Feeds for fickle weather


Last week, a friend and I were discussing the weather. "Forget global warming," he said with a chuckle. "How about global icing?"

April can be a cruel month. The daffodils are up, my multicolored pansies are budding all over and the dogwood in the garden is showing signs of spring. Then all of a sudden, it is 35 degrees and snowing. Three days later, it was still cold and wet.

This kind of iffy spring weather can cause a dinner dilemma. My solution usually centers around a soup, a roast, vegetables and side dishes to keep us toasty indoors. Nothing fancy, just down-to-earth, delicious dishes.

Prewashed baby spinach leaves, sold in 8-ounce bags for as little as $1, have become very popular. I use them in salads, stir them into minestrone soup and saut� them with garlic and olive oil as a side dish. When I thought about the types of recipes for this week’s column, a rich French potage came to mind. A potage is a pureed soup that can be made with any number of vegetables. I wanted to make one with spinach and found an unusual recipe in Soup: A Way of Life by Barbara Kafka.

One of the reasons I like to make roasts is there’s no fuss, no bother. You simply put the roast in the oven and it cooks itself. I made an eye roast a while ago and, as long as you don’t overcook it, the meat is tasty and tender.

If I am serving soup, I usually don’t make a salad. Instead, I add a medley of vegetables to go with a roast. Since the potage recipe calls for potatoes, roasted turnips with fennel are a delicious substitute.

Broccoli with caramelized shallots is a colorful side dish. You can substitute Brussels sprouts — the smallest you can find — or broccoli rabe or green beans for the broccoli.

Wine choices include a Pinot Noir or a C�tes du Rh�ne. If you’re in an Italian mood, a Chianti or Sangiovese also would be delicious with the beef.

Here are recipes for dishes you can enjoy on a cold or warm spring evening.

Spinach and Potato Soup


4 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 medium scallions, white and 1 inch of pale green part only, cut across into thin slices
1 small clove garlic, smashed, peeled and very finely chopped
3/4 pound baby spinach leaves, stemmed
3 cups homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
1/2 pound firm potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon hot red-pepper sauce
1 tablespoon kosher salt, or less if using commercial canned broth
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Stir in the scallions and garlic and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the spinach and cook for three minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients except for the salt and pepper, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Place the vegetables with a little broth in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Puree the vegetables, working in batches if necessary, depending on the size of your processor.

Place the pureed vegetables and broth back into the saucepan. Heat through thoroughly and add kosher salt and pepper to taste.

Serves four.

Note: This soup can be served in three ways — as is, pureed in the food processor or partly pureed and part left chunky.

Roast Eye Round of Beef


1 (3-pound) long, narrow eye round roast
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1-1/2 cups dry red wine


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Place the roast in a shallow roasting pan. Sprinkle on the kosher salt and black pepper. Place meat in the oven and roast for 45 minutes. Check the roast for doneness by slicing into it. If it is still too rare, pop it back into the oven for about 15 more minutes.

Remove the roast from the oven and allow to stand for 15 minutes before carving. While the roast rests, place the pan over high heat on top of the stove. Add the wine and stir around, using a wooden or heavy plastic spoon, until the brown bits are loosened from the bottom of the pan. The liquid will reduce a bit as it cooks. Place the sauce in a sauceboat and serve.

Serves six.

Note: Leftover eye roast makes delicious sandwiches, roast-beef hash and an excellent addition to a plain green salad.

Roasted Fennel and Turnips

2 fennel bulbs, sliced
3 turnips, peeled and cut into cubes
Sprinkling of olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Place the fennel and turnips in a shallow roasting pan. Add the kosher salt, black pepper and olive oil. Toss the vegetables around with a plastic spoon to coat evenly. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and toss the vegetables around again, place back into the oven and roast for 15 more minutes.

Serves four.

Broccoli with Caramelized Shallots


1 large head broccoli, tough stems peeled with a vegetable peeler and cut into florets
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste


Fill a 3-quart saucepan with water, bring it to a boil, add the broccoli and blanch for about 30 seconds. Drain immediately in a colander and run cold water over the broccoli. Drain well and set aside.

Heat the butter and oil over medium heat in the same saucepan. Add the shallots and saut� for about five to 10 minutes, until they turn golden-brown. Add the broccoli and cook through, coating the broccoli with the shallots. Add kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

Serves four.