Buying and cooking asparagus

asparagus-mushroom-saladThe asparagus from McConnell’s Farm in Hendersonville is beautiful again this season, and we have already enjoyed it in a variety of recipes.  In addition to the pasta mentioned in an earlier post, we have prepared a raw asparagus and mushroom salad topped with shavings of Asiago cheese.  If you haven’t tried these  ingredients in their natural state, think about making this recipe.  The textures and tastes are perfect together.

Another favorite using asparagus is “My Vegetable Man’s Asparagus Flan” from The Provence Cookbook.  This simple recipe always turns out perfectly.  It has been made so many times in our kitchen that we even know exactly which dish to use for it.   An asparagus mushroom tart is also on our list to make during the next few days.

asparagus-prepedWhen shopping for asparagus in the store,  search for  bunches with tightly closed heads, and firm stems.  To store, slice a small piece off the bottom of each stem; place the spears upright in a small amount of water, and refrigerate.  To prepare, the asparagus stems should snap when you break off the lower, fibrous end.  While the thin spears require a little less effort to prepare, the thicker asparagus are equally good if the lower part of the stem is peeled.  Julia Child felt that a vegetable peeler wasn’t up for the task of peeling asparagus, and recommended using a paring knife.  We have found that a sharp vegetable peeler does the job quickly.  Unless the asparagus is quite thin, we usually peel the stems as a matter of course.  As you can see from the photo, the presentation is very attractive.

On the topic of Julia Child, you might want to check out the trailer for the upcoming movie, “Julie and Julia”, which is scheduled for theaters on August 7 and stars Meryl Streep as Ms. Child.  The movie is based on two books, one by Julie Powell about her year spent cooking 500+ Julia Child recipes, and the second, “My Life in France” written by Julia Child and her nephew.

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