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May 30, 2014

Cooking 114 ~ Spring Has Sprung, The Morels Are Dead

My May cooking class was A Taste of Spring, so I have been busy making dishes using all the wonderful spring produce I could get my hands on. Asparagus mostly, but fennel, leeks, shallots, radishes, peas, carrots, rhubarb and strawberries. I was thinking if I could score some fresh morel mushrooms I'd be in spring heaven.

Hates Everything sends me a picture of the biggest,  fattest, prettiest morel I've even seen in years and asks, "Mom, what's this? They are all over in my yard."
"A gold mine!" I reply. "Pick em and save em for me."
"Can't, just mowed over them all. Hello? Mom? Mom, are you there? Is this another food emergency? Do I need to call 911 again?" 
Damn kids.
Here was the menu: 
Medley of Spicy Spring Vegetables

Grilled Lemon and Asparagus Pizzettes with Ricotta and Prosciutto

Fried Leek, Spring Peas and Artichoke Pesto Pizzettes
Messy looking, I know, but  remember, I'm working with amateurs that's how we like our pizza

Fennel-Leek Soup with Smoked Salmon and Creme Fraiche

Farfalle with Asparagus, Roasted Shallots, and Blue Cheese

Rhubarb-Strawberry-Mint Mojito Granita

My original thought was to make a cold asparagus soup, but since I was doing a spicy spring vegetable medley, which had asparagus in it, and a pasta with asparagus, I decided to nix the asparagus soup. Three asparagus dishes in one night would make everyone's pee stink for days and I just wasn't up for hate mail.
      So instead I decided on a hot soup, with fennel, leeks and potatoes. The recipe was from a 2007 Bon Appetit, which I changed up by adding more leeks and less potatoes. I also topped it off with a bit of creme fraiche. That, and the smoked salmon made it truly decadent.

Chef Tom, grilling the pizzettes
We grilled our pizzette crusts (small, individual pizza crusts) and grilled the lemons and asparagus. If you haven't tried grilled lemons you don't know what you are missing. If you can get your hands on Meyer lemons, they are perfect; sweeter with a softer skin than regular lemons. Since I live it Hickville and it's not Meyer lemon season, I went a hundred miles up the road and got me some baby lemons and although more tart than Meyers, they worked well.

Chef Kim....grilling the asparagus and frying up the leeks. 
I gotta tell ya, the grilled spring pizzas were wonderful! Everyone was a little skeptical about the grilled lemons, and also about putting peas on their pizzas, but they were great. Tom went a little crazy with the mozzarella on the leek/pea one, but we forgave him. Likewise with Kitt on the asparagus one. We all decided that too much grilled asparagus is a good thing.

The Pizza Nazi smiles for no one. So he said.

The soup was a hit even though a couple of the sous chefs, *coughKittEmilycough* don't really like fish but they rose to the occasion and tried the smoked salmon. Emily even had seconds...or thirds, but whos counting?
Chefs Vicki, Mary Jane and Brenda working the soup kitchen.
The pasta is a tried and true dish that I have been making for years. Roasted shallots, especially big roasted shallots are absolutely delish and stand up to the big strong blue cheese.

Chefs Kitt and Bridget, drinking cooking up a storm. Someone has to.

You can click here for the Fennel-Leek Soup or go to the "Soups & Salads" tab. Click here for the Pizzette recipes (or go to the "Misc Recipes" tab). Click here for Rhubarb-Strawberry-Mint Mojito Granita, or go to the "Desserts" tab. Definitely try the Mojito Granita. It's the best of both worlds, you can eat it and/or drink it.                                    
                       Brandy, put those scissors down! Get a knife!
The Sauce du Jour Culinary Institution - Where every crazy chef gets a sharp knife.

*Most of photos taken by SdJ brilliant photog, Kitt*

PRINT RECIPE:  Fennel-Leek Soup with Smoked Salmon and Creme Fraiche

PRINT RECIPE:  Grilled Lemon Pizzettes with Ricotta and Prosciutto  

PRINT RECIPE:  Fried Leeks, Spring Peas and Artichoke Pesto Pizzettes

PRINT RECIPE:  Rhubarb-Strawberry-Mint Mojito Granita 

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