Almost everyone loves Asparagus – at least I think so! But the tip and upper half of the stalk is the most tender and flavorful parts, so we tend to cut off the bottoms. What a shame if those bottoms are thrown out. There is still flavor and nutrition in the lower half of the Asparagus even though it may be a little tougher on the bottom. There are things you can do with those tough bottoms that will render them palatable and quite delicious! Here Goes!!!
- Cut off 1 inch from the bottoms of each stem (stalk)
- Wash the remaining stems and then cut into 1inch pieces.
- Place in a saucepan or pot that will allow you to cover the pieces with at least 2 inches of liquid.
- Add a chopped Onion or Shallots.
- Add Chicken Stock, Vegetable Bouillon or Water to cover. (In the photo below, there are Carrots and Green Onions along with the Asparagus. The Chicken Stock is frozen and will defrost as the heat melts it. – you can add whatever other Vegetables you may have on hand)
- Bring to a boil and then simmer until the pieces are fork tender.
- Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Place the Asparagus pieces along with some of the liquid into your food processor or blender and run until smooth. This may also be done with an immersion blender.
- For a perfectly smooth puree pass the mixture through a strainer; for a little texture leave as is.
The resulting puree above may be used for Soup, Pasta or Pasta Sauce. To make Cream of Asparagus Soup follow the instructions below.
2 cups Vegetable Puree 1 cup Heavy Cream or Milk
3 Shallots or 1 small Onion, chopped
4 oz. Mushrooms (optional)
¼ cup unsalted Butter
4 Tbsps. Flour
1 tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground Pepper
- Melt 4 Tbsps. of Butter; add half cup of chopped Onion or Shallots and sauté until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the 4 Tbsps. Flour until it is well combined with the Butter and Onions.
- Add the Asparagus Puree and stir well. Add enough Cream or Milk to make the desired consistency.
- Add 1 tsp. Salt and 1/4 tsp. White Pepper; taste and adjust seasonings.
Yield: Approx. 4 Servings
October is ‘Vegetarian Awareness Month’ and I figured I better take advantage of it before the month is over in 2 days. Green is the thing – businesses are going green to save energy – but Green Food in the form of Vegetables is great too. So here are a few ways to use Cauliflower – not the common white variety but, yes Green Cauliflower.
Not only does Cauliflower appear in Green Form but there is also a Golden/Orange Variety and a Purple. While Purple is not too appetizing a color to eat, the Golden/Orange Variety is beautiful. As to taste, all the Cauliflowers taste the same, but if visual appeal influences your taste buds then the Green and the Gold are certainly more appetizing than the plain old white or the purple.
I am going to present two appetizing ways to use the Green Cauliflower, but quite honestly this preparation will apply to either color. One nice thing about these recipes is that if you have trouble getting your family to eat their greens or Cauliflower in particular, these preparations will be more enticing to them. For instance, my husband eats very small portions of Vegetables when I prepare them, but he couldn’t get enough of these Cauliflower preparations. He even ate the leftovers for lunch, and eating Vegetable Leftovers is something he very seldom does! So here we go – Green Cauliflower prepared 2 ways!
First of all you are going to start with the full head of Cauliflower. Wash it well and then place it in shallow dish such as a glass or ceramic pie plate. Next prepare your Cheese Sauce. There are two ways to do this. One is the easy way and especially good if you are fond of Mayonnaise and aren’t afraid of the Calories! The second way is to prepare a cooked Cheese Sauce which is also very good for other things such as Macaroni and Cheese, etc.
Mayo Cheese Sauce – 1 cup of Mayonnaise mixed with 1 cup of shredded Cheddar Cheese
Cooked Cheese Sauce:
2 Tbsps. Flour
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 cup Half and Half or Milk
4 oz. shredded Cheddar
1½ tsps. Worcestershire Sauce
½ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. ground White Pepper
- In a 2 Qt. Saucepan, melt the Butter and Stir in the Flour and cook until a paste forms.
- Slowly stir in the Half and Half and cook, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens.
- Add the shredded Cheddar Cheese and stir constantly until the Cheese melts and the Sauce is smooth.
- Add the Worcestershire, Salt and Pepper; taste and adjust the seasoning.
COOKING THE CAULIFLOWER:
Right before dinner, place the Cauliflower in the Microwave, uncovered. If you have a Vegetable setting cook it on that but you will have to do at least two times. Without the Vegetable setting try cooking the Cauliflower for 5 minutes. When done it should be fork tender. If not, put it back in for another minutes or so.
Next spread the Cheese Sauce on top and return to the Microwave for another minute or until the Cheese is thoroughly hot – in the case of the May/Cheese Sauce, you want the Cheese to be almost melted.
Bring to the table and serve by cutting the Broccoli into several sections.
RECIPE II: – Cauliflower Casserole
If you are only two people as we are or if you have Cauliflower leftover from your meal here is another method for preparing it and serving it. If before cooking it the first time you know you are going to have leftovers, double the Cheese Sauce (cooked one) and only use half of it.
- Roughly chop the leftover Cauliflower, completely removing the florets from the stalk. Discard the stalk.
- Place the chopped Cauliflower in a buttered Casserole dish; add additional Cheese Sauce as needed and mix gently to completely cover the Cauliflower.
- If desired, top with Buttered Bread Crumbs and then bake in a 350 degree oven until hot. (About 15-20 minutes) Or cook again in the Microwave.
- Voila. You have another Cauliflower dish similar to the first one but completely different looking.
This is an excellent way to get the kids to eat their Green! Try it also with Broccoli.
October 16th is World Food Day. A Day dedicated to ending World Hunger. Will that ever happen? I certainly hope so. Let’s all help where we can!
Aside from saving the world from hunger it would be fun to see if we can come up with 26 different foods – one for each letter of the Roman Alphabet that each represents a different country. Then let’s see how many of those foods we have eaten and then how many of those foods we have actually made or grown. Fun, Yes? I think so! Maybe then we can all do one thing to help end world hunger and malnutrition. Anyone have a dish for U – if so, please let me know in the comment section. Thank You!
*Indicateds those I have made and/or grown
A Apple Strudel * Austria
B Brazilian Omelet * Brazil
C Chicken Cacciatore * Italy
D Denver Omelet US
E Enchiladas * Mexico
F French Omelet * France
G Gefilte Fish * Eastern Europe
H Hollandaise Sauce * France
I Irish Soda Bread * Ireland
J Joujookh (Spiced Sausages) Armenia
K Kielbasa Poland
L Lamb Curry India
M Minestrone * Italy
N Napoleons * France
O O Jo Jo Meatballs Nigeria
P Pad Thai Noodles * Thailand
Q Quince Jelly England
R Rémoulade Sauce * France
S Sushi * Japan
T Tandori Chicken India
V Veal Piccata * Italy
W Wurst Germany
X Xerem de Fiesta Cape Verde, Africa
Y Yellow Watermelon California + ?
Z Zebra Tomatoes (Red & Green Varities) * California +?
The second Friday in October is ‘World Egg Day’. This is certainly fitting, because Eggs are probably the one major food that is consumed by people all over this planet. The majority of Eggs consumed are Chicken Eggs, but Duck Eggs are very popular in China and the South Eastern Asian Countries. The photo below was taken at an outdoor market in Thailand.
Also popular in Asia are un-hatched Eggs. As kids we used to love them in Chicken Soup but health laws forbid the sale of them here in the States, at least in California.
Quail Eggs are used in Gourmet Cooking, more for looks and ‘Eye Appeal’ than for nutrition as they are so small. In the picture below Quail Eggs were baked in Mini- Pate Choux Cups (Cream Puff Shells) by the Teen and Pre/Teen students in our Summer ‘Basics Culinary Camp’ at Let’s Get Cookin’ in Westlake Village, CA.
Turkey Eggs are probably consumed too as well as Ostrich Eggs which definitely top off the list of ‘large’ Eggs. One Ostrich Egg would probably feed a dozen people, if not more. Since this is World Egg Day, there will follow a short list of Egg Dishes consumed Globally by people all over the world. By far, the most popular use for Eggs is for Breakfast, but Eggs are one of those foods that can be consumed for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner. The Egg is probably my all-around most favorite food. I can eat it any time of the day.
Brazilian Omelet -this Omelet is made with Cream Cheese, Bacon, Pineapple and Avocado. Different, but tasty. The Brazilian Omelet is good for Brunch, Lunch or Dinner.
Denver Omelet (USA) – made with Bell Pepper, Ham and Cheese. A popular Southwestern Dish.
Egg Foo Young (Chinese) – a popular dish in Chinese Restaurants – made with Vegetables, Bean Sprouts, and occasionally Shrimp. Sometimes served with a Brown Sauce.
French Omelet – usually folded in half and somewhat moist inside.
Frittata (Italian) – started in the pan and finished in the oven – the amount of ingredients in the Frittata make it difficult to turn so the top side is baked or broiled.
Thai Omelet – similar to Egg Foo Young – contains Vegetables and sometimes meat – fried in oil in a Wok or pan. Results in a thin, crispy, tasty omelet.
Salami Eggs (Jewish Deli Food) – salami cooked into the Omelet
Salami Eggs Cooking
Tortilla (Spanish Omelet)– in Spain, the Omelet is called a Tortilla – usually cooked with sliced Potatoes in it – the American version with Tomatoes and Peppers is not really a Spanish Omelet. The Spanish Explorers probably named the Flat Bread ‘Tortilla’ because it looked like a Spanish Omelet.
Whichever way you enjoy your Eggs or whatever kind of Eggs you like, do indulge. Eggs are a healthy food, which contain the best complete protein. Even though the yolks may contain cholesterol, they also contain lecithin which helps to reduce cholesterol.
Lastly, don’t forget that Eggs are essential in most baked goods. For more info about Eggs see ‘The Versatility of Eggs’ under Archives June 2013.