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Asparagus

Asparagus. Those weird little spears of goodness, full of vitamins, potassium, iron, and, probably most importantly, flavor. Spring is the season of asparagus, or uhspagrus as my Grandma Margaret used to say, so why not embrace it?

Roasted, wrapped around stuff, stuff wrapped around it, raw, fried, or emulsified. There’s no wrong way to eat asparagus, but there is a best way. First up, my favorite meal of all time.

Eggs Benedict with AsparagusEggs Benedict

Whether it was the eggs a la benedick cooked up at Delmonico’s in the 1860s or Lemuel Benedict’s go-to hangover cure prepared for the first time at the Waldorf-Astoria in 1894, eggs Benedict has been a breakfast and brunch staple for well over 100 years. And for good reason. Eggs Benny has a little bit of everything, and the combination of asparagus and hollandaise adds an air of sophistication and fancy.

Ingredients:

  • 2 English muffins – I use Thomas because I am all about those nooks and crannies. Normally, I’m not a brand snob, but Thomas is the nookiest and the cranniest.
  • 4 Eggs
  • 4 servings of Canadian bacon, bacon, or smoked salmon
  • Asparagus – a few spears per serving
  • Vinegar – just a tiny splash

For the Hollandaise sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons of butter.
  • 4 egg yolks.
  • 2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

I like to go ahead and cook my asparagus at this point. I pan fry my spears until they are a little crispy. You roast or steam your asparagus. You do you! I like to make my asparagus at this point so I can focus on my Hollandaise sauce and also snack on asparagus while I finish cooking.

For the Hollandaise sauce:
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. In a separate small bowl, beat the egg yolks. Mix in lemon juice, whipping cream, and salt and pepper.
Add the hot melted butter to the egg mixture a spoonful at a time and stir well. Repeat this process slowly adding the hot butter to the egg mixture. Adding the butter a little at a time will temper the eggs so they don’t curdle.
Once the butter has been incorporated, pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook on low heat, stirring constantly, for just 20-30 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside. It will thicken as it cools. Stir well and add another splash of cream to thin, if needed.
Now for the intimidating part. Poaching the eggs! But you can do it!

To poach the eggs:
Fill a medium size pot with about 3 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce heat until it reaches a simmer. You should see small bubbles coming to the surface. You’re looking for small bubbles, not a rolling boil.
Add a little splash of vinegar to the water (this is optional, but it helps the egg white to stay together once it is in the water).
Crack one egg into a small cup or bowl – you can use a measuring cup. Lower the egg into the simmering water, gently easing it out of the cup.
Cook the egg in simmering water for 3-5 minutes, depending on how soft you want your egg yolk. Remove the poached egg with a slotted spoon.
It is not abnormal for a white foam to form on top of the water when poaching an egg. You can simply skim the foam off of the water with a spoon.
While the egg is cooking, place the slices of Canadian bacon in a large pan and cook on medium-high heat for about 1 minute on each side.

To Assemble:
Toast the English muffin. Top each toasted side with a slice or two of Canadian bacon, bacon, or smoked salmon, then your asparagus, and finally a poached egg. Top with hollandaise sauce and crack some fresh black pepper.

I serve mine with spicy tomato juice.

Raw Asparagus SaladRaw Asparagus Salad

For the Salad:

  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1 pound asparagus, with the bottoms trimmed off
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice from 1 or 2 lemons
  • Olive oil

Instructions:

Toast your walnuts in a pan. Remove them from the heat when they start to smell toasty. Set aside to cool and chop them up.
Prep your asparagus by cutting the spears thinly on the bias.
Assembly time! Add the walnuts, Parmigiano Reggiano, lemon, salt and pepper, and red pepper flake in a bowl and combine. Add the asparagus and toss to combine.

Ryanne Harper

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