Spoony Sundays #4

Easter is early this year. I barely noticed Palm Sunday creeping up on me until this morning, ushered in by the kids at church swishing green palm fronds in the air as they passed me in the aisles.

Usually, Easter brings a slight renovation of my taste buds (not to mention my health — cheap chocolate and hot crossed buns, anyone?) But an early, wintry Easter like this year’s has caused a tangle in the cravings department. Easter is a fresh green season — the joyous end to a sparse Lent, colour and springtime riding on the coattails of Holy Week. But when Easter sneaks up in March, divorced from new grass and sunshine, my associations get all mixed up. The gray skies and occasional snows taunt me with chili and hot chocolate, while the stores offer up impossibly green asparagus. The lilies look pretty, but out of place. Suddenly I realize how the supermarkets capitalize on the changes of seasons, and even our most beloved holy-days.

For this edition of Spoony Sundays, I followed a comment I received a few weeks ago on this blog. The commenter passed along a recipe for Greek Egg-Lemon Soup, or as we cultured folks might prefer to call it, Avgolemono. On our way to the grocery store however, I realized that I hadn’t copied down the recipe, let alone made a list. To save me from pure frustration upon returning home to cook the soup (“arghhhhh, we don’t have any garlic!?”), I dashed into the books section and grabbed a Reader’s Digest soup cookbook. There it was, my Avgolemono staring out at me from the page with its spartan list of ingredients.

This soup’s velvety richness is enough to warm you through the last grips of winter, while splashes of lemon zest and delicate spinach begin to tickle your tongue with spring. This soup is surprisingly satisfying given its humble ingredients; it’s as lean as a broth soup but twice as filling. I’d never heard of a Greek soup before, and being a long-time admirer of their cuisine, I just had to give it a try.

There’s also a bit of magic in watching this soup come together. Just when you think that all you’ve got in your pot is another boring broth, you whisk in the egg and egg whites and an opaque stew emerges. I can say now that the Greeks succeeded not only at civilization, philosophy, and baklava, but some pretty great things in bowls too.

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munch the brunch

For some unknown reason, this past weekend’s food theme seemed to be brunch. Saturday night we had friends over and I made quiche — an unusual dinner choice for me that came to be for two reasons: pie crust waiting patiently in freezer + zippy beef chorizo from Sweet Grass Farm (Wendy Gornick again!) I’d been wanting to taste.

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This blog is definitely inspiring me to try new things. For me, meat is still somewhat of a “new thing.” The selecting and preparing of a good meat dish is a feat I’ve attempted only a handful of times, preferring instead to keep company with the other food groups. Plus, with the state of industrial farming I never really wanted to get to know those of the loin, rump, and thigh varieties. As I learn more about local and pasture-raised meat though, my interest in testing the waters beyond my little island of pseudo-vegetarianism is piqued. And in this weekend’s case, quiched.

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Quiche is one of those things that logically I should be gaga over, but in practice never crave, order, or make. It took a classic moment of hubby weakness for me to decide to turn my chorizo into a quiche — a harmless “I looooove quiche” uttered from his lips quickly translated in my brain as “must make quiche for man.” Call it some kind of primal nurturing impulse but I’m a softie when my man displays his food preferences. Call me old-fashioned; I see it as a renewable source of ideas. I free-styled the recipe, following one online for the baking times only.

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(hee hee, dessert delivers a sneak preview!) I paired My First Quiche with a salad of mixed greens, scallions, chopped figs, toasted almonds, and a vinaigrette that I’m definitely making my house dressing. We also had a baguette with basil olive oil and balsamic for dipping. And wine of course, to keep the French-o-meter high. The above pictures are of our dessert. Vanilla Bean ice cream with crushed key-lime-macadamia-nut-cookies (given to us as a hostess present), lime zest, and whipped cream.

To add to the brunch theme, our mid-Sunday was spent celebrating friends’ immanent elopement (is that a word?) over the perfect Blueberry Baked French Toast. As if our host hadn’t already outdone herself, there were hash browns, salads, baked goods, an asparagus fritatta, mimosas, and a loose tea bar. The bride to be brought delicate little cupcakes iced with (I think!) lemon cream. It was a sunny day and I felt the antsyness of spring begin to bubble inside me. It must’ve been the tulips, competing with the cupcakes for attention on the coffee table.

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