Robin Anish | The Table is Set: Treats from the garden — already!

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Happy May Day!

Despite the chilly, rainy weather, I've already been able to harvest enough from my garden to do a little cooking.

To my delight, the first thing I spotted in the garden this year was a large bright green clump of chive. With their delicate onion flavor, chives complement eggs, potatoes, dips, spreads and vegetables. Mince and blend into softened butter and smear over grilled steak or use anywhere you might use garlic butter.

An overabundance of chives is never a problem, I'll just make a batch of chive pesto. Once chives flower, make use of the edible blossoms. Separate the tiny flowers and sprinkle over salads. Steep blossoms in vinegar to make a flavorful pink vinegar. If you love a savory martini, infuse gin with blossoms to add a delicate hint of onion.

CHIVE PESTO

INGREDIENTS:

1 large garlic clove

1/4 cup slivered almonds

2 cups chopped fresh chives

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Pulse the garlic and the almonds in a small food processor until finely chopped.

Add the chives and lemon juice. Pulse until finely chopped. Stream in the olive oil until the pesto is smooth.

Add Parmesan and pulse until blended. Add salt to taste. If pesto is too thick, add a bit more olive oil.

Toss with pasta, blend into salad dressings and dips, use as a spread or to flavor fish and chicken dishes.

***

The rhubarb is producing and, while not enough for a pie yet, there are enough small stalks to make a batch of muffins.

PISTACHIO RHUBARB MUFFINS

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups all-purpose flour

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3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup sour cream

5 tablespoons butter, melted

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 1/2 cups of 1/4-inch-diced rhubarb

1/2 cup chopped pistachio nuts

Topping:

3 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

DIRECTIONS;

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with baking cups.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.

In a separate bowl, whisk together sour cream, melted butter, eggs, vanilla and lemon zest until smooth.

Stir the sour cream mixture into the dry ingredients with a spatula until the batter is just blended; do not over mix.

Gently fold in rhubarb and nuts. Divide the batter among the muffin cups.

Stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle a 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture over each muffin.

Bake the muffins until they're golden brown and a pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.

My early harvest also includes sprigs of oregano and mint, so I'll be making marinara sauce and a hot cup of fragrant mint tea!


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