I am excited to team up with Vinland Restaurant as a part of their guest chef pop up series. Vinland is owned and operated by David Levi who has boldly crafted a menu that reflects the Maine landscape. With the exception of some beverages, all the ingredients used for the menu are sourced from Maine. There's no simple salad dressings made with olive oil, no last minute squeezes of lemon juice to add just the right pop, and certainly no waiter coming over to see if you want black pepper freshly ground over your pasta.
Maine is experiencing a late spring, so, while many parts of the country are enjoying seasonal ingredients like asparagus, fiddlehead ferns, nettles, peas, and ramps, we are still waiting for the finally few feet of snow to melt and the grounds to thaw. Thankfully there are many farmers who planted spinach in their greenhouses last fall and allowed this hardy green to sit back and enjoy the long cold winter.
If somewhere there's a list of "must learn" side dishes, then this one is surely on it. Thinly sliced garlic, lightly toasted in butter and rich olive oil coat the spinach, offering a palate pleasing combination of flavor.
Scallops are sweet and succulent and are best served lightly cooked or marinated "ceviche" style. The recipe below incorporates crisp raw vegetables, salty miso, and sweet/tart oranges for a well balanced dish that is light and refreshing, yet totally satiating.
I've recently fallen in love with preserved lemons and have been incorporating them into my meals as much as possible. If you've never had preserved lemons before, they are best described as mildly tart, but intensely lemony. As the salt draws out the tartness, it enhances the lemon flavor which combines well to traditional African or Indian meals where it is commonly used.
This classic spring recipe pairs the sweetness of strawberries with fresh, crisp spinach. A light sherry vinaigrette adds just the right pop of flavor that is balanced with the fatty additions of avocado and sharp goat cheese.
Although I am far from a raw foodist, there are many elements of the diet that I still utilize often. This raw soup draws inspiration from my years exploring the art of not cooking features the versatile avocado and fresh overwintered spinach which is well received come April in Maine. The addition of spinach adds a beautiful vibrant color and pairs well with ripe avocado. This simple, yet satiating soup takes minutes to prepare, is light on the body, and is quite refreshing.
For the past month our kitchen has seen a lot of small, oily fish. With the onset of spring, our diet sees a natural shift. As storage vegetables run low, so do our cravings for red meat and slow cooked preparations. To assist our cravings for lighter meals and simple sources of proteins, Camille and I have been adding in a lot of sardines and other canned fish to the mix.
This recipe is for all the burger fans who are looking to "beef" up the flavor of their favorite burgers. Mincing the olives, garlic, and herbs adds a nice Mediterranean flare that comes through the smokiness of the cooked burgers.
As I anxiously await a visual of bare ground, I can't help but think of all the new ways I want to use the first few edible plants that will soon be available. A seasonal favorite, nettle chimichurri is a welcomed addition to our dinner table as well as fresh dandelion greens, which in the early part of spring, lack the intense bitterness that comes later in the season.
Yesterday I woke to the sound of my son asking for bread. Since we don't normally have bread in the house it meant he wanted me to bake a loaf of bread. When my little foodie has a request, it's not always easy to get out of it. So, I rummaged through my book of recipes and deciding to whip up a batch of sticky buns. Coincidentally, sticky buns are a celebratory spring dish and since the equinox was just a day away, it felt like the perfect time to bake up these delicious treats.