Monday, May 18, 2009

Fiddle-sticks, no...

Fiddlehead Ferns~ Last year I missed these little babies when they hit the market, and we did not have them dining out either. Hubby remembered a restaurant named 'Fiddleheads' a few towns east of us always has special menus during the month of May to June that include them, but we missed it for some reason. Seeing them at a smaller market that does not carry such specialty items I was surprised. I starting scooping up as many as I could.

My friend Gen who was with me when, wanted to split these, some dill and other ingredients for a recipe; then I explained to her how to prepare them. This is what I came up with... Fiddlehead Fern Pasta Salad. She told me they enjoyed them, and it was her first time to eat them.

EVO for sauté
1/4 to 1/2 pound cleaned Fiddlehead Ferns
1 sliced pear, soak in lemon water to keep from turning
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 red onion, small chop
1 teaspoon paprika
salt/pepper to taste

2 cups pasta, cooked
4 small red bliss, small chop, cooked
2-3 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Soak in hot water first and then sauté in a EVO/butter mixture, along with onions, pear, garlic, paprika, salt/pepper to taste, and after about 20 minutes. I removed from heat and placed the lid to seal in steam for another five minutes. Once fully cooked, I tossed them in some chopped dill and Dijon mustard. I boiled some small pieces of red bliss potatoes, and added macaroni to the water, and when potatoes are done remove from heat and let sit to finish the cooking process; then drain well after you see the pasta has increased in size. Toss both together and serve.

HISTORY: Fiddleheads are a world wide spring delicacy now, and run about six dollars a pound at the market. They appear on menus and in markets about three weeks in May. What exactly are these deep green, coiled vegetables, though? Fiddleheads are actually young fern fronds that have not yet opened up. They must be picked during a two-week window before the fern unfurls. You can find many recipes for preparing them. Like many things out there; there are no law or rules in the culinary world that say we can not make something our own, as I did with my 'Spaetzle' post. Only creative license, and that is one thing in life that is definitely free!

Fiddleheads (mine were confirmed 'Fiddleheads' brought in from Maine) are named for their appearance, which resembles the scroll at the head or top of a fiddle. The ostrich fern is the species that produces these edible shoots; which have a unique texture. I have read that they taste like asparagus or okra. To me they have their own unique flavor.

I have read that Fiddleheads can be consumed raw or cooked, but they also say remember to keep them refrigerated until you are ready to cook them. Try steaming them for ten minutes until they become soft, as others say giving them a twenty minute hot soak, and then cooking them once again to remove any toxins.

There have been no tests that I found online or in books proving them to be poisonous, but they must be picked before they unfurl. Some cases of food poisoning have been associated with eating under cooked Fiddleheads, so be cautious when preparing them. Because process times have not been established for home-preserved Fiddleheads; it is not recommended to pressure canning as a method to preserve Fiddleheads. These are popular in Asia,

The container of Fiddlehead Fern Sauté was even better the next day as lunch!

Turns out these babies are hand harvested, pesticide free, and all natural, go look for your self @ Norcliff Farms, who provided my grocer with them this year... Whole Foods here in Princeton gets there in from Oregon...