After our first trip to the Ballard Farmer’s Market on a lazy in-city Sunday, you would have found me in the kitchen inspired by ingredients from fine folks at Found and Foraged. Sure, you can grow kale all winter long here and we’ve been eating chard out of the garden, but there’s something about the exuberance of spring and the sudden rush of seasonal delicacies that makes me excited to cook again. And when that excitement is matched by fine weather and the ability to eat outside in our bloom-crazy garden, well, it hardly can be better.
While we’ve been having onsen feasts around here lately, this meal felt like the kick-off to the out-of-doors season at Gardnovsky Gardens— my favorite time of the year, when we’re eating mostly out of the garden and having lots of pleasant impromptu meals after bicycle rides with our pals.
This meal came together in about an hour, though admittedly our kitchen looked like hell by the time I was done, so if I was cooking for guests, a more reasonable two hours would have been nice to give the appearance of relaxation and ease. Still, with all these tender spring greens, it was all about quick cooking techniques, like blanching and adding butter for flavor!
Here’s the menu:
Pan-fried halibut with nettle cream
Fiddleheads and roasted wild mushrooms
Grilled asparagus salad
This is actually a very easy meal to duplicate: here’s how!
1. First of the season halibut is from one of the city’s best fish mongers, Mutual Fish. It’s on Rainier. Go there.
2. Boil a big salty pot of water. You need it to blanch the fiddle heads and nettles.
3. Turn your oven on to 400 and toss your cleaned mushroom and garlic in a bit of oil and start them roasting.
4. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, clean your potatoes and get them steaming. Eat some cheese.
5. Mash up some chives and other goodness into some butter. You’ll be using this to finish the fiddleheads.
6. Blanch the fiddleheads till they look bright green and are tender. Shock them in ice water. Eat some cheese.
7. Bring the water back up to boiling, and using tongs because you don’t want to touch them, blanch your nettles for 3 minutes, then shock those too in ice water.
8. Heat up your grill, heat up your cast iron pan as hot as you can get it with some oil/butter mix, and heat up some cream in a small sauce pan, and heat up a sauté pan with your chive butter!
9. Now that you have several hot pots about to happen, grab your wooden spoon and take a swig of wine because it’s about to get CRAZY!
10. Check your mushrooms. Eat some cheese.
11. Blanched nettles into cream, add a bit of salt and puree in a food processor or blender. Nettle Cream DONE!
12. Fish in the pan, making lots of smoke! When it’s seared and crisp on one side, flip it. Our inch thick halibut only took about 6 to 8 minutes to be very crisp on the outside but quite nice on the inside. You ought to see the halibut getting a bit flaky and definitely white on the inside.
13. Toss the fiddleheads in the warm butter and stir in the hot pan for just a couple minutes. Add the roasted mushrooms. Eat some cheese.
14. Get the asparagus on the grill for a couple minutes, pull them off, chop them up, grate some cheese over them, toss with breadcrumbs and truffle oil.
15. Swig of wine. Plate the feast and go eat!
This post is dedicated to our dear friend Louise, who we have been trying to lure down for dinner for months. May she finish her dissertation with her humor intact and be ready for expedition and viking feasts soon!