All of a sudden, it seems to be spring. Or at least a reasonable facsimile. Two weeks ago there was a foot of snow on the ground, today, nothing. A few tiny patches of ice left in the yard, and a small lump of dirty snow wherever the snow blower/plow piled it up. So, an end-of-the-season roundup seemed like a good idea. Although not much is actually growing in the ground yet, here in the Northeast, the greenhouses are being put into action on farms all around us, so soon our plates will be full of tender green beauty.
Citrus fruits are at their best in winter, and a very pretty way to enjoy them is a technique that looks tricky but really isn’t once you get going with it-supreming. You simply cut all the peel and pith off, and then carefully cut between the section membranes to release each section, over a bowl to catch them and all their juice. You can do this with any citrus fruit, although the very small ones would be a bit more fuss.
This is me cutting a grapefruit into supremes. If you have ever found grapefruit unpleasant or difficult to eat because of all the white pith and fibrous membrane that you get when you dig it out with a spoon, this technique is definitely for you. If you have ever resorted to buying already sectioned canned/jarred grapefruit, this is a lot cheaper, and contains no added sweeteners. Give it a try (or two) now, before your heart turns to thoughts of rhubarb, considered by many as the first “fruit” of spring, although not really a fruit at all.
Eating seasonally usually turns my thoughts to things that grow in the ground. But my exploration of seasonal eating expanded this year to include seasonal seafood. My inspiration was a Yankee Magazine cookbook I found at the grocery store, “Best New England Recipes: Homemade Favorites for Every Season”. The Winter section featured recipes using tiny bay scallops, mussels, and oysters, and it pointed me in the direction of sweet, little Maine shrimp, whose season is usually from December-February/March, but this year was much, much shorter, due to a late start and a sharply reduced catch limit (according to the seafood expert at the grocery store, really she was a fountain of information). But if you can find them, they are worth marking your calendar for; quite a different flavor than other shrimp I’ve tasted.
I made Maine Shrimp Puffs, and while any other tiny shrimp would be acceptable, the flavor profile of the batter really accentuates the sweetness of the Maine shrimp.
I have a confession to make. As an adventurous cook, I have dived into all manner of ethnic and regional cooking styles, tried all sorts of new ingredients that were foreign to me, and in my family’s journey to seasonal, local eating, I have cooked many fruits and vegetables that were new to me. But, as a transplanted Yankee, I am ashamed to admit that my passion for seeking out local food has somehow not included learning how to cook regional, authentic New England dishes, the stuff the intrepid souls who launched this grand experiment called America survived on, subsisted on, feasted on, lived on. Mind you, I know a good clam chowder when I see and taste one (no tomato), and I learned to demolish a lobster the first time I met my then-future inlaws (The Husband is a native of New England). My own culinary adventures, however, have not included preparing these meals in my own kitchen. Until now. Let these ramblings serve as introduction to my next great adventure: The Oyster.
Keep coming back for more. See you on The Road.