A Glorious San Francisco Spring
San Francisco just keeps finding ways to amaze me. For the first time since moving here 13 years ago, I have a yard. A beautiful, big (well, by our standards, anyways) backyard. When spring finally hit, it exploded. Cherry blossoms on the cherry tree. Arugula, chard, fennel and parsley everywhere. Little sprigs of future peas and radishes poking up from the ground. And my little kitten, Bean, terrorizing the bees. It’s just glorious.
If you live here, you’re probably as enamored with the current weather as me. Yesterday the heat was so intense there was only one option: cook. and eat. in my warm and overflowing yard. I sent out a text, and before I could make up a grocery list I had 10 friends confirming attendance. With me and John that made dinner for 12, which meant a lot of cooking. Just the way I like it. John, not so much, he managed to sneak out early while I was still laying out brick pavers for the dinner table in my pajamas.
I wanted a meal that celebrated the season, made of all in-season veggies, with a few from our garden. It was my first time yanking a fennel out of the ground. I found it quite satisfying. Those suckers are big!
As I might have mentioned, it was HOT. So not a day for braising or stewing. My landlord recommended an orange fennel salad, tossed with some red onions and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, heavily sprinkled with black pepper.
I had another salad in mind to go alongside. The arugula in the yard is fabulously spicy, so I tossed some with baby spinach, some barely blanched asparagus and radishes. I dressed it with a lemony vinaigrette. A big bowl of parmesan shavings was passed around for sprinkling.
And soup. As is probably obvious in past posts, I have a thing for peas. But I had NEVER made a fresh pea soup before. Since the season is short, the time was now. Just a simple soup with onion, leek, carrots, stock, a bit of spinach and a whole lotta fresh English peas. I made some parmesan croutons, and finished the soup off with some creme fraiche.
And my favorite part. I do like to work pie dough into a meal whenever possible. I saw an artichoke ricotta galette posted on “The Wednesday Chef” and knew I had to give it a spin. As she promised, it was a tasty one.
It was a beautiful night. Nothing quite like a dinner under the stars (were there stars?) with close friends and simple, home grown and homemade food. And of course there were strawberry rhubarb crepes for dessert…