Springtime is asparagus time! When I was just a young novice one of my most favorite morning responsibilities was to check the asparagus patch. What a way to start the day! The sight of new spears shooting up through the soil was an absolute delight. Then to calculate how many would reach their full height by the end of the day was a “lifegiving” exercise.
Because their growth is so rapid and so obvious from hour to hour, it is unlike most other growing edibles except perhaps mushrooms. In any case, the sight, as well as the taste, of asparagus still pleases me to no end.
Whether it be out in the garden straight from the soil, whether it be simmered and slightly salted right out of the pot at the stove or topped with hollandaise at the dinner table, I always welcome them.
Now that they are so popular roasted I have come up with this simple version that many people seem to like ……bacon wrapped and roasted with a touch of brown sugar and crispy crumb topping.
- Heat oven to 400º Fahrenheit. In small bowl, mix bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Add parsley, lemon peel; toss well.
- Microwave bacon till fat is melted and the slices are easy to roll around the asparagus.
- Divide asparagus into 4 equal bundles. Loosely wrap each bundle with one slice of bacon. Press brown sugar onto bacon. Press crumbs onto sugared bacon. Place prepared asparagus into shallow baking dish. Brush asparagus tips with oil. Bake uncovered until bacon is crisp – 15”-20”.
It is officially Autumn. Lots of pumpkins and apples at farm-stands, color coming in the trees, leaves falling, and that nip in the air that reminds us that summer is at an end. I love fall. I love the colors, the crisp air, the clear light. And the food! Summer was great and I enjoyed all of the fresh food, but who doesn’t welcome back hot soups and stews, butternut squash, and apples? I recently was looking for a fall salad and thought apple, frisee, and endive would be a good combination. I decided to stack it! Not only does it look great, but it also tastes amazing with the crunch of apples and greens and the subtle hints of maple and bacon.
Stacked Apple Salad with Frisee and Belgian endive
- Core and thinly slice apples, place in a bowl with water and a dollop of lemon juice.
- In a small bowl combine shallots and vinegar. Set aside.
- In a heavy frying pan over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp and brown, drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 3 Tablespoons of the bacon fat and return pan to low heat.
- Remove shallots from vinegar and reserve.
- Add vinegar to hot bacon fat, whisking until emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Break frisee into sprigs and mix with endive. Dress lightly with bacon fat vinegar combination, reserving some dressing to drizzle on salads.
- On salad plates arrange 2 apple slices, then some of the dressed greens and some shallot slices.
- Repeat using single apple slice, then the other components 2 times more ending with an apple slice. Drizzle with warm dressing, sprinkle with bacon and serve.
As I write this, it is raining. I think not too long ago I was writing about all of the rain and cold we were having. (I will never complain about that again!) It’s finally been so dry that the garden could be tilled, and the tomatoes are being planted. I feel like having a party! Its the time of year that I try and think of what I can cook with the least amount of stove or oven usage.
I was recently cooking for a group, and not in the kitchen I am used to, which did not have a fully stocked pantry. I wanted to make a broccoli salad, so found a couple of recipes that looked promising, but of course did not have exactly what was called for, especially in the vinegar department. So, of course I would have to improvise. It was a no cook broccoli salad with a mayonnaise, vinegar sugar dressing. I remembered that there was a bottle of white balsamic vinegar in the cupboard – ah sweet! I also wanted to cut down on the amount of mayonnaise, and use it more like the oil in the dressing, and I must say that balsamic can cover a multitude of sins. So, here is my version of fresh broccoli salad, improv style.
Improvised Broccoli Salad
Improvised Broccoli Salad
- Trim off the large leaves from the broccoli stem.
- Remove the tough stalk at the end and wash broccoli head well.
- Cut the head into bite-size flowerets and the stem into bite size pieces.
- Place in a large bowl.
- Add the bacon, onion, raisins, and carrot.
- In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients, stirring well.
- Add to broccoli mixture and toss gently.
- Last of all add in the tomatoes and toss again gently.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.