Seasonal dishes spring to life (w/video)

  • Grilled Boneless Leg of Lamb with an Herb-Mustard Marinade, simple Spring Green Salad (Arugula, rucola and Mustard Flowers with Currants and Almond Citronette), roasted Asparagus (garnished with flowering thyme and spring violets), braised Baby Spring Vegetables (garnished with fennel fronds), from Kay Baumhefner's "Come Home to Cooking" class (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2014

Using veggies from the farmers markets, Baumhefner included side dishes like pencil-thin asparagus spears, tiny baby potatoes roasted in the oven, and baby vegetables braised with green garlic and thyme.

This array of vegetables and herbs, redolent of the Mediterranean, works perfectly in the warm, sunny climate of Wine Country.

"The marinade is from France, the braised artichokes are me, and who doesn't love potatoes?" she said. "This menu is very much from here."

Come Home To Cooking Class


To round out the feast, Baumhefner suggests dressing a simple spring salad with a lemony citronette and serving perfectly ripe strawberries with homemade creme fraiche.

"This says spring," she said. "The liberal use of fresh herbs, the sweet and tender meat, and the baby veggies and berries."

Except for the potatoes, which can easily be kept warm, the menu can be served at any temperature, so the host can be flexible about serving times.

And, since many of the components can be made ahead — the marinade, the braised vegetables, roasted asparagus and the creme fraiche — the menu is perfect for entertaining.

"You could also do the same menu with lamb chops instead of leg of lamb," she said. "This would be great for taking on a picnic."

To whet guests' appetites, Baumhefner suggests serving some briny Castelvetrano olives and a bowl of roasted almonds, which symbolize the regeneration of spring.

During the class, Baumhefner demonstrated how to make the garlicky mustard marinade. She crushed the garlic with a mortar and pestle, then added a blend of mustard, olive oil, lemon, garlic, spices and fresh herbs.

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