When I was teaching cooking classes this would be about the time of year in early spring that I would have someone schedule a bridal shower class, and the bride would help me cook. I would give the entire class, and especially the bride, a copy of the recipes so that she could make them at home for her new husband after the wedding. One recipe that I always included was an asparagus salad with orange zest, herbs de Provence and balsamic vinaigrette. It’s easy, delicious, and just pretty. How could he not be impressed with his new bride’s cooking skills?
Just in case the bride wants to be brave, I’ve included a good recipe for asparagus with hollandaise and a few ideas for another vegetable peeping out of the ground now, the radish. Enjoy!
Asparagus is a versatile vegetable to cook with. You can steam it, bake it, roast it and it’s a short cooking time, so it can be ready fast.
Bride’s Asparagus w/Balsamic Vinaigrette
You’ll need approximately 2 pounds of asparagus for every 6 people. Wash asparagus and snap off the woody stem end. In a shallow skillet bring water to a boil and add the asparagus. Cook for 7 minutes until asparagus is crisp tender. Shock in an ice water bath, drain well on paper towels and then chill. When ready to serve, make the balsamic vinaigrette.
1/3 cup aged balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Mix well, add salt and pepper to taste and serve over asparagus.
Herbs de Provence
Presentation- Place the asparagus on a platter. Mix the balsamic vinaigrette and pour over the asparagus. Sprinkle the salad with orange zest and herbs of Provence. Serve immediately. As you grab the asparagus, the vinaigrette will come up with it from the bottom of the platter.
Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce
1/4 pound or 11 spring (very thin) asparagus spears per person.
Trim the asparagus spears at the woody, tough stem end. Wash the spears to remove any sand.
Place the spears in a large skillet and cover with water. Turn the burner to high heat and cook for 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
While asparagus is cooking, prepare hollandaise sauce.
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/4 cup butter, melted (1/2 stick)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Cayenne pepper to taste
Put 1/4 cup cold butter and egg yolks into the top of a double boiler over medium heat. Do not let water boil. Stir until the butter melts. Very slowly, drizzle in the 1/4 cup melted butter, whisking while you pour. Stir until the mixture thickens. Add the lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper.
Note: If the mixture breaks or separates, remove from heat, add an ice cube, put back on the heat and stir until the mixture comes back together again.
If you have radishes ready right now, you already know how good they are sliced thin and put on some lettuce with blue cheese dressing.
Finely grate radishes and use them mixed with butter for an appetizer on thin toast.
Mix them in with your coleslaw to give the slaw a little zing.
What do I do- eat them out of the garden after I’ve washed them off. I also make a little mouse with them for garnishing a cheese platter. Here’s how-
Mouse Radish- make sure when you pick your radishes that the root stays intact. This is the mouse’s tail.
Cut the radish flat on one side so that it will sit flat. Now place it flat side down. In the top of the radish near the front and opposite the tail, make two small slanted incisions opposite each other for ears. Put two pieces of small radish in for the ears. Make two tiny holes for the eyes and put small peppercorns in each hole for the eyes. Then spay with olive oil or another cooking spray to make it shiny. Place on the edge of a plate for garnish.
By Kate Karam for Monrovia
Photograph courtesy of Monrovia
As landscapes are getting smaller and gardeners have less time to care for them, these naturally smaller plants are taking a larger role. They look great year round, come in all kinds of shapes, forms, and colors, many are water-wise once established, and most thrive in extreme climates. However, the real reason we love them is the way they provide strong structure and play well with floriferous bounty during the growing season, becoming stars in their own right during the winter. If you live in zones 4 - 8 you have the largest range of choices, but there's something amazing for just about every zone!
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