Nothing says spring time like asparagus. On this Memorial Day weekend, technically spring, but the unofficial calendar start of summer, the recipe for French Fridays with Dorie is Asparagus Soup. In New England, Asparagus season has just begun, so this choice was perfectly seasonal.
Two years ago, we relocated (uh, I mean restarted) our asparagus bed in a sunnier location. The trees near the original bed had grown and converted the lighting from sunny to part-shade. With a new asparagus bed, you let most of the stalks grow untouched for a few years, so we only cut half a dozen spears, hardly enough for this soup, but enough to enjoy in a pasta salad.
I LOVE asparagus! I don’t eat it much off-season, but in late May and June, when it’s in its prime, I can’t get enough of it.
I found this recipe to be a bit fussy, so I tried to simplify it, or at least make it work for me. For example, I’ll be honest. I’ve never been an asparagus peeler. I don’t quite get why this step is often recommended, or even necessary. The only hiccup I’ve experienced with asparagus is when I don’t cut off enough of the woody ends and it’s unchewable, but I’ve never found the peel to be a problem. But, I’m open to learning something new, so I set out to peel the asparagus, two and a half pounds of it. Truth be told, I gave up after 5 stalks.
That left me without the peelings to make the quick stock base from. I took a different tactic. I put the woody ends, and the dark green tops of my leeks, plus the peelings of five stalks of asparagus right into a pot (no wrapping in a cheesecloth, another fussy step), covered them with salted water, and boiled it for a few minutes. Then, I strained out the solids. The asparagus stalks themselves needed a quick cook too, so I brought the stock to a boil again and cooked the asparagus as the recipe called for. From there, I followed the recipe as written.
When I pureed the soup in the blender, it came out perfectly smooth, so again, I still don’t understand about the peeling step.
I served the soup hot in small bowls. I forgot to buy cream, so we ate it plain. It tasted like the essence of asparagus. I might make this again if I come into a bumper crop of asparagus, though it’s unlikely I can be convinced of to peel any of it.
To my US compatriots, Happy Memorial Day. As much as we use this day to mark the start of summer, we should also take time to remember and be thankful for those who’ve been lost serving our country. I hope you have a safe holiday weekend!
If you don’t already know it, and you might not, today is Food Revolution Day. Food Revolution Day is a chance for people all over the world to come together and stand up for good food and essential cooking skills. It’s a chance for people to come together in homes, schools, workplaces and communities to cook and share their kitchen skills, food knowledge and resources. Food Revolution Day is a global day of action to raise awareness about the importance of good food and better food education for everyone.
The theme for this year’s Food Revolution Day is “Cook it. Share it. Live It.” – something I, along with my friends at French Fridays with Dorie, are passionate about already! Today with join together, telling to story of cooking and sharing a favorite recipe from our group’s bible, Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.
At my house, Howard and I both get excited about preparing good food to eat and share at home. We enjoy spending time together in the kitchen, though we each have our areas of expertise. I’m the non-grilled main dish maker, the soup maker, the side dish maker, and the baker. Howard’s territory is the grill and smoker and his modernist sous-vide adventures as well as cooking perfect eggs, in every preparation.
I used the Food Revolution Day challenge to teach Howard, our resident chocolate fiend, to make a simple chocolate dessert: top-secret chocolate mousse, which FFwD made as a group back in November 2012.
Some new egg skills were involved. The first was learning to separate eggs. We started with the technique my mother taught me, transferring the yolk from shell to shell while letting the white fall into a bowl. That was a bit challenging, so we switched to the pour the egg into your hand and let the whites run through your fingers approach. Much more successful!
The next was whipping the egg whites until they were medium stiff. Howard loves electronic devices. In fact, he gave me my beloved KitchenAid as a gift. As I explained how to whip the egg whites, he pointed out that this was the first time he was using the machine that he bought (and recently repaired) for me.
The final technique was folding. When you aren’t the usual dessert maker, there isn’t much call to know how to fold ingredients together, but it was an easy lesson.
By the time the egg whites were ready to mix in, the chocolate-egg yolk mixture was a little chunky. We thought perhaps the other steps had taken longer than expected and the chocolate cooled down too much. The end result was less mousse-like than it was when I made it before, but it still tasted good.
Undeterred, Howard picked up fresh eggs the next morning and asked me to get more chocolate while I was out during the day. I had evening plans, but I came home to find that Howard had applied his newly learned essential cooking skills and whipped up another batch of chocolate mousse all by himself! Way to go, Howard!
This time, he was careful about the timing, yet the mousse was still a little bit chunky. In the end, I think it’s because we were using 72% dark chocolate (in November, we used 60%) which must work differently in this dessert.
I have a feeling that more mousse will be made in our kitchen, and I won’t necessarily be the one preparing it. It’s revolutionary!
To read about the other revolutions going on today in kitchens around the world, check out my Dorista friends’ blogs as they tell their own Food Revolution Day stories here. You can also read more about Food Revolution Day here.