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Sunday, May 23, 2010

when you begin to believe summer will come...

strawberries + blueberries make a summery snack in the garden
no strawberries are ready yet this far north - these came from italy and the blueberries from spain
yesterday was the first glorious sunny day of the late spring. it almost made us believe in summer. we took full advantage, spending the entire day outdoors in one form or another - from a lunchtime picnic on the lawn to hanging up a swing to getting out the iron garden "couch" and pillows and having a little afternoon snooze with birdsong accompaniment. an easy, springy fish dinner with new potatoes and white asparagus.
a summer picnic consisting of sandwiches with paté and some with tuna
homemade rhubarb syrup* mixed into a cool drink.
and a danish summer diary treat - koldskål with crunchy müsli ton top
although i bought my koldskål (literally translated: cold bowl) in the grocery store, it is possible to make it and it's wonderful when you do, but the organic one we can buy here in the store is so yummy i took the easy route.

koldskål

1 liter (quart) buttermilk
1 C yogurt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla (or one vanilla bean, scraped with a knife) for the pretty little black flecks)
1/2 C sugar
juice of half a lemon

whir it all up in a blender. you can add a handful of strawberries to the blender if you have some. otherwise, serve it with some sliced strawberries. what's traditional is little round, hard cookies called kammerjunker. but a homemade or store-bought müsli is just fine to sprinkle on the top. here we even have one that's specifically for koldskål
a light late spring almost summer dinner.
kuller (in the cod family) fish with homemade bread crumbs on top
new potatoes with butter
white asparagus on a bed of fresh spinach & the first of the garden onions

easy cod with homemade breadcrumbs

4-6 fish filets with the skin still on (any fish will do - ours was kuller, which is a member of the cod family)
5-6 slices of day-old, slightly hard bread (i used some of my homemade focaccia)
seasoning salt of your choice (i used a cajun one)
knob of cold butter

whir the bread, butter and seasoning together in your food processor on pulse until they are large, chunky crumbs, but not totally pulverized. dip the fish filet (just the fish side, not the skin side) in egg, then lay it, skin side down in an oven-ready dish that you've brushed with a little olive oil and sprinkle the bread crumbs on top. pop it in the oven for 20 or so minutes at 175°C/350°F. you can turn on the grill at the end to get the bread crumbs nice and toasty.

a bruschetta starter with tomatoes that are starting to taste of something again.
i served a little bruschetta starter - drizzling some of yesterday's focaccia with olive oil and a bit of prima donna (salty aged gouda) over the top and giving it a little toast in the oven. meanwhile, i diced some tomatoes, threw in a few mint leaves (it's what i had and gave a more spring-like tone than basil, but use what you have), a clove of garlic, salt, pepper and a drizzle of good olive oil.

the meal, all plated up - with a bit of creme fraiche dressing at twelve o'clock.
i know white asparagus is considered a real delicacy, but i'll admit to you that i prefer green any day. the fat little stems, intentionally starved for sun just don't do it for me, but it came in our box this week, so i decided to give it another chance. the skin on white asparagus is awfully tough, so you have to carefully peel it off with a vegetable peeler. i'd advise you to do it against a cutting board and not trying to hold it, as it will be less likely to break the asparagus that way. after it's peeled, it just needs 4-5 minutes of steaming and it's ready. i put it together with the following spinach dish and that made it better.

fresh spinach with onions & breadcrumbs

1 large bag of spinach - carefully rinsed and the big stems discarded
1 small onion, thinly sliced
handful of bread crumbs (i had some left from the fish)
knob of butter
olive oil
salt & pepper

melt the butter and olive oil together in a large pan - a wok is ideal, because the spinach seems like a LOT at the beginning (it wilts down to nothing quickly). throw in the onions and sauté them. these were fresh, spring ones (without being spring onions), so they didn't take long. add the bread crumbs and toast them a little bit before adding the rinsed spinach. keep stirring. the spinach will wilt and you'll be very surprised how little there is. when it was done, i placed it in a bowl and arranged the white asparagus on top with a little pat of butter on it. the spinach definitely made the asparagus more of a delicacy. 

served with simply boiled new potatoes and a creme fraiche to which i had added the cajun seasoning i was using completed this springy, almost summer meal.

* i'll be doing an all rhubarb post in the near future, but to tide you over, i've done a rhubarb cocktail over here and it tells how to make the syrup.

6 comments:

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

It all looks so delicious.
And exactly like summer.

Elizabeth said...

Delicious white aspharagus, I know you don't care for them too much but I would do anything if I could get my hands on them.

Lisa-Marie said...

I want to eat everything in your pictures!

Anne said...

I LOVE the look of those berries. I just got the first really good blueberries of the season, and I couldn't stop eating them. So, so good.

As for the white asparagus: I suppose I don't like them as much as the green ones, either, but I still have a soft spot for them. They bring back dear memories of France and Germany, and for that I can't not love them.

Your caption for the bruschetta--tomatoes that are starting to taste of something again--made my day. :)

ewix said...

Summery and gorgeous!
The top photo stuns!

Bee said...

I want to dive into that picture of summer berries! Today, I bought some English strawberries. It's not as warm as it was as the beginning of the week, true, but it does feel (finally) like summer will come.

I look forward to trying the koldskål. Thanks so much for sharing a Danish specialty.

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