COME INTO THE KITCHEN, GARDENER: Asparagus and Strawberries, Just Not Together . . .

By Karen England.

Still Life with "Growing" Asparagus Spears in Water in Karen England's Kitchen in 2014.

Did you read my April President's Letter in this issue of Let's Talk Plants!?


If so, then you learned about a "new hybrid" veggie-fruit called "Asparaberries". If you didn't read it, well, you didn't miss much since, you guessed it, the publishing date for this newsletter is April 1st. Not wanting to just enjoy an April Fool's Day joke without being serious as well, here are some recipes for asparagus and strawberries, just not on the same plant or in the same dish . . .


First, Asparagus -

(Here is a link to an edgehillherbfarm.blog post by Karen England in case you'd like to read more about the above photo that includes asparagus in the menu "Cooking From Scratch For One".)

I don't grow asparagus, do you?


Well, I accidentally, kind of, sort of grew some in my kitchen in 2014, no foolin', and I posted the following on Facebook . . .


"Every time something enormous happens in my life, I learn something. When my father took ill in Dec. 2010, I had just the month before purchased a crate of sweet potatoes at Costco. Dad was in ICU for 20 straight days and then he had a protracted recovery time after that. I came home one day (about this time in February to notice the crate was growing! I had sweet potato vines flourishing in my kitchen! This time it is my hubby who is ill and I purchased 'first of the season' asparagus a few weeks ago, brought them home and put them in water, like a flower arrangement, intending, of course, to cook them when an unforeseen change was made to David's radiation schedule and, as a result, I forgot completely about things of house and home. Now I've learned I can grow asparagus in my kitchen too! It has been so fun to watch the spears take off!"


Betsy Williams, an herbalist I greatly admire commented "Your home is blessed with a strong life force! I've never seen that happen before. Have the spears rooted?"


I responded to her "I keep checking but so far no roots just exponential spear growth every day. I had no idea this was even possible!"


That weird event aside, normally I just buy my asparagus at the Farmer's Market or the natural foods store and don't grow it myself. My favorite way to cook asparagus is roasting or grilling and I love to eat roasted/grilled asparagus at room temperature, dressed in olive oil, sprinkled with orange zest and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. When I'm feeling fancy, I wrap the stalks with prosciutto, pancetta or bacon and roast or grill them that way. If there are any leftovers (which is rare) then I put them in a quiche for a delicious treat.


"I wrapped four fat asparagus spears with prosciutto and roasted them in a hot oven 'til tender"

"Pray how does your asparagus perform?"


- John Adams, in a letter to his wife Abigail













GRILLED VEGETABLE QUICHE

Based on a recipe found in a 1974 booklet titled "Quiche and Pie" by Irena Chalmers, Susan Wright and Gladys McConnell.

Serves 4-6.

CRUST:


1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

4 - 5 tablespoons cold water


Cut the butter into the flours and cheese until crumbly add enough water to mix crust together into a ball. Chill 20 minutes before rolling out the dough and lining a deep nine inch pie plate. "Dock" (prick) the crust with a fork all over and chill another 20 minutes before pre-baking the crust in a preheated 400 degree f. oven for 12 minutes.


A word about pastry cutters; I have three and although I use them all, the best one is the middle one shown here because it is the most rigid when using, unlike the others that have some give, the worst one being the wood handled one because the wires just move around the cold butter and don't cut through it.

FILLING:


leftover grilled vegetables such as roasted asparagus, chopped

1/2 cup grated cheese of choice, such as Swiss or cheddar

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan

chopped fresh herbs of choice, such as calendula flowers, parsley, thyme, sage, etc...

1/2 - whole serrano or jalapeno pepper, with or without seeds, your choice, chopped (or a pinch red pepper flakes)

4 large eggs, beaten

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup white wine (or dry vermouth), such as Riesling

pinch of sea salt and dash of freshly grated nutmeg

freshly ground black pepper to taste


Put the chopped grilled veggies in the pre-baked crust. Top the veggies with the cheeses, herbs and serrano pepper. Mix the eggs, cream, wine and remaining seasonings and pour over the veggies, cheeses and herbs in the crust. (Don't over fill. If you have egg mixture remaining you can pour it into a greased custard cup and bake separately for a nice crustless cook's treat. Truth be told, I have forgone the crust altogether when serving my celiac suffering, gluten intolerant family and baked the filling crustless in a greased pie dish to rave reviews.)


Bake at 375 degrees f. for 40 - 50 minutes until the custard is firm and puffy and lightly browned. Serve warm or let the quiche cool and take on a picnic with a bottle of wine...

Karen roasts asparagus wrapped in prosciutto in a hot oven 450 degrees f. for approximately 30 minutes depending on how thick/fat the spears are, with orange wedges and olive oil.

Second, Strawberries -


Do you read audio books? I do!


A great favorite unabridged Audible.com selection of mine is a cookbook memoir by Susan Herrmann Loomis, read by the author, entitled In A French Kitchen.The reader/listener reviews on Audible included those who “did not want to listen to a cookbook on tape” but even as odd as an audio cookbook sounds – I loved it! This audio book comes with a pdf. download of all the recipes in the book and, right before the pandemic, after serving handcrafted cocktails all day at an afternoon garden wedding, my bar staff and I hiked up to the top of my property with a bottle of Non-GMO Bordeaux wine and a bowl of local strawberries to enjoy a recipe from the book while we relaxed by a campfire, watched the sunset, and basked in the success of a wonderful day.

Karen has ever-bearing strawberries planted in, what else? A strawberry pot by her front porch.


Please consider giving Susan’s wonderful book a listen! Note: I have not gotten permission to post this screenshot of the recipe but if it, and this post, encourages you to get her great book, in audio and/or hard copy form, then I think she and the publishers might forgive me.






  

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