Spring Spears

Join me + Tune-in/DVR CreateTV GHL Sat 4/13 8AM/8PM + Sun 4/14 2PM

I am reminded it's spring because the calendar says it's so. But, what do you do on those days when the weather says otherwise, like all this rain lately? I suggest bringing spring into your kitchen with ingredients that say spring flavor. What first comes to mind is asparagus. It's so versatile; you can steam, sauté, roast, and if you must, fry it - preferably tempura. 

Ricotta Asparagus Bruschetta

Ricotta Asparagus Bruschetta

Some conversational tidbits to keep in your pocket for your next dinner party or in a full elevator:

- The word asparagus comes from the ancient Persian word asparag, meaning a sprout. The ancient Egyptians cultivated asparagus and dedicated it as an offering to numerous Gods. It must have been considered very important back then. And the Romans have an expression, "Velocius quam asparagi coquantur" - meaning, faster than you can cook asparagus. 

- It was a rare and expensive vegetable in the 1890s in the United States, but then cultivation helped to tame the price. 

- It was inevitable that the asparagus should be considered as an aphrodisiac given its shape, which an Elizabethan writer remarked it 'manifestly provoked Venus'. 

- Asparagus is a young edible shoot, commonly known as "spear". The spear rises from an underground stem called a "crown", which is capable of producing spears for 15 to 20 years. Most asparagus is harvested in spring, when it is 6 to 8 inches high and has tender, fleshy spears and tight compact heads. Once they reach maturity, the asparagus stalks become woody and fernlike foliage grows from the heads, making them inedible.

Asp_Bunche.jpg

Tips:

Although grown in quite a large scale and in many countries, asparagus is available in abundance from March to late June. There are over 300 varieties of asparagus, only 20 of which are edible. 

They are divided into three main categories:

Green asparagus. This is the most common type of asparagus. It is harvested at a height of about 8 inches. 

White asparagus. Grown in the dark (covered with soil to keep it from turning green), white asparagus is harvested as soon as it emerges from the ground. Although more tender than the green variety, it tends to be less flavorful, and is more expensive, since more work is required to grow it. 

Purple asparagus: This variety has a fruity flavor and is harvested when only 2 to 3 inches high. 

How to buy asparagus:

Whether asparagus are thin or thick, choose them with firm, crisp stalks and compact brightly colored heads with no trace of rust or softness. The bottom of the stalk should be moist when squeezed, not dry and woody. Avoid yellowish asparagus with soft stalks that are beginning to flower, these are signs that it is old.

Store asparagus vertically in 1 inches of water in a container, stem-side-down in the refrigerator.

 

Quantity:
Add to Cart

All Natural Cupcake

Who doesn't like a cupcake?

With fall gatherings, tailgates, and birthday celebrations—why not make a homemade dozen rather than buying store bought version, sans the preservatives. Here's my crowd pleasing recipe for traditional vanilla cupcakes and a choice of vanilla or chocolate icings. Your gathering will certainly know the difference.

Enjoy.

cupcakes-image.jpg

Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes about 2 dozen 

chefgeorgehirsch.comGeorge Hirsch Lifestyle

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/4 teaspoons Baking Powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs, beaten

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line muffin pans with cupcake papers.

In a small bowl, combine flours, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter on medium speed until smooth. Scrape bowl, add the sugar gradually and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 

Add the eggs in three stages one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three stages, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over mix. Scrape down the bowl after each addition to make sure the ingredients are well blended. 

Fill cupcake liners approximately three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in the muffin pans for 5 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing. 

Ice the cupcakes with either Vanilla Icing or Chocolate Icing

Vanilla Icing

Makes icing for 2 dozen cupcakes

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla 

Place room temperature and softened butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. Beat on medium speed beat until smooth and creamy 3-5 minutes. Scrape the bowl and gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition approximately 2 minutes, until the icing is thick enough for spreading consistency. 

You may not need to add all of the sugar. 

Optional: Add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. Icing is best used at room temperature, as it will harden when chilled.

Note: Use and store the icing at room temperature as icing will set if chilled.

Chocolate Icing

Makes icing for 2 dozen cupcakes

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla 

Sift cocoa powder into six cups of the confectionary sugar. Place room temperature and softened butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla.Beat on medium speed beat until smooth and creamy 3-5 minutes. Scrape the bowl and gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition approximately 2 minutes, until the icing is thick enough for spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. 

Note: For deeper chocolate; heat just until melted,2 Tablespoons chocolate chips in the microwave and combine with butter and sugar before adding milk. Use and store the icing at room temperature as icing will set if chilled.



Thanksgiving Countdown: Favorite Sides

This is the part of the Thanksgiving menu that does it for me. Steamy whipped mashed potatoes with flecks of caramelized garlic- my absolute favorite, especially with a side of Honey Grilled Acorn Squash. Don't get me wrong, I won't pass up on the sweet potatoes and cranberry dressing. But if my plate is too full, then I might wait on the Wild Rice Stuffing until my next serving, then pair it with some Savory Herb Gravy.

George Hirsch Lifestyle Mousseline Potatoes
Quantity:
Add to Cart

Queen of Dressing

A tribute to a mix of green herbs, specifically parsley and chives. Prior to the popularity of ranch dressing, Green Goddess was the queen of dressings, gracing salads worldwide.

Let me get this out of the way first; Seven Seas did not create the original Green Goddess Dressing. It’s earliest roots stem from a classical French cooking cold sauce (dressing) called Sauce Au Vert; created for Louis XIII of France circa 1640. That's just around the time of the legendary Chef Vatel (more on him next week). This cold sauce gained popularity in the 1920’s with help of a theater production by the same name, The Green Goddess, which ran in San Francisco.  

goddess_dressing.jpg

Basically - all cold sauces are created equal, with just a few adjustments in the ingredients. For example, if you think Thousand island Dressing with a reduction of a few condiments and an addition of a larger quantity of fresh washed herbs; such as chives, tarragon, chervil or parsley - you’ve got Green Goddess!

The herbs should be chopped fine and squeezed dry in a cheese cloth or clean kitchen towel; while reserving the juice exiting from the herbs to color and more importantly flavor the cold sauce. The herbs are then added to the base sauce. Viola!

Green Goddess aka. Sauce Au Vert

Mix, 1 cup olive oil mayonnaise, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1/2 cup sour cream, 3 pureed anchovy fillets, 4 cloves Caramelized Garlic, juice of half a lemon, dash of hot sauce and fresh ground black pepper. Add 1/4 cup each finely chopped chives and parsley, with squeezed juice into dressing.