Books, Bowls, and Seeds for Spring

Scarlet Runner Beans Photo Thomas Kuoh

Scarlet Runner Beans Photo Thomas Kuoh

Curl up with vegetable packets and cookbooks and dream of spring. Imagine your garden filled with delicate lettuce, brilliant scarlet runner beans, and rainbow chard and you, in the kitchen with a harvest basket, merrily washing lettuce and trimming runner beans or chopping greens. It may be snowing, raining, or sunny today, tomorrow, even next week or longer, but spring will arrive so best to be  prepared with seeds at hand, ready to plant.

Swiss Chard Whole and ChoppedBaby Artichokes In Blue BowlEven though it says ” A Child’s Kitchen Garden Seed Collection”, anyone of any age can get a garden started with this handy 6 -packet collection, so don’t be hesitant. Scarlet Runner Beans, Green Globe Artichoke,  Carouby Peas, Gaudry Radish, Rainbow Chard, and Fava Beans make a good beginning. Add La Vie Rustic’s ” French Lettuce Seed Collection” and “French Chicory Collection” (escarole, frisee, and radicchio) and your kitchen will be bursting with homegrown food to inspire you for months to come.









And, If there is a child you’d like to garden with take a look at this wonderful new cookbook by Claudine Pepin, “Kids Cook French” from Quarry Books. It’s whimsically illustrated by her famous father, Jacques Pepin and the recipes and text are in both French and English. What could be more fun than growing a French style Potager garden with a child, then ‘cooking in French’? OK a trip to France could be more fun, but gardening and cooking are gifts that last a lifetime.

IMG_2127There is a simple recipe for Sauteed Swiss Chard, Blettes sautees in French, a recipe for Whole Roasted Chicken with Herbes de Provence that uses more than a whole head of garlic – you can see this is serious food for everyone -and for dessert Claudine has lots of recipes, including Clafoutis and Crepes. Imagine a Fig Clafouti with Sultan de Marabout figs.

Buy the book at your local bookstore or online.



IMG_2101And, while you are thinking about cooking, take a look at Elaine Corn’s latest set of prep bowls she’s made for La Vie Rustic. She’s working hard on replacing our stock of prep bowls and gratin dishes. Be patient. They are all made by hand from shaping the bowls to glazing and firing them.




Artichoke and Fava Barrigoule
This is a favorite springtime dish in Provence, when the gardens and markets of full of young, tender artichokes and fava beans. Serve this as a first course with a good baguette. I find an excellent wine pairing is Vermentino (or Rolle as the varietal is called in France). Artichokes are tricky to wine pair, but this one really works. ~Georgeanne

2 tablespoons minced green garlic, about 3 stalks, whites only or 2 cloves minced garlic
8-12 fresh artichokes, small to medium, trimmed and halved
2 pounds of fresh fava beans, removed from pods
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken broth
2-3 branches fresh thyme
Bring a pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Drop in the shelled fava beans and blanch for 10 to 20 seconds. Drain and rinse under cold water. Slip the outer skins off. Discard the skins and set aside the beans.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan or sauté pan with a lid. When it is hot, add the garlic and sauté. Add the artichokes and favas, and sauté briefly. Then add the white wine, scraping up any bits, then add the broth. Add the thyme and the pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the artichokes are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove and let stand until ready to serve. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Serves 6 to 8

PS – If you didn’t see the feature on Georgeanne Brennan and La Vie Rustic in the Feb 28 issue of the Wall Street Journal, take a look.