Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day Weekend

For years (make that at least 10 years) I have raced up here on Memorial Day weekend and rushed to put a summer’s worth of seeds into the ground. This weekend has been much calmer. I wish that the spring had been the kind to offer me a head start, but at least I am not putting in EVERY plant and seed in two days.

The other nice thing is that I have been able really ENJOY my asparagus. In the past I would arrive to an asparagus forest that needed to be felled with an axe. Now I just snap a few for dinner each night and eat the skinny ones in my omelet in the morning. Now that it has warmed up, I’m getting 12 spears a day from the garden. It's nice to have this early crop at a time when the garden is mostly potential

I’ve uncovered two excellent recipes for asparagus this year. They are both from the Chicago Tribune.

Tonight I’m having a 7 spear version of the following larger recipe

Balsamic Asparagus

1//2 teaspoon salt boil 2 1/2 lbs asparagus 5 minutes. Drain, spread on towel and cover with ice cubes.

To serve: heat 2 1/2 Tbs butter in pan add 2 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar. Add asparagus and stir 2 minutes or until hot. Add 1/2teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper.

Last week I had a chance to make THE best asparagus soup. I save the snapped off ends until I have a 2 ½ pound bag

Asparagus Soup

2.5 lbs asparagus ends
6 cups water
2 each carrots and celery ribs and tops
3 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
12 peppercorns
2 Tbs butter
Minced garlic
1 large parsnip peeled and sliced
3 large leeks
6 fresh asparagus spears
3/4teaspoon coarse salt
3 Tbs sour cream
1 Tbs snipped chives

Make stock from first 6 ingredients. Cook uncovered for 25 minutes. Strain through strainer. Reserve four cups.

Saute leeks garlic and parsnip for 3 minutes. Add reserved asparagus spears, reserved liquid, salt and pepper. Heat to boil over medium high heat. Reduce to low and cook uncovered until asparagus is tender and but still bright green about 12 minutes. Set aside to cool 5 minutes.

Puree soup in blender in batches. Return to pot add more water if needed. Garnish with sour ream and snipped chives.

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