Fennel, orange + red onion salad

by Tracey Ceurvels

I’m constantly striking a balance at meal time. Do I make only what I like and hope my 4-year old daughter will like it, too? (In my dreams.) Do I make only what she likes and suffer a bit at the blandness of it all? Heck no. What I do is make one thing I know she’ll like because she isn’t naturally inclined to try new food (and granted, I like to add a lot of unique ingredients to my dishes). So yesterday for lunch I made her homemade chicken nuggets from The Mom 100 Cookbook (highly recommend!), and for myself I made one of my favorite warm weather salads, which I thought “might” appeal to her. Thinly shaved fennel paired with red onion, and balanced with orange segments…it’s crunchy, sweet and savory at the same time. I’ve made this salad countless times (it’s so easy to prepare), but as someone who loves to add different ingredients, I updated it with Citrus Champagne Vinegar and a pinch of crushed chili pepper.

fennel orange and red onion salad 300x224 Fennel, orange + red onion saladS happens to like a bit of spice on her food, so the chili pepper was appealing. I thought she might like the crunchy texture of fennel but I was mistaken: instead she picked out the orange segments and ate those, avoiding the slivers of onion and fennel. I ate some of her chicken nuggets, but dipped them into mango chutney. Somehow we were both pleased with our lunch, so it’s one I’ll make again.

My recommendation: You can certainly slice the fennel and onion thinly with a very sharp knife, but here is a better idea—treat yourself to a mandolin. You’ll get paper thin slices a lot more easily.

Ingredients
1 fennel bulb, sliced thinly on the mandolin
1 small red onion, sliced thinly on the mandolin
2 oranges, one to carve out the segments, one for juicing
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon of citrus Champagne vinegar (optional)
1 tablespoon fennel fronds
1 pinch of crushed chili pepper
Salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste

Make the salad
Add fennel, onion and orange segments in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine orange juice, olive oil, vinegar, fennel fronds, crushed chili pepper, and salt and pepper, to taste. Add as much as you like (there may be leftover salad dressing) to the fennel-onion-orange mixture, and combine.

Tracey Ceurvels, a NYC-based mom, journalist + recipe developer, helps newlyweds, young couples, and moms + dads with her weekly dinner plan of fresh, seasonal dinner recipes. Visit Your Weekly Dinner Plan on her blog, The Busy Hedonist, for more information. If you’re visiting NYC, you might enjoy NYC iFoodShop: a Food Lover’s Guide to Shopping in NYC.

PinExt Fennel, orange + red onion salad

Sammich Nation

Wrapped Sandwiches Sammich NationIf memory serves most of us correctly, we gobbled bunches of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches during our formative years. In fact, the National Peanut Board declares the average child will have consumed somewhere around 1,500 PB&J’s before graduating high school. But that’s just the innocent beginning of our nation’s love affair with the sandwich. Simple, gourmet, toasted or on rye with a liberal schmear of mayo or mustard, Americans have a super-sized appetite for sammiches—we happily chow down 45 billion annually.

Crown the sandwich king of American food—there are countless shops and franchises peddling them and infinite ways to make the filling between two slices of bread interesting. Not the sexiest of cuisines in terms of style, but a sandwich is certainly amongst the most satisfying. And I’m certain there’s some unwritten law in the universe that requires a picnic to have at least one sandwich on its al fresco menu to be deemed a proper picnic—preferably a crusty baguette piled with Italian meats and cheeses.

In grade school I toted lunchboxes packed with braunschweiger sandwiches—thick rounds of smoked pork liver sausage nestled on tears of iceberg lettuce topped with Hellmann’s (we weren’t a Miracle Whip household) and slapped between two sheets of Wonder bread (Mom trimmed the crusts). Certainly not an asset on the lunchroom trading floor, but when my humble sandwich was paired with an irresistible Hostess Twinkie, I could score the luscious from-scratch chocolate buttermilk cake Shari’s mom made or a bag of Fritos from any number of classmates. One of Dad’s signature culinary triumphs was a mouthwatering Reuben sandwich he made by special request, bucking tradition by replacing Russian dressing with homemade Thousand Island. My first real appliance post-college was a toaster oven in which I deftly turned out bubbling ham and cheese sandwiches. And when the Panini craze caught on I joined right in, getting perverse pleasure from making a picture-worthy sandwich with artisan bread and paycheck-busting ingredients—and then smooshing it beyond recognition on a VEG (Very Expensive Grill).

Sandwiches Sammich NationSandwiches make some lovely cameo appearances in memorable cinematic scenes. Leave it to some YouTube-loving movie fan to post a nearly two-minute video of Greatest Movie Sandwiches, including two of my favorites. There’s Meg Ryan’s iconic everything-on-the-side pastrami sammie at Katz’s Deli in New York City and the Runny Egg Sandwich Adam Sandler made in “Spanglish”—a lousy flick rescued by a crave-worthy recipe (Thomas Keller originated the insanely delicious combo of bacon, lettuce, tomato and cheese topped with a fried egg). Add to that my personal honor roll of big- and small-screen sandwiches—the intent munching of Carnegie Deli’s mile-high classic creations in Woody Allen’s “Broadway Danny Rose” and in season five of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Larry David’s valiant attempts to swap sandwich ingredients with Ted Danson, who, just like my stubborn Joy Elementary buddies, refused the sales pitch. Maybe if David had thrown a bonus Twinkie into the trade, Danson would’ve accepted the switcheroo.

Or perhaps the offer of a lowly PB&J could have sealed the deal with Danson. Ah, to remember a simpler sandwich time. Long live the sandwich, the undisputed king of American food.

-Kimberly Winter Stern

Sandwich Bar Sammich NationDean & DeLuca stores across the country contribute to the nation’s annual 45-billion-sandwich tally. Executive Chef Andres Moncayo of the Charlotte, N.C. D&D says his store sells approximately 96,500 sandwiches each year. The most popular? “Roasted sirloin and Havarti cheese with caramelized onions and horseradish cream sauce,” grins chef Moncayo. “Not your average sandwich.” My stock would have tripled in value during school lunchtime trading that little number. Two to go please, chef.

Here chef Moncayo shares two sammiches, coming soon to the Dean & DeLuca Wine Bar in Charlotte. Add some homemade sweet potato fries, a crunchy pickle spear and a laid-back attitude for the perfect summer dinner.

CHICKEN MUFFELETTA SANDWICH
Note: The olive spread must be made ahead and refrigerated for at least two days.
Serves one

INGREDIENTS
2 ounces Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 ounce capers
0.7 ounces peeled garlic cloves, minced
1 cup diced celery bunch
3 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
¼ bunch fresh Italian parsley, chopped
¼ cup green onion, chopped
½ teaspoon oregano
0.06 quart extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces red wine vinegar
4 ounces grilled chicken breast, sliced thin
½ ounce provolone, sliced
½ ounce Swiss cheese, sliced
1 ounce baby arugula
Focaccia rosemary bread

METHOD
Combine first 10 ingredients in a large bowl and mix well, making sure everything is immersed in olive oil and refrigerate at least two days. To make the sandwich: halve the bread lengthwise. Spoon olive spread on one side and coat the other side of the bread with oil. Add the chicken breast, cheeses and arugula.

MEAN PANINI
Serves one

Charcuterie2 Sammich NationINGREDIENTS
1 ounce each:
Genoa salami, sliced thin
Prosciutto, sliced thin
Mortadella, sliced thin
Capicola ham, sliced thin
Fontina cheese, sliced
Mozzarella cheese, fresh
Tomato confit
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
One ciabatta bun, sliced

METHOD
Drizzle both halves of ciabatta with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Layer meats, then cheeses on bun. Top with tomato confit and other half of bun. Preheat a Panini press and cook sandwich according to manufacturer’s instructions until golden and crisp, three to five minutes. Or, if cooking on the stove, preheat a skillet with butter or oil to medium low. Add sandwich, and then press a heavy pan to weigh it down. Cook until golden and crisp, three to four minutes per side.


kimberly 3 e1315492490550 Sammich NationOverland Park, Kan.-based freelance writer Kimberly Winter Stern writes travel, food, lifestyle and design. Also known as the gregarious and cuisine-informed Kim Dishes, listeners tune in weekly for her on-the-road segments on “LIVE! From Jasper’s Kitchen,” a popular Kansas City radio food show. Prolific in eating, writing and discovering, this foodie satisfies an innate desire to sample the world’s gastronomic rainbow by meeting food artisans and trendsetters, gaining insight into the culinary points-of-view of everyone from cheese makers, chocolatiers and chefs who set their city’s locavore pace to farmers who are passionate producers. Stern is a sought-after writer, with work appearing in Better Homes and Gardens, Unity, KANSAS! Magazine, 435 South magazine, KC Homes & Gardens, Generation Boom, Shawnee Magazine, KC Magazine, KC Home Design, KC Business and Midwest CEO. Stern is a national blogger for the Dean & DeLuca Gourmet Food Blog where she cooks, styles, shoots and writes about life and cooking … and loves to lick the bowl clean. This writer may have been given product and/or other compensation from Dean & DeLuca for this post.

PinExt Sammich Nation

Prime Time

Nashville’s Kayne Prime has me at “hello.” Walking into this modern-rustic steakhouse of my dreams and—with profound apologies to Dad whose backyard-grilled steaks were good—I know whatever protein I choose from the menu, it’s going to be like nothing I’ve ever experienced, a definite wow-wow-wow. How can I predict Kayne is going to satisfy my hungry heart? Intuitively you sense when a restaurant has “it”—a vibe, a swagger, an aroma of good stuff happening behind the swinging doors. And Kayne definitely has it, lots of it.

This boutique steakhouse doesn’t disappoint, right down to the last spoonful of Coffee & Donuts—espresso semifreddo paired with warm ricotta beignets. But I digress—it’s the beef that’s the A-lister at Kayne. Succulent filet mignons, juicy New York strips and ribeyes that melt away from fork and knife. This restaurant is a prime example of the steakhouse revolution that chefs like Robbie Wilson—head tastemaker at Music City’s premiere fusion-style steak emporium—are giddily leading across the country, in cities large and small.

Local ingredients drive classic-casual steakhouse menus where beef is king and accompanying sides are glorious reincarnations of dishes Don Draper and his martini-swilling pals enjoyed back in the day. Kayne serves up a mess o’ swoon-worthy riffs on favorites like Cream Corn Brûlée, Creamed Spinach with a fried organic egg and Heirloom Carrots with tandoori-spiced, barbecue raisins. Seconds, please?

Recreating the steakhouse experience in your own kitchen is a snap with the locavore-rich array of beef that’s available to today’s home cook. Hallelujah and bow down to the steak gods!

baseball cut top sirloin 160213117 150x150 Prime TimeDean & DeLuca’s Brandt Beef, a family-owned California-based producer who takes a decidedly artisanal approach to beef farming, is a contemporary steakhouse-pedigreed product. Hand-raised, free of hormones and antibiotics and thick and flavorful, Brandt’s corn-feed meat—like the baseball cut top sirloins and the family reserve Porterhouse steaks—is the tasty answer to the home griller’s wish. The beef is simply raised, which in the end yields an opportunity to savor steaks and chops au naturel. The Brandt Beef is a building block to a memorable meal and when partnered with sides like Creamed Spinach with Artichokes and Potatoes au Gratin with Fennel, it becomes a triple-threat, culinary supernova.

Keep those reservations at your local steakhouse—no doubt the menu has been overhauled to combine traditional flavor spiked with contemporary flair. And when firing up your patio grill, seek out quality stuff chefs like Robbie Wilson would be proud to deliver from behind those swinging doors.

-Kimberly Winter Stern
wagyu ribeyes 150x150 Prime Time
Fire up the grill and perfume the neighborhood with a couple of juicy boneless Angus ribeye or porterhouse steaks, rubbed to perfection with a Southwestern or Barbecue spice blend. And don’t forget to pick your sides as carefully as you choose your cut of meat—after all, a steak without a good companion is almost as sad as an out-of-season tomato. A properly baked potato is a classic steak partner (make mine loaded, please) or a creamy risotto-like dish made with imported farro and pungent mushrooms is a hearty accent to a grilled steak. Here are a couple of picks for your steak fry from The Dean & DeLuca Cookbook.

PERFECT BAKED POTATOES

Preheat oven to 500°. Wash the potatoes of your choice, place the grate in the oven, turn the potatoes once or twice during cooking, and cook until crunchy on the outside, tender within.

Cooking time depends on size. Here’s a handy guide:
¼-pound potato: 45 minutes
½-pound potato: 1 hour 10 minutes
¾-pound potato: 1 hour 30 minutes

Top to your delight: butter, sour cream, Tuscan extra-virgin olive oil, coarse salt

Note: For light, dry, super-crunchy potatoes, cut the baked potatoes, after cooking, into walnut-sized chunks. Place in a roasting pan in a preheated 550° oven for 20 minutes. Toss with coarse salt, extra-virgin olive oil, and serve immediately.

FARRO “RISOTTO” WITH WILD MUSHROOMS AND PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO
Serves 6 as a side dish

INGREDIENTS
2 cups imported Italian farrodean and deluca dried porcini mushrooms 150x150 Prime Time
1 quart of water
1 ounce dried wild mushrooms (preferably porcini)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

METHOD
Boil the farro in the 1 quart of water, salted, in a large saucepan, partially covered, for 45 minutes, or until it is soft. Drain it in a colander or strainer.

While the farro is cooking, soak the dried mushrooms in a bowl with 1 cup of hot water for 15 minutes. Remove them from the bowl with your fingers, squeezing the water back into the bowl. Reserve the soaking liquid. Chop the mushrooms coarsely.

Melt the butter in the olive oil in a skillet over low heat. Add the onion and cook until soft. Stir in the mushrooms, and then add the wine. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the reserved mushroom soaking liquid through a cheesecloth or fine strainer into the skillet. Simmer for 10 minutes. If the farro is not yet cooked, remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.

When the farro is cooked and drained, put it back into the empty pan, and add the contents of the skillet. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Top each serving with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

PinExt Prime Time

The humble eggplant turns into a tangy side dish

by Tracey Ceurvels

Last year I was at a BBQ at a friend’s house and someone served this grilled eggplant that I devoured: it tasted both caramelized and tangy—complex for the humble eggplant. When I asked her the ingredients, I was shocked. Only one ingredient was added to the eggplant and it has this much flavor?
il boschetto spice grinders 150x150 The humble eggplant turns into a tangy side dish
Oh yes, it’s true.

Since I like to shake things up, I also added the Il Boschetto coarse salt, which I found while strolling the aisles of Dean & Deluca in SoHo. The “esotica” blend contains chili pepper, onion, parsley and pink pepper. I plan on adding it to many other dishes.

Once you see how easy it is to make this grilled eggplant, it just might become a staple during grilling season—or anytime.

Grilled Eggplantgrilled eggplant 224x300 The humble eggplant turns into a tangy side dish
Serves 4-6 as a side dish

Ingredients
1 eggplant, washed + sliced into 1/2-inch thick circles
Balsamic vinegar (enough to cover the eggplant in a bowl)
Il Boschetto salt blend
If you don’t don’t have the salt above (though I highly recommend it!), then use sea salt + freshly-ground pepper—and perhaps a pinch of crushed chili pepper, all to taste
Olive oil
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped (enough to garnish)

Make the dish
Slice eggplant into 1/2-inch thick circles and then submerge in enough balsamic vinegar to cover the eggplant. Let marinate for 10-15 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with the Il Boschetto salt blend (or some sea salt, freshly-ground pepper and crushed chili pepper, to taste).

Heat up about 1 tablespoon of olive oil a grilling pan over medium heat. Grill eggplant slices for about 8-10 minutes on each side. You may want to add some additional vinegar to the slices with a spoon as they cook, but that’s not essential. Remove from pan, sprinkle with parsley—and serve.

Need help planning dinner? Tracey Ceurvels invites you into her virtual kitchen on her blog, The Busy Hedonist, where she shares her creations + discoveries with you. Tracey also offers a weekly dinner plan for time-crunched food lovers that includes recipes + shopping lists to make dinnertime stress-free. Tracey has written about food + travel for such publications as The Boston Globe, PAPER magazine, Relish, Haute Living and many other publications. Stay tuned for her food and travel writing experience that takes place this October in Tuscany + Rome.

The iFoodShop App has arrived!

PinExt The humble eggplant turns into a tangy side dish

The Queen Is In: Queen City Cookies

Entering Peggy Shannon’s world is a bit like stepping into a culinary-inspired Fantasia where everything is beautifully orchestrated and colorful—and lucky for us, edible.

As proprietor of Cincinnati-based Queen City Cookies, Shannon’s regal spin on the time-honored combination of eggs, butter, sugar and flour is indeed fit for royal consumption. Her handmade buttery shortbread cookies are transformed from mere discs of dough to artistic treats in the shapes of elephants or embossed with cherry blossoms and scrolled hearts topped with a rich, white chocolate icing to gallery-worth riffs on Frieda Kahlo with food-coloring ink.

And just in case the exquisite confections aren’t proof enough of Queen City’s attention to detail in both appearance and flavor, cookies are packaged with greeting cards that tell enchanting stories of their pedigree or in bags that bear mascot elephants (Peony, Elodie and Duchess of Roux, fashioned after some of Shannon’s real-life acquaintances) and quips and quotes about their qualities (Elodie: Arrives Late. Leaves Early. Onward to the Next Adventure).

“Who doesn’t like a little story with their cookie?” I wonder, reading more about the trio of elephants.

The Queen City Cookies legacy started when ex-corporate maven Shannon fell head over heels for Martha Stewart Living’s 2008 Christmas cover, which pictured stunning springerle cookies, an old-world German recipe featuring an embossed design. Shannon has collected more than 500 antique molds, many of which help create the distinctive Queen City Cookies look.

“But your cookies are simply too gorgeous to eat,” I murmur, clicking through the offerings on the Queen City Cookies Web site.

Shannon is quick to dispel the ridiculous notion.

“Deconstruct that phrase,” says Shannon, laughing. “It implies that you’re not worthy. That’s just not true.”
pachyderm shortbread cookies 300x300 The Queen Is In:  Queen City Cookies
Shannon’s mild frustration that people sometimes consider her cookies too precious for consumption was the driving force behind the Pachyderm Packs, bite-sized elephant-shaped cookies just right for nibbling or pairing with coffee, tea or wine. The Chocolate Chipotle, Blueberry Maple and Shortbread Bliss are made with premium ingredients like European-style Plugrá butter and pure cane sugar and hand-stamped with decorative molds that have made Queen City Cookies famous.

During our interview Shannon steps from Queen City Cookies’ fragrant commercial bakery in a delightfully renovated carriage house on her Cincinnati property to tend to another work of art—the city’s first mobile cookie food truck. But Shannon’s truck, much like her product available in the Dean & DeLuca catalogue, is not just a mobile cookie dispenser. Right down to the endearing elephant head topped with a crown that’s perched atop the purple, pink and yellow van, Shannon’s Queen City Cookies truck is designed to amuse the senses.

“Wouldn’t you love to walk up to this truck and see what you can buy?” Shannon squeals with enthusiasm.

I agree. I wish that truck would drive down my suburban Kansas City street right now.
QCTruckDesignFinal1 2 300x177 The Queen Is In:  Queen City Cookies
Attendees of the summer Fancy Food Show in Washington D.C. in June will encounter Shannon’s imagination, as the Queen City Cookies food truck debuts on the exhibit floor. And Shannon is up for the crème de la crème award of the specialty food industry during the show—with a sofi™ Silver trophy already holding court in her Cincinnati business, Shannon is crossing her sugar-dusted baker’s fingers for the granddaddy of honors: the sofi™ Gold.

“Queen City Cookies was selected from a field of nearly 2,000 applicants last year,” says Shannon. “The competition was whittled down to four for each of 30 categories, and the Pachyderm Packs are a sofi Silver finalist in the cookie category. The sofi Gold will be announced in mid-June.”

Shannon’s undeniable passion for Queen City Cookies is as captivating as the sweet treats she and her team create. And she demands that as a customer, you take her motto—Eat. Smile. Repeat.—to heart. Nothing this good—though it could be framed and displayed in MoMA—should go to waste. Shannon insists. Politely.

Now, where is that cookie truck when I need it?

-Kimberly Winter Stern

kimberly 3 e1315492490550 The Queen Is In:  Queen City CookiesOverland Park, Kan.-based freelance writer Kimberly Winter Stern writes travel, food, lifestyle and design. Also known as the gregarious and cuisine-informed Kim Dishes, listeners tune in weekly for her on-the-road segments on “LIVE! From Jasper’s Kitchen,” a popular Kansas City radio food show. Prolific in eating, writing and discovering, this foodie satisfies an innate desire to sample the world’s gastronomic rainbow by meeting food artisans and trendsetters, gaining insight into the culinary points-of-view of everyone from cheese makers, chocolatiers and chefs who set their city’s locavore pace to farmers who are passionate producers. Stern is a sought-after writer, with work appearing in Better Homes and Gardens, Unity, KANSAS! Magazine, 435 South magazine, KC Homes & Gardens, Generation Boom, Shawnee Magazine, KC Magazine, KC Home Design, KC Business and Midwest CEO. Stern is a national blogger for the Dean & DeLuca Gourmet Food Blog where she cooks, styles, shoots and writes about life and cooking … and loves to lick the bowl clean. This writer may have been given product and/or other compensation from Dean & DeLuca for this post.

PinExt The Queen Is In:  Queen City Cookies

That Kitchen Magic

A food-loving friend of mine in New Jersey lost her mom earlier this year. The jolt of the unexpected loss coupled with its sober reality sent her in search of comfort. Not surprisingly, she found a bit of solace in places where the familiar smells, sights, and sounds elicit virtual hugs: her home kitchen and the instructional kitchen where she teaches cooking. She whipped up cupcakes from her childhood, chicken piccata, and a Passover meal that was perhaps more symbolic this year than others.

My friend is a writer, and like most writers who channel their thoughts about food onto a computer screen, the memories and emotions that swirl around cooking, favorite childhood dishes, and handed-down recipes are filed in the forefront of the mind. And so it is with my friend, whose recollections of spending time in the kitchen with her mom are crystal-clear, as though it was just yesterday they cleaned up the dirty bowls and measuring cups and mixers produced during a baking marathon.

Many of my friends love to cook and are very good at it: they turn out pans of fragrant cinnamon rolls for holiday breakfasts, serve authentic Indian food for dinner parties, and grill like competitive barbecue masters. I don’t cook for a living anymore—I was a caterer for 12 years—but I roll up my sleeves and get into the kitchen for sustenance and most importantly, for therapy from stress-induced deadlines. Although it’s not always the memory of an aproned mother standing at the stove offering me and my pals tender guidance on the finer points of preparing a weeknight dinner for the family, undoubtedly there is the essence of women from generations past whose influences are gently folded somewhere into our culinary genes.

When I was a little girl and spent time in the kitchen with my mom, watching her make a roux for scalloped potatoes or scraping the batter for her famous buttermilk chocolate cake into a well-used sheet pan, there was the ghostly presence of reinforcements: her mother Mary and grandmother Florence. It was the latter cook, my great-grandma, who set the family’s standards for food. Her kitchen remains a perfect snapshot in the recesses of my mind as an efficient and well-equipped room always prepared for action. I remember great-grandma’s ample figure bent over some surface of her small kitchen, kneading dough for a loaf of whole wheat bread, rolling out a piecrust destined to cradle a rhubarb filling, and lifting a heavy roaster splattered with the juices of golden-brown roasted chicken, potatoes, carrots and onions from the oven.

Mother’s Day will be bittersweet for my New Jersey friend as she marks the first without her mom while celebrating with her own children. She will be comforted by the magical memories of those marvelous pink cupcakes but won’t have the woman who was her faithful companion during delightful hours of kitchen time. I’m sure of one thing, though. If my friend chooses to go into the kitchen on that Sunday, it will be crowded with the spirits of her mom and the women before her whose culinary inspiration taught her well.

Raise your glass on May 13 to the women who have taught you well—in sustenance, and in life.

-Kimberly Winter Stern

This Mother’s Day, cancel the brunch reservations and venture back to your roots: prepare a meal that requires a bit of effort in the kitchen, maybe fueled by the memories of the generations of cooks who impacted you. Mom is sure to appreciate these herb drop biscuits and the springtime freshness of the chilled asparagus soup; to round out the meal, add a simple salad and for dessert, purchase gelato from your favorite hometown creamery and serve with fresh berries.

Recipes shared by Dean & DeLuca/Leawood, Kansas, Executive Chef Kevin Johnson

Herb Drop Buscuits Country Ham Cheddar and Asparagus Soup 300x176 That Kitchen Magic

PETITE HERB DROP BISCUITS WITH COUNTRY HAM & CHEDDAR
Serves 10 – 12

INGREDIENTS
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons cold shortening
1 cup whole milk
12 ounces rosemary ham, sliced thin
12 ounces cheddar cheese, sliced thin (white or yellow)

METHOD
Preheat oven to 450°.

Sift all dry ingredients together into a bowl, and then cut in the shortening. Add the milk to make moist, soft dough. Using a spoon and your finger, drop biscuits onto a greased baking tray, and bake in a hot 450° degree oven for 12 minutes. Serve hot with a small piece of rosemary country ham and sliced cheddar.

ASPARAGUS SOUP WITH LEMON CRÈME FRAICHE
Serves 4 – 6

INGREDIENTS
2 pounds medium asparagus (2 bunches), cut in half crosswise
as needed kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Spanish onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
1 bay leaf
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

LEMON CRÈME FRAICHE
½ cup crème fraiche
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon lemon zest
¼ teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
Kosher salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste

METHOD
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a medium bowl with salted ice water. Working in two batches, add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus to the bowl of ice water. Drain. Reserve 8 cups of the cooking liquid.

Thinly slice 18 of the asparagus tips on the diagonal and reserve for a garnishing the soup. Chop the remaining asparagus spears into small pieces.

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 12 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 2 minutes more.

Pour in the reserved asparagus cooking liquid and bring to a boil while whisking constantly. Add the thyme, and bay leaf and add to the soup. Lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the chopped asparagus and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Working in batches, transfer the asparagus mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Using a sieve over a large bowl, strain the asparagus soup. Return the puree to the pot and reheat over medium heat.

Whisk the heavy cream, white wine, and salt into the soup and season with pepper. Allow soup to cool before serving. Divide among chilled soup bowls, top each soup with the reserved asparagus tips, and a dollop of lemon crème fraiche and serve immediately.

kimberly 3 e1315492490550 That Kitchen MagicOverland Park, Kan.-based freelance writer Kimberly Winter Stern writes travel, food, lifestyle and design. Also known as the gregarious and cuisine-informed Kim Dishes, listeners tune in weekly for her on-the-road segments on “LIVE! From Jasper’s Kitchen,” a popular Kansas City radio food show. Prolific in eating, writing and discovering, this foodie satisfies an innate desire to sample the world’s gastronomic rainbow by meeting food artisans and trendsetters, gaining insight into the culinary points-of-view of everyone from cheese makers, chocolatiers and chefs who set their city’s locavore pace to farmers who are passionate producers. Stern is a sought-after writer, with work appearing in Better Homes and Gardens, Unity, KANSAS! Magazine, 435 South magazine, KC Homes & Gardens, Generation Boom, Shawnee Magazine, KC Magazine, KC Home Design, KC Business and Midwest CEO. Stern is a national blogger for the Dean & DeLuca Gourmet Food Blog where she cooks, styles, shoots and writes about life and cooking … and loves to lick the bowl clean. This writer may have been given product and/or other compensation from Dean & DeLuca for this post.

Photo by Kimberly Winter Stern

PinExt That Kitchen Magic