MMMMM----- Recipe via Meal-Master (tm) v8.02
  
       Title: Fern Tips Vinaigrette
  Categories: Harned 1994, Salads, Side dish, Wild foods
       Yield: 4 servings
  
       2 tb Vinegar or lemon juice
       6 tb Melted butter or salad oil
     1/2 ts Prepared mustard
     1/2 ts Each paprika and salt
            Freshly ground black pepper
       1 ts Chopped chives or
       1 ts Grated onion
       2    Hard-boiled eggs; chopped
       2 c  Fiddlehead ferns
            -- cooked and chilled
  
   Combine all ingredients except the last two; mix well.  Arrange
   hard-boiled eggs over top of the chilled, cooked fiddleheads and pour
   vinaigrette sauce over all.
   
   The author wrote:  “Fiddleheads, the coiled tips of young fern
   fronds, are a springtime delicacy especially prized by New Englanders
   and wild foods enthusiasts.  Their season lasts only two weeks or so
   in May. Three kinds of the curled crosiers are gathered: those of the
   ostrich fern, the cinnamon fern, and the common bracken fern.
   
   ”The fiddlehead is ready to pick when it is pushing up swiftly
   through the ground with its tightly coiled tip, shaped like the head
   of a fiddle. Fiddleheads are picked in the morning when they are
   woodsy-smelling and fresh flavored and snap off crisply into the hand
   of the picker. By afternoon the glowing green-coiled crosiers can
   have outgrown the edible stage, becoming unfurled fern fronds.
   
   “The cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea) fiddlehead is gathered when
   it is about eight inches tall.  The crosiers and one-half inch to two
   inches of the stem are eaten.  A grayish-yellow woolly covering on
   the stems and tips must be removed (sometimes with difficulty) before
   the fiddleheads are cooked.  They are washed and then rubbed to
   remove the fuzz. Fiddleheads will keep for a couple of days in the
   refrigerator after picking, but wild flavors and freshness are
   transitory. Better to pick fiddleheads in the morning and eat them
   before night - or freeze them.”
   
   “The ostrich fern (Pteris nodulosa)...is the tall, graceful plant that
   grows on stream and river banks where the water comes up in the early
   spring.  So abundant are the ostrich ferns in the lush natural
   ferneries of the Winooski valley near Waterbury, Vermont, that
   quantities of the fiddleheads are harvested, packed in snow, and
   transported to Maine where they are canned for sale in specialty food
   stores.
   
   ”Fresh, crisp fiddleheads are steamed or boiled in salted water for
   20 to 30 minutes, until just tender.  Their flavor hints of asparagus
   and mushrooms combined, and they are delectable served with either of
   these compatibly flavored foods.  But the best dish of plump
   fiddleheads is simmered gently and served hot, enhanced only by the
   simplest adornment of melted butters, served within hours after the
   crosiers are gathered..."
   
   From _The Wild Flavor_ by Marilyn Kluger.  Los Angeles: Jeremy P.
   Tarcher, Inc., 1984.  Pp. 245-248.  ISBN 0-87477-338-5.  Typed for
   you by Cathy Harned.
  
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