A Mark Peel Easter; Artisan Chocolate; Tomatomania; Mismatched Pots; Clean Cows; Little Arabia

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Laura Avery spoke with Amelia Saltsman about the green garlic and spring peas at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market. Amelia offers a couple of great recipes to showcase these two seasonal ingredients.

English Pea & Spring Herb Salad with Lemon-Yogurt Vinaigrette
Makes 6-8 servings of salad, about 2/3 cup dressing

For the salad:

  • 1 cup shelled English peas
  • - cup dill, snipped
  • 8 leaves fresh mint, torn
  • 3 Tablespoons chives, snipped
  • 1 cup pea shoots, small leaves no tendrils
  • 8 cups butter lettuce
  • Arugula flowers
For the dressing:
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 Tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
Blanch peas in boiling salted water for 1-2 minutes, then refresh in cold water and ice to stop cooking and to preserve bright green color. In large salad bowl, mix together peas, dill, mint, chives, pea shots and butter lettuce. In medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice, yogurt, mustard and 3/4 teaspoon salt and a couple of grindings of black pepper. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Taste for seasoning by dipping lettuce leaf lightly in dressing. Add salt or pepper as needed. Toss salad with enough dressing to lightly coat vegetables. You should have some dressing left over.
-Copyright 2005, Amelia Saltsman

Spring Garlic & New Potato Soup
Makes 6-8 servings

  • 3 bunches green garlic (bulbs 1/2 -1 inch in diameter) about 15 plants
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing soup
  • 1 lb red new potatoes, scrubbed and cut into small chunks
  • 6 cups water
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
If you use organic potatoes, leave skins on for flavor and color. This delicious and easy recipe can be enriched by using chicken or vegetable stock in place of water.

Trim root and tops off garlic. Use white part and 2-3 inches of green. Discard or save unused parts for vegetable stock. Cut garlic in half lengthwise and wash well to remove dirt. Slice thinly crosswise. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in heavy wide pot over medium heat. Saut- garlic and onion till tender, about 5 minutes. Turn heat to low, cover pot and cook another 5 minutes. Add potatoes and water, cover and bring to boil. Remove lid, reduce heat and cook soup at low boil till potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle olive oil on each serving. Soup may be pureed for more elegant presentation.
-Copyright 1999, Amelia Saltsman

Laura also spoke with Caroline Beck of Cook & Ladder about their small batch jams and olive oils.

Mark Peel, chef/owner of Campanile restaurant, spoke wild leeks, or ramps, which are high in vitamin C and delicious this time of year, and fava beans, very tender beans which require a bit of labor if you want to uncover their tender goodness. He also delighted us with a divine Easter menu.

Rosemary Charred Leg of Lamb
Serves 6 to 8
Serve with Baba Ghanouj (recipe follows)

  • One 4 - lb leg of lamb
  • 3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 6 ozs rosemary sprigs (8 bunches)
  1. Trim off any excess fat from the meat, leaving a thin layer. Make 1 inch slits all over the meat and insert the garlic slices. Rub the lamb well with olive oil and coat heavily with salt and pepper. Wrap securely with plastic wrap and set aside for several hours, or refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 500- F.
  3. Heat an ovenproof skillet or heavy pan large enough for the lamb to fit in comfortably and brown it on all sides. Remove the lamb to a platter and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat. Cover the bottom of pan with a bed of rosemary and place the lamb on top. Cover the lamb with more rosemary.
  4. Place in the oven. After 20 minutes turn the heat down to 375- F. Roast for another 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven.
  5. When ready to serve, take outside, carefully ignite the rosemary on top of the lamb, and allow to burn itself out. Make sure you have a tight-fitting lid handy to extinguish the flames. Brush off the woody stems. The charred rosemary imparts even more flavor to the lamb. Let it rest 10 to 15 minutes and transfer to a serving platter.
Note: If fresh rosemary is unavailable, soak 3 ounces of dried rosemary in water to cover for 30 minutes. Drain. Pat wet rosemary on the lamb before placing it in the oven. Do not attempt to flame it.

Baba Ghanouj
Serves 4 as a side dish

  • 1 medium unblemished eggplant (about 1 - lbs)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • - tsp coarse salt
  • - tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
    1. Place a cast-iron skillet large enough for the eggplant to fit comfortably over high heat and put the eggplant in it. Cook for about 1 hour, carefully turning the eggplant every 15 minutes as the skin becomes black and charred. Remove from the heat and set aside until cool enough to handle.
    2. Trim off the stem end of the eggplant and cut in half lengthwise. Carefully scrape out the insides with a spoon, discarding the charred skin. Some of the pulp may have darkened; this will give the eggplant a roasted flavor. Mash the pulp in a bowl with a fork, breaking up any large pieces. Stir in the garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Let stand at room temperature for several hours or refrigerate overnight.

    Michael Recchiuti and his wife Jacky established Recchiuti Confections in 1997. One of the first chocolate artisans in California, their beautiful satisfying chocolates rival the best in Europe. They are based in San Francisco, but orders can be placed on their website.

    Scott Daigre spoke about Tomatomania!- The country's largest tomato seedling sale is celebrating its 15th year.

    Sale Dates/Locations:

    Encino: April 1-3, 9am-5pm, Tapia Brothers Farm Stand (818-905-6155) at 5251 Hayvenhurst Avenue; free admission and parking, seedlings start at $3.00
    Costa Mesa: April 14-17, 16th Annual Southern California Spring Garden Show at the Crate & Barrel/Macy's Home Store wing of South Coast Plaza (714-435-2171)
    Arcadia: April 29-May 1, Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden (626-821-3222) at 301 North Baldwin Avenue

    Julia Collin Davison of Cook's Illustrated recommended pots and pans. She says the two pieces you want to invest in are an All Clad 12- stainless steel skillet and a Le Creuset 7 1/4 qt Dutch oven with a slightly domed lid. The Farberware Millennium non-stick pans are a good buy and the handles stay cool.

    Vivien Straus from the Straus Family Creamery spoke about running an organic dairy. Straus is now offering vanilla and maple flavored yogurts, in addition to its other European style yogurts.

    Gustavo Arellano, food editor of the OC Weekly, spoke about the Little Arabia area in Orange County. He recommended Kareem-s Restaurant (714-778-6829) at 1208 S Brookhurst St in Anaheim, Kareem's is open Tuesday-Saturday, 11 am-9 pm; Sunday, 11am-3pm. Recommended dishes include falafel pita, hummus with pine nuts and beef shawerma and a great fatoush salad.