Vernal Equinox, the balance of day and night

That time has come to us once again.  The day and night find a balance.  We reemerge from the shadows to find the joys of lighter clothes, animals freaking and plants bursting forth with color and fragrance to relieve our tired winter senses.  Even for a crank like me, spring holds me in it’s spell.

Spring, most importantly, mean asparagus.  That complexly flavored veggie that only stays around for a few short weeks. But oh, what a glorious few weeks it is.  Rising out of the ground like a tiny chlorophyll packed tower just waiting to make you feel awkward about the way your pee smells in a public restroom.  Grilled, steamed or made into soup, bring it on till it runs dry.

asparagus

chilled asparagus soup with yogurt, meyer lemon and terragon swirl and fried tips and meyer lemon zest

chilled asparagus soup with yogurt, meyer lemon and terragon swirl and fried tips and meyer lemon zest

So, to you I say, happy spring.  It’s almost time to set aside root veggies and indulge in a sensuous new cooking season. May it bring you closer to nature in a way you never thought imaginable.

Big bird meet little bird

It all started with an emu egg.  So glorious in its aquatic toned speckles, it beckoned to me  and I was powerless to resist. I have a very special connection with Emu’s, this being the power animal of one of my favorite people on the planet. I had to make sure to take this product seriously, and well, not so seriously.  The balance of my relationship with my human Emu is just such.  We appreciate the vast and innumerable differences we have and yet these are the things that have kept us bonded and infatuated with each other over the years. Yes, I do refer to her as the Emu, please stop rolling your eyes.

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First off, when dealing with an egg of this size you get to use power tools to open it. This is always a bonus for me! I debated with my culinary colleagues about the best process for opening this treasure and being the male dominated brains they are they opted for tools that would give me straight edges to work with.  Dremel was first choice for them but I opted for a simpler technique of drilling a series of holes and then just cracking it open to obtain a more jagged appearance in the finished product.  Now, what to make?  So much egg to deal with.

I ran through all the potentials in my head of mousse, baking a soufflé in the actual shell, poaching one giant egg… but when it came down to it pasta was the best choice.  Yes, another post about pasta.  Sorry.  Why pasta though? Cause what else would look more like a nest? and why not pair it with quail to add humor and tastiness to the project? So this silliness was born:

a posse of quails, chill in

a posse of quails, chillin, pre seasoning.

coriander grilled quails in and emu tagliatelle nest
coriander grilled quails in an emu tagliatelle nest

Now for the more serious side of this project.  Quail has always been a fond meat for me and pairing it with dark fruits like cherries or plums really makes me happy.  Here in Cali we are still months away from these fruits so I purchased dried santa rosa plums and soaked them for a few hours in a port wine bath.  I pulled the meat off the little birds, pureed the plums and mixed them together to stuff some emu raviolis and then finished the dish with a  sauce beurre blanc studded with port poached plums and garnished with fennel frond.

Emu egg ravioli stuffed with coriander grilled quail and port poached plums

 

human size portion

human size portion

the bloody rose has no thorns

I fell in love with panna cotta long ago.  The silkiness of this dessert is heaven to me.  Texture, texture, texture.  One of my favorite things about eating.  For my 30th birthday my husband took me to Michael Mina’s in San Francisco. I had a sea urchin panna cotta that transported me to another world. I closed my eyes and felt as if I were walking on the ocean.  It was one of those moments with food that was so powerful that to this day I can recall it with almost perfect clarity.

A few weeks ago we ate at AQ and had a palate cleanser of rose panna cotta that left me aching for more.  It pulled at my longing for summer gardens and that heady fragrance of rose in the air and the droning of bees working their pollinating magic.  So the only logical thing to do of course was to come home and recreate that magic.

I just took a basic panna cotta recipe using Straus milk and cream.  Instead of adding vanilla I used a tablespoon of rose water.  Let the silky love unfold! I also made a blood orange sauce to accompany it, the citrus lends a beautifully clean finish on the palate.

natures glistening jewel

natures glistening jewel

 

one of a kind design, especially for me, by the lovely and talented Anna Payden.

one of a kind design, especially for me, by the lovely and talented Anna Payden.

rose panna cotta with blood orange sauce and jasmine blooms

rose panna cotta with blood orange sauce and jasmine blooms

floating in a sea of blood

floating in a sea of blood