Home: A Taste of Spring


When Jayson Grossberg, owner of Alphabet Soup Catering and chef/partner at 707, invites his Ardmore neighbors into his professional-grade home kitchen for a bite, they accept — and quickly. After all, being the first to sample his new spring dishes — edgy salads, savory lamb, and sparkling raspberry-citrus cocktails — is a delicious privilege, indeed. Jayson’s trick: Plenty of pre-party prep — so the guests and the chef can enjoy the occasion.


When Jayson Grossberg, owner of Alphabet Soup Catering and chef/partner at 707, invites his Ardmore neighbors into his professional-grade home kitchen for a bite, they accept — and quickly. After all, being the first to sample his new spring dishes — edgy salads, savory lamb, and sparkling raspberry-citrus cocktails — is a delicious privilege, indeed. Jayson’s trick: Plenty of pre-party prep — so the guests and the chef can enjoy the occasion.

Parties are like restaurants: the best begin with thorough planning. For his day-off gathering, Jayson designed a simple spring menu inspired by the market’s pea varieties, colorful beets, tender leeks, and herbs from his window garden. For the salads he planned — spring pea, asparagus and avocado; and beets with citrus and jicama — the freshest produce is essential. It’s best to shop for these ingredients the day of the party. To encourage tasting and to highlight the food against the rustic wood of the kitchen table, Jayson chose white serving dishes and small white plates. The final touch: daffodil-colored note cards explaining the elements of each dish.

Spring pea, asparagus and avocado salad
Serves 6-8

1 lb. asparagus, each stalk cut into thirds
½ lb. English peas
½ lb. sugar snap peas
2 avocados, sliced thin
¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. chopped basil
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add asparagus, English peas and snap peas, and cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Drain vegetables and plunge vegetables into bowl of ice water. Toss asparagus, English peas, snap peas and avocado with olive oil and basil. Season with salt and pepper.

Beet salad with citrus and jicama
Serves 6-8

2 lbs. mixed baby beets
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 seedless oranges, peeled and segmented
¼ c. diced jicama
3 medium radishes, sliced thin
3 scallions, sliced thin
1 tsp. lime juice
Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add beets and reduce heat until water is simmering. Simmer beets until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain beets. Once beets are cool enough to handle, peel and slice into thin half moons. Season with salt and pepper. Toss beets with sugar, vinegar and olive oil. Add oranges, jicama, radishes, scallions and lime juice. Toss to combine.

Every chef who’s been slammed by a crowd on Friday night knows that the real secret to being a great cook is the preparation. The same is true for a party of six — or 60. Although Jayson’s kitchen is ideal for cooking and conversing, he chose dishes that can be prepared almost entirely in advance. Even the impressive rack of lamb is roasted and then cooled to room temperature before it is served with its flavorful condiments. One step not to overlook: the plating. Restaurant-style garnishes — like the lemons, rosemary, thyme and garlic atop the lamb — add panache to the presentation.

Spring lamb
Serves 6-8

3 frenched racks of lamb
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt, for seasoning
Black pepper, for seasoning
5 sprigs thyme
3 sprigs rosemary
5 cloves garlic, smashed
1 lemon, sliced, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Rub lamb with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. In large ovenproof saute pan over medium-high heat, sear lamb on all sides until browned, about 6-8 minutes per side. Add thyme, rosemary and garlic to pan.
Place pan in oven and roast until lamb reaches medium rare (140° Fahrenheit), about 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Add lemon slices. Allow lamb to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve at room temperature with leeks and Greek yogurt sauce.

Leeks with pistachios and blueberries
Serves 6-8

2 tsp. unsalted butter
¼ c. sliced leeks
2 Tbsp. pistachios
2 Tbsp. dried blueberries
Melt butter in small saute
pan over low heat. Add leeks and cook until leeks are wilted, but not browned. Remove pan from heat and add pistachios and blueberries. Toss to combine.

Greek yogurt sauce

2 c. Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp. peeled, diced cucumber
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Combine yogurt with cucumber, cayenne, lemon juice
and parsley. Mix to incorporate ingredients. Let stand for 1 hour to allow flavors to develop. Season with salt and pepper.

Careful planning and prep mean Jayson and his wife Alix — even 707 sous-chef Jared Wild — have little work to do when guests arrive. Their only duty: offer drinks. The tart, slightly sparkling Spring Fling cocktail can be mixed by the glass or by the pitcher, and both wines — flowery pale yellow Jane Ventura Xarel-lo 2005 and summer-fruit-filled red Castillo de Monseran Garnacha 2005 — are tasty on their own and a complement to the menu’s bright flavors. After the light dinner, Jayson improvises a simple dessert. The first of the season’s strawberry crop don’t need much — just crème fraîche and aged balsamic vinegar.

Spring Fling
Serves 1

¼ c. vodka
½ lime, juiced
¼ c. plus 2 Tbsp. Orangina
5 raspberries, plus raspberries for garnish
½ tsp. chopped green apple, plus green apple slices for garnish
Mint sprigs, for garnish

Combine cocktail ingredients in cocktail shaker filled with ice. Stir rapidly to incorporate ingredients. Strain into highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with raspberries, green apple and mint.