The weather swings between bright sunshine and gusting winds and downpours. One day we’re out in shirt sleeves, wondering if it’s time to pack away our winter clothes and the next day we’re wearing coats and lighting the fire in the evenings.
Luckily the asparagus is in full production and as it tastes just as good hot as it does cold, it’s the perfect thing to eat and I love the seasonal ritual of searching for those first few spears to push through the dirt and triumphantly cutting them. For the first week or so of the season we eat asparagus hot, with no more than a smear of butter, just savouring the novelty of the new season. Just before the meal, one of us rushes to the garden to cut the asparagus and bring it back into the kitchen to cook and serve straightaway. From garden to plate in under five minutes. Heaven.
But after a couple of weeks, everyone’s ready for a change, so we dip spears into a soft boiled egg or roast them with a little bacon. This week, my favourite way to eat asparagus is with a spoonful of whipped feta so that the cheese slowly melts and oozes over the hot spears. Whipped Feta is my current craze; a pack of feta (ordinary not barrel aged or anything fancy) beaten in the mixer with a pack of cream cheese with a spoonful of vermouth and a sprinkling of thyme or snipped chives (or any other herb) to add a little interest. It makes a good dip with raw vegetables, is rather too moreish with crackers and makes an acceptable sandwich filling when the fridge is otherwise empty.
My other current craze is for salads like this. Each year I end up serving the same salad over and over again through spring and summer; one year it was layered salads, another year it was Greek salad. The ingredients vary as the season progresses but the basic construction stays the same. I love baking (because it’s a choice not a necessity) but getting meals on the table day in, day out becomes something of a chore and sometimes I just want to make something quickly and throw it on the table. Cooking without thinking.
This year, it may be the year of the chopped salad. At the moment we’re eating salads of cucumber and radishes with anything I can find in the garden, which means asparagus (obviously) with leaves and flowers of Jack-by-the-hedge, chopped mint, chive, parsley, cutting celery and chard with a scattering of borage flowers and shredded rose petals. This day’s salad was topped with a handful of croutons and a guinea fowl egg that made it perfect for a sunny spring day. A shame then that it kept raining!