Spring into the kitchen (+recipes)

By Grant Allen

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Enjoy the fresh flavours of Spring.

Try tomatoes wrapped in Pugliese mozzarella style cheese. Photo / Doug Sherring
Try tomatoes wrapped in Pugliese mozzarella style cheese. Photo / Doug Sherring

Spring lamb, veal, asparagus, fresh herbs, strawberries, peas and baby potatoes herald the new season. Spring brings happiness to the air, and it bought fun to my kitchen as my friend, the radio host Alison Leonard, quick stepped in to cook with some spring produce.

I realised this woman was quite bonkers about food on first meeting her. Ali told me she had been making "tomato dust "- carefully oven-drying tomato skins left over from making relish, and then pulverising them into dust. She uses this to enhance soup and stews.

Self-described as an obsessively compulsive cook and cookbook reader, Alison calls me her BFFF - best foodie friend forever . . . nice.

Joyful as spring to be around, Ali is a seriously smart lady and, as we shall see, a dab hand in the kitchen.

As the sun warms up, forget about spring cleaning and spring showers. Pop out to your local market or shop and grab a basket of these goodies to help lift you out of winter.

Strawberries + tomatoes

The first New Zealand strawberries are sweet as.

A dusting of icing sugar is all that is needed. Ali suggested making a pot of the freshest strawberry jam to eat with warm scones and cream.

I recently discovered an traditional Pugliese mozzarella style cheese called Sfoglia di Mozzarella, now being made here by Il Casaro.

The cheese curds are pulled and stretched but instead of being rolled into a ball are drained flat on a tray. This produces a sheet of mozzarella that can be cut into strips and wrapped around things.

We wrapped tiny Italiano tomatoes with it, enclosing a leaf of the freshest new basil.

Other recipes to try:

* Lamb noisettes

* Blanquette de veau

* Chris Fortune's pickled asparagus

Contacts

* Spring vegetables and cheese: Art Of Produce, info@artofproduce.co.nz

* Spring meat: Grey Lynn Butchers, greylynnbutchers@xtra.co.nz

* Cheese Safe (seen holding duck eggs) and disposable tableware: Epicure Trading

* Chris Fortune's asparagus recipe from his book Pick, Preserve, Serve

* Other recipes and all styling by Grant Allen

* Props from the One Stop Prop Shop

* Contact Alison at ali@thebreeze.co.nz

- Herald on Sunday

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