Monday, April 18, 2011

7 Ways to Celebrate Spring

      1.  Fresh Lemonade
               Does that remind you of summer, not spring?
               Our little lemon tree says wrong- the season is now.
               It is loaded down with lemons.

We put some mint & fresh thyme in there, 
following the Shaker Style instructions of my Country Breakfasts book.
(One of my favorite cookbooks of all time.)

      2.  Carrot Cake
              Yes please!  This cake recipe is SO good.

I tried this Rachel Ray recipe here.
Does anyone know why she says to let the layers sit for 24 hours?  
I don't get why.  But, I do know the cake is super tasty.

My second attempt at rosy top cake wasn't a whole lot better.
But, I am loving the haphazard prettiness.

       3.  Champagne
               Just the husband & I.  Kids didn't get to join in on this one.
               I love champagne...

       4.  Dine Al Fresco
pizza on the lawn

       5.  Flowers
                Spring flowers are my fave.  My viburnum is blooming. 

          6.  Iced Hibiscus Tea
                   Maybe that's summery?  But, the color seems celebratory, regardless.


                7.  Fresh Pea Soup with Minted Cream
                           It can be hard to find fresh English Peas.
                           But, now is the season.  Try the Farmer's Market.
                           Or, Trader Joe's has bags of shelled ones.
                           That's what I used.  Easy peasy.
                           This recipe is from a cookbook.  Argh!
                           Wish I could just be lazy & give a link.
                            Thankfully, it is short & sweet.

Fresh Pea Soup with Minted Cream
from Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison
(I'm using my own words here, though)

To make the stock, pretty much put green salad in a big pot.

pour water on that & bring to a boil.

More specifically
3 lbs. Fresh Peas in the pods  *
1 Carrot, peeled & chopped **
1 Celery stalk, chopped
10 Lettuce leaves
1 bunch Green Onions, chopped
1 Bay Leaf
1 1/2 tsp. Salt 
7 c. cold Water

Shell peas & use 2 - 3 cups of the pods, chopped up, for the stock.  
Set aside all the peas for later.
Throw all this stuff in your pot & bring to a boil.  
Then lower the heat & simmer for about half hour.
Strain the liquid.  Compost all those slimy veggies.

Now for the soup.
3 Tb. Butter
4 Shallots, Thinly Sliced
3 lbs of Peas (you already shelled these when you made the stock)
1/2 tsp. Salt
Pepper to taste

Melt the butter in your soup pot with 1/2 cup of stock.  
Add the shallots & gently stew for about 5 minutes.
Set aside a couple handfuls of peas for later.
Add the rest to your soup & cover with stock.
Bring to boil.  
Simmer until the peas are tender, but still bright green.
If you still have more stock to add, pour it in & blend the soup.
(If you have an immersion blender, that is best.  
Moving into a blender can be messy & dangerous when the soup is hot.)
Season with salt & pepper.

Bring some water to a boil in a small pot 
& cook those two handfuls of peas you set aside.

Now - whip 1/3 cup of heavy cream into soft peaks.
Chop a handful of fresh mint & stir it into the cream.

Ladle the soup into your bowls.
Put a spoonful of mint cream o the top.
Sprinkle with a few whole peas.

(This makes about 4 big bowls worth)

*If you get the English peas from Trader Joe's, use two bags.
For the pods that go in the stock, I just threw in old sugar peas I had.
**I ended up using all my carrot for the cake.  I put turnip in the stock instead.

Stocks are flexible.  But, this soup is "delicate" in flavor.  
So, don't add anything too powerful.


linking up at Heather's for a Life Made Lovely


Vicki said...

What beautiful pictures--and your soup looks yummy!! I can't believe you have lemons on your trees and flowers in full bloom! I'm guessing you are not writing from Wisconsin (we are expecting a blizzard this week!).

Erin Adams said...

true, Vicki! Spring looks different in California than Wisconsin! Hang in there, through the blizzard!

Four Flights said...

you have viburnum? So jealous :) those are beautiful!

Stephanie said...

I think your rosy top cake looks worthy of Martha Stewart magazine. Gorgeous! Is it cream cheese frosting?

Erin said...

Andrea - Yes! My husband got me a Viburnum plant shortly after we moved in. I am so in love.
Thank you Stefanie. :) It IS cream cheese frosting. Do you like that kind? (I know you said you don't usually like frosting. Maybe you haven't had the really good stuff. Italian Buttercream?)