Spring

151Green, white, brown, and blue are my favo combos – this combo is truly classic, season-less and timeless! If you are setting a winter tableaux, a summer soiree or an haute holiday spread, greens and whites with accents of blue and grounds of brown are always apropos.

For this verging vernal setting, daffodils, tulips, blue florets of rosemary and tiny candles in varying tiny sizes all conglomerated together on top of my great-grandmother’s silver tray. I love the complement of silver and wood – it is so handsome and the perfect grounding for any event. Mix in shades of green, creams and whites and pops of blue and your table is set!

Blue willow is a favorite pattern of mine. Mimi and Granddaddy spent the first years of their married life in Japan and I just wish they had brought back crates and crates full of, as Mimi says, “our everyday dishes – there were mounds of blue and white! Imari, Canton-ware, the like!!”

I love hearing their stories of occupied Japan and, yet, I cannot help but feel their love for that culture, their cherished honeymoon years in a foreign, romantic land, helped, somehow, someway, spawn my love of Japanese and Chinioiserie… from gardens to plates!

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grilledasparagusThis is the perfect time of year to serve fresh asparagus and one great method for cooking is an indoor grill pan.

I generally prefer the thin stalks for steaming and fat stalks for grilling, but use whatever you want – fat, thin, green or white. Choose bunches with tightly closed tips and no flowering.

Delicious asparagus depends on freshness and proper preparation. Pan grilling gives you slightly charred stalks with delicious brown spots that you get from roasting or barbecuing without having to heat up your oven or grill.

The lemon vinaigrette enhances the dish perfectly and adds to the bright fresh flavor of the asparagus.

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greens-kaleWe had a moment the other night, a unique event in the long history of the Tucker-Eikenberry alliance.

We had kale for dinner – just kale. That was dinner. It was an odd night, which could be said about a lot of nights these days. Our social engagement was a 5:00 to 7:00 kind of thing and we found ourselves back at the apartment around 7:30, our night done, with neither of us a thought in our head as to what to do next.

We didn’t want to go out again – although I heroically offered run up to the Peace Food Café on Amsterdam, Jill’s home away from home, for some take-out. “No,” she said. I’ll make some kale from Alison’s recipe.

“You’ll make?” I thought. This whole thing of Jill’s cooking is very new. There’s lots of territorial shit going down right now in the kitchen.

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lambchops.jpgThe flavors of the Mediterranean are an ideal match for preparing lamb. Rosemary and garlic are traditionally used in Greek and Italian cooking. I can't imagine not using them both when marinating meats, particularly lamb. It's great for either a leg of lamb for roasting or chops for grilling. The woody perfume of the rosemary permeates the meat, creating earthy flavor. Greek cuisine also utilizes lemons to add brightness to dishes. Here the lemon juice tenderizes the meat and brightens the flavor. Rosemary, garlic, and lemon are the triumvirate of Mediterranean cooking.

For grilling the lamb, I like loin chops, which look like little T-bones. Rib chops also work well for this recipe, but the loin chops offer more meaty flavor. For a healthy side, I pair the chops with a spinach salad that includes cherry tomatoes, salty Greek feta, and toasted pine nuts along with a simple vinaigrette. It's a great combination of flavors to pair with grilled lamb and it's perfect for a healthy lunch or dinner. With spring just around the corner, there's no better way to welcome it than with the bright flavors of the warm Mediterranean.

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mangos_013.jpgThere are two things in my world that tell me spring is officially here. One, the call of the loons wake me from my morning slumber as they float on the river just outside my window. That just happened Wednesday morning. Two, the small juicy yellow-skinned mangoes are ready to purchase by the case at my favorite little Asian market in Fargo. Done. Spring is here.

This year the mangoes are from Mexico and are called Adolfo (Ataulfo). I've seen some that look similar that are called Champagne mangoes. All I know for sure is that these small mangoes are the sweetest and juiciest I've ever tasted.

If the mangoes you bring home from the store look like the ones pictured above, let them sit out at room temperatue until the skins get all wrinkled with a few little brown spots. Then you will know the mangoes are sweet and ready to eat.

I decided to prepare a savory mango soup for a Caribbean-themed dinner I was planning to attend. To add some coconut flavor to the finished soup, I tried to recreate a coconut custard I recently tasted.

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