The return of warm weather brings a bright rainbow of fruits and veggies to farmers markets — and why not celebrate the season with all the pretty pink produce first? Strawberry-rhubarb is a classic combo for a reason (hello, deliciousness!), but its season is fleeting. Try it in these desserts before spring is over.
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The parsnip is a root vegetable related to both carrots and parsley (and, come to think of it, don’t the tops of carrots look a lot like parsley?). Parsnips are shaped much like carrots, a bit wider at the base, with a creamy yellow-beige skin and interior. They should be smooth, hard and free of soft spots or sprouts, and are best when harvested young so they don’t develop a woody core.
Sunny skies call for bright and merry desserts. Chocolate and caramel are survival mechanisms for winter, but they’re not necessary when all you need is a light spring jacket outside. So bring on the tart fruits and dreamy meringues. Below are some of our prettiest spring treats. They’re all beautiful, and most are fun and easy to put together. (We’re looking at you, Easter dessert procrastinators.)
Naked cakes are all still in style this spring, and The Pioneer Woman’s four-layer beauty deserves the spotlight at your spring soiree. (No one has to know how easy it is to actually make.) Read more
This Sunday, amp up the cute factor and make an adorable sweet centerpiece for your spring feast. Admit it: A cake shaped like a bunny is just as exciting to you as it is for the youngest Easter egg hunters at the party. A cake is a cake, regardless of whether it’s topped with frosted biscotti ears. Whip out the icing and pastel candies for a dessert that is sure to make everyone smile. Here are some of our happiest recipes that are almost too cute to eat.
It’s officially spring and Easter is right around the corner, which probably means that finding a carrot cake recipe is on your to-do list this week. Let’s face it: Carrot cake plus cream cheese frosting is the season’s best combination. Whether you’re looking for a classic two-tier beauty or a fun twist on the classic, we’ve got you. Below are some of our favorite ways to incorporate the bright orange veggie into dessert.
Carrot Cheesecake (pictured above)
If you believe that cream cheese frosting is the best part of any carrot cake, you’d probably agree that it makes perfect sense to replace it with a thick layer of creamy cheesecake. Do yourself — along with your lucky friends and family — a favor and make this showstopping mash-up dessert.
Hearty winter produce will always have a place in our kitchens, but the best part of spring’s arrival is the sudden abundance of fresh greens and delicate strawberries — a stark contrast from last season’s heavy tubers and tart citrus. Sadly, there is one downside: The window for spring fruits and vegetables is fleeting, with many of the season’s popular items peaking now and fading out of the spotlight as early as late April or May. That’s all the more reason to head to the farmers market and get cooking, we think.
Here are seven in-season produce picks you should be taking advantage of right now:
Food Network Magazine’s Spring Peas with Dates and Walnuts features three varieties of in-season peas: English peas, snow peas and sugar snap peas. For a festive spring side, blanch the peas to bring out their vivid green color, then toss them with walnuts, dates and sauteed shallots.
Rutabagas (sometimes called swedes in parts of the world) are fairly similar to turnips, with a slightly bitter flavor and a yellower interior. They are actually a cross between turnips and cabbage, and this is evident in the flavor, which is a bit milder than a turnip’s when raw, and buttery and sweet-savory, though still a bit bitter (kind of like a Yukon gold potato on steroids), when cooked. They are large and round, with a thick, smooth, hard skin that needs to be peeled before eating, and should feel heavy for their size. The leaves can also be eaten, prepared in the same way as turnip tops or other hearty greens. Read more
OK, so technically spring doesn’t start until Sunday, but for the sake of that “spring forward” business we dealt with last week, let’s just assume that we’re already in the next season. Along with longer days and warmer weather (hopefully coming soon), spring brings with it a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, from strawberries to bright peas and onions. As you peruse your local farmers market or browse the aisles of your grocery store, look for stalks of rhubarb; it’s a seasonal spring pick that, while a bit bitter on its own, can be easily sweetened up in some classic desserts and pairs well with naturally sweet fruits, like those fresh strawberries. Read on below to check out some of the best ways to put rhubarb to work.
Like many people, I belong to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. What this means is that I get a “share” of items from a particular local farm, or group of farmers, every week, an assortment of seasonal produce (and occasionally other things, like honey or eggs). Every week is a bit of a surprise, though if you are familiar with what is in season in your area you’ll have some idea of what might be in the box.
There are lots of benefits to joining a CSA. You get to cook in tune with the seasons, you get products that are super-fresh and local, you get to support your area farms and you get inspired to try things you might not pick up in a supermarket. But with this last benefit can come a challenge: “What the $#@! do I do with this (fill in the blank)?” Even if you’re a seasoned cook, you may not have cooked with every ingredient that comes your way; or perhaps you have, but you need some new inspiration for that rutabaga/kohlrabi/chard/what have you. That’s what this column is for: to provide you with inspiration and recipes to make the most of your little farmers market in a box. Read more
Perpetually clad in his trademark overalls, white shirt and a red bowtie, Farmer Lee Jones is the iconic figure of his family’s 300-acre sustainable farm in Huron, Ohio. He, his father, Bob Jones Sr., and his brother, Bob Jones Jr., lead the team at The Chef’s Garden in pioneering the sustainable agricultural movement. The farm grows the best-tasting and most-nutritious specialty vegetables, herbs and micro greens in the world. The family lives by a commitment to produce food that looks good, tastes good and is good for you. Hear from Farmer Lee below about what farm-fresh ingredients he craves during the holiday season.
By Farmer Lee Jones
Fall Radish (pictured above): This is mild, slightly peppery with some sweet notes.