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Spring has sprung: Try a new recipe

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Spring has sprung: Try a new recipe

By Sarah Leah Chase

,April 13, 2023, While April is often associated with showers that bring May flowers, sunny and mild stretches of weather do occur and bright days cannot help but bring uplifting cheer and an overwhelming desire to embrace everything spring.

Mornings that dawn with the melodies from chirping birds inspire industrious daylight hours of spring cleaning fueled by cravings for fare that is as refreshing as the surrounding blossom-speckled landscape, seemingly turning greener by the minute.

Just as spring is a time of new beginnings, I find myself seasonally motivated to cook recipes that I haven’t made before. In last week’s column, I had mentioned that “Smitten Kitchen Keepers” (Alfred A. Knopf, 2022) by Deb Perelman was one of the few recently-published cookbooks that I find enchanting.

After swooning over the tasty originality of Perelman’s Carrot Tarte Tatin recipe, I knew I needed to try a few more of the cookbook’s spring-centric recipes and opted to give one called Baked Orzo and Artichokes a whirl.

Perelman, like myself, is a self-taught home cook as well as the creator of the award-winning weekly recipe blog entitled Smitten Kitchen.

She explains that she created the baked orzo recipe as an ode to spring and goes on to elaborate, “Despite being a devoted artichoke-lover, I’ve struggled with canned artichokes, because they can have a flattened, tinny flavor. But here they’re triumphant. Sautéed onion, scallions, garlic, lemon zest and pepper flakes even them out; lemon juice, three herbs and Parmesan wake up their dynamic flavour.”

An added bonus to the recipe is that the orzo cooks in the same dish as all the other ingredients.

“You could have this as a side dish for a big spring feast, but I often just make a salad to accompany and call it a delicious day,” Perelman summarizes.

I admire the home cook way in which Perelman excels at turning labor-intensive recipes into one-dish delights – a practice that also ends up streamlining the post-recipe-testing washing up of dishes. The opening chapter in the “Smitten Kitchen Keepers” cookbook is entitled “Breakfast Anytime” and the author muses, “I sure have a lot of breakfast recipes for someone whose breakfast is just a giant cup of coffee most mornings.”

Perelman does, however, have young children and they are the ones who are avid fans of enjoying breakfast.

Enter the recipe for Blueberry Pancake Cobbler, which like the baked orzo recipe, gets baked in one dish and takes the labor out of making and flipping batches of individual pancakes in a skillet.

While local blueberries won’t be available until summer, I have been finding the blueberries currently being sold in supermarkets surprisingly adequate and this cobbler is bound to offer an indulgent start to a day earmarked for spring cleaning.

Perelman shares a trick for finishing the cobbler off with an irresistible hot sugar crust, warning that the technique will “feel all wrong until you see what happens in the oven: it develops a crisp lid, as on a great crème.” Brûlée.”

She also says that while this Blueberry Pancake Cobbler is on the small side, providing moderate portions for her family of four, the recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to yield more servings.

Baked Orzo with Artichokes

Deb Perelman’s recipe did not call for tomatoes, but I added about a cup of halved multi-colored cherry tomatoes because I had them on hand and thought they would make a good and bright addition.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated

1 medium onion, thinly sliced ​​into half-moons

3 garlic cloves, minced

Two 14-ounce cans artichoke hearts in water, drained, roughly chopped

Finely grated zest and juice from 1 lemon

Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Pinch red pepper flakes

8 ounces uncooked orzo

6 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)

3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

3 tablespoons slivered fresh mint leaves

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes






1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan

1-1/4 cups vegetable broth

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Combine the butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan and heat over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the scallion whites, onion and garlic. Cook until softened, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the artichokes, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, several grinds of black pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Pour in the lemon juice and then add the orzo, halved tomatoes (if using), scallion greens and herbs. Fold in the cubed mozzarella and half of the Parmesan.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a two-quart gratin dish. Pour the broth over the top, giving everything a light stir. Sprinkle the rest of the Parmesan evenly over the top.
  6. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the orzo is crusted on top and cooked through beneath, another 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

Serves 4 to 6.

Blueberry Pancake Cobbler

2 cups fresh blueberries

Grated zest and juice from 1/2 a lemon

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

6 tablespoons whole milk or buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup whole-wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup warm water

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil to catch the drips.
  2. Place the blueberries in a one-quart baking dish and toss with the lemon zest and lemon juice.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, salt, 4 tablespoons sugar, all of the milk or buttermilk, and vanilla. Thoroughly whisk in the baking powder.
  4. Add the flours and stir just till they disappear. Dollop this batter over the blueberries and use a knife or small offset spatula to spread it as evenly across the berries as you can.
  5. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, then drizzle the hot water evenly over the sugar.
  6. Place the baking dish on the foil-lined baking sheet and bake until the berries are bubbling in their juices and the top is crackly looking, about 30 minutes.

Eat right away, as is, or finish with a dollop of plain yogurt or a drizzle of cold cream.

Services 4.

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