Thursday, April 19, 2018

Asparagus and Mushrooms with Brown Butter

I ate at (another) fabulous restaurant in the Sacramento area last week, Hawks, located in Granite Bay. Every dish was creatively delicious. Here's my take on their side dish of asparagus. They don't add mushrooms, they add spring onions. Truth be told, the mushrooms were a chance byproduct of browning the butter in the same pan that I was browning mushrooms, and I liked the result so much that I kept them in the dish. 

Ingredients:

10 stalks asparagus
1 Tbs. butter
2 spring onions (or use green onions)
1/2 cup small mushrooms, I used baby shiitake, but any small mushroom will work
1 grind sea salt

Directions:

Bring a saucepan half full of water to a boil. Cut the tough ends off the asparagus, then cut them into 1/2 inch lengths, leaving the tips about 1 inch long. Toss the asparagus into the boiling water and let simmer for about 1 minute. Drain the asparagus. Cut the spring onions into 1/4 to 1/2 inch lengths. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add the butter, letting it froth and turn slightly brown. Next, add the spring onions, then the mushrooms. Cook for about 1 minute, until the mushrooms just get hot. Add the drained asparagus to the skillet, stirring until the asparagus is mixed with the other vegetables and is coated with the butter. Taste, then add a grind of salt, if needed.

Stealthy Cooking Tip: You won't always need to add salt. If you have salted butter, you may find that the asparagus tastes just fine without additional salt. With unsalted butter, you may prefer a grind (or two) of salt. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Creamy Asparagus Soup

As many of you know, I love how the name of something can lead to expectations - while not always the truth. In this case, there is a huge caveat. There is NO cream in this soup. There is no dairy in this soup. Yes, it's creamy, but the depth comes from a secret ingredient: instant potatoes! If you must have some cream in your creamy soup, feel free to add a small dollop or sour cream on top, just before serving.

Ingredients:

1 pound asparagus
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbs. white wine
3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 tsp dried thyme
1/3 cup instant mashed potatoes
1/2 cup soy creamer
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup low fat or fat free sour cream (optional)

Directions:

Trim the woody ends off the asparagus. Cut the stalks into 1 inch pieces, leaving about 2 inches of the tip intact. Bring a small pan of water to a boil. Boil the asparagus tips for 1 to 2 minutes, then drain and set aside. Heat a stock pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, along with the onion and garlic, and cut up pieces of the asparagus stalks. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the white wine and continue to cook for another minute, until the onion begins to turn translucent, and the asparagus turns a deep green color. Add the broth, along with the thyme, and cook until the asparagus is tender, about 15 more minutes. Transfer the soup to a blender and blend on medium for about 1 minute, until just mixed, but not until smooth. Return the soup to the soup pot, heating the stove to low heat. Add the mashed potatoes, creamer, and parsley. Stir until blended and warm. Don't let the soup come to a boil, as the creamer may begin to separate. Taste for seasoning, and correct by adding sea salt and black pepper as needed. To serve, ladle a bowl with soup, adding some of the asparagus tips as a garnish. If using the sour cream, add one dollop of about 2 tablespoons to the top of the soup bowl, adding the asparagus tips as the top garnish.

Stealthy Cooking Tip: When blending hot liquids, remove the small portion of the blender top. Cover the opening with a towel and blend. This will keep the hot liquid from spattering your kitchen or burning your hands.