host: hallelujah spring is here weekend lunch
This time of year, long leisurely lunches start calling my name -- there's something so timeless about close friends around a table, a few easy courses, and the sun still shining.
Last year, we set out to capture the brightness of the season with a meal that felt complete and satisfying, without the starchy weight of winter.
A little wine, fresh bites, a clean pasta... spring is here, and amen to that.
radishes a la creme: Radishes are one of those vegetables I stumbled into years ago and realized could make the perfect rustic snack - chop them up and serve with flaked salt; dip them in with hummus for a travel snack, or as in this David Tanis recipe, slice them into a biting starter. The key is to get radishes with flavor (none of that bland wateriness) but not too much sting, slice them as thin as you can, and then top them with creme fraiche, and a sprinkle of chives or other herbs. We served them alongside a clean salad of fresh greens.
smoked fish rillette: Mr. Tanis again. I was hooked by the ease and the fact that we could serve it in tiny mason jars (bonus points: they make a great hostess or holiday gift). The recipe called for mackeral, but we substituted in sardines with little lost. Serve with lots of crusty bread.
linguine alle vongole: A standby favorite, we've doctored it from several recipes. The key is a bit of lemon zest, lots of chili flakes, and cooking the clams to just the right consistency.
tangerine granita with champagne: of my favorite discoveries of 2014, once again from David Tanis's One Good Dish (can you tell it was a recent purchase when we created this meal?). Juice a ton of citrus, add lime and sugar, and freeze flattened in ziplock bags. When you're ready, roughly chop it into small bits. Alone or with a splash of champagne, it becomes an easy dessert. Throw it in a flute and smother in bubbly and you have one of my favorite aperitifs. This version we did with tangerines, but we brought out grapefruit for new years, and it was equally delicious (also: pink, for bonus points).
almond cake: the one and only friend Erika brought an incredible almond cake, paired with coffee ice cream, for the perfect not-too-sweet end. It was after all, still midday.