Archive for the ‘Asparagus’ Category

Chicken and Asparagus Stir Fry

Monday, June 14th, 2010

 
I’m afraid this may be my last asparagus recipe for the season. (Sob!) I’ll keep eating asparagus, of course. But it is beginning to disappear from our local farm stands.
 
I’m always up for a stir fry. You can do the chopping in advance and just throw the thing together in minutes.
 
This recipe is flexible. You may add just about any vegetables you like. I’ve used peppers, water chestnuts, and broccoli. I just look in the refrigerator! And I don’t see why vegetarians couldn’t substitute tofu for the chicken.
 
You may also skip parboiling the asparagus and carrot pieces, but then you will have to cook this dish longer.
 
The Stir Fry
 
Ingredients:
 
for the marinade:
 
4 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
4 teaspoons dry sherry
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon canola or peanut oil
 
for the sauce:
 
6 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch paste (1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in a little water)
 
for the stir fry:
 
canola or peanut oil as needed for frying
2 boned, skinned chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized pieces
crushed red pepper to taste (I used about 3/4 teaspoon)
1 large or 2 small green onions (mostly white part), finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup asparagus, chopped into bite-sized pieces and parboiled for 2 minutes
1 large carrot, cut into bite-sized pieces and parboiled for 2 minutes
a splash of sesame oil
 
Instructions:
 
Combine the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade. Let them marinate for 15 minutes.
 
In a wok or heavy frying pan heat enough oil to lightly cover the bottom of the pan. When it the oil is hot drain the chicken (reserving the marinade) and lightly brown the pieces, stirring. Toss in the red pepper and stir briefly.
 
Remove the chicken from the pan or move it to the sides. Quickly add and stir fry the onion and garlic pieces for a minute or two; then add the remaining vegetables. Stir fry for 1 to 2 more minutes. Return the chicken to the pot, add the sauce and the reserved marinade, and cook until the sauce thickens slightly and has coated all of the food. (This shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes.)
 
Remove the pan from the heat and toss in the sesame oil. Serve over rice. 

Serves 4.


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Stockton Asparagus and Chicken Enchiladas

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

 
This creamy casserole comes from a small, gem-packed cookbook sent to me by the Stockton Asparagus Festival in Stockton, California. I think next time I may try spicing it up a little—or I may not! My family ate every bite of it this way.
 
In my constant quest for spice I often forget that mild flavors can be appealing as well.
 
The original recipe called for 3 to 4 cups chicken broth. I used 4—and as you can see from the photo below my enchiladas were very wet! So I suggest sticking to 3………
 
Have fun!

 
Asparagus and Chicken Enchiladas
 
Ingredients:
 
2 pounds asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
12 tortillas (I used flour)
oil as needed for softening tortillas
1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter
1/2 cup flour
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup salsa verde (a little more if you like)
3 cups (generous) grated cheese—Monterery Jack or sharp cheddar or a mixture of the 2
2-1/2 to 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1/2 cup chopped onions
 
Instructions:
 
Blanch the asparagus for 2 minutes. Cool them with ice cubes and drain them; set them aside.
 
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
 
Cook each tortilla briefly on both sides in an oiled skillet until it softens. Set the tortillas aside to drain and cool.
 
In a saucepan melt the butter. Whisk in the flour for a minute; then whisk in the broth. Cook until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly.
 
Add the sour cream and salsa; heat thoroughly. Remove from heat.
 
Mix together 2 cups of the cheese, the chicken, the onion pieces, and the asparagus. Divide this mixture evenly among the tortillas, and top each with 3 tablespoons of sauce.
 
Roll up the tortillas and place them, seam-side down, in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining sauce and cheese.
 
Bake for 25 minutes. Serves 6.
 

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Asparadillas

Friday, June 4th, 2010

 
Recently I made a batch of tasty asparagus enchiladas. It’s been so hot lately that I don’t have the heart to post the recipe, however! Presumably we’ll have a cooler spell before summer sets in permanently.
 
In the meantime, here’s a recipe that doesn’t involve turning on the oven. It’s easy to boot. And it’s extremely toothsome.
 

I recommend it with all the options, but one of my tasters felt the Prosciutto was out of place (too Italian for a southwestern sandwich) so I am exercising caution in my recipe writing.

 
Asparagus Quesadillas
 
Ingredients:
 
canola or peanut oil as needed for light frying
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces and blanched for 1 minute
lots of freshly ground pepper
4 small flour tortillas
1/2 to 1-1/2 cups grated cheese (cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a blend)
4 slices Prosciutto (optional but good)
chopped cilantro to taste (ditto)
 
Instructions:
 
In a small saucepan heat a small amount of oil and sauté the slices of onion until they brown around the edges—about 10 minutes over low to medium heat. Stir in the asparagus, and toss for a minute or two. Grind pepper over the combination and toss again. Remove from heat.
 
In a larger pan or griddle place a small amount of additional oil and let it heat up. Place the first tortilla in the oil, let it heat for just a moment, and then flip it over. Toss on cheese to taste plus a quarter of the asparagus mixture.
 
At this point you may add a slice of Prosciutto (for a sort of Italian-American quesadilla) or a little cilantro (for a more Mexican-American quesadilla). Or you may leave well enough alone.
 
Fold the tortilla in half to seal the quesadilla, and make sure it is brown on both sides.
 
Remove it from heat and keep it warm while you repeat the process with the remaining tortillas. 

Serves 4.


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What’s a Nice Vegetable Like You Doing in a Batter Like This?

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

 
I am working on a recipe for rhubarb catsup, which I thought would be just wonderful for Memorial Day weekend. I pictured it on a nice grilled burger on top of a red, white, and blue plate.
 
Alas, the catsup is still a work in progress. So I’m giving you a recipe that isn’t really a holiday recipe—or maybe it is. It certainly isn’t an everyday recipe since it manages to take a healthy seasonal food (asparagus) and make it into something really, really, really, really fattening.
 
And really, really, really REALLY delicious.

 
Tinky’s Asparagus Fritters
 
Ingredients:
 
1 pound asparagus
2 cups flour, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup beer
1 egg
peanut or canola oil as needed for frying
lemon wedges
coarse salt (optional)
 
Instructions:
 
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
 
Wash and trim the asparagus spears, and cut them into small pieces—between 1 and 2 inches long.
 
Pop the pieces of asparagus into boiling water. Return the water to the boil, and cook the asparagus for 1 more minute. Drain the pieces in a colander with ice so that they will stop cooking immediately.
 
In a bowl thoroughly combine 1 cup of the flour, the baking powder, the salt, the pepper, the lemon zest, and the cheese.
 
Whisk together the beer and the egg. Stir this liquid mixture into the flour mixture. (A few lumps are just fine.)
 
Place the remaining cup of flour in a small bowl.
 
Pour oil into a frying pan until it is about 1 inch deep. Heat the oil until it is about 350 degrees.
 
Dredge each piece of asparagus in the small bowl of flour; then dip it into the liquid fritter batter so that it is coated.

 
Pop each fritter into the oil and cook it quickly, turning as needed, until it is golden brown. Do not crowd the fritters in the pan!
 
(Don’t worry if the flour and batter don’t adhere perfectly to the asparagus spears. A little green peeking out of the batter looks attractive. And don’t worry if your fritters are oddly shaped. Each one will have its own personality, and that will be just fine.)
 
When individual fritters are ready drain them on paper towels and store them in the warm oven until all the fritters have been cooked. You may end up with a little extra asparagus if you run out of batter or just get tired of cooking. Use this in a salad or a stir fry.
 
Serve with lemon wedges so that your guests can sprinkle a little juice on their fritters. They may add a little coarse salt for extra zing if they wish. (I wish!)
 

Serves 4 to 6.


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Asparagus Refrigerator Pickles

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

 
I know I’ve mentioned this before on these pages, but it bears repeating at this wonderful time of year:
 
I could eat asparagus every single day of my life!
 
It’s my favorite vegetable—pretty, crunchy, sweet, and versatile. I’m always trying to think up new ways to use it.
 
I love dill refrigerator pickles made with cucumber so a few days ago I decided to try something similar with a bunch of fresh asparagus I found at a farm stand.
 
My mother, whose tastes become sweeter and sweeter as she grows older, found my pickles a little tart. I thought they were refreshing.
 
My only complaint was that they could have been crisper. They had more or less the consistency of cooked asparagus—cooked al dente, but cooked nevertheless.
 
Next time I’ll probably try just pouring warm brine over them instead of pre-cooking them. (I’ll let you know how this turns out!)
 
Meanwhile, I recommend them as they are. After a few days the vinegar turns the asparagus buds a gentle and pleasing pink.

 
The Pickles
 
Ingredients:
 
1 pound fresh, local asparagus spears
1 cup water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 pinch sugar
2 cloves garlic
1 generous branch dill
a few whole peppercorns
 
Instructions:
 
Clean and sterilize a pint jar. (A wide-mouth jar is best as it is easiest to stuff.)
 
Snap the asparagus spears where they break naturally. Discard the part of the spear that has fallen below the break.
 
Combine the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar in a nonreactive saucepan and bring them to a boil. Set the mixture aside to cool completely.
 
Wash the spears, and trim them so that they will fit into your jar. Save the extra bits of asparagus for salad, pasta, or stir-fry dishes.
 
Immerse the spears in boiling water. Return the water to a full boil and boil for1 minute. Rinse immediately and completely in very cold water to stop the spears from cooking further and drain them.
 
When the vinegar mixture is cool place the garlic, dill, pepper, and asparagus spears in the sterilized jar. Pour the vinegar mixture over them.
 
You should have about the right amount of liquid. If you need a little more, pour a little tap water into the jar to fill it to the top; then cover and gently shake the mixture.
 
If you don’t need to add water, just cover the jar. Refrigerate the pickles for 3 to 4 days before eating. Makes 1 pint.
 

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