Wisteria is blooming all over Atlanta. It winds it’s way up trees and telephone poles, and often invades a large forested area. The huge lavender flowers cluster and droop down from vines, swaying in the breeze, giving off a lovely scent. It is breathtaking and something you would imagine in a fairy tale.
Wisteria holds an important place in the Japanese tradition. There is one symbolism that seems most appropriate this week..
Endurance in the face of heartache~
It was a gorgeous weekend here in Atlanta. Sunny, breezy and in the low 70s. Tonight while closing our patio umbrella and some of the windows, I heard a loud, strange noise. Sure enough, my husband pointed out a toad on our patio. Luckily our dog had not also made this discovery. The toad was cute and comical all at the same time, much like a character out of a Beatrix Potter book. He could care less as I flashed away my camera close-up at him. He didn’t blink or move, he just closed his eyes a little for the photo opps. What struck me were the iridescent sparkles in his skin, much like a quartz rock would have. Maybe spending so much time in the Georgia soil and in the creek near our home has given him this complexion. In any event, Monsieur Toad is a sure sign that spring is here and summer is close behind.
Yesterday while walking my dog, we ventured near the woods. Magnolias and flowering dogwoods were a gorgeous surprise. My dog wanted to follow the paths as far as they would take us, but for fear of trespassing (or getting lost) we did not. There are flowering trees and new leaves everywhere, but I can feel that spring is just beginning to peek it’s lovely head around the corner. My favorite harbinger of spring in the South is purple wisteria climbing up tree trunks, houses, and whatever it wishes to grab hold of. Until then, I will settle for the beauty of the woods.
Bodegas Breca, chocolate covered strawberries, Cooking Channel, Debi Mazar, Easter, Easter menu, Extra Virgin, Gabriele Corcos, garlic, Garnacha de Fuego, Ghirardelli, grenache, haricots verts, herb garden, LIdia Bastianich, Lidia's Favorite Recipes, Lidia's Italy, pork loin, risotto, roasted potatoes, rosemary, sage, Sunday dinner, Sunrise Medley Nibble potatoes
After going to mass on Easter Sunday and having a nice late breakfast at home, we had an early dinner to celebrate the special day. I thought I would share what I made with you. I actually make these dishes all the time, except for the risotto which involves more steps. But don’t be intimidated. If you follow the instructions it’s really not difficult. For the pork recipe I normally use pork tenderloin for it’s faster cooking time, lower fat content and tenderness. But yesterday I used a 2 1/2 pound boneless pork loin roast as the recipe calls for. It comes from a show I really enjoy on the Cooking Channel: Extra Virgin with actress Debi Mazar and her Tuscan husband Gabriele Corcos. I love the rustic quality of the herbs with garlic cloves and used rosemary and sage from my own garden. I didn’t chop the herbs but they still flavor the dish. I’m not a huge rosemary fan, but I love the aroma of it in this recipe. I removed the large herbs from the sauce when I removed the pork loin from the pan. This time I tossed them in the roasted potatoes below to add more flavor.
Pork Loin Alla Focettina
Recipe here: Pork Loin Alla Focettina
Roasted Sunrise Medley Nibble Potatoes
One bag Sunrise Medley Nibble Potatoes found at Whole Foods, olive oil, salt and pepper, herbs from pork loin alla focettina optional
These itty bitty potatoes are great because you don’t have to peel them, and they come in yellow, pink and purple. Perfect Easter colors! Rinse and drain the potatoes. Slice them in half lengthwise. Place them on a baking sheet, then drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Roast in a 425F degree oven for 20-30 minutes. If desired, toss with the rosemary, sage and garlic from the pork loin recipe when they are finished. I normally make them without the herbs and they are crispy and delicious. You could also roast them with some fresh herbs of choice and garlic as well. I would use whole cloves of garlic because chopped garlic might burn.
Haricots Verts (Thin Green Beans) with Shallots
One bag frozen haricots verts found at Whole Foods, one large shallot thinly sliced, 2 Tbs olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
I love using frozen haricots verts because they are more delicate and thin, and they are also trimmed and frozen at their peak. Follow the directions for cooking the haricots verts on the package. When cooked, drain and set aside. In the same pan add olive oil until hot. Sautee the shallots until golden brown with a tiny pinch of salt and pepper. Add the haricots verts back to the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sautee for one or two minutes stirring occasionally.
Risotto with Prosciutto and Petite Peas
This recipe is an adaptation from Lidia Bastianich’s newest cookbook, Lidia’s Favorite Recipes. I used her risotto recipe for Arancini di Roso (fried rice balls). I have featured those on another blog post, Sunday Dinner. Basically I stopped at the point before you spread the risotto on a sheet pan to cool. The risotto recipe can be found here on her website, Lidia’s Italy.
I found a delicious red Spanish grenache to compliment our meal: Bodegas Breca Garnacha de Fuego 2011. It was only $8.99 at our local wine shop, and had 92 points, which I thought was a great value for the quality. We thought it was a wonderful compliment to the pork and roasted potatoes.
I also made chocolate covered strawberries for dessert. Unfortunately I was so tired, I didn’t think to take a photo! I always use Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips for these. They are actually so easy to make. You just melt the chips in the microwave 30 seconds at a time. Stir between each time. Use washed dry strawberries with the tops still on. Dip them in chocolate (I just hold the leaves with my fingers). Place on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. They harden faster if you pop them in the refrigerator for a few minutes. Voila!
I hope you will enjoy these recipes in your home! Here’s to spring and the beauty it brings!