Asparagus Risotto

26 May 2010

Asparagus Risotto

Classic asparagus risotto made with arborio rice, onions, stock, Parmesan cheese and fresh asparagus.

The season for asparagus always seems too short. In a blink of an eye it’s gone and you have to wait a whole year to enjoy these tasty shoots again. So when I was in Provence this past weekend I took advantage of the Uzes Market.

There were many different varieties of asparagus to choose from – white,  green, purple tipped, but for this recipe I prefered the green.  What is great about risotto is that it doesn’t over power the asparagus, but compliments it. This is quintessential Italian cooking, which is all about tasting each ingredient.

For other asparagus recipes see these links: Pumpkin Risotto Grilled Asparagus

See link ‘asparagus risotto‘ below for recipe:

ASPARAGUS RISOTTO

 sp-olive-basket

***NEWS: OLIVE PICKING IN PROVENCE***

We escaped the city this past weekend for a little sun & olive picking. Despite a very trying train journey… apparently booking a ticket does not automatically include a seat…. and the fact that it poured rain all of Saturday (hail was an added bonus!), we still managed to get in some quality olive picking.

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GRILLED ASPARAGUS

16 May 2008

{ASPERGES GRILLEES AVEC HUILE D’OLIVE ET SEL DE LA MER} With the spring time, comes the arrival of the one seasonable vegetable that is not considered a table etiquette ‘faux pas’ to eat with your finger…… ASPARAGUS  

Now the Frenchman, a true gourmand at heart, knows a good thing when he sees it. So it was to no surprise that this culinary delight was in abundance at the local Provencal farmers market last weekend. A crunchy treat for the taste-buds, excellent as a detox cleanser, the only thing to watch out for is the afteraffects of smelly pee…. my god yes I just mentioned urination in my blog post! But better safe than sorry :)

Moving swiftly on, I had the pleasure of eating wonderful grilled asparagus in a little tapas bar in Barcelona, and wanted to recreate the recipe. The olive oil adds flavour & visual appeal, while the grilling accentuates the natural flavours of the asparagus, while keeping the crisp texture and finished with a sprinkle of sea salt to give a little kick.

Helpful HINTS : 

  • when buying asparagus, the younger, thinner variety tends to be more tender, and less prone to tough, stingy outer skin (epecially towards the bottom of the stocks)
  • when cooking on the grill, place the smaller stalks towards the outer / cooler part of the pan, to cook all the asparagus evenly
  • don’t over cook the asparagus, otherwise it becomes overly soft & looses its bright green colour, crunchy texture and taste!

Facts: asparagus is a member of the Lily family! It contains elements that build the kidneys, skin, bones & liver - and a positive effect on our liver = a positive effect on our moods + ability to deal with stress 

RECIPE

SPRING IN PROVENCE

15 May 2008

Provence cherries

{LE PRINTEMS EN PROVENCE} Spring is finally here, and with that my 1st visit of the season to Provence. You can really see the difference in climate as you drive further south – the first thing I noticed was how many leaves were already out on the grapevines. And how the cherries on our cherry trees blossomed literally overnight, turning lovely shades of rosy pink, red and yellow !!! 

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Sablés lavande miel

{PETITS SABLES AUX FLEURS DE LAVANDE ET MIEL} This past weekend I escaped from the city to the French countryside …. peace and quiet from all the tourists in town, cool breeze, listening to the cow bells, reading Marianne Paquin’s ‘Cueillez, c’est prêt!’ cookbook, and finding inspiration in a lavender bush!

For me lavender is the true ‘parfum de Provence’ (the perfume of Provence). However when it comes to cooking I think there should be a warning label: ‘this flower is sweet BUT strong …. therefore do not run a muck, suppress your enthusiasm to add more, or your desert will taste like a bar of soap! A little goes a long way

Sadly I did not have these words of wisdom when I first made ‘a lavender & apricot compote’…. wild horses could not have stopped me from adding an overly abundant amount of this innocent looking purple flower. The result was overwhelming and not in a good way.

Keeping this experience in mind as I read Marianne’s recipe for lavender cookies, I decided to make the recipe as follows: omitting the lavender essence as I simply didn’t have any and thought that the flowers alone would be enough. I replaced 25g of white sugar with orange blossom honey, and added a little extra flour to the dough - which instead of rolling out, I made into two long thin rolls which I chilled and then cut into circles. The result was a delicately subtle perfume of lavender, that tickles your sense as you nibble on these golden shortbreads.

RECIPE

APRICOT & ROSEMARY JAM

3 August 2007

Confiture abricot-romarin

{CONFITURE D’ABRICOT ET ROMARIN} I was recently on holiday in Provence when the apricot season was in full bloom. To some this is a dream come true, to my father, whose keen desire to keep up with the overly abundant apricot tree in the garden (which was apparently getting the better of him), it was a loosing battle.

By the time I arrived he couldn’t look, let alone eat another one. Help was on the way :) Perfectly juicy and ripe, just waiting to be plucked and in close proximity to the rosemary bushes…. I couldn’t wait to make jam and thought how nicely the two would go together.

Jam Making WITHOUT PECTIN:

  • I use the juice of a lemon = natural pectin, as the thickening agent for jam
  • Certain fruits / berries such as blackberries naturally contain a high % of pectin, requiring less cooking time when making jam & little or no lemon juice

RECIPE

DENOYAUTEUR

19 June 2007

It is cherry season, and if I eat one more handful I think I am going to look like a cherry….. so I have decided to turn my attention to making jam!An enjoyable, even relaxing project, that marries well with Olivier’s love for tartines and our continued shortage of confiture! Tartine is the French delicacy of a lovely thick slice of bread with creamy butter topped with homemade confiture (jam).

However a black cloud, or should I say frustrated very red finger tips, began to settle over my little jam making jamboree, as I struggled with a paring knife in a feeble attempt to separate the clinging cherry from its pip! Lucky for me, help was not far away. While chatting with my mother, who is currently in Provence surrounded by les cerisiers (cherry trees), I recounted my sad story and she introduced me to the “Dénoyauteur“!

What you may ask is a Dénoyauteur… well, it is my new best friend! A simple little handheld machine that removes the cherry pip in one simple action. Place the cherry in the holder squeeze handles together and voila! De-piped cherry ready and willing to hop into a pie/ cake / jam, I could go on…. There are more complex devices, that are perhaps better for larger batches of cherries, but as I live in the city and storage space being at a premium, the smaller the utensil the better. Not only does this wonderful invention eliminate the red finger problem (attractive as this is at work…), decreases the de-pipping time and cherry loss, but it can be easily purchased in your local shops for about €2!! Naturally best to drop everything and run out and buy at least one if not two :)

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