Is it silly to yearn for spring when winter has barely begun? Not if you are a fan of the delicate, crisp greens that are a hallmark of that season. But in today’s Food, columnist David Hagedorn tell you about a local business that’s selling those greens right this minute: a hydroponic farm in Purcellville. And writer Emily Horton lets you in on winter radishes that might make you forget all about their spring counterparts.
Read those, then chew on something more serious. Staff writer Tim Carman brings you up to date on two recent events that could lead to controversial changes to our “dolphin safe” labels for tuna and “product of the U.S.” labels on meats.
After that, it’s time for the Free Range chat, which this week welcomes both David and Emily — in addition to Tim and the other usual suspects — for an hour of free-wheeling food talk. It starts at noon, but you can submit your question earlier and read the chat transcript later if you’re, say, briefing the president right about then.
And after that, it’ll be time for me to pick a leftover chat question. This week’s picked itself: It came in near the end of last week’s chat and we forwarded it to Carol Blymire, a food writer/bogger whom you might know for her highly entertaining “Top Chef” recaps every week on this blog. Her response came back too late for the chat, so I’m offering it here. And away we go:
I’ve recently gone gluten-free for health reasons. Could you recommend a cookbook or online resource for simple, budget-friendly vegetarian gluten-free recipes?
Carol has two Web sites to recommend. Though she has only recently started reading them, she says, “so far the recipes seem to be pretty straightforward and decent.” They are:
And she also likes the looks of a cookbook, The Gluten-Free-Vegetarian-Kitchen, by Donna Klein.
Meanwhile, let me get you started with something from our Recipe Finder site, which offers many recipes that are both wheat- and meat-free. This one looks great.
At the Evening Star Cafe in Alexandria, executive chef Will Artley makes this vegetarian hash using a green-peppercorn Pyrenees cheese. Folded in over low heat, it melts and combines with the cream to form a rich sauce. But Boursin works well; look for the pepper variety.
Serve topped with a fried egg.
1 large (about 10 ounces) russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more as needed
6 ounces mixed mushrooms, such as cremini, shiitake and chanterelle, cut into bite-size pieces as necessary
Freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces asparagus (woody ends removed), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium cloves garlic, cut into very thin slices
1 medium onion, cut into small dice (1 cup)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 ounce Boursin Pepper cheese, crumbled (see headnote)
Leaves from 1/2 bunch basil, rolled tightly, then cut into thin strips (chiffonade)
1/8 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Place the potato dice in a large bowl; run cool water over them until they are free of starch. Drain and let dry on paper towels.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until they are golden brown on all sides and tender.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a separate large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until they are deeply browned but not burned. (If the pan seems a little dry, add oil as needed.) Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the asparagus, garlic and onion. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes; the vegetables will still have some crunch. Add the cream, stirring to combine; cook for about 2 minutes, until it has reduced and thickened.
Reduce the heat to low; fold in the cheese, basil, potatoes and lemon zest, stirring until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are warmed through. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve warm.