Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon
Menu

A Taste of Spring

Save to Recipe Box
Print
Add Private Note
Saved Add to List

    Add to List

Print
Add Recipe Note

Welcome the season with a menu inspired by the market’s freshest ingredients

And after months of hearty winter produce, the arrival of delicate spring vegetables at my local farmstand offers plenty of inspiration for a dinner menu. Wild mushrooms, the happy result of plentiful spring rains, are sautéed with shallots, fresh thyme, then mixed with  a little crème fraîche and spooned onto toasts as “a little something” for guests as they arrive.

Fresh asparagus and new potatoes, both treated with a very light hand, round out a main course of roasted Cornish game hens. And while your market may still be skimpy on seasonal fruit, who’s going to argue with a dish of vanilla ice cream drizzled with an espresso-flavored caramel sauce? Some things are inspirational at any time of year.

Download a pdf of this menu, including all recipes, shopping list, and timeline.

Menu Timeline

Up to a week ahead

  • Make the caramel sauce

The night before

  • Marinate the hens.
  • Wash the lettuce and refrigerate, covered with a damp towel.
  • Clean the mushrooms and refrigerate, covered with a damp towel

In the afternoon

  • Make the mushroom topping.
  • Make the chapons.
  • Cut the bread for the toasts.
  • Trim the asparagus.
  • Peel the potatoes and cover with water in a pot.

About 30 minutes before guests arrive

  • Mince the shallots and combine with the vinegar for the salad.
  • Mince the shallots and combine with the lemon for the potatoes.
  • Set the butter out to soften for the potatoes.
  • Brush the baguette slices with oil.
  • Put the hens on a baking sheet and leave at room temperature.

Soon after guests arrive

  • Put the hens in the oven.
  • Finish the Wild Mushroom Toasts.

Before serving each course

  • Toss the salad.
  • Make the pan jus for the hens.
  • Boil the potatoes.
  • Roast the asparagus.

Shopping List

Fresh Produce

  • 1 lb. wild mushrooms, such as chanterelles, maitakes, hedgehogs, or morels
  • 4 medium and 1 large shallots
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 head garlic
  • 6 large handfuls (about 1/2 lb.) mixed baby lettuces
  • 2-1/4 lb. small (2-inch) new potatoes, such as Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 small bunch fresh chervil
  • 2 lb. asparagus, preferably thin spears
  • 1 medium orange
  • 1 small yellow onion

Meat, Eggs & Dairy

  • 3 Cornish game hens
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 oz. chunk Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 pints vanilla ice cream

Other Groceries

  • 1 baguette
  • 1 crusty, country-style bread (such as Italian batard or levain), at least 3/4 lb.
  • 1 bottle dry white wine, such as Sauvignon blanc or Pinot Grigio
  • Kahlua (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate-covered espresso beans (optional)
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • Ground espresso beans for brewing (if you don’t have an espresso machine, pick up a single brewed espresso at a local café just before making the caramel sauce)

Pantry Staples

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. honey (preferably wildflower)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (pinch)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbs. sherry or red-wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Black peppercorns

Wine Choices

The dishes in this spring meal call for light, vibrant, youthful whites with juicy fruit and mouthwatering acidity and light-to-medium-bodied reds without a lot of oak or tannin. With the salad, serve a white such as Albariño or Sauvignon Blanc. I recommend the 2005 Vionta Albariño ($13) or the 2005 Valminor Albariño ($14), both from the Rias Baixas region of northwest Spain; or if you prefer Sauvignon Blanc, look for the 2006 Babich ($14) from the Marlborough region of New Zealand or the 2005 Dry Creek Vineyard Fumé Blanc ($13.50) from California’s Sonoma County. For the main course—or if you want just one wine to serve with the entire meal—Pinot Noir is a delicious choice. Look for the 2005 A to Z ($18) or the 2004 Andrew Rich ($25). Both are from Oregon, and both have appealing red-berry fruit and soft tannins.

—Tim Gaiser is a contributing editor and a master sommelier.

The Menu

Videos

View All

Moveable Feast Logo

Season 4 Extras

Seattle, WA

Explore the Pacific Northwest as Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking travels to Seattle to get a taste of some of the freshest food on the west coast. Host Curtis Stone…

View all Moveable Feast recipes and video extras

Connect

Follow Fine Cooking on your favorite social networks