Spring is a joyful bridge from winter to summer, when bright green chives spring from the ground and we anticipate delicious produce to come. Tiny flowers pop on strawberry runners, and pink radishes and baby salad greens can be plucked from the earth. Daydreaming about mild, warm April days inspired me to create a menu that takes full advantage of spring’s post-winter bounty.
My celebration menu begins with a pink and green salad of lettuce, strawberries, radishes, and chives with a slightly sweet clementine dressing. The focal point is a classic spiral ham, but I’ve taken it up a notch by using an uncured cut and coating it with a simple glaze of grainy mustard, herbes de Provence, and apricot preserves.
To accompany the ham, small golden potatoes are cooked just until tender, peeled, quartered, and then tossed with luscious young onions in a velvety cream sauce. Also on the side is rainbow chard tossed with tender shallots, then baked under Parmigiano-coated baguette slices.
To wrap up the meal in true spring fashion, I turn to rhubarb. This tangy, blushing beauty is showcased in an updated version of a blitz torte: layers of tender golden cake topped with billowy meringue and crunchy almonds. My cake originated from the 1940s paperback The Victory Binding of the American Woman’s Cook Book. Instead of sandwiching with the traditional blitz torte filling of custard or cream and fresh berries, I go with a jamlike strawberry-rhubarb filling.