Thursday 5 April 2012

Stalking Asparagus!

When I was growing up, my father, brothers and I would go fishing every Spring on "Opening Day" weekend. We would stop along side the road, and find asparagus, just snap it off and take it home to Mom, to cook it for us, with our fresh trout. We found it in ditches along side the roads. When I was in my late teens, my brother married his sweetheart, my sister-in-law, Kay, she knew all the right places to find baskets full of this Spring time vegetable. I so enjoyed hunting for this edible spear with her!

When I first see the large display come into the markets, I smile, as I know Spring is here! Asparagus is a member of the Lily family, did you know that?

When buying asparagus, look for a supplier who stores it upright in water and keeps it refrigerated. Hard to find these days. However, if the turnover is rapid, the sugar loss would be negligible. Look for tight budded spears with smooth, tender skin. Fresh asparagus should not be withered, brown, or flabby. Try to find even-size spears at least 1/2 inch in diameter. Avoid any spears with large, woody, hard, white bases, which will be nothing but waste. The spears should be at least two-thirds green.

It wasn't until I started using Julia Child's method of peeling the asparagus, that I realized peeling the asparagus doubles your harvest, actually providing up to 50% additional edible flesh. If you aren't peeling you'll marvel at he the quantity of tender flesh hidden underneath a tough exterior.

A small, sharp paring knife works better than a vegetable peeler, because it allows maximum control gradating the cut. Insert the knife under the thicker skin at the base, and work it up toward the tip, making the cut shallower as the skin becomes thinner. About 2-3 inches from the tip, the peel tapers off completely.

My technique to cook is simple: Just blanch in a large pot of salted water, and after a few minutes when barely tender, stop the cooking and put into ice water, this also preserve's it brilliant color. I find that steaming peeled asparagus, reduces much of it's handsome green color. Microwave 1 pound of peeled asparagus placed in a covered dish with 1/4 cup water, takes about 7 minutes, of course, it depends on power of your microwave.

My Pineapple Buerre Blanc

2 lb. asparagus
1 pineapple
1/2 lb. butter, cold, and cut into 1 T pieces
4 shallots minced
1/8c. vinegar 
1/2 c. fresh pineapple juice
3/4 tsp. salt

Peel asparagus and cut into even lengths. Either boil in large pot of salted water or microwave.

Cut pineapple into quarters. Core and cut 2 of the wedges into 1/4" small wedges.

Toss small wedges, in a saute pan, over high heat, for 3-4 minutes. Juices will evaporate and wedges will be lightly brown. Set aside.

The Sauce:

Pour hot water into a wide mouthed thermos.

Place shallots, vinegar, pineapple juice and salt into a 4 quart saucepan.

Cook over high heat, until liquid has reduced to 2 T. Reduce heat to medium and add three or four T. of the butter, whisking as you go, as they melt add more, continuing to whisk, until the butter has formed the emulsion and is smooth.

Pour water out of the thermos and pour in the sauce. It will stay warm until serving time. 

*This sauce will not reheat. It will separate, as it is an emulsion sauce.

To serve:

Reheat the asparagus and pineapple wedges. Add the pineapple to the sauce. And serve.


More on Mountain Man in the Southwest!

Harold's in Cave Creek on Saturday night! It was two bands, one outside and one in. This is Young Country outside.

                                     A little mechanical bull riding!

     A thousand people, a lot of cowboys! We danced inside and out! Mountain man was noticing how the southwestern cowboy hats are lower in profile, than the cowboy hats here, in the Pacific Northwest. 

Tomorrow a video of the band inside, awesome! Mongollan!!


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