I Love Food – Do You?

Depending upon which calendar you use, on the National Front today is Care Bears Share Your Care Day (yeah, a mouthful), National Teddy Bear Day, National Wiener Schnitzel Day or I Love Food Day. With the exception of Wiener Schnitzel and a love of food, the other National Days aren’t exactly edible.

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Asparagus with Bacon Sabayon

What is Sabayon? That was my first question. I knew it was French, but that was about it. Turns out this rendition of a Bacon Sabayon isn’t your typical French Sabayon. A typical Sabayon is the French take on another classic Custard Sauce, Zabaglione. A true Sabayon, like it’s Italian Cousin, is made with wine, egg yolks and sugar. Zabaglione is made with a sweet wine such as Marsala. I’ve even used Zabaglione to create a Whipped Cream with Fruit dessert. A traditional French Sabayon is made with a white wine such as a Chardonnay. Both are usually dessert sauces.

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Broiled Asparagus with Lemon-Tarragon Dressing

Isn’t it amazing what a little char can do to change the textures and flavors of food? I especially love the nutty earthy flavor a little char will bring to a stalk of asparagus. Wow.

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Asparagus Parma with Crisp Prosciutto

This has to be one of the most delicious way to serve Asparagus on the planet. But then, you gotta love Asparagus and Capers. The red pepper flakes also give it a nice little kick. So if that’s all to your liking, this is the dish for you. I know it is for me.

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Asparagus with Orange Sour Cream

Remember when we talked about getting side-tracked when planning suppers? Such was the case with the Asparagus we kept buying at the market. One thing about vegetables in our house, they never seem to go to waste. While they might not always be transformed into their intended dish, we do manage to enjoy fresh asparagus.

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Asparagus Almondine

You say Amandine, I say Almondine, any way you say it, a garnish of almonds over just about anything makes a simple dish sound fancy. Green Bean Amandine, Fish Amandine or in this case Asparagus Almondine. A little butter, a sprinkling of almonds and bam, what was ordinary is transformed into extra-ordinary.

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Titanic’s Asparagus Salad with Golden Champagne-Saffron Vinaigrette

I know you were expecting some sort of Lenten offering on this, the 31st day of the season. I got side tracks. All I can say is welcome to my mind. To the rest of the world, it might seem a dysfunctional, easily derailed environment. Yet for me the thought process works and it does make perfectly logical sense. Hubby would care to differ. I invite you to follow the thoughts that led to today’s posting to a wonderful, First-Class Asparagus “Salad” served on the final night aboard the Titanic. Although not a straight line, the string of thoughts aren’t totally random. Ready, set  . . . here we go.

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White Asparagus will soon be coming to a Market near You

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

So, I bet you are wondering what’s the difference between white asparagus and green asparagus? Is it a different variety? A close relative? Nope – asparagus is asparagus. White asparagus is nothing more than asparagus that spends its entire existence covered in dirty, not allowed to reach the sunlight that turns the spears green. It takes a little more tending than the green stuff. This extra tending is part of why white asparagus demands a higher price tag than the green variety. White asparagus is grown in South America and Europe, so it’s an “import” to the US markets. Hence the added cost. If you are lucky, these pale stalks make a brief appearance in early spring, so snatch them up when you can.

When you do, don’t treat them like green shoots. Deprived as they are of sunlight, the asparagus as a whole is changed. To begin with, white asparagus has a stiff stalk that will snap easily, and not necessarily at the “woody” ends like green asparagus. The thin outer skin is bitter, and must be removed prior to cooking. Once properly prepped, white asparagus can be cooked just as you would green asparagus. The most common is to boil the asparagus in a little water.

While I decided to boil the asparagus, salted water seemed a little boring, so I added some lemon juice to allow the flavor to penetrate the freshly peeled stalks.

The results were wonderful. The asparagus was tender without becoming “mushy”. The flavor of the asparagus itself is sweet. A little butter and season were all that were required to make a side dish that was beyond yummy.

Simple White Asparagus
1 Bunch White Asparagus
Salt (for water)
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Butter, Softened
1/2 Tablespoon Lemon Herb Seasoning

White Asparagus2Rinse asparagus. While supporting asparagus spear in one had, gently peel outer skin from stalk. The asparagus will snap easily, so support while peeling is necessary.

Cut about 1 inch from bottom of each spear. Gather the asparagus, tie with kitchen twine at bottom, middle and top to create a nice bundle.

Place asparagus into a tall pot fitted with a lid. Fill pot with water to just below the tips of the asparagus. Remove bundle, set aside. Bring water to a boil. Season well with salt and lemon juice. Using tongs, add asparagus bundle to water, tip side up. Cover and let cook for about 15-20 minutes, depending upon thickness of stalk.

When asparagus is tender, remove from pot. Lay spears in a serving dish, remove twine. Brush spears with soften butter, sprinkle with lemon herb seasoning and serve.

Asparagi all’agro

Those of you who have been around a while might recognize this recipe for Asparagus with Lemon and Olive Oil. It’s a recipe I’ve shared before, as part of last year’s  Bistro Style Birthday MenuItalian foods are my all time favorites, although French foods are a very close second.

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Asparagus, Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Crepes

These yummy, beautiful crepes can be served as an appetizer, a beautiful side dish or main course for a light meal. Have you ever wrapped asparagus in slices of ham? This is similar, only better. I love the flavor of Prosciutto, don’t you? asparagus tunnelAnything wrapped in Prosciutto is great. Prosciutto adds that salty and flavorful kick. In the summer, I adore Prosciutto wrapped slices of melon. As for vegetables, asparagus is the perfect pairing with thin slices of Prosciutto. I know, asparagus is hardly a winter crop, but then that’s the beauty of foods grown ’round the world – with the exception of your local farmer’s markets, the mega stores have fresh asparagus even in winter. Some farmers grown asparagus in mini-tunnels, increasing the harvest time from spring to nearly year round. This type of farming is especially prominent in England, where the harvest season is from February to November. Not bad for a typical “spring” crop.

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Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus in Crisp Phylo with a Hollandaise Dipping Sauce

I love asparagus. I love asparagus steamed, grilled, pan-fried and just about any way in between including asparagus soup. While asparagus is generally an early spring crop, in most well-stocked markets, it can be had throughout the year. The younger, narrow asparagus render the best, most delicate flavor. The older, thicker stalks tend to be more woody, tough and somewhat bitter.

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Roasted Asparagus with Bursting Tomatoes and Feta

I know, asparagus are a spring crop. I know, tomatoes come to us in the summer. But hey, we live in a modern world with crops from all parts of the globe. And just look at this stunning combination – ruby-red tomatoes, the deep green of asparagus and the snowy sprinkling of crumbled feta. Come on, you’ve got to admit, this is a beautiful Christmas platter. This is so pretty, I might just need to create an entire menu around it. Suggestions anyone?

Roasted Asparagus with Bursting Tomatoes and Feta
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Handful Small Tomatoes
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup crumbled feta

Snap woody ends from each asparagus spear. Set aside.

Heat broiler to high.

Cover a baking sheet with foil. Spread trimmed asparagus evenly on the sheet pan. Drizzle with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly.

Place baking sheet under the broiler about 4 inches from heat and broil for 3 minutes. Remove pan and give it a quick shake to rotate the asparagus. Add small tomatoes and sprinkle everything with fresh thyme leaves. Place under the broiler until tomatoes beginning to blister, about 3 minutes longer.

Arrange asparagus and tomatoes on a serving platter. Sprinkle with feta and enjoy.

Smokey Pan Seared Asparagus

This is a recipe I picked up a while back from everydayfrenchchef.com. It’s one of those recipes that you read, tell yourself “how simple” and file away, believing that the best way to serve asparagus is steamed with some sort of sauce such as Hollandaise. And then one day, you pull it out and cook it up. Much to your surprise, it’s not only wonderfully delicious, your non-asparagus eater (aka Kiddo) wants seconds.

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Tuscan Roasted Asparagus with Tomatoes and Parmesan

Side dishes are wonderful. In my opinion, side dishes are necessary – otherwise the meal is incomplete and lopsided. Even simple things like deli-sandwiches need a complimentary side such as a big pickle spear or some sort of creamy salad like macaroni or potato. Hot Dog – gotta have beans. Hamburgers scream for French Fries or onion rings. Side dishes are an important part of meal planning.

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