Bouquet at Your Door: May Basket

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“As full of spirit as the month of May, and gorgeous as the sun in Midsummer.”

William Shakespeare

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The May Day basket is but a forgotten rite of spring in North America.  In this charming tradition, a small bouquet of flowers is hung on a neighbor’s door to welcome spring.  The giver remains anonymous so that there is no reciprocity expected.  It is a small floral gift to brighten the recipient’s day.

Traditionally the bouquets are held in small paper cones, hung with ribbon.  See my “how to” instructions on making the paper cones here.  Any household containers can be used as a May Basket.  An empty aluminium can with hammered holes on its side threaded with ribbon makes a unique bouquet holder.  Jelly jars with wire or ribbon/raffia/twine wrapped around the neck work well too as do baskets with handles.  Even an inverted party paper hat with the elastic replaced with ribbon can be totally charming repurposed as a May bouquet container.  I created several May Baskets to inspire yours.  Who will you surprise on May 1st? Continue reading

Spring Luncheon: Niçoise Salad with Planked Salmon Fillet

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Spring has finally sprung!   The garden is in full glorious bloom, the birds are singing their little hearts out and the kitchen is switching gears to produce lighter meals with spring flavors.  To celebrate spring’s arrival,  I made a gorgeous niçoise salad dressed with a citrusy Meyer lemon vinaigrette and served it with spice-rubbed salmon, grilled on a cedar plank.  A Meyer lemon ricotta cake I featured last week made for a light springtime dessert.  A simple fresh menu, all gluten free, complete with a centerpiece from my garden.

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Colorful spring arrangement from my garden: red tulips, daffodils, leucojum, Virginia bluebells, pink hellebores, viburnum branches still in bud. Do you recognize the trellis bread basket standing in as a vase?

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Flourless Meyer Lemon Ricotta Cake

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“Let them eat cake.” Marie Antoinette

This easy but elegant cake has it all:  gorgeous, moist, gluten free and not too sweet.  The Meyer lemon zest adds a bright note to the ricotta, a perfect pairing of flavors. If you don’t have Meyers, substitute regular lemons or even orange.  The almond meal gives the cake a bit of texture with a second layering of almond flavor provided with the roasted almond crunchy topping.  A lovely spring dessert.

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North African Meatballs in Saffron Broth

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When I conjure North African cooking, I immediately dream of fragrantly spiced dishes and the bustling spice markets of Marrakesh that inspire them.  This NY Times recipe for aromatic meatballs in a vibrant saffron broth capture the exotic flavor combinations of this interesting cuisine. It is a compilation of several recipes for the popular “boulettes” found throughout restaurant menus in France.   What struck me about these boulettes was their texture  which was very moist with complex layers of flavor coming from the herbs and spices.  Although the ingredient llist may seem daunting, it really is just a matter of making the spice combination once.  You will want to wrap your tastebuds around these flavorful meatballs and their gorgeous saffron sauce over a fluffy couscous that lets the exotic flavors shine through.  The sauce is more of a broth and is best served with the absorbent couscous.  The flavors meld best overnight so this is a recipe that is great eaten the next day.

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National Cherry Blossom Festival

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Get swept away in a sea of pink and white blooms in the Nation’s Capitol every spring.   With the Washington Memorial in the background, it is a sight to behold a wave of millions of pink and white blossoms.

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The nation’s greatest springtime celebration is the National Cherry Blossom Festival.  The festival was born of a gift of friendship from the people of Japan to the people of the United States.  The festival commemorates the gift of 3,000 Sakura flowering cherry trees in 1912 from the mayor of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC.  The cherry tree is a revered symbol of the evanescence of human life and epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture through the ages.  The 104th festival, held March 20 to April 17 this year celebrates the enduring friendship between Japan and the US.  1.5 million visitors from around the world come to be enchanted by the cherries.

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