WILD or SPRUE ASPARAGUS
First of the asparagus is now available at the Otago Farmers Market. I have been patiently waiting for the first taste of the season. I have withheld purchasing it from any place other than locally grown. Wild or Sprue Asparagus is ideal for salads as it seems to mingle well with the ingredients.
Fresh Asparagus will be available from Ardross Farm in Palmerston at the Farmers Market this week, hallelujah!
Grilled Wild Asparagus with Rocket, Parmesan and Balsamic Vinegar
2-3 bunches of fresh asparagus,
100g rocket or watercress
20g freshly shaved Parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat a griddle pan or barbecue up to very hot. Whilst the pan is heating up, prepare your asparagus. The easiest method is to simply hold the stem of asparagus in between your hands and snap off the end. It should break cleanly which is an indication of where to trim. Finish off the remaining asparagus and set aside. Pick over the rocket, discarding any tough or damaged looking leaves, wash gently and drain really well (or the dressing won’t stick to the leaves).
Cook the asparagus on the hot grill by layering it evenly. Wild asparagus tends to be thinner than other asparagus, so it will only take a matter of minutes to cook.
Once cooked put the asparagus into a bowl, add the rocket season with salt and pepper, add the Parmesan shavings and now drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over the salad. Finish off with a drizzle of olive oil and toss lightly to coat evenly.
STEAMED ASPARAGUS, WITH HAM AND HOLLANDAISE
1 bunch asparagus (more if desired)
2-4 slices good quality ham
2 thickish slices good quality bread, toasted
120g unsalted butter
3 large egg yolks
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice plus 1 teaspoon
Good pinch salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of finely chopped chervil, parsley or chives
Heat the butter in a heavy based pot until foamy and hot, but not browned. Turn off the heat and let sit so the sediment that has formed can settle to the bottom of the pot.
Put a pot on the stove which will allow your bowl to sit on top. Add enough water to the pot, just check that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl as the eggs will scramble.
In a good stainless steel bowl, ideally with a rounded bottom, add the egg yolks, vinegar or lemon juice and whisk lightly. Put over the gently simmering water and whisk the yolks until they start to thicken and go pale in colour. Using a ladle, gradually drizzle in the clarified butter (only the golden butter not the sediment on the bottom of pot), whisking continuously. Keep adding the butter like this until you get a thick looking base to your sauce. You can add the butter in more confident amounts now, whisking all the time. When all the butter is added, check the taste, it will definitely need a little salt, add a pinch of cayenne pepper and the herbs. If the hollandaise is to thick (it should delicately coat the asparagus), add a drop or two of boiling water to the mix and whisk it will loosen the mix considerably. If you are not using the hollandaise straight away, you need to find a warm place where it will sit without melting or going cold.
Prepare the asparagus as for the recipe above. Place in a steamer and steam for 2-3 minutes depending on the size of the asparagus. Once cooked remove immediately and season lightly with sea salt and cracked pepper.
Either grill or toast the bread and lay on the plates, generously lay the ham slices on top. Bunch up 4-5 spears of asparagus and arrange on top. Spoon over the delicately, decadent hollandaise sauce.
CROQUE MONSIEUR WITH HAM
250g crustless white bread, preferably stale
60g Gruyere cheese, grated
85g ham, sliced
Cut the bread into thin, evenly shaped slices. Spread all the slices with some of the butter and sprinkle with the cheese. Put a piece of ham on half the bread slices. Cover each one with a buttered slice, press down gently to adhere them together. Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan over moderate heat. Add the sandwich and brown for 4 minutes on each side. Enjoy this typically French sandwich!
RHUBARB AND CARDAMOM FOOL
Rhubarb and cardamom go together so well, this combination with the addition of yoghurt and a little cream is a refreshing dessert for Spring!
450g rhubarb, coarsely chopped
150g caster sugar
Juice and grated zest of 1 orange
3 cardamom pods
100ml Greek Yoghurt
Mix the rhubarb, sugar, orange juice and zest together and place in an ovenproof dish. Add the cardamom pods. Cover and bake in an oven preheated to 190`C for 30-45 minutes, until the rhubarb is completely soft. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. Take out the cardamom pods and puree 2/3 of the fruit. Mix the puree fruit with the remainder and set aside.
Whip the cream with the yoghurt until it just holds its shape. Carefully fold the most of the puree through the cream so you have a ripple effect, then transfer the mixture to serving dishes/glasses, chill before serving. To finish off, drizzle over any of the deliciously pink rhubarb and syrup.
ALISON AND THE OTAGO FARMERS MARKET WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE VENDORS WHO HAVE GIVEN US THE PLEASURE TO COOK WITH THEIR BEAUTIFUL PRODUCE
WAITAKI BACON AND HAM
MCARTHUR’S BERRY FARM