Thursday, May 6, 2010

urban garden party III

Ramp saffron vichyssoise-
Ramps are a quintessential spring vegetable and they work quite well in this soup in place of traditional leeks. I also added some zucchini to because I like the flavor and I thought it might be greener that way. I stayed fairly traditional-- Julia Child's recipe is just leeks, potatoes and water, but I used chicken broth and some garlic to bring out the garlicky-ness of the ramps. I used the saffron as a garnish as I was afraid it would make the soup too yellow, but it is still quite assertive. make sure not to use too much or it will overwhelm the delicate soup. Saffron is of course the stamen in the crocus flower, therefore fulfilling my floral requirement. I was particularly pleased with my presentation on this one- egg shell cups (boiled in hot water to sterilize) are nestled in chinese soup spoons which are in turn arranged in a stone bowl that has been in my garden for years. I stuck a little museum putty under the eggs to keep them upright, but make them still easily removable for drinking the soup. And the spoons caught and soup that spilled over. I thought the brown eggs looked so beautiful and springy with the green soup inside!

Asparagus, nasturtium & goat cheese terrine- I got the idea for this terrine from Martha's hors d'oeuvres handbook. I like the idea of a terrine (which somehow seemed fussy and garden party-esque) without aspic in it. Martha uses goat cheese mixed with a fancy middle eastern cheese- I just used my own homemade herbed yogurt cheese instead. I wanted to use the asparagus in keeping with my spring theme, but I wasn't excited about the mushrooms in Martha's recipe. I had this vision of a whole nasturtium flower on each slice, but of course they would then have to added after slicing (the whole thing is essentially a sliced cheese log) and the flowers were bigger than the terrine so I just used a petal on each. In retrospect a layer of petals in the terrine probably would have been better. Also the leek greens encasing the terrine look beautiful, but were a bit tough-- I might substitute scallions in the future. Toasted homemade wheat bread was served on the side. The silver platter rests on a rusty piece of steel plate that some former student of mine tossed, bad welds and all. I like the contrast between the metals.

Second photo: Guests attending a garden party, 1944, George Skadding

The flowers are a combination of echinacea, mint, sedum & some alliums from my garden.

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