10 May 2015

A French-Inspired Picnic to Celebrate Mothers Everywhere

Macarons; Salmon Rilettes with Easter Egg Radishes and Microgreens; local asparagus
The lilacs and dogwood trees are in full bloom, orchards are buzzing with bees and the hummingbirds have returned. A visit to the farmers market yesterday cemented the idea in my mind and ultimately in my kitchen. Spring is when everything seems to come alive!!!!! The days are longer and the markets are beginning to burst with the colours of the bountiful fruits and vegetables of the season. Nothing comes quick enough as we wait impatiently to enjoy fresh, sweet cherries and sweet garden peas. It is the season for furled fiddleheads, asparagus and escarole and a wide variety of lettuce hand plucked from the garden for green salads. The delightful fragrance of chives, mint, chervil and tarragon fill the air to season our dishes. All of these tastes of Spring were bursting from the stalls at yesterdays market.

Yesterday I had a rare morning off and was able to head to our local farmers market. Awaiting me were fresh local asparagus from Armstrong, freshly plucked greens of all kinds, fresh herbs, Easter Egg radishes, free range eggs, and microgreens. So to celebrate moms everywhere I created another Sunday picnic with a French theme in mind…ooh la la...

Salmon Rillettes; French Potato Salad with Chive Blossoms and Easter Egg radishes; Easter Egg radishes

What better way to enjoy a beautiful Spring day than to take a leisurely drive south of the city past cerulean blue lakes meandering along the pocket dessert we call home. The Okanagan Valley is dotted with balsam flowers and antelope and sage brush this time of year. I drive past fragrant orchards and undulating vineyards as far as the eye could see. The goal... an early Spring picnic amongst the sheltered boughs at the Summerland Research Station and their ornamental gardens to celebrate Mothers Day. 

Okanagan Valley
As an hors d'oeuvres I started with a rillettes. According to Wikipedia, " Rillettes were traditionally made with fatty pork belly or pork shoulder. The meat was cubed, salted and cured, cooked slowly over low heat until very tender, then raked into small shreds and blended with the warm cooking fat to form a rustic paste. Rillettes could be stored in crocks for several months." They can also be made with duck, game birds, rabbit, salmon or tuna but the salmon made today will last only about 3 days in the refrigerator.

I am here to tell you that French food does not have to be intimidating or fussy. In fact French Bistro style is perfect for Sunday picnics and my preferred peasant-style dishes.This time around I chose Salmon Rillettes from Food and Wine magazine. These rillettes were inspired by a similar dish at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon bistro in the Napa Valley in California  where he blends fresh salmon and butter with hot-smoked salmon to give the rich spread extra-rich flavour. You can pour melted butter over the top, as Keller does, to seal in freshness. I spread the rillettes on crusty baguette slices and topped each with paper thin slices of Easter Egg radishes, micro greens and a little freshly ground black pepper.

Okanagan Valley

Next a French Potato Salad from my good friend Dina of Olive Oil and Lemons. I boiled the potatoes but to retain their flavour you can steam them as Dina does. I used fingerling potatoes and added chives, chive blossoms and paper thin slices of Easter Egg radish. A good tip would be to add the radishes at the last minute or the colour bleeds into the potatoes and dressing. I also love how this method retains their fresh and natural flavour which I feel enhances the salad.

Also on the menu was a Shaved Asparagus Salad with Creamy Herbed Vinaigrette. 

I hope all you wonderful moms had an amazing day as I did !!!!

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. I am yet to be successful at shaving an asparagus. Do you use a vegetable peeler?
    Lovely post as always. You know how to have fun. Glad I was partially there, even if in the form of a French style potato salad:). Let so a picnic soon.

    1. Yes I do use a vegetable peeler Dina. I use the fattest asparagus stalks possible but always end up with one chubby leftover too thick for the salad. That's when I make soup :-)

  2. This is absolutely STUNNING, Val!! What a gorgeous and delicious way to celebrate. :-)

  3. This looks like the most perfect day ever! What more could you ask for??


  4. You captured the beauty of the season.


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