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Posts Tagged ‘Asparagus’

Risotto Primavera

Do it now when there is lots of asparagus in the shops! If you have peas and broad beans growing you should of course use these rather than our frozen substitutes.

Wine Suggestion: we had opened a delightful Touraine Sauvignon Blanc from Domaine Octavie which not only matched the food, it also matched the sunshine with us this evening.

Risotto Primavera – serves 4

  • 200g frozen broad beans
  • 4 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 250g asparagus, woody ends snapped off and chopped into 4 pieces
  • 1.3 litres of good chicken or vegetable stock – homemade if you have it
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 85g butter
  • 350g Carnaroli or other risotto rice
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 140g frozen peas, defrosted
  • 100g Parmesan, finely grated

Tip the broad beans into boiling water and simmer for 1 minute, then drain and remove the skins.

Meanwhile, bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan.

Heat the oil and half the butter in a heavy, wide pan. Add the shallots, scallions & garlic and cook for a few minutes until soft and translucent but not browned.

Keep the heat at medium and add the rice to the pan and stir for a few minutes so it gets toasted and very hot. When it starts to hiss, pour in the wine and stir for another minute or so until the wine has evaporated.

Set a timer for 20 minutes, then start adding the stock starting with a ladle and a half. It should be gently simmering and you need to stir continuously until the liquid had been absorbed. Keep adding the stock a ladleful at a time and allowing it to be absorbed before adding another.

After 14 minutes, add the beans and peas to the rice with some seasoning. Meanwhile, add the asparagus pieces to the simmering stock and cook for 4 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and add to the rice. Start tasting the rice to check if it is done – you’re looking for soft rice with a little bite. Keep adding stock until cooked, then take the pan off the heat and add half the Parmesan and the remaining butter along with another splash of stock. Cover with a lid and leave to rest for a few minutes.

Serve with the rest of the Parmesan.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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Chicken & Morel Pie

We were so happy when we found a little jar of dried morels, until we got to the counter and realised they cost €25. We almost put them back only we had our hearts set on cooking this pie for dinner. We think they were worth it, but we’ll be better prepared for a shock at the till next time. It turns out morels are far from easy to come by and must be hand foraged and hence the princely sum. The fresh ones can be used for this dish too (though good luck finding them!) but you miss out on the nice mushroom stock from soaking the dried ones. If you see either sort and you’re feeling flush, we recommend trying them.

Wine Suggestion: We think this goes well with earthier reds like Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo especially if they have a little age and development.

Chicken, morel mushroom & asparagus one-pan pie – serves 4 to 5

  • 30g dried morels (or 100g fresh morels thoroughly cleaned)
  • 200ml chicken stock (you only need this if you have fresh morels)
  • 50g butter
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • 3 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 100ml dry sherry or white wine
  • 200ml crème fraîche
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into large chunks
  • bunch of asparagus, snap off and discard the woody ends, then cut into 4cm pieces
  • half a pack of tarragon, leaves roughly chopped
  • 375g block of puff pastry (preferably all-butter)
  • 1 egg, beaten, to glaze

If you are using dried mushrooms put them into a bowl and cover with boiling water, then leave to soak for 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the liquid and cut in half (keep the liquid and make it up to 200ml with some more water if necessary). You can set a couple of the nicest looking morels aside to decorate the top of the pie if you like.

Heat half the butter in a frying pan and fry the morels for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Heat the rest of the butter and cook the shallots gently in the pan with the thyme and bay. When the shallots have softened, stir in the flour and cook for a minute or until a paste forms.

Pour in the sherry or wine and sizzle, then stir in the mushroom liquid (leave any grit in the bowl) or chicken stock, followed by the crème fraîche. Season well and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the chicken and poach in the sauce for 10 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove and discard the bay leaves, stir in the asparagus, tarragon and fried morels, then remove from the heat and transfer into a pie dish.

Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 8.

Roll the pastry out onto a floured surface to the thickness of a euro coin, then cut to fit the dish, and drape it over the pie mixture (a rolling pin helps with this). Liberally brush with egg, season the pastry with flaky sea salt, and arrange the reserved morels on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown. Leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Asparagus & Prosciutto soup

Another favourite from the River Café where the prosciutto gives a big addition to the flavour. Serve with a few asparagus tips and top quality olive oil on top. Delicious!

Wine suggestion: Sauvignon Blanc with bags of  flavour. Something like the Dog Point from New Zealand or the Dezat Sancerre from the Loire will work great. Going slightly off-piste we love the Domaine Bellier Cheverny Blanc which combines 85% Sauvignon Blanc with Chardonnay in a un-sung appellation from the Loire, a really good food wine.

Asparagus & prosciutto soup – serves 4

  • 500g asparagus
  • 140g prosciutto slices, sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
  • 140g spinach
  • Marigold Swiss bouillon powder dissolved with 750ml of boiling water
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • extra virgin olive oil

Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and cut the remaining stalks into short lengths. Keep the tips to one side.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a heavy-based pan, add the onion and soften for 5 minutes, then add the prosciutto, potatoes, parsley and asparagus stalks. Season with pepper (hold off on the salt until the end as the ham is salty) and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, then add the bouillon and simmer until the potatoes and asparagus are tender – about 15 minutes. Add the spinach and most of the asparagus tips and cook for a another few minutes. Remove from the heat and blend to a rough purée.

Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil and fry the reserved tips for a few seconds. Serve the soup with the asparagus and oil drizzled over each bowl.

(Original recipe from Italian Two Easy by Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers, Clarkson Potter, 2006.)

 

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Pasta Primavera

This was tasty. We were a bit concerned about the boiled onion at first but it gives a nice onion flavour without any fried taste which isn’t required here with the light creamy sauce. Good for a weeknight or weekend lunch.

Pasta Primavera – serves 4-6

  • 1 red pepper, halved and deseeded
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 225g asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2.5cm lengths
  • 100g sugarsnap peas, sliced in half lengthways
  • 300g dried penne
  • 100ml double cream
  • 60g Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 25g toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp torn fresh basil leaves

Put the pepper halves under a hot grill, skin side up, for around 10 minutes or until the skin is completely charred. Seal in a plastic bag and leave to cool, then peel and discard the skin. Slice the flesh into large pieces.

Cook the chopped onion in a pan of salted boiling water for 9 minutes, then add the asparagus. Cook for another minute before adding the sugarsnaps and continue to boil for another 2 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water.

Cook the penne in a large pan of salted boiling water for the recommended time on the pack, then return to the pan with the cooled vegetables. Add the roasted pepper, cream and cheese and stir over a gentle heat to warm through. Season well with sea salt and black pepper.

Squeeze over the lemon and scatter over the pine nuts and basil to serve.

(Original recipe from Mary Berry’s Cookery Course, DK, 2013.)

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Warm asparagus & new potato salad

We made this back in June when local asparagus was available, but have been very lax getting posts up on the blog (must do better!). We really enjoyed the combination here and  the addition of our own, home-grown mint, dill and chives really made the dish sing.

Warm Asparagus & New Potato Salad – serves 4

  • 350g small Jersey potatoes, scrubbed or peeled if you prefer
  • salt
  • 2 large mint sprigs
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 250g asparagus tips
  • hearts of 2 round lettuces, leaves separated, washed and dried
  • Maldon salt
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, shelled
  • handful of chervil sprigs – we used dill

FOR THE BUTTER SAUCE: 

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • pinch of caster sugar
  • 75g cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 tbsp snipped chives

Simmer the potatoes in lightly salted water, with the mint, until tender. Drain over a bowl and reserve the cooking water. Return the potatoes to the pan with the butter, stir together and keep warm.

For the sauce, use a large shallow stainless steel or enamel saucepan and squeeze in the lemon juice. Add 6 tbsp of the potato cooking water and the sugar, then simmer until reduced by half. Slowly incorporate the butter, a chunk at a time, whisking over a very low heat until homogenous (you’re aiming for a light butter sauce). Season with white pepper and keep warm.

Peel the asparagus tips from just below the bud and slice in half lengthways. Add to a pan of boiling well-salted water and boil for about 1-2 minutes – you want them just tender but not raw, then drain.

Slice the warm potatoes and add them, along with the asparagus, to the butter sauce. Turn gently with the chives, until everything is nicely coated.

Arrange the lettuce on 4 plates and divide the asparagus and potatoes between them. Sprinkle with Maldon salt and grate over the egg. Generously scatter with the chervil or dill.

(Original recipe from The Vegetarian Option by Simon Hopkinson, Quadrille, 2009.)

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Rosemary roast chicken thighs, asparagus & new potatoes

A weeknight treat to celebrate the new season’s bounty.

Wine Suggestion: We had a glass of the Domaine St Denis Macon-Lugny, a superb chardonnay from the Mâconnais in Burgundy and from the only grower-winemaker in this village (the rest goes to the co-op). Excellent flavours and a nutty depth marry well with the fresh, new season flavours and roasted chicken; a good choice.

Rosemary Roast Chicken Thighs with Asparagus & New Potatoes – serves 4

  • 750g small new potatoes, halved
  • 2 large bunches of asparagus, discard the woody ends
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic, cloves separated
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • small handful of rosemary sprigs
  • 8 chicken thighs

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Put the potatoes, asparagus, garlic cloves and olive oil into a large roasting tray and season well. Squeeze over the juice from the lemon halves, then cut into chunks and add to the tray. Toss together well, cover with foil and roast for about 15 minutes.

Remove the foil and stir through the rosemary.

Season the chicken thighs and arrange in the dish in a single layer.

Now roast for 30-50 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is crisp and cooked through (this will depend on the size of your potatoes and chicken thighs).

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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We have been waiting for asparagus season to start and this dish seemed an appropriate celebration. Basque inspiration but completely at home in Ireland with every ingredient in season and locally sourced which we are passionately in favour of.

This recipe uses the tips of asparagus but we suggest buying the whole thing and cutting the tips off at home (instead of the pre pack tips). The remaining asparagus stalks are great steamed or blanched the next day for breakfast with a nice boiled or poached egg 🙂

Merluza a la koxkera – serves 4

  • 4 x 175-200g pieces of skinned hake fillet, 2 – 2.5cm thick
  • 200g asparagus tips (8cm long)
  • 250g peas
  • plain flour for dusting + 1 tbsp for the sauce
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 100g shallot, finely chopped
  • 175ml dry white wine
  • 100ml fish stock
  • 250g small clams (or a few extra of your pot will fit them)
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Season both sides of the hake pieces generously with salt and set aside for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile drop the asparagus tips into a pan of boiling, salted water and cook for 2 minutes. Add the peas and when it reaches the boil again drain and refresh under cold water. Leave to drain.

Pat hake pieces to remove excess moisture and then dust with flour and shake off any excess. Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium-high heat in a large frying pan (big enough to fit your 4 hake pieces). Add hake and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown on outside, but not quite cooked through. Lift out onto a plate and set aside.

Wipe frying pan clean and add 2 tablespoons of oil, the garlic and shallots. Fry over a medium heat for 3 minutes, or until soft and lightly golden. Stir in the 1 tablespoon of flour and then gradually stir in the wine and stock to make a smooth sauce.

Bring to a simmer and return the hake to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Add the clams, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until all the clams are opened and the fish is cooked through. Uncover and scatter over the asparagus, peas and parsley. Simmer for a minute or two until the vegetables are warmed through. Taste for seasoning and serve.

Wine suggestion: As this is of Basque origin we could suggest a Txakoli, a Basque white wine. If this is difficult to find try a Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc blend, like from Bordeaux which has good freshness and crispness but also the body and structure to stand up to the flavours of the dish.

Inspiration from: Rick Stein’s Spain, BBC Books 2011

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