While winter produce across much of the country, grows admittedly bleak, the options available in California can leave us feeling very lucky to call this state home. January is all about citrus and I encourage you to venture beyond the familiar oranges and lemons and experiment with more esoteric varieties. If you've been enjoying Satsumas and Clementines, seek out the Page & Pixie Mandarins for eating out of hand. As Valentine's Day approaches, compose a salad with an assortment of red fruits: Cara Cara Navels, Rio Red grapefruits and Blood Oranges would look lovely offset by pomegranate seeds and crisp, refreshing fennel. For a sophisticated cocktail, incorporate the zest or juice of Bergamots, Buddha's Hands or Sweet Limes. Consider replacing the vinegar in a salad dressing recipe with an equal amount of any citrus juice. If you're lucky enough to have a tree producing any of these in abundance, making preserved lemons is a wonderful way to save the flavors to use all year long.
I'm giddy with the new array of fruits and vegetables hitting the markets and cannot wait to share some new and possibly, surprising recipe ideas with you, this season. Fruit is sweet and delicious, when eaten out of hand but can exhibit a wonderful transformation when heated or cooked. The sugars caramelize and a deeper, sometimes hidden level of flavor, emerges. You will notice fruits used in savory applications on several menus this month. Otherwise, look for some richly flavored salad recipes and lighter, faster-cooking recipes, overall.
July is the time to relish tomatoes, corn, stone fruits and berries. Enjoy!
The sunny days of April welcome the bright, new flavors of spring. Vibrant, verdant herbs and greens are sprouting and asparagus, artichokes and strawberries are in their prime. Keep an eye out for two of my favorite distinctive spring crops: green garlic and ramps. Both are in allium family (the onion and garlic family) but have a more delicate flavor then their root vegetable counterparts. I often use green garlic raw and ramps, just slightly cooked and I encourage you to substitute them in place of onions and garlic to give your recipes a distinctive spring flair.
Spring cooking is for the most part, faster, lighter and brighter than winter recipes. Vegetables require quick, gentle cooking to soften their texture and evoke their full flavors, while a larger variety of fruits are coming into bloom.
March is a transitional month as we bid adieu to winter and welcome the bright new flavors of Spring. Recent rains have delayed some crops but will also lead to some greens, sprouting early. Delicious, local Delta Asparagus will debut in the middle of the month and strawberries will start to shine near the end of the month. In crafting the menus for March, I gave a last hurrah for some of my favorite and most popular Winter recipes and crafted new dishes that welcome the fresh flavors of Spring.