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April 30, 2012
Necessity. Mother of Invention. Etc. I was making dinner for six in Paris the other night and, in an effort, to streamline the amount of time I’d have to spend in the kitchen away from my friends, I cooked asparagus a new way and ended up loving it.
I was so focused on cooking that night that I didn’t take a single picture of the asparagus starter, the really beautiful Seafood Pot-au-Feu (from Around My French Table
) or the pineapple dessert, but this picture will give you a kinda-sorta idea of my appetizer: It was asparagus, seasoned with vinaigrette, scattered with Serrano ham and topped with a poached egg. (The egg in this picture is a Ruffled Egg, also from Around My French Table
To start, I cooked the asparagus as I always do:
Peeled from the tip down and trimmed at the base, they went into a wide, high-sided skillet filled with generously salted boiling water and cooked for about 4 minutes, or until they could be easily pierced with the tip of a knife.
Normally, I’d transfer the spears to a kitchen towel or paper towels, pat them dry and serve them. But last week, because I was doing everything ahead, I plunged them into a bowl of ice water to cool them and set their color, patted them dry and left them until dinner time.
Now here’s where my new technique came in …
When I wrangled everyone to the table, I ducked into the kitchen, spread the asparagus out on a large plate, drizzled them with olive oil, tossed them with my hands to get them lightly coated and then I laid them out on a hot grill pan. A couple of minutes on the pan and they were warm. I moved them back to the plate, tossed them again – this time with (a pistachio oil) vinaigrette – arranged them on plates, added the ham and the poached egg (which I’d also made ahead – I reheated the eggs in a bowl of hot water) and headed back to the dining room.
The starter was great, but it was the boil-and-grill technique that made me happiest.
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Lori @ In My Kitchen, In My Life
| May 1, 2012 6:30 PM
That sounds like a winning method. I think my have (without having yet tried your new one) way to cook asparagus for an application like that first course is to cook them over about medium heat in a skillet generously filmed with oil until the tips are getting crispy and the spear end is tender enough. Toss in a little minced shallot or garlic near the end and let it toast a bit, too. Love, love, love it that way!
| May 1, 2012 6:48 PM
That is gorgeous. Mmm. I love how you always say that eggs are luxurious. At first, I thought, "Oh, I can see how she'd say that..." But then I began buying my eggs from a local farm and I saw the light. And to heighten the luxury with fresh spring asparagus... heaven!
On another note, I saw this on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/listing/87636863/la-france-culinaire-culinary-french-map
And thought it was so adorable, but wondered if you would add or take away anything on the map!
replied to comment from Suzanne
| May 1, 2012 8:03 PM
Suzanne- Thanks so much for sharing that Etsy listing with me. I adore that map!
replied to comment from Lori @ In My Kitchen, In My Life
| May 1, 2012 8:04 PM
Lori- I am glad asparagus are in season so we can eat them your way and my way! Thanks for your comment.
| May 1, 2012 11:20 PM
Dorie, I can't wait to buy your next baking book! Fingers crossed you include a yeast bread made with dried figs. My favorite French bakery, a tiny one in Villefranche, has a fig tree beside it. The owner dries her figs and uses them in a splendid yeast bread. It's slightly sweet, cheerfully yellow as if it might have egg yolks or semolina flour in it. I keep hunting for a recipe to no avail.
Your strawberry tart from BFMHTY has made my reputation as a baker, along with your macarons and the World Peace cookies.
Thank you for sharing your talents with us, Dorie!
replied to comment from Sharyn Sowell
| May 2, 2012 7:35 PM
Sharyn- Thank you so much for your sweet and thoughtful comments. I would love to try that yeast bread with dried figs in it- your description makes it sound heavenly.
Patricia Houston Davis
| May 4, 2012 4:15 PM
I gave up the boiling part years ago. Now I just roast them with a drizzle of olive oil at 450 for about nine minutes or so. The egg looks luscious!
replied to comment from Patricia Houston Davis
| May 4, 2012 9:27 PM
Patricia- Glad you liked the post. I agree- Roasted asparagus are great too.
| May 6, 2012 10:30 AM
I sat at the counter of a restaurant here in Denver who specialized in fusion Oriental soup bowls. A Frank Bonano creation, Bones. I watched them using poached eggs that had been prepared ahead. I've got to learn to use that method. Poached eggs for guests are a special offering.
pastry arts school
| May 8, 2012 3:22 AM
This sounds and looks amazing! That's why i am obsessed of your post.
replied to comment from pastry arts school
| May 9, 2012 6:56 PM
Thanks for your sweet comment.
replied to comment from Lea Ann
| May 9, 2012 6:58 PM
Lea Ann- Thanks for sharing that with me. You are right- poached eggs are a special offering for guests.
| May 10, 2012 9:17 PM
Dorie, how lovely! The "ruffly poached eggs" are beautiful little sculptures. When you reheated the eggs in a bowl of hot water, did you do that by dropping the plastic-wrapped-egg-bundles in hot water? Thanks so much.
replied to comment from Peg
| May 11, 2012 7:42 AM
Peg, when I made the 'ruffly poached eggs', I served them right away. When I made 'regular' poached eggs, I did a two-step: as soon as the eggs were properly poached, I moved them from the skillet to a bowl of ice water and stowed them in the refrigerator. When it was serving time, I transferred the eggs to a bowl of very hot water to reheat them. Of course I patted them dry before serving.
I've never tried the two-step with the ruffly eggs.
Carlo/Carlo At Your Service Productions
| May 12, 2012 1:56 AM
Any recipe for asparagus that sheds a new light is fine by me.
I remember "back in the day", here in the States, in the Midwest specifically (where I grew up), when everyone had gardens in their backyards. Thanks to my mom, we certainly had a garden full of wonderful vegetables. And my mother grew fresh asparagus too. It was then that my love affair began with what I called "the little trees". I was always thrilled to see "trees" on the side of my plate, next to her perfectly grilled steak.
Thank you Dorie for sharing this with everyone. I simply cannot wait to top some little trees with an egg and ham just like you did. How elegant!