To be a really great chef, you need some schooling and a bit of experience and a certain creative spirit, etc. We can’t all do that, but we can make sure we have the best tools to make cookin’ a little easier. You’ll be much better off with three good-quality knives: a 12-inch chopping knife, a 12-inch serrated carving knife and a 6-inch paring knife. A good knife makes you faster and cleaner. When you’re buying a knife, check that it’s a good weight, the blade is nice and rigid and doesn’t bend and the handle feels good in your hand.
This Week’s Field Goods Favorite
A foraged delicacy. A pound of fiddleheads in New York City goes for something like $20. You can cook like the fanciest of chefs this week! Because they are foraged items, please wash and cook them! All you really need to do: add some olive oil and lots of garlic in a little sauté.
Storage: Keep refrigerated for a week.
Spring Lemon Risotto with Asparagus and Fiddlehead Ferns
serves 4 to 6
1 1/2 cups fiddlehead ferns
1 1/2 cups asparagus
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (grab Pure Mountain Olive Oil)
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, washed well, and diced.
2 scallions, white parts only, washed and minced.
1 clove garlic minced
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
approximately 5 1/2 cups hot vegetable or chicken stock
zest of 1 large lemon
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Start by preparing the vegetables. Boil a medium sized pot of water, and have ready a large bowl of ice water. Thoroughly wash the fiddlehead ferns, then rub them in a kitchen towel to remove any of the brown paper-like chaff. Cut off any brown tips or blemishes. Rinse again if necessary. Blanch both the asparagus and fiddlehead ferns for about 2 minutes, until bright green, then plunge into the ice water bath to stop the cooking. Set aside. Bring the broth to a simmer, then cover and keep warm over medium-low heat. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat.
Then, add the leeks, scallions, and garlic, and sauté until tender and almost translucent (about 5 minutes.) Add rice, and stir until grains are translucent at their edges but still opaque in the center, about 3 minutes. Add wine, and stir until liquid is almost completely absorbed. Next, add the warm stock by the cupful, stirring until rice has absorbed nearly all of the liquid before adding the next cup. When rice is almost done (about 15 minutes), stir in the blanched and drained vegetables and the lemon zest. Stir in the last 1/2 cup of stock, then add the cheese and remaining butter. The risotto should be creamy and tender, and the vegetables cooked but with a remaining firm bite. Finally, serve immediately.