Cooking with Garlic Scapes

Garlic Scapes

If you have never had garlic scapes, you don’t know what you are missing. Garlic scapes are the green shoots removed from hard-neck varieties of garlic. By removing the shoots, the bulbs will get bigger. So farmers and gardeners remove them.  Garlic scapes curl as they grow, so they are easy to identify if you see some at your local farm market. They are showing up at farm markets around here right now.

Garlic scapes are good served raw, or barely cooked. When cooked, the flavor mellows a lot. I love to steam garlic scapes for about 5 minutes, then just eat like fresh green beans, with butter and salt. I steamed a bunch of scapes the other day- then chopped them up and added to potato salad. So tasty!!

They have a rich, garlic flavor that is all the sweeter because of the short time they are around. Enjoy them when you can- they will be gone soon. I sometimes use scapes in place of basil, in my pesto recipe, or combine them with parsley in a garlic scapes-parsley pesto. You can also combine the garlic scapes with cottage cheese in the blender- add a little lemon juice and hot sauce for a tasty dip. Here are some more recipes for cooking with garlic scapes.

Garlic Scapes Potato Salad

Garlic Scapes Potato Salad

4-5  garlic scapes

2 lbs. red skinned potatoes*

½ cup minced sweet pepper

½ c. olive oil

½ c. apple cider vinegar

2 T. sugar

2 T. chopped parsley

2 t. fresh dill weed

Salt and pepper to taste

Hot sauce to taste

Steam the scapes for 5 minutes. Cool a little, and cut into ¾ -inch slices. You should end up with about 1½ of sliced scapes when done. Place in a medium bowl. Cook potatoes until tender. I baked mine in a microwave until tender and then cut into cubes. Baking them is also a nice way to cook the potatoes. You can also opt to cut into cubes first and boil the potatoes. Whatever method to cook the potatoes is fine with me. Take the potatoes, while still warm, and place in the bowl with the scapes. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a small bowl and stir until sugar dissolves. Pour over warm potato mix, tossing to coat evenly. Adjust seasonings. Chill and serve. Serves 6-8.

* You can really use any potato you like.

Garlic Scapes Pesto Sauce

1 c. chopped scapes – you can also use half scapes, half parsley
1/4 c. olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic
Salt to taste
1/2 c. pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pecans or walnuts
1 c. fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients, except the cheese, in a blender and mix until smooth. Stir in the cheese and toss over hot, cooked pasta or use as a sauce on meat and poultry. Sauce will keep a few days in the fridge and makes about 1 1/2 cups, enough for 1 lb. of cooked pasta.

Lebanese Garlic Sauce

1/2 c. chopped garlic scapes

1 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups olive oil

In the container of a blender, combine the garlic scapes, lemon juice and salt. Blend at medium speed until smooth. Continue blending while pouring olive oil into the blender in a thin stream. The mixture should become thick and white almost like mayo. Store refrigerated in a glass container.  Nice on hot pasta, cooked rice or grains or brushed on meats while cooking. It also is a great salad dressing.

Garlic Scapes with  Broccoli

1 c. chopped garlic scapes

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets, steamed 5 minutes, cooled

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste

Place garlic scapes in a food processor with the salt and blend into a paste. Add olive oil, vinegar, and mustard.  Pulse until smooth.  Place garlic scapes mixture in a bowl and add the broccoli.  Stir to coat. Chill for 3 hours to marinate, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving. Tastes even better the next day!!!

Muffuletta

Muffuletta

In our class on foods of New Orleans last night we made a Muffuletta. A Muffuletta is a type of large sandwich. It was first invented by Italian immigrants to New Orleans and classically contains olives and assorted meats and cheese. It also can contain pickled veggies. They are fun to make and fun to eat. A great take along for picnics and a nice meal when it is too hot to cook. It can be made a day ahead, wrapped up and kept chilled until you are ready to cut into wedges to serve.

While the recipe calls for a round loaf of Italian bread, unsliced, we used sour dough bread last night, because that was what I found at the store. It was not as classic, but still worked fine. These are great for parties, too.

Muffuletta

16 oz. jar pickled mixed vegetables (1½ cups)

1/4 c. chopped pimento stuffed green olives or ripe olives, drained

1 clove garlic, minced

1 T. olive oil

1 9-inch loaf round Italian bread, unsliced

6 oz. thin sliced ham or turkey ham

4 oz. sliced mild white cheese, like provolone or Monterey Jack

4 oz. thin sliced hard salami

Drain vegetables, reserving two tablespoons of the liquid. Chop them and combine with the olives, garlic and oil. Slice bread in half horizontally. On bottom half layer the ham, cheese and salami.  Top with the vegetable mixture and sprinkle with pepper if desired. Cover with the top of the bread and secure with picks. To serve, cut into wedges. Serves 8. Note: Sandwich can be made ahead of time and wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, even a day ahead. Keep chilled.

Bacon Waffles for Dad

Bacon Waffles

If you are looking for a special breakfast for Father’s Day, maybe dad would like some waffles. Even better, make him waffles with bacon inside them. Then serve your bacon waffles with extra bacon on the side!!!

For me, breakfast doesn’t get much better than waffles. Well, unless maybe you add bacon to the waffle batter.

Truth is, I don’t treat myself to waffles all that often, but if I am going to eat waffles, I go all out.

These are truly wonderful waffles. Light, crispy on the outside and studded with bacon. A drizzle of  warm maple syrup and you are good to go.

So, if you are looking for a special treat for dad for breakfast, or lunch, or dinner or a snack… try these bacon waffles. You can thank me later.

Bacon Waffles

1 pound sliced bacon
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
1½ cups milk
¼ cup butter, melted
In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Drain; crumble and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat egg yolks, milk and butter; stir into dry ingredients until smooth. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter. Add bacon. Before making each waffle, stir batter. Bake in a preheated waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions until golden brown.

Peach Ice Cream- Recipe #2

Fresh Peach Ice Cream

Yesterday I posted my peach ice cream recipe, using a custard ( egg ) base. Today, I thought I would post another recipe for peach ice cream, since I mentioned it in the post. In this recipe, only the peaches are cooked, to soften them up before freezing. The rest of the base is not. This recipe contains no eggs. The texture is lovely, but different from an egg-based ice cream. The color is different, too. I just thought it would be nice to give you a couple of options.

Peaches are one of those fruits that make me think summer. We had a couple of peach trees in the backyard when I was growing up. I remember one year, my dad had to prop up the branches so they wouldn’t break under the weight of all those peaches. Homemade ice cream is all about summer, too. Fruit-studded ice cream seems like the perfect dessert for a warm summer day.

When using peaches in ice cream, you don’t want to just cut up the fruit and drop it in. If you do that, the peaches will form ice crystals and become quite hard, sort of like peachy ice cubes. Nobody want that in their ice cream.  Better to cook the peaches first, like I did for the peaches in this recipe. That way, when you put them in the ice cream, they get frozen, but in a softer way. True of other fruits you might add to any ice cream recipe.

Homemade Peach Ice Cream

3-4 ripe peaches

2 c. half and half

1 c. sugar, or to taste

1 T. vanilla

1 T.  orange zest

Peel and dice peaches. Cook in a small amount of water and a little sugar until tender. If you don’t precook the peaches they will be icy and hard in the ice cream. Cool and drain. In bowl combine half and half and sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Place in ice cream machine and process according to manufacturer’s directions. If you don’t have an ice cream maker place mixture in a shallow pan and freeze solid. Remove from freezer and allow to soften a little at room temperature then break up into chunks and place in a mixing bowl. Beat with a mixer until smooth and return to freezer. You can also process in a food processor. Makes 1 quart.

Peach Ice Cream- Custard Style

Custard Style Peach Ice Cream

If there is a favorite summer treat for me- it is ice cream. I love to go to the local ice cream shop for a sundae or cone, and I love to make my own ice cream. When I found myself with a few extra peaches, I knew I wanted to use some of them to make ice cream. Peach ice cream is one of my absolute favorites.

I have made a peach ice cream before. This one is different because I made a custard base for my ice cream this time. A custard base just means that egg yolks, or eggs, are incorporated into the base of the ice cream. The base is heated up, so the eggs get cooked. In the other recipe, there are no eggs.

The custard base gives you a creamier end product. I wouldn’t say you have to make a custard-based ice cream for it to be good. They are just different. The custard base is a bit more work, but still not a difficult recipe at all.

This peach ice cream came out so good. Really creamy. I had perfectly ripe peaches. They were a little small, so I used 5 of them in this batch of ice cream. I used a vegetable peeler to remove the skins. I think that the skins get tough once cooked. Leave them on, if you prefer. I cut them off the pits, being sure to save all the juices, too. Then I just diced the peaches up pretty small.

If I just dumped the raw peaches into the ice cream base and froze it, they would end up as hard peachy cubes. By cooking the peaches first, they stay softer in the ice cream. This is true of any fruit ice cream. Using fruit that had been frozen, then thawed, will also work. I added a little vanilla, too. Not enough to overpower the peaches, but to add another layer of flavor.

So here is the recipe. Enjoy!!

Peach Ice Cream- Custard Style

4-5 peaches- mine were small- I used 5

1½ c. half and half

1 c. heavy whipping cream

3 egg yolks

1 c. sugar or to taste

1 t. vanilla

Peel the peaches. Cut the peaches to remove the pits. Discard pits. Dice up the peaches over a bowl to catch all the juices. In medium saucepan, place the peaches with the peach juice, half and half and cream. Over medium low heat, bring up to a simmer. Stir every few minutes, to prevent scorching. Let the mixture cook a few minutes, to soften the peaches. In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla. Add ½ cup of the hot cream mixture to the eggs, whisking in well. Add another ½ cup of the cream mixture, whisking again. Add one last ½ cup of the hot cream and again, whisk until smooth. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the cream and while whisking, simmer until mixture starts to thicken and will coat the back of a spoon. This will take about 5 minutes. Don’t use too high a heat, or you will scramble your eggs. Mixture should reach 160 degrees to be sure eggs are cooked. Remove from heat. Pour mixture into a bowl. Allow ice cream base to cool down, then chill in fridge. Chilled mixture can be frozen in an ice cream maker once cold- in a few hours- or even the next day. Once mixture has been frozen in ice cream maker, place in a container and freeze until ready to serve. Makes about 5-6 cups of ice cream.      |

Compound Butters

Compound Butters

I enjoy making flavored, or compound butters, all the time. But even more so this time of year. My herb garden is growing wildly and there really is nothing better than the flavor of herbs, picked fresh out of the garden. Chop them up, add to some butter and you have a great spread for all sorts of foods. Now that local  veggies are here, I have even more reason to make some herb and butter blends.

I like to make  several batches, shape into rolls and wrap in plastic wrap. Now I can freeze them and just cut off a piece whenever I want. This is also a nice way to preserve some of this summer freshness for the cooler days ahead.

Herbal or spicy butters can add flavor to any meal. They can be used on breads, crackers, veggies, meats, or fish. Flavored butters can also be molded into shapes for special occasions. Here are the recipes for the butters in the picture.

Compound Butters

All recipes are for use with one stick (½ cup) butter.

Soften butter slightly to make mixing easier. Roll into logs, balls, or press into molds. Finished butters can be rolled in herbs, spices, or nuts for a decorative appearance. Chill several hours or overnight before using. Keep butter wrapped tightly in waxed paper for freshness. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Flavored butter keeps in the fridge for 1 – 2 weeks. Makes ½ cup.

Basil Butter: 3.T. finely chopped fresh basil leaves, 1 t. lemon zest, Excellent on pasta, bread and veggies.

Chive Butter: 3 T. snipped chives, ½ t. lemon zest. Good with fish, poultry, carrots, and potatoes.

Chili Butter: 1½ t. chili powder, ½ t. cumin, ½ t. garlic powder. This is good on breads, beans, grilled chicken, or popcorn.

Curry Butter: 1 t. curry powder, 1 t. fresh lime juice. Use on lamb, poultry, rice, and veggies.

Dill Butter: 2 T. fresh snipped dill, 1 – 2 t. fresh lemon juice. Good with chicken, potatoes, carrots, seafood, or rice.

Mint Butter: 2 – 3 T. fresh chopped mint leaves, 1 t. fresh lemon juice, ½ t. lemon zest. This is great with lamb, peas, chicken, or vegetables.

Parsley Butter: 2-3 T. chopped parsley, 2 t. lemon juice. Lovely on breads, veggies, seafood and chicken.

Sage Butter: 1 T. fresh sage leaves, chopped very fine, or 1 t. dried sage, 1 t. each lemon juice and lemon zest. This is excellent with chicken or pork dinners. Great on breads and rolls, too.

Thyme Butter: 2T. fresh thyme leaves, 1 t. lemon zest. For veggies, meats breads.

Strawberry Ice Cream Cake Roll

Strawberry Ice Cream Cake Roll

This is the perfect summer dessert. Fresh berries, a light, citrus-scented cake and ice cream. What more could you want?

When you say cake roll, I think a lot of people first think of a pumpkin roll or perhaps a Buche de Noel (yule log). There are so many more desserts you can make with them. Cake rolls can be made in many flavors and they can be filled with custard, frosting, fruit, ice cream and more.

For this sponge cake roll, I used homemade strawberry ice cream to fill it, recipe follows. You could use store bought ice cream, if you prefer.

Start with the sponge cake roll recipe below, and use whatever flavor ice cream you like. You’ll need about a quart of ice cream- or a little more.

Once finished, you just wrap it up and pop the cake in the freezer until needed. Great to have on hand for summer parties and cook outs. You can decorate with fresh berries when serving. Blueberries would make this a fun red, white and blue dessert for Memorial Day or the 4th of July.

Sponge Cake Roll

This sponge cake roll can be filled with whipped cream or ice cream, or use your favorite filling.
5 eggs, separated
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2/3 cup cake flour*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons melted butter
Beat egg yolks until thicken and lemon colored; gradually add 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar, the lemon juice and the lemon zest. Beat egg whites until almost stiff then gradually beat in the remaining 1/3 cup sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Fold yolk mixture into whites. Sift dry ingredients into a separate container; add to egg mixture, folding in carefully. Fold in melted butter. Pour batter into waxed paper-lined 10x15x1-inch jelly roll pan. Bake at 375° for 12 minutes. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Turn onto a clean kitchen towel which has been generously dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Trim edges, if necessary; roll cake up, towel and all, while still warm. Let cool completely. Unroll and fill with whipped cream or ice cream then re-roll cake. The trick is to let the ice cream soften up a few minutes before spreading it on the cake. But don’t wait too long. Rather than trying to let the ice cream get soft enough to spread I used a spatula to sort of cut slices of ice cream and place them on the cake.  Store ice cream cake roll in freezer until ready to slice and serve.

*If you don’t have cake flour you can make your own. Measure out a cup of all purpose flour, remove 2 tablespoons of flour and replace them with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. For larger amounts place 7 cups of flour in a bowl and combine with 1 cup of cornstarch. Mix well or even sift together. Store in an airtight container.

Strawberry Ice Cream

2 c. chopped strawberries

1 c. sugar

1 T. vanilla

2 c. cream or  half and half or a combination. You can also use some milk or even almond or rice milk.

Additional sugar to taste

Place strawberries, vanilla  and sugar in saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and chill. Combine chilled berry mixture with cream. Add additional sugar if you like. Remember that once it is frozen the ice cream will not taste as sweet so make this mixture a little sweeter than you want the final product to be. How much sugar you add varies with personal taste, and how sweet the berries are. Place in an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions. Once finished put in an air- tight container and place in freezer. Makes about 1 quart.

Spread softened ice cream over cake and re-roll.

Homemade Calzones

Reuben Calzones

Calzones are traditionally made with Italian/pizza type fillings, but you can fill them with all sorts of other ingredients. They are kind of a cross between a sandwich and a pizza.

I like to get creative when making calzones. I often use what I have on hand. I think about what ingredients would go well together.

Calzones are wonderfully portable, and great to pack for lunch.  They are also great food to serve at parties.

I like to make a batch and freeze some of them. I use one of three recipes for dough, listed below, then swap out fillings depending on what I am in the mood for. Get creative and have fun.

Basic Homemade Dough

This recipe is enough for 8 large calzones, more if you make them smaller.

1 packet active dry yeast
1 t. sugar
1 2/3 c. warm water
4-4½ c. flour
2 t. salt

In mixing bowl combine yeast with 3 cups of flour, sugar and the salt. Add the warm water and stir together, mixing well. Gradually add more flour until soft dough forms. Place dough on floured surface and knead until stretchy and smooth, about 10 minutes. Allow dough to rest 3 minutes and knead a few more times. Place in bowl and cover. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Punch dough down.

Assembly: Divide into 8 or more pieces. Cover pieces until ready to roll out. Roll out a piece of dough into an 8-inch circle. Add fillings to half of the dough and wet edges with water. Fold over and press edges firmly to seal. Cut a couple of slits in top of calzone to allow steam to vent. Repeat with remaining dough.

Finishing /Baking: Place calzones on greased baking sheets. Cover calzones and allow to rise 30 minutes or so. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Variations:
Whole Wheat: You can add 1-2 cups whole wheat or spelt flour to replace the same amount of white flour for a whole grain calzone.
Rye: Add 1-2 cups of rye flour to replace the same amount of white flour. This is great for the Reuben calzones.

Fillings: Traditional fillings could include shredded mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, pepperoni, cooked sausage, chopped onions or peppers, pizza sauce (some prefer to serve sauce on the side) olives or anything you might top a pizza with.
Note: For any filling, use ingredients that are cold or at room temperature. Meats should be cooked as they won’t cook in the baking process. Vegetables should be cooked as raw veggies will give off water and may make your calzone soggy. If using a sauce, make sure it is on the thick side. Sometimes I brush the dough with a little oil first to keep the dough from getting soggy.

Toppings: You can brush the top of the calzones with an egg wash if you like for a shinier top. Apply just before baking. If you want, you can also sprinkle the tops with seeds- but use an egg wash to make sure the seeds will stick.

Ham and Swiss  Calzones

1 recipe calzone dough, rye variation preferred

1 1/2 -2 lb. thin sliced ham- more or less

3/4  lb.  sliced Swiss cheese

Thousand island dressing- recipe follows

1 egg , beaten

In the middle of the dough place 1 1/2  ounces of the Swiss cheese, a spoonful of the dressing  and 2-3 ounces of the ham. Brush the edge of the dough with water. Fold over the dough in half and press the edges to seal. Brush the edge again with water and roll the edge over again. It will give you a prettier look and seal the calzone better. Repeat with remaining dough and fillings. Place calzones on greased baking sheets- or on a baking sheet with a silicone liner or parchment paper liner. You will end up with 8 calzones in all. Only put 4 on one baking sheet. Cover and let rest 15 minutes while preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Before placing calzones in the oven brush with beaten egg and make a few slashes with a knife to help steam to escape while baking. I put 2 baking sheets in the oven at the same time and switch them halfway through baking. Bake in a preheated 400-degree for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. If baking 2 at once switch them after 10 minutes or so. Cool slightly before eating. Serve warm and refrigerate leftovers. Makes 8.

Thousand Island Dressing

Combine equal parts of ketchup, mayo and sweet pickle relish. You likely need at least a cup for this recipe. I made extra so the sandwiches could be dipped in extra dressing, if desired.

Reuben Calzones

1 recipe homemade dough, rye version
1½ -2 lbs. sliced corned beef
½ lb. sliced Swiss cheese
2 c. rinsed and drained sauerkraut
Thousand Island dressing
Caraway seeds, optional
Make dough and assemble 8 calzones dividing the ingredients among them. Dressing can be added in the calzones or served on the side. Use an egg wash and sprinkle on a few caraway seeds , if desired. Makes 8.

Reuben Calzone

Curried Vegetable Calzones

1 recipe calzone dough
2 T. oil
1 onion, sliced
1 c. sliced carrots
1c. chopped cauliflower
1 c. green beans, sliced
1-2 T. curry powder, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in skillet and sauté onion until tender. Add the rest of the veggies and cook until tender. Sometimes I cover the pan and turn down the heat to steam them. Once veggies are tender drain and set aside to cool. Season to taste with curry powder and salt and pepper. Divide mixture among 8 calzones. Makes 8.

Spinach and Artichoke Calzones

1 recipe calzone dough, whole wheat works well in this recipe.
1 can (about 15 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained well and chopped
1 package (10 oz.) frozen spinach, thawed, and drained well
2 c. shredded mild cheese or 1c. crumbled feta cheese
1 T. lemon juice
Salt and hot pepper sauce to taste

Combine ingredients and mix well. Divide among 8 calzones. Makes 8.

Freezing Calzones: Note: you can freeze them baked or unbaked. Just place calzones on wax paper on a baking sheet and place in the freezer until frozen. Remove from baking sheet and wrap in plastic wrap, foil or wax paper and place in freezer bags. Label and place back in the freezer.

If you froze them unbaked- thaw in fridge overnight- unwrap but cover loosely with plastic wrap and a towel. Thaw in fridge at least 8- 12 hours. Place on greased baking sheet and place on counter at room temperature for another hour or two, covered with a towel. Bake in oven as normal.

If you froze them baked- you can heat up in a microwave- about 3 minutes per calzone. You can also warm them in a conventional oven. Place on baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Cover with foil if it starts to get too brown.

Ham and Swiss Calzone

Strawberries and Cream Bread

Strawberries and Cream Bread

I have posted this recipe before, but have been getting requests for it, so I thought it was worth sharing again. Since strawberries are in season, it seemed like the right time to post this recipe.

This is one of my favorite quick breads. The bread is tender and full of the sweet taste of fresh strawberries.

The batter will be very thick- don’t worry- it is supposed to be that way. When it bakes, the juices from the fresh berries keeps it moist.

I always end up making a double batch, one loaf to eat fresh, and one to give as a gift, or freeze.

This bread is fine just the way it is for dessert, or you can top with sliced strawberries, ice cream, whipped cream or some melted chocolate. Or top it with all of them!!

Here is the recipe. Enjoy!!

Strawberries and Cream Bread

1 ¾ c. flour

½ t. baking powder

½ t. baking soda

½ t. salt

½ t. each  cinnamon and nutmeg

½ c. butter, at room temperature

¾ c. sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

½ c. sour cream, room temperature

1 t. vanilla

1 c. fresh strawberries, coarsely chopped*

¾ c. chopped nuts, optional

Grease an 8×4 inch loaf pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Set aside. In small bowl beat butter until creamy. Add sugar and beat 1 minute. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in sour cream and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until just moistened. Fold in strawberries and nuts and place batter in prepared pan. Bake 60-65 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Makes 1 loaf. Freezes well.

*  frozen berries are not recommended in this bread.

Asparagus Irene

Asparagus Irene

Asparagus will always be one of my favorite vegetables.  I just love it. As I started writing out the recipe for this dish, I was thinking about my Mom and how much she loved asparagus. She always wanted the bigger asparagus spears- she said they had more flavor.

I remember her showing me how to break the bottom of the stalks off and how she would cook them until they were just done- but not mushy. She wouldn’t consider eating canned asparagus- only fresh- so the season was short. It was something to be savored while it lasted.

Most times she just placed the cooked asparagus on a plate, topped with a pat of butter and a sprinkle of salt. One time, though, she made a white sauce and poured it over the asparagus. It was bliss. For this version I used a white sauce, and topped the asparagus with 2 poached eggs, too. It is a lovely breakfast or brunch dish. Makes a great dinner, too. I named the dish after her.

Here is the recipe.

Asparagus Irene

1 lb. fresh asparagus, washed and stems trimmed

white sauce- recipe follows

fresh lemon, cut in wedges

2 eggs

vinegar- for the poaching water

salt and pepper to taste

Put the asparagus in a steamer and cook for about 5 minutes- or until almost done. Set aside. Make white sauce, but add some lemon juice to it. I just kept squeezing lemon wedges in until it tasted right to me. Set sauce aside. Boil some water in a shallow pan and add a tablespoon of vinegar to the water. Drop the two eggs in and simmer, covered until the whites are opaque and the yolks are still runny. While the eggs are cooking return the asparagus to the heat and cook until just tender. Place asparagus on a serving dish. Sprinkle with a little salt. Gently place the eggs on top of the asparagus. Spoon some of the white sauce over the eggs. You will have more sauce than you need. Save it for another use. Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley, if you like. Finish with some salt and fresh ground pepper. Serves 2.

Basic White Sauce (Bechamel)

The start of many a classic dish.

2 T. butter or oil
2 T. flour
1 1/4 c. warmed milk
salt and pepper to taste

In saucepan melt butter or heat oil and add flour, stirring until smooth. Slowly whisk in milk, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly. Turn heat down and continue to cook, stirring constantly for a couple minutes longer. Season to taste. If you are going to store the sauce for later use place a layer of wax paper on top, store in a container with a lid or pour a little milk over the top to prevent a skin from forming. Makes about 1 c.

Lemon: Add zest of a lemon, 2 T. lemon juice and 2 T. butter just before serving.

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