The spring has started wet and cool here. Although the weather isn’t spring-like, the produce in the markets screams spring. The main reason we come to Paris at this time of the year is to eat white asparagus. These beauties were displayed with a bulb of new garlic.
White asparagus must be peeled and trimmed before cooking, and if they are thin there is nothing left, so we always buy big, fat ones. My husband has become an expert at peeling them, leaving no coarse strings behind. White asparagus must also be cooked until tender, not crunchy, and this takes time, depending on their thickness and age it can take 20 minutes or more. Simmer them in salted water with a pinch of sugar. Test the asparagus at the thick end, I often insert a cake tester from the cut end, the whole length of the spear, if there is no resistance, I know they are ready. Drain them on a towel before serving. For our first meal we devoured them with hollandaise and slice country ham.
The tight buds open up to reveal lighter coloured flowers that become paler as they age. I am not sure why, but peonies always make me joyful. So even as the rain falls, and the temperature barely edges into double digits I’m smiling.
As I like to complain about the weather I must tell you all how wonderful the weather has been for the last week – warm and sunny. It was warm enough to have our family Easter lunch on the deck, now that’s a first for Toronto. It was wonderful to sit outside and the suckling pig was delicious.
I didn’t bother with an appetizer. Instead I sliced up some of the wonderful dried sausages that the folks at Blackberry Farm sent me. What I like about their sausages, apart from the great flavour and all the fat they have is their texture – its dry and chewy. By dry I don’t want you to think the sausage tastes dry, it doesn’t, it’s the texture on the tongue, perhaps aged is a better word. It’s hard to find sausages like it outside of France, on this side of the pond dried sausages always taste too fresh.
Pork sausage, suckling pig, Berkshire pork chops and sauerkraut, there has been a lot of pig in my life over the last week. I love pork but I am taking a break. Spring is the season for lamb and I have a whole lamb neck and kidneys in my refrigerator and I’m hoping to get some lamb tripe. If this weather continues I’ll grill those kidneys outside.
Watch for the title of my next post to be lamb, lamb and more lamb.
Yes I know it’s not officially spring yet, but we have switched to summer time and the weather here is glorious. It’s warm, 15 C and everyone has emerged onto the streets. Neighbours are cleaning up their gardens and we’ve even hauled our plants outside to give them some fresh air. The fig tree has woken up to the longer hours of sunlight and is sprouting leaves. It is still cool at night but if it stays above freezing we’ll leave it, the bay trees, the olive and the lemon out on the deck. The forecast for the rest of the week is good, so all of us who are stuck in Toronto are not complaining. We’re happy we didn’t spend the money to fly to south for spring break.
The fig tree is happy too. There are already a couple of figs swelling, so if I can fight off that pesky squirrel I might be in for a good harvest this year.
Alas there is a blip on the horizon – snow flurries are predicted for next week.
Saturday was beautiful, warm, well 12C, and sunny. I spent a lot of the day outside, repotting plants and cleaning up the garden. I moved all my plants out onto the deck yet one more time. There was even pale pink hothouse rhubarb in the market – spring was here.
I made two desserts, a pavlova with poached rhubarb and a recipe that Mary, a writer from Ireland, sent me – an upside down cake made with a scone dough, both were simple and delicious.
Today winter is back, no sun and a bitter wind. Worse still it is going below zero tonight so I’ll be hauling all those plants back inside. I know it is only March but this winter has been so long I really want spring to arrive.
I am slowly catching up after 5 days in New York, more about that trip soon. First I have to finish my taxes – now that is a harbinger of spring.