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Posts Tagged ‘asparagus’

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The lovely green spears were in Realmont market today at reasonable prices.

I bought a kilo of straight ones for Friday dinner with our guests, arriving from the USA.

A second of less than perfect (less expensive too) specimens–asperges tordues (twisted)–to make this very simple frittata for lunch.

I have five eggs left in the pantry and a red onion. Add some cheese and seasoning–and there you have the ingredients!

Something different to do with this vegetable with a relatively short-lived season and a use for the cheaper spears with the less than perfect appearance.

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  • 450gms/80z asparagus spears–prepared weight–ie tough ends removed and sliced on the diagonal into smallish pieces
  • 1 red onion–peeled and halved and sliced
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 5 eggs–beaten

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  • 2oz grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

Serves 2 to 4 people 

Soften the onion in the olive oil until it begins to caramelize a little–10 to 15 minutes

Add the asparagus pieces and mix in adding some salt and a twist or two of pepper.

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Cook the mix over a gentle heat until the asparagus begins to soften. I like them to retain a little bite–about 10 minutes.

Let this cool.

Then ease into the beaten egg mix.

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Fold in the cheese and check the seasoning.

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Heat a tablespoon of oil in a 10 inch pan to hot–and fold in the egg mix and spread it evenly.

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Immediately turn the heat down to the lowest and cook for 30 minutes.

There should be just a small pool of liquid left on top.

Finish it under a grill for 30 seconds.

 

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Be careful taking the pan out of the oven–it is very hot, as I was reminded when the pan touched the side of my hand by accident–ouch!

Loosen the frittata round the edges of the pan with a fish slice or spatula and ease it out onto a favorite platter.

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“High on the DING scale!” said Meredith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The first asparagus spears were on the stalls at Castres market on Saturday at 9 euros /kilo– steep I thought–wait a week or two and down they’ll come.

Then last night Meredith and our friends Tamsin and Stephen–here for a weekend visit–returned from the annual Réalmont Agicultural Foire (fair).

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Deciding our garden was on the small side for this magnificent specimen;

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they settled instead for a large box of oversize strawberries,

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and a couple of bunches of Spanish grown asparagus!

OK–a starter for our hazelnut pasta supper last night!

I roasted all but ten spears–thinking lunch today– with thyme and olive oil.

It was good to have it confirmed that the asparagus season is about to start but the spears from over the border were not as tasty as the locals will be in a couple of weeks.

Lunch today then.

I’m poaching a couple of eggs each and laying them on top of the remaining asparagus for the yolks to break beautifully and Spring-like–yellow on fresh green–over them and make a superb light lunch with a salad.

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Heat the oven to 220C/430F

Arrange the spears in a single layer on a shallow oven tray.

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Pour a little olive oil over the tips and sprinkle some salt and fresh thyme .

Slide the tray onto the top oven rack and roast for 10 minutes–test for doneness.

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Arrange equal portions on two plates.

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add a tablespoon of red/white vinegar–this helps gather the egg white.

Break the eggs into the water trying not to burst their yokes.

They’ll be ready to take out in about three minutes–depending on the thickness of the spears..

Carefully remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and drain them.

Place them decoratively on the asparagus and season with a little salt and pepper.

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Rachel Lucas just left a comment following the post on Keith Richmond’s olive oil:

I prefer olive oil to butter on everything…currently on steamed English asparagus at almost every meal!….

It inspires me to reproduce the recipe for Roast Asparagus from Delicious Dishes for Diabetics.

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We are eating a lot of asparagus at the moment; it’s hard not to–it’s the season and the poor weather has meant the changes that should be happening now are unusually slow in arriving.
Roasting it for a short time at a high temperature makes for a different taste and texture.
We just had some for lunch with a simple new fish recipe for plaice which I’ll post soon.

Asparagus is wonderful, but even in its short season it can get a bit repetitive! This is a handy alternative way; quick and easy with the thinner type.The addition of thyme comes from the River Café.

2 tbsp olive oil
500 g/1 lb asparagus

2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

salt

1. Heat the oven at 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7.
2. Heat the oil in a shallow baking tray.
3. Turn the asparagus in it and sprinkle over the thyme and

some salt. The roasting time depends on the thickness of the asparagus: about 5 or 6 minutes for thin and a bit longer for the fatter size. It should crisp up a bit.

 

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From his stall at Tuesday’s market in Castres, Monsieur Gayraud–the fishmonger–was extolling the virtues of the maigre–a fish called “thin” if you like.

Comme un bar [sea bass] et moins cher [cheaper].”

I bought one large enough to serve two and asked him to leave the scales on but gut it for me.

I had it in mind to cook it as per the recipe for Simple Sea Bass in Delicious Dishes–in the oven at a very high temperature seasoned on a bed of thyme for about 25 minutes.

I looked up the oddly named maigre in Alan Davidson’s Mediterranean Seafood and Jenny Baker’s Simply Fish

and discovered that its name is not the only odd thing about Monsieur Maigre.

It’s also known as a croaker–because of the noise it makes when looking for food–and it eats a lot apparently, presumably to try to put on weight and change its name.

This is almost more than I need to know about a fish I’m about to cook!

In the oven went M. Maigre/Croaker/Bocca d’Oro (It)/Saiagiz (Turk)/Corvina (Sp)/Mayatico (Gr)… and 20 odd minutes later emerged ready to eat, after its protective scaly skin was peeled carefully back  and the two fillets shared between us.

At the Wednesday market in Realmont, I spied the first asparagus of the season!

I bought enough for the two of us and realized when I got home it would look good on the plate beside the fish; so I put the thin spears, sprinkled with olive oil, on a shallow tray and into the oven, 15 minutes after the fish and they were ready more or less at the same moment–looking crispy and glistening.

A simple dressing of one tablespoon of lemon juice to three of olive oil and seasoning was all we needed for the fish and the asparagus.

What’s in a name? That which we call a maigre

By any other name would taste as sweet.

And call it what you will–it was delicious!

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A simple soup for a jet-lagged cook to prepare for guests who are arriving tonight.

Soup is a good option when people may have had asparagus just once too often–towards the end of the season.

You can add the parmesan to the soup and heat it through before serving or–as suggested–leave to the guests to add to their bowls.

for 4

450gms/1lb asparagus–woody stalk ends and tips removed

1/2 a small onion–chopped

1 clove of garlic–chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 oz butter

450ml/1 pint stock–I use organic vegetable stock cubes

225ml/1/2 pint asparagus “water”–that in which you have simmered the woody stalk ends and the tips

salt

100gms/4 oz prosciutto–diced and sautéed to crisp

100gms/4 oz  parmesan cheese–grated

  • Simmer the stalk ends in 225ml /1/2 pint of water, covered, for 20 minutes.
  • Discard the stalks and–
  • –using the same  water, simmer the tips, covered, until tender–about 5 minutes– keep the water and reserve the tips to serve with the soup.
  • Sweat the onion and the garlic gently, covered, in the oil and butter for 5 minutes.
  • Add the asparagus and a little salt (remembering that the stock cubes will have salt in them) and sweat, covered, for a further 5 minutes.
  • Add the drained asparagus water and the stock, cover and cook gently for 20 minutes.
  • Liquidise the soup to a smooth finish.
  • Serve–hot–with the tips, the cheese and the prosciutto on the side, for guests to add as they please.

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Home again in France and happy to be so.

In spite of being bleary-eyed from the journey  yesterday, I don’t miss another sign of the change of seasons: an asparagus stall at the Realmont market this morning.

At the bigger Castres market on Saturday there’ll be several, piled high with the new green and white  asparagus spears. I much prefer the green–a matter of taste and habit.

It may be a little early for this superfood, but I buy 500 grams/1ib, a generous serving for two–about 7 spears each, plus a few for testing.

I know there’s a piece of bacon in the fridge–about 4oz/100gms– which I will dice small, gently sauté to a crispy finish.

I’ll dress the asparagus with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and a pinch of salt–whisked together; sprinkle over the bacon bits and top it off with a carefully placed poached egg.

An easy lunch for two weary people.

For the asparagus:

Trim the rough base of the spears, making them all about the same length.

Choose a saucepan or sauté pan that will take them all lying horizontally, and that’s wide enough to take a steamer basket/tray.

Fill the pan with water to the depth of the basket.

Place the asparagus horizontally in the basket and cover the pan.

It’s handy to cook an extra spear that you can use to test for doneness.

6–8 minutes should do it, depending on the thickness of the spears.

Pierce a spear with the tip of a knife to test for doneness–or better still, use your teeth!

When they are tender, divide them between two plates.

Spoon over a little dressing and share out the bacon dice.

Carefully place a poached egg on top.

Wrapping the ends of the asparagus in a damp paper or cloth towel, helps preserve the freshness of the  asparagus in the refrigerator. Best to eat asparagus within 48 hours of purchase–but why wait anyway!

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