LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
Coming up: the perfect wine. But first, some food to go with it. Like crocuses, spring foods seem like promises of warmth and sunshine: asparagus, artichokes, green garlic, strawberries - all things we associate with the season. Food writer Peggy Knickerbocker from member station KQED with some fresh, springy ideas. Her books include "Simple Soirees," which won a James Beard award. Peggy, welcome to the show.
PEGGY KNICKERBOCKER: Thank you.
WERTHEIMER: Now, even though we now have everything all the time in our big supermarkets - things like asparagus and artichokes - it seems to me they really do taste better in season. So we wait for them all winter and then we throw them into boiling, boiling water. I wonder if you could suggest something else to do. Let's start with artichokes.
KNICKERBOCKER: Well, if you have a great, big one, take off the thorny tops. Just chop them off, cut them in half lengthwise, scoop out the choke, and then you can just, sort of, stew them in some water and white wine or maybe a little chicken stock, or you can slice them up. And then you have this wonderful sauce, stewed thing that is, you know, with these particles of artichoke that you can scoop over a little bit of fish or toss into a pasta.
And then just this last weekend, and I had this wonderful thing at a restaurant called Boulette's Larder in San Francisco, which is the Roman style artichokes. In Rome, I think they're called Carciofi alla Giudia - excuse my accent. But with them, there's - you, sort of, squish them down and twist them. They have to be very, very fresh, and then you deep-fry them in olive oil.
KNICKERBOCKER: And then you'd get this wonderful, sort of, caramelized, camel-colored, crisp flower that you just, sort of, pick the leaves off and you can crunch the whole thing into your mouth and it's absolutely delicious.
WERTHEIMER: Asparagus is another one of those things that you can just - you can boil it up or - what else can you do?
KNICKERBOCKER: What you do is you just snap the asparagus off where they give, you know, so that they're…
WERTHEIMER: (Unintelligible) have the tender part.
KNICKERBOCKER: …you only have the tender part, but a good part of the stem. And then you put them on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast for about ten minutes at 400 degrees. Then, while they're roasting, you fry up a couple of eggs, depending upon how many people you're serving and toast a little French bread.
And then, when they're all done, you'd scoop out the asparagus and put about three on each piece of toast. Put a fried egg on top of the asparagus, grate a little parmigiano over the top, and then you serve that for a nice little lunch or a first course for dinner. And then when you break the yolk, the yolks, sort of, creates a sauce with the olive oil, and it oozes into the toast and it's just a wonderful spring mayo.
WERTHEIMER: Well, let's move quickly onto dessert: strawberries, which California has almost all the time. We don't really get the good stuff until late May, but if we were to follow up our spring veggies with a little fruit dessert?
KNICKERBOCKER: Well, one dessert I love is to slice strawberries after you've taken the little green cap off and just toss them with a bit of marmalade. This makes such a good - a little sauce for them.
WERTHEIMER: You mean, just like orange marmalade out of a jar.
KNICKERBOCKER: Yeah, just a couple of tablespoons. Just, sort of, toss it in. It's just delicious.
WERTHEIMER: Strawberries and cream - I think you can't beat that.
KNICKERBOCKER: When we were growing up, we used to have strawberries and then on the side, we'd have a little bowl of sour cream and a little bowl of brown sugar, and then you'd double dip. And that was a pretty good combination too.
WERTHEIMER: Peggy Knickerbocker is speaking to us from KQED. Peggy, thank you so much.
KNICKERBOCKER: Oh, I love being with you.
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