These recipes originally appeared in the April 2020 issue of HomeLife Magazine.
Enjoy warmer days around a festive table.
In expectancy of spring’s arrival, I perform a ritual every April. Positioning myself in front of the large paned windows of my cozy foyer, I patiently await the progression of buds and blossoms in my garden. Nestled center stage is a triad of purple redbuds, the first to the show. Just beyond a forsythia bush offers a spectacular display of bright yellow buds emerging from spiny long branches. Beneath it, peeking through the black earth, are my rising stars, the Midnight Magic tulips. When they make their debut, that’s when I loudly proclaim with dramatic effect to anyone listening, “We’ve made it through another winter!”
Usually, I avoid being dramatic. Living in Middle Tennessee and not Minnesota, I admit my statement could be deemed a tad theatrical. In my defense, spending the first 30 years of life in what was to me a paradise, aka sunny St. Petersburg, Florida, gives one allowance for such outbursts at spring’s opening ceremony.
I’m careful not to make my declaration too early as I’ve been scorned before. I can recall one Easter morning waking to find snow on my beloved tulip petals. And another year I battled icy roads and a dusting of snow as I drove to a port where a ship waited to take me to St. Thomas. But by far the worst example of “April is the cruelest month” would have to be the year I splurged on coordinating spring outfits for the entire family only to witness temperatures plunge into the teens.
It’s not the severe temperatures or the snow that wearies me. Honestly, we don’t get that much. It’s the bleakness of it all. Here in Nashville, we’re on the cusp of the Central Time Zone, which means nightfall begins at 4:45 on the shortest days of the year. And the excitement of a winter storm typically bypasses us to blanket the folks east toward the Smoky Mountains — leaving us with freezing rain and gloomy skies. One year, the sun didn’t shine for 18 days straight. I know because I counted each and every one of them. When the sun finally graced us, I plastered myself to our glass front door for the full five minutes it lingered.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this city where we experience the seasons. However, I’m exceedingly overjoyed when April rolls around and days grow longer and color once again returns to the barren landscape. Then it seems everything is bursting, blooming, reawakening — including our taste buds. Give yours reason for applause with a few of these show-stopping recipes, and don’t forget to set the stage for your beautiful spring table with fresh clippings of branches and buds.
Creamy Lemon Piccata ▶ Makes 4 servings
4 boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 c. chicken broth
2 lemons (squeezed)
3/4 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. capers
1 c. parsley (chopped)
1 lemon (sliced)
4 c. angel hair pasta
Designate a workspace with two cutting boards, one for poultry and one for vegetables. Cut chicken breasts horizontally into thin cutlets. Then using a mallet and wax paper, pound the chicken into thinner strips.
Dredge each chicken cutlet in flour. In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, melt butter and add oil. Place chicken pieces without over-crowding and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook each side until brown, about three minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside. Turn the heat to low and add broth, juice from both lemons, cream, and capers. Bring to a boil for about three minutes. Return to medium heat and add chicken back to the pan and coat with lemon sauce. Boil water and add pasta. Drain and place on serving plate.
Place chicken on top of pasta, adding as much sauce as desired. Garnish with remaining lemon slices and chopped parsley.
Stuffed Pork Tenderloin ▶ Makes 4 servings
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb.)
1/2 tsp. celery salt (divided)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (divided)
1/2 tsp. black pepper (divided)
4 slices provolone cheese
4 slices of deli tavern ham
2 c. fresh spinach
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut tenderloin lengthwise down center to within one inch of bottom and butterfly open. Lay tenderloin flat and flatten to ¼-inch thickness using a mallet and wax paper. Add half the seasonings to meat, then layer with ham, cheese, and spinach, in that order. Roll up jellyroll-style starting with the long side. Secure tenderloin with kitchen string at two-inch intervals. Sprinkle the outside with remaining seasonings and place in a shallow baking dish. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes, or until meat thermometer reads 160 degrees. Transfer to platter and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing into serving portions.
Cook rice pilaf as instructed. Serve tenderloin on top.
Sweet Orange Cod ▶ Makes 4 servings
1/2 c. fresh-squeezed orange juice
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. prepared horseradish sauce
1 tsp. seasoning salt
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 fillets of cod fish
Whisk together the orange juice and the next four ingredients. In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, melt butter and add oil. Pat fish dry and brown for three minutes per side, then remove from pan. Pour juice mixture into pan and cook for five minutes until thickened. Return fish to pan and spoon sauce over fish. Serve with diced potatoes.
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Laura Schupp is the author of Our Newlywed Kitchen: The Art of Cooking, Gathering & Creating Traditions. Learn more about Laura at OurNewlywedKitchen.com.