooked stews and hearty soups are still appreciated with the chilly temps of March. But there’s a seasonal menu change in motion as we move closer to April.
“I’m really tired of root vegetables,” says Daniel Porubiansky, chef partner of Century House Tavern in Woodstock. Porubiansky, who’s participating in Downtown Woodstock’s Restaurant Week (which runs through March 30), serves seared halibut on a bed of sauteed baby sweet peas, artichokes and fava beans. “I season them with what I call my magic herb mixture of fresh rosemary, thyme and parsley.”
For vegetarians and pasta lovers, also on the spring menu at Century House Tavern: gnocchi with artichokes, sweet peas and mushrooms.
The Italian word for spring is primavera and you’ll find Arroz Primavera on the menu at Eclipse di Luna — a pretty dish of spiced basmati rice with wild mushrooms, red pepper, green beans and spring peas sauteed in basil butter.
Sweet taste of spring
Another sign of the warming times is just-picked strawberries. The Century House Tavern’s dessert menu features the sweet spring crop in a strawberry shortcake and creme caramel with strawberry compote. Porubiansky says, “I like Florida strawberries better than California because they’re a deeper red color and taste more like a strawberry. In two weeks, we’ll start seeing them from South Georgia.”
Spring into good nutrition
Artichokes are rich in bone-building magnesium, immunity-boosting vitamin C and as much heart-healthy potassium as a small banana.
Asparagus spears are a good source of the heart-healthy B-vitamin folate, as well as vitamins A, C, E and K.
Fava beans are an excellent source of vegetable protein with 13 grams of protein per cup and a good source of iron and dietary fiber.
Green peas are a good source of folate, vitamin K, vitamin C, dietary fiber and vegetable protein with 8 grams of protein per cup.
Strawberries are very low in calories with only 50 calories per cup. And did you know that a serving of eight strawberries provides more vitamin C than an orange? Sweet.
Carolyn O’Neil is a registered dietitian and author of “Southern Living: The Slim Down South Cookbook.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Time is ripe for strawberry season
One of the early signs that spring is around the corner is the peak of the Florida strawberry crop. That time is now. I really like the flavor and the deep color of the Florida strawberry.
They are in abundance now at stores such as Publix, BJ’s, Aldi, etc. I use these same stores when purchasing my strawberries, as I get to pick the ones I like the best.
This recipe reminds me of my childhood, as it was my father’s favorite dessert. It’s a fairly easy recipe that you can do at home. We make ours with pound cake, the best baker’s pairing for this crop.
This is always a hit when we serve it as a special at our restaurant.
(This recipe serves 6-8 people.)
* 9x5 pan
* ½ lb. butter (softened)
* 1 ½ cups sugar
* 3 whole eggs
* 2 cups cake flour (sifted)
* ½ tbsp. baking powder
* ¼ tsp. salt
* ½ cup milk
* 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
* Grated zest of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour your cake pan. In a mixer, on high speed, beat butter, sugar, salt, vanilla and lemon zest until fluffy (approximately 3 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time until fully incorporated. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add milk. Steadily add sifted flour and baking powder until fully incorporated (do not over mix). Transfer mixture into baking pan and place on center rack of oven for approximately one hour (all ovens are different, it could require more/less time but a tooth pick should come out of the center clean when finished. Remove from oven, let rest 10 minutes, and remove from pan and let rest on wire rack until cool. The cake can be made a day ahead of time.
Strawberry Compote Ingredients:
* 2 quarts Florida strawberries (washed, topped, and quartered)
* 1/3 cup of sugar
* 1/3 cup of water
* Juice of the zested lemon from above
In a medium pan over medium heat, combine ½ of the strawberries and all remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, blend immediately, and pour the juice over the remaining raw strawberries. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on counter until cool. Refrigerate at least one hour prior to serving. This can also be made a day ahead.
Whipped Cream Ingredients:
* ½ a quart of heavy whipping cream
* ½ cup powdered sugar
Combine the heavy cream and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl. Whip to a medium peak, remove from mixture and refrigerate until ready to use. I recommend whipping the cream the day you’ll be serving your dessert.
Read more: Cherokee Tribune - Time is ripe for strawberry season