Monthly Archives: May 2009

Asparagus with Parmesan Crumbles

asparagus with parmesan crumbleLooking for a way to dress up some roasted asparagus?  This is a nice little ditty. It has all of those important components:  delicious, pretty, local seasonal asparagus.  This dish started with some good luck:  I got the last two bunches of the good stuff from the Arata farm stand, leaving the tub empty.

Recipe adapted from Ellie Krieger on The Food Network.Arata empty aspargus tub

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices whole-wheat bread, crusts removed
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
  • 1/2-ounce (1/4 cup) freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch pepper
  • 2 pounds asparagus, washed, ends snapped off

Directions:

1.  Pulse the bread in the bowl of a food processor until it becomes fine crumbs. Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat pan over medium-high heat until hot. Lower heat to medium, add bread crumbs to the skillet and toast, tossing often, until crumbs are golden brown and toasted, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.

2.  Grate eggs medium microplane grater, omitting one of the yolks. Combine the egg, bread crumbs, parsley, cheese, salt, and pepper in a medium-sized bowl and toss to combine.

3.  Grill the asparagus until firm, but tender, about 4 to 6 minutes, turning once.

4.  Arrange asparagus on a serving platter and top with Parmesan-Egg Crumb Topping.

Notes:

  • The original recipe called for just one egg, but the yolk to whites ratio just didn’t work for me, hence the whites from a second egg.
  • We only used about half of the topping on our asparagus, and it was plenty.
  • I’d make this again for guests, but for our family dinners, simply grilling that lovely asparagus with a bit of olive oil and kosher salt still rules the day!
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The Gift

fresh eggsOldest son comes home from coaching the swim team and says, “Guess what one of my swimmers gave me?”  Um, a new stopwatch for timing splits or something?  No, eggs!  The swimmer’s family lives on a ranch, and the chickens are producing faster than the family can consume.  So, we got eggs!  I was just about as excited as the Sunset magazine staff when their chickens produced the first eggs on their One Block Diet blog.  Aren’t these eggs beautiful, feathers and all?

The Strawberries are Here!

Chans strawberry flatsThe most beautiful red strawberries are now available!  Chan’s on Walnut Blvd has strawberries at their road side stand, or go right on into their field for a U-Pick hey day.  They also sell some lovely herbs and red onions that they grow at the end of each row of strawberries.Chans red onions

The stand at the corner of Highway 4 and J4 is also open.  Yahoo!  They must have a business name, but in these parts we simple call it “the strawberry stand on the corner.”  Clever, eh?  Last year they added a smallish garden with various veggies and some blackberry vines.  In less than a year, those vines have grown over 6 feet.  Oh, it is bees on berry blossomsgoing to be a berry good season!

Salpicon of Chicken Tacos

salpicon of chicken tacoBurning Desires, Salsa, Smoke and Sizzle is a cookbook you just need on your shelf.  If you are a cookbook reader, ie you take a stack of cookbooks and a nice cold one out to the deck to plan all of the wondrous meals you will make during the endless hours of your weekend, you’ll be way into this.  The topics are all things grilled and lovely marinades and sauces to accompany them.  Chapters include the obvious like “A Smoldering Passion:  BBQ and beyond” and the less obvious such as “With a Little Help From My Friends: Starters, Salads, and Starches”  and yes, all of those are actually grilled.  There are recipes (duh!), each preceded by a little story.  But, the key here is the perfect introduction to each section.  How to grill?  Got that.  And I know you have access to this basic information a gazillion places.  Salads on the grill?  Interesting, but not new.  Here’s the kicker people … if you actually follow these conversational style directions, you cannot lose.  This is one of very few books where everything, and I mean everything, made from it is 100% top notch! Um sorry, just double checked on where you can find this priceless book, and discovered it is out of print.  Shoot!

On to today’s dish … this is kind of like a spicy chicken salad in a soft taco.  There is an interesting technique of marinating the smoked, shredded chicken after it was cooked.  It really makes for a fresh, bright flavor.  The book desribes how to perfectly smoke the chicken on a kettle grill.  While the dish is certainly exceptional with that method, I’ve been known to just rub a bit of liquid smoke on the chicken before popping it on a gas grill when the wind is whipping up too much of a breeze.

Ingredients:

1 chicken, cut into breasts, drimsticks, thighs, and wings

3 cups smoking chips

1/2 cup lime juice

1/3 cup olive oil

2 fresh jalapeno chiles, seeded and minced

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 medium tomato, cut into 1/2 inch dice

1 avocado, pitted and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 cup whole fresh cilantro leaves

3 TBS thinly sliced green onions

Romaine leaves

flour tortillas, warmed

Directions:

1.  Smoke the chicken by setting on the cool area of the grill, starting skin side down, and turning every 15 minutes until just cooked through.  Remove from the grill and cool to room temperature.  Skin the chicken, remove the meat from the bones and coarsely shred it.

2.  While the chicken is almost finished cooking, prepare the marinade.  In a large bowl, stir together the lime juice, olive oil, jalapenos, salt, and pepper and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.  Add shredded chicken and toss together.  (The salad can be prepared to this point up to 1 hour ahead.  Cover and refrigerate.)

3.  Just before serving, add the tomato and avocado, tomato, cilantro and green onions to the bowl and mix gently.  To serve, line a tortilla with a large romaine leaf, top with chicken salad, and fold in half to create the taco.

Notes:

*  For a lower carb version, just do away with the tortilla.

*  Fresh lime juice is a must in this dish for that bright, zesty flavor.