No, no, that's not a Montréal pear.
And no, that's not a Montréal cherry, either.
What's worse, I just read my peeps The Frog Prince, which may as well be subtitled The Importance of Keeping Promises.
Morals, schmorals. April intervened.
Turns out, Spring is right now, rightthissecond, and if I wait a week, it will be long gone. Spring is like that here, sudden, insistent, without any semblance of a pause button. Spring, in Ohio, waits for no man, much less a Molly.
An interlude, then, while Spring's still strung up in the branches, and splayed, willy-nilly, under our feet.
(Feel free to pull a princess, call me a slimy frog.)
It's just that there's this moment when the little world outside our window gets, for lack of a better word, ridiculous.
Close your eyes on certain streets, and I dare you not to chew out the (phantom) lady who spritzed on waaaay too much perfume before leaving the house. The air is fraught. (Close your eyes on others, and you'll find they're all hawking eau de 'cut grass', which I've yet to see over-the-counter, but which might make for a refreshing change.)
Someone turned up the saturation while we were gone, and it's been on the uptick, ever since. The green is greener. The blue, bluer. The pink-purple-lavender-peach party line, almost overwhelming. It finally dawned on me, just this past week, why pastels and Easter are thick as thieves. (A little slow in this department. Still.)
Although, and this is only my personal opinion, a sidenote to the fashion industry: pastels work far better in petals and buds than in polyester ruffles and scritch-scratchity tulle.
(Separately, we've begun rocking the pink-purple-red look. Bound to happen, I knew, eventually. Now I know eventually is now.)
Blooms and birds are everywhere. It's as if Christo and Liberty colluded last Thursday and pulled off a citywide Tana Lawn install. Or perhaps HGTV's concept-testing its latest reality show, William Morris Unleashed: The Ohio edition. Or maybe Monet and his cronies dissed curfew and TP'd the town with their wish-washy bouquets.
I have to confess, it feels terribly redundant, like cheating, or at least rather Rankin-Bass, come December: It's that time! Pop some corn. Cue the Cherry/Plum/Pear/Ho-hum re-run.
But here's the rub: these are this week. Everything is new again, again. If this is redundancy, I'll take it.
(You hereby have my permission to make that 'slimy, tedious frog'. )
Hats off to you, Spring.
You improve upon pretty much the entire landscape, make even the unlikeliest bits look lovely. Whipped into a tizzy before the tornado sirens blare, the lilacs, they still smile.
Even the weeds look good.
Even the slugs look good.
That takes talent.
Spring, I think, flatters everything.
Which is how I've been feeling a lot, of late, about lemon peel and parsley.
I meant to put that period there.
This wouldn't be the first time I've trumpeted two ingredients and passed them off as a recipe. But I've this funny feeling cast-off peels and deli-case sprigs won't inspire the same thrill as heavy cream and dark chocolate. Or amaretti and mascarpone. Or ship's biscuits and stale water. In fact, I feel like Great Aunt Maude, giving tube socks to a six-year-old and calling it a Christmas.
Would it help if I mentioned I chop them really, really fine? (The parsley and peel, I mean. Or maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe you'd feel the same about minced sock.)
Hear me out?
There's an irrational culinary alchemy that happens when these two kitchen stalwarts are minced, together, to smithereens. Chopped fine, the lemon peel—and peel it is here, not fly-away zest—exhales its intoxicating oils into the hot-whatever underneath. The parsley, for its part, brings its chlorophyll punch, that inimitable flavor I can only ever describe as green. Green's a good flavor. Especially with yellow.
You gremolata fiends will recognize this as a slimmed-down version of that already-slim garnish. I am, alas, no fan of raw garlic, but I've become a bit raving over this two-minute pixie dust. Some people ketchup everything. Me, I reach for this edible confetti.
It is sprinkles for grown-ups. Blush for pale cheeks. A lifeline for leftovers. And for first-overs. And for future meals, not yet planned.
It brings all kinds of sunshine to butter-scrambled eggs. It's outrageous on braised brisket, and lights up beef stew, and livens up a plate of beans like nobody's business. It is beautiful, in every sense, on seared white fish, sweet and clean and a-swim in browned butter.
Stir heaps into spaghetti aglio e olio, for a brighter zippier take on a fine peasant's feast. Add crushed salted almonds and/or olive-oil toasted bread crumbs, and invite kings along, also. Toss it over garlic-roasted potatoes. Shower it on sautéed zucchini. Or oven-blasted olive-oiled carrots, or cauliflower, or broccoli.
Having depleted last summer's pesto, I've taken to plonking it on soups, all soups, often with a toss of pecorino. I've yet to find one that doesn't love it. Like Spring, it flatters everything. Well, maybe not rice pudding. But risotto, absolutely. And roast asparagus. And...
Lemon Parsley Sprinkle (Semi-Gremolata)
For reasons I don't fully understand, Microplaned zest doesn't work as well, here. Thin strips of peel, chopped fine, are what you want. I keep several Oxo peelers on hand, which I love for their sharp edge. The ordinary peeler works beautifully here; the serrated one, if you have it, even better.
2 large lemons (preferably organic)
generous handful parsley (a loose cup of leaves)
With a sharp peeler, remove the skin from your lemon, leaving behind the pith you can, but not worrying overly about white here and there. Pile up your lemon peel and parsley leaves, and with a sharp chef's knife, chop-chop-chop. Gather your pile again, and chop-chop-chop some more. Repeat. Repeat again. A few more times than you think. Aim for bits between pinheads and lentils in size. Sprinkle over (almost) anything.
This holds surprisingly well in the refrigerator for a few days. I often double or triple the above quantities, and dip into it for days.