French Fridays with Dorie- A celebration of Spring

Happy Spring! 

I'm back after a few vacations ready to cook, bake, entertain, enjoying the warmth and sunny days of spring.  This week's FFWD recipe was a true celebration of spring.  It was also a celebration of friends and local foods.

The recipe is Bacon, Eggs and Asparagus Salad.  It was so much fun to make.  The ingredients are simple and when each is cooked to perfection, the combination is delicious.   I'm also including our dessert, Rhubard Custard Tart.  More on that later in the post.

The ingredients for our salad had origins with friends...
On our early spring trip to Asheville, NC we spent time with our freinds, Jerry and Nancy.  At one of our brunches, we had delicious bacon at The Early Girl Cafe.  Jerry mentioned that they have a source for terrific bacon and would send some.  About a week ago, we opened the mailbox, and found a box filled with pounds of fantastic bacon.  For any bacon officianados out there, it's Benton's Hickory Smoked, from Madisonville, TN.  Recently, I started baking the bacon in the oven rather than cooking it on the stove top.   Just place a rack over a  pan and roast in the oven at 350-400 for about 15-20 minutes.   The bacon will stay flat, be crisp, not greasy, and best of all... not make a mess on the stove.

Here's the finished bacon, waiting to top the salad.  I wish I could include smells in this blog!

Last night I finished a farmers market and had some croissant and pain au chocolat left over.  Our friends who are huge fans of French pastries were home and happily agreed to adopt the soon to be "day old" treats.  They offered me asparagus and rhubarb in exchange.  We all felt like we got the best of the deal!  We walked through their beautiful gardens.   My friend sliced off the asparagus, and made fast work of trimming the huge rhubard leaves.  I knew just where both would be used!

For the salad, the asparagus is boiled in salt water for just under 5 minutes.  I like it a little more tender, so a didn't rush to drain it. 

The eggs came from a local vendor.  So pretty!   In Around My French Table, Dorie walks you through making a perfect soft boiled egg.  If you haven't bought the book yet, here's the plug!  The techniques are so well described, it takes the fear out of first time tries.  Back to the eggs... The white is tender and the yolk oozes gently when the egg is cut through.  It was fun peeling the shell off without squishing the egg and breaking the yolk.  

OK, these aren't the eggs I used, but the very similar.  I used this picture because some of the eggs were green and blue, and I love them! These eggs above were a hostess gift from a gathering we had this winter.  How cool to be given a dozen eggs.  Aren't they pretty?

For the salad viniagrette, I didn't have any walnut or hazelnut oil, but did find some truffle oil.  Oh my!  I used mostly olive oil with a dash of truffle oil.  To assemble, the eggs, dressing, nuts, and chopped bacon were placed on a bed of greens.  It was so springy and delicious!  Plus, we knew where all the ingredients came from.  Here's the finished salad:

I would highly recommend this recipe as a spring supper or luncheon salad.  To finish the meal, I made a rhubarb custard tart.  I've never been a huge fan of rhubarb, mostly due to the stringy texture.   This recipe calls for diced rhubarb.  I cut it into a small dice, and made a French style tart, omitting the top crust.  The baking time was the same.  I used strawberries as a garnish to add just a little extra sweetness.  This was a big hit.  Gary and I both really liked it.  No strange texture, and a nice sweet and tart taste.  Here's the recipe if you'd like to give it a try.

Rhubarb Custard Tart

2 egg yolks
3 T flour
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/4-1/2 inch dice
1 T melted butter

Whisk yolks until thick.  Add sugar, whisk until combined and thickened.  Add flour, butter, and rhubarb.  Pour into unbaked tart or pie crust.  Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, then at 350 for 30 minutes.   If desired, you could place another crust on top.  Be sure to crimp and vent.  Garnish with strawberries and/or whipped cream.    Enjoy!