By Caron Golden
Raise your hand if you’ve eaten scrambled duck eggs. Until this past weekend, mine would be in my lap. But I’ve been waiting for the opportunity and it came last week in the form of Specialty Produce, a wonderful warehouse in Middletown that sells farm fresh products, often from the Santa Monica farmers market, to local chefs and caterers.
Just a note about Specialty Produce: This isn’t a place to do your regular marketing, but if you’re having a hard time finding a specific ingredient for a recipe you’re making, they’re happy to help. Just know it’s a warehouse, not a store. You’re competing for floor space with fork-lifts loaded with pallets. The best advice I have is to scan their Web site, www.specialtyproduce.com, to check what’s available and go over in the afternoon when it’s usually a little less hectic. Bring your own shopping bags.
Back to the food. Duck eggs are a tad larger than chicken eggs, with more fat in the yolk and more protein in the whites. Because I wanted to get a sense of both their flavor and how they cook, I decided to keep it simple and try them scrambled and incorporated in muffins.
I added a little low-fat milk to the eggs before whisking them for the scramble. That’s it. And, I just slightly undercooked them because I’d heard they get firmer than chicken eggs. I sprinkled a little lavender salt to finish with some chopped Italian parsley from my garden. Tasting them, you’d have thought I’d added cheese to the eggs. They were much richer than any scrambled eggs I’d ever had, with a denser, thicker consistency. Very flavorful but you’ll fill up on them much faster than with chicken eggs.
The duck egg I used in the lemon blueberry muffins worked just fine. There was no discernible difference in the texture or flavor of the muffins. From what I’ve read, they basically can be interchanged with chicken eggs, even in baking.
While I was at Specialty Produce, I took a look at the other farmers market items they had in stock that day and found green garlic. I’m still waiting for spring’s garlic scapes, those wondrous green curly cues of garlic magic, but green garlic is a lovely ingredient to work with – essentially, the garlic plant before the bulb takes shape.
Green garlic looks remarkably like green onions or scallions. But if they were in the ground that white end would begin to swell and form a bulb. I’ve had them at this stage before and in the very young garlic bulb stage. As the plant matures, the flavors also evolve. Right now, from March to May is when you can enjoy the garlic in this phase of life – both the white and the stems. Just know that its flavors will be much more delicate than pungent (although you’d never know by the scent).
Again, I like to keep things simple, so one of the first things I did when I got them into my kitchen was make a vinaigrette.
Dijon Green Garlic Vinaigrette
1 stalk of green garlic, mince the white section
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp. sugar
2/3 cup olive oil
Whisk together all the ingredients but the olive oil to blend. Then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Let sit for at least an hour to let the flavors come together. Taste and adjust seasonings. Note: For a stronger flavor, use aged Sherry vinegar and Spanish olive oil.
I used some of the vinaigrette as a marinade for lamb chops, which I broiled. I also had brought home lovely baby Anzious artichokes from Specialty Produce. Those were quartered, blanched for three minutes and then roasted at 400 degrees with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and both the whites and the greens from the green garlic, chopped.
Also, on my “to try” list were the prettiest little French heirloom potatoes. They’re a petite red oblong tuber, about three or four inches long, and when you cut inside, the flesh is a very dainty yellow hue. I bought them to serve at brunch with the scrambled duck eggs and muffins. Instead of roasting them, which I love to do, I sliced them and boiled them briefly, then tossed them with the Dijon Green Garlic vinaigrette, sliced kalamata olives and, yes, the minced greens from the green garlic. The dressing soaked into the warm potatoes, giving them both a terrific consistency and pronounced flavor from the garlic and mustard.
I served the eggs, muffins and potatoes with something a little different and refreshing, slices of watermelon radishes. I love these; just noshing on them is great. A buff white exterior leads to this springlike surprise inside when you slice them. I’d like to try pickling or sauteeing them.
Specialty Produce is located at 1929 Hancock St., San Diego, 92110. Phone: (619) 295-3172; or visit the Web site at www.specialtyproduce.com
Caron Golden is a freelance food writer who loves markets of all kinds. She hosts the blog San Diego Foodstuff (www.sandiegofoodstuff.com).