Aspergrass Cheese Tart is a Keeper!

If you’re wondering about aspergrass see my recent post “Did you say Aspergrass?”  Since my asparagus is still producing and I’ve wanted to try some new recipes, the Asparagus and Cheese Tart starred brunch today.  After making some slight adjustments to suit my taste (noted below) this recipe is a fave:

  • I grilled some of the asparagus (as depicted in the photo) then blanched the 7-1-18 asparagus tart 005rest according to the recipe.  I also:
  • Increased the lemon zest from 1/2 tsp. to 3/4-1 tsp.
  • Increased the shallot from 1 tbl to 1 whole shallot
  • Used 3/4 cup each of shredded fontina and gruyere cheeses
  • Reduced the extra-virgin olive oil to 1 tsp.
  • For an interesting dimension, put 1 drop of carmelized balsamic on a bite at eating time.

If you love asparagus, try this recipe and let me know if it’s made it’s way to your favorites too!

Brunch consisted of herbal ice tea, the asparagus tart, fresh greens from the garden with lemon olive oil and kosher salt, (homegrown tomatoes are not ready yet), and uncured bacon.  Yes, I am still a carnivore.

7-1-18 asparagus tart 004

 

Did you say Aspergrass?

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Knowing it takes three years to harvest, I delayed growing asparagus for decades.  Three years ago it was now or never.  I didn’t really know what I was doing but, as usual, I learned a lot in the process.  Now, I’ve been harvesting spears for the last six weeks and more keep coming!

Asparagus Tips (Inedible) and Tidbits…

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  • In America, asparagus is often pronounced aspergrass or aspirin grass.
  • Asparagus is a member of the lily family.
  • Packed with vitamins and nutrients, asparagus is deemed the King of Vegetables.  Plants comprise a crown of rhizomes and lateral roots, and a tall, frilly fern.
  • Green asparagus is most common in America; white is common in Europe and essentially grown in the dark.  Purple asparagus is sweeter and originated in Italy.
  • It’s suggested to grow 10 asparagus plants per person.
  • Asparagus can grow up to 7 inches in one day.
  • Harvesting ranges from 2 to 12 weeks.
  • Plants can produce for up to 30 years!
  • Curved spears?  Check for insect damage or be careful when cutting adjacent stalks.

  • Revered since the first century, Egyptians offered asparagus to the gods; a 16th century Arabian love manual contained an asparagus recipe for stimulating erotic desires.  Roman Emperor Augustus’ soldiers transported asparagus in speedy chariots to ice caves in the Alps so it could be freezed for later use.
  • The Greeks used asparagus to cure toothaches and heart disease.  Today, it’s used to treat other health issues like joint pain and urinary tract infections.
  • Smelly urine after eating asparagus?  It’s because our bodies convert asparagusic acid into sulfur-containing chemicals (although not everyone detects the odor).
  • A cold salad vinaigrette of Belle d’Argenteuil asparagus appeared on the menu for first class Titanic passengers before sinking in April 1912.
  • Two species of asparagus — A. fallax and A. nesiotes are endangered in the Canary Islands.
  • 1600s slang pronounced asparagus as sparagus which evolved to sparagrass and then sparrowgrass.

Asparagus Culinary Ideas (Edible)

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I love to cook and I’m looking for creative ways to prepare ə-ˈspar-ə-gəs.  I understand that in China, asparagus is candied as a special treat but I have yet to find the recipe.  How do you eat asparagus?

  • Steamed and topped with burnt butter?
  • Grilled with olive oil and sea salt?
  • Wrapped in prosciutto?
  • Sprinkled with lemon zest and olive oil, or shaved parmesan cheese?
  • Tempura or stiry fry?
  • Leek-asparagus-herb soup?

Have you tried Béarnaise sauce rather than the typical Hollandaise to dress-up your asparagus?  I can hardly wait to make that flaky pastry tart with cheese and asparagus spears or even the baked asparagus fries.  If you have some favorite aspergrass recipes please do share!

Postscript:  I baked the asparagus fries tonight and they aren’t for me.

 

I talk a lot about one size doesn’t fit all, so that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t like them.  I tend to like spicy.  I tried a Tempura dipping sauce and although that livened them up a bit, this recipe will not appear in my favorites.

 

 

The Authentic Life of Nature

Driving home on this rainy Saturday evening, the windshield wipers are paragraphs separating my thoughts.  I’ve been hand-drumming for 3 hours in a drum circle at the local health food store.  Some of the participants I’ve known for decades, others I met today.

The face of my friend flashes through my mind.  We lunched earlier at a neighborhood deli  whose house-made bread is better than anything in Manhattan for sure.   I met Meg through hand drumming a decade ago.  We smile, laugh, talk serious.  We are not looking down at our phones because we intentionally have unsophisticated, un-smart phones.  Just practical little devices for emergency.  That makes sense to us.  Neither of us wants to be tethered to technology.   We talk dogs, travel, gardening.  The wonder of a kindergartener seeing a real robin or eating a nasturtium.

“What does it taste like?” I am curious to know.

“A little peppery,” she says, and especially to a five-year old.

“Like arugula?”

“Exactly.”

“I’ve always wanted to grow asparagus,” I tell her.  “I put it in with rhubarb last year.”  She nods, confirming my assumption that they are good companions.  My friend teaches biology.  I hope she can teach me about growing asparagus.  “I didn’t know what to do with it at the end of last season…now I’ve got a 12” stalk like you see in the grocery store but next to it is a 4-5’ high, tree-like stalk but much thinner…” I show her with my hands.  “It’s actually got several thin branches that also look like asparagus…”

May 2017 015 Asparagus branches
asparagus branches…

“My friend Margaret grew asparagus.  I can ask her,” she offers.

“Great!  I’ll send you a photo to show her.”

“She doesn’t do e-mail so she would have to come to my house and look at my phone.”

If anyone can easily explain how to properly grow asparagus please contact me!

Hmmm.  This is interesting I think.  There are more people than the handful in my Social Media workshop and me who are intentionally not wired, or loosely.

My friend and I agree how much we love getting together for lunch or dinner, being in nature, the warmth of human communication.  Her eyes twinkle when I share a bit of synchronicity with her.  “Good thing you were aware, and paying attention to notice all those things,” she says.  Good thing you weren’t looking down at your phone and I could see your smile I think.

“I notice and appreciate nature more and more each year.  I’ve never considered myself very religious, but a spiritual person,” I tell her.  “I’ve been reading more of the Tao and it speaks truth to me.  Everywhere.”  Her smile confirms we are on the same page.  I like making eye contact and our welcome and parting hugs.

Swish-swish.  Swish-swish.  The parting conversation with another friend at the drum circle pops into my head.  “I’m addicted to my phone,” he confesses then shows me a photo another drumming friend posted 17 minutes ago.  I confide that I’ve signed-up for a Social Media workshop, that I’m hoping to find a balance so I can still function in a technological society but not become an addict.

“Did you see the 60 Minutes segment on technology intending to make you addicted to your phone?”  I ask, feeling fear and audacity rising within me.

“Well, I don’t think they want you to be addicted,” he says.  “Just use it a lot.”

I can’t imagine having to ask others to like me I think.  It just sounds so, so unnatural.  Either you like me or you don’t, but do you have to announce it to the world?  Is privacy passé?  Social media is the antithesis of my values.  I’ve never wanted 1,000 friends.  That sounds too exhausting.  I like the quality ones I have and they know it.  Solid, true friends sharing quality time together… Does the world need to know that?   Swish-swish.  Swish-swish.  The wipers clear away the thoughts that have kept me true to my values but from going with the crowd and against my own grain.

Faces of people I’ve hand-drummed with over the years are a slide show in my mind.  The deep connection we’ve developed through hand drumming is like the comfort of a best friend yet I may not know the person, their last name, career, education, socio-economic status, ethnicity, where they live, or any other defining label, and it doesn’t matter.   We speak a universal language that has no words but is expressed from hands to hearts, through conga drums, djembes, doumbeks, bongos, or any other piece of percussion (we are not prejudice).  Hand drumming is yin-yang conversing —  talking and listening at the same time.

I’ve often described hand drumming as cooking a large vat of soup where everyone adds a little something different be it a vegetable, herb, color or spice, and soon the flavor deepens, the aroma permeates the air and it’s evolved into something so darn good that I  wonder why people do recreational drugs when they can hand drum.

Dogwood's Grace

Swish-swish.  Slowing rain reveals the lush green mountainside.  Rounding the corner, I’m home now, welcomed by dogwoods brilliant as the full moon, and bursting pinks.   I’m breathless from the splendor of spring.  Can social media really do that for me?