Sheesh. Enough of winter, already. We’ve had our fill of rain, sleet and snow, so now it’s time to celebrate spring and all the bounty that comes along with it. So we’ve selected a few choice recipes from some of our left coast eateries — from Seattle to Santa Barbara — to get the spring fling rolling. After all, the West is blessed with some of the finest produce-growing regions in the world, so who better to lead us out of the dark? So say hello to spring. Boy, have we missed you.
Artichoke and Preserved Lemon Pesto
Chef Tom Dunklin, Three Degrees Waterfront Bar & Grill, Portland, OR
1 cup artichoke hearts, fresh, boiled and chopped (outer leaves and sharp tips trimmed)
2 tablespoons preserved lemon peel, chopped
1 tablespoon shallots, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon chives, chopped
1 tablespoon mint, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic confit
¼ cup pure olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a mixer and blend until smooth. Season with Tabasco, salt and white pepper. Serve with pasta, as a dip for flatbread, as pizza sauce, or brush on crostini and bake to enjoy with steamed clams or mussels.
Asparagus With Egg and Chorizo
Chef David Bazirgan, Dirty Habit (opening next month), San Francisco
(Check out David in action, creating this dish for a Tasting Table video!)
4 cups water
1½ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon white vinegar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons diced Spanish–style chorizo
1 tablespoon finely diced shallot
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1½ pounds fat asparagus, ends trimmed
Prepare an ice bath and set aside. In a medium saucepan over high heat, add the water, one teaspoon of the salt, the white vinegar, and the eggs. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and let stand for four minutes. Shock the eggs in the ice-water bath. Once the eggs are cool, peel and set aside.
In a medium bowl, smash the eggs into small pieces using the back of a fork, then stir in ¼ cup of the olive oil, red-wine vinegar, chorizo, shallot, pepper, and the remaining salt until well incorporated.
Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Toss the asparagus with the remaining two tablespoons olive oil and grill until cooked through and slightly charred (about two to three minutes on each side). Serve warm with the egg mixture spooned over the top. Serves four.
Raw Artichoke Salad With Parmesan
Chef Walter Pisano, Tulio, Seattle
Serves 4 people as a salad course
3 large artichokes (tightly closed, not browning)
2 tablespoons of sliced flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons shaved Parmesan
3 tablespoons fruity virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Fresh black pepper to taste
Have all of the above ingredients completed except the artichokes. To avoid discoloration, prep the artichokes when you’re about ready to serve.
Make sure you have a bowl of lemon water to start this process for the trimmed artichoke, prior to slicing. Cut off the artichoke stem and discard. Using a serrated knife cut one inch of the top of the artichoke. Bend the outer layers of leaves until they snap off close to the base (you may want to wear plastic gloves). Continue until you reach the pale yellow leaves with pale green tips.
Using a sharp knife, remove the remaining leaves flush with the top of the choke. Remove the purple leaves and the fuzzy choke with a spoon. During this process you must be rubbing the artichoke continuously with a lemon half. Then trim the remaining dark-green fibrous parts from the base and sides of the artichoke. Keep rubbing the choke with lemon juice. Place the artichoke in the lemon water and complete the process with the other artichokes.
Shave the artichoke as thinly as possible with a slicer or mandolin and toss immediately with shaved Parmesan, lemon juice, parsley and olive oil. Season with salt and fresh-ground pepper, and serve. Try it with grilled salmon, gravlax–style salmon or grilled beef. Serves four.
Grana Padano With Celery Heart and Sweet Pea Salad in Red Wine Vinaigrette
Chef Jason McClure, Sazerac, Seattle
Celery hearts from 3 bunches of celery (use the outsides for another application), leaves left whole, the stalks cut on the bias
2 pounds English peas, shucked and left raw
4 ounces Grana Padano or other hard aged-cheese, crumbled into thin, bite-sized pieces
salt and pepper to taste
Red Wine Vinaigrette:
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup of the best red-wine vinegar you can find
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup pure olive oil
whisk all ingredients together and set aside
To plate the salad, take a small ladle and create a small pool of the vinaigrette on each plate. Toss the celery hearts, English peas, Grana Padano, salt and pepper, and dress with remaining red-wine vinaigrette. Compose a small pile of all the ingredients in the center of each plate and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Sweet Pea Risotto
Chef Walter Pisano, Tulio, Seattle
1½ cups Arborio rice
1 teaspoon fresh mint, thinly sliced
1 white onion, finely diced
1 leek, finely diced
1 gallon vegetable stock
1½ cup blanched fresh peas
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons crescenza cheese
6 tablespoons olive oil
salt and white pepper to taste
In a heavy-bottomed saucepot, start heating four tablespoons of butter and add the diced white onion and leeks. Keep on a medium heat and stir constantly until they are soft. Add the rice and start toasting it. When this is done, begin to add the strained vegetable broth (which should be warm) by using a ladle of broth at a time and stirring with a wooden spoon. Continue to add the broth. When the risotto is almost done add the fresh mint and blanched peas and mix well. This process should use approximately four cups of broth. To test the risotto, take a little grain out and taste it; the rice should have a little crunch. If the risotto is too crunchy then continue to add broth, but in very small amounts at a time. When the risotto is done, finish with crescenza and season to taste, and place into serving bowls. Serves four.
Honey Lavender Crème Brûlée
Chef James Siao, Finch & Fork, Santa Barbara, CA
7½ ounces egg yolks (approximately 11 large egg yolks)
7 ounces granulated sugar
2 pounds heavy cream
½ ounce vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean)
12 sprigs fresh lavender
5 tablespoons honey
Granulated sugar, for the tops
In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and honey until light and fluffy. In a heavy-bottomed pot, combine the heavy cream and scraped vanilla bean and slowly bring to a boil. Temper the hot heavy cream into the egg mixture. Continue to whisk in the heavy cream until well combined. Add the lavender sprigs and let steep in the warm custard mixture for one to two minutes. Strain the mixture and remove the foam from the surface. Fill small custard molds or 5½-ounce-sized ramekins with 2.75 ounces (78 grams) of the mixture and place in a water bath. Bake in a 325-degree oven until firm (approximately 30 to 35 minutes). Refrigerate the baked custard until ready to serve. Immediately prior to serving, remove the custard from the refrigerator and sprinkle sugar on the surface. Using a broiler or torch, caramelize the sugar. Makes eight 5-ounce servings.