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Thursday, April 14, 2005


Asparagus, Asperges, Asparagi

"........a rose by any other name would smell as sweet"

Asparagus Gratin Posted by Hello

This is the season when asparagus is plentiful and the price is right. We, in the San Francisco Bay area, are fortunate to get fresh, succulent asparagus from the San Joaquin Delta. The following recipes are simple, take very little time and taste delicious.

The bottom (tough) ends of asparagus spears should be trimmed, discarded.

The recipes call for preparing the asparagus by parboiling or steaming (preferred). To retain the flavor, texture and color, avoid overcooking. Add salt to the water. I steam them for about 4-5 minutes then put them in an ice bath to prevent softening further. If you are boiling them, about 3-4 minutes should be enough...and be sure to drop them in the ice bath (a large enough container with cold water and ice cubes). The stalks should be tender and crisp, not limp.

Asparagus Gratin with Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
(From Lidia's Italian Kitchen)

24 medium-size asparagus spears (about 1.5 pounds) steamed or parboiled -- see above
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoon plain dry bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest (the yellow part of the skin only)
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a bowl, toss the cheese, bread crumbs and lemon zest until blended
Preheat the broiler
Arrange the asparagus stalks in a single layer in a baking dish
Drizzle the asparagus with melted butter
Sprinkle an even layer of the bread crumb mixture over it
Broil about 4 inches from the heat until the top is golden brown--about 3 minutes

Asparagus stir fried with Five Spice Powder, Hoisin Sauce and Soy Sauce
(Musafir's kitchen)

1 lbs Asparagus stalks steamed (or parboiled) - see above - cut in 1" pieces
1 small onion diced in 1/2" pieces
A few stalks of scallion cut in 1/2" pieces
1 dried red chili pepper
2 tablespoon canola or peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon Five Spice Powder
1-1/2 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
2 tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil (optional)

Heat the oil in a non stick pan
Add red chili pepper
Add diced onion and stir for a few minutes until onions turn soft and golden
Add Five spice Powder
Add Hoisin Sauce and stir until all ingredients are coated
Add scallion
Add Soya Sauce and mix
Reduce heat and cook for a few minutes
Remove from stove, add Sesame Oil and mix
Serve with rice or noodles

Note: Five Spice Powder, Hoisin Sauce, Soy Sauce and Sesame oil available in Oriental grocery stores.
East-West Asparagus Salad
(Narsai David's KCBS Kitchen)

1 lb pasta (penne or ziti)
1-1/2 lb Asparagus, previously steamed or parboiled (see above), cut into 2" pieces
4 scallions chopped with green tops
1 red onion sliced into thin half-moons
4 tablespoon pickled red ginger (cut into thin strips)
1 cup Narsai's Hoisin dressing (see below)

Cook pasta until "al dente".
Drain and chill immediately under cold water and then drain again
In a large bowl toss pasta and asparagus with remaining ingredients

The dressing

1/3 cup Hoisin sauce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon lime (or lemon) juice
2 teaspoon Dijon style mustard
2/3rd cup salad oil

Mix all except the oil and sir until blended (blender could be used at low speed). Then add oil and blend again.

Note: I do it manually and it works.
Pickled red ginger available in Oriental grocery stores

Listening to:
Waltz For Debbie
Bill Evans--Piano
Scott LaFaro--Bass
Paul Motian--Drums
Riverside Records

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