Fiddlelicious

Fiddleheads, the unfurled baby fronds of the ostrich fern, are named as such because they look like the curled head of a violin. They have a very short season in the spring so if you see them, grab them while you can. They taste a little like asparagus, but look so unique that they make a nice change on the plate. They’re also low in calories and are chock full of vitamins.

fiddleheads

fiddleheads

I first tried fiddleheads on a trip to Saint John, New Brunswick around this time 10 years ago. I had never heard or seen of them before and was quite surprised to have them served at dinner. They were delicious and different and I was intrigued. They were boiled, then tossed with vinegar.

Now that I’ve cooked them on my own, I tend to prefer them with a bit of lemon juice instead.

*Warning: fiddleheads must be cooked thoroughly before eating as raw or undercooked fiddleheads will taste bitter and may cause stomach problems.*

Preparing fiddleheads
Choose green fiddleheads that are tightly curled. Keep them refrigerated until you are ready to cook them.

Carefully brush or cut off the papery brown scales on the outside and trim the tail end to remove any brown ends (which are caused by oxidation).

Wash the fiddleheads in a bowl of clean water several times to remove any dirt or lingering scales until the water is clear.

Cooking fiddleheads
Boil the fiddleheads in a pot of salted water for 10-15 minutes, or steam them for 20 minutes. Drain, and serve with melted butter/margarine and lemon juice and zest, or vinegar.

You can also sauté fiddleheads by blanching them in boiling salted water for one or two minutes prior to sautéing.

To freeze fiddleheads for future use, blanch them in boiling salted water for two minutes, then drain and shock them in an ice water bath and freeze. To cook them again, thaw them and boil for 10 minutes.

You can basically replace fiddleheads for most recipes that use asparagus. Cook them simply, or experiment with this unique green.

Deviled sardines

Sardines are one of those things that tend to get overlooked, in my opinion. Most people screw up their faces when you say the word “sardine,” but I’ve found it to be a great tinned food. And bonus, it’s one of the sustainable fishes.

I usually eat it in a sandwich with vinegar and onions, but when I saw this James Beard derived recipe posted on Serious Eats I decided that I had to try it. It makes a light lunch or dinner, or a heavy snack.

Deviled Sardines
– serves 1-2 –

Ingredients
1 can of sardines
Dijon Mustard (I used seeded Dijon mustard as I like the popping of the seeds in my mouth.)
Worcestershire sauce
Cayenne
Toast or crackers (I used Wasa crackers.)

Procedure
Place one sardine on a piece of toast or a cracker. Sprinkle with a little cayenne and Worcestershire sauce. Then top with the mustard.

And here is my usual sardine recipe:

Sardine sandwich with vinegar and onions

Soak chopped or slivered onions and the sardines in vinegar, then place both the onions and sardines on buttered bread. It makes a lovely pickled sandwich, but is a bit smelly if you take it into the office.