Recipes to get you in the mood for spring

Aside from fall, spring is one of my favorite times of the year. Everything comes alive after being in a deep slumber through the cold, dreary winter season.

It means the opening of farmers markets, like the one in Baltimore this Sunday, and planting gardens and visiting fresh vegetable stands.

The folks at the Classic Catering People are offering up some tasty springtime recipes as we officially say goodbye to winter.

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Chicken in Riesling
By: The Classic Catering People

3 pounds chicken thighs
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil 
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided 
4 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), finely chopped (2 cups) 
1 ½ pounds button mushrooms
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot 
4 medium carrots, halved diagonally 
1 cup dry white wine (preferably Alsatian Riesling) 
1 1/2 pounds small red creamer potatoes 
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley 
1/2 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream 
Fresh lemon juice to taste 
1 quart chicken stock
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. 

Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and a rounded 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat grapeseed oil with 1 tablespoon butter in a wide 3 1/2- to 5-quart heavy ovenproof pot over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then brown chicken in two batches, turning once, about 10 minutes total per batch. Transfer to a plate. 

Meanwhile, wash leeks and pat dry. Pour off fat from pot, and then cook leeks, mushrooms, shallot, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in remaining 2 tablespoons butter, covered, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until leeks are pale golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add chicken, skin sides up, with any juices from plate, carrots, and wine and boil until liquid is reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Cover pot and braise chicken in oven until cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. 

While chicken braises, add creamer potatoes with cold water in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan and add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, and then simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain in a colander, and then return to saucepan. Add parsley and shake to coat. 

Stir crème fraîche into chicken mixture and season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and then add potatoes. 

Bacon Ramp Jam 
By: Chef Bryan Davis of The Classic Catering People

1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
½ pound apple wood smoked bacon, cut into lardons
2 pounds ramps (wild onion), rough chop
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar syrup
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon powdered gelatin

In a medium saucepan, warm the grapeseed oil over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook till crispy, then add the ramps and sea salt and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often to prevent any color from developing, but really cooking down the ramps to a softer consistency. Then raise the heat to high and add the sugar, vinegar syrup and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce the liquid by about half, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, whisk in the gelatin, and return it to the heat. Continue whisking for a minute or so; the mixture will thicken. Put into a mason jar and let cool, then add lid. Jam will keep for a month in refrigeration. Bacon ramp jam can be used for eggs, toast and sandwiches.

Makes 2 1/2 pints

Spring Vegetables Roast
By: The Classic Catering People
4 ounces asparagus
4 ounces carrots, peeled
4 ounces asparagus, pencil
4 ounces haricots verts (green beans)
4 ounces cremini mushrooms
4 unpeeled garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons dehydrated honey
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

Poach vegetables until al dente. Preheat oven to 450°F. Combine vegetables, garlic, dehydrated honey and oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Spread out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast in oven, stirring halfway through, until tender.  

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