Nature is Nurture

Sunday….a day of much needed rest.  We are getting back to the swing of things here on the farm.  Spring is indeed a beautiful time of year.  We got up early this morning to enjoy coffee in the screen porch.  It is peaceful listening to the birds waking up around us.  We are fortunate to have lake, marsh, meadow and woods on our land.  We spotted several pair of Baltimore Orioles, Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks, Hairy, Downy, Red-Headed and Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, along with Yellow and Purple Finches, Sandhill Cranes, Canadian Geese and Blue Heron.  We also have two pairs of Loons and Bald Eagles on our lake.  If there is a bird nirvana, this is it.

May is an intense time on the farm.  Tilling, sowing and transplanting are the order of the day.  This spring has been very cool and wet.  Just keeping up with the mowing can be a challenge between raindrops. (I swear you can hear the grass grow!)  The garlic and onions, along with carrots, beets, sugar-snap peas, chard, spinach, lettuce and herbs are planted.  Tomorrow we start transplanting tomato seedlings from their 48-packs to 4 1/2 inch pots.  This will allow them to beef up and receive full spectrum light before they are transplanted to our field.  Unfortunately we do not grow my favorite vegetable, asparagus.  This isn’t for lack of trying, but between our dense clay soil and accidentally tilling in our newly planted starts a few years ago, I’m happy there was an abundance of them at market yesterday!  There are so many ways to use them, whether it is breakfast or dinner.  I gorge on them when they are on, because it is the one vegetable I will only eat fresh.

One of our favorite ways to enjoy them is in a vegetable tart.  It looks impressive and comes together with ease using pre-made puff pastry dough.  A little Dijon mustard, Gruyere cheese and balsamic syrup and you have yourself a beautiful meal.

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ASPARAGUS GRUYERE TART WITH BALSAMIC SYRUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough, thawed according to package directions
  • 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 pound fresh asparagus, washed and tough ends trimmed (about 20 stalks)
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere or Comte cheese
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar*
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. One a floured surface, roll out puff pastry to approximately 11×14 inches.  Transfer to a parchment lined sheet pan or silicone mat.
  3. Create a 1 inch border (do not cut all the way through); and then prick pastry all over the inner area.
  4. Brush evenly with Dijon mustard, leaving border untouched.
  5. Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded cheese, and then top evenly with asparagus spears.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and tart is golden brown.  Serve warm.

*Balsamic syrup:  In a small saucepan over medium high heat, mix together vinegar and brown sugar.  Bring to a boil and reduce by half.  Allow to cool.  Place syrup in a baggie and snip a very small hole in the corner of bag.  Drizzle over tart.

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Serves 18 as an appetizer or 6-8 as an entree.

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” —Margaret Atwood

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