Spring fever. Months of waiting and then suddenly... ramps, baby garlic, asparagus, fiddleheads, fava beans, spring peas! Beautiful vegetables burst onto the scene. It's all you can do to refrain from throwing them all together in one dish. So why hold back? This preparation uses a little bit of everything showing up at the farmers market, slicing the vegetables all very thinly and then reserving some and cooking the rest for varied texture and flavor. Light, indulgent, crunchy, and celebratory, this recipe for cream-poached halibut cheeks with spring vegetable medley may not be healthy, but it makes for a nice starter.
Check out more Healthy and Hearty Halibut Recipes.
"It's the little touches that separate you from other places," says executive chef Chris Jaeckle, referring to the extra effort and thought put into the dishes that he serves at Ai Fiori. While at home, we are not able to create meals with such precision and technical know-how, chef Jaeckle has generously adapted the recipe for Ippoglosso — halibut, morels, asparagus, hollandaise, and foie gras — for us to replicate his masterpiece at home (well, at least the best we can).
We were able to visit chef in the kitchen to watch him compose the dish from start to finish. If you want to see how it's done, check out the slideshow below for extra tips and advice.
How did this intricate and lovely spring dish come about? In two ways really. First, executive chef Chris Jaeckle and chef/owner Michael White were brainstorming one day about how to use the Hold-O-Mat machine that they have and playing around with the idea of doing more with fish. Chef Jaeckle explains that compared to White’s other restaurants, Ai Fiori is more feminine in its approach to food whereas his other restaurants are more masculine with a focus on searing and meats. Ai Fiori has more of a Provencal influence that focuses on the region's cuisine and fish is a better fit for that type of food. As the restaurant is based in the Northeast, halibut, asparagus, and morels are in season during the spring, so it seemed natural that this dish would come together with all of these components and with the method used. —Yasmin Fahr
Click here to see the D.I.Y. Restaurant Recipes: Ai Fiori's Stuffed Morels and Halibut Slideshow.
During a cold snap in January, 2014, it was reported that the temperature in Duluth, Minnesota was colder than the surface of Mars. Imagine having to go to Mars to warm up! In spring, when Minnesotans begin to emerge from hibernation, we welcome our early season vegetable crops with a joy that only the frostbitten can truly appreciate.This colorful dish celebrates our state mushroom, with first-of-the-season peas and mint. A small amount of butter adds rich flavor, while grapeseed oil prevents the butter from burning. The bright green sauce is so delicious that I often serve it to vegans as a vibrant spring soup. Try it with any white fish.This recipe is courtesy of Heartland: Farm-Forward Dishes from the Great Midwest cookbook by Lenny Russo and Burgess Lea Press.
This salmon recipe incorporates the bounty of spring with fresh fiddlehead ferns and English peas. The fish is dressed with a creamy sauce that's richness is offset by the fruity tang of Meyer lemon. This is a great recipe to try if you're looking to make something a little special in the middle of the week without too much effort.
This leg of lamb is cooked "en Gasconnade," or in the Gascon style, which in this case means a lot of garlic and oil-packed anchovies. The originality of the Gasconnade leg of lamb resides in the fact that the salt is provided by cured anchovies, and the morels in the sauce announce the change of season and celebrate spring.
Click here to see Best Spring Lamb Recipes.
Steaming fish in sealed parchment paper is a classic preparation. But this old-school dish always looks impressive when brought to the table, the parchment is torn open, and beneath the steam, the main attraction makes its entrance. It’s actually a really quick, easy, and even healthy preparation.
Click here to see 'Shrooms: They're What's for Dinner Tonight.
I used to use Mark Bittman's recipe for crêpes quite a bit. Then he got all healthy and went vegan before dinnertime. I got mad. I put away How to Cook Everything. Okay, fine, I actually just kind of internalized the recipe after using it so many times for breakfast, and often for dinner too. Savory crêpes make for a nice light weeknight meal. And after you do that first one (which never works out, but primes the pan), they're pretty easy. This recipe is a bit different in that it subsitutes heavy cream for milk. What? I didn't have any milk and I was too tired to go to the store. Going half cream and half water worked just fine. The key here is the butter. Don't forget the butter in your batter! This recipe calls for chicken, morels, and spinach for a light, creamy filling.
Click here to see Butter vs. Olive Oil: What's Better?
This is a great appetizer served with toast points and ice cold white wine. Part of the secret to a well-prepared appetizer is to serve it in limited quantities. It should trigger your appetite without satisfying it. It should leave you wanting more.