Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Cooking with Chef Jo: Asparaguus

White asparagus has a secret
Dee (a YouTube and blog subscriber) and I were chatting via email about some asparagus she was gifted from a neighbor's garden. I should be so lucky. The most standard way is cooked or steamed with garlic. This was after sending our Newsy Weekly Email and mentioning that I was saving the asparagus patch this week. (last Sunday's blog post) If you haven't signed up for it yet, scroll down the right side of the page to do that.

Anyhow that got me thinking if I was gifted this wondrous vegetable how would I prepare it. I've already discussed Mel's and my differences  in how we like it prepare it...waterlogged or crispy. (I like medium to crisp.) For decades I thought I hated this vegetable because I'd only eaten the canned, waterlogged variation of this vegetable along with several others. The first time I had it properly steamed to perfection, I understood why this is a sought after vegetable. I've even planted a patch of it in our limited garden space. This vegetable takes years to grow before you can harvest a single stock. With that kind of investment of time and space, it would be an impossibly in most small gardeners, but we decided to give it a go last year in our efforts towards self sustainability.

While a harvest date is still a couple years away for our crop, I thought I'd give you a twofer today. One recipe for those, like me, that enjoy firmer textured asparagus, and one for those who like the softer version of this vegetable.

Jo's Roasted Asparagus with Bacon and Cheese
These are bundles. Calculate 1 bundle per serving

What you'll need
4-6 fresh asparagus spears, cleaned and prepared*
1-2 slice(s) of pork or turkey bacon, or other alternative
1 Tbs seasoned bread crumbs
2 tsp Parmesan cheese
 1 clove garlic, minced and split (Makes 2 bundles worth)
1 Tbs butter, heated until melted
Black Pepper, to taste
1 lemon, sliced into 6 to 8 pieces

To prepare asparagus, snap spear above the woody base. Let soak in salted water for 15 minutes. This in case any creepy crawlies have made a home in the tips or stem. Now, if you don't mind the extra protein, just rinse to remove any dirt. Place on several layers of toweling to dry.

Putting all Together
  • In melted butter, stir in garlic. Set aside.
  • Mix Parmesan cheese with bread crumbs. Set aside. If you are gluten-free or on some carb restricting diet, omit the bread crumbs.
  • Separate asparagus spears into bundles of 4 to 6 depending on the size (diameter) of your spears.
  • Wrap 1-2 strips of bacon or bacon alternative around each bundle as shown in the picture above. If you need to, insert a toothpick to secure. Just remember to remove them after baking.
  • Sprinkle with pepper.
  • Roll the bacon wrap in breadcrumb mix. Press the bread crumbs firmly into the fat of the bacon.
  • Drizzle about 1-1/2 tsp of garlic butter on top.
  • Place spears on a broiler pan.
  • Bake 400 degrees for 15 minutes, turning each bundle over about halfway through.
  • The bacon and bread crumbs will be crispy.
Serve warm with lemon wedge.

Serving Suggestions
This semi elegant presentation would be a fantastic side dish for a medium or rare grilled steak. But personally, I think this dish would suit any meal except a casserole or meatloaf. The effort would be wasted on dishes like that.

For a snack or appetizer, do single spears.

As part of my month long series of "It's Too Hot to Cook."

Asparagus Gazpacho
This is a cold soup. Perfect for summertime.
Serves 4

What you'll need

2 pints of canned asparagus, drained reserving liquid about 2 lbs worth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup celery, sliced
2 habanero peppers, seeded and chopped
2 1/2 cups add low-sodium vegetable broth and reserved asparagus liquid to equal this amount.
1/2 cup half and half
Salt and pepper to taste

For the garnishes:
1 cup croutons
1 habanero pepper, seeded and chopped
Fresh mint, finely chopped. I love the fresh taste it bring to the dish.
Pine nuts
Olive oil

Putting it all together
  •  In a pan, melt butter. Add onion, garlic, 1/t tsp salt, and habanero pepper. Cook until tender
  •  Add asparagus, vegetable broth/asparagus liquid into the other vegetables.
  • Empty into a blender or use immersion blender. Blend until smooth.
  • Stir in half and half. You can either stir the entire amount into the soup, or divide the amount in half. Stir 1/4 cup into the soup, and then create a swirling design in the soup with the remaining 1/4 cup. (about a Tbs per serving) I've done both.
  • Chill soup for an hour.
  • Pour soup into serving bowls and garnish with some or all listed above.
Serving Suggestions

Serve alone, with some crusty bread, a quiche, or a salad.

Y'all have a blessed day!
Cockeyed Jo

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