Over the years, several strange gifts have appeared on my doorstep. Once, just after moving into a new home, the doorstep vanished under a stunning 12ft Christmas tree ... I took an educated guess and reciprocated with homemade mince pies, wonderful neighbour.
Less delightfully... in a different house on a stormy Hallowe’en, I went to answer a loud knock at the door. There, glowing eerily in the darkness, was a large, elaborately carved Jack-O-Lantern, complete with flickering candle. That was plain spooky, particularly given how isolated the house was. I slammed and double-locked the door.
Apart from the odd tray of seedlings/bottle of Baileys from the neighbours, nothing unexpected or mysterious has appeared on my last few doorsteps ... until this week. Just as I was craving healthy greens, there appeared a bouquet of asparagus. I am utterly clueless as to where this beautiful bouquet came from, but I know exactly how I am going to deal with it.
I am going to bend each fat fern until it snaps, leaving a woody stalk (for vegetable stock) and a tender spear.
My No. 1 way of cooking asparagus:
I am going to take enough spears to feed two people, anoint them with extra virgin olive oil, spread them in a single layer on a baking tray, sprinkle on some Maldon sea salt and a twist of black pepper and roast them at 180°C until the tips start to crisp and brown – about 10 minutes - to be eaten immediately, forks optional.
The rest of this gorgeous bouquet of ferns will be lightly pickled in olive oil and lemon juice as follows:
275mls white wine vinegar
225mls extra virgin olive oil
100 mls freshly squeezed lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon, cut into large strips. (try to avoid the white pith as this can be very bitter)
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh mint
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons fine table salt
500g asparagus spears
You will also need a 1 litre sterilised jar (run it through the dishwasher, or wash it thoroughly and dry it in the oven at 100°C).
1 Place all the ingredients except the asparagus, in a large saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring once or twice to make sure the sugar has dissolved.
2 When the mixture is boiling carefully add the asparagus spears. Cover the saucepan with a lid and continue to let the mixture bubble for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
3 Transfer the hot asparagus to the jar, then pass the liquid through a strainer, into the jar to cover the asparagus. Leave to cool before sealing. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks, although it is ready to eat straight away – as a starter, or added to salad. Allow to come back to room temperature before serving to get the full delicious asparagus/lemon flavour. The pickling juice also makes an unusual salad dressing.
|Pickled asparagus won't win any beauty contests but your tastebuds will love it!|
Pickled asparagus isn’t going to win any beauty contests but oh, your tastebuds will love it!
Cork World Book Fest Food Blogging Workshop - I had a blast in Cork last weekend giving the food blogging workshop. It was booked out despite the nasty weather and it was a delight to meet both seasoned and fledgling bloggers and to see that the Irish Food Bloggers Association was well represented. A huge thank you to my hosts, Cork City Libraries, and their awesome librarian, Ann Riordan!Pin It