Spring On The Flavor!

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Our viewing and listening area is an extraordinary environment for a multitude of reasons, and, the premise of my opinion is how we experience all four seasons like we do. I look forward to the change in our climate and all the sights and scents that accompany our springs, summers, falls and winters; however, as eagerly as I invite a season in I’m just as eager to see it go and wave on a new one. This latest winter did pack a punch and most of us had doubts not that spring would arrive, but, WHEN it would arrive!!! Postings on Facebook read, “go home Mother Nature…you’re drunk!” and displayed a teaser photo of a lush green meadow abundant with flowers and beaming rays of sunshine only to be followed by a JUST KIDDING photo of a blizzard.

Weather certainly affects our food by means of production, taste, price and/or availability. If a particular crop suffers effects of the climate, our desire to savor that flavor we love is quickly squelched. However, a true food connoisseur seizes an opportunity to try new foods that actually flourish when others do not.

I’ve come across several recipes, all by the same source, and all complement the next. Each recipe would be delightful throughout the year, but, a new season is upon us so shall we Spring On The Flavor…

Roasted Carrots with Cardamom Butter

4 teaspoons butter, melted

2 teaspoons oil

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

½ teaspoon salt

2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into ¼ inch thick slices

Directions: position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 450 degrees F.

Combine butter, oil, cardamom and salt in a medium bowl.  Add carrots and toss well to coat. Spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast the carrots, stirring twice, until tender and golden, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Grilled Potato Packets

2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed and cut into ¼ inch thick slices

3 medium shallots, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions: heat grill to medium-high.

Meanwhile, place potatoes, shallots, oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl; toss to coat. Place two 24-inch-long pieces of foil on the counter and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange potatoes and shallots in a single layer, slightly overlapping, on half of each piece of foil. Leave a 2 inch border on all sides. Fold foil over and pinch the edges together making two packets.

Place packets on the grill. Cover the grill and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Serve immediately.

Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

1 pound asparagus

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

½ teaspoon brown sugar

1 pound penne

¼ pound butter, cut into pieces

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Directions: heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and discard them. Cut the spears into 1 inch pieces. Put the asparagus on a baking sheet and toss with the oil and ¼ teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer until 3 tablespoons remain. Stir in the brown sugar and remaining ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Remove from heat.

Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling, salted water until just done, about 13 minutes. Drain the pasta and toss with the butter, vinegar, asparagus, Parmesan, and the remaining 1 ¾ teaspoon of salt. Serve with additional Parmesan.

VARIATION: Penne with roasted broccoli and balsamic butter.

*When asparagus is not in season, cut 1 pound of broccoli into small spears for roasting. Toss them with 2 tablespoons and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper and roast for about 15 minutes. Continue with step 2.

Raspberry-Cream Cheese Muffins

These muffins are terrific with fresh or frozen raspberries and add a sweet tang that blends flawlessly with the rich cream cheese flavor. Excellent choice for breakfast, brunch or after dinner.

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ of an 8-ounce container cream cheese with strawberries

2 beaten eggs

¾ cup milk

¼ cup of butter or margarine, melted

½ cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Powdered sugar (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Lightly grease eighteen 2 ½ inch muffin cups or line with paper baking cups; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl mix together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in to creation until the mixture resembles crumbs about the size of a pea. In a small mixing bowl combine eggs, milk, melted butter or margarine, and vanilla. Add all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened; batter will be lumpy.

Fold in fresh or frozen raspberries. Spoon into the prepared muffin cups, filling each two-thirds full. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans; cool slightly on racks. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Recipes courtesy of Cooking.com