|Great googly moogly...April sure is moving at a fast pace! Yes, we're a little bit slow here at EiSJ, but better later in the month than not at all. |
It's that time of year when you start thinking about farmers' markets and all of the great and diverse fruits and veggies that soon will be harvested in farms all over South Jersey. This is when the eating starts to get really really good!
So...how about a theme? All right...how about one...
John and Lisa Are Thinking About... Asparagus
Sure, there are lovely things such as kale and cabbage that grow in the wintertime. But when the temperature gets a little bit warmer, and the sun stays out a little bit longer, it's time for asparagus. If you were compiling a Greatest Hits of South Jersey Produce, asparagus would be the first track on the album.
Here's a couple of asparagus pointers for you:
1) Choose thinner spears over thicker ones. Thick spears can be overly fibrous and unpleasant. Go with the thinner ones; they will be much more tender.
2) Even with the thinner spears, the ends can be pretty fibrous. if you bend the asparagus as you slide down towards the end, you will feel a point where the spear has no more give. Snap it off right there, and toss the end out. This way, you can avoid that overly fiber-y texture.
Just recently, I read on Facebook that our friends Stephen and Jill at Sweet Life Bakery in Vineland had picked up some asparagus from Walker's Farm Market in Salem County. If you know anything about the Walker Brothers' farm, you know they grow wonderful asparagus. And if you know anything about Stephen and Jill, you know that they will take that Jersey Fresh asparagus and make terribly yummy things with them.
You...yes you...you can make terribly yummy things with asparagus as well. Really simple things. Here's a recipe that we use as a standard when fresh asparagus is available:
Roasted Asparagus in Browned Butter, Garlic, and Balsamic Vinegar
1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. butter
1 medium clove of garlic, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss asparagus spears with olive oil and salt in a shallow roasting dish. Roast asparagus for about 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned and caramelized.
Our Event Picks for April
There's always lots going on in the world of food in South Jersey, but here's our vote for the ones you shouldn't miss:
Jersey Shore Restaurant Week
Participating restaurants in Ocean and Monmouth counties.
3-course meal for $20.12/30.12.
Organic Greenhouse Dinner
Academy of Culinary Arts at Atlantic Cape Community College - 5100 Black Horse Pike, Mays Landing.
6:30PM. $75 per person (reserve in advance).
Film Food Fest - Mexican Night
Ashley-McCormick Center - 40-42 East Commerce Street, Bridgeton.
6PM. $50 per person.
Taste of Southern Ocean County Hunger Relief Dinner
Sea Oaks Country Club - 99 Golf View Drive, Little Egg Harbor.
5:30PM. $125 per person.
Dining Out for Life
Participating restaurants in Philadelphia, South Jersey, and the Delaware Valley region.
Lisa and John are Watching...
Since asparagus is the theme, why not a video? I present to you Jolene Sugarbaker and her use of asparagus in oatmeal raisin cookies. I will only say that this is not your typical stand and stir video.
|Trailer Park Cooking Show : Oatmeal Raisin Asparagus Cookies|
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|Recipe of the Month
Asparagus and Eggs Sandwich
My favorite regional cookbook is the late Joe Colanero's "Down Jersey Cooking", and there are lots of tasty little vittles that can be stirred up from its pages. This one is pretty straightforward as well, but Joe has a way with instructions. Follow along and see what I mean...
- 1/2 pound asparagus, tender portions only, cut in 1-inch lengths
- 4 eggs, beaten
- Dash of hot pepper flakes, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, cut in half lengthwise
- 2 sandwich rolls, preferably light crumb
Wash and inspect the triangular bracts (leaflets) on the asparagus carefully. If you have any suspicion or see any grit, remove each one and wash carefully. If the asparagus is thick, cut in half lengthwise to insure even cooking. Set aside.
Combine the eggs, hot pepper flakes, salt and pepper and Romano cheese; set aside. In a large saute pan over medium heat, add the oil and slices of garlic; saute until golden, about 30 seconds. Remove garlic and discard. Add the asparagus, stir to coatwith the oil and saute over medium heat, covered, for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus; move asparagus to evenly disperse in eggs. Cook undistributed for 30 seconds, then push the mixture toward the center with a fork to allow the uncooked eggs to reach the outside edges and cook.
When the underside is cooked, cut the mixture in quarters with a spatula, permitting each quarter to the flipped to cook the other side. Otherwise, preheat the broiler and finish cooking the surface under a broiler, about 4-6 inches below the heat element. be sure to use a saute pan with an oven-safe handle; use protective material when grabbing the handle. Broiling time is about 2-3 minutes, Fill rolls with asparagus and egg mixture. Serve with Romano cheese as a side.