Lifestyle & Culture

Kitchen Detail: The Battle of the Seasons

iStock photo.

By Nancy Pollard

After owning one of the best cooking stores in the US for 47 years—La Cuisine in Alexandria, Virginia—Nancy Pollard writes Kitchen Detail, a blog about food in all its aspects—recipes, film, books, travel, superior sources, and food-related issues.

A ‘Forlorn Hope’ Menu

The Forlorn Hope is a long-used military term from the Dutch “verloren hoop” or “lost troop,” for the bands of soldiers who were willing (or were Avocado Cilantro sauce from Together cookbookvolunteered) to be sacrificed in knocking down the weakened barriers of the enemy’s fortifications. I often feel that March represents the season of the Forlorn Hope. It is spring battling against the weakened fortifications of winter. It is the first little shoots of early bulbs that get wiped out in a sudden freeze. It’s the sudden warmth of a day or two (when you don’t wear undershirts under your sweater and hats covering your ears) followed by a week of sub-freezing weather. It’s the surprise sleet storm when you have run out of de-icer for your walk and doorway. We have forgotten the heat and humidity of August,  so we buy tomatoes four months too early.We just long for spring and it seems just that much farther away. So I dedicate this menu to our Forlorn Hope of Spring With the Realities of Winter.

Foraging Forlornly

One of the first things you can get in early spring is radishes; French Breakfast, Cherry Belle, Sparkler, and White Beauty are a few that I have found.two types of radishes You can split them crosswise almost to the base, then soak them in ice water to get a nice little flower look.  Serve them with fleur de sel or Maldon salt, and optionally with sliced baguette and butter.

In our first Gift Guide, we featured a fundraising cookbook from the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire in London. It’s a gem. These are all foods that you would cook at home, but as many of the survivors are from the Middle East and North Africa, there is lots that will be new to you. One of my favorites is this dip from Munira Mahmud, whose dream is to run a food truck. I would stand in line for her food truck any time. Serve this with either crackers or raw vegetables. I have used it as sauce on grilled vegetables, and lamb too.


Green Chili & Avocado Dip

This dip, with its spicy and summery flavors, really knows no season. Serve as a garnish on grilled meats and vegetables.
Recipe by Munira Mahmud.
Adapted from Together: Our Community Cookbook.
  1. 1 or 2 green jalapeño or similar fresh green chilies, halved and seeded
  2. 1¼ cups (25gr) cilantro leaves
  3. 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
  4. 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  5. 1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
  6. Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  7. 4 tablespoons mayonnaise (optional)
  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor (except for the mayonnaise).
  2. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  3. The mayonnaise can be added if you wish before transferring to a serving bowl.
  1. This sauce can be used with tortilla chips or lavosh crackers too. Cover tightly and refrigerate and it will keep for a couple of days. I have used it also as a spread on sandwiches.

Osso Buco

osso bucco braiseThe Italian dish of veal shanks, or osso buco, surrounded with a tomato sauce and served with either polenta or rice is oneproper bouquet garni that is delicious from early fall to late spring. This is not the same as Osso Bucco Milanese as that has no tomatoes. I once posted this version on Instagram and Facebook and was roundly scolded for not giving out the recipe! It is the fortification you need in March.



Some Sauté Thoughts

Personally, I have found that getting a golden, even  sear is not easily done in enameled cast iron. You can get overly browned meat and an almost burned base that gives an off taste to the final sauce. Pictured above is the classic tin-lined copper sauté pan, which will give you an even, golden sear. Currently Mauviel and Matfer Bourgeat make their professional-weight sauté pans with a bonded 18/10 stainless lining, and that works really, really well too. Mauviel makes one that is called a rondeau in France and it works just like a sauté except that it has casserole handles, which makes it easier to slip into the oven. And Mauviel even has an online factory outlet.

Well-seasoned cast iron would be another choice, but you will need to watch your timing as it can give you a dark sear easily. If stainless steel is used, it is best to get a sauté that is 18/10 stainless steel with a heat-diffusing alloy not only on the base but on the sides sandwiched between. You can special order Mauviel tin-lined copper through their domestic distributor,

Tin-lined copper cookware has also had a renaissance from a small group of artisans in the US. Two that I am familiar with are and

Also, rather than wrapping your bay leaf, thyme, and parsley stems in cheesecloth, make a sandwich with two pieces of celery and tie with twine, shown above right. If you can find marrow spoons, so much the better as the marrow hiding inside each piece of shank bone is the prize. They have a larger spoon on one end to scoop up the bigger pieces of marrow, and on the handle side, a teeny one to get marrow from out from smaller bones.


Osso Buco With Tomatoes

Serves 6
This is not Osso Buco Alla Milanese, which does not have tomatoes, but it is our family favorite. We serve it with polenta or rice.
Recipe by Sophie Braimbridge and Jo Glynn.
Adapted from The Food of Italy.


  1. 6 veal shanks, 1½ to 2 inches thick
  2. All-purpose flour, seasoned with fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  3. ¼ cup olive oil
  4. 4 tablespoons butter
  5. 1 garlic clove
  6. 1 small carrot, peeled and finely diced
  7. 1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
  8. 1 small celery stalk, finely diced (I peel mine, but that is my peculiarity)
  9. 1 cup dry white wine
  10. 1½ cups veal or chicken stock
  11. 14 ounces chopped tomatoes
  12. Bouquet garni (bay leaf, thyme and parsley stems)
  13. Salt and pepper
  1. Tie each veal shank around the middle, so that the meat stays secure to the bone.
  2. Dust them all over with the seasoned flour.
  3. Heat the oil and butter and garlic in a large casserole or sauté pan. The shanks must fit together in a single layer.
  4. Brown all sides of each shank over medium heat. This should take about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the shanks, set aside on a plate and discard the garlic.
  6. Add the carrot, onion and celery to the pan and cook over moderate heat for a few minutes, stirring so as not to allow them to brown.
  7. Add the wine and increase the heat to high, cooking this mixture for about 3 minutes.
  8. Now add the stock, tomatoes, and bouquet garni, and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Return the shanks to the pan, standing them up in a single layer. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to a simmer, and allow the meat to cook at this low heat for an hour. The meat should be tender so that you can cut it with a fork.
  10. You may need to remove the shanks and boil down the sauce to get the consistency you want.
  11. Discard the bouquet Garni and adjust the seasoning to your taste.
  12. Serve one shank per plate with polenta or rice.
  1. This recipe can be made a day ahead, covered and refrigerated and then reheated an hour before serving. Some think it is even more delicous the next day!


Sabayon to the Rescue

Even though we think of raspberries from farm markets in the summer, they are a dependable fruit when you are suffering from the Folorn Hope doldrums. And since, let’s face it, whether they are from the Dark Side of Driscoll or another purveyor, they benefit from being heated. That said, this gratin makes cheerful use of a fruit other than apples and pears. Winter strawberries with their snow-white innards need not apply. I have tried this with blueberries and blackberries at this time of year, but they are just not as cheerful. These gratins—berries suspended in a sabayon, an egg-yolk-sugar-and-cream sauce—can be done in individual low-sided bakers in ceramic or copper. I have not seen a difference in the results. You do not have to brush them with butter: The macerated berries will release some juice while in a hot oven. This recipe is a mash-up from, Christophe Felder and Tamasin Day-Lewis’s cookbook Supper for a Song.

Raspberry Gratin

Serves 4
Delicious with winter raspberries just when you despair that spring will never come.
Recipe by Marmiton editors and Tamasin Day-Lewis.
Adapted from, Christophe Felder and Supper for a Song.
  1. 4 cups (500gr) fresh raspberries
  2. 1 tablespoon (14gr) caster sugar
  3. 1 tablespoon Triple Sec
  4. For the sabayon:
  5. 4 extra-large egg yolks
  6. ½ cup (115gr) caster sugar
  7. Juice of ½ orange
  8. ½ cup (105gr) heavy cream
  1. Preheat your oven at its highest temperature if you do not have a broiler.
  2. Put the raspberries in a bowl and add the sugar and the Triple Sec.
  3. Allow the berries to macerate while you prepare your sabayon.
  4. On the stovetop, heat a saucepan filled with abut 2 inches (5cm) of water and allow to come to a simmer.
  5. Put the egg yolks in a heat-proof bowl and add the sugar and orange juice while whisking thoroughly, then place on top of the simmering saucepan.
  6. Whisk this mixture until it becomes slightly thick: It should be like a pancake batter.
  7. Refrigerate the bowl containing the sabayon while you whisk the cream in a separate bowl until it is thick and somewhat stiff.
  8. Fold the whipped cream into the sabayon mixture.
  9. Divide the berries among 4 individual shallow bakers.
  10. Lightly top each baker with the sabayon mixture. You do not have to spread it, it will level out in the oven.
  11. Place the shallow bakers on a baking sheet and put in the preheated oven. Allow them to bake until they are lightly browned on the edges, but the middle is still pale.
  12. The berries, depending on their ripeness, will throw off a delicious juice, so serve each lucky guest a serious spoon!
  1. This is a dessert that really should be served as soon as it is browned.
  2. You can allow the bakers to cool a bit before serving,
  3. You can prep the sabayon ahead of the day of serving, but the berries cannot be macerated for more than the minutes it takes to finalize the sabayon.

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