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Entries in asparagus (25)

Tuesday
Apr292014

asparagus with lardo, parmesan and toasted hazelnuts

 

last year my favourite tv cookery show was tom kerridge’s proper pub food – really interesting recipes which weren’t dumbed down but were achievable at home despite, presumably, being based on recipes that would be served in his 2 michelin starred pub.

i cooked quite a few of the recipes and in most cases found particular elements of the dish that i loved – it was a little odd to find this, rather than loving a dish as a whole, but actually it’s great as it has encouraged me to try particular components with different accompaniments. particular favourites included the cavolo nero salsa that accompanied a pork belly recipe and the dal that accompanied a braised ox cheeks dish (the ox cheeks were a disaster for me, ending up really bitter so lots of tweaks were needed to rescue them!). friends raved about the slow-cooked lamb with boulangere potatoes.

anyway, to get to the point, he has a new tv show – spring kitchen (which has an annoying daytime tv magazine format but i’m ignoring that as the food being cooked is good). this asparagus dish was in the first episode and i made it that weekend, delighting in the fact that white asparagus is so easy to buy here in germany.

the white asparagus is braised in a butter and water mix, which creates a lovely flavour; it also gives you the start of a dressing - a bit of lemon juice for acidity plus, if you have it, smoked butter (i didn’t have any so i  skipped this part of the recipe). the lardo really works well and i liked the fact that the slices cooked underneath the asparagus stays soft while those that are on top end up crispy (i’m not sure this is what the recipe intended but i loved the contrast so would try to replicate it).

despite missing out a few components of the recipe – the smoked butter plus reduced pork sauce – the resulting dish was wonderful with lots of interesting flavours and a complexity that was well worth the effort.

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Friday
Apr042014

white asparagus

it’s asparagus season at the moment and in frankfurt that means white asparagus – little stalls selling “spargel” have been popping up around the city.

in the uk white asparagus has a much lower profile than its green cousin but given the local passion for white, and the fact that i’ve not seen a peep of the green stuff, i’m getting stuck in. i’ve only cooked it once before and that was simply, just boiling it for a few minutes, and serving it to accompany a tomato and lentil salad.

this time i decided to draw inspiration from anna hansens’s roasted fennel with lemon, which i’be made every which way, and roasted it for c40 minutes along with some fennel and following the usual recipe. actually, i made a few tweaks - instead of using halloumi i crumbled a pack of feta over the roasting vegetables for the final ten minutes which created a lovely creamy sauce. fresh basil and potato gnocchi were the finishing touches in a lovely fresh and springlike meal.  

Wednesday
May292013

asparagus tangle pizza

this pizza has been on my “to make” list for absolutely ages. the tangle of asparagus is the thing which really appealed. and the talk of a cheese base – no tomato sauce here, just a scattering of parmesan and some chunks of saint nectaire cheese. using quail eggs was the final nail in the “i have to make this” coffin - they're so cute!

it was easy enough to pull together – i used my usual dough, a 150g flour batch for one pizza. i then shaved, using my vegetable peeler, a small bunch of asparagus (c100g shaved weight, i would use more next time) which was put on top of the dough, having already sprinkled it with 20g grated parmesan and 30g of saint nectaire.

this was baked for c4 minutes on a preheated pizza stone, removed and then the quail eggs cracked on. according to the recipe they only needed a minute of additional cooking time but in my oven (cranked up to max) they had a nearer two and still had soft yolks, so exact timing will depend on your oven. i drizzled the pizza with a lovely grassy olive oil before serving, which i think worked well.

i will definitely be making this again.

Wednesday
May222013

halloumi, fennel, asparagus and potato salad

as i mentioned recently, i’ve fallen in love with anna hansen’s lemon, fennel and halloumi bruschetta. the things which really makes this dish stand out for me are the layers aniseed flavours (fresh fennel and fennel seeds), the layers of caramelised flavours (the fennel and the strips of lemon zest both caramelise as they cook), the endlessly wonderful squeaky creaminess of the halloumi and the hit of citrus from the lemon.

so, when i saw hugh fearnley whittingstall’s recipe for potatoes, asparagus and halloumi which also uses lemon, i decided to combine the two, thinking that the potatoes could be used in place of the bruschetta bread. the result was fabulous, both eaten warm and as leftovers the following day.

to make this i cut my potatoes into bite size pieces, tossed them olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and then roasted them 180c for 10 minutes. while they were cooking i mixed together pieces of fennel (cut each bulb into 10 wedges), lemon zest (peel this off and then cut into matchsticks), lemon juice, fennel seeds and a bit more olive oil, salt and pepper. this was added to the potatoes after they’d been in the oven for ten minutes, mixed together and covered with foil. after 20 minutes roasting i added my asparagus and cubes of halloumi. another stir to mix the flavours and a final ten minutes in the oven uncovered.

i finished the dish with crispy capers (drain, dry and shallow fry in olive oil) and a squeeze of fresh lemon. i meant to add some parsley, as suggested in hfw’s recipe, but forgot and i don’t think it was missed at all.

Monday
May202013

wonderfully simple summery vegetables

blanched greens - tenderstem broccoli, green beans and asparagus in this case - mixed with a dressing of oil, (i particularly like evoo or smokey tomato oil at the moment) lemon juice and zest (the zest is where all the lemon’s perfume is hidden, don’t just use the juice), salt, pepper and a little dijon mustard. some fresh herbs too if i have them to hand.

i make the dressing in the serving bowl and add the veggies as they cook, as they pick up the flavours of the dressing much more effectively if they are still warm when dressed. so simple and an almost daily dish at the moment, while i embrace the new vegetables of the new season.