Monday, 25 April 2011

asparagus


this unseasonal warmth has done some bizarre things to the flora and fauna of the Lincolnshire wolds... we have bluebells still opening whilst the delphiniums are beginning to stretch and turn pink, two flowers which never usually see each other bloom!... the swallows are many and nesting early, they fill the sky, busy with their mid-air insect catching... and boy do we need them as the flies and mosquito's are already making a nuisance of themselves... and then there are the veg... everything seems to be bursting at the seams... like one of those time-lapse films, only happening in real time as they expand and shoot before our eyes.

Our trip to Gunby Hall yesterday took us on a tour of their extensive gardens, part of which are turned over to vegetable and fruit growing and it was with much envy that I spied their asparagus, already shooting healthily out of the not particularly glamorous pile of manure... a whole bed of asparagus...

...but when I turned up this morning to deliver my cakes, lovely Gareth handed me an armful of the stuff... enough asparagus to feed a small platoon...bless him.

Like rhubarb, the humble asparagus has many applications in the kitchen, from the simple steamed and served with melting garlic butter... to the pretentious, wrapped in Parma ham and baked with an egg... and other than the rather obvious perfume of it's after effects, it is a pleasant and delicate little vegetable, more than welcome at this time of year.

... today I've made two classics... an soup and a quiche... using the same base for both, which both saved time and pans!


Spring Green Soup with Asparagus

This soup essentially uses any green veg that you may have lying around but it's not an old veg soup, these should be fresh Spring green veg bursting with flavour... and the soup shouldn't be over cooked, just simmered gently and then blitzed to combined the flavours and served immediately...

6 large spring onions - finely sliced
half a large leek - finely chopped
2 bunches (roughly 20 stalks) of asparagus (chopped)
a handful of fine green beans - finely chopped
a handful of baby spinach
a handful of garden peas

- in a heavy pan melt some butter and olive oil and on a medium heat add the onions, leeks, asparagus and beans and let them saute a little before placing the lid on, turning down the heat and let them sweat for 8 minutes or so until tender

- season and then, when soft remove about 1 third of the vegetables and set aside for the quiche

- now, add the spinach and peas and combine before pouring over a pint and a half of vegetable stock.

- let it simmer gently for 10 minutes and then blitz with a hand-held and serve in small cups with a dash of cream.


Asparagus Quiche


as mentioned, this uses the base vegetables from the soup so you can make it at the same time with very little effort... I was also given 6 fresh hens eggs from a my good friend Judy in the village, 3 of which have gone into this, giving it the most delightful yellow colour... so it's been a good day for free trade!

- you'll need a plain shortcrust pastry for this... you'll find a simple recipe for it here

- you'll also need the sauteed veg you've set aside from the soup but you could simply start from scratch, this goes first onto the base of the pre-baked pastry case

- added to this you'll need 1 extra bunch of asparagus and 8 or 10 fine green beans and a handful of garden peas all of which you gently steam until just tender

- for the filling I used 3 large eggs and a cup of double cream, which you whisk together with seasoning and pour into the pre-baked pastry case, then arrange the long stems of the asparagus and beans on top, sinking them gently into the mixture before baking on 180 for 30 minutes or until golden.

... oh and just an update on my cakes for Gunby Hall campaign... I have another order for this coming weekend, double the amount from last weekend!... i'm gonna be busy!

eat and of course, enjoy!

21 comments:

  1. Asparagus is my favorite veg - but I resist buying the imported stuff (it's wrong!!!!) I love it despite/because I was reared on it - 2 large bunches a day on season (yes a bunch each person!). It used to be grown commercially by my relatives and we were knee deep in old asparagus beds! We only ever ate it boiled, served with white sauce (and vinegar if you were from my Dad's half of the family).

    Now I have my own 10 yr old bed - I'm happy Easter Bunny!

    Celia

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  2. My mouth is watering. Where on earth am I going to get asparagus on Easter Monday. See what you have done? ...............Wanders off into the sunset determined to have this for dinner.

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  3. Love asparagus too.
    But loving your new career venture - how exciting!

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  4. Ohhhhhh you are a jammy bugger! I'm planning on growing asparagus on my little balcony next year, the strawberries, chillies, toms and herbs are thriving, then I can make that tart for myself ;0)

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  5. two wonderful recipe love your passion for Lincs where i was born. my email is rebeccasubbiah at yahoo dot com

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  6. Congratulations on your business success. How exciting.
    I grew up in an area where they grow white asparagus. Today I prefer the green and I love it roasted, in a soup or in a Quiche. The perfect dishes for me!

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  7. Early asaparagus - what a treat. Had some griddled on the BBQ yesterday, first of the year. Your quiche is a beaut!

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  8. Oh you're so lucky to have fresh picked asparagus!! Both the soup & quiche look delicious. Asparagus is my favorite veggie of all time!

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  9. I do feel very lucky to have been given the asparagus (they gave me another bunch today!!!...

    @kitchenmaid... sorry but they were a little mutoid... x

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  10. Ciao! Love asparagus, beautiful pics. My favourite recipe with asparagus: risotto e asparagi!! Give it a go!!!LOL

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  11. Quiche looks lovely.I like asparagus with a poached egg which is similar I suppose. Haven't had any up here as yet:(

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  12. Dom, I love asparagus and I planted an asparagus bed last year, so far no sign of life, I think the frost and harsh winter must have got to it. Oh well, I'll try again next year!

    Your soup and quiche look absolutely delicious! I wish Gareth was my neighbor!

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  13. We just had asparagus tonight for supper. Just steamed nothing fancy. I love the look of the quiche. The beans and asparagus look like art on top of the eggs,beautiful. That picture would make a wonderful note card or recipe card.

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  14. oh my mouth is watering! Must try that asparagus quiche, it looks beautiful!

    Ali x

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  15. mmm all your cooking this weekend looks so good - we are looking forward to visiting Gunby Hall next weekend + having lots of good meals & then walking them off with you & the Viking
    LoL Mummyx

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  16. Love love love asparagus! the tart is so pretty!

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  17. Love asparagus! The soup looks delish and the quiche looks superb/perfect Dom. Have a great evening.

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  18. great ideas! I love spring! all the green veggies and herbs start to appear (: asparagus. spring greens, cucumbers, radish, love them all!

    http://mummyicancook.blogspot.com/2011/04/collard-leaf-wrapped-herb-rice-with.html

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  19. Oh yum, yum, yum. Susan at The Spice Garden sent me over to have a look at your Asparagus soup recipe and I'm glad. I only have the asparagus in my own garden, but can find some other spring vegetables at the Farmer's Market this weekend. Our Georgia Vidalia onions would add a nice bit of sweetness. Thanks for sharing.

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  20. Ok I have thought very long and hard and decided that yes you can have my as yet top secret lemon cupcake recipe lol. I'm really busy at the bakery this week, is Monday too late? I may even post the recipe but if not I will email it to you on Monday afternoon. Hope it's all going well. x

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  21. I hate asparagus, I think their taste is weird and also I have to go restroom after eating them. I prefer another kind of vegetables, even though I know asparagus help us to be healthy.

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