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spring buttermilk coulis

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Spring Buttermilk Coulis

March 17, 2016

Looking for a sauce to drizzle on just about anything? This Spring Buttermilk Coulis is just that. Don’t let the word “coulis” scare you from making this. Coulis (koo-lee) is just a fancy word for “a sauce made with puréed vegetables or fruit and used as a base or garnish”. This coulis is at the heart of spring cooking and it’s simple to make.  Many of the ingredients are readily available at farmers markets this time of year.

Ever heard of green garlic? What started out as farmers thinning their rows of garlic to allow the bulbs to fully mature, has turned into a wildly popular and sought after ingredient. When very young, green garlic looks similar to green onions. As the weeks pass, they grow bigger and start to look like young leeks, eventually turning into heads of garlic. This photo shows both green garlic (the bottom two) and spring onions, available in red and white, purchased from Full Belly Farm at the Thursday Marin Farmers’ Market one week apart. As you can see, both have doubled in size.

Spring Onions and Green Garlic-Gather Weekly

Green garlic makes a cameo appearance for a few weeks from late winter to early spring. Unlike the papery skinned onions and garlic bulbs you see at the grocery store, green garlic has a short shelf life. Since they haven’t matured the flavor is much more mild and can be used raw without being overpowering.

My go-to use of these marvelous alliums is this; slice green garlic, spring onions, and leeks. Sauté in olive oil on low heat so that the vegetables soften without taking on any color. With this mixture on hand, I can add it to many dishes to enhance flavor. A few of my favorite ways to use it is to add to omelets, soups and when puréed, spread on a sandwich.

We drizzled this Spring Buttermilk Coulis (well, I slathered it) over wild salmon. Delicious! The coulis can also be used as a dip for vegetables, as salad dressing (a hit with my family) or with chicken.


Spring Buttermilk Coulis


Spring Buttermilk Coulis

Spring Buttermilk Coulis


  • 1/4 cup each, dill, fennel fronds (the frilly green tops from a fennel bulb, looks like dill*), Italian parsley and chives chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced green garlic (as these grow larger in their season you may want to use less for they will become more pronounced in flavor)
  • 1/2 cup sliced spring onions
  • PLEASE NOTE: stainless steel "dry" measuring cups were used for the quantities of all ingredients above (herbs, garlic and onions)
  • 1 tablespoon meyer lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I used slightly more than this but start here, you can always add more if you like)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • *i had a bulb of fennel. I never know what to do with the fronds so I added them. They are optional


  1. Put all ingredients in a blender (I used a vitamin) and blend until smooth

That pretty garnish? Rosemary blossoms from my backyard. I see them everywhere right now at parks in parking lots and shopping centers around town. They make a charming garnish in a gin and tonic too!



Home Lifestyle Recipes

Spring Vegetable Tart

March 21, 2018

When you see asparagus at the farmers’ markets, it’s a sure sign that spring has arrived.


This year, the “queen of spring produce” made a brief appearance at mid-February markets then disappeared with the extreme temperature fluctuations.


Never fear, asparagus reappeared this week!  Whether steamed, roasted (my favorite~topped with chopped hard-boiled egg, toasted panko bread crumbs a drizzle of olive oil, s & p), grilled, raw or fried I make sure it finds a way into at least one dish a day at my house, I can’t seem to get enough! Pick up a bunch or two and add this versatile tart to your spring menu.


One of my go-to spring dishes is a spring vegetable tart. Made with store-bought puff pastry, spring’s queen vegetable reigns when surrounded by green garlic, spring onions, leeks, and cheese. The tart works as a delicious appetizer, brunch or light meal- perfect for entertaining. It is very adaptable – simply substitute another vegetable or cheese (mozzarella is lovely) if you can’t find the ones listed. And the components can be made ahead of time so you can assemble the tart and cook it just before serving.

Voila, spring!

How to choose asparagus

When shopping for asparagus look for bright-green smooth skin, not wrinkled, pitted or dry. Tips should be closed and tight. Spears should be firm not limp.


To store, cut off about a half-inch from the bottom and insert in a glass with sides that reach at least half way up so as not to topple over. Fill with water until the cut ends are submerged and place in refrigerator. Check water daily, making sure that the cut ends are in water, until ready to use.


Unfortunately, asparagus is short-lived at farmers’ markets, typically arriving in February and continuing through May in Marin markets. 


What is green garlic?

The ultra-seasonal green garlic has something of a cult-like following. What started out as farmers thinning their rows of garlic to allow the bulbs to fully mature, has turned into a wildly popular and sought after ingredient. When very young, green garlic looks similar to green onions. As the weeks pass, it grows larger and begins to look like baby leeks eventually turning into heads of garlic. Green garlic is simply garlic that farmers thin to make room for other plantings to fully develop into bulbs that turn into the pale white dried forms most typically used everyday.

Another recipe using green garlic is my spring buttermilk coulis. It’s delicious drizzled over steam asparagus.                                                                            

Spring Vegetable Tart


  • 1 package of puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
  • 1 bunch asparagus (depending on size of asparagus you may not use the whole bunch)
  • 1-2 stalks green garlic*
  • 1-2 baby leeks or 1 medium-size leek*
  • 1 spring onion (white or red)
  • *use the white and pale green part only-all are optional
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese-plus 1 tablespoon
  • Olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • Optional toppings: lemon zest, prosciutto, and/or eggs (I like poached or sunny-side up)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface roll out puff pastry into a rectangle approximately 10" X 14"
  2. Place the pastry on a parchment lined baking sheet. Using a knife, score the pastry within one inch of the edge being careful not to pierce all the way through.
  3. Using the tines of a fork, pierce the puff pastry randomly within the rectangle made with the knife, avoiding the edge. Bake for 15 minutes.
  4. While pastry is baking, trim asparagus ends so that they will fit horizontally within the inner rectangle.
  5. If using, thinly slice leeks, green garlic and spring onions. Wash to remove dirt and debris. Dry thoroughly.
  6. In a small bowl combine the 1 cup shredded gruyere and 1/2 cup grated parmesan.
  7. Remove pastry from oven, sprinkle with cheese. Starting at one end of the pastry, lay asparagus over cheese. If using, add slivers of leeks, green garlic and spring onions between the asparagus spears. Bruch vegetables lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until asparagus is tender about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon grated parmesan.


Home Lifestyle

Spring Fling

March 30, 2016

When at their peak, vegetables need only a few ingredients to make them tasty. Pairing vegetables and herbs that grow at the same time can help guide you in the kitchen. Olive oil, herbs, garlic and/or onion, salt and pepper, sometimes it’s just this rustic.

When I stroll through the market I’m looking for freshness, then color (eating a variety of colorful foods is not only pretty but provides needed nutrients and vitamins) and finally what appeals to my family.

The bunches of herbs that sit in front of the vegetables at market stands, naturally complement one another. Ever see basil in January? Not likely. It’s in its full glory in the summer when vine-ripened tomatoes are at their peak, a natural pairing. Dill, parsley and chives, herbs that are thriving now, are beautifully suited with roasted beets, sugar snap peas and asparagus to name just a few.

Here are a few dishes I’ve made so far with my Thursday market purchases. No need for a formal recipe, you got this!  If you’re unsure about quantity then start with a little and add as you see fit. Just remember, you can always add ingredients to a recipe but not take them away.

Sesame Shaved Snap Peas and Asparagus

Cut sugar snap peas on a diagonal and thinly cut or slice on a mandolin asparagus. Add to a bowl. About two cups.

Shaved Asparagus

Combine 4 teaspoons of peanut oil, 4 teaspoons rice wine vinegar, one teaspoon sesame oil and one teaspoon of mirin, salt and pepper to taste and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. My family devoured it, claiming it one of their favorite ways to eat these vegetables.  Don’t have these ingredients, no problem. A simple olive oil and vinegar combination would be delicious too.


I made a salad of all the fresh vegetables and hard-boiled eggs from the farmers market for lunch. Added some chicken and drizzled my spring buttermilk coulis, so good!


I enjoy listening to podcasts when at home. One of my favorites is Evan Kleiman. She is the host of Good Food on KCRW.  I learn something new every time, it’s a delight. On a recent episode, a chef describe how he took the root ends of green garlic, put them in a pan, covered with water and simmered for 2-3 hours to make a stock. Brilliant! I did just that and added the green stems as well. This is so good!

Green Garlic roots and tops

You do need to clean the root end as it has a lot of dirt but the results are worth it. This stock is excellent in risotto, soup and you can freeze it too.

For a quick dinner, I sautéed green garlic, spring onions and leek (1-2 each depending on size) added about one cup of this stock, then some white wine. Reduced this by half, toss in a pat of butter then add it to cooked pasta, roasted broccoli and grilled chicken. Throw in a handful of parmesan cheese and some fresh herbs, drizzled with olive oil, it was awesome.

I made asparagus pesto (link below) and it’s wonderful. I added about a tablespoon more olive oil and a teaspoon of lemon juice, other than that I followed the directions. I toasted bread then brushed on the pesto topped it with hard-boiled eggs and baby arugula. Drizzled with olive oil and Maldon Sea Salt tasty!

I would use this pesto in egg salad, top off omelets or tossed with pasta.

Asparagus pesto with hard boiled eggs and baby arugula

Here are more Spring Fling ideas…

  1. Always a favorite entertaining recipe Asparagus and Gruyere Tart and so easy!
  2. Broccoli and Cheese, such a classic combination. This will be on rotation in your house Grilled Cheese with Roasted Broccoli .
  3. This Farro with Spring Vegetables calls for english peas which haven’t made an appearance at the market yet. I’d replace with sugar snap peas.
  4.  I love pesto in all forms so why not try Asparagus Pesto  its wonderful with eggs on toast.
  5. Great tips and techniques for cooking spring vegetables here How To Put Spring On A Plate.
  6. I haven’t made this but it combines two of my favorites this time of year  Green Garlic Soup  .

Later today, I’ll turn the remaining loaf of bread I bought last week into croutons and bread crumbs as I’ll buy a fresh one tomorrow. For dinner I’ll try to use up all the greens I still have by making a salad and sauté some spinach in-yes, you guessed it-green garlic and spring onions. Happy Cooking!