Between May and July, the spring crops on Long Island kick into high gear. Lettuces, spinach and other salad greens proliferate. Rhubarb is at its sweetest, or, perhaps, its least bitter. There are so many peas that many gardeners and chefs begin to tire of pea soups, pea stir-fries and pea salads. Asparagus begins to taper by early July. Mesclun mixes get spicier as the weather warms, and arugula, amaranth and mustards push out cooler, crisper lettuces and spinach. Yardbirds move out of henhouses to dine on grubs, and weed seeds give eggs darker yolks and new zest. Cows kick the hibernal hay to dine on new grass for the first time since last fall and yield milk and cheese with less fat, more yellow, and richer flavor.
Warmer waters mean that herring, flounder, sea robin, striped bass, bluefish, blowfish, eel and other fish are heavy with roe. And that raking clams no longer requires wearing boots.
now in season
Bok Choi & Tat Soi
Greens (Arugula, Chard, Collards, Kale & Mustard)
Lettuce & Salad Mix
Escarole & Radicchio
Mushrooms (farmed and wild)
MEAT AND SEAFOOD
Chicken & Eggs
Herring & Herring Roe
(Shad & Shad Roe)
Milk & Cheese
Porgies, Striped Bass
Skate, Squid, Swordfish
Frozen Strawberries (Ray and Peachie Halsey Bridge Hampton Works and Days)
Hull, wash and cut strawberries in half. Sugar and leave 10 minutes. Freeze in glass jar. Eat before all the ice crystals have melted.
Rhubarb Martini (Dan Barber, Blue Hill at Stone Barns)
3 parts citron vodka to 1 part triple sec good splash of juiced rhubarb dash lime juice dash simple syrup Shake over ice pour up in martini glass.
Garlic Scape Pesto
1/2 lb. scapes (chopped into 1″ sections)
1 1/2 c. olive oil
2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
In a blender, combine the scapes and olive oil.
Pour mixture into bowl and blend the cheese in by hand.
RHUBARB SAUCE by Joan Bernstein, Center Moriches (Paumanok Preserves)
Rhubarb is apparently considered beneath notice by the cookbook authors of the world. The versatile fruit is so plentiful in the Northeast, come the end of May, its tart liveliness should star at breakfast, lunch and dinner, during its six-week season. But, except for combinations with strawberries, such as strawberry-rhubarb pie, rhubarb seems to be spring’s stepchild. Many cookbooks ignore rhubarb completely; some provide the recipe for strawberryrhubarb pie; only a few accentuate the positive. Apparently the trick is to harvest the rhubarb when it’s very young, when the stalks are slender and green, prior to turning red (much like our local farmers now provide us with baby carrots and spring greens).
1 1/2 lbs. young green rhubarb stems
1/2 c. water
1/8 tsp. salt
2/3 c. granulated sugar (or 1/2 c. sugar and 1/4 c. honey)
Cut rhubarb into 1″ pieces. Combine all ingredients in saucepan. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes, or until rhubarb is just tender, gently stirring occasionally. Chill and serve as breakfast fruit or as a dessert, with or without heavy cream, whipped cream or crème fraîche.
PEAS WITH MINT by Kate Manchester, Sag Harbor (www.katemanchester.com)
Fresh peas are such a treat, and make a wonderful side to a tender young lamb or grilled fish. Peas are a starch and the sugar begins to break down into starch as soon as they are picked, so try to get the peas from the garden to the table in as short a time as possible for maximum sweetness. For this recipe, I try to use only the earliest and tiniest of peas, called petit pois.
4 T. sweet butter
2 c. shelled English peas
1/3 c. fresh mint leaves, cut into thin strips
small head Boston lettuce
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
Melt the butter in a medium sauté pan, add the sugar and the peas, shake the pan to coat peas, and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes.
Cover the pan and continue cooking for three minutes. Add half the mint and cook for two more minutes. Core the lettuce, reserve the small inner leaves. Slice the remaining leaves into thin strips and add to the peas. Toss the peas quickly until the lettuce is just wilted, remove from the heat and add the reserved inner leaves and toss to wilt. Add the salt, plate the peas and garnish with the remaining mint. Serve immediately.
(Serves four as a side.)
Scorpacciata, n : eating a particular ingredient in copious amounts in its period of local perfection.