Spring has definitely sprung in Northern California! The temperatures in the Bay area have my kids barefoot and jumping in the chilly pool after school. In the non-food world, Spring to me means baseball season is in full swing, NBA playoffs are underway, it’s light outside until after dinner, and the windows and doors are open from morning till evening. In the food world, it means- local strawberries (with fresh whipped cream), blueberries (eaten straight out of hand), rhubarb (makes a delicious fruit crumble or simple syrup for a mixed drink), and spring onions, green garlic, and asparagus (delicious in a frittata)- all popping up at the farmer’s market.
Over the beautiful spring weekend, we celebrated our daughter’s Confirmation. Because we needed to keep the meal short and sweet in order to get to the church on time, I decided on an easy, make-ahead meal that satisfied adults and kids alike. It needed to be ready when guests arrived, not too messy as we were all in dresses and suits, and not too heavy as we were going to be sitting for the ceremony for nearly 2 hours. The following menu was a hit!
The more I think about this menu, the more I think it would be a great Easter or Mother’s Day menu, too. And, the bonus is that local salmon season is almost here and I read recently that it is on track for being a prolific season with lower prices than in the past. I’m looking forward to sharing some of my favorite salmon recipes!
These tasty little French cheese puffs are so easy and an impressive start to the meal with a glass of champagne. They are a bit more impressive looking and seem to have more “puff” when they are piped from a pastry bag, but I can assure you that just scooping them with a small-sized ice cream scoop will work just fine- they taste the same!
Macaroni and Cheese
Any homemade recipe will do, but in cooking school, we made some pretty tasty versions- one of my favorites was with roasted poblano and scallion. Whatever version or add-ins you include, be sure to: put the macaroni mixture in a buttered casserole dish and top with crunchy panko breadcrumbs that have been toasted in a pan with butter and garlic and then tossed with grated parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 degrees till golden and bubbly. *I made this for the kids but the adults didn’t mind a little pile next to their salad with salmon!
Alison Roman’s Slow Roasted Citrus Salmon with Herb Salad is the recipe I pretty much went off of. However, I used a sheet pan, half the amount of olive oil, turned up the heat to 400 degrees for the last 5-7 minutes and skipped the herb salad on top. I served it on top of an arugula salad with sliced strawberries, toasted almonds, shaved manchego cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette. A perfect light Spring main dish.
Carrot Sheet Cake
There are dozens and dozens of really tasty carrot cake recipes out there. Layered, chock-full of nuts, pineapple, raisins, etc, 3 layers, 5 layers- I love them all! Since we had more kids than adults at our dinner celebration, I thought it best to have a simple single layer carrot cake with nothing else in the batter but warm spices and carrots and a nice thick layer of cream cheese frosting. It was a hit with kids and adults alike and the best part- it’s SUPER simple to make!
My favorite single layer carrot cake comes from America’s Test Kitchen Complete Series Cookbook (pretty much my kitchen bible) and if you have access to this- be sure to try this recipe! I cannot easily share the recipe because it’s in a cookbook and even the digital version requires a paid membership (which I personally think is well worth the money, along with a subscription to NYT food app, but this one from Fine Cooking (my favorite cooking magazine) is pretty close if you leave out the nuts and currents!
Whatever your family celebrates- religiously, culturally or traditionally, I hope you enjoy this beautiful weekend and great food with your friends and family.