Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spring Hat Trick

A couple of my Navy friends were coming for lunch one day last week - Sunny and Bonnie, whom I met when we three were more or less imprisoned in a French boarding school back when President Kennedy was refusing to let the Russians place missiles in Cuba. Of the ten or so American girls at the school, only four of us have stayed in touch and three of us live locally so we get together three times a year to swap stories and catch up.

Spring may not be here officially yet, but signs of it are everywhere - daffodils and flowering trees are brightening the landscape, it's no longer pitch black dark at dinner time and the neighbor's kids have switched from hockey to baseball. Best of all, new potatoes and asparagus from Zuckerman and green garlic are in the markets. With a hat trick like that, it seemed perfect to tip winter into spring by serving a raclette version with green garlic over those tender little spuds and nestled next to some grilled asparagus.

There isn't really even a recipe for a meal so simple and direct. Slice some green garlic, sauté it in a little butter. Steam some little potatoes and cut them into more or less bite-size pieces. Mix the potatoes and the green garlic together and top with slices of raclette cheese. Run under the broiler until the cheese melts, bubbles and just lightly browns.

Drizzle a minimal amount of olive oil over some fresh, washed asparagus once the ends are snapped off. Arrange them on a hot grill (I used my Jennair, since it was raining outside by then, but a grill pan works just as well and, if it's sunny, a barbecue is the best for smoky flavor) and roll them around as they brown and even blacken in spots. If the heat is very hot, watch them carefully - this only takes a very few minutes. Serve hot or cold or room temp - they are deliciously sweet any way they come!

Sunny and I walked Cora around the town while we waited for Bonnie to arrive, then we all sat outside for a few minutes on the new deck, enjoying the fresh air just before the rain moved in (again!) and catching up with each others' lives. Bonnie will have a third grandchild in the summer. Sunny's husband is publishing a book. I'm anticipating an Easter visit from our granddaughter. Sharing a meal and a natter with these women is my idea of a hat trick.

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